Elections israéliennes: Attention, un racisme peut en cacher un autre ! (From America’s Social worker in chief to Israeli Arabs and Left, guess who the common enemy is ?)

25 mars, 2015
A woman walks past a Joint Arab List campaign billboard in Umm el-FahmLe plan de la nouvelle liste arabe unie en Israël : « Faire exploser l’Etat juif de l’intérieur » !https://i0.wp.com/images1.ynet.co.il/PicServer4/2015/01/03/5793204/579320101001355640360no.jpg ObasPour Obama, le terrorisme est, à la racine, un produit de la désintégration sociale. La guerre est peut-être nécessaire pour contenir l’avancée de l’Etat islamique, mais seulement une réforme sociale peut vraiment s’en débarrasser. Ajoutez à cette vision le vécu d’un parfait ‘outsider’, moitié blanc et moitié noir avec une enfance et une famille dispersée autour du monde, et on commence à voir le profil d’un homme avec une empathie automatique pour les marginaux et un sens presque instinctif que les plus importants problèmes du monde sont enracinés, non pas dans l’idéologie, mais dans des structures sociales et économiques oppressives qui renforcent la marginalisation. Cette sensibilité est plus large que n’importe quelle orthodoxie économique, et elle est enracinée dans la dure expérience du Sud de Chicago. Après avoir pris la tête de la plus importante superpuissance du monde en janvier 2009, ce travailleur social s’est mis à construire une politique étrangère qui traduisait ses impressions en actions géopolitiques.(…) Le monde était un énorme Chicago, ses problèmes essentiels pas totalement différents de ceux des Noirs du Sud de Chicago, et les solutions à ces problèmes étaient enracinées dans la même capacité humaine à surpasser les divisions sociales et les inégalités. Voilà en quoi consistait le « provincialisme » d’Obama, sa vision d’un monde qui favorisait les désavantagés et les opprimés, qui percevait les conflits idéologiques et politiques entre les gouvernements comme secondaires par rapport à des crises plus universelles et en fin de compte sociales qui troublaient un monde déjà tumultueux. (…) C’était cette vision humanitaire expansive qui a conduit Obama à faire sa première erreur stratégique majeure au sujet d’Israël. C’était, en effet, en Israël que son récit des affaires du monde s’opposait directement aux réalités impitoyables de la géopolitique. (…) Le conflit israélo-palestinien semblait avoir beaucoup en commun avec les maladies sociales américaines qu’il avait combattues toute sa vie d’adulte : un conflit entre deux communautés divisées, renforcé par l’intolérance, des récits mutuellement exclusifs de victimisation et d’absence d’empathie et d’espoir. L’engagement énergique et premier d’Obama pour la paix israélo-palestinienne n’était pas enraciné dans les calculs stratégiques habituels qui conduisent une politique étrangère, mais cela correspondait très bien à la nouvelle sensibilité qui définissait maintenant sa présidence. Mais la géopolitique n’est pas du travail social. Et ce qui est vrai à Chicago ne l’est peut-être pas à Jérusalem. La première tentative majeure d’Obama dans le conflit – obtenir un gel de 10 mois de la construction d’implantations en dehors de Jérusalem – a donné le ton pour les cinq prochaines années d’efforts. La Maison Blanche d’Obama était désorientée et frustrée quand il est apparu clairement que la mesure sans précédent de « construction de la confiance » de Netanyahu avait en réalité éloigné les Palestiniens de la table des négociations. Le conflit israélo-palestinien n’est pas un combat contre l’injustice sociale ou économique, mais entre des identités nationales. Même s’il veut un accord de paix avec Israël, comme Obama le croit sincèrement, le président de l’Autorité palestinienne Mahmoud Abbas doit manœuvrer dans les limites du récit national palestinien qui rejette la cause nationale juive comme étant irrémédiablement illégitime. Abbas ne peut tout simplement pas faire de compromis, il doit être perçu comme un vainqueur. Alors, le fait que la Maison Blanche ait demandé et obtenu un gel sans précédent des implantations d’Israël ne prouvait pas aux Palestiniens qu’Israël était prêt au compromis, mais plutôt que leurs propres dirigeants demandaient moins de l’occupant détesté que la Maison Blanche ouvertement pro-Israélienne. La Maison Blanche, un bastion de sionistes de son propre aveu, avait sans effort obtenu une concession qu’aucun dirigeant palestinien n’avait même jamais demandée. Dans son tout premier effort de renforcer la confiance entre les parties, la Maison Blanche d’Obama a désastreusement réduit la marge de manœuvre politique intérieure des dirigeants palestiniens. Cette erreur initiale a établi la dynamique qui a contrecarré les efforts les plus concertés de l’Amérique pour relancer les négociations. Chaque fois que la pression américaine sur Israël augmentait, la pression intérieure sur les dirigeants palestiniens pour élever leurs exigences et conditions préalables augmentait rapidement aussi.(…) L’aversion du président Obama pour Netanyahu est intense et … Il y a peu de doute que cette hostilité soit devenue personnelle – un dirigeant juif américain a affirmé que c’est le président Obama lui-même qui a donné l’interview à The Atlantic, dans laquelle un responsable anonyme s’est moqué de Netanyahu en le qualifiant de « chickenshit » [poule mouillée] – mais ses origines sont plus profondes qu’une antipathie personnelle. (…) Lorsque Netanyahu insiste pour parler de l’histoire juive à l’Assemblée générale de l’ONU, tout en refusant d’aborder la dépossession palestinienne, quand il rejette d’emblée et à plusieurs reprises l’idée qu’une éventuelle réadaptation de l’Iran pourrait être plus souhaitable qu’une confrontation permanente, Obama entend des échos de ces militants de Chicago dont le chauvinisme a fait plus de mal que de bien à leurs communautés. (…) Selon Netanyahu, à moins que le mouvement national palestinien n’accepte qu’il y a une certaine légitimité à la création d’une patrie juive en Israël, les dirigeants palestiniens demeureront gelés sur place et incapables de compromis pour la paix. Pendant ce temps, les concessions israéliennes à une direction palestinienne qui continue de rejeter la légitimité même d’Israël ne feront que renforcer cette impulsion de rejet en soutenant l’illusion que la victoire finale contre l’existence d’Israël est possible. Pour Netanyahou, toute la stratégie américaine qui commence par des concessions israéliennes, au lieu de chercher un changement dans la vision de base de l’autre côté, met la charrue avant les bœufs – et garantit un échec continu. Sur l’Iran, l’évaluation de Netanyahu des capacités stratégiques d’Obama est tout aussi peu flatteuse. En abandonnant les sanctions sur lesquelles les États-Unis avaient toutes les cartes et autour desquelles le monde était uni en opposition aux ambitions nucléaires iraniennes, Obama a concédé beaucoup et obtenu très peu. On ne peut faire confiance à un pays de la taille de l’Europe occidentale avec un dossier d’installations entières et qui ment à répétition aux inspecteurs de l’AIEA et au Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies. (…) Pour les deux hommes, l’écart est plus profond que la fracture démocrates-républicains, plus profond que la question palestinienne, plus profond encore que la bataille sur l’Iran. Obama a cherché à introduire une nouvelle conscience dans les affaires mondiales, une conscience qui a défini son identité politique. Netanyahu défend les anciennes méthodes – dont dépendent, selon lui, la sécurité nationale. Haviv Rettig Gur
Sur le long terme, Obama et son entourage ont toujours fantasmé sur une réconciliation globale entre les Etats-Unis et l’islamisme, qu’il s’agisse de l’islamisme sunnite des Frères musulmans ou de l’islamisme chiite iranien. C’était le sens, dès 2009, du discours-manifeste du Caire, prononcé, il ne faut pas l’oublier, au moment même où le pouvoir des mollahs écrasait dans le sang un « printemps iranien ». Cela a été également le sens, par la suite, de la temporisation d’Obama sur la question du nucléaire iranien : Washington s’est prononcé en faveur de sanctions économiques de plus en plus lourdes, mais n’a pas envisagé sérieusement une action militaire contre l’Iran ni accordé de feu vert à une éventuelle action militaire israélienne. (…) A un autre niveau, à plus court terme, Obama a sans doute vu dans un rapprochement avec l’Iran le moyen d’effacer ou de faire oublier ses échecs répétés au Moyen-Orient : en Libye, en Egypte et finalement en Syrie. Une Grande Puissance, c’est un pays qui peut faire la guerre et qui, par voie de conséquence, est en mesure d’imposer sa volonté à d’autres pays. Et « pouvoir faire la guerre », en amont, cela suppose à la fois des moyens techniques (une armée, des armements, des technologies), et des moyens politiques ou moraux (une vision du monde, des objectifs, une détermination). L’Amérique d’Obama a toujours les moyens techniques d’une Très Grande Puissance, mais elle s’est comportée en Syrie, à travers ses tergiversations et finalement sa capitulation diplomatique devant la Russie de Poutine, comme si elle n’en avait plus les moyens politiques ou moraux. Ce que les alliés traditionnels des Etats-Unis ne sont pas près de pardonner au président sur le plan international (des Etats du Golfe à la France de Hollande), ni les Américains eux-mêmes en politique intérieure.(…) Les clés d’Obama se trouvent dans son livre autobiographique, Les Rêves de mon père. Deux faits, qu’il rapporte avec beaucoup de franchise : d’abord, un drame intime : il n’a pratiquement pas connu son père ; ensuite, un drame identitaire : l’Amérique traditionnelle – anglo-saxonne, judéo-chrétienne, blanche – est pour lui une sorte de pays étranger. Il est certes né aux Etats-Unis, mais il n’y a pas passé son enfance. Il n’a pas été élevé dans la foi chrétienne, mais dans un mélange d’humanisme athée et d’islam libéral. Et bien que sa mère soit blanche, il a toujours été considéré comme un Noir. Comment surmonte-t-il ces deux drames ? A travers l’action politique en vue d’une Amérique nouvelle, multiraciale, multireligieuse, multiculturelle. En fait, il veut enfanter cette nouvelle Amérique qui lui ressemblerait, être à la fois son propre père et celui d’une nation remodelée à son image. Ce qui passe, entre autre choses, par une réconciliation – fusionnelle – avec un islam qui est le contraire même de l’Amérique traditionnelle. Ce n’est là qu’un fantasme. La politique rationnelle d’Obama se réfère à d’autres considérations, d’autres raisonnements. Mais les fantasmes sont souvent aussi puissants ou plus puissants que la rationalité. Et qui plus est, les fantasmes personnels du président actuel recoupent ceux d’une bonne partie de la société américaine : les Noirs, les non-Blancs en général, mais aussi les milieux blancs d’extrême-gauche, une partie des élites intellectuelles… (…) Qui peut encore soutenir sérieusement qu’Israël est au cœur de tous les problèmes du Proche Orient et que tout passe, dans cette région, par la « résolution » du « problème palestinien » ? Depuis près de quatre ans, le monde arabe et islamique n’en finit pas de se décomposer et de se recomposer sous nos yeux, entraîné par ses pesanteurs propres. Une analyste géopolitique, Robin Wright, vient même de prédire dans le New York Times, le quotidien le plus pro-Obama des Etats-Unis, le remplacement de cinq Etats moyen-orientaux (la Syrie, l’Irak, l’Arabie Saoudite, la Libye, le Yemen) par quinze nouveaux Etats à caractère ethnoreligieux. Voilà qui merite au moins autant d’attention que les articles promouvant le « nouvel Iran » du président Rouhani. Et qui relativise le « processus de paix » Jérusalem-Ramallah. Michel Gurfinkiel
Obama est le premier président américain élevé sans attaches culturelles, affectives ou intellectuelles avec la Grande-Bretagne ou l’Europe. Les Anglais et les Européens ont été tellement enchantés par le premier président américain noir qu’ils n’ont pu voir ce qu’il est vraiment: le premier président américain du Tiers-Monde. The Daily Mail
In early February, the Pentagon declassified a 386-page report from 1987, exposing for the first time ever the actual depth of top-secret military cooperation between the United States and Israel — including, amazingly, information about Israel’s unacknowledged nuclear program. In view of the caustic tension that has increased lately between Washington and Jerusalem, the timing of the publication’s declassification, after a long legal process, might raise a few eyebrows. I have some knowledge about the build-up process of Israel’s nuclear capacity and after reading the report in question I must express my astonishment: I have never seen an official American document disclosing such extensive revelation on subjects that until now were regarded by both administrations as unspeakable secrets.(…) The request to publish the report was initiated three years ago by the American journalist Grant Smith. His plea was based on the Freedom of Information Act and while the Pentagon had lingered Smith filed a lawsuit. A District Court judge for the District of Columbia compelled the Pentagon to address his request. Although the report reveals quite a wide compilation of new facts about Israel’s most covert defense industry, to my astonishment its declassification produced no media reverberation whatsoever, not in Israel (except on the Ynet news website), nor in the States. The mainstream Israeli media was probably busy with the dramatic election campaign and in the United States only the progressive weekly magazine, The Nation, and quite a few professional websites and blogs — some of them explicitly anti-Israel — showed any interest. In the light of Iran’s nuclear talks, the declassification’s timing could prove troublesome for Israel. It makes it much harder to maintain the policy of ambiguity about Israel’s nuclear program and, subsequently, helps Iran’s argument that it shouldn’t be denied its own ambitions. Michael Karpin
La Déclaration Balfour, le Mandat pour la Palestine, et tout ce qui a été fondé sur eux, sont déclarés nuls et non avenus. Les prétentions à des liens historiques et religieux des Juifs avec la Palestine sont incompatibles avec les faits historiques et la véritable conception de ce qui constitue une nation. Le judaïsme, étant une religion, ne constitue pas une nationalité indépendante. De même que les Juifs ne constituent pas une nation unique avec son identité propre ; ils sont citoyens des Etats auxquels ils appartiennent. (…) Le sionisme est un mouvement politique lié de façon organique à un impérialisme international et antagoniste à toute action pour la libération et à tout mouvement progressiste dans le monde. Le sioniste est raciste et fanatique dans sa nature, agressif, expansionniste, colonial dans ses buts, et fasciste dans ses méthodes. Israël est l’instrument du mouvement sioniste, et la base géographique de l’impérialisme mondial placé stratégiquement au sein du foyer arabe pour combattre les espoirs de libération, d’unité, et de progrès de la nation arabe. Charte de l’OLP (articles 20 et  22)
Je suis prêt à accepter une troisième partie qui contrôle l’exécution de l’accord, par exemple les forces de l’OTAN, mais je n’accepterai pas qu’il y ait des Juifs dans ces forces ni un Israélien sur la Terre de Palestine. Mahmoud Abbas
Vous allez dans certaines petites villes de Pennsylvanie où, comme dans beaucoup de petites villes du Middle West, les emplois ont disparu depuis maintenant 25 ans et n’ont été remplacés par rien d’autre (…) Et il n’est pas surprenant qu’ils deviennent pleins d’amertume, qu’ils s’accrochent aux armes à feu ou à la religion, ou à leur antipathie pour ceux qui ne sont pas comme eux, ou encore à un sentiment d’hostilité envers les immigrants. Barack Obama
Nous avons rappelé que ce genre de discours était contraire aux traditions d’Israël. Bien que ce pays soit fondé sur une terre historiquement juive, et sur le besoin de créer une nation juive, la démocratie israélienne repose sur la notion que tous ses citoyens sont égaux en droits. C’est ce qui fait la grandeur de cette démocratie. Si cela venait à changer, je pense que cela donnerait des arguments à ceux qui ne veulent pas d’un Etat juif, et que cela affaiblirait la démocratie israélienne (…) Disons que nous lui faisons confiance quand il dit que cela n’arrivera pas tant qu’il sera Premier ministre. C’est pourquoi nous devons explorer d’autres options afin d’empêcher que la région ne sombre dans le chaos. J’ai eu l’occasion de parler hier à M. Netanyahu. Je l’ai félicité pour sa victoire, et je lui ai réaffirmé mon attachement  à une solution à deux États qui est, de notre point de vue, la seule garantie sur le long terme de la sécurité d’Israël, en tant qu’État juif et démocratique. Je lui ai également rappelé qu’après ses récentes déclarations, il serait difficile de croire qu’Israël est sérieusement attaché à la poursuite des négociations. Cependant, nous continuerons d’insister sur le fait que, du point de vue des États-Unis, le statu quo est intenable, a poursuivi le président américain. Nous sommes attachés à la sécurité d’Israël, mais il n’est pas possible de poursuivre cette voie éternellement, avec l’implantation de nouvelles colonies. C’est un facteur d’instabilité dans la région. (…) Il faut tout d’abord que les Iraniens démontrent clairement qu’ils ne fabriquent pas de bombes nucléaires, et qu’ils nous laissent toute latitude pour nous en assurer. (…) Il n’y aura pas d’accord tant que tout n’aura pas été résolu. (…) Je dois avouer que les Iraniens n’ont pas fait jusqu’ici les compromis que j’estime indispensables pour parvenir à cet accord. Mais ils se sont montrés ouverts, ce qui laisse la porte ouverte à la recherche d’une solution (…). Je vais devoir démontrer au peuple américain, mais aussi aux Israéliens et au reste du monde, que nous avons mis en place des mécanismes qui empêcheront l’Iran d’accéder à la bombe atomique (…) Il est évident que beaucoup d’Israéliens se méfient, à juste titre, de leur voisin iranien. L’Iran a tenu des propos ignobles et antisémites, et menacé Israël d’annihilation. C’est précisément pour cela que j’ai dit, avant même de devenir président, que l’Iran ne devait pas disposer de l’arme nucléaire. Barack Obama
Moi, je revendique la stigmatisation de Marine Le Pen. Manuel Valls
Le gouvernement de droite est en danger. Les électeurs arabes se rendent en masse aux scrutins. Les ONGs de gauche les amènent en autobus. Netanyahou
Malgré les différences et la compétition entre nous, notre ennemi direct est le sionisme. Ayman Odeh (liste arabe unie)
Quand on dit « gauche » en France, on associe cela à des idées bien précises sur l’égalité entre les citoyens, la laïcité, une redistribution des richesses… Mais, en Israël, la définition de gauche se fait à partir d’un positionnement pour ou contre une solution avec les Palestiniens. Vous pouvez donc trouver quelqu’un comme Tzipi Livni, qui est ultralibérale dans le domaine économique, mais qui veut un arrangement avec les Palestiniens. On la situe à gauche alors que sur toutes les autres valeurs, elle en est loin. Herzog est un travailliste, mais vraiment conservateur. Il n’est pas de gauche. La seule liste aujourd’hui qui a le potentiel pour devenir une alternative démocratique de gauche, c’est la Liste commune (formée de tous les partis arabes et des communistes – ndlr). Je ne sais pas si ce potentiel existant va se transformer en une véritable alternative. Herzog représente une vision plus agréable que celle de Netanyahou. Il n’y a pas d’alternative, sur aucun plan. Quand Herzog appelle sa liste « Union sioniste », ça sonne très patriotique. Mais quand vous écoutez avec des oreilles israéliennes, cela signifie « pas d’Arabes »(…) Nous sommes un pays qui adore catégoriser les gens : religieux, non religieux, ashkénazes, séfarades, ­sionistes, post-sionistes, sionistes malgré eux… Le sionisme a été un mouvement national gagnant pour les juifs qui a créé une révolution fantastique dans l’existence juive, a donné naissance à une horrible tragédie pour les Palestiniens et a expiré en 1948. Le but du sionisme a été de transformer le peuple juif d’une structure de diaspora en une structure souveraine. Cela n’a été qu’un échafaudage. À partir de 1948, nous aurions dû n’être que des Israéliens, quelle que soit l’origine. Mais si ce n’est pas suffisant et que vous avez besoin du sionisme pour définir quelque chose, cela signifie que vous discriminez quelqu’un. Oui, ­aujourd’hui, en Israël, le sionisme est un outil de discrimination. Avraham Burg (ancien président travailliste de la Knesset et ex-président de l’Agence juive mondiale)
Bien que je ne crois pas que les remarques jour de l’élection du Premier ministre aient été anti-arabe ou racistes, la déclaration de Netanyahu pose la question dans l’esprit des gens sur la façon dont la communauté arabe est considérée par les dirigeants d’Israël et de sa place dans la société israélienne. Il est important de se rappeler que sous la surveillance du Premier ministre Netanyahu, il y a eu un effort important par le gouvernement israélien pour intégrer les Arabes israéliens dans la société en général , en particulier en investissant des milliards de shekels dans l’amélioration des possibilités d’éducation et d’emploi pour les Arabes israéliens. Malheureusement, tout au long de la campagne électorale récente, il y a eu trop de déclarations extrêmes et de division. Nous réitérons notre appel aux Israéliens de toutes les affiliations politiques à travailler pour guérir ces blessures et de promouvoir l’intégration de tous en Israël. Abraham Foxman (directeur national de l’Anti-Defamation League)
The Knesset elections results present the naked truth: All of the left-wing movements, the media and many of the voters of the Zionist Union, Meretz and others are living in a bubble, and know very little – if anything – about life outside the bubble. The leftists enhance each other in conversations at cafés and restaurants, in the Tel Aviv salons, in cinematheques and different cultural clubs. The people living outside Tel Aviv and the Jerusalem Cinematheque, outside the academia and the newspaper and television’s news desks have completely different views. The facts were painfully presented on Tuesday evening to those who in the past few weeks believed the stories about the left-wing bloc’s meteoric rise and the right-wing bloc’s collapse. Those living in the bubble should spend the next few years far away from Tel Aviv, and get to know the people in the periphery, in order to believe that the State of Israel will continue to exist long after the Zionist Union leaders disappear from the political map. The left likes to withdraw into itself, to hold internal discussions, to engage in internal quarrels, and shows contempt and disregard towards the voice of « Masuda from Sderot. » But the thing is that in one day of elections, the vote of Masuda from Sderot equals the vote of the president of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. (…) These many votes were collected by Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday into the right-wing bloc, the natural place for all the different deprived groups. Even if Isaac Herzog joins the government, even if he becomes a senior government member, all the good deeds he and his friends have done and have promised to do – starting from housing to supporting the needy – won’t help them. Once again, we have painfully realized that the northern Tel Aviv neighborhood of Tzahala completely misunderstands Sderot. Eitan Haber
Sur les 8 millions de citoyens de l’Etat juif, 1,2 millions de musulmans profitent pleinement des avantages de la démocratie dans laquelle ils vivent, y compris du droit de diffamer publiquement Israël comme un État raciste, et même de contester son existence ! Ayman Odeh, chef de la nouvelle liste arabe unie en cours de constitution pour les prochaines élections à la Knesset, a annoncé récemment que « notre ennemi direct est le sionisme » ce qui signifie tout simplement qu’Israël doit cesser d’exister en tant qu’Etat juif ! (…) La résolution de San Remo de 1920 a confirmé « qu’en vertu de la Déclaration Balfour, le gouvernement britannique avait entrepris de favoriser la création d’un foyer national juif en Palestine, sans préjudice des droits civils et religieux des communautés non-juives existantes.» Cette résolution a été réaffirmée en mai 1947 par les Nations Unies résolution 181 qui « impose la partition de la Palestine sous mandat britannique en un État juif et un Etat arabe. » La déclaration d’indépendance de l’état d’Israël en mai 1948, rédigée avec ces résolutions antérieures à l’esprit, affirme tout d’abord l’évidence que « la terre d’Israël [Palestine] a été le berceau du peuple juif » et poursuit en disant que « cette reconnaissance par les Nations Unies, du droit du peuple juif à établir son Etat, est irrévocable. Ce droit est le droit naturel du peuple juif à être maître de son destin, comme toutes les autres nations, dans leur propre État souverain. » La communauté internationale, à l’exception des ennemis d’Israël, a accepté le droit historique des Juifs de vivre sur leurs terres, mais avec des réserves concernant les frontières actuelles, étant donné qu’elles ont été établies le long des lignes d’armistice. Pour sa part, Israël essaie, tant en théorie qu’en pratique, de garantir les droits de ses minorités. En revanche, le dirigeant arabe-palestinien Mahmoud Abbas lors de la dernière convention de l’OLP le 3 mars a répété son engagement à deux principes sans compromis : Oui à une Palestine arabe « Judenrein » et non à un Etat juif ! Selon le dirigeant arabe-palestinien, s’il y a la paix dans cette région les Juifs ne sauraient être autorisés à vivre dans un futur « Etat palestinien » et Israël ne devrait pas continuer d’exister comme un État juif. Et pourtant, c’est Israël qui est étiqueté comme raciste, malgré le fait que les arabes israéliens jouissent de droits pleins et équitables. Tsvi Sadan

Gauche antisioniste, arabes islamistes, Obama, même combat !

A l’heure où derrière un Travailleur social en chef sans attaches ni racines et apparemment prêt à tout

Pour renflouer un bilan non seulement vide mais s’annonçant, de la Syrie à la Libye et de l’Irak au Yemen, chaque jour un peu plus désastreux

Et tenté devant l’impasse de ses pourparlers avec les mollahs de vouloir non seulement punir celui par qui le scandale est arrivé

Mais de lui imposer un accord avec une entité palestinienne n’ayant toujours pas renoncé à l’élimination de tout Etat juif …

L’ensemble de nos belles âmes, israéliens compris, n’ont pas de mots assez durs …

Pour dénoncer le racisme des propos du premier ministre israélien à la veille des élections de la semaine dernière …

Pendant que pour diviser la droite et se maintenir au pouvoir de l’autre côté de l’Atlantique, une gauche à nouveau aux abois revendique explicitement la « stigmatisation » d’un quart des électeurs …

Devinez …

Ce qu’avaient choisi comme « ennemi direct » « malgré leurs différences et compétition » …

Tant le propre chef de file d’une Liste unifiée ouvertement ethnique …

Réunissant, avec la bénédiction de nos belles âmes, des groupes aussi hétéroclites que des Arabes nationalistes, communistes ou islamistes …

Que l’ancien président travailliste de la Knesset et soutien de ladite liste …

Dans une élection où la gauche elle-même avait senti le besoin de se qualifier de « sioniste » ?

Le plan de la nouvelle liste arabe unie en Israël : « Faire exploser l’Etat juif de l’intérieur » !
Tsvi Sadan

Europe Israël

mar 10, 2015

Sur les 8 millions de citoyens de l’Etat juif, 1,2 millions de musulmans profitent pleinement des avantages de la démocratie dans laquelle ils vivent, y compris du droit de diffamer publiquement Israël comme un État raciste, et même de contester son existence ! Ayman Odeh, chef de la nouvelle liste arabe unie en cours de constitution pour les prochaines élections à la Knesset, a annoncé récemment que « notre ennemi direct est le sionisme » ce qui signifie tout simplement qu’Israël doit cesser d’exister en tant qu’Etat juif !

Si la Cour suprême israélienne ne fait rien pour arrêter l’objectif déclaré de ce parti : Démanteler l’Etat d’Israël et le fait qu’Israël a été reconnu comme un État juif par la communauté internationale.

La résolution de San Remo de 1920 a confirmé « qu’en vertu de la Déclaration Balfour, le gouvernement britannique avait entrepris de favoriser la création d’un foyer national juif en Palestine, sans préjudice des droits civils et religieux des communautés non-juives existantes.»

Cette résolution a été réaffirmé en mai 1947 par les Nations Unies résolution 181 qui « impose la partition de la Palestine sous mandat britannique en un État juif et un Etat arabe. »

La déclaration d’indépendance de l’état d’Israël en mai 1948, rédigée avec ces résolutions antérieures à l’esprit, affirme tout d’abord l’évidence que « la terre d’Israël [Palestine] a été le berceau du peuple juif » et poursuit en disant que « cette reconnaissance par les Nations Unies, du droit du peuple juif à établir son Etat, est irrévocable.

Ce droit est le droit naturel du peuple juif à être maître de son destin, comme toutes les autres nations, dans leur propre État souverain. »

La communauté internationale, à l’exception des ennemis d’Israël, a accepté le droit historique des Juifs de vivre sur leurs terres, mais avec des réserves concernant les frontières actuelles, étant donné qu’elles ont été établies le long des lignes d’armistice. Pour sa part, Israël essaie, tant en théorie qu’en pratique, de garantir les droits de ses minorités.

En revanche, le dirigeant arabe-palestinien Mahmoud Abbas lors de la dernière convention de l’OLP le 3 mars a répété son engagement à deux principes sans compromis : Oui à une Palestine arabe « Judenrein » et non à un Etat juif !

Selon le dirigeant arabe-palestinien, s’il y a la paix dans cette région les Juifs ne sauraient être autorisés à vivre dans un futur « Etat palestinien » et Israël ne devrait pas continuer d’exister comme un État juif.

Et pourtant, c’est Israël qui est étiqueté comme raciste, malgré le fait que les arabes israéliens jouissent de droits pleins et équitables.

Bien que les fausses accusations de racisme font que beaucoup d’Israéliens se joignent au chœur des « viva Palestina » dans une vaine tentative d’apaisement, il n’en est pas moins que certains refusent d’éteindre les lumières.

Le ministre des affaires étrangères Avigdor Lieberman a raison quand il dit que la liste du nouveau parti United Arab, qui partage la vision d’Abbas et bénéficie également maintenant de sa bénédiction, expose un nouveau plan arabe-palestinien pour « faire exploser Israël de l’intérieur ».

Si habilement, cette nouvelle faction arabe qui partage le rêve d’Abbas d’une « Palestine Judenrein » et joue la carte du racisme, a incité Lieberman d’avertir que ce parti « nous prépare une intifada intérieure d’Israël. »

Malheureusement, on dira qu’avec l’expérience du passé, seuls quelques-uns prendront cet avertissement au sérieux.

Voir aussi:

Odeh: racist Israeli laws to benefit joint Arab list
Daoud Kuttab

Al Monitor

February 17, 2015

The Arab-Jewish party Hadash (the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality) has been a small but permanent fixture in the Israeli parliament for years. It usually won four or five of the 120 Knesset seats in elections, providing a fig leaf to Israeli democratic claims without being able to influence either internal or external policies. In 2013, Hadash won four seats. This « problem » is set to change in the coming elections, ironically, as a result of the Israeli right’s attempts to keep Palestinian Arabs out of the Knesset.

Ayman Odeh, the head of the joint list of all the Arab parties in Israel, told Al-Monitor that the combination of racist policies and changes to the election law helped produce this unprecedented list. The unification was created as a result of “raising the threshold and an increase in racist policies and practices, which appeared in racist laws as well as the unprecedented assault on Gaza in the summer of 2014.”

Although he is not sure that the unification of democratic and peace forces in Israel will succeed in removing the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Odeh says, “This new experiment is still in its early stage.” However, the Haifa lawyer hopes that “this experience succeeds and continues because of the possibility of defeating the right wing.”

While focusing on the goal of removing the ruling right-wing government in Israel, the head of the Arab list is not very excited about the existing alternatives to Netanyahu. He tells Al-Monitor, “Our fight against the occupation, racism and discrimination constitutes a democratic alternative against the nationalist camp led by Netanyahu and the Zionist Camp led by [Isaac] Herzog and [Tzipi] Livni.”

Odeh is hoping that at the very least, their efforts, along with other democratic forces in Israel, can slow or stop what he calls a “deterioration toward fascism,” which he concludes is the result of the occupation. “Ending the occupation and establishing an atmosphere of peace are the first step in ending the racial discrimination against Arab citizens as a national minority,” he says.

Odeh is aware of the challenges ahead but has focused his attention on the need to encourage Arabs to participate in the elections that will not include any competition between Arab parties. He is hoping to increase the participation of Palestinian citizens in Israel from 56% in 2013 to 70% or more in this round.

The text of the full interview follows:

Al-Monitor:  What are the most important factors for the success of the unification of Palestinian citizens in Israel in preparation for the next electoral cycle?

Odeh:  There are a number of factors. The first is an attempt to deny the Arab and democratic representation in parliament by raising the threshold, and the second is the increase in racist policies and practices, which appeared in racist laws and schemes and last summer’s war on Gaza. The joint Arab list reflects the unity of Palestinians against the Israeli ruling establishment and the partnership with the Jewish powers, which fight occupation, racism and discrimination, and thus constitutes a democratic alternative against the nationalist camp led by Netanyahu and the Zionist Camp led by Herzog and Livni.

Al-Monitor:  The Democratic Front for Peace and Equality has always emphasized the parallel process of the paths of equality and peace. Will the list continue in the same process, or will equality be a priority due to the rise in racial attacks?

Odeh:  We believe that one of the main reasons for the increase in levels of racism is the overall crisis of the Israeli rulers due to the impasse they reached on the political and socio-economic levels. The deterioration toward fascism is the result of this crisis, and therefore, our issues cannot be separated from the major cause of our people. As the poet Tawfiq Ziad said, « The tragedy that I live is but my share of your tragedies. » The parallelism of these two tracks and their connection should be highlighted. Ending the occupation and establishing an atmosphere of peace is the first step in halting the racial discrimination against Arab citizens as a national minority and not as individuals, and defeating the right-wing racial program by developing an alternative political program, based on different foundations and one that eliminates hostility to the Palestinian people under occupation and to the Arab citizens in Israel, too.

Al-Monitor:  Are voters and the Israeli political system on the verge of change in dealing with the Arab population, or do we expect very little progress?

Odeh:  All Israeli governments were bad, racist and hostile to the rights of our people, but Netanyahu and his partners have escalated in recent years the tone of incitement to the Arab population. We cannot predict the outcome today, and despite the progress of the right-wing parties in the polls, overthrowing Netanyahu is still possible. The same applies to the party of [Avigdor] Liberman, who is already in full swing due to the alleged corruption scandal that was unveiled recently, and even Meretz, which lost a lot of votes in favor of the Zionist Camp led by Herzog and Livni.

We say that the Arab population may have a decisive weight after the election, and this relates primarily to raising the participation in the vote from 56% in the last election to 70% or more in this election.

We are confident of our progress and of the increase in our representation, and we will boldly demand the reinforcing of the status of the Arab population and setting our issues in priorities, because we are tired of the government delays. We will call in the Knesset to obtain the chair of key committees and develop an action plan that includes the enactment of laws and provisions guaranteeing equality for Arab citizens.

Al-Monitor:  There are signs that many are betting on the presence of an opposition front to the extreme right in the next election. How do you see your role in the fight against the right?

Odeh:  It is premature to bet now on restoring the experience of the « blocking vote » during the Rabin era [1992-95]. But certainly we don’t depend on Herzog and Livni. At the same time, we are not neutral concerning Netanyahu’s return to power — especially after the war perpetrated in Gaza — nor concerning [Naftali] Bennett’s [Jewish Home], which openly calls for the annexation of Area C to Israel and stands behind the settlement activities in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem.

We recall that to this day, any Israeli withdrawal from an inch of Palestinian land has occurred through the political weight of the Arabs in the Knesset. The equation is that any progress and any breakthrough require the political weight of the Arab population. Our battle against the right is in full force and we are determined to topple him.

Al-Monitor:  What are the main challenges that you personally see in presiding over a joint list for the first time, especially with the presence of personalities from different parties’ ideology in your list?

Odeh:  Despite the difference and competition between us, our direct enemy is Zionism. I think everyone is aware of the size of the tasks ahead of us and everyone behaves according to the required responsibility.

The biggest challenge was the formation of this list and the engagement in this partnership to overcome the increase of the threshold rate and other obstacles imposed by the right, and the bet on our existence and our representation in parliament. This new experiment is still in its early stage, and we in the front want this experience to succeed and continue because of the possibility of defeating the right.

Al-Monitor:  How do you assess Avraham Burg joining Hadash? Will his participation reduce the gap between Arabs and Jews?

Odeh:  When a Jewish man, born in the house of a Zionist leader from the Mifdal party, joins Hadash, and having presided over the Jewish Agency, then abandons Zionism and adopts the front’s positions, this is considered a critical national gain and has its impact on the Jewish community and on the progressive circles, both on the quantitative and qualitative levels. Each breakthrough we accomplish in the Zionist consensus is a net gain for the cause of justice for our people. Overall, despite the induction of the ruling establishment and its arms and horns on the joint list, it has the support of the Jewish community and a wide range of anti-Zionism fighting against the occupation, racism and fascism forces. Burg’s positive step confirms the credibility of our position and our way, because this man has previous fixed convictions.

Al-Monitor:  There is fear of indifference among Arabs in Israel. What are the practical steps to prevent it, and what percentage do you hope to achieve from the Arab participation in the elections?

Odeh:  This fear is justified, especially in the absence of the usual rivalry within the Arab community. We are aware that the main challenge is to raise the percentage of the vote to 70%, and if we succeed in this, we can raise the representation from the current 12 seats to 14 or 15 seats.

Al-Monitor:  The Palestinian issue is at a delicate stage. Is there an opportunity for the joint list to bridge the gap between the Palestinian leadership and the next government?

Odeh:  The Palestinian issue is undergoing its finest and most dangerous stage in recent decades, due to Israeli and US policies and also in light of regional developments. This requires arranging the Palestinian house and promoting national unity and popular resistance against the occupation. This is our position, and the Palestinian leadership and all factions know it. This is a prerequisite for the realization of the rights of our people and for attempts to prevent the establishment of the state of Palestine.

Overthrowing Netanyahu may change the regional atmosphere and create a new opportunity to reassess serious dialogue on the path of negotiations and peace, but Netanyahu’s staying may drag the region into a new abyss, especially with the growth of racism and fascism in Israel.

Al-Monitor:  The law declaring the Jewishness of the state failed in the past year. Will the current elections strengthen the issue or terminate the discussion? What is your role in dealing with the subject?

Odeh:  We believe that the issue of a Jewish state formed a convenient way out for Netanyahu, lest the political issue [of negotiations] and economic topics be part of the electoral agenda. From our side, we will confront each piece of legislation or action that affects our rights and legitimacy in our country, through the unification among the Palestinian minority on the one hand and strengthening the partnership with the rational forces of democracy in Israeli society on the other hand.

Al-Monitor:  There is a serious US-Israeli disagreement on Netanyahu’s invitation to the White House without any coordination. What is your take on this?

Odeh:  We believe that this dispute is in the trenches, the enemies of the Palestinian people. Therefore, it should not be overly relied upon because Israel has been and remains a tool of US dominance in the region and a front claw for the imperial interests and plans, regardless of the internal contradictions between them.

On the other hand, Israel’s international isolation may create better ground to overthrow Netanyahu, because it concerns the economic and cultural elites and the military and security as well. Perhaps the time has come for the [Barack] Obama administration to think about stopping Netanyahu’s arrogance; the failure of [US Secretary of State John] Kerry’s efforts proved to the US administration who Netanyahu is, and this crisis comes now to reconsider what is certain and sustained with this administration. The question remains whether there will be a change in the US mentality toward Netanyahu and whether there will be any intention of an actual realization of the rights of the Palestinian people to establish an independent state.

Voir également:

Avraham Burg : « Aujourd’hui, en Israël, le sionisme est un outil de discrimination »
Entretien réalisé par 
Perre Barbancey
L’Humanité/Reuters

Mardi, 17 Mars, 2015

Entretien L’ancien président travailliste de la Knesset et ex-président de l’Agence juive mondiale a rejoint le mouvement Haddash et appelle à voter pour la liste judéo-arabe, baptisée Liste commune.
Jérusalem, envoyé spécial.

Pensez-vous que ces élections vont marquer un changement dans la société israélienne ?

Avraham Burg Les élections ­expriment la réalité contemporaine. Mais tout est plus long que les mandats donnés par un vote. Il y a un changement profond au sein de la société israélienne. Les partis ne sont plus les mêmes. Tout bouge ici, comme un continent. Comment cela finira-t-il ? Difficile à dire. Mais, il y a encore un an, personne ne donnait la moindre chance à quelqu’un comme Isaac Herzog, de l’Union sioniste. ­Netanyahou est ­hystérique. J’ai l’impression – et que cela arrive cette fois-ci ou à la prochaine élection – que la profonde frustration de la société israélienne, fatiguée de ne pas avoir d’espoir, qui en a marre d’être désespérée, d’être sacrifiée économiquement à cause d’un Iran virtuel (allusion à la campagne de Netanyahou – ndlr), marque un fait : le temps de Netanyahou est terminé.

Vous avez vous-même été président de la Knesset, en tant que travailliste. Ce Parti travailliste est aujourd’hui allié à Tzipi Livni et n’apparaît plus sous son nom mais comme « Union sioniste ». Ce qui fait dire à certains qu’il n’y a plus de gauche en Israël. Que s’est-il passé ?

Avraham Burg Quand on dit « gauche » en France, on associe cela à des idées bien précises sur l’égalité entre les citoyens, la laïcité, une redistribution des richesses… Mais, en Israël, la définition de gauche se fait à partir d’un positionnement pour ou contre une solution avec les Palestiniens. Vous pouvez donc trouver quelqu’un comme Tzipi Livni, qui est ultralibérale dans le domaine économique, mais qui veut un arrangement avec les Palestiniens. On la situe à gauche alors que sur toutes les autres valeurs, elle en est loin. Herzog est un travailliste, mais vraiment conservateur. Il n’est pas de gauche. La seule liste aujourd’hui qui a le potentiel pour devenir une alternative démocratique de gauche, c’est la Liste commune (formée de tous les partis arabes et des communistes – ndlr). Je ne sais pas si ce potentiel existant va se transformer en une véritable alternative. Herzog représente une vision plus agréable que celle de Netanyahou. Il n’y a pas d’alternative, sur aucun plan. Quand Herzog appelle sa liste « Union sioniste », ça sonne très patriotique. Mais quand vous écoutez avec des oreilles israéliennes, cela signifie « pas d’Arabes ».

Est-ce à dire que la notion même de sionisme est un problème ?

Avraham Burg Nous sommes un pays qui adore catégoriser les gens : religieux, non religieux, ashkénazes, séfarades, ­sionistes, post-sionistes, sionistes malgré eux… Le sionisme a été un mouvement national gagnant pour les juifs qui a créé une révolution fantastique dans l’existence juive, a donné naissance à une horrible tragédie pour les Palestiniens et a expiré en 1948. Le but du sionisme a été de transformer le peuple juif d’une structure de diaspora en une structure souveraine. Cela n’a été qu’un échafaudage. À partir de 1948, nous aurions dû n’être que des Israéliens, quelle que soit l’origine. Mais si ce n’est pas suffisant et que vous avez besoin du sionisme pour définir quelque chose, cela signifie que vous discriminez quelqu’un. Oui, ­aujourd’hui, en Israël, le sionisme est un outil de discrimination.

Vous portez une kippa, mais vous dites maintenant ne plus croire en dieu. Cela est-il dû à votre expérience en Israël ou à une évolution philosophique de votre pensée ?

Avraham Burg Cela vient de ma vie en Israël, de moi-même et de mon engagement avec le monde. Je suis né dans un système orthodoxe en Israël. Le ­judaïsme n’est pas une religion. C’est une culture. La religion a été une partie centrale de la judaïté. Mais seulement une partie. Le fait d’être juif n’est pas un choix de dieu. Y a-t-il quelque chose au-delà de mon existence ? Je n’en sais rien et je ne le saurai jamais. Mais ça ne m’intéresse pas. Je suis intéressé par ma vie d’être humain. Je suis un juif accidentel. Si ça n’avait tenu qu’à moi, je n’aurais pas subi la circoncision ni célébré ma bar-mitsva. Mais le monde n’est pas accidentel, pas plus que l’humanité ou que les valeurs. J’essaie d’appréhender le monde à travers ma subjectivité. Comme vous. Et, tous ensemble, nous créons une mosaïque mondiale. Être juif est un profond engagement culturel. Ce n’est pas dieu qui est au centre, mais l’être humain.

Quelle est la signification de la volonté de Netanyahou de définir Israël comme un État juif ?

Avraham Burg C’est un vide théorique. En réalité, c’est impossible. Quelle est la source de l’autorité dans une société ­démocratique ? Les citoyens. Mais, pour les tenants d’un État juif, la source de l’autorité est dieu pas les hommes. ­Aucune société, aucun État ne peut vivre avec deux sources d’autorité aussi contradictoires. C’est pour cela que c’est une ­déclaration vide et dangereuse. Il faut un État d’Israël véritablement laïque.

C’est aussi pour cela que vous avez décidé de soutenir la Liste commune ?

Avraham Burg Exactement. C’est le seul comportement possible pour quelqu’un qui pense que la citoyenneté est la façon d’organiser la société.

Voir encore:

Israel’s left is living in a bubble

Op-ed: Elections results reveal the naked truth: Leftists know very little about life outside Tel Aviv, the academia and the media.

Eitan Haber

Ynet

03.18.15

The Knesset elections results present the naked truth: All of the left-wing movements, the media and many of the voters of the Zionist Union, Meretz and others are living in a bubble, and know very little – if anything – about life outside the bubble.

The leftists enhance each other in conversations at cafés and restaurants, in the Tel Aviv salons, in cinematheques and different cultural clubs. The people living outside Tel Aviv and the Jerusalem Cinematheque, outside the academia and the newspaper and television’s news desks have completely different views.

The facts were painfully presented on Tuesday evening to those who in the past few weeks believed the stories about the left-wing bloc’s meteoric rise and the right-wing bloc’s collapse.

Those living in the bubble should spend the next few years far away from Tel Aviv, and get to know the people in the periphery, in order to believe that the State of Israel will continue to exist long after the Zionist Union leaders disappear from the political map.

The left likes to withdraw into itself, to hold internal discussions, to engage in internal quarrels, and shows contempt and disregard towards the voice of « Masuda from Sderot. » But the thing is that in one day of elections, the vote of Masuda from Sderot equals the vote of the president of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. It’s the same opportunity, it’s the same envelop – only the vote is different.

These many votes were collected by Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday into the right-wing bloc, the natural place for all the different deprived groups. Even if Isaac Herzog joins the government, even if he becomes a senior government member, all the good deeds he and his friends have done and have promised to do – starting from housing to supporting the needy – won’t help them.

Once again, we have painfully realized that the northern Tel Aviv neighborhood of Tzahala completely misunderstands Sderot.

Voir par ailleurs:

VIDÉO. Barack Obama répond au Huffington Post: Israël, Palestine, Netanyahu, nucléaire iranien
Le HuffPost
21/03/2015

INTERNATIONAL – « Il faut tout d’abord que les Iraniens démontrent clairement qu’ils ne fabriquent pas de bombes nucléaires, et qu’ils nous laissent toute latitude pour nous en assurer ». Dans un entretien vendredi 20 mars avec Sam Stein pour The Huffington Post, Barack Obama réitère son objectif d’obtenir un accord sur le dossier du nucléaire iranien « dans les semaines à venir ».

« Il n’y aura pas d’accord tant que tout n’aura pas été résolu », a aussi indiqué le président américain, réfutant les rumeurs selon lesquelles une première ébauche de l’accord circule parmi les cercles autorisés. Les grandes puissances et Téhéran reprendront mercredi 25 mars leurs négociations, après une semaine de tractations marathon qui n’ont pas permis de sceller d’accord avant l’échéance du 31 mars.

« Je dois avouer que les Iraniens n’ont pas fait jusqu’ici les compromis que j’estime indispensables pour parvenir à cet accord. Mais ils se sont montrés ouverts, ce qui laisse la porte ouverte à la recherche d’une solution (…). Je vais devoir démontrer au peuple américain, mais aussi aux Israéliens et au reste du monde, que nous avons mis en place des mécanismes qui empêcheront l’Iran d’accéder à la bombe atomique », a aussi dit Barack Obama au Huffington Post.

Le président Obama a promis qu’il ferait tout, y compris militairement, pour empêcher Téhéran d’obtenir la bombe. Mais depuis 2013, il mise sur la diplomatie et a fait d’un rapprochement avec la puissance chiite une priorité. Ce qui met en rage Israël et le Congrès américain.

« Il est évident que beaucoup d’Israéliens se méfient, à juste titre, de leur voisin iranien, a aussi commenté le président américain. L’Iran a tenu des propos ignobles et antisémites, et menacé Israël d’annihilation. C’est précisément pour cela que j’ai dit, avant même de devenir président, que l’Iran ne devait pas disposer de l’arme nucléaire ».

Autres sujets de politique étrangère évoqués durant l’entretien, la victoire de Benjamin Netanyahu aux élections législatives anticipées du mardi 17 mars et la création d’un Etat palestinien. « Disons que nous lui faisons confiance quand il dit que cela n’arrivera pas tant qu’il sera Premier ministre. C’est pourquoi nous devons explorer d’autres options afin d’empêcher que la région ne sombre dans le chaos », a dit Barack Obama au Huffington Post.

« J’ai eu l’occasion de parler hier (jeudi 19 mars, ndlr) à M. Netanyahu. Je l’ai félicité pour sa victoire, et je lui ai réaffirmé mon attachement  à une solution à deux États qui est, de notre point de vue, la seule garantie sur le long terme de la sécurité d’Israël, en tant qu’État juif et démocratique, a indiqué Barack Obama. Je lui ai également rappelé qu’après ses récentes déclarations, il serait difficile de croire qu’Israël est sérieusement attaché à la poursuite des négociations ». Benjamin Netanyahu a à nouveau rejeté durant les derniers jours de sa campagne la solution à deux États.

« Cependant, nous continuerons d’insister sur le fait que, du point de vue des États-Unis, le statu quo est intenable, a poursuivi le président américain. Nous sommes attachés à la sécurité d’Israël, mais il n’est pas possible de poursuivre cette voie éternellement, avec l’implantation de nouvelles colonies. C’est un facteur d’instabilité dans la région ».

Le président américain a aussi critiqué les propos de Benjamin Netanyahu qui avait dénoncé le « danger » d’un vote massif des Arabes israéliens aux élections législatives. « Nous avons rappelé que ce genre de discours était contraire aux traditions d’Israël. Bien que ce pays soit fondé sur une terre historiquement juive, et sur le besoin de créer une nation juive, la démocratie israélienne repose sur la notion que tous ses citoyens sont égaux en droits. C’est ce qui fait la grandeur de cette démocratie. Si cela venait à changer, je pense que cela donnerait des arguments à ceux qui ne veulent pas d’un Etat juif, et que cela affaiblirait la démocratie israélienne », a commenté Barack Obama.

Interview traduite par Bamiyan Shiff pour Fast for Word

Voir de plus:

Département d’Etat américain : Obama estime que Netanyahu n’est pas sincère
Israel-flash

mar 24, 2015

Visiblement la hargne d’Obama contre Israël ne faiblit pas.

Rappel des faits

L’administration du président américain Barack Obama a rejoint les membres arabes de la Knesset lundi et s’est interrogée quand des excuses adressées par le Premier ministre Benjamin Netanyahu au dirigeants arabes en Israël pour sa mise en garde contre le vote arabe.

NDLR – on signale tout de même qu’avec l’aide de certaines ONG de gauche financées par l’étranger, des transports ont été organisés pour permettre à certains arabes de voter. Ce qui est une ingérence flagrante.Nous sommes d’ailleurs satisfaits que le Congrès ait demandé une enquête à ce sujet.

C’était la deuxième fois la semaine dernière que l’administration Obama et la Liste arabe unie ont publié des déclarations étonnamment similaires reprochant à Netanyahu ses propos pendant la campagne électorale. Certains députés arabes et Obama lui-même ont mis en doute la sincérité des clarifications que Netanyahu a apporté sur la question palestinienne. Netanyahu a donc tenté de faire amende honorable auprès des leaders arabes lundi en accueillant les chefs des communautés arabes et d’autres israéliens représentant des minorités à sa résidence officielle à Jérusalem.

Il a saisi cette occasion pour présenter des excuses concernant son avertissement le jour du scrutin aux électeurs de droite que les Arabes israéliens allaient voter en masse et ont utilisés des autobus financés par les organisations et des donateurs étrangers. « Je sais que mes commentaires la semaine dernière ont offensé certains citoyens israéliens et des membres de la communauté arabe d’Israël « , a t-il dit. « Cela n’a jamais été mon intention. Je m’excuse pour cela.  » a déclaré M. Netanyahu et mes actions en tant que premier ministre, y compris les investissements importants réalisés au sein des communautés minoritaires d’Israël, ont prouvé que je n’ai rien contre les Arabes.

Sa déclaration le jour du scrutin visait simplement à souligner qu’aucune entité étrangère ne devrait interférer dans le processus démocratique d’Israël.

« Je me considère comme le premier ministre de chaque citoyen d’Israël, sans préjugés fondés sur la religion, l’origine ethnique ou le sexe , « a t-il dit.

«Je considère chaque citoyen comme partenaire dans la construction d’un État plus sûr, plus prospère et une nation qui profite aux besoins et aux intérêts de tous nos citoyens. »

Obama a déclaré ce week-end qu’il prévoyait une réévaluation de sa relation avec Israël.

« Quand il dit une chose un jour et une autre chose un autre jour, il est impossible de dire si il est sincère », a déclaré la porte-parole adjointe du Département d’Etat Marie Harf aux journalistes. « Nous ne pouvons savoir ce qu’il a l’esprit. »

Quant à la tête liste arabe unie Ayman Odeh, celui-ci a considéré que la déclaration de Netanyahu était inacceptable et que des excuses sincères devraient venir sous forme d’adoption de lois visant à rendre les allocations de financement de l’Etat plus égalitaire. Il a dit qu’après la réunion avec les dirigeants arabes, Netanyahu a rencontré le dirigeant Bayit Yehudi Naftali Bennett et lui a parlé de faire avancer une législation nationaliste. « C’est juste un autre zigzag par un homme connu pour ses zigzags, » a dit Odeh. « Il doit retourner les mandats qu’il a reçus pour cette incitation. Nous attendons de véritables excuses, ce qui signifie une égalité réelle.  »  Ahmed Tibi a déclaré que les commentaires du premier ministre étaient « une expression de tristesse, pas des excuses. » Il a dit que « quand il s’agit de Juifs, Netanyahu s’excuse, mais quand il s’agit d’ arabes, il n’est que désolé.  » Dans un autre communiqué, la liste commune a dit: «Malheureusement, le racisme de Netanyahu et son gouvernement commence et se termine avec cette incitation. » « La législation raciste et d’exclusion et la discrimination politique font également partie du plan de travail de Netanyahu pour la prochaine Knesset, « . « Donc nous n’avons pas d’autres choix que de rejeter ces excuses et continuer notre lutte pour l’égalité pour la population arabe. »

L’Union sioniste, qui devrait diriger formellement l’opposition, n’a pas rejoint l’administration Obama et la liste commune sur la critique des excuses de Netanyahu .

Le directeur national de l’Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman s’est félicité de la sensibilisation et des excuses de Netanyahu à la communauté arabe israélienne. « Bien que je ne crois pas que les remarques jour de l’élection du Premier ministre aient été anti-arabe ou racistes, la déclaration de Netanyahu pose la question dans l’esprit des gens sur la façon dont la communauté arabe est considérée par les dirigeants d’Israël et de sa place dans la société israélienne », a déclaré Foxman. « Il est important de se rappeler que sous la surveillance du Premier ministre Netanyahu, il y a eu un effort important par le gouvernement israélien pour intégrer les Arabes israéliens dans la société en général , en particulier en investissant des milliards de shekels dans l’amélioration des possibilités d’éducation et d’emploi pour les Arabes israéliens. Malheureusement, tout au long de la campagne électorale récente, il y a eu trop de déclarations extrêmes et de division. Nous réitérons notre appel aux Israéliens de toutes les affiliations politiques à travailler pour guérir ces blessures et de promouvoir l’intégration de tous en Israël.  » Reuters et Ariel Ben Solomon ont contribué à ce rapport.

résumé et adapté par la rédaction d’Israël-flash source JPost

Voir de plus:

En Israël, les partis arabes forment une alliance historique
Piotr Smolar (Jérusalem, correspondant)

Le Monde

10.02.2015

Ils ont levé les bras et fait le V de la victoire, alors que la campagne a à peine commencé. Jamais encore, dans l’histoire politique d’Israël, les partis représentant les électeurs arabes (minorité constituant 20 % de la population du pays) n’étaient parvenus à présenter une liste unique aux élections législatives. Ce sera le cas le 17 mars. Le parti communiste Hadash et les trois formations arabes – le Mouvement islamique, Ta’al (Mouvement arabe pour le renouveau) et les nationalistes de Balad – ont officialisé leur alliance le 22 janvier, après de longues semaines de tractations. Les rivalités et les différends idéologiques n’ont pas disparu, une stratégie commune peine à émerger, mais voilà une rare bonne nouvelle pour cet électorat négligé.

C’était une question de survie. En 2014, la barre minimale pour entrer à la Knesset (le Parlement israélien) est passée de 2 % à 3,25 %, menaçant les petites formations. « L’union est devenue pour nous un cas de force majeur », explique Ahmed Tibi, leader du parti Ta’al. Les sondages promettent à la liste unifiée un résultat supérieur aux 11 sièges que les partis arabes détenaient séparément dans la Knesset sortante. Or, le Likoud du premier ministre Benyamin Nétanyahou et le Camp sioniste (centre gauche), composé des travaillistes et de Hatnoua, sont au coude-à-coude. Les députés arabes pourraient donc jouer un rôle déterminant lors de la formation d’une coalition, dès le lendemain du scrutin.

Soutien négocié
Pour autant, la liste unie n’est pas prête à rejoindre un gouvernement de centre gauche. « Je devrais, dans ce cas-là, porter la responsabilité pour toutes les actions du gouvernement, souligne Ahmed Tibi. Par exemple, s’il continue à détruire des maisons arabes en Israël, à confisquer nos terres, ou s’il décide de bombarder à nouveau Gaza. » En revanche, la liste arabe pourrait négocier son soutien à un tel gouvernement, pour mettre fin à l’ère Nétanyahou. « On peut discuter de cette possibilité après le vote, dit M.Tibi, dans le cadre de négociations sur le budget, les infrastructures, le logement, la question de prisonniers, la mosquée Al-Aqsa. »

Le sort de Haneen Zoabi (Balad) empêche pour le moment tout rapprochement entre le Camp sioniste et la liste arabe unie. Le Camp sioniste veut priver de mandat cette députée à la réputation sulfureuse. Elle s’est fait connaître en 2010 en montant à bord du navire turc Mavi-Marmara, qui avait tenté de briser le blocus de la bande de Gaza par Israël. Par ses outrances, Haneen Zoabi est un repoussoir parfait pour la droite nationaliste et elle permet à l’opposition de donner des gages de patriotisme à peu de frais, en la critiquant. Fin juillet 2014, le comité d’éthique de la Knesset lui avait interdit de s’adresser à ses pairs pendant six mois. Elle avait déclaré que les kidnappeurs de trois adolescents juifs en Cisjordanie, dont le sort avait ému le pays, n’étaient pas des terroristes.

Double frustration
Depuis quinze ans, une double frustration frappe les Arabes israéliens. La première vient de l’Etat, qui les exclut des emplois dans les entreprises publiques et l’administration, ne respecte pas leur mémoire et leurs droits à la propriété, et n’assure pas leur sécurité. Ces citoyens s’estiment discriminés et toujours suspectés d’un manque de loyauté vis-à-vis de la communauté nationale. Ils comprennent également que la création de plus en plus hypothétique d’un Etat palestinien ne réglerait pas leurs problèmes.

L’autre frustration émane de leurs propres élus arabes. Malgré une dynamique unitaire, leurs formations semblent condamnées à un rôle traditionnel de figurantes. Elles ne participent pas au pouvoir. La majorité juive les tolère mais ne remet pas en cause son propre monopole politique et symbolique. Le Septième Œil, site spécialisé dans l’analyse critique des médias, a ainsi noté un détail significatif. Il a fallu attendre début février pour que le visage d’Ayman Odeh, leader de la liste arabe unie, figure sur le bandeau de présentation des articles consacrés à la campagne, dans le quotidien Israel Hayom.

« Les députés arabes n’ont pas d’influence sur la politique d’Israël, souligne Amal Jamal, professeur de sciences politiques à l’université de Tel-Aviv. Ils vont aux élections pour débattre uniquement de l’allocation des ressources. Ils arrivent à la Knesset sans l’expérience des grands groupes industriels, ni celle de l’armée. Ils n’ont donc pas de réseaux et ne peuvent influer sur la politique de l’électricité, de l’eau, de la santé. C’est pour cela qu’ils se réfugient dans l’idéologie : pour masquer leur impotence. »

 Voir de même:

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Tibi says Netanyahu is inciting against Arab voters who are taking advantage of their natural and democratic right as citizens.
Benjamin Netanyahu

Netanyahu delivers a statement in Har Homa. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Funding from foreign governments to get more Israeli Arabs to vote worked, which means all right-wing voters must make sure to go to the polls, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Tuesday.

“The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are going en masse to the polls. Left-wing NGOs are bringing them on buses,” he said.

Netanyahu’s message, delivered in a video on Facebook, came shortly after the Joint (Arab) List announced that as of 11 a.m., 10 percent of Israeli Arabs had voted, as opposed to 3 percent at the same time in the last election. After the prime minister issued his warning, the party decided to stop releasing Arab voting numbers.

“We only have you,” a visibly tired Netanyahu pleaded. “Go to the polls, bring your friends and family, vote Mahal [Likud] to close the gap between us and Labor [Zionist Union].”

“With your help and God’s help, we will form a nationalist government that will protect the State of Israel,” he added.

MK Ahmed Tibi (Ta’al) responded to Netanyahu’s message, saying that the prime minister is in a panic.

“He is inciting against Arab voters who are taking advantage of their natural and democratic right as citizens,” he said. “Netanyahu and [the] Likud are afraid, and therefore I call on more and more of the Arab public to go to the polls so Netanyahu will continue panicking. Change is coming.”

Netanyahu later clarified that “what’s wrong is not that Arab citizens are voting, but that massive funds from abroad from left-wing NGOs and foreign governments are bringing them en masse to the polls in an organized way, thus twisting the true will of all Israeli citizens who are voting, for the good of the Left.”

Likud sent an SMS to voters that “voting percentages tripled among the Arab population! The concern is coming true: The call by [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] and American money are bringing Arabs to the polls. Go vote!” The SMS included a link to a Channel 1 news report that Abbas encouraged Arab MKs to form one party and recommend Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog as prime minister.

Other right-wing parties soon jumped on the bandwagon, with Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman writing on Facebook that “Netanyahu knows that if masses of Arabs go to the polls, only a strong Liberman can stop them.”

Bayit Yehudi sent an SMS to voters that “it is important to spread the word: There are high voter rates in the Arab population. We are worried that the Arab party of [MKs Ahmed] Tibi and [Haneen] Zoabi will surpass Bayit Yehudi as the third-biggest party and hurt the right-wing bloc. Make sure to get everyone out of the house and vote Bayit Yehudi.”

The Joint List passed Bayit Yehudi and was third-largest party in many polls in the past few months.

MK Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) wrote on Facebook that “no Western leader would dare let such a racist text come out of his mouth.”

“Imagine if the prime minister or president of any democratic country would warn that his government is in danger because, for example, ‘black voters are going en masse to the polls.’ Horrifying, right? “It looks like what bothers Bibi [Netanyahu] is that Israeli citizens are going to vote in high numbers and simply want to replace him democratically,” she added.

Meanwhile, complaints about Netanyahu’s comments filled social media, and was even made into a meme, showing the prime minister’s head on the body of a character from the TV show Game of Thrones who is known for saying “Brace yourself, winter is coming,” with the caption: “Brace yourselves, the Arabs are voting.”

Voir enfin:

Analyse
Pourquoi Obama et Netanyahu se détestent
L’inimitié entre les deux dirigeants sur l’accord iranien atteint un sommet, mais le discours de Netanyahu à Washington n’est qu’un épisode de plus d’une relation haineuse plus longue et plus profonde qui ne s’arrêtera pas une fois la crise résolue
Haviv Rettig Gur

The Times of Israel

4 mars 2015

Haviv Rettig Gur Haviv Rettig Gur est le correspondant des affaires politiques pour le Times of Israel.

En novembre 2009, la chancellière allemande Angela Merkel a invité le président américain Barack Obama, toujours dans sa première année de fonction, à assister au 20e anniversaire de la chute du mur de Berlin.

La commémoration annuelle rappelle aux Européens la défaite finale des excès idéologiques sanglants du 20e siècle, le dépassement d’une terrible histoire, plus que tout autre chose grâce à la puissance et à l’idéalisme américain. Il est difficile de penser à une histoire plus pro-américaine que celle expérimentée et dont se souviennent autant de millions d’Européens ce jour-là.

Les dirigeants de l’Europe étaient tous présents, du Premier ministre britannique aux présidents de la France et de la Russie. Pourtant, Obama était absent.

Le président était occupé, selon la Maison Blanche, citant « des engagements pour un voyage à venir en Asie ». Les Européens ont été choqués. « Barack est trop occupé », pouvait-on lire sur la Une acerbe du quotidien allemand Der Spiegel.

L’événement ne se confrontait pas avec son emploi du temps, mais plutôt avec ses sensibilités en terme de politique étrangère. Obama avait voyagé à Copenhague un mois avant l’événement pour faire du lobby auprès du Comité Olympique International afin d’accorder les jeux d’été de 2016 à sa ville natale de Chicago, et devait ensuite retourner en Europe un mois après la commémoration pour accepter son Prix Nobel de la paix à Oslo.

Son itinéraire de voyage en tant que président signifiait quelque chose de sa vision du monde et de l’Amérique. La commémoration du sauvetage par l’Amérique de l’Europe n’avait pas une très haute place dans cette vision.

Il était tout aussi significatif que le premier voyage d’Obama au Moyen Orient, en avril 2009, ait été la Turquie. « La démocratie turque est votre propre réussite. Aucune puissance étrangère ne vous y a forcé », avait-t-il déclaré au Parlement turc dans une critique évidente de son prédécesseur à la Maison Blanche.

Sa propre expérience de vie, a-t-il dit aux législateurs, a joué dans sa décision d’aller à Istanbul. « Les Etats-Unis ont été enrichis par des Américains musulmans, a-t-il déclaré. Beaucoup d’autres Américains ont des musulmans dans leur famille ou ont vécu dans un pays à majorité musulmane. Je le sais bien puisque je suis l’un d’entre eux. »

Son deuxième voyage au Moyen Orient l’a conduit au Caire, le 4 juin 2009, où il a donné son célèbre discours aux musulmans du monde, un discours qui reconnaissait que l’Amérique avait trop souvent été une partie du problème dans le monde musulman plutôt qu’un élément de la solution.

Voyage après voyage, quelque chose d’important sur les priorités et les sensibilités d’Obama devenait clair. Et pour les Israéliens, tout comme les Allemands avant eux, il était difficile de ne pas noter que les itinéraires de voyage d’Obama, et avec eux ses priorités politiques, semblaient les ignorer.

Chicago

Lors d’une récente réunion du Conseil des Relations Etrangères avec Israël, l’ancien éminent directeur général du ministère des Affaires étrangères, le Professeur Shlomo Avireni, a qualifié la politique étrangère d’Obama de « provinciale ». C’était un choix étrange de mot pour décrire les politiques d’un président avec une apparence aussi cosmopolite et autant d’envie de s’impliquer dans le monde.

Avineri touchait pourtant quelque chose du doigt.

Les remarquables mémoires d’Obama, les « Rêves de mon père », comportent un récit puissant sur ses expériences en tant que jeune travailleur social perspicace et enthousiaste dans le Sud de Chicago qui lui ont inculqué la sensibilité qui allait ensuite définir sa présidence.

Dans ce récit autobiographique, il décrit sa réaction en entendant les enfants d’un quartier pauvre de Chicago divisés en « bons garçons et mauvais garçons, la distinction n’avait pas de sens dans ma tête ». Si un enfant en particulier « finissait dans un gang ou en prison, cela démontrerait-il quelque chose de son essence, un gêne imprévisible… ou simplement les conséquences d’un environnement difficile ? »

« Dans chaque société, les jeunes hommes vont avoir des tendances violentes », lui avait déclaré à la fin des années 1980 un éducateur dans un lycée avec des élèves majoritairement noirs de Chicago. « Soit ces tendances sont dirigées et canalisées vers des objectifs créatifs soit ces tendances détruisent les jeunes hommes, ou la société, ou les deux ».

Le livre est rempli de telles méditations qui font écho à travers la rhétorique d’Obama comme président.

Dans son dernier discours à l’Assemblée générale des Nations unies, il a affirmé que « si les jeunes vivaient dans un endroit où le seul choix se situe entre la dictature d’un Etat et l’attrait d’un extrémisme souterrain, aucune stratégie contre-terroriste ne pouvait fonctionner ».

Pour Obama, le terrorisme est, à la racine, un produit de la désintégration sociale. La guerre est peut-être nécessaire pour contenir l’avancée de l’Etat islamique, mais seulement une réforme sociale peut vraiment s’en débarrasser.

Ajoutez à cette vision le vécu d’un parfait ‘outsider’, moitié blanc et moitié noir avec une enfance et une famille dispersée autour du monde, et on commence à voir le profil d’un homme avec une empathie automatique pour les marginaux et un sens presque instinctif que les plus importants problèmes du monde sont enracinés, non pas dans l’idéologie, mais dans des structures sociales et économiques oppressives qui renforcent la marginalisation.

Cette sensibilité est plus large que n’importe quelle orthodoxie économique, et elle est enracinée dans la dure expérience du Sud de Chicago.

Après avoir pris la tête de la plus importante superpuissance du monde en janvier 2009, ce travailleur social s’est mis à construire une politique étrangère qui traduisait ses impressions en actions géopolitiques.

« Lui et ses conseillers sentaient qu’il était impératif non seulement d’introduire un récit post-Bush mais aussi une compréhension post-11 septembre de ce qu’il fallait faire dans le monde », a noté James Traub dans un article récent de Foreign Policy.

« Ils considéraient que les grandes questions devant les Etats-Unis n’étaient pas des questions traditionnelles d’Etat à Etat, mais de nouvelles problématiques qui cherchaient à promouvoir des biens internationaux et demandaient une coopération globale, le changement climatique, l’approvisionnement en énergie, les Etats faibles et en effondrement, la non-prolifération nucléaire. C’était précisément sur de telles questions que l’on avait besoin de rassembler le soutien des citoyens et des dirigeants. »

Le monde était un énorme Chicago, ses problèmes essentiels pas totalement différents de ceux des Noirs du Sud de Chicago, et les solutions à ces problèmes étaient enracinées dans la même capacité humaine à surpasser les divisions sociales et les inégalités.

Voilà en quoi consistait le « provincialisme » d’Obama, sa vision d’un monde qui favorisait les désavantagés et les opprimés, qui percevait les conflits idéologiques et politiques entre les gouvernements comme secondaires par rapport à des crises plus universelles et en fin de compte sociales qui troublaient un monde déjà tumultueux.

Jérusalem

C’était cette vision humanitaire expansive qui a conduit Obama à faire sa première erreur stratégique majeure au sujet d’Israël. C’était, en effet, en Israël que son récit des affaires du monde s’opposait directement aux réalités impitoyables de la géopolitique.

Dans son discours du Caire, tout en promettant de défendre Israël et de garantir l’alliance de l’Amérique avec l’Etat juif, Obama a aussi dit au monde musulman que les implantations d’Israël étaient illégitimes et suggérait que la prétention juive envers Israël était enracinée dans la dévastation de l’Holocauste plutôt que dans l’attachement juif millénaire à la terre.

Cette insulte à la légitimité du régime politique juif en Israël, à la fois dans la rhétorique et dans l’itinéraire de voyage, était totalement inattendue. Cela a eu lieu juste quelques mois avant qu’il n’insulte involontairement les Allemands pour la commémoration de la chute du mur de Berlin.

Dans les deux cas, il y avait une même raison : un Israël prospère et puissant, comme l’Europe, ne faisait pas partie du monde qu’Obama essayait de sauver. En raison de son succès, Israël n’était pas pertinent dans sa vision de la politique étrangère.

Avec une exception : l’injustice sociale, économique et politique imposée par Israël contre les Palestiniens sans défense.

Le conflit israélo-palestinien semblait avoir beaucoup en commun avec les maladies sociales américaines qu’il avait combattues toute sa vie d’adulte : un conflit entre deux communautés divisées, renforcé par l’intolérance, des récits mutuellement exclusifs de victimisation et d’absence d’empathie et d’espoir.

L’engagement énergique et premier d’Obama pour la paix israélo-palestinienne n’était pas enraciné dans les calculs stratégiques habituels qui conduisent une politique étrangère, mais cela correspondait très bien à la nouvelle sensibilité qui définissait maintenant sa présidence.

Mais la géopolitique n’est pas du travail social. Et ce qui est vrai à Chicago ne l’est peut-être pas à Jérusalem. La première tentative majeure d’Obama dans le conflit – obtenir un gel de 10 mois de la construction d’implantations en dehors de Jérusalem – a donné le ton pour les cinq prochaines années d’efforts.

La Maison Blanche d’Obama était désorientée et frustrée quand il est apparu clairement que la mesure sans précédent de « construction de la confiance » de Netanyahu avait en réalité éloigné les Palestiniens de la table des négociations.

Le conflit israélo-palestinien n’est pas un combat contre l’injustice sociale ou économique, mais entre des identités nationales. Même s’il veut un accord de paix avec Israël, comme Obama le croit sincèrement, le président de l’Autorité palestinienne Mahmoud Abbas doit manœuvrer dans les limites du récit national palestinien qui rejette la cause nationale juive comme étant irrémédiablement illégitime. Abbas ne peut tout simplement pas faire de compromis, il doit être perçu comme un vainqueur.
Le président de l’Autorité palestinienne Mahmoud Abbas (Crédit : Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Le président de l’Autorité palestinienne Mahmoud Abbas (Crédit : Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Alors, le fait que la Maison Blanche ait demandé et obtenu un gel sans précédent des implantations d’Israël ne prouvait pas aux Palestiniens qu’Israël était prêt au compromis, mais plutôt que leurs propres dirigeants demandaient moins de l’occupant détesté que la Maison Blanche ouvertement pro-Israélienne.

La Maison Blanche, un bastion de sionistes de son propre aveu, avait sans effort obtenu une concession qu’aucun dirigeant palestinien n’avait même jamais demandée.

Dans son tout premier effort de renforcer la confiance entre les parties, la Maison Blanche d’Obama a désastreusement réduit la marge de manœuvre politique intérieure des dirigeants palestiniens.

Cette erreur initiale a établi la dynamique qui a contrecarré les efforts les plus concertés de l’Amérique pour relancer les négociations. Chaque fois que la pression américaine sur Israël augmentait, la pression intérieure sur les dirigeants palestiniens pour élever leurs exigences et conditions préalables augmentait rapidement aussi.

L’organisation sociale ne lutte pas contre ces couches idéologiques et identitaires, avec la logique impitoyable des conflits ethniques, et les Israéliens n’ont pas tardé à croire qu’Obama ne pouvait les voir.

Après 2010, Obama est resté un personnage bien vu dans la culture populaire israélienne, mais selon les sondages, il a perdu un élément plus important que sa popularité : il était considéré comme dangereusement naïf.

Les Israéliens ont confiance en ses intentions, mais pas en son jugement.

La politique étrangère d’Obama s’est développée au cours des six années de sa présidence.

Son optimisme initial a été tempéré par la réalité en Ukraine, en Syrie et dans d’autres pays en crise. Les décideurs américains peinent encore à trouver des façons de traduire la vision qui définit sa présidence en action géopolitique intelligente.

Bruyamment applaudi partout où il allait, Obama a passé ces premières années tranquillement et a brûlé accidentellement les ponts avec certains des plus proches alliés de l’Amérique.

Six ans plus tard, le lustre est parti. Le zèle optimiste pour un engagement mondial s’est fondu dans une poignée de principes minimalistes : tuer tous les terroristes qui menacent les Américains, éviter les guerres coûteuses, rester près des alliés stables.

Washington

La Maison Blanche d’Obama déteste Benjamin Netanyahu. C’est une animosité que les observateurs de longue date des relations américano-israéliennes soulignent souvent, mais tentent rarement d’expliquer.

L’aversion du président Obama pour Netanyahu est intense, et le sentiment filtre parfois dans les rangs des conseillers et des hauts fonctionnaires des deux bords.

Il y a peu de doute que cette hostilité soit devenue personnelle – un dirigeant juif américain a affirmé que c’est le président Obama lui-même qui a donné l’interview à The Atlantic, dans laquelle un responsable anonyme s’est moqué de Netanyahu en le qualifiant de « chickenshit » [poule mouillée] – mais ses origines sont plus profondes qu’une antipathie personnelle.

La rhétorique de Netanyahu au cours des six dernières années est dominée par des platitudes sempiternelles sur l’histoire juive et les droits des Juifs.

Même quand il offre un rameau d’olivier rhétorique, comme dans son célèbre discours en 2009 à l’université Bar-Ilan, il refuse d’adopter un langage qui accepte comme une question de principe la légitimité de visions concurrentes.
Le Premier ministre Benjamin Netanyahu prie au mur Occidental dans la Vieille Ville de Jérusalem le 28 février 2015 (Crédit : AFP/Pool/Marc Sellem)

Le Premier ministre Benjamin Netanyahu prie au mur Occidental dans la Vieille Ville de Jérusalem le 28 février 2015 (Crédit : AFP/Pool/Marc Sellem)

Les heures avant son décollage pour son voyage controversé cette semaine à Washington, Netanyahu a pris le temps de prier au mur Occidental à Jérusalem et de faire un pèlerinage sur la tombe de son père, expert en histoire juive et en persécution, dont l’intérêt pour la souffrance juive à travers les âges a beaucoup influencé la vision du monde de Netanyahu.

Pour Obama, Netanyahu est Rafiq al Shabazz, un ancien membre d’un gang qui s’est converti à l’islam et est devenu militant de la communauté noire du sud de Chicago dans les années 1980.

Dans « Les Rêves de mon père« , Obama rappelle comment Shabazz expliquait les problèmes communautaires : « Les gens de l’extérieur de notre communauté font de l’argent sur notre dos et sont irrespectueux envers nos frères et sœurs. Fondamentalement, ce que vous avez ici sont des Coréens et des Arabes dirigeant les magasins, des Juifs possédant encore la plupart des bâtiments. Maintenant, dans le court terme, nous sommes ici pour faire en sorte que les intérêts des personnes noires soient entendus, vous comprenez. Quand nous entendons que l’un des Coréens maltraite un client, nous sommes sur l’affaire. Nous insistons pour qu’ils nous respectent et apportent une contribution à la communauté. »

Shabazz considérait les intérêts noirs dans des termes étroitement sectoriels, ne comprenant pas ce qu’Obama savait : dans une économie interconnectée, que ce soit à Chicago ou dans le monde, la prospérité future et la vitalité sociale des Noirs, des Coréens, des Arabes et des Juifs est inextricablement liée.

Lorsque Netanyahu insiste pour parler de l’histoire juive à l’Assemblée générale de l’ONU, tout en refusant d’aborder la dépossession palestinienne, quand il rejette d’emblée et à plusieurs reprises l’idée qu’une éventuelle réadaptation de l’Iran pourrait être plus souhaitable qu’une confrontation permanente, Obama entend des échos de ces militants de Chicago dont le chauvinisme a fait plus de mal que de bien à leurs communautés.

Les horizons sectaires de Netanyahu, son pessimisme profond sur les Palestiniens et la région, la politique pure et dure qui reflète le scepticisme de ses électeurs – pour Obama, ces attributs incarnent tous les maux du monde.

L’ « adversaire mortel » de l’Amérique et du monde, a dit Obama, n’est pas un ennemi géopolitique, mais la perte de l’espoir, le triomphe de l’apathie et le broyage des structures sociales (et, par extension, géopolitiques) qui inhibent les opportunités et soutiennent les inégalités.

Netanyahu, un allié trop proche et trop bruyant pour être ignoré, s’irrite contre la vision du monde d’Obama et fustige constamment la consciente largesse d’esprit qu’est devenue l’identité politique d’Obama.

Selon Netanyahu, à moins que le mouvement national palestinien n’accepte qu’il y a une certaine légitimité à la création d’une patrie juive en Israël, les dirigeants palestiniens demeureront gelés sur place et incapables de compromis pour la paix.

Pendant ce temps, les concessions israéliennes à une direction palestinienne qui continue de rejeter la légitimité même d’Israël ne feront que renforcer cette impulsion de rejet en soutenant l’illusion que la victoire finale contre l’existence d’Israël est possible.

Pour Netanyahou, toute la stratégie américaine qui commence par des concessions israéliennes, au lieu de chercher un changement dans la vision de base de l’autre côté, met la charrue avant les bœufs – et garantit un échec continu.

Sur l’Iran, l’évaluation de Netanyahu des capacités stratégiques d’Obama est tout aussi peu flatteuse. En abandonnant les sanctions sur lesquelles les États-Unis avaient toutes les cartes et autour desquelles le monde était uni en opposition aux ambitions nucléaires iraniennes, Obama a concédé beaucoup et obtenu très peu.

On ne peut faire confiance à un pays de la taille de l’Europe occidentale avec un dossier d’installations entières et qui ment à répétition aux inspecteurs de l’AIEA et au Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies.

Un monde qui ne pouvait guère tolérer la perspective d’une guerre serait devenu intolérant, même vis-à-vis d’une restauration des sanctions. Le barrage avait été violé, et personne ne pouvait garantir qu’il pourrait être rétabli si l’Iran violait l’accord.

L’argument favori de la Maison Blanche pour défendre l’accord – que le choix devant les puissances occidentales était de conclure un accord ou d’aller à la guerre – prouve pour Netanyahu l’incompétence qu’il a constatée dans la stratégie de la Maison Blanche. L’argument équivalait à déclarer aux Iraniens que les Etats-Unis ont besoin d’un accord beaucoup plus qu’eux.

Obama a été le premier à se rendre dans la capitale de l’autre et à le rabrouer devant son propre peuple.

Quand Obama est finalement arrivé en Israël en tant que président, en mars 2013, il a ostensiblement refusé une invitation à s’adresser devant le Parlement israélien et a donné à la place une discours public à de jeunes Israéliens au Centre international de conférences de Jérusalem.
Le président américain Barack Obama et le président de l’Autorité palestinienne Mahmoud Abbas saluent la foule lors de la visite d’Obama à Ramallah, le 31 mars 2013 (Credit : Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Le président américain Barack Obama et le président de l’Autorité palestinienne Mahmoud Abbas saluent la foule lors de la visite d’Obama à Ramallah, le 31 mars 2013 (Credit : Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

C’était un discours « pour le peuple d’Israël », pas son leadership, a dit la Maison Blanche – un peu comme le discours du Caire a été adressé aux musulmans et non aux gouvernements. « Je peux vous promettre ceci », a déclaré Obama aux Israéliens à propos de leur Premier ministre, « les dirigeants politiques ne pourront jamais prendre des risques si le peuple ne les pousse pas à prendre des risques ».

Netanyahu a considéré la Maison Blanche d’Obama comme un échec ; aveuglée par sa pompeuse auto-assurance, on ne peut lui faire confiance pour gérer avec compétence la sécurité mondiale.

Obama a vu Netanyahu comme un obstacle, un partisan hypocrite dont la politique étroite obstrue la route de progrès significatifs sur tous les sujets où il est impliqué.

Pour les deux hommes, l’écart est plus profond que la fracture démocrates-républicains, plus profond que la question palestinienne, plus profond encore que la bataille sur l’Iran.

Obama a cherché à introduire une nouvelle conscience dans les affaires mondiales, une conscience qui a défini son identité politique. Netanyahu défend les anciennes méthodes – dont dépendent, selon lui, la sécurité nationale.

Voir enfin:

US Declassifies Document Revealing Israel’s Nuclear Program
Obama revenge for Netanyahu’s Congress talk? 1987 report on Israel’s top secret nuclear program released in unprecedented move.
Ari Yashar, Matt Wanderman
Arutz Sheva 7

3/25/2015

In a development that has largely been missed by mainstream media, the Pentagon early last month quietly declassified a Department of Defense top-secret document detailing Israel’s nuclear program, a highly covert topic that Israel has never formally announced to avoid a regional nuclear arms race, and which the US until now has respected by remaining silent.

But by publishing the declassified document from 1987, the US reportedly breached the silent agreement to keep quiet on Israel’s nuclear powers for the first time ever, detailing the nuclear program in great depth.

The timing of the revelation is highly suspect, given that it came as tensions spiraled out of control between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama ahead of Netanyahu’s March 3 address in Congress, in which he warned against the dangers of Iran’s nuclear program and how the deal being formed on that program leaves the Islamic regime with nuclear breakout capabilities.

Another highly suspicious aspect of the document is that while the Pentagon saw fit to declassify sections on Israel’s sensitive nuclear program, it kept sections on Italy, France, West Germany and other NATO countries classified, with those sections blocked out in the document.

The 386-page report entitled « Critical Technological Assessment in Israel and NATO Nations » gives a detailed description of how Israel advanced its military technology and developed its nuclear infrastructure and research in the 1970s and 1980s.

Israel is « developing the kind of codes which will enable them to make hydrogen bombs. That is, codes which detail fission and fusion processes on a microscopic and macroscopic level, » reveals the report, stating that in the 1980s Israelis were reaching the ability to create bombs considered a thousand times more powerful than atom bombs.

The revelation marks a first in which the US published in a document a description of how Israel attained hydrogen bombs.

The report also notes research laboratories in Israel « are equivalent to our Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge National Laboratories, » the key labs in developing America’s nuclear arsenal.

Israel’s nuclear infrastructure is « an almost exact parallel of the capability currently existing at our National Laboratories, » it adds.

« As far as nuclear technology is concerned the Israelis are roughly where the U.S. was in the fission weapon field in about 1955 to 1960, » the report reveals, noting a time frame just after America tested its first hydrogen bomb.

Institute for Defense Analysis, a federally funded agency operating under the Pentagon, penned the report back in 1987.

Aside from nuclear capabilities, the report revealed Israel at the time had « a totally integrated effort in systems development throughout the nation, » with electronic combat all in one « integrated system, not separated systems for the Army, Navy and Air Force. » It even acknowledged that in some cases, Israeli military technology « is more advanced than in the U.S. »

Declassifying the report comes at a sensitive timing as noted above, and given that the process to have it published was started three years ago, that timing is seen as having been the choice of the American government.

US journalist Grant Smith petitioned to have the report published based on the Freedom of Information Act. Initially the Pentagon took its time answering, leading Smith to sue, and a District Court judge to order the Pentagon to respond to the request.

Smith, who heads the Institute for Research: Middle East Policy, reportedly said he thinks this is the first time the US government has officially confirmed that Israel is a nuclear power, a status that Israel has long been widely known to have despite being undeclared.

Voir par ailleurs:

Iran might attack American troops in Iraq, U.S. officials fear

As a March 31 deadline approaches for a nuclear deal with Iran, some worry about Iranian mischief.

Michael Crowley

Politico

3/25/15

As negotiations on a possible nuclear deal approach a March 31 deadline, U.S. officials are increasingly alarmed about Iran’s expanding military presence in Iraq — and the threat it may pose to American soldiers in the country.

Two scenarios are of particular concern, officials say. One is that a collapse of the nuclear talks could escalate tensions between Iran and the U.S., emboldening Iranian hard-liners and potentially leading to attacks on Americans in Iraq.

The other is that increased U.S. efforts to oust Syrian president Bashar Assad, a close ally of Tehran, could provoke retaliation from Iran. White House officials who oppose greater involvement in Syria’s civil war often cite concern for the safety of Americans in Iraq as a reason for caution, sources said.

In either case, U.S. officials fear, Iran could direct the Iraqi Shiite militias under its control to attack U.S. troops aiding the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.
Ashraf Ghani and Barack Obama are shown in the Oval Office on March 24, 2015. | Getty

“The current [nuclear] negotiations likely have a restraining effect, but there are other incentives and national interests at stake for the Iranians,” said a senior U.S. military official. “This is something that we are continually assessing. [Iran’s] history as regional provocateurs and exporters on terrorism demands it.”

President Barack Obama has dispatched 3,000 troops to Iraq as trainers and advisers to Iraqi forces battling ISIL. Many are now in close proximity to heavily armed Shiite militias with direct ties to Tehran. At times, the militias have even fought in tacit cooperation with the U.S.

But while Iran may be the enemy of America’s enemy, U.S. military officials don’t consider it a friend. They bitterly recall Iran’s role during the Iraq war, when roadside bombs sent by Tehran to Shiite militias who fought the U.S. occupation killed hundreds of American troops. Some of those same militias have now remobilized to battle the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a Sunni Muslim group that considers Shiites apostates and that has seized vast swaths of territory in northern Syria and western Iraq.

In particular, the U.S. holds responsible Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, who commands Iran’s secretive Quds Force. Suleimani and other Iranian commanders are now in Iraq directing Shiite fighters against ISIL

“We declare to the world, we have Iranian advisers, and we’re proud of them, and we thank them deeply for participating with us,” Hadi Al-Amari, leader of the Shiite paramilitary force Hashd Al-Shaabi, told CNN earlier this month.

The allegiances of many Iraqi Shiite fighters are no secret. Some openly display posters of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, who recently commended a Tehran crowd for chanting “Death to America.”

The concern is that those fighters, under the direction of Suleimani, may again train their sights on American troops.

“The U.S. military is very concerned that the Iranians will come after American personnel in Iraq,” says Kenneth Pollack, a former CIA analyst and Brookings Institution scholar close to the Pentagon. “It’s clearly something that’s been on their mind for a while.”

One military official said there is no imminent Iranian threat to Americans in Iraq, who operate from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and from joint command centers with Iraqi and Kurdish forces.

But sources said the potential danger is factored into U.S. military planning. Debates about troop levels in Iraq, for instance, are shaped in part by concerns that a larger force creates a bigger potential target for Iran.

While not in front-line combat roles, the Americans could be vulnerable to attacks on their compounds. Ducking and covering from rocket and mortar fire was a routine part of life for Americans stationed in Iraq during the U.S. occupation there.

“That’s a fresh memory for people,” said Derek Chollet, who left a top Pentagon post in January and is now with the German Marshall Fund.

Iran’s ability to harm American troops in Iraq has also shaped another major Obama administration debate, sources said: whether to step up efforts to depose Syria’s Assad.

The Obama administration says its priority is to defeat ISIL — despite pressure from Arab allies who want to go after Assad more directly — and calls that the sole mission of the Sunni rebels it is training and equipping under a nascent Pentagon program based in Saudi Arabia.

“Multiple [officials] have told me they’re worried about retaliation in Iraq, which does seem to be influencing our Syria policy,” says Robert Ford, who served as Obama’s liaison to the Syrian rebels until last summer. “Basically, they’re afraid that if they provide serious help to the armed opposition against Assad, the Iranians will have their surrogates in Iraq attack us.”
Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. gives a victory speech during his election party, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, at the Bell Nob Golf Course Clubhouse in Gillette, Wyo. (AP Photo/Tim Goessman)

Iran has spent billions of dollars to help the Syrian dictator, a longtime conduit for Iranian influence in the region, survive that country’s sectarian civil war.

Obama officials believe that Iran has avoided threatening American troops in Iraq because they welcome the U.S. air campaign against ISIL, which has massacred Shiites and attacked their shrines.

Iran has also avoided actions that could derail the nuclear talks, which are headed for a key deadline at the end of this month when negotiators from the U.S. and five other nations hope to reach a framework agreement with Iran limiting its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.

But many Republicans in Congress want to derail what they fear will be a bad deal with Iran. Obama has warned that the collapse of the nuclear talks would increase the chance of possible U.S. military action against Iran. Such talk in Washington would increase the risk to the Americans based in Iraq.

Even if a nuclear deal is struck, Iran can tolerate an American presence in neighboring Iraq for only so long, according to Ford, who served as political counselor to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad from 2004 to 2006.

“They don’t want American troops in Iraq,” Ford said. “They’re going along with it now because they need us. But as soon as the Islamic State is contained or degraded sufficiently they will want us to leave — and they will encourage us by a variety of means, including mortar strikes and rocket strikes.”

Ominously perhaps, Amari, the Shiite militia leader, told CNN that Iraq doesn’t need America’s help in defeating ISIL.

Persistent fears that Iran may try to target Americans in Iraq underscore the difficulty of thawing relations between Washington and Tehran. So do other Iranian activities opposed by the U.S., including Iran’s support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and for the Houthi rebels who recently ousted Yemen’s government.

“It does point up the fact that we have a huge problem with Iran outside of the nuclear space,” said Chollet. “And that will continue to exist even if we get a nuclear deal.”

Voir enfin:

 Arab Press Harshly Criticizes Obama Administration For Allying With Iran, Turning Its Back On Arab Friends, Leading Region To Disaster
MEMRI

March 23, 2015

Against the backdrop of the current U.S.-Iran nuclear negotiations and the war on the Islamic State (ISIS), in recent weeks dozens of articles in the Arab press, and particularly in the Saudi press, have harshly criticized the Obama administration’s policy in the region – especially its Iran policy, which they term « destructive », « idiotic », « dangerous » and « narrow-minded. »

Expressing apprehension at the prospect of a U.S.-Iran nuclear agreement that would strengthen Iran at the expense of the Sunni countries, which are long-time U.S. allies, some writers stated that because President Obama seeks a nuclear agreement with Iran for his own personal glory, while the cost of such an agreement does not matter to him. They wrote that Obama disregards Iran’s actions, and is giving it and the organizations affiliated with it a free hand to operate in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain, and by doing so is allowing Iran to further expand in the region.

Some of the writers argued that the U.S. policy in Iraq and Syria that had given Iran freedom to operate in those countries had given rise to ISIS, since the U.S.-Iran alliance had humiliated the Sunni Arabs and created optimal conditions for the group to emerge.

One writer even called on the Arab countries and Turkey to confront the Obama administration, thwart its policy in the region, and come out strongly against any agreement it signs with Iran that does not absolutely prevent it from possessing nuclear weapons. Another speculated that the countries of the region could be better off finding someone else to rely on rather than the U.S.

The following are translated excerpts from several articles:

Saudi Intellectual: Obama Has Allied With Shi’ite Militias Against Sunni Militias

Saudi political commentator Khaled Al-Dahil argued in the London-based daily Al-Hayat that Obama’s policy in the region is destructive, and that the Arabs must not remain silent about it. He wrote that the Obama administration is allowing Iran and its militias in Syria and Iraq a free hand, and helping it fight Sunni organizations in the region, with the aim of pacifying it in advance of the signing of the nuclear agreement. : »… The Obama administration realizes quite well that the war on ISIS as it is currently being waged has destructive sectarian repercussions, which if not dealt with will blow up in everyone’s face. But has this administration…done a thing to correct how this war is being conducted?…Certainly not! This administration has acted, and continues to act, contrary to the fears that it itself has expressed. [It does] this because of its wish to ally with Iran, as part of the war on ISIS – in an alliance that will be secret until a nuclear agreement [with Iran] is reached and [U.S.-Iran] relations are normalized.

« Obama sees several advantages in this war [against ISIS]: It reassures Iran and gives it the sense that the U.S. seeks to rescue it from an additional enemy [ISIS], after saving it from the Taliban and from Saddam Hussein. Similarly, Obama hopes that in this way he will succeed in persuading Iran to make the necessary concessions in order to arrive at the longed-for nuclear agreement.

« However, Obama has gone further than that: together with Russia, he has given Iran a free hand in Syria to support the Syrian regime and crush the local opposition. Thus, the American president’s opportunism is very clearly exposed. As a skilled attorney and politician, he knows that ISIS, as a sectarian organization, is the natural and direct outcome of the sectarian wars that began with the American invasion of Iraq. [On the other hand], President Obama himself has called the Iranian regime theocratic – that is, a sectarian regime… – because a religious political regime is by definition, and necessarily, a sectarian regime. Furthermore, it was the Iranian regime that defined itself as sectarian in its [own] constitution (see sections 12, 71, and 115 of Iran’s constitution). This means that… Obama is fighting the sectarian ISIS with a sectarian policy and sectarian tools…

« True, Obama has not allied formally with Iran for the war on ISIS, but he has allied de facto with Iran… [and] with its militias and the militias under its influence. That is why the Obama administration disregards all Iran’s military and intelligence activity in Syria and Iraq – from its dispatching of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) fighters and its financing and training of Iraqi Shi’ite militias, to the fight against ISIS, whether by means of [Iranian] airstrikes against it or by means of these [same] militias.

« It is striking that the Obama administration has deployed over 3,000 troops to train the so-called Hashd Sha’bi [Popular Mobilization] Forces – a group of Shi’ite militias that was formed after the collapse of the Iraqi army and Mosul’s fall to ISIS last year. That is, the Obama administration has allied de facto with Shi’ite militias to fight Sunni militias…

« The Houthi takeover in Yemen opens an additional front in the Sunni-Shi’ite war. Is it conceivable that the U.S. could partner with Iran in the war against the Sunnis in Yemen, as it has essentially already done in Iraq and Syria?…

« There is nothing to warrant remaining silent about this American policy, because it is the main factor that generated the terrorism in Afghanistan. This terrorism further intensified following the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and it split [into several streams] as a result of the American silence in the face of the holocaust being perpetrated in Syria by means of the Russia-Iran alliance with the regime there. It is wrong [for us] to remain silent in light of a policy that is dragging the region into more destructive religious wars just because Mr. Obama aspires to reach an agreement with the Iranians… »[1]

Iran shoots at « Iraqi Sunnis » and « Syrian Sunnis » with U.S. sponsorship (Al-Watan, Saudi Arabia, March 18, 2015)

Obama’s Policy On Iran Nuclear Issue – « Gambling With The Future Of The Region »

In a second article, Al-Dakhil again attacked Obama, arguing that the deal that he was trying to make with Iran was based on the groundless assumption that within a few years Iran was going to change. He added that Obama was gambling with the future of the region:

« President Obama’s recklessness in reaching a nuclear agreement with Iran is manifested in the assumption on which he bases his justification of this agreement, and on the wording of the agreement that will apparently be agreed upon. The Israelis did well to expose the reckless aspect of this assumption, because with the exception of the five parties that are actually negotiating with Iran, it is they who know the most about the details of the American position on this issue. Israel is the Americans’ closest and most important ally, and the one that is the most fearful about the upsetting of the balance of power [in the region] that will result if Iran or any Arab or Islamic country possesses nuclear weapons…

« Why does Obama consider it necessary to reach such an agreement? Because the president’s objective is to tie the Iranians’ hands for 10-15 years, in hopes that by then, Iran will have a new leadership, and will become a different country – perhaps a democratic country with less of a desire for nuclear weapons. Obama seems to be basing his policy on this risky issue on hope, not on political considerations; thus, he is gambling with the future of the region…

« At the same time, the Arab countries must deal with the other aspect of the American position, which is no less idiotic and dangerous. This aspect is reflected in Obama’s response to events in the region – [a response] based on a nearly absolute belief that the danger currently threatening the world is Sunni extremism and the terrorism emanating from it, and that the only option for stabilization is through cooperation with Iran. It is nearly certain that this perception, along with the hope that Iran will change, is what is impelling Obama to reach an agreement with Iran.

« However, this perception is superficial and faulty – because it is based on dreams that are more like delusions, and it also wants to see only the Sunni side of the sectarian equation that is stirring up the region… »[2]

Iranian Journalist: Proponents Of The Deal With Iran Rely On A Fatwa By Khamenei Nobody Has Ever Seen

Amir Taheri, a Paris-based Iranian author and journalist, argued in a similar vein that American proponents of the deal with Iran base their position on groundless assumptions, including on the claim that Khamenei issued a fatwa banning nuclear weapons – a fatwa that nobody has ever seen. The following are excerpts from a translation of his article published in the English edition of Al-Sharq Al-Awsat:[3] « Campaigning for a deal on the Iranian nuclear issue, the pro-mullah lobby in the West, especially in the United States, often cites three claims in support of President Barack Obama’s appeasement of Tehran. The first is that a deal will help the ‘reformist’ wing of the regime led by former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani—which already controls the presidency through Hassan Rouhani—to capture other levers of power and embark on a genuine program of change aimed at returning Iran to normality. Rafsanjani is cast as a moderate, a turbaned version of Deng Xiaoping, capable of closing the chapter of the revolution and forging business-like relations with the US. Much is made of Rafsanjani’s recent statements that he has always favored collective leadership and that once the Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei is shown the door, he would press for a collegial system and the end of ‘one-man rule’ in Iran.

« The first step in that direction was supposed to come last Monday when Rafsanjani sought to get himself elected president of the Assembly of Experts… Capturing [it] was supposed to be the first step in a victorious march that would enable the Rafsanjani faction to win control of the Islamic Consultative Assembly or Majlis, the 290-member ersatz parliament. However the Assembly of Experts elected Ayatollah Muhammad Yazdi—one of Rafsanjani’s oldest foes and a close associate of Khamenei—as its new president with 47 votes to 24. The Rafsanjani faction’s hopes of winning control of the parliament next year are unlikely to prove any better. Several polls show that even if the faction manages to mobilize all those who voted for Rouhani—33 percent of those eligible to vote—it still would not be enough to secure a majority of the 230 seats on offer.

« The second claim, paradoxically, is built on a fatwa supposedly issued by Khamenei forbidding the use of nuclear weapons. Thus, while Obama hopes that Rafsanjani will eventually evict Khamenei, he is basing his policy on a fatwa issued by the latter. Since no one, and certainly not Obama, has seen the fatwa in question it is hard to assess its political importance. However in real terms the fatwa, supposing it does exist, is nothing more than an opinion and is thus devoid of legal authority.

« The third claim is that the nuclear project is popular with the Iranian people and that by accepting a nuclear Iran the US would gain popularity there. However, ultimately there is no evidence to back that claim. The issue has never been properly discussed in any public forum, not even in the Majlis. In fact, successive governments, including under the Shah, have suppressed a number of reports warning against the dangers of a nuclear project, especially with reference to the threat that earthquakes pose to nuclear installations on almost all parts of the Iranian Plateau…

« Obama’s hope is that by making a deal he will enable Rafsanjani’s ‘moderate’ faction to win the power struggle in Tehran and initiate a change of behavior by the Khomeinist regime. That, many agree, is nothing but an illusion. In his address to the US Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also seemed to share this sentiment. As Aristotle observed 25 centuries ago, character is action. In other words: You are what you do! A regime’s nature dictates its behavior. As Sa’adi Shirazi—the famous poet of Shiraz—noted almost eight centuries ago, a scorpion does not sting because it wants to be a bad boy; it does so in accordance with its nature. »

The 5+1: « We’ll give Iran another month… two months… 13 months… 14 months… » Following the explosion: « The extension has expired » (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, London, March 17, 2015)

Senior Saudi Journalist: Obama Leading Region To Disaster

Tariq Al-Homayed, the former editor of Al-Sharq Al-Awsat and currently a columnist for the daily, likewise wrote that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia, which was aimed at reassuring the Saudis about the imminent U.S.-Iran nuclear agreement, not only failed to reassure it but also revealed the deep disagreement between the two countries and the dangers of the agreement. Stressing that the inevitable response to an Iranian nuclear bomb will be an Arab nuclear bomb, he warned that the countries of the region could « fall victim to the naïveté of a few people in Washington » and that President Obama is not aware of the gravity of his actions that could lead the entire region into genuine disaster.

He wrote: « What is now clear is that the American president either is striving to attain personal glory, the outcome of which cannot be assessed, or he does not comprehend the implications of his actions. [The latter] possibility is more likely.

« The truth is that a bad agreement with Iran is a disaster, and constitutes international recognition of Iran’s occupation of the countries of the region and international approval of Iran’s sponsorship of terror. Therefore, the region is facing a real disaster, and we do not know how matters will develop by the end of the presidential term of Obama, who is leading the entire region to real disaster. It is inconceivable that there will be a nuclear Iran in the region while the rest of the countries of the region stand by. The response to the existence of an Iranian bomb will undoubtedly be an Arab nuclear bomb. Otherwise, our countries will appear to have welcomed the Iranian game, and will have fallen victim to the naïveté of some people in Washington. Therefore, Kerry’s Riyadh visit is worrisome and not reassuring, and all the relevant countries in the region must consider every possible option in responding to this absurd American move that can release the [Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini genie – which will bring to the region nothing but destruction and civil war. »[4]

Former Jordanian Minister: U.S. Handed Iraq, Syria Over To Iranian Occupation, Leading To Rise Of ISIS

Former Jordanian information minister Saleh Al-Qallab also harshly attacked the U.S.’s regional policy and accused it of handing Syria and Iraq over to the Iranian occupation and of being responsible for the rise of ISIS. In his column in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Al-Qallab claimed that the U.S. was conspiring with Iran, enabling it to take over strategic countries and areas in the region, and kept silent in the face of the harm done to Sunnis, with the unconvincing pretext of wanting the nuclear negotiations to succeed.

Al-Qallab wrote: « …The Americans should know that their reputation in the region… is poor and that those whom they consider their friends [among the Arab countries], and who are indeed [their friends], have grown tired of them, of their policy, and of their behavior, and repeatedly say – if not loudly then with a whisper – ‘Allah save us from our friends; our enemies we can handle ourselves.’ We can assume that the decision-makers in the U.S. know that the reason for increasingly strong ties between Egypt and Russia, especially in the military field, is the consequence of the Obama administration’s betting on the MB organization in Egypt and elsewhere as the [force] capable of combating extremism and terrorism in this region. If this isn’t a foolish policy, then it is certainly… a plot meant to prevent the Arab ummah from standing on its own feet and taking the place that it deserves at this decisive historical moment…

« Barack Obama is acting strangely. Contrary to the U.S.’s interests in this region, which is… a Sunni region from Tetouan in Morocco to Saif Sa’ad in Iraq, Obama shamelessly said that he wants to work with a single decision-maker – the leader of the Iranian revolution, Ali Khamenei, and that he [only] wants to work with one country – the all-powerful Iran – to redraw the future of this region. This means that the U.S. president ‘washed his hands’ of all the U.S.’s friends and allies from the time of the Cold War and the inter-bloc struggle…

« Is the American position regarding the events in Yemen nothing less than a conspiracy and a plot [with Iran] done in broad daylight? Do Obama and his government officials not understand that by remaining silent in the face of Houthi actions they will enable Iran to rule the Straits of Hormuz, Bab El-Mandeb and the Arabian Sea – which could become the Persian Sea – and the Red Sea? …

« The U.S., whether by conspiring [with Iran] or out of political stupidity and narrow-mindedness, is the one who enabled Iran to occupy Iraq during the term of the ill-reputed Paul Bremer. Obama’s hesitancy and unstable position [also] led the U.S. to abandon the Syrian opposition, thus handing Syria to the commander of the Iranian Qods Force, Qassem Soleimani. [The U.S.] is responsible, obviously along with the Assad regime, for the appearance of all those terrorist organizations that did not exist before, at the early stages of the Syrian people’s uprising in March 2011, which started as a peaceful uprising [in demand of] just and reasonable democratic reforms.

« Truthfully, is the U.S. not responsible for the creation of ISIS and for the fact that it has managed to get so far after [the U.S.] cleared the way for it? After all, [the U.S.] is the country that invaded Iraq, cut off its limbs, and dismantled its institutions and army… in order to take vengeance on Sunni Arabs, humiliate them, and damage their honor, which forced them to become a demographic hotbed for ISIS and all these terrorist organizations, which bred like locusts.

« The U.S., which has been forced to return shame-faced to Iraq, is suspiciously silent in the face of the harm done to Sunni Arabs, and consents to the Iranian occupation of Iraq, all under the unconvincing pretext of wanting the Iranian nuclear negotiations to succeed. This, while ISIS hasn’t lost even one percent of the Iraqi and Syrian territory it conquered while the Americans watched from the sidelines… »[5]

« Iranian expansion » (Al-Watan, Saudi Arabia, March 6, 2015)

Bahraini Journalist: U.S. Wrong To Separate Iranian Nukes From Regional Terrorism

Bahraini journalist and writer Sawsan Al-Sha’er also criticized the fact that nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and Iran take place while the U.S. ignores Iran’s expansionist policy, which has caused its Sunni allies to exclude themselves from the struggle against terrorism. She wrote in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat: « The U.S.’s efforts to wrap up the Iranian nuclear dossier in any way and by any means have caused it to ignore Iran’s regional expansionist policy…The American administration’s policy of separating the struggle against terrorism from the Iranian issue and Iran’s ambitions is what sabotaged the role of its Sunni allies… in the struggle against terrorism. [This policy] is what prevented the popular participation of [most of the region’s Sunnis] in the efforts to combat terrorism, and contributed to sparking sectarian sensitivity, which made the task of combating terrorism more difficult…

« The statements by the Democratic [U.S.] administration that it does not see the role Iran plays in Bahrain, Iraq, and Yemen are very much an insult to logic and intelligence and an attempt to block out the sun with a sieve, and indicate a disconnect from reality. [This,] since Iran’s support for Shi’ite militias in these countries is not confined to considerable political support, but also includes training and financing them, as well as dispatching IRGC commanders to run the battlefronts. »[6]
« The War on Terror! » (Al-Watan, Saudi Arabia, March 2, 2015)

Lebanese Journalist: We Need Unified Arab Front Along With Turkey To Thwart Obama’s Regional Policy, Oppose Iran Deal

‘Ali Hamada, a journalist for the Lebanese daily Al-Nahar, warned of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the superpowers and called on Arab countries, along with Turkey, to directly confront the Obama administration and work to thwart its regional policy. He wrote: « The Arab front, [which includes] the Arab Gulf states, Jordan and Egypt, and which is in conflict with Iran, must give some serious thought to the day after [Iran signs] an agreement [with the superpowers] on March 24, 2015. Turkey, whose vital political and economic interests intersect those of the Arab front… should seriously address this issue [as well], and form strategic ties with the Arab front states in order to create a balance, in light of the grand strategic turn that will happen in the region once Iran possesses an agreement regarding its nuclear [program].

« The Barak Obama administration has already proven that it is determined to continue building a strong alliance with Iran at the expense of the Arab region and Turkey. Therefore, we must confront the Americans directly and without hesitation. Honestly, we cannot [just] stand by and watch the current American strategic shift. The Arab front, which is facing the explicit Iranian occupation of the Arab east, must be firm and confront the Obama administration with resolve and explicit positions. In an understanding with Turkey, it must come out strongly against any nuclear agreement with Iran that does not completely prevent Tehran from possessing nuclear weapons and that will cause it to further attack the entire Arab east.

« We will not dwell on the stream of official and unofficial Iranian statements by high-ranking officials regarding the so-called ‘Iranian Empire.’ More important than expressing positions and making statements is to work towards a direct confrontation, starting with breaking the Obama administration’s regional strategy and circumventing it with regards to the Syrian campaign by massively arming the rebels… There is no escaping [the need to] thwart the Obama administration’s regional policy. »[7]

Saudi Journalist: Gulf States Will Consider Replacing U.S. Alliance With Russian Alliance

Saudi journalist ‘Abdallah Nasser Al-‘Otaibi criticized the U.S. in the London daily Al-Hayat, and wondered whether its regional allies should seek alternatives to it: « The big problem of the moderate countries in the region is that Russia’s local allies are currently the victors. Iran is spreading in all directions with Russia’s backing in the UN Security Council; Bashar Al-Assad is still harvesting the souls of Syria’s sons with open and direct support from the Kremlin; the Houthis act like they own Yemen under the auspices of a Russian veto [in the Security Council]; and meanwhile, the countries considered the U.S.’s regional allies are suffering defeat after defeat…

« The U.S. should know that constantly taking a neutral position and occasionally negotiating with regional powers [i.e. Iran] behind the backs of its allies will damage the historic alliance that has existed since the 1940s, and will cause its regional allies to consider shaking hands with the other global power [i.e. Russia]. At the same time, the regional allies should openly tell the Americans that the demands and conditions for renewing their alliance are to address their problems and help them solve them in an acceptable fashion. There is no alternative but to strongly push in this direction by formulating a strategy for dialogue with the U.S. on the conditions for the alliance [between it and its regional partners] and the commitments on both sides. It is not enough that from time to time, the Gulf states express their displeasure with the American partner in light of the grand achievements made by Russia’s regional allies. They must switch… to a response that penetrates all the American elites… »[8]

Saudi Government Daily: U.S. Must Stop The Deception, Be Clear On Iran Policy

« The Saudi government daily Al-Watan stated in an editorial: The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, [Ali Shamkhani,] boasted two days ago that Iran is now on the shores of the Mediterranean and the Bab Al-Mandab Straits and that it prevented the fall of Baghdad, Damascus and Erbil to the Islamic State [ISIS] organization. This proves that Iran no longer conceals its imperialist policy, and that it has found an opportunity to penetrate Arab states thanks to the chaos created by the Bashar Al-Assad regime in Syria and by the Houthis in Yemen, [and as happened] and is still happening in Iraq [after] the U.S. destroyed its infrastructures and allowed Iran to do as it pleased [there]…

« The extent of U.S. collusion with Tehran is apparent from the suspicious [U.S.] silence towards the unusually [extensive] deployment of Iranian forces in Iraq under the pretext of fighting the ISIS organization. If we add to this the IRGC deployment on Syrian territory to support the Assad regime, then all these things become totally clear and add up to one conclusion: that Tehran is playing its own game while exploiting the weakness of various countries in its attempt to gain time for realizing as much as possible of its Persian [Empire] dream.

« This declaration [by Ali Shamkhani] is not the first and definitely will not be the last. Four days ago, [Ali Younesi], the advisor to Iranian President [Hassan Rohani], said that Iran has now become an empire [again], as it was throughout the course of history, and that its capital is Baghdad, which is the center of our civilization, culture and identity, as it was in the past. [His statement] reveals the truth about the Iranian aspirations to restore the glory of the [Persian] Empire and take revenge on the Arabs…

« All the aforesaid shows the importance of opposing Iran’s policy and its schemes in the Arab region. To this end, there is no choice but for the GCC countries and the Arab League to begin cooperating immediately in order to pressure the international community in every possible way to limit Iranian expansion. The U.S. must choose between two options: to continue with its undeclared game with Iran, or to alter its policy and decide in favor of its interests with the Arabs. It must stop the deception and be clear about everything pertaining to Iran, for the current situation can no longer be taken lightly. »[9]

Endnotes:

[1]Al-Hayat (London), February 15, 2015.
[2]Al-Hayat (London), February 22, 2015.
[3] Aawsat.net, March 13, 2015.
[4] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), March 7, 2015.
[5]Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), February 12, 2015.
[6]Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), February 3, 2015.
[7]Al-Nahar (Lebanon), March 10, 2015.
[8]Al-Hayat (London), February 23, 2015.
[9]Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), March 13, 2015.

 

 


Nucléaire iranien: Attention, un remueur de chien peut en cacher un autre ! (Four Arab capitals plus Washington: Warning, a dog-wagger can hide another)

22 mars, 2015
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Pourquoi le chien remue-t-il la queue ? Parce que le chien est plus malin que la queue. Si la queue était plus maline, c’est qui elle remuerait le chien. Conrad Brean (Des hommes d’influence)

To ‘wag the dog’ means to purposely divert attention from what would otherwise be of greater importance, to something else of lesser significance. By doing so, the lesser-significant event is catapulted into the limelight, drowning proper attention to what was originally the more important issue. Usingenglish.com
Why did Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel feel the need to wag the dog in Washington? For that was, of course, what he was doing in his anti-Iran speech to Congress. If you’re seriously trying to affect American foreign policy, you don’t insult the president and so obviously align yourself with his political opposition. No, the real purpose of that speech was to distract the Israeli electorate with saber-rattling bombast, to shift its attention away from the economic discontent that, polls suggest, may well boot Mr. Netanyahu from office in Tuesday’s election. (…) So Mr. Netanyahu tried to change the subject from internal inequality to external threats, a tactic those who remember the Bush years should find completely familiar. We’ll find out on Tuesday whether he succeeded. Paul Krugman
In my eyes, [the US administration’s comments on the two-state solution] are less related to the Palestinian issue but are much more connected to the Iranian issue. We’re having a substantial disagreement with Washington over the agreement they’re about to sign in the coming days and weeks. Dore Gold (former ambassador to the United Nations and close Netanyahu adviser)
Ce qui se vit aujourd’hui est une forme de rivalité mimétique à l’échelle planétaire. Lorsque j’ai lu les premiers documents de Ben Laden, constaté ses allusions aux bombes américaines tombées sur le Japon, je me suis senti d’emblée à un niveau qui est au-delà de l’islam, celui de la planète entière. Sous l’étiquette de l’islam, on trouve une volonté de rallier et de mobiliser tout un tiers-monde de frustrés et de victimes dans leurs rapports de rivalité mimétique avec l’Occident. René Girard
Le problème n’est pas la sécurité d’Israël, la souveraineté du Liban ou les ingérences de la Syrie ou du Hezbollah : Le problème est centré sur l’effort de l’Iran à obtenir le Droit d’Abolir l’Exclusivité de la Dissuasion. La prolifération sauvage, le concept de «tous nucléaires» sera la fin de la Guerre Froide et le retour à la période précédant la Dissuasion. Les mollahs et leurs alliés, le Venezuela, l’Algérie, la Syrie, la Corée du Nord et la Russie…, se militarisent à une très grande échelle sachant qu’ils vont bientôt neutraliser le parapluie protecteur de la dissuasion et alors ils pourront faire parler la poudre. Chacun visera à dominer sa région et sans que les affrontements se déroulent en Europe, l’Europe sera dépouillée de ses intérêts en Afrique ou en Amérique du Sud et sans combattre, elle devra déposer les armes. Ce qui est incroyable c’est la myopie de la diplomatie française et de ses experts. (…) Aucun d’entre eux ne se doute que la république islamique a des alliés qui ont un objectif commun: mettre un terme à une discrimination qui dure depuis 50 ans, la dissuasion nucléaire ! Cette discrimination assure à la France une position que beaucoup d’états lui envient. Ils attendent avec impatience de pouvoir se mesurer avec cette ancienne puissance coloniale que beaucoup jugent arrogante, suffisante et gourmande. Iran-Resist
L’Iran aurait pu être la Corée du Sud; il est devenu la Corée du Nord. (…) Mais n’oubliez pas qu’Ahmadinejad n’est que le représentant d’un régime de nature totalitaire, qui ne peut se réformer et évoluer, quelle que soit la personne qui le représente. (…) Aujourd’hui, le problème ne vient pas de l’idée de se doter de l’énergie nucléaire ; il provient de la nature du régime islamique. (…) je ne crois pas que les mollahs soient assez fous pour penser un jour utiliser la bombe contre Israël: ils savent très bien qu’ils seraient aussitôt anéantis. Ce qu’ils veulent, c’est disposer de la bombe pour pouvoir s’institutionnaliser une fois pour toutes dans la région et étendre leurs zones d’influence. Ils rêvent de créer un califat chiite du XXIe siècle et entendent l’imposer par la bombe atomique (…) il est manifeste qu’un gouvernement paranoïaque crée des crises un peu partout pour tenter de regagner à l’extérieur la légitimité qu’il a perdue à l’intérieur. Les dérives du clan au pouvoir ne se limitent pas au soutien au Hamas, elles vont jusqu’à l’Amérique latine de Chavez. Il ne s’agit en rien d’une vision qui vise à défendre notre intérêt national. Si le régime veut survivre, il doit absolument mettre en échec le monde libre, combattre ses valeurs. La République islamique ne peut pas perdurer dans un monde où l’on parle des droits de l’homme ou de la démocratie. Tous ces principes sont du cyanure pour les islamistes. Comment voulez-vous que les successeurs de Khomeini, dont le but reste l’exportation de la révolution, puissent s’asseoir un jour à la même table que le président Sarkozy ou le président Obama? Dans les mois à venir, un jeu diplomatique peut s’engager, mais, au final, il ne faut pas se faire d’illusion. Même si Khatami revenait au pouvoir, le comportement du régime resterait identique, car le vrai décideur c’est Khamenei. Je ne vois aucune raison pour laquelle le régime islamiste accepterait un changement de comportement. Cela provoquerait, de manière certaine, sa chute. Il ne peut plus revenir en arrière. J’ai bien peur que la diplomatie ne tourne en rond une nouvelle fois et que la course à la bombe ne continue pendant ce temps. Reza Pahlavi
En tant que défenseur de la rue arabe, [l’Iran] ne peut pas avoir un dialogue apaisé avec les Etats-Unis, dialogue au cours duquel il accepterait les demandes de cet Etat qui est le protecteur par excellence d’Israël. Téhéran a le soutien de la rue arabe, talon d’Achille des Alliés Arabes des Etats-Unis, car justement il refuse tout compromis et laisse entendre qu’il pourra un jour lui offrir une bombe nucléaire qui neutralisera la dissuasion israélienne. Pour préserver cette promesse utile, Téhéran doit sans cesse exagérer ses capacités militaires ou nucléaires et des slogans anti-israéliens. Il faut cependant préciser que sur un plan concret, les actions médiatiques de Téhéran ne visent pas la sécurité d’Israël, mais celle des Alliés arabes des Etats-Unis, Etats dont les dirigeants ne peuvent satisfaire les attentes belliqueuses de la rue arabe. Ainsi Téhéran a un levier de pression extraordinaire sur Washington. Comme toute forme de dissuasion, ce système exige un entretien permanent. Téhéran doit sans cesse fouetter la colère et les frustrations de la rue arabe ! Il doit aussi garder ses milices actives, de chaînes de propagande en effervescence et son programme nucléaire le plus opaque possible, sinon il ne serait pas menaçant. C’est pourquoi, il ne peut pas accepter des compensations purement économiques offertes par les Six en échange d’un apaisement ou une suspension de ses activités nucléaires. Ce refus permanent de compromis est vital pour le régime. (…) Il n’y a rien qui fasse plus peur aux mollahs qu’un réchauffement avec les Etats-Unis : ils risquent d’y perdre la rue arabe, puis le pouvoir. C’est pourquoi, le 9 septembre, quand Téhéran a accepté une rencontre pour désactiver les sanctions promises en juillet, il s’est aussitôt mis en action pour faire capoter ce projet de dialogue apaisé qui est un véritable danger pour sa survie. Iran Resist
The Iranian government has responded more positively than the Bush Administration has to the Iraq Study Group’s proposal for talks between the two. And government sources in Tehran tell TIME that this reflects a sincere and calculated desire among the Iranian leadership for improved relations with Washington. Responding to the Baker-Hamilton report’s proposal that Washington move quickly to engage Iran on talks over stabilizing Iraq, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki dangled an offer of cooperation in a statement published by an Iranian news agency. « Iran will support any policies returning security, stability and territorial integrity to Iraq, » he said, « and considers withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and leaving security to the Iraqi government as the most suitable option. » In an interview on Al Jazeera, Mottaki added that if the U.S. needs an « honorable way out of Iraq, » and Iran « is in a position to help. » President Bush, by contrast, appeared to rebuff the suggestion, insisting that Iran would have to suspend its uranium-enrichment program before it could talk to the U.S. about Iraq. And the response from many U.S. lawmakers questioning Iran’s motives in Iraq underscored the continued taboo in Washington over dealing openly with the Islamic Republic. Three Iranian sources — a government official and two figures close to government policymakers — tell TIME that Mottaki’s statement is reflective of a solid consensus among the regime’s foreign-policy decision makers that restoring relations with the U.S. is in Iran’s best interests. « If tomorrow the U.S. seriously — and I emphasize the word seriously — tried to engage Iran, in a way that accepted the 1979 Iranian revolution and engaged Iran in a respectful atmosphere, then Iran would welcome the chance to address mutual concerns, » said one of the sources, a prominent expert on U.S.-Iranian relations. (…) Some Iranian leaders and officials, including President Ahmadinejad, also believe that Iran now has the opportunity to deal with Washington from a position of strength, for the first time since the 1979 revolution. The sources say that this assessment is based on a perception that the U.S. is stuck in quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan, while Iran’s influence in the region and throughout the Muslim world is expanding. These officials see further evidence of Iran’s advantage in the difficulties the U.S. continues to encounter in winning support for U.N. tough sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program. The sources say that Iranian officials believe that to open a serious dialogue with the U.S. in these circumstances would significantly enhance Iran’s international prestige and regional influence. Time (2006)
Sur le long terme, Obama et son entourage ont toujours fantasmé sur une réconciliation globale entre les Etats-Unis et l’islamisme, qu’il s’agisse de l’islamisme sunnite des Frères musulmans ou de l’islamisme chiite iranien. C’était le sens, dès 2009, du discours-manifeste du Caire, prononcé, il ne faut pas l’oublier, au moment même où le pouvoir des mollahs écrasait dans le sang un « printemps iranien ». Cela a été également le sens, par la suite, de la temporisation d’Obama sur la question du nucléaire iranien : Washington s’est prononcé en faveur de sanctions économiques de plus en plus lourdes, mais n’a pas envisagé sérieusement une action militaire contre l’Iran ni accordé de feu vert à une éventuelle action militaire israélienne.(…) Des négociations discrètes ont été menées au début de l’été entre Washington et Téhéran, et elles avaient suffisamment abouti dès le mois d’août – quand Rouhani a pris officiellement ses fonctions – pour que plusieurs revues américaines influentes diffusent presque immédiatement des articles préparant l’opinion à cette « détente », sinon à ce renversement d’alliance. La New York Review of Books publie dans sa livraison datée du 15 août un long article en faveur d’un « nouvelle approche envers l’Iran » cosigné, de manière significative – l’union sacrée, pourrait-on dire -, par un universitaire pro-iranien, William Luers, un ancien ambassadeur aux Nations Unies, Thomas Pickering et un homme politique républicain, Jim Walsh. Quant à Foreign Affairs, elle consacre sa couverture de septembre-octobre au chef véritable du régime iranien, l’ayatollah et Guide spirituel Ali Khamenei. Akbar Ganji, un journaliste prestigieux, souvent présenté comme le « Soljénitsyne iranien », y affirme à la fois que Rouhani ne peut se rapprocher des Etats-Unis sans l’accord préalable et l’appui de Khamenei, ce qui est vrai ; et que les Etats-Unis doivent saisir cette « chance », ce qui est plus discutable. (…) A un autre niveau, à plus court terme, Obama a sans doute vu dans un rapprochement avec l’Iran le moyen d’effacer ou de faire oublier ses échecs répétés au Moyen-Orient : en Libye, en Egypte et finalement en Syrie. Une Grande Puissance, c’est un pays qui peut faire la guerre et qui, par voie de conséquence, est en mesure d’imposer sa volonté à d’autres pays. Et « pouvoir faire la guerre », en amont, cela suppose à la fois des moyens techniques (une armée, des armements, des technologies), et des moyens politiques ou moraux (une vision du monde, des objectifs, une détermination). L’Amérique d’Obama a toujours les moyens techniques d’une Très Grande Puissance, mais elle s’est comportée en Syrie, à travers ses tergiversations et finalement sa capitulation diplomatique devant la Russie de Poutine, comme si elle n’en avait plus les moyens politiques ou moraux. Ce que les alliés traditionnels des Etats-Unis ne sont pas près de pardonner au président sur le plan international (des Etats du Golfe à la France de Hollande), ni les Américains eux-mêmes en politique intérieure.(…) Les clés d’Obama se trouvent dans son livre autobiographique, Les Rêves de mon père. Deux faits, qu’il rapporte avec beaucoup de franchise : d’abord, un drame intime : il n’a pratiquement pas connu son père ; ensuite, un drame identitaire : l’Amérique traditionnelle – anglo-saxonne, judéo-chrétienne, blanche – est pour lui une sorte de pays étranger. Il est certes né aux Etats-Unis, mais il n’y a pas passé son enfance. Il n’a pas été élevé dans la foi chrétienne, mais dans un mélange d’humanisme athée et d’islam libéral. Et bien que sa mère soit blanche, il a toujours été considéré comme un Noir. Comment surmonte-t-il ces deux drames ? A travers l’action politique en vue d’une Amérique nouvelle, multiraciale, multireligieuse, multiculturelle. En fait, il veut enfanter cette nouvelle Amérique qui lui ressemblerait, être à la fois son propre père et celui d’une nation remodelée à son image. Ce qui passe, entre autre choses, par une réconciliation – fusionnelle – avec un islam qui est le contraire même de l’Amérique traditionnelle. Ce n’est là qu’un fantasme. La politique rationnelle d’Obama se réfère à d’autres considérations, d’autres raisonnements. Mais les fantasmes sont souvent aussi puissants ou plus puissants que la rationalité. Et qui plus est, les fantasmes personnels du président actuel recoupent ceux d’une bonne partie de la société américaine : les Noirs, les non-Blancs en général, mais aussi les milieux blancs d’extrême-gauche, une partie des élites intellectuelles… (…) Qui peut encore soutenir sérieusement qu’Israël est au cœur de tous les problèmes du Proche Orient et que tout passe, dans cette région, par la « résolution » du « problème palestinien » ? Depuis près de quatre ans, le monde arabe et islamique n’en finit pas de se décomposer et de se recomposer sous nos yeux, entraîné par ses pesanteurs propres. Une analyste géopolitique, Robin Wright, vient même de prédire dans le New York Times, le quotidien le plus pro-Obama des Etats-Unis, le remplacement de cinq Etats moyen-orientaux (la Syrie, l’Irak, l’Arabie Saoudite, la Libye, le Yemen) par quinze nouveaux Etats à caractère ethnoreligieux. Voilà qui merite au moins autant d’attention que les articles promouvant le « nouvel Iran » du président Rouhani. Et qui relativise le « processus de paix » Jérusalem-Ramallah. Michel Gurfinkiel
The military planners’ scorecard made one thing perfectly clear: by 2011, enough information was available to conclude that absent a significant U.S. military presence, within a few years, the situation in Iraq was likely to deteriorate — perhaps irreversibly. The Iraqi military, for example, was still three to five years away from being able to independently sustain the gains made during the past four years.(…) Had a residual U.S. force stayed in Iraq after 2011, the United States would have had far greater insight into the growing threat posed by ISIS and could have helped the Iraqis stop the group from taking so much territory. Instead, ISIS’ march across northern Iraq took Washington almost completely by surprise. (…)     In April (2011), Obama directed (U.S. forces in Iraq commander General Lloyd) Austin to develop a plan that would result in a residual force of just 8,000 to 10,000 troops and to identify the missions that a force of that size could realistically accomplish. In August, according to (then-U.S. ambassador to Iraq James) Jeffrey, Obama informed him that he was free to start negotiations with the Iraqis to keep 5,000 U.S. service members in Iraq: 3,500 combat troops who would be stationed on yearlong tours of duty and 1,500 special operations forces who would rotate in and out every four months. (…)     Washington had to drop its insistence that U.S. forces enjoy complete immunity from Iraqi law. Instead, in somewhat ambiguous terms, the agreement gave Iraqi authorities legal jurisdiction over cases in which U.S. service members were accused of committing serious, premeditated felonies while off duty and away from U.S. facilities. In his memoir, Duty, published earlier this year, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates revealed that Pentagon lawyers (during Bush’s negotiations with Iraq) strongly opposed the compromise. But Gates explains that he believed it was worth the risk if it meant that U.S. forces could stay in Iraq past 2008. Commanders in the field were also comfortable with the compromise; after all, since members of the U.S. armed forces are on duty 24 hours a day and are not permitted to leave their bases unless on a mission, there was little chance that an American marine or soldier would ever wind up in the hands of Iraqi authorities. (…)     In early September (2011), U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns visited Iraq to press Maliki on both those issues. According to a former administration official familiar with what happened during the meeting, Maliki told Burns that although he could likely persuade Iraq’s parliament to request a residual force, anyone who believed that the parliament would approve a status-of-forces agreement that included complete immunity did not understand Iraqi politics. Instead, Maliki proposed signing an executive memorandum granting immunity without the need to gain parliamentary approval. White House lawyers rejected that offer, arguing that for any such agreement to be legally binding, it would have to be formally ratified by the Iraqi parliament. In early October, as Maliki had predicted, the parliament approved the request for an extended U.S. military presence but declined to grant legal immunity to U.S. military personnel. Later that month, Obama told Maliki that all U.S. troops would leave Iraq by the end of 2011, in fulfillment of the terms of the agreement signed by the Bush administration in 2008. (…) In the nearly three years since Bush had agreed to a similar compromise, no U.S. service member or civilian official stationed in Iraq had been charged with violating an Iraqi law. (…) It is also worth pointing out that the U.S. military personnel stationed in Iraq today count on a promise of immunity backed only by a diplomatic note signed by the Iraqi foreign minister — an assurance even less solid than the one Maliki offered (and Obama rejected) in 2011.  Rick Brennan (senior civilian adviser to the U.S. military in Iraq, 2006-2011)
Ok, so we learn to live with Iran on the edge of a bomb, but shouldn’t we at least bomb the Islamic State to smithereens and help destroy this head-chopping menace? Now I despise ISIS as much as anyone, but let me just toss out a different question: Should we be arming ISIS? Or let me ask that differently: Why are we, for the third time since 9/11, fighting a war on behalf of Iran? In 2002, we destroyed Iran’s main Sunni foe in Afghanistan (the Taliban regime). In 2003, we destroyed Iran’s main Sunni foe in the Arab world (Saddam Hussein). But because we failed to erect a self-sustaining pluralistic order, which could have been a durable counterbalance to Iran, we created a vacuum in both Iraq and the wider Sunni Arab world. That is why Tehran’s proxies now indirectly dominate four Arab capitals: Beirut, Damascus, Sana and Baghdad. ISIS, with all its awfulness, emerged as the homegrown Sunni Arab response to this crushing defeat of Sunni Arabism — mixing old pro-Saddam Baathists with medieval Sunni religious fanatics with a collection of ideologues, misfits and adventure-seekers from around the Sunni Muslim world. Obviously, I abhor ISIS and don’t want to see it spread or take over Iraq. I simply raise this question rhetorically because no one else is: Why is it in our interest to destroy the last Sunni bulwark to a total Iranian takeover of Iraq? Because the Shiite militias now leading the fight against ISIS will rule better? Really? If it seems as though we have only bad choices in the Middle East today and nothing seems to work, there is a reason: Because past is prologue, and the past has carved so much scar tissue into that landscape that it’s hard to see anything healthy or beautiful growing out of it anytime soon. Sorry to be so grim. Thomas Friedman (NYT)
The foremost threat to Iraq’s long-term stability and the broader regional equilibrium is not the Islamic State, it is Shiite militias, many backed by — and some guided by — Iran. (…) The current Iranian regime is not our ally in the Middle East. It is ultimately part of the problem, not the solution. The more the Iranians are seen to be dominating the region, the more it is going to inflame Sunni radicalism and fuel the rise of groups like the Islamic State. (…) Our withdrawal from Iraq in late 2011 contributed to a perception that the U.S. was pulling back from the Middle East. This perception has complicated our ability to shape developments in the region and thus to further our interests. These perceptions have also shaken many of our allies and, for a period at least, made it harder to persuade them to support our approaches. (…) Neither the Iranians nor Daesh are ten feet tall, but the perception in the region for the past few years has been that of the U.S. on the wane, and our adversaries on the rise. I hope that we can begin to reverse that now. David Petraeus
French leaders think the U.S. president is dangerously naïve on Iran’s ambitions, and that his notion of making Iran an « objective ally » in the war against ISIS, or even a partner, together with Putin’s Russia, to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis, is both far-fetched and « amateurish. » When Claude Angéli says that both France’s Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, and its President, François Hollande, have told friends that they rely on « the support of the US Congress » to prevent Obama from giving in to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, it is the kind of quote you can take to the bank. French diplomats worry that if Iran gets nuclear weapons, every other local Middle East power will want them. Among their worst nightmares is a situation in which Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia join the Dr. Strangelove club. French diplomats may not like Israel, but they do not believe that the Israelis would use a nuclear device except in a truly Armageddon situation for Israel. As for Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Turkey going nuclear, however, they see terrifying possibilities: irresponsible leaders, or some ISIS-type terrorist outfit, could actually use them. In other words, even if they would never express it as clearly as that, they see Israelis as « like us, » but others potentially as madmen. The Quai d’Orsay (the French Foreign Ministry) may loathe, on principle, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: any briefing by French diplomats will, as a matter of course, explain how very wrong Israel is to alienate its « American ally. » All the same, France’s political stance on the projected U.S.-Iran deal is astonishingly close to that of the Israeli PM, as he outlined to the U.S. Congress on March 3. Laurent Fabius — once François Mitterrand’s youngest Prime Minister; today’s François Hollande’s seasoned Foreign Minister — is « fed up with Barack Obama’s nuclear laxity » regarding Iran, a Quai senior diplomat told Le Canard Enchaîné’s usually well-informed Claude Angéli, who can be relied on to give the unvarnished French view on matters foreign. « Just as in 2013, France will oppose any agreement too favorable to Iran if this turns out to be necessary. Fabius made this very clear to John Kerry when they met on Saturday March 7th. » This, Angéli points out, is far from the « soothing communiqué » issued at the end of the Kerry-Fabius meeting in which both men supposedly « shared » the same view of the Iran negotiations. The communiqué itself may have come as a surprise to a number of French MPs and Senators from their respective Foreign Affairs Committees. Fabius himself, in a meeting last week, made extremely clear his deep distrust (« contempt, really, » one MP says) of both John Kerry and Barack Obama. Another of the group quotes Fabius as saying: « The United States was really ready to sign just about anything with the Iranians, » before explaining that he himself had sent out, mid-February, a number of French ‘counter-proposals’ to the State Department and White House, in order to prevent an agreement too imbalanced in favor of Iran. Anne-Elisabeth Moutet
Une intéressante alliance des «faucons» se dessine de facto entre Paris, Jérusalem, le Congrès et les monarchies du Golfe, ­anxieuses d’un accord avec la Perse qui se ferait sur leur dos. Le Figaro (11.11.13)
We are not exactly impotent little babies. They [Israelis] have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch? (…) Well, we have to be serious about denying them that right. That means a denial where you aren’t just saying it. If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not. No one wishes for this but it could be a Liberty in reverse. [Israeli jet fighters and torpedo boats attacked the USS Liberty in international waters, off the Sinai Peninsula, during the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel later claimed the ship was the object of friendly fire.] (…)  Obama has been very impressive in refining our policy toward the world on a lot of issues, very impressive. But he has been relatively much less impressive in the follow-through. (…) Not as precise, clear-cut, and forthcoming as would be desirable. (…) By now we should have been able to formulate a clearer posture on what we are prepared to do to promote a Palestinian-Israeli peace. Simply giving a frequent-traveler ticket to George Mitchell is not the same thing as policy. It took a long time to get going on Iran, but there is an excuse there, the Iranian domestic mess. And we are now eight months into the administration, and I would have thought by now we could have formulated a strategy that we would have considered “our” strategy for dealing with Iran and Pakistan. For example, the Carter administration, which is sometimes mocked, by now had in motion a policy of disarmament with the Russians, which the Russians didn’t like, but eventually bought; it had started a policy of normalization with the Chinese; it rammed through the Panama Canal treaty; and it was moving very, very openly toward an Israeli-Arab political peace initiative. (…) There was a closer connection between desire and execution. Also the president was not as deeply embroiled, and buffeted, by a very broad, and commendable and ambitious domestic program as President Obama is. I think the Republican onslaught to the president, the wavering of some Democrats, has vastly complicated not only his choices in foreign affairs, but even limited the amount of attention he can give to them. (…) I don’t think it’s the number of issues; it’s how decisively a president acts. A president, in his first year, is at the peak of his popularity, and if he acts decisively, even if some oppose him, most will rally around him, out of patriotism, out of opportunism, out of loyalty, out of the crowd instinct, just a variety of human motives. (…)  The first year is decisive. How much you can set in motion the first year sets the tone for much of the rest of the term. In part, that’s because all these things take more than one year to complete. But the point is you want to have a dynamic start that carries momentum with it. Zbigniew Brzezinski (2009)
A l’époque, pendant que nous étions en train de discuter avec les Européens à Téhéran, nous installions des équipements dans certaines parties d’Ispahan, et le projet était sur le point d’être complété. En réalité, c’est en créant un climat de sérénité, que nous avons pu achever Ispahan. Hassan Rohani (03.11.03)
What has been released by the website of the White House as a fact sheet is a one-sided interpretation of the agreed text in Geneva and some of the explanations and words in the sheet contradict the text of the Joint Plan of Action (the title of the Iran-powers deal), and this fact sheet has unfortunately been translated and released in the name of the Geneva agreement by certain media, which is not true. Marziyeh Afkham (Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman)
Iran is already in violation of a number of Security Council resolutions demanding it cease all uranium enrichment and heavy water activity – a process used to create weapons-grade plutonium. Furthermore, none of this activity is even remotely necessary if Iran, as it claims, only wants a peaceful nuclear program. There are many countries that have nuclear power that do not have the capability to enrich their own fuel. They buy it from abroad and that’s what Iran could do. And that’s what the media are neglecting to tell you. There are over thirty countries around the world that have nuclear power programs but according to the World Nuclear Association, only eleven have the capacity to enrich their own fuel. Here are some of the countries that have nuclear energy but don’t enrich their own nuclear fuel: Argentina, Armenia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, South Korea, Lithuania, Mexico, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine. The fact is that, of countries that have enrichment capabilities, the majority also possess nuclear weapons. Countries that enrich nuclear materials but do not have nuclear weapons include Germany, Japan and the Netherlands. Countries that enrich and do have nuclear weapons include Pakistan, Russia and China. When you think of Iran, do you think it fits in with Germany, Japan and the Netherlands? Or, does it fit better with Pakistan, Russia and China? If that isn’t enough to make you uncomfortable, in a speech to the Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council in 2005, Rouhani himself said: A country that could enrich uranium to about 3.5 percent will also have the capability to enrich it to about 90 percent. Having fuel cycle capability virtually means that a country that possesses this capability is able to produce nuclear weapons. Since Argentina, Armenia, Sweden and Spain can buy nuclear fuel from abroad, why can’t Iran? Since our neighbors Canada and Mexico can pursue this policy, why can’t Iran? Camera
La Corée du Nord a appris au monde qu’au poker nucléaire la folie feinte vous vaut de l’aide étrangère ou l’attention planétaire — du fait que même la certitude qu’on a affaire à un bluff à 99% reste suffisante pour effrayer les opinions publiques occidentales. La Corée du nord est le proverbial envieux psychopathe du quartier qui agresse constamment ses voisins prospères d’à côté, en partant du principe que les voisins ne pourront manquer de prendre en compte ses menaces aussi sauvages qu’absurdes parce qu’il n’a rien et qu’ils ont tout à perdre. (…) L’Iran pourrait reprendre à l’infini le modèle de Kim — menaçant une semaine de rayer Israël de la carte, faisant machine arrière la semaine d’après sous prétexte de problèmes de traduction. L’objectif ne serait pas nécessairement de détruire Israël (ce qui vaudrait à l’Iran la destruction de la culture persane pour un siècle), mais d’imposer une telle atmosphère d’inquiétude et de pessimisme à l’Etat juif que son économie en serait affaiblie, son émigration en serait encouragée et sa réputation géostratégique en serait érodée. La Corée du nord est passée maître dans de telles tactiques de chantage nucléaire. A certains moments, Pyongyang a même réussi à réduire les deux géants asiatiques – Japon et Corée du Sud – à la quasi-paralysie.(…) Un Iran nucléaire n’aurait à s’inquiéter ni d’un ennemi existentiel avec une population d’un milliard d’habitants à côté tel que l’Inde ni d’un mécène tout aussi peuplé comme la Chine susceptible d’imposer des lignes rouges à ses crises de folie périodiques. Téhéran serait libre au contraire de faire et de dire ce qu’il veut. Et son statut de puissance nucléaire deviendrait un multiplicateur de force pour son énorme richesse pétrolière et son statut auto-proclamé de leader mondial des musulmans chiites. Si la Corée du Nord est un danger, alors un Iran nucléaire plus gros, plus riche et sans dissuasion serait un cauchemar. Victor Davis Hanson
If countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us. Obama
 What we intended as caution, the Iranians saw as weakness. Obama’s aide
On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved, but it’s important . . . to give me space. This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility. Obama (to Russian president Dmitry Medvedev)
At our urging, over months, Russia and Iran repeatedly reinforced our warning to Assad. We all sent the same message again and again: don’t do it. Susan Rice
I threatened [sic] kinetic strikes on Syria unless they got rid of their chemical weapons. Obama (March 2014)
The “good news is that Assad’s allies, both Russia and Iran, recognize that this [use of sarin] was—this was a breach, that this was a problem. And for them to potentially put pressure on Assad to say, ‘Let’s figure out a way that the international community gets control of . . . these weapons in a verifiable and forcible way’—I think it’s something that we will run to ground. Obama
 “[I]f as a consequence of a deal on their nuclear program, those voices and trends inside of Iran are strengthened, and their economy becomes more integrated into the international community, and there’s more travel and greater openness, even if that takes a decade or 15 years or 20 years, then that’s very much an outcome we should desire. Obama
The White House version both underplays the [American] concessions and overplays Iranian commitments. The White House tries to portray it as basically a dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program. That is the word they use time and again. Javad Zarif (Iranian foreign minister)
Nous avons rappelé que ce genre de discours était contraire aux traditions d’Israël. Bien que ce pays soit fondé sur une terre historiquement juive, et sur le besoin de créer une nation juive, la démocratie israélienne repose sur la notion que tous ses citoyens sont égaux en droits. C’est ce qui fait la grandeur de cette démocratie. Si cela venait à changer, je pense que cela donnerait des arguments à ceux qui ne veulent pas d’un Etat juif, et que cela affaiblirait la démocratie israélienne (…) Disons que nous lui faisons confiance quand il dit que cela n’arrivera pas tant qu’il sera Premier ministre. C’est pourquoi nous devons explorer d’autres options afin d’empêcher que la région ne sombre dans le chaos. J’ai eu l’occasion de parler hier à M. Netanyahu. Je l’ai félicité pour sa victoire, et je lui ai réaffirmé mon attachement  à une solution à deux États qui est, de notre point de vue, la seule garantie sur le long terme de la sécurité d’Israël, en tant qu’État juif et démocratique. Je lui ai également rappelé qu’après ses récentes déclarations, il serait difficile de croire qu’Israël est sérieusement attaché à la poursuite des négociations. Cependant, nous continuerons d’insister sur le fait que, du point de vue des États-Unis, le statu quo est intenable, a poursuivi le président américain. Nous sommes attachés à la sécurité d’Israël, mais il n’est pas possible de poursuivre cette voie éternellement, avec l’implantation de nouvelles colonies. C’est un facteur d’instabilité dans la région. (…) Il faut tout d’abord que les Iraniens démontrent clairement qu’ils ne fabriquent pas de bombes nucléaires, et qu’ils nous laissent toute latitude pour nous en assurer. (…) Il n’y aura pas d’accord tant que tout n’aura pas été résolu. (…) Je dois avouer que les Iraniens n’ont pas fait jusqu’ici les compromis que j’estime indispensables pour parvenir à cet accord. Mais ils se sont montrés ouverts, ce qui laisse la porte ouverte à la recherche d’une solution (…). Je vais devoir démontrer au peuple américain, mais aussi aux Israéliens et au reste du monde, que nous avons mis en place des mécanismes qui empêcheront l’Iran d’accéder à la bombe atomique (…) Il est évident que beaucoup d’Israéliens se méfient, à juste titre, de leur voisin iranien. L’Iran a tenu des propos ignobles et antisémites, et menacé Israël d’annihilation. C’est précisément pour cela que j’ai dit, avant même de devenir président, que l’Iran ne devait pas disposer de l’arme nucléaire. Barack Obama
There was a free and fair democratic election, the only nation in the region that will have such a thing.  The president should get over it.  Get over your temper tantrum, Mr. President.  It’s time that we work together with our Israeli friends and try to stem this tide of ISIS and Iranian movement throughout the region, which is threatening the very fabric of the region.  The least of your problems is what Bibi Netanyahu said during an election campaign.  If every politician were held to everything they say in a political campaign, obviously, that would be a topic of long discussion. But the point is, is the J.V., as the president described them, is just moving over into Yemen.  We see this horrible situation in Libya. We see ISIS everywhere in the world.  We see the Iranians now backing the Shia militias in Tikrit, where they’re going to – where they’re going to massacre a number of Sunnis. And it is – the guy in charge is a guy named Suleimani, who – who imported – excuse me – I will catch up here – Suleimani moved thousands of copper-tipped IEDs into Iraq and killed hundreds of American soldiers and Marines.  And the president of the United States is praising the mullahs and their behavior in the region. (…) I wish he had spoken to the people of Iran in 2009, when they rose up against a corrupt election and he refused to speak out on their behalf while they were chanting ‘Obama, Obama, are you with us or are you with them?’ Again, does anyone – does he believe that anyone in Iran is able to speak up?  Are they able to speak up for anything that the mullahs disagree with?  They’re either jailed or killed.  Again, this is a view, a world view the president has which is totally divorced from reality. John McCain
What was not well reported in the American media is that President Obama and his allies were playing in the election to defeat Prime Minister Netanyahu. There was money moving that included taxpayer U.S. dollars, through non-profit organizations. And there were various liberal groups in the United States that were raising millions to fund a campaign called V15 against Prime Minister Netanyahu. (…) an effort to oust Netanyahu was guided by former Obama political operative Jeremy Bird and that V15, or Victory 15, ads hurt Netanyahu in the polls. John McLaughlin (Republican strategist)
Un premier avion iranien est arrivé dimanche à Sanaa, au lendemain de la signature d’un accord entre Téhéran et des responsables de l’aviation de la capitale yéménite, contrôlée par la milice chiite des Houthis, a constaté un photographe de l’AFP. L’appareil de la compagnie Mahan Air est arrivé à Sanaa avec à son bord une équipe du Croissant rouge iranien et des caisses de médicaments, a précisé à l’AFP un responsable de l’aviation yéménite. Il a ajouté que des diplomates iraniens étaient présents pour accueillir ce vol, le premier entre les deux pays depuis des années. AFP (01.03.15)
Des photos et des vidéos amateur prouvent que Qassem Soleimani, le commandant des forces d’élites iraniennes, est en Irak et se bat au côté des forces irakiennes – soutenues et armées par les États-unis – contre les jihadistes de l’organisation de l’État islamique. (…) Les preuves de la présence de ce commandant iranien en Irak se multiplient donc alors même que l’Iran refuse d’admettre sa participation dans la guerre en Irak contre l’organisation de l’État islamique, ce qui reviendrait à officialiser sa collaboration militaire de fait avec les États-Unis. France 24 (04.09.14)
Hezbollah was formed in Lebanon as a popular force like Basij (Iran’s militia). Similarly popular forces were also formed in Syria and Iraq, and today we are watching the formation of Ansarollah in Yemen. Hojatoleslam Ali Shirazi (representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force)
Ansarollah is a similar copy of Hezbollah in a strategic area. IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami
We witness today that our revolution is exported to Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. Ali Akbar Nategh-Nuri (former speaker of Iran’s Majles and head of the Office of Inspection of the House of the Supreme Leader)
The Islamic Republic’s borders … are now transferred to the farthest points in the Middle East. Today, the strategic depth of Iran stretches to Mediterranean coasts and Bab al-Mandab Strait [southwest of Yemen]. Hojjat al-Eslam Ali Said (supreme leader’s representative in the IRGC)
Mort à l’Amérique, parce que l’Amérique est la source d’origine de cette pression. Ils insistent à mettre la pression sur l’économie de nos chères personnes. Quel est leur objectif ? Leur objectif est de monter les gens contre le système. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei  (20.03.15)
In the giddy aftermath of Obama’s electoral victory in 2008, anything seemed possible. The president saw himself as a transformational leader, not just in domestic politics but also in the international arena, where, as he believed, he had been elected to reverse the legacy of his predecessor, George W. Bush. To say that Obama regarded Bush’s foreign policy as anachronistic is an understatement. To him it was a caricature of yesteryear, the foreign-policy equivalent of Leave It to Beaver. Obama’s mission was to guide America out of Bushland, an arena in which the United States assembled global military coalitions to defeat enemies whom it depicted in terms like “Axis of Evil,” and into Obamaworld, a place more attuned to the nuances, complexities, and contradictions—and opportunities—of the 21st century. In today’s globalized environment, Obama told the United Nations General Assembly in September 2009, “our destiny is shared, power is no longer a zero-sum game. No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation. . . . No balance of power among nations will hold.” If, in Bushland, America had behaved like a sheriff, assembling a posse to go in search of monsters, in Obamaworld America would disarm its rivals by ensnaring them in a web of cooperation. For the new president, nothing revealed the conceptual inadequacies of Bushland more clearly than the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Before coming to Washington, Obama had opposed the toppling of the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein; once in the U.S. Senate, he rejected Bush’s “surge” and introduced legislation to end the war. Shortly after his inauguration in January 2009, he pledged to bring the troops home quickly—a commitment that he would indeed honor. But if calling for withdrawal from Iraq had been a relatively easy position to take for a senator, for a president it raised a key practical question: beyond abstract nostrums like “no nation can . . . dominate another nation,” what new order should replace the American-led system that Bush had been building? This was, and remains, the fundamental strategic question that Obama has faced in the Middle East, though one would search his speeches in vain for an answer to it. But Obama does have a relatively concrete vision. When he arrived in Washington in 2006, he absorbed a set of ideas that had incubated on Capitol Hill during the previous three years—ideas that had received widespread attention thanks to the final report of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan congressional commission whose co-chairs, former secretary of state James Baker and former Indiana congressman Lee Hamilton, interpreted their mission broadly, offering advice on all key aspects of Middle East policy. (…) Expressing the ethos of an influential segment of the foreign-policy elite, the Baker-Hamilton report became the blueprint for the foreign policy of the Obama administration, and its spirit continues to pervade Obama’s inner circle. Denis McDonough, now the president’s chief of staff, once worked as an aide to Lee Hamilton; so did Benjamin Rhodes, who helped write the Iraq Study Group’s report. Obama not only adopted the blueprint but took it one step further, recruiting Vladimir Putin’s Russia as another candidate for membership in the new club. The administration’s early “reset” with Russia and its policy of reaching out to Iran and Syria formed two parts of a single vision. If, in Bushland, America had behaved like a sheriff, assembling a posse (“a coalition of the willing”) to go in search of monsters, in Obamaworld America would disarm its rivals by ensnaring them in a web of cooperation. To rid the world of rogues and tyrants, one must embrace and soften them. (…) The same desire to accommodate Iran has tailored Obama’s strategy toward the terrorist group Islamic State. (…) The administration has indeed subtly exploited the rise of terrorist enclaves to elevate Obama’s outreach to Iran. Behind the scenes, coordination and consultation have reached new heights. (…) With American acquiescence, Iran is steadily taking control of the security sector of the Iraqi state. Soon it will dominate the energy sector as well, giving it effective control over the fifth largest oil reserves in the world. When the announced goal of the United States is to build up a moderate Sunni bloc capable of driving a wedge between Islamic State and the Sunni communities, aligning with Iran is politically self-defeating. In both Iraq and Syria, Iran projects its power through sectarian militias that slaughter Sunni Muslims with abandon. Are there any Sunni powers in the region that see American outreach to Tehran as a good thing? Are there any military-aged Sunni men in Iraq and Syria who now see the United States as a friendly power? There are none. (…) Over the last three years, Obama has given Iran a free hand in Syria and Iraq, on the simplistic assumption that Tehran would combat al-Qaeda and like-minded groups in a manner serving American interests. The result, in both countries, has been the near-total alienation of all Sunnis and the development of an extremist safe haven that now stretches from the outskirts of Baghdad all the way to Damascus. America is now applying to the disease a larger dose of the snake oil that helped cause the malady in the first place. The approach is detrimental to American interests in other arenas as well. We received a portent of things to come on January 18 of this year, when the Israel Defense Forces struck a convoy of senior Hizballah and Iranian officers, including a general in the Revolutionary Guards, in the Golan Heights. Ten days later, Hizballah and Iran retaliated. In other words, by treating Syria as an Iranian sphere of interest, Obama is allowing the shock troops of Iran to dig in on the border of Israel—not to mention the border of Jordan. (…) In November 2013, when Obama purchased the participation of Iran in the Joint Plan of Action, he established a basic asymmetry that has remained a key feature of the negotiations ever since. He traded permanent American concessions for Iranian gestures of temporary restraint. (…)  The most significant such gestures by Iran were to dilute its stockpiles of uranium enriched to 20 percent; to refrain from installing new centrifuges; and to place a hold on further construction of the Arak plutonium reactor. All three, however, can be easily reversed. By contrast, the Americans recognized the Iranian right to enrich and agreed to the principle that all restrictions on Iran’s program would be of a limited character and for a defined period of time. These two concessions are major, and because they are not just the policy of the United States government but now the collective position of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany, they will likely never be reversed. (…) We can say with certainty that Obama has had no illusions about this asymmetry—that he conducted the negotiations with his eyes wide open—because the White House took pains to hide the truth from the American public. In 2013, instead of publishing the text of the JPOA, it issued a highly misleading fact sheet. Peppered with terms like “halt,” “roll back,” and “dismantle,” the document left the impression that the Iranians had agreed to destroy their nuclear program. (…) Over the last year, Obama has reportedly allowed Iran to retain, in one form or another, its facilities at Natanz, Fordow, and Arak—sites that Iran built in flagrant violation of the NPT to which it is a signatory. This is the same Obama who declared at the outset of negotiations that the Iranians “don’t need to have an underground, fortified facility like Fordow in order to have a peaceful nuclear program. They certainly don’t need a heavy-water reactor at Arak in order to have a peaceful nuclear program. . . . And so the question ultimately is going to be, are they prepared to roll back some of the advancements that they’ve made.” The answer to his question, by now, is clear: the Iranians will not roll back anything. The president believes that globalization and economic integration will induce Tehran to forgo its nuclear ambitions. Meanwhile Iran’s rulers are growing stronger, bolder, and ever closer to nuclear breakout capacity. (…) In making his personal rift with Netanyahu the subject of intense public debate, the White House means to direct attention away from the strategic rift between them—and from the fact that the entire Israeli elite, regardless of political orientation, as well as much of the U.S. Congress, regards the president’s conciliatory approach to Iran as profoundly misguided. Meanwhile, the president is depicting his congressional critics as irresponsible warmongers. He would have us believe that there are only two options: his undeclared détente with Iran and yet another war in the Middle East. This is a false choice. It ignores the one policy that every president since Jimmy Carter has pursued till now: vigorous containment on all fronts, not just in the nuclear arena. Obama, however, is intent on obscuring this option, and for a simple reason: an honest debate about it would force him to come clean with the American people and admit the depth of his commitment to the strategy whose grim results are multiplying by the day. Michael Doran
Given all we know, I would argue that Obama’s mission is to guide America not only out of Bushland (as Doran puts it) but out of Rooseveltland, Kennedyland, and Clintonland—and indeed to reverse most of the foreign-policy legacy of his own party, with the exception of that of Wallace and its 1972 candidate for the presidency, George McGovern. The ideas espoused by Obama “incubated” decades ago, and were most likely adopted back at Columbia University or in the Chicago kitchen of his friends of Weathermen fame, Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. (…) The enduring hold of that ideology is visible not only in his Iran policy but also, most recently, with respect to Cuba. There, too, he has reversed decades of American foreign policy, and has done so, as in the case of Iran, without seeking any deep concessions from the Castro regime. In concluding the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action with Iran, Doran notes, Obama accepted a “basic asymmetry,” trading permanent American concessions [in exchange] for Iranian gestures of temporary restraint.” Similarly, in Cuba, Obama’s recent deal—call it another “Joint Plan of Action”—abandons previous American demands for real political change on the island prior to any lifting of the embargo. And just as he has offered his regrets to Tehran for the (long exaggerated) American role in the 1953 overthrow of the Mossadegh government, so too has he expressed apologies—in this case, in a telephone call with Raul Castro—“for taking such a long time” to change U.S. policy. In both instances, Obama has acted not to advance American national interests but to make amends for U.S. policies and actions that he views as the immoral and retrograde detritus of the “cold-war mentality.” (…) One need only look at the success of the Reagan administration in dealing with the Soviet Union to know that military power, strong alliances, and ideological clarity—what Doran refers to as “vigorous containment on all fronts”—do not lead to war. They lead to success. Elliott Abrams
In Dueck’s judgment, Obama’s approach to the world is predicated first and foremost on his bedrock intention to be a “transformational” president. The transformation in question is largely domestic—hence his preoccupation with the Affordable Care Act, which remakes a rather large swath of the American economy. Abroad, and in aid of the main focus on his domestic agenda (“nation-building at home”), the president’s overwhelming objective has been to keep international affairs at bay. But when world events do inevitably impose themselves, Obama is no less confident of his unique ability to exert a transformational impact.  (…) As Dueck sees it, the strategy is twofold: retrenchment, and accommodation. Retrenchment means liquidating some of what Obama construes to be overinvestments the U.S. has made around the world, particularly in the Middle East, while also reducing the strength of the U.S. military—since, in his view, our temptation to resort to military force has itself been responsible for many of the world’s ills. Accommodation, in turn, means reaching out and “engaging” America’s adversaries, thereby turning them, in the common phrase, from part of the problem into part of the solution. Understanding this strategy of retrenchment and accommodation is a useful vehicle for explaining many apparently discrete episodes in Obama’s tenure, from the early “strategic reassurance” of China, to the “reset” of relations with Russia, and of course to the “open hand” approach to Tehran that Michael Doran dissects so well. It also clarifies the chronic neglect of allies, and it illuminates, as Abrams rightly underlines, the president’s chronic need—the political equivalent of Tourette syndrome—to express regret and apologize publicly for past exercises of American power in pursuit of our national interests. (…) What distinguishes Obama is the ideological aversion to American power and the formulation of a strategy whose overriding impetus is to constrain that power. The scandal is not that the administration has kept this a secret but that a supine press and intellectual class have failed—“declined” may be the better (if much too polite) word—to explain it to the American people. Eric Edelman
As former George W. Bush White House aide Michael Doran meticulously lays out in his recently published tour-de-force “Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy,” the U.S.-Iran partnership that is reshaping the Middle East has been in the making since Obama first came to office. The most salient point then about the current P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran isn’t the nuclear issue, but the fact that they create a channel to allow both sides to keep talking—which means that all sorts of subjects are going to come up, from Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon to Yemen and maybe even other thorny issues, like Argentina and the Nisman investigation into Iran’s alleged role in the bombing of the Israeli embassy in 1992 and Jewish Community Center in 1994. U.S. response to everything in the region is now tied to the fate of the Iranian nuclear program, which in turn is simply the linchpin of Obama’s larger vision of a partnership between Washington and Tehran. (…) From Iran’s perspective, then, it controls not only four Arab capitals, but it also holds Washington captive. (…)  First of all, it’s not clear how Iran can accept any permanent agreement with the White House about the nuclear program, or anything else, for that matter. From Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ perspective, a deal might empower President Hassan Rouhani at their expense. From Rouhani’s perspective, a deal might make him, a so-called moderate, superfluous as someone who’s already played his role. Most important, there is the point of view of Khamenei, which partakes of the historic rationale of the Islamic Republic. Its founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini promised one thing—not to raise the standard of living or educate women, nor even to hasten the return of the Mahdi, but rather that the life of a genuine Muslim rested on the pillar of resistance against the godless, the arrogant West, especially America. Signing an accord with the Great Satan would undermine the fundamental legitimacy of the regime. Obama wants a deal with Iran so much in large part because he doesn’t think the United States should be the world’s policeman—and he’s right. Our oil and natural gas industry won’t make us energy independent but it makes us less dependent and we simply don’t need that high a profile in a part of the world that has seldom returned our love. So, why keep shedding blood and spending money—as well as domestic political capital—in the Middle East? The answer is not that we need to look out for the world’s interests, but that we need to continue protecting our own. A nuclear weapon in the hands of an expansionist regime doesn’t get the United States out of the Middle East. It puts Iran on our doorstep, by turning the clerical regime into an aggressive global nuclear-armed power. There can’t be much question by now about what Iran has in mind for the Middle East, or for other countries that it enlists in its schemes, like Argentina. What Iran wants makes the world a more dangerous place for Americans. The question is not whether there’s a deal to be had with Iran, but if it’s too late to crash the comprehensive agreement the White House has already struck with our new regional partner—whose sickening consequences are plain to see. Lee Smith

Et si la queue se révélait plus maline que le chien ?

Refus de bombarder la Syrie, hostilité contre ses alliés israéliens et égyptiens ou à présent français, abandon de l’Irak, de la Libye et maintenant, sans armes ni bagages, du Yemen, fourniture de renseignement au Hezbollah …

A l’heure où le monde se gratte la tête devant une politique étrangère américaine de plus en plus déroutante

Qui, après Baghdad, Damas et Beirut, vient de livrer avec Sanaa pas moins de quatre capitales arabes à son prétendu pire ennemi

Et réussit l’exploit, comme l’expliquait le Figaro il y a deux ans, de réunir à nouveau contre elle « une intéressante alliance des «faucons» de facto entre Paris, Jérusalem, le Congrès et les monarchies du Golfe » …

Pendant que pour avoir tenté d’alerter le monde sur le danger nucléaire iranien, le Premier ministre sortant israélien se voyait accuser de « remuer le chien »

Comment ne pas repenser …

A la lecture de la brillante déconstruction de la doctrine Obama sur l’Iran par l’ancien conseiller de George Bush Michael Doran …

A cette excellente comédie de Barry Levinson de la fin des années 90 (Wag the dog – titre français: Des hommes d’influence) …

Où, selon l’expression anglaise du titre, un président américain n’était pas loin de lancer une guerre pour détourner l’attention médiatique d’une histoire de moeurs risquant de menacer sa réélection ?

Sauf que le chien dont il faudrait cette fois détourner l’attention (graal de la diplomatie américaine depuis plus de 40 ans) ne serait autre que l’entente avec un régime …

Qui ne peut tout simplement pas renoncer, sans signer son arrêt de mort immédiat, à sa vitale capacité de nuisance …

Et que la queue censée servir de diversion ne serait rien de moins que la discussion sur l’acquisition par ce dernier…

De l’arme nucléaire ?

Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy
The president has long been criticized for his lack of strategic vision. But what if a strategy, centered on Iran, has been in place from the start and consistently followed to this day?
Michael Doran
Mosc
Feb. 2 2015

About the author
Michael Doran, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense and a former senior director of the National Security Council. He is finishing a book on President Eisenhower and the Middle East. He tweets @doranimated.

President Barack Obama wishes the Islamic Republic of Iran every success. Its leaders, he explained in a recent interview, stand at a crossroads. They can choose to press ahead with their nuclear program, thereby continuing to flout the will of the international community and further isolate their country; or they can accept limitations on their nuclear ambitions and enter an era of harmonious relations with the rest of the world. “They have a path to break through that isolation and they should seize it,” the president urged—because “if they do, there’s incredible talent and resources and sophistication . . . inside of Iran, and it would be a very successful regional power.”

How eager is the president to see Iran break through its isolation and become a very successful regional power? Very eager. A year ago, Benjamin Rhodes, deputy national-security adviser for strategic communication and a key member of the president’s inner circle, shared some good news with a friendly group of Democratic-party activists. The November 2013 nuclear agreement between Tehran and the “P5+1”—the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany—represented, he said, not only “the best opportunity we’ve had to resolve the Iranian [nuclear] issue,” but “probably the biggest thing President Obama will do in his second term on foreign policy.” For the administration, Rhodes emphasized, “this is healthcare . . . , just to put it in context.” Unaware that he was being recorded, he then confided to his guests that Obama was planning to keep Congress in the dark and out of the picture: “We’re already kind of thinking through, how do we structure a deal so we don’t necessarily require legislative action right away.”

Why the need to bypass Congress? Rhodes had little need to elaborate. As the president himself once noted balefully, “[T]here is hostility and suspicion toward Iran, not just among members of Congress but the American people”—and besides, “members of Congress are very attentive to what Israel says on its security issues.” And that “hostility and suspicion” still persist, prompting the president in his latest State of the Union address to repeat his oft-stated warning that he will veto “any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo [the] progress” made so far toward a “comprehensive agreement” with the Islamic Republic.

As far as the president is concerned, the less we know about his Iran plans, the better. Yet those plans, as Rhodes stressed, are not a minor or incidental component of his foreign policy. To the contrary, they are central to his administration’s strategic thinking about the role of the United States in the world, and especially in the Middle East.

Moreover, that has been true from the beginning. In the first year of Obama’s first term, a senior administration official would later tell David Sanger of the New York Times, “There were more [White House] meetings on Iran than there were on Iraq, Afghanistan, and China. It was the thing we spent the most time on and talked about the least in public [emphasis added].” All along, Obama has regarded his hoped-for “comprehensive agreement” with Iran as an urgent priority, and, with rare exceptions, has consistently wrapped his approach to that priority in exceptional layers of secrecy.

From time to time, critics and even friends of the president have complained vocally about the seeming disarray or fecklessness of the administration’s handling of foreign policy. Words like amateurish, immature, and incompetent are bandied about; what’s needed, we’re told, is less ad-hoc fumbling, more of a guiding strategic vision. Most recently, Leslie Gelb, a former government official and past president of the Council on Foreign Relations, has charged that “the Obama team lacks the basic instincts and judgment necessary to conduct U.S. national-security policy,” and has urged the president to replace the entire inner core of his advisers with “strong and strategic people of proven . . . experience.”

One sympathizes with Gelb’s sense of alarm, but his premises are mistaken. Inexperience is a problem in this administration, but there is no lack of strategic vision. Quite the contrary: a strategy has been in place from the start, and however clumsily it may on occasion have been implemented, and whatever resistance it has generated abroad or at home, Obama has doggedly adhered to the policies that have flowed from it.

In what follows, we’ll trace the course of the most important of those policies and their contribution to the president’s announced determination to encourage and augment Iran’s potential as a successful regional power and as a friend and partner to the United States.

2009-2010: Round One, Part I

In the giddy aftermath of Obama’s electoral victory in 2008, anything seemed possible. The president saw himself as a transformational leader, not just in domestic politics but also in the international arena, where, as he believed, he had been elected to reverse the legacy of his predecessor, George W. Bush. To say that Obama regarded Bush’s foreign policy as anachronistic is an understatement. To him it was a caricature of yesteryear, the foreign-policy equivalent of Leave It to Beaver. Obama’s mission was to guide America out of Bushland, an arena in which the United States assembled global military coalitions to defeat enemies whom it depicted in terms like “Axis of Evil,” and into Obamaworld, a place more attuned to the nuances, complexities, and contradictions—and opportunities—of the 21st century. In today’s globalized environment, Obama told the United Nations General Assembly in September 2009, “our destiny is shared, power is no longer a zero-sum game. No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation. . . . No balance of power among nations will hold.”

If, in Bushland, America had behaved like a sheriff, assembling a posse to go in search of monsters, in Obamaworld America would disarm its rivals by ensnaring them in a web of cooperation.
For the new president, nothing revealed the conceptual inadequacies of Bushland more clearly than the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Before coming to Washington, Obama had opposed the toppling of the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein; once in the U.S. Senate, he rejected Bush’s “surge” and introduced legislation to end the war. Shortly after his inauguration in January 2009, he pledged to bring the troops home quickly—a commitment that he would indeed honor. But if calling for withdrawal from Iraq had been a relatively easy position to take for a senator, for a president it raised a key practical question: beyond abstract nostrums like “no nation can . . . dominate another nation,” what new order should replace the American-led system that Bush had been building?

This was, and remains, the fundamental strategic question that Obama has faced in the Middle East, though one would search his speeches in vain for an answer to it. But Obama does have a relatively concrete vision. When he arrived in Washington in 2006, he absorbed a set of ideas that had incubated on Capitol Hill during the previous three years—ideas that had received widespread attention thanks to the final report of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan congressional commission whose co-chairs, former secretary of state James Baker and former Indiana congressman Lee Hamilton, interpreted their mission broadly, offering advice on all key aspects of Middle East policy.

The report, published in December 2006, urged then-President Bush to take four major steps: withdraw American troops from Iraq; surge American troops in Afghanistan; reinvigorate the Arab-Israeli “peace process”; and, last but far from least, launch a diplomatic engagement of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its junior partner, the Assad regime in Syria. Baker and Hamilton believed that Bush stood in thrall to Israel and was therefore insufficiently alive to the benefits of cooperating with Iran and Syria. Those two regimes, supposedly, shared with Washington the twin goals of stabilizing Iraq and defeating al-Qaeda and other Sunni jihadi groups. In turn, this shared interest would provide a foundation for building a concert system of states—a club of stable powers that could work together to contain the worst pathologies of the Middle East and lead the way to a sunnier future.

Expressing the ethos of an influential segment of the foreign-policy elite, the Baker-Hamilton report became the blueprint for the foreign policy of the Obama administration, and its spirit continues to pervade Obama’s inner circle. Denis McDonough, now the president’s chief of staff, once worked as an aide to Lee Hamilton; so did Benjamin Rhodes, who helped write the Iraq Study Group’s report. Obama not only adopted the blueprint but took it one step further, recruiting Vladimir Putin’s Russia as another candidate for membership in the new club. The administration’s early “reset” with Russia and its policy of reaching out to Iran and Syria formed two parts of a single vision. If, in Bushland, America had behaved like a sheriff, assembling a posse (“a coalition of the willing”) to go in search of monsters, in Obamaworld America would disarm its rivals by ensnaring them in a web of cooperation. To rid the world of rogues and tyrants, one must embrace and soften them.

How would this work in the case of Iran? During the Bush years, an elaborate myth had developed according to which the mullahs in Tehran had themselves reached out in friendship to Washington, offering a “grand bargain”: a deal on everything from regional security to nuclear weapons. The swaggering Bush, however, had slapped away the outstretched Iranian hand, squandering the opportunity of a lifetime to normalize U.S.-Iranian relations and thereby bring order to the entire Middle East.

Obama based his policy of outreach to Tehran on two key assumptions of the grand-bargain myth: that Tehran and Washington were natural allies, and that Washington itself was the primary cause of the enmity between the two. If only the United States were to adopt a less belligerent posture, so the thinking went, Iran would reciprocate. In his very first television interview from the White House, Obama announced his desire to talk to the Iranians, to see “where there are potential avenues for progress.” Echoing his inaugural address, he said, “[I]f countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us.”

Unfortunately, the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, ignored the president’s invitation. Five months later, in June 2009, when the Green Movement was born, his autocratic fist was still clenched. As the streets of Tehran exploded in the largest anti-government demonstrations the country had seen since the revolution of 1979, he used that fist to beat down the protesters. For their part, the protesters, hungry for democratic reform and enraged by government rigging of the recent presidential election, appealed to Obama for help. He responded meekly, issuing tepid statements of support while maintaining a steady posture of neutrality. To alienate Khamenei, after all, might kill the dream of a new era in U.S.-Iranian relations.

If this show of deference was calculated to warm the dictator’s heart, it failed. “What we intended as caution,” one of Obama’s aides would later tell a reporter, “the Iranians saw as weakness.” Indeed, the president’s studied “caution” may even have emboldened Tehran to push forward, in yet another in the long series of blatant violations of its obligations under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), with its construction of a secret uranium enrichment facility in an underground bunker at Fordow, near Qom.

When members of Iran’s Green Movement appealed to Obama for help in 2009, he responded meekly—after all, to alienate Khamenei might kill the dream of a new era in U.S.-Iranian relations.
This time, Obama reacted. Revealing the bunker’s existence, he placed Khamenei in a tough spot. The Russians, who had been habitually more lenient toward the Iranian nuclear program than the Americans, were irritated by the disclosure of this clandestine activity; the French were moved to demand a strong Western response.

But when Khamenei finessed the situation by adopting a seemingly more flexible attitude toward negotiations, Obama quickly obliged. Delighted to find a receptive Iranian across the table, he dismissed the French call for toughness, instead volunteering a plan that would meet Iran’s desire to keep most of its nuclear infrastructure intact while proving to the world that it was not stockpiling fissile material for a bomb. In keeping with his larger aspirations, the president also placed Moscow at the center of the action, proposing that the Iranians transfer their enriched uranium to Russia in exchange for fuel rods capable of powering a nuclear reactor but not of being used in a bomb. The Iranian negotiators, displaying their new spirit of compromise, accepted the terms. Even President Ahmadinejad, the notorious hardliner, pronounced himself on board.

Obama, it seemed to some, had pulled off a major coup. Less than a year after taking office, he was turning his vision of a new Middle East order into a reality. Or was he? Once the heat was off, Khamenei reneged on the deal, throwing the president back to square one and in the process weakening him politically at home, where congressional skeptics of his engagement policy now began lobbying for more stringent economic sanctions on Tehran. To protect his flank, Obama tacked rightward, appropriating, if with visible reluctance, some of his opponents’ rhetoric and bits of their playbook as well. In 2010, he signed into law the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (CISADA), which eventually would prove more painful to Iran than any previous measure of its kind.

In later years, whenever Obama would stand accused of being soft on Iran, he would invariably point to CISADA as evidence to the contrary. “[O]ver the course of several years,” he stated in March 2014, “we were able to enforce an unprecedented sanctions regime that so crippled the Iranian economy that they were willing to come to the table.” The “table” in question was the negotiation resulting in the November 2013 agreement, known as the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA), which we shall come to in due course. But masked in the president’s boast was the fact that he had actually opposed CISADA, which was rammed down his throat by a Senate vote of 99 to zero.

Once the bill became law, a cadre of talented and dedicated professionals in the Treasury Department set to work implementing it. But the moment of presumed “convergence” between Obama and his congressional skeptics proved temporary and tactical; their fundamental difference in outlook would become much more apparent in the president’s second term. For the skeptics, the way to change Khamenei’s behavior was to place him before a stark choice: dismantle Iran’s nuclear program—period—or face catastrophic consequences. For Obama, to force a confrontation with Khamenei would destroy any chance of reaching an accommodation on the nuclear front and put paid to his grand vision of a new Middle East order.

2011-2012: Round One, Part II

“The hardest cross I have to bear is the Cross of Lorraine,” Winston Churchill supposedly cracked about managing his wartime relations with Charles de Gaulle. As Obama sees it, his hardest cross to bear has been the Star of David, represented by Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

To the Israelis, who have long regarded Iran’s nuclear program as an existential threat, Obama’s engagement policy was misguided from the start. Their assessment mattered, because influential Americans listened to them. What was more, American Jews constituted an important segment of the Democratic party’s popular base and an even more important segment of its donors. In the election year of 2012, for Obama to be perceived as indifferent to Israeli security would jeopardize his prospects of a second term—and hardly among Jews alone.

When the Israelis threatened to attack Iran, Obama responded by putting Israel in a bear hug. From one angle, it looked like an expression of friendship. From another, like an effort to break Netanyahu’s ribs.
The Israelis did more than just criticize Obama; they also threatened to take action against Iran that would place the president in an intolerable dilemma. In 2011, Ehud Barak, the defense minister at the time, announced that Iran was quickly approaching a “zone of immunity,” meaning that its nuclear program would henceforth be impervious to Israeli attack. As Iran approached that zone, Israel would have no choice but to strike. And what would America do then? The Israeli warnings grew ever starker as the presidential election season heated up. Netanyahu, it seemed, was using the threat of Israeli action as a way of prodding Washington itself to take a harder line.

To this challenge, Obama responded by putting Israel in a bear hug. From one angle, it looked like an expression of profound friendship: the president significantly increased military and intelligence cooperation, and he insisted, fervently and loudly, that his policy was to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon by all means possible. With the aid of influential American Jews and Israelis who testified to his sincerity, Obama successfully blunted the force of the charge that he was hostile to Israel.

From another angle, however, the bear hug looked like an effort to break Netanyahu’s ribs. Even while expressing affection for Israel, Obama found ways to signal his loathing for its prime minister. During one tense meeting at the White House, for example, the president abruptly broke off to join his family for dinner, leaving Netanyahu to wait for him alone. In mitigation, Obama supporters would adduce ongoing friction between the two countries over West Bank settlements and peace negotiations with the Palestinians. This was true enough, but the two men differed on quite a number of issues, among which Iran held by far the greatest strategic significance. In managing the anxieties of his liberal Jewish supporters, Obama found it useful to explain the bad atmosphere as a function of Netanyahu’s “extremism” rather than of his own outreach to Iran—to suggest, in effect, that if only the hothead in the room would sit down and shut up, the grownups could proceed to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem along reasonable lines.

The tactic proved effective. At least for the duration, Obama prevented Israel from attacking Iran; preserved American freedom of action with regard to Iran’s nuclear program; and kept his disagreements with the Israeli government within the comfort zone of American Jewish Democrats.

If, however, Netanyahu was Obama’s biggest regional headache, there was no lack of others. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was certainly the most consequential. Obama had assumed that the king would welcome his approach to the Middle East as a breath of fresh air. After all, the Baker-Hamilton crowd regarded the Arab-Israeli conflict as the major irritant in relations between the United States and the Arabs. Bush’s close alignment with Israel, so the thinking went, had damaged those relations; by contrast, Obama, the moment he took office, announced his goal of solving the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all, and followed up by picking a fight with Netanyahu over Jewish settlements in the West Bank. How could the Saudis react with anything but pleasure?

In fact, they distanced themselves—bluntly and publicly. While meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the end of July 2009, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal announced that Obama’s approach to solving the Arab-Israeli conflict “has not and, we believe, will not lead to peace.” Behind that statement lay a complex of attitudes toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict itself, but much more than that. At the end of the Bush administration, King Abdullah had made his top regional priority abundantly clear when, according to leaked State Department documents, he repeatedly urged the United States to destroy Iran’s nuclear program and thereby “cut off the head of the snake” in the Middle East.

When Obama strode into office and announced his desire to kiss the snake, the Saudis lost no time in making their displeasure felt. Three months later, the king responded gruffly to an extensive presentation on Obama’s outreach program by Dennis Ross, then a senior official in the State Department with responsibility for Iran. “I am a man of action,” Abdullah said according to a New York Times report. “Unlike you, I prefer not to talk a lot.” He then posed a series of pointed questions that Ross could not answer. “What is your goal? What will you do if this does not work? What will you do if the Chinese and the Russians are not with you? How will you deal with Iran’s nuclear program if there is not a united response?” The questions added up to a simple point: your Iran policy is based on wishful thinking.

As it happens, one traditional American ally in the region was—at least at first—untroubled by Obama’s policy of Iran engagement: the Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Indeed, Erdoğan found much to extol in the new American initiative, which dovetailed perfectly with his own foreign policy of “zero problems with [Arab and Muslim] neighbors.” Among other things, Erdoğan meant to establish Ankara as the middleman between the United States and Iran and Syria, Turkey’s traditional adversaries. This vision nested so comfortably within Obama’s planned concert system that Erdoğan quickly became one of the few international personalities with whom Obama developed a close personal rapport.

Contrary to what observers have long assumed, Obama does connect his Iran policy and his Syria policy: just as he showed deference to Iran on the nuclear front, he has deferred to the Iranian interest in Syria.
Soon, however, serious tensions arose. By the summer of 2012, one problem overshadowed all others: Syria—and behind Syria, Iran. Erdoğan watched in horror as the Iranians together with their proxies, Hizballah and Iraqi Shiite militias, intervened in the Syrian civil war. Iranian-directed units were not only training and equipping Bashar Assad’s forces in his battle for survival, but also engaging in direct combat. At the same time, within the Syrian opposition to Assad, a radical Sunni jihadi element was growing at an alarming rate. In short order, the Turks were adding their voice to a powerful chorus—including Saudi Arabia, the Gulf sheikhdoms, and the Jordanians—urgently requesting that Washington take action to build up the moderate Sunni opposition to both Assad and Iran.

The director of the CIA, David Petraeus, responded to this request by America’s regional allies with a plan to train and equip Syrian rebels in Jordan and to assist them once back in Syria. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all supported the Petraeus plan. But Obama rejected it.

Why? Undoubtedly the president had a mix of reasons and possible motives, which were the objects of extensive speculation in the media. But one motive was never included in the list: namely, his fear of antagonizing Iran. For the longest time, it was simply assumed that Obama drew no connection between his Iran policy and his Syria policy. This, however, was not the case. In fact—as we shall see below—just as, from the beginning, he showed deference to Iran on the nuclear front, he showed the same deference to the Iranian interest in Syria.

2013-2014: Round Two, The Secret Backchannel

An ostensible thaw in American-Iranian relations occurred early in the president’s second term. To hear him tell it today, what precipitated the thaw was a strategic shift by Tehran on the nuclear front. In his version of the story—let’s call it the “official version”—two factors account for the Iranian change of heart. One of them was American coercive diplomacy; the other was a new spirit of reform in Tehran. And the two were interrelated. The first, as Obama himself explained in the March 2014 interview cited earlier, had taken the form of “an unprecedented sanctions regime that so crippled the Iranian economy that [the Iranians] were willing to come to the table.” The second was a corollary of the first. The same sanctions regime had also helped bring to power the new government of Hassan Rouhani, whose moderate approach would in turn culminate in the November 2013 signing of the interim nuclear deal, which “for the first time in a decade halts their nuclear program.”

Obama’s version is an after-the-fact cocktail of misdirection and half-truths, stirred by him and his aides and served up with a clear goal in mind: to conceal Round Two of his Iran outreach.

The turning point in the American-Iranian relationship was not, as the official version would have it, the election of Hassan Rouhani in June 2013. It was the reelection of Barack Obama in November 2012.
In early 2013, at the outset of his second term, Obama developed a secret bilateral channel to Ahmadinejad’s regime. When the full impact of this is taken into account, a surprising fact comes to light. The turning point in the American-Iranian relationship was not, as the official version would have it, the election of Hassan Rouhani in June 2013. It was the reelection of Barack Obama in November 2012.

Indeed, the first secret meeting with the Iranians (that is, the first we know of) took place even earlier, in early July 2012, eleven months before Rouhani came to power. Jake Sullivan, who at the time was the director of policy planning in Hillary Clinton’s State Department, traveled secretly to Oman to meet with Iranian officials. The Obama administration has told us next to nothing about Sullivan’s meeting, so we are forced to speculate about the message that he delivered.

Most pertinent is the timing. At that moment, pressure was mounting on the president to intervene in Syria. Sullivan probably briefed the Iranians on Obama’s strong desire to stay out of that conflict, and may have sought Tehran’s help in moderating Assad’s behavior. But summer 2012 was also the height of the American presidential campaign. Perhaps Sullivan told the Iranians that the president was keen to restart serious nuclear negotiations after the election. Recall that this meeting took place shortly after a hot microphone had caught Obama saying to Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved, but it’s important . . . to give me space. This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.”

Did Sullivan give the Iranians a similar message? Did he tell Ahmadinejad’s officials that Obama’s need to secure the pro-Israel vote had forced him to take a deceptively belligerent line toward Iran? That Iran had nothing to fear from an Israeli attack? That after the election Obama would demonstrate even greater flexibility on the nuclear issue?

Whatever the answers to these questions, it is a matter of record that Obama opened his second term with a campaign of outreach to Tehran—a campaign that was as intensive as it was secret. By February 2013, a month after his inauguration, the backchannel was crowded with American officials. Not just Sullivan, but Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, National Security Council staffer Puneet Talwar, State Department non-proliferation adviser Robert Einhorn, and Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice were all engaging their Iranian counterparts.

According to the official version, this stampede toward Tehran had no impact on Iranian-American relations. Nothing notable occurred in that realm, we are told, until the arrival on the scene of Rouhani. In fact, however, it was during this earlier period that Obama laid the basis for the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action. And that agreement was the product of three American concessions—two of which, and possibly the third as well, were made long before Rouhani ever came to power.

In April 2013, the Americans and their P5+1 partners met with Iranian negotiators in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where they offered to relieve the sanctions regime in exchange for the elimination of Iran’s stockpiles of uranium that had already been enriched to 20 percent. This was concession number one, bowing to the longstanding Iranian demand for economic compensation immediately, before a final agreement could be reached. Even more important was concession number two, which permitted the Iranians to continue enriching uranium to levels of 5 percent—this, despite the fact that six United Nations Security Council resolutions had ordered Iran to cease all enrichment and reprocessing activities.

Iranian negotiators rejected these two gifts—or, rather, they pocketed them and demanded a third, the one they coveted the most. Hailing the proposals by their counterparts as a step in the right direction, they criticized them for failing to stipulate the Iranian “right to enrich.” There was a difference, they argued, between temporarily permitting Iran to enrich uranium to 5 percent and recognizing its inalienable right to do so. If Obama wanted a deal, he would have to agree to shred the Security Council resolutions by offering, up front, an arrangement that would end the economic sanctions on Iran entirely and that would allow the Iranians to enrich uranium in perpetuity.

By exaggerating the spirit of reform in Tehran, the White House was able to suggest that Iran, and not America, had compromised.
Obama’s acceptance of this condition, the third and most important American gift, is what made the Joint Plan of Action possible. The American negotiators transmitted the president’s acceptance to the Iranians in the backchannel, and then John Kerry sprang it on his hapless negotiating partners in November. We do not know when, precisely, Obama made this offer, but the Iranians set their three conditions before Rouhani took office.

In brief, the Iranian election was hardly the key factor that made the interim deal possible. But it did supply window dressing at home when it came to selling the deal to Congress and the American public. By exaggerating the spirit of reform in Tehran, the White House was able to suggest that Rouhani’s embrace of the deal represented an Iranian, not an American, compromise. In truth, Obama neither coerced nor manipulated; he capitulated, and he acquiesced.

Round Two: Iran, Syria, and Islamic State

The nuclear issue wasn’t the only tender spot in U.S.-Iran relations in this period. Before returning to it, let’s look briefly at two other regional fronts.

Obama’s second term has also included efforts to accommodate Iran over Syria. Susan Rice, by now the president’s national-security adviser, inadvertently admitted as much in an address she delivered on September 9, 2013, a few weeks after Bashar Assad had conducted a sarin-gas attack on Ghouta, a suburb outside Damascus, that killed approximately 1,500 civilians. Reviewing past American efforts to restrain the Syrian dictator, Rice blithely depicted Tehran as Washington’s partner. “At our urging, over months, Russia and Iran repeatedly reinforced our warning to Assad,” she explained. “We all sent the same message again and again: don’t do it.”

Why did Obama back off on strikes against Syria? Could it have been fear of scuttling the biggest—and still secret—foreign-policy initiative of his entire presidency?
Rice’s remarks were disingenuous. In reality, the Islamic Republic was then precisely what it remains today, namely, the prime enabler of Assad’s murder machine. But Rice’s intention was not to describe Iranian behavior accurately. In addition to accustoming the American press and foreign-policy elite to the idea that Iran was at least a potential partner, her speech was aimed at influencing Congress’s deliberation of air strikes against Syria—strikes that Obama had abruptly delayed a week and a half earlier in what will certainly be remembered as one of the oddest moments of his presidency.

The oddity began shortly after Obama sent Secretary of State John Kerry out to deliver a Churchillian exhortation on the theme of an impending American attack. While that speech was still reverberating, the president convened a meeting of his inner circle in the Oval Office, where he expressed misgivings about the policy that his Secretary of State had just announced. Curiously, the meeting did not include either Kerry or Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, the principal members of his senior national-security staff. Obama then invited Denis McDonough to break away from the others and join him for a private walk around the White House grounds. On his return, Obama stunned the waiting group with the news that he had decided to delay the strikes on Assad in order to seek congressional approval.

What thoughts did Obama share with McDonough? We can dispense with the official explanation, which stresses the president’s principled belief in the need to consult the legislative branch on matters of war and peace. That belief had played no part in previous decisions, like the one to intervene in Libya. Clearly, Obama was hiding behind Congress in order either to delay action or to kill it altogether. The true reasons for the delay were evidently too sensitive even for the ears of his closest national-security aides. Could they have included fear of scuttling the biggest—and still secret—foreign-policy initiative of his second term, possibly of his entire presidency?

In the event, the punt to Congress bought Obama some time, but at a significant political cost. At home the decision made him appear dithering and weak; on Capitol Hill, Democrats quietly fumed over the way the White House was abruptly ordering them out on a limb. In Syria, Assad crowed with delight as his opponents crumpled in despair. Elsewhere, American allies felt exposed and vulnerable, wondering whether Obama would ever truly come to their aid in a pinch.

As we know, Obama’s quandary would become Moscow’s opportunity. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov offered the president a way to regain his balance. Russia and the United States, Lavrov proposed, would cooperate to strip Assad of his sarin gas. From the sidelines, the Iranians publicly applauded the proposal, and Obama jumped to accept it.

But the deal was a quid pro quo. In return for a minor (though highly visible) concession from Assad, Obama tacitly agreed not to enter the Syrian battlefield. In effect, the Russians, Assad, and the Iranians were offering him, and he was accepting, surrender with honor, enabling him to say later, with a straight face, that the episode was a successful example of his coercive diplomacy. “Let’s be very clear about what happened,” he bragged in his March 2014 interview. “I threatened [sic] kinetic strikes on Syria unless they got rid of their chemical weapons.” In reality, Assad only gained—and gained big. Obama immediately muted his calls for Assad to step down from power, and his behavior thoroughly demoralized the Syrian opposition. Nor did the deal stop Assad from launching further chemical attacks. Once deprived of his sarin stockpiles, he simply switched to chlorine.

During an interview on primetime television shortly after Lavrov offered his country’s help, Obama pointed to Russian and Iranian cooperation with Washington as one of the bargain’s greatest benefits. The “good news,” he said, “is that Assad’s allies, both Russia and Iran, recognize that this [use of sarin] was—this was a breach, that this was a problem. And for them to potentially put pressure on Assad to say, ‘Let’s figure out a way that the international community gets control of . . . these weapons in a verifiable and forcible way’—I think it’s something that we will run to ground.”

This was fictive. Obama made it sound as if Tehran was eager to punish Assad for his use of chemical weapons, but nothing could have been farther from the truth. Even as he was speaking, Iran was publicly blaming the Syrian rebels, not Assad, for the Ghouta attack. Nor was stopping the slaughter ever the president’s true goal. From his perspective, he did not have the power to prevent Assad’s atrocities. He did, however, have the sense to recognize a good thing when he saw it. The opportunity to join with Iran in an ostensibly cooperative venture was too good to let slip away—and so he seized it.

That Obama has treated Syria as an Iranian sphere of interest all along has been brought home in a recent report in the Wall Street Journal. In August 2014, according to the Journal, the president wrote a letter to Ali Khamenei, acknowledging the obstacle to their cooperation presented by the nuclear impasse but taking pains to reassure Khamenei regarding the fate of Assad, his closest ally. American military operations inside Syria, he wrote, would target neither the Syrian dictator nor his forces.

This element of the president’s thinking has received remarkably little attention, even though Obama himself pointed to it directly in a January 2014 interview with David Remnick, the editor of the New Yorker. The Arab states and Israel, Obama said then, wanted Washington to be their proxy in the contest with Iran; but he adamantly refused to play that role. Instead, he envisioned, in Remnick’s words, “a new geostrategic equilibrium, one less turbulent than the current landscape of civil war, terror, and sectarian battle.” Who would help him develop the strategy to achieve this equilibrium? “I don’t really even need George Kennan right now,” the president responded, alluding to the acknowledged godfather of the cold-war strategy of containment. What he truly needed instead were strategic partners, and a prime candidate for that role was—he explained—Iran.

Obama was here revealing his main rationale in 2012 for rejecting the Petraeus plan to arm the Syrian opposition that we examined earlier. Clearly, the president viewed the anti-Assad movement in Syria just as he had viewed the Green Movement in Iran three years earlier: as an impediment to realizing the strategic priority of guiding Iran to the path of success. Was the Middle East in fact polarized between the Iranian-led alliance and just about everyone else? Yes. Were all traditional allies of the United States calling for him to stand up to Iran? Yes. Did the principal members of his National Security Council recommend as one that the United States heed the call of the allies? Again, yes. But Obama’s eyes were still locked on the main prize: the grand bargain with Tehran.

The same desire to accommodate Iran has tailored Obama’s strategy toward the terrorist group Islamic State. That, too, has not received the attention it deserves.

Last June, when Islamic State warriors captured Mosul in northern Iraq, the foreign-policy approval ratings of the president plummeted, and Obama’s critics claimed, not for the first time, that he had no strategy at all. Ben Rhodes sprang to his defense, suggesting that despite appearances to the contrary, the administration actually had a plan, if a hitherto unannounced one. “We have longer-run plays that we’re running,” he said. “Part of this is keeping your eye on the long game even as you go through tumultuous periods.”

The administration has subtly exploited the rise of the Islamic State to elevate Obama’s outreach to Iran. Behind the scenes, coordination and consultation have reached new heights.
Rhodes offered no details, and subsequent events seemed to confirm the impression that Obama actually had no long game. In addition to being caught flat-footed by Islamic State, moreover, he was reversing himself on other major issues: sending troops back to Iraq after having celebrated their homecoming, ordering military operations in Syria that he had opposed for years. How could such reversals be consistent with a long game?

The answer is that the reversals, although real, involved much less than met the eye, and the long game remained in place. In August, it seemed as if the American military was preparing to mount a sustained intervention in both Iraq and Syria; today, however, it is increasingly apparent that Obama has at best a semi-coherent containment plan for Iraq and no plan at all for Syria—a deficiency that was obvious from the start. At a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, Senator Marco Rubio pointed to the obvious weaknesses in the administration’s approach, and asked John Kerry how to fix them. Kerry stunningly suggested that the gaps would be filled by . . . Iran and Assad. “[Y]ou’re presuming that Iran and Syria don’t have any capacity to take on” Islamic State, Kerry said. “If we are failing and failing miserably, who knows what choice they might make.”

Here, giving the game away, Kerry provided a glimpse at the mental map of the president and his top advisers. The administration has indeed subtly exploited the rise of terrorist enclaves to elevate Obama’s outreach to Iran. Behind the scenes, coordination and consultation have reached new heights.

Meanwhile, so have expressions of dissatisfaction with traditional allies for taking positions hostile to Iran. Our “biggest problem” in Syria is our own regional allies, Vice President Joseph Biden complained to students at Harvard University in early October. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates were “so determined to take down Assad” that they were pouring “hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons” into the Syrian opposition. A few weeks later, a senior Obama administration official cuttingly described another ally, Israel’s prime minister, as “a chickenshit,” and a second official, similarly on the record, bragged about the success of the United States in shielding the Islamic Republic from Israel. “[U]ltimately [Netanyahu] couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late.”

Of course, administration officials routinely insist that the United States is not working with Tehran. The coordination, however, is impossible to disguise. Thus, when Iranian jets recently appeared in Iraqi skies, they professed ignorance. Reporters, noting that the jets were flying sorties in the same air space as American jets and striking related targets, asked the Pentagon spokesman how the American and Iranian air forces could work in the same space without colliding. “We are flying missions over Iraq, [and] we coordinate with the Iraqi government as we conduct those,” said the spokesman. “It’s up to the Iraqi government to de-conflict that airspace.” When Kerry was asked about the news that the Iranian air force was operating in Iraq, he responded that this was a “net positive.”

A positive? With American acquiescence, Iran is steadily taking control of the security sector of the Iraqi state. Soon it will dominate the energy sector as well, giving it effective control over the fifth largest oil reserves in the world. When the announced goal of the United States is to build up a moderate Sunni bloc capable of driving a wedge between Islamic State and the Sunni communities, aligning with Iran is politically self-defeating. In both Iraq and Syria, Iran projects its power through sectarian militias that slaughter Sunni Muslims with abandon. Are there any Sunni powers in the region that see American outreach to Tehran as a good thing? Are there any military-aged Sunni men in Iraq and Syria who now see the United States as a friendly power? There are none.

In theory, one might argue that although an association with Iran is politically toxic and militarily dangerous, the capabilities it brings to the fight against the Islamic State more than compensate. But they don’t. Over the last three years, Obama has given Iran a free hand in Syria and Iraq, on the simplistic assumption that Tehran would combat al-Qaeda and like-minded groups in a manner serving American interests. The result, in both countries, has been the near-total alienation of all Sunnis and the development of an extremist safe haven that now stretches from the outskirts of Baghdad all the way to Damascus. America is now applying to the disease a larger dose of the snake oil that helped cause the malady in the first place.

The approach is detrimental to American interests in other arenas as well. We received a portent of things to come on January 18 of this year, when the Israel Defense Forces struck a convoy of senior Hizballah and Iranian officers, including a general in the Revolutionary Guards, in the Golan Heights. Ten days later, Hizballah and Iran retaliated. In other words, by treating Syria as an Iranian sphere of interest, Obama is allowing the shock troops of Iran to dig in on the border of Israel—not to mention the border of Jordan. The president’s policy assumes that Israel and America’s other allies will hang back quietly while Iran takes southern Syria firmly in its grip. They will not; to assume otherwise is folly.

Round Three: 2015-

In November 2013, when Obama purchased the participation of Iran in the Joint Plan of Action, he established a basic asymmetry that has remained a key feature of the negotiations ever since. He traded permanent American concessions for Iranian gestures of temporary restraint.

The most significant such gestures by Iran were to dilute its stockpiles of uranium enriched to 20 percent; to refrain from installing new centrifuges; and to place a hold on further construction of the Arak plutonium reactor. All three, however, can be easily reversed. By contrast, the Americans recognized the Iranian right to enrich and agreed to the principle that all restrictions on Iran’s program would be of a limited character and for a defined period of time. These two concessions are major, and because they are not just the policy of the United States government but now the collective position of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany, they will likely never be reversed.

In his negotiations with Iran, the president has traded major American concessions for Iranian gestures of temporary restraint. These concessions will likely never be reversed.
Obama has repeatedly stated, most recently in his 2015 State of the Union address, that the interim agreement “halted” the Iranian nuclear program. Or, as he put it in his March 2014 interview, the “logic” of the JPOA was “to freeze the situation for a certain period of time to allow the negotiators to work.” But the agreement froze only American actions; it hardly stopped the Iranians from moving forward.

For one thing, the JPOA restricts the program only with respect to enrichment capacity and stockpiles; it is entirely silent about the military components: ballistic missiles, procurement, warhead production. For another, to call what the JPOA achieved even in these limited domains “a freeze” is a gross exaggeration. Iranian nuclear scientists have continued to perfect their craft. They are learning how to operate old centrifuges with greater efficiency. And thanks to a loophole in the JPOA permitting work on “research and development,” they are also mastering the use of new, more effective centrifuges.

Therefore, the Iranian nuclear program is poised to surge ahead. The moment the JPOA lapses—a date first scheduled for July 2014, then rescheduled to November 2014, then re-rescheduled to June 30 of this year, possibly to be re-re-rescheduled yet again—Iran will be in a stronger position than before the negotiations began. This fact gives Tehran considerable leverage over Washington during the next rounds.

We can say with certainty that Obama has had no illusions about this asymmetry—that he conducted the negotiations with his eyes wide open—because the White House took pains to hide the truth from the American public. In 2013, instead of publishing the text of the JPOA, it issued a highly misleading fact sheet. Peppered with terms like “halt,” “roll back,” and “dismantle,” the document left the impression that the Iranians had agreed to destroy their nuclear program.

The Iranian foreign minister, however, refused to play along. He protested—loudly and publicly. “The White House version both underplays the [American] concessions and overplays Iranian commitments,” Javad Zarif correctly told a television interviewer. “The White House tries to portray it as basically a dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program. That is the word they use time and again.” He defied the interviewer to “find a . . . single word that even closely resembles dismantling or could be defined as dismantling in the entire text.”

President Rouhani went even further. In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, he emphasized not just that Iran had refused to destroy centrifuges within the terms of the JPOA, but that it would never destroy them “under any circumstances.” Currently Iran has approximately 9,000 centrifuges installed and spinning, and roughly 10,000 more installed but inactive. Until Rouhani made his statement, the Obama administration had led journalists to believe that the final agreement would force the Iranians to dismantle some 15,000 centrifuges.Rouhani disabused the world of those expectations.

“This strikes me as a train wreck,” a distraught Zakaria exclaimed after the interview. “This strikes me as potentially a huge obstacle because the Iranian conception of what the deal is going to look like and the American conception now look like they are miles apart.” Not long thereafter, as if to confirm the point, Ali Khamenei called for an outcome that will permit the development of an industrial-sized nuclear program over the next decade.

Khamenei’s hard line no doubt came as a surprise to Obama. When the president first approved the JPOA, he failed to recognize a key fact: his twin goals of liberating Iran from its international isolation and stripping the Islamic Republic of its nuclear capabilities were completely at odds with each other. From Obama’s perspective, he was offering Khamenei an irresistible deal: a strategic accommodation with the United States. Iran analysts had led the president to believe that Khamenei was desperate for just such an accommodation, and to achieve that prize he was searching only for a “face-saving” nuclear program—one that would give him a symbolic enrichment capability, nothing more. What soon became clear, however, was that Khamenei was betting that Obama would accommodate Iran even if it insisted on, and aggressively pursued, an industrial-scale program.

In theory, Khamenei’s intransigence could have handed Obama an opportunity. He could admit the “train wreck”—namely, that Round Two of his Iran engagement had followed the disastrous pattern set by Round One—and begin working with Congress and our despairing allies to regain lost leverage. This he obviously declined to do. Instead, he has chosen to keep the negotiating process alive by retreating further. Rather than leaving the table, he has paid Iran to keep negotiating—paid literally, in the form of sanctions relief, which provides Iran with $700,000,000 per month in revenue; and figuratively, with further concessions on the nuclear front.

Over the last year, Obama has reportedly allowed Iran to retain, in one form or another, its facilities at Natanz, Fordow, and Arak—sites that Iran built in flagrant violation of the NPT to which it is a signatory. This is the same Obama who declared at the outset of negotiations that the Iranians “don’t need to have an underground, fortified facility like Fordow in order to have a peaceful nuclear program. They certainly don’t need a heavy-water reactor at Arak in order to have a peaceful nuclear program. . . . And so the question ultimately is going to be, are they prepared to roll back some of the advancements that they’ve made.” The answer to his question, by now, is clear: the Iranians will not roll back anything.

The president believes that globalization and economic integration will induce Tehran to forgo its nuclear ambitions. Meanwhile Iran’s rulers are growing stronger, bolder, and ever closer to nuclear breakout capacity.
For a majority in Congress, and for all of America’s allies in the Middle East, this fact is obvious, and it leads to an equally obvious conclusion: the only way to salvage the West’s position in the nuclear negotiations is to regain the leverage that the president’s deferential approach has ceded to Iran. With this thought in mind, a large group of Senators is currently supporting legislation that will make the re-imposition of sanctions mandatory and immediate if the Iranians fail to make a deal by the time the current term of the JPOA lapses.

In an effort to bolster that initiative, Speaker of the House John Boehner invited Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington to address Congress on Iran. Netanyahu accepted the invitation without first consulting the White House, which reacted in a storm of indignation, describing the move as an egregious break in protocol and an insult to the president. Instead of trying to paper over the disagreement, Obama has done everything in his power to advertise it. In making his personal rift with Netanyahu the subject of intense public debate, the White House means to direct attention away from the strategic rift between them—and from the fact that the entire Israeli elite, regardless of political orientation, as well as much of the U.S. Congress, regards the president’s conciliatory approach to Iran as profoundly misguided.

Meanwhile, the president is depicting his congressional critics as irresponsible warmongers. He would have us believe that there are only two options: his undeclared détente with Iran and yet another war in the Middle East. This is a false choice. It ignores the one policy that every president since Jimmy Carter has pursued till now: vigorous containment on all fronts, not just in the nuclear arena. Obama, however, is intent on obscuring this option, and for a simple reason: an honest debate about it would force him to come clean with the American people and admit the depth of his commitment to the strategy whose grim results are multiplying by the day.

As a matter of ideology as much as strategy, Obama believes that integrating Iran into the international diplomatic and economic system is a much more effective method of moderating its aggressive behavior than applying more pressure. Contrary to logic, and to all the accumulated evidence before and since the November 2013 interim agreement, he appears also to believe that his method is working. In his March 2014 interview, he argued that his approach was actually strengthening reformers and reformist trends in Tehran: “[I]f as a consequence of a deal on their nuclear program,” he said, “those voices and trends inside of Iran are strengthened, and their economy becomes more integrated into the international community, and there’s more travel and greater openness, even if that takes a decade or 15 years or 20 years, then that’s very much an outcome we should desire.”

Perhaps the president is correct. Perhaps globalization will remove the roughness from the Islamic Republic just as ocean waves polish the jagged edges of shells. If so, however, it will happen on much the same, oceanic schedule. In the meantime, the seasoned thugs in Tehran whom the president has appointed as his strategic partners in a new world order grow stronger and bolder: ever closer to nuclear breakout capacity, ever more confident in their hegemonic objectives. On condition that they forgo their nuclear ambitions, the president has offered them “a path to break through [their] isolation” and become “a very successful regional power.” They, for their part, at minuscule and temporary inconvenience to themselves, have not only reaped the economic and diplomatic rewards pursuant to participation in the JPOA but also fully preserved those nuclear ambitions and the means of achieving them. Having bested the most powerful country on earth in their drive for success on their terms, they have good reason to be confident.

Voir aussi:

What the President Thinks He’s Doing
The ideological roots of his disastrous Iran strategy.
Response
Elliott Abrams
Feb. 9 2015

About the author
Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he maintains a blog, Pressure Points. He is the author of, most recently, Tested by Zion: The Bush Administration and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

President Obama’s foreign policy cannot be understood or defended as an effort to advance American national interests as they are normally understood.  By any usual definition—strengthening of allies, defeat of enemies, military advances, nuclear nonproliferation—his administration’s policies have been disastrous. That leads logically to the question: “Well, what does the president think he’s doing?”

In “Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy,” Michael Doran has tried to answer this question, and has offered a superb analysis. No one has more persuasively explained the connections between that strategy’s various parts, such as the president’s inaction in Syria and his hostility toward Israel, and the primary Obama goal of a rapprochement with Iran. Doran is especially effective in analyzing policy toward the Assad regime: “Obama has treated Syria as an Iranian sphere of interest all along,” and in his August 2014 letter to Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei took “pains to reassure Khamenei regarding the fate of Assad, [the latter’s] closest ally. American military operations inside Syria . . . would target neither the Syrian dictator nor his forces.”

If I have one disagreement with Doran, it is over the origins of Obama’s approach to foreign policy. According to Doran, Obama “believed he had been elected to reverse the legacy of his predecessor, George W. Bush,” and “Obama’s mission was to guide America out of Bushland.” What was the origin of these beliefs and this mission? In arguing that “Obama does have a relatively concrete vision,” Doran points out that on joining the Senate in 2006, “he absorbed a set of ideas that had incubated on Capitol Hill during the previous three years—ideas that had received widespread attention thanks to the final report of the Iraq Study Group.”

In fact, Obama came to Washington with his beliefs about American foreign policy and our role in the world already well set in his mind, and needed no guidance from the Iraq Study Group. We were given some insight into those basic beliefs early in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. While in Iowa in 2007, as Politico reported at the time, he visited Adair County,

making a stop in the hometown of one of the saints of the American left, one-time vice president and Progressive-party presidential candidate Henry Wallace. “We’ve got some progressives here in Adair. I’m feeling really good now,” Obama said. . . . “That’s quite a lineage there. . . . It’s a blessing.”

This, about the man whom FDR dumped from the 1944 ticket for his espousal of leftist causes, the man who ran against Truman and the Democratic party in 1948, and who argued that peace with the Soviet Union only required more American understanding and outreach in place of militarism and cold-war hostility.

Given all we know, I would argue that Obama’s mission is to guide America not only out of Bushland (as Doran puts it) but out of Rooseveltland, Kennedyland, and Clintonland—and indeed to reverse most of the foreign-policy legacy of his own party, with the exception of that of Wallace and its 1972 candidate for the presidency, George McGovern. The ideas espoused by Obama “incubated” decades ago, and were most likely adopted back at Columbia University or in the Chicago kitchen of his friends of Weathermen fame, Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn.

Doran refers several times to Obama’s “strategic vision.” I would prefer the term “ideology.” The enduring hold of that ideology is visible not only in his Iran policy but also, most recently, with respect to Cuba. There, too, he has reversed decades of American foreign policy, and has done so, as in the case of Iran, without seeking any deep concessions from the Castro regime.

In concluding the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action with Iran, Doran notes, Obama accepted a “basic asymmetry,” trading permanent American concessions [in exchange] for Iranian gestures of temporary restraint.” Similarly, in Cuba, Obama’s recent deal—call it another “Joint Plan of Action”—abandons previous American demands for real political change on the island prior to any lifting of the embargo. And just as he has offered his regrets to Tehran for the (long exaggerated) American role in the 1953 overthrow of the Mossadegh government, so too has he expressed apologies—in this case, in a telephone call with Raul Castro—“for taking such a long time” to change U.S. policy. In both instances, Obama has acted not to advance American national interests but to make amends for U.S. policies and actions that he views as the immoral and retrograde detritus of the “cold-war mentality.”

Of course, Obama’s defenders acknowledge none of this. Instead, they invoke his putatively superior understanding of reality.  As Doran paraphrases it, the president believes that, over time, “integrating Iran [and, I would add, Cuba] into the international diplomatic and economic system is a much more effective method of moderating its aggressive behavior than applying more pressure.” Obama and his supporters also assert that, in any event, the only alternative to his approach is war. Doran rightly dismisses both arguments. One need only look at the success of the Reagan administration in dealing with the Soviet Union to know that military power, strong alliances, and ideological clarity—what Doran refers to as “vigorous containment on all fronts”—do not lead to war. They lead to success.

Doran concludes his essay on a very pessimistic note: “Having bested the most powerful country on earth in their drive for success on their terms, [the Iranians] have good reason to be confident.” Allow me to conclude on a more optimistic note: they have reason to be confident for now, but current policy may not outlast Obama. It remains to be seen whether, after January 20, 2017, the American people and their leaders in Washington will really permit a nation of 70 million, with a third-rate military and a damaged economy, to dominate the Middle East and threaten all of our allies and interests there.

Voir de même:

The Obama Doctrine
An ideological aversion to American power is at the core of the president’s foreign policy.
Response
Eric Edelman
Feb. 16 2015

About the author
Eric Edelman, a former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and former U.S. ambassador to Turkey, is Hertog distinguished practitioner in residence at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Michael Doran’s long essay in Mosaic, “Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy,” and Elliott Abrams’s response to it, “What the President Thinks He’s Doing,” command the attention of anyone seriously interested in the administration’s policies and plans for the Middle East. I agree with Abrams that Doran’s analysis is superb, and that “no one has more persuasively explained the connections” among the various parts of the Iran policy being pursued by the White House.

I’m also in broad agreement with Doran’s conclusion: namely, that “the only way to salvage the West’s position in the nuclear negotiations is to regain the leverage that the president’s deferential approach has ceded to Iran.” As I testified in late January before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, rather than actively seeking Iran’s partnership, the United States must be willing to compete with it:

On one level, this requires a change in tone. The administration must emphasize its readiness to exert more pressure on Iran instead of exerting pressure on Congress with talking points that come “straight out of Tehran,” according to a ranking member of the Senate. On another level, the United States must respond more robustly to Tehran’s ongoing efforts to shift the balance of power in the Middle East. Rather than asking its cooperation and blessing—especially in Iraq and Syria—the United States should undertake every possible effort to isolate Iran in its own backyard.

Concerning one point, the origins of Obama’s “secret” strategy, Abrams takes issue with Doran, suggesting that they can be found less in the work of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group, whose report was issued in 2006, than in Obama’s overarching, “progressive” aversion to American power and its uses in the world, an ideological stance that connects many points of reference in the president’s life from Henry Wallace to George McGovern to Reverend Jeremiah Wright to Bill Ayres and Bernadine Dohrn. That both Doran and Abrams are correct, each in his own way, emerges from an examination of the White House’s larger global strategy. This, as it happens, is the subject of an excellent new study, The Obama Doctrine, by Colin Dueck, forthcoming from Oxford in May.

In Dueck’s judgment, Obama’s approach to the world is predicated first and foremost on his bedrock intention to be a “transformational” president. The transformation in question is largely domestic—hence his preoccupation with the Affordable Care Act, which remakes a rather large swath of the American economy. Abroad, and in aid of the main focus on his domestic agenda (“nation-building at home”), the president’s overwhelming objective has been to keep international affairs at bay. But when world events do inevitably impose themselves, Obama is no less confident of his unique ability to exert a transformational impact. “I don’t really even need George Kennan right now,” Doran quotes him as saying, an attitude fully in keeping with his expressed view that “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.”

How, then, does the president mean to execute his global transformation? As Dueck sees it, the strategy is twofold: retrenchment, and accommodation. Retrenchment means liquidating some of what Obama construes to be overinvestments the U.S. has made around the world, particularly in the Middle East, while also reducing the strength of the U.S. military—since, in his view, our temptation to resort to military force has itself been responsible for many of the world’s ills. Accommodation, in turn, means reaching out and “engaging” America’s adversaries, thereby turning them, in the common phrase, from part of the problem into part of the solution.

Understanding this strategy of retrenchment and accommodation is a useful vehicle for explaining many apparently discrete episodes in Obama’s tenure, from the early “strategic reassurance” of China, to the “reset” of relations with Russia, and of course to the “open hand” approach to Tehran that Michael Doran dissects so well. It also clarifies the chronic neglect of allies, and it illuminates, as Abrams rightly underlines, the president’s chronic need—the political equivalent of Tourette syndrome—to express regret and apologize publicly for past exercises of American power in pursuit of our national interests.

As for the tactical implementation of the strategy in individual cases, that has been delegated to individuals like Deputy National Security Adviser Benjamin Rhodes, who helped write the Iraq Study Group report. Doran, it seems to me, is correct to see that document as key to grasping the administration’s Iran policy, and to the coherent, step-by-step unfolding of that policy, though perhaps less so to understanding the larger strategy as a whole.

Is any of this a “secret,” as Doran suggests? When it comes to the ultimate sources of Obama’s views and his conduct in national-security affairs, the evidence has been hiding in plain sight since before he was elected. As Abrams points out in his response to Doran, and more extensively in a profound essay, “The Citizen of the World Presidency,” in Commentary (September 2013), those sources were implicit in the president’s personal history and in his various mentors and associates as he came to political maturity. Moreover, he and his acolytes have continued to articulate his ideas in public documents and, usually without attribution, in comments to the press. Doran’s essay itself is replete with such quotations from Obama and his staff.

In the case of Iran, the veil of secrecy has descended not over the conception or expression of Obama’s strategy but over his diplomacy, which Doran masterfully untangles. But that, in and of itself, does little to distinguish him from other presidents. Nor, in itself, is the outreach to Iran a new thing in our politics. As Secretary of Defense Robert Gates used to say, every administration since Jimmy Carter’s has come a cropper in the vain search for Iranian moderates.

What distinguishes Obama is the ideological aversion to American power and the formulation of a strategy whose overriding impetus is to constrain that power. The scandal is not that the administration has kept this a secret but that a supine press and intellectual class have failed—“declined” may be the better (if much too polite) word—to explain it to the American people.

Voir encore:

What They’re Saying about « Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy »
Michael Doran’s essay provoked a “firestorm in the policy world.” Here’s a roundup of arguments for and against his thesis.

Official White House photo, Pete Souza.
Response
The Editors
Feb. 19 2015

In the week-and-a-half since it’s been published, Michael Doran’s “Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy” has provoked an extraordinary degree of public debate, from Washington, D.C. to Jerusalem to, perhaps, Tehran. In addition to the invited responses from, so far, Elliott Abrams and Eric Edelman, we’ve collected some of the more notable public comments for the benefit of readers who may have missed them. Clips from each and links are below.

Next week, Doran, per Mosaic custom, will have the last word. For those who can’t wait to hear more from him, he can be caught discussing his essay on radio. You can listen to him on the Hugh Hewitt Show here (along with an appearance by Lee Smith) or on Voice of Israel’s Yishai Fleisher Show here or in the player at the bottom of this post.

“Who to Believe on Iran: Obama or Netanyahu?” by David Horovitz, Times of Israel

“Either, as asserted in articles such as Michael Doran’s ‘Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy,’ the Obama administration is in the grip of a blinding ideological fog. . . . Or, as asserted by the prime minister’s critics, Benjamin Netanyahu is misrepresenting the dangers and those around him are mischaracterizing the terms being negotiated.”
“Why the White House Is Getting Lonelier on Iran” by Walter Russell Mead, The American Interest

As my colleague Michael Doran has recently pointed out in an article that contributed to the rising disquiet about the administration’s Iran strategy, the approach to Iran has been the centerpiece of the administration’s Middle East strategy from 2009 to the present day.
“This Is the Best Explanation of What Conservatives Don’t like about Obama’s Foreign Policy” by Zack Beauchamp, Vox

Though Doran’s argument “relies on a real degree of unevidenced speculation about what happened within closed-door administration meetings to guide these policies,” it’s “an essential window into the politically salient mainline conservative criticism of the Obama administration’s Middle East policy.”
“Why Obama Won’t Talk About Islamic Terrorism” by David Frum, The Atlantic

Michael Doran “reminds us of a revealing line from a profile of the Obama administration’s foreign policy decision making: ‘The thing we spent the most time on’ was also the thing ‘we talked least about in public.’ In that case, the ‘thing’ was the project to achieve détente with Iran. But other projects also signal their importance by going undiscussed, and near the top of that list is the Obama administration’s distinctive counter-terrorism policy.”
“A Return to the Middle Eastern Great Game” by Martin Indyk, Brookings

“Without [a nuclear] agreement, it is impossible to imagine cooperation with Iran on regional issues; with an agreement, collaboration on issues of common interest becomes possible, much as Obama is reported to have suggested in his November 2014 letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader and much as some conservative commentators mistakenly believe is already taking place.”
“Lack of Clarity,” by the editorial staff of the Jerusalem Post

“Doran and others may or may not be right. There is very little to go on. What we do know is that during negotiations with Iran, the P5+1, led by America, has shown a worrying willingness to accommodate the Iranians.”
“Losing the Forest of Iran Policy for the Trees of a Nuclear Deal” by Michael Koplow, Ottomans and Zionists

“There has been tons of discussion over the past week about Mike Doran’s recent voluminous piece in Mosaic. . . . I have quibbles with some of his details and sub-arguments, but I find the overarching thesis convincing: that the White House’s ultimate goal is to turn Iran into an ally based on the view that the U.S. and Iran are natural partners with a set of common interests.”
“Obama’s Party Line: Radical Islam Denial” by Jamie Kirchick, The Daily Beast

“Downplaying global anti-Semitism fits in with the president’s broader Middle East strategy, which consists of distancing the United States from its traditional ally in the region, Israel, while opening its doors to historic enemy, Iran. The history and reasoning behind this policy is explained in a new, magisterial essay in the online magazine Mosaic by Hudson Institute scholar Michael Doran.”
“Worse than No Strategy” by Clifford D. May, Washington Times

“Michael Doran, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, has not just speculated about Mr. Obama’s ‘secret strategy.’ He has painstakingly combed through the record and produced a 9,000-word report persuasively establishing that Mr. Obama, since early in his presidency, has been in pursuit of a “comprehensive agreement” that would allow Iran to become what the president has called ‘a very successful regional power.’”
“Obama’s Quest for a Grand Bargain with Iran Seems Unwise” by Michael Barone, Washington Examiner

Doran makes “a powerful case” that “‘a grand bargain with Iran’ has been and remains the central goal of Obama’s foreign policy. . . . Just as George W. Bush thought Iraqis were yearning for American-style democracy and capitalism, so Obama seems to be assuming that Iran seeks to be an American-style power, prosperous and generous-minded.”
“Why Does Obama Crave a Grand Bargain with Iran?” by Paul Mirengoff, Powerline

“Important commentators have come around to the view that [I] have long expressed — that President Obama is in thrall to Iran and that the nuclear negotiations aren’t really about curbing Iran’s nuclear capacity, but rather about striking a grand bargain with the mullahs. Michael Doran’s excellent essay in Mosaic, which was one of our Power Line “picks,” is a good example of recent commentary to this effect.
“The ‘New York Times’ Violates My Protocol” by Liel Liebovitz, Tablet

As Doran shows “in his factually grounded analysis of Obama’s Iran policy, when it comes to negotiating with the Islamic Republic, the Obama Administration is committed to keeping everyone in the dark.”
“Nuclear Dreams: Iran Now Controls Four Arab Capitals, Plus Washington, D.C.” by Lee Smith, Tablet

As Michael Doran “meticulously lays out in his recently published tour-de-force ‘Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy,’ the U.S.-Iran partnership that is reshaping the Middle East has been in the making since Obama first came to office.”
“Imad Mughniyeh and Obama’s Covert War” by Max Boot, Commentary

“As Michael Doran argues in Mosaic, President Obama is carrying out a secret strategy to court Iran.”
“Relax, Iran Is Not Taking Over the Middle East” by Alireza Nader, The National Interest

“The conflicts in the Middle East are much more complex than ‘Iran on the march’ theories would have us believe. A diplomatic resolution of the nuclear issue can allow Washington more room to deal with Iran’s regional influence.”

The Reform Delusion
Bright people in Washington have long dreamed about the possibility of a reformed Iran. Barack Obama is just the latest.

Response
Reuel Marc Gerecht
Feb. 23 2015
About the author
Reuel Marc Gerecht is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former case officer in the CIA with responsibility for Iranian recruitments.

Barack Obama has been eager for an Iranian diplomatic breakthrough since the beginning of his presidency, and Michael Doran, in “Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy,” has trenchantly laid out a chronology of the president’s aspirations. It’s hard, however, to find anything particularly secret about them.

A perdurable myth among much of the American left and American “realists” alike is that the United States and the Islamic Republic ought to be able to find a strategic modus vivendi. Remember the attempt by Bill Clinton and his secretary of state Madeleine Albright to engage Mohammad Khatami, the mild-mannered, sincerely cheerful “dialogue-of-civilizations” mullah who unexpectedly won the Iranian presidency in 1997. Arming his diplomacy with contrition, Clinton not only apologized for the CIA-supported 1953 coup against prime minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, he apologized for the West’s untoward actions against Persia for the last 150 years.

Recurringly optimistic, the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman often writes about the logic behind improving Iranian-American relations. For his part, the indefatigable, gimlet-eyed traveler Robert Kaplan is another dogged believer that behind the mullahs’ anti-American religious rants lies a geostrategic reality that must, sooner and not later, bind the Americans and Iranians again in common cause. The informal Track II diplomacy, so-called, which for years has revolved around former American ambassadors Thomas Pickering and William Luers and the New York-based Asia Society, is a fascinating experiment by American “pragmatists” socializing with pleasant, usually powerless, and sometimes mendacious Iranians. As Doran points out, such “realist” sentiments, amplified by an acute desire to run away from Mesopotamia, were also behind the Iraq Study Group’s 2006 recommendations for a renewed American outreach to the Islamic Republic.

There was obviously nothing secret in President Obama treading this well-worn path. It would have been shocking if he, who is allergic to machtpolitik, American hegemony, and the antagonisms that have defined American foreign policy since World War II, did not try to solve the primary strategic enmity in the region.

True, there may be something secret in the mechanics of how the president has consistently sought to extend an olive branch. We don’t know, for instance, what he wrote in his letters to the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. We don’t know whether he promised to back away from any aggressive action against Bashar al-Assad, the Islamic Republic’s principal Arab client, as a means to entice the Supreme Leader into a direct, more friendly dialogue with the United States. But it’s not necessary to posit that his do-nothing policy in Syria flowed more from Iranian calculations than from his overall determination to disengage the United States militarily from the region. There may be an overlap in the president’s mind, but odds are good that when he ran away from his own red line on Assad’s use of chemical weapons, he did so without much Persian daydreaming.

Doran assumes and accentuates calculations and ulterior motives behind Obama’s actions. Concerning the nuclear negotiations, he writes: “[B]y exaggerating the spirit of reform in Tehran, the White House was able to suggest that Iran, not America, had compromised.” I am not so sure. In Washington people are usually well-intentioned, and, when it comes to the Islamic Republic, often just dumb. An impressive number of bright people in Washington have repeatedly gone gaga over the possibility of reform in Iran since 1979.

There are many reasons for this behavior: an inability of Westerners to deal with—treat seriously—religion and religious regimes; lingering guilt over American support for the shah; the left’s tendency to side with Third Worlders; and the undeniable warmth, hospitality, and wit that Iranians often show to visiting Americans. The Western media regularly conflate the anger at theocratic rule displayed by young, college-educated Iranians with the real, though hardly pro-Western, dissent among some clerics and lay revolutionaries from the camp around Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, the former major domo of political clerics and the formative force behind the nuclear-weapons program.

Moreover, this hopeful but errant analysis is often unintentionally reinforced by American right-wingers who draw caricatures of Iranian theocrats and Iran’s religious culture that strip the former of their Persian sensibilities and the latter of its rampant, oh-so-human hypocrisies. Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, isn’t a Persian-speaking Osama bin Laden, and when right-wingers suggest that he is, sensible people can get a little nervous.

It is entirely possible for President Obama and intelligent, dedicated, patriotic, senior Democratic officials to have sincerely believed that President Hassan Rouhani possibly signaled a new age in U.S.-Iran relations. If well-meaning and Persian-speaking academics can ignore the mountain of primary material about Ali Khamenei’s ferocious hatred of the United States and the West, or about Rouhani’s pivotal role in Iran’s nuclear-weapons quest and in the regime’s unrivaled use of terrorism and assassination abroad, then it’s easy for extremely busy government officials, who don’t have much time to read boring English translations of Iranian speeches, to ignore the historical record. Hope springs eternal in Washington, especially during Democratic administrations.

And let us be clear: Hassan Rouhani and his American-educated foreign minister, Mohammad-Javad Zarif, are talented, at least compared with former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s crowd. They know how to speak to Westerners without setting off civilizational alarm bells. Unlike Ahmadinejad, they don’t talk about their glowing visions of the Mahdi, or explicitly deny the Holocaust. In his interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Rouhani prevaricated about the Holocaust, but he did it in such a way (he said he would let “historians” decide the truth, as if they hadn’t done so already) that his naughtiness slid right by his host.

Above all else, the Washington foreign-policy establishment, both Democratic and Republican, fears military conflict with Tehran over its nuclear program. This omnipresent fear bends analysis. It encourages self-deception. President Obama’s fear of war is palpable and omnipresent—it’s not just a tactic that he regularly deploys to intimidate Democratic members of Congress who fear he is caving in the nuclear negotiations. Although parading one’s anxieties is a self-defeating approach to take with a revolutionary regime built on power politics, it is at least honest.

It’s a very good bet that in all the “secret” letters that Mr. Obama has sent the Supreme Leader, he’s been similarly open about his hopes and anxieties. Since 2009, Khamenei’s quotient for anti-American derision has grown. We don’t have to peer behind the curtain to see why.

Last Word
Michael Doran
Feb. 24 2015
About the author
Michael Doran, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense and a former senior director of the National Security Council. He is finishing a book on President Eisenhower and the Middle East. He tweets @doranimated.

I’ve been stunned by the reception of “Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy.” In this, the era of the 140-character tweet, I’d assumed that a 9,500-word article would have scant appeal beyond a professional audience. Yet, to date, it has attracted 220,000 unique visitors; journalists from several different countries have called to interview me; I’ve done my share of talk radio; and senior political figures, including presidential hopefuls, have expressed their appreciation.

What accounts for the essay’s reach? Timing is certainly one factor. The Iranian nuclear question is coming to a head—dramatically so. But above all I believe that, for many readers, the essay proved useful in solving the enigma of Barack Obama. In his foreign policy, the president has displayed a mix of initiative and passivity that has confounded efforts at categorization. The framework constructed in “Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy” may have helped make sense of a bundle of apparent contradictions; at least I hope so.

In his response to my essay, ” What the President Thinks He’s Doing,” Elliott Abrams graciously accepts most of my analysis but differs with my locating the president’s worldview within the “realist” tradition of American foreign policy. Instead, Abrams sees him as a Henry Wallace radical. In his own response, “The Obama Doctrine,” Eric Edelman observes that Abrams’s view and mine are not mutually exclusive. True enough; it is also entirely possible that Obama finds the realist perspective attractive precisely because it provides him with a politically acceptable cover for his radical commitments. There’s no way of deciding the issue definitively.

Still, I’m not so persuaded as is Abrams that the radical commitments and associations in the president’s past provide the key to understanding his policy in the present. His attitudes, however ingrained, are idiosyncratic, at least in Washington; but in moving the United States substantially closer to the Islamic Republic, he has had the support of an influential segment of the nation’s foreign-policy elite. The list of those sharing the assumptions behind his administration’s Iran agenda is both distinguished and bipartisan, including as it does former National Security Advisers Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, former Secretary of State James Baker, and former Ambassador to the United Nations Thomas Pickering—to name just four prominent individuals. If the president’s approach is to be countered, we must first discredit the arguments of these foreign-policy realists, none of whom has a foot in the Henry Wallace tradition.

Indeed, as Edelman points out, all of Obama’s predecessors in the White House since Jimmy Carter have, in one way or another, succumbed to an Iran delusion. This same point was also made by Suzanne Maloney of the Brookings Institution in a February 19 debate with me over my Mosaic essay. Obama’s diplomacy, she argued, has followed a very well-worn path, and in pursuing it he has adopted the same carrot-and-stick approach, and the resort to back-channel diplomacy, typical of presidents before him.

These surface similarities are real enough, but to focus on them is to turn a blind eye to the ways in which Obama has broken with the past. He has entirely jettisoned the policy of containing Iranian expansionism; made massive and irreversible concessions on the nuclear issue; and, most important of all, placed reconciliation with Tehran at the top of his foreign-policy agenda. No other president has advanced such overtures to Tehran. If Obama’s break with the past is less than total, it has not been for want of effort on his part.

Suzanne Maloney also charged me with exaggerating the element of secrecy in Obama’s actions—and in “The Reform Delusion,” my respondent Reuel Marc Gerecht strongly agrees. Here, however, the facts speak for themselves. Obama was able to reach the November 2013 interim nuclear agreement with Iran only by working behind the back of both Congress and America’s major allies. When he finally made the deal public, he disingenuously claimed that it had “halted” the Iranian nuclear program. To that particular claim, the Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” column awarded three (out of a possible four) “Pinocchios”: that is to say, it contained “significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions.”

Similarly deceptive has been Obama’s stated policy toward Iran’s client Syria. For years, the president has repeatedly insisted that he is working to remove Bashar Assad from power. Amid much fanfare, he has approved programs ostensibly designed to build up the Syrian opposition to the Assad regime. In practice, however, these programs have amounted to very little. Meanwhile, the president has privately assured the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, that the United States will do nothing to weaken Assad. What word if not “secret” better describes the deliberate pursuit of a private policy that nullifies publicly stated aims?

Gerecht also rejects my suggestion that Obama is operating on the basis of an actual strategic plan. In his view, the policy has been much more haphazard than that. On this point he is joined (somewhat incongruously, given their other differences) by Martin Indyk, the director of foreign policy at Brookings. In “A Return to the Middle Eastern Great Game,” Indyk contends that Obama has taken a holiday from any attempt at organizing a consistent American approach to the region. Citing my essay in order to dismiss it, Indyk paints a portrait of Obama as a law professor who treats the issues of Syria, Iraq, and Iran’s nuclear program as separate cases, devising policy toward each without reference to the others. The president, he writes, refuses “to connect the dots.”

As it happens, in “Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy” I produced many examples of Obama doing nothing but connecting the dots, and additional evidence to that effect continues to accumulate. For example, a recent Wall Street Journal report quotes senior American officials fearful that any effort to build up the opposition to Assad in Syria would provoke retaliation by Iran to take American lives in Iraq. “You cross a red line in Syria, you start to infringe on what Iran sees as its long-term interest, and those [Tehran-controlled] Shiite militias [in Iraq] could turn in the other direction,” one official says. It is precisely such reasoning that, I argued in my essay, has led Obama to coordinate with Iran behind the scenes.

Indyk emphatically rejects the notion of any such linkage. Indeed, should we fail to reach an agreement with Tehran on its nuclear program, he writes, “it is impossible to imagine cooperation with Iran on regional issues.” Yet no sooner does he assert this than he contradicts it by providing a fresh example of Iranian-American coordination: “Iran’s tacit cooperation with the United States to remove Nouri al-Maliki from power in Baghdad,” Indyk informs us, “proved critical to the viability of America’s strategy against ISIS in Iraq.”

But let’s suppose for a moment that I did exaggerate the extent to which Obama has recognized an Iranian sphere of interest in Syria. What’s striking to me is that Indyk’s analysis still concedes the most important point of all—namely, that Obama’s policies have indeed facilitated the rise of Iran across the Middle East. In the chaos that now engulfs the region, he writes grimly, the United States stands at a crossroads. It must choose immediately between two distinct and opposite strategies: conceding Iran’s dominance and building a condominium with it, or supporting America’s traditional allies against it. In Indyk’s telling, Obama’s mistake lies in his refusal to choose. But why are we standing in front of such a choice if not because we have, willy-nilly, empowered the revolutionary regime in Tehran to its position of dominance?

It seems, then, that on the central issue, Martin Indyk and I are in complete agreement: whether or not on the basis of a strategic plan, the president has placed the United States on a disastrously wrong track. And Indyk and I are again in agreement on what must be done, for, as he convincingly shows, by far the sensible and necessary option is to support America’s traditional allies in a great effort to begin undoing the damage and restoring regional order.

I would like to believe that Indyk’s urgency is a symptom of a growing awareness of the challenge before us in other influential quarters as well. If “Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy” has helped foster that awareness, it has performed its primary duty.

Voir encore:

Middle East
Nuclear Dreams: Iran Now Controls Four Arab Capitals, Plus Washington, D.C.
What the burning of a Jordanian pilot reveals about Obama’s flawed Middle East game

Lee Smith

Mosaic

February 5, 2015

The point of burning alive Jordanian pilot First Lt. Muath al-Kasasbeh was to outrage onlookers, including his family—but especially the members of his large tribe, the Bararsheh, in southern Jordan. The Jordanian tribes form the core of support for the Hashemite kingdom against the Palestinian West Bankers, who may constitute the country’s majority. The East Bankers are also the bulwarks of Jordan’s internal and external security, with both the armed forces and security services made up almost exclusively of tribal members.

To be sure, Kasasbeh’s clansmen are going to be very angry with the Islamic State for killing him in such a gruesome manner. What IS seems to betting on is that Kasasbeh’s death was so gruesome, and so evocative of the hellfire that awaits false believers, that the dead pilot’s tribe, a pillar of the Hashemite monarchy, is likely going to be shocked into wondering whether King Abdullah has pulled them into the wrong war, on behalf of a frivolous and potentially treacherous ally—the United States.

Right now, the Obama Administration sees the Islamic State as a major threat to U.S. national security—and to the political fortunes of President Barack Obama and the rest of the Democratic Party. An episode like the Charlie Hebdo/Hyper Cacher attack played out on the streets of Chicago, say, or New York, would be a catastrophe for the administration, which is why it has enlisted allies like Jordan in its campaign against the deranged jihadists of the fertile crescent.

However, it’s worth understanding how the Hashemites and their loyal tribal subjects understand the new threat. From their perspective, the Islamic State is only one part of a larger regional movement, a Sunni rebellion trying to beat back the Iranian security apparatus that now represses them mercilessly throughout the Levant while controlling four historic Arab capitals—Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, and Sana’a. The wider Sunni rebellion against Persian domination comprises not only lunatic foreign fighters (Chechens, Saudis, Swedes, etc.) but also former elements of Saddam Hussein’s regime as well as—and this is the central fact of the Sunni rebellion—Sunni Arab tribes. In other words, Jordan’s Arab tribes have been enlisted to fight Arab tribes who are fighting against Iran and its allies—who are coordinating their anti-Sunni campaign with the United States.

Jordan’s tribes are hardly alone at this moment in their torment and confusion. The United States has alienated its former Sunni tribal allies in Anbar province and throughout Iraq by conducting air strikes on behalf of sectarian Shiite militias loyal to Iran, which murder Sunni tribesmen with seeming impunity whether they are associated with IS or not. Saudi Arabia is aghast at U.S. support for Iran’s role in Yemen, where the Shia Houtha tribesmen backed by Iran now control the country. Israel nearly got into a shooting war last week because of Hezbollah’s ongoing attempt to implant itself on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, where the Iranian-backed sectarian Lebanese Shia militia operates under cover of U.S. airstrikes and implicit political backing that support the regime of Bashar al-Assad, an Iranian client. While Egypt fights a war against IS and al-Qaida-backed tribes in Sinai, the White House shuns the country’s leader Gen. al-Sisi in favor of meeting in Washington with representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood, who have sworn to overthrow his regime.

That’s a lot of turmoil for America to be stirring up for its erstwhile allies, at a moment where our larger national goal is supposedly a clean exit from the region. So, why is the White House turning the Middle East upside down? Obama is willing to throw away a U.S. framework built by American statesmen, soldiers, businessmen, and educators over the last century because he sees a really big prize out there for the taking—an agreement with Iran over its nuclear weapons program that will be the linchpin of a new Middle Eastern order, in which Iran will play a major stabilizing role.

The Dream: An agreement with Iran over its nuclear weapons program will be the linchpin of a new Middle Eastern order, in which Iran will play a major stabilizing role.
The Iran deal that Obama has in mind is going to be so awesomely epic and world-changing that it will easily be worth all the chaos the region is now undergoing—from broken alliances and promises, to the high and rising death toll, massive population transfers, the destruction of ancient cities, and the trauma of an entire generation for whom beheadings and human barbeques have become a normal part of life. The United States is on its way out of the Middle East, which is why we need a reliable regional partner like Iran, with the muscle to make its dictates stick. Yes, the dominant partner in that arrangement will obviously be Iran—especially once the Iranians are free of the sanctions that have crippled their oil industry, and can control the oil resources of their client state in Iraq, as well as provide security in the once-and-future Persian Gulf. But Obama would always have the photographs of his triumphant visit to Tehran to remember his role in crafting a new world order from the tribal mayhem of a region in which Americans once fought and died.

***

But, wait a minute. It seems like it was just yesterday that the government of the United States, its armed forces and clandestine service, had an entirely different set of goals in mind—namely, defending American troops and our allies in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf, and Israel from the Islamic Republic of Iran. Indeed, of late the American intelligence community has been reminding us of our recent past through leaks to the Washington Post and Newsweek saying that not all that long ago, in 2008, the agency teamed with the Mossad to kill Hezbollah’s head of operations, Imad Mughniyeh, in Damascus. The point seems to be that, if the U.S. intelligence community now shares intelligence with Hezbollah and leaks the details of Israeli strikes on Hezbollah convoys, we were once proud to collaborate with our Israeli allies to kill Hezbollah terrorists.

Why does the U.S. intelligence community care about this ancient history? Mughniyeh didn’t just plot the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, among other spectacular terrorist attacks targeting Americans, he also directed the campaign against U.S.-led coalition troops in Iraq waged by Iranian-backed Shiite militias.

Today, however, Shiite militias like Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Kataib Hezbollah, and Badr Corps get indirect air support from U.S. warplanes. Before the White House launched its campaign against ISIS in Syria, it told Iran it wasn’t going to attack its ally Bashar al-Assad there—even though Obama called for the Syrian dictator to step down in August 2011. By going after ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, and other Syrian rebel units, the White House freed up Assad to use his forces elsewhere.

As former George W. Bush White House aide Michael Doran meticulously lays out in his recently published tour-de-force “Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy,” the U.S.-Iran partnership that is reshaping the Middle East has been in the making since Obama first came to office. The most salient point then about the current P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran isn’t the nuclear issue, but the fact that they create a channel to allow both sides to keep talking—which means that all sorts of subjects are going to come up, from Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon to Yemen and maybe even other thorny issues, like Argentina and the Nisman investigation into Iran’s alleged role in the bombing of the Israeli embassy in 1992 and Jewish Community Center in 1994. U.S. response to everything in the region is now tied to the fate of the Iranian nuclear program, which in turn is simply the linchpin of Obama’s larger vision of a partnership between Washington and Tehran.

Obama may dream of a U.S.-Iran partnership and going skiing in the mountains above Tehran. But what does Obama’s grand vision look like these days from the Iranian side? From Iran’s perspective, then, it controls not only four Arab capitals, but it also holds Washington captive. If Obama pushes back, the Iranians walk away from the table, confounding the U.S. president’s dreams of achieving a historic reconciliation—and maybe worse, leaving him vulnerable to Republican majorities in the House and Senate ready to pounce on an epochal diplomatic failure.

But why does Obama’s vision have to fail? First of all, it’s not clear how Iran can accept any permanent agreement with the White House about the nuclear program, or anything else, for that matter. From Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ perspective, a deal might empower President Hassan Rouhani at their expense. From Rouhani’s perspective, a deal might make him, a so-called moderate, superfluous as someone who’s already played his role. Most important, there is the point of view of Khamenei, which partakes of the historic rationale of the Islamic Republic. Its founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini promised one thing—not to raise the standard of living or educate women, nor even to hasten the return of the Mahdi, but rather that the life of a genuine Muslim rested on the pillar of resistance against the godless, the arrogant West, especially America. Signing an accord with the Great Satan would undermine the fundamental legitimacy of the regime.

Obama wants a deal with Iran so much in large part because he doesn’t think the United States should be the world’s policeman—and he’s right. Our oil and natural gas industry won’t make us energy independent but it makes us less dependent and we simply don’t need that high a profile in a part of the world that has seldom returned our love. So, why keep shedding blood and spending money—as well as domestic political capital—in the Middle East?

The answer is not that we need to look out for the world’s interests, but that we need to continue protecting our own. A nuclear weapon in the hands of an expansionist regime doesn’t get the United States out of the Middle East. It puts Iran on our doorstep, by turning the clerical regime into an aggressive global nuclear-armed power. There can’t be much question by now about what Iran has in mind for the Middle East, or for other countries that it enlists in its schemes, like Argentina. What Iran wants makes the world a more dangerous place for Americans. The question is not whether there’s a deal to be had with Iran, but if it’s too late to crash the comprehensive agreement the White House has already struck with our new regional partner—whose sickening consequences are plain to see.

***

Lee Smith is a senior editor at the Weekly Standard and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. He is also the author of the recently published The Consequences of Syria.

Voir aussi:

VIDÉO. Barack Obama répond au Huffington Post: Israël, Palestine, Netanyahu, nucléaire iranien
Le HuffPost
21/03/2015

INTERNATIONAL – « Il faut tout d’abord que les Iraniens démontrent clairement qu’ils ne fabriquent pas de bombes nucléaires, et qu’ils nous laissent toute latitude pour nous en assurer ». Dans un entretien vendredi 20 mars avec Sam Stein pour The Huffington Post, Barack Obama réitère son objectif d’obtenir un accord sur le dossier du nucléaire iranien « dans les semaines à venir ».

« Il n’y aura pas d’accord tant que tout n’aura pas été résolu », a aussi indiqué le président américain, réfutant les rumeurs selon lesquelles une première ébauche de l’accord circule parmi les cercles autorisés. Les grandes puissances et Téhéran reprendront mercredi 25 mars leurs négociations, après une semaine de tractations marathon qui n’ont pas permis de sceller d’accord avant l’échéance du 31 mars.

« Je dois avouer que les Iraniens n’ont pas fait jusqu’ici les compromis que j’estime indispensables pour parvenir à cet accord. Mais ils se sont montrés ouverts, ce qui laisse la porte ouverte à la recherche d’une solution (…). Je vais devoir démontrer au peuple américain, mais aussi aux Israéliens et au reste du monde, que nous avons mis en place des mécanismes qui empêcheront l’Iran d’accéder à la bombe atomique », a aussi dit Barack Obama au Huffington Post.

Le président Obama a promis qu’il ferait tout, y compris militairement, pour empêcher Téhéran d’obtenir la bombe. Mais depuis 2013, il mise sur la diplomatie et a fait d’un rapprochement avec la puissance chiite une priorité. Ce qui met en rage Israël et le Congrès américain.

« Il est évident que beaucoup d’Israéliens se méfient, à juste titre, de leur voisin iranien, a aussi commenté le président américain. L’Iran a tenu des propos ignobles et antisémites, et menacé Israël d’annihilation. C’est précisément pour cela que j’ai dit, avant même de devenir président, que l’Iran ne devait pas disposer de l’arme nucléaire ».

Autres sujets de politique étrangère évoqués durant l’entretien, la victoire de Benjamin Netanyahu aux élections législatives anticipées du mardi 17 mars et la création d’un Etat palestinien. « Disons que nous lui faisons confiance quand il dit que cela n’arrivera pas tant qu’il sera Premier ministre. C’est pourquoi nous devons explorer d’autres options afin d’empêcher que la région ne sombre dans le chaos », a dit Barack Obama au Huffington Post.

« J’ai eu l’occasion de parler hier (jeudi 19 mars, ndlr) à M. Netanyahu. Je l’ai félicité pour sa victoire, et je lui ai réaffirmé mon attachement  à une solution à deux États qui est, de notre point de vue, la seule garantie sur le long terme de la sécurité d’Israël, en tant qu’État juif et démocratique, a indiqué Barack Obama. Je lui ai également rappelé qu’après ses récentes déclarations, il serait difficile de croire qu’Israël est sérieusement attaché à la poursuite des négociations ». Benjamin Netanyahu a à nouveau rejeté durant les derniers jours de sa campagne la solution à deux États.

« Cependant, nous continuerons d’insister sur le fait que, du point de vue des États-Unis, le statu quo est intenable, a poursuivi le président américain. Nous sommes attachés à la sécurité d’Israël, mais il n’est pas possible de poursuivre cette voie éternellement, avec l’implantation de nouvelles colonies. C’est un facteur d’instabilité dans la région ».

Le président américain a aussi critiqué les propos de Benjamin Netanyahu qui avait dénoncé le « danger » d’un vote massif des Arabes israéliens aux élections législatives. « Nous avons rappelé que ce genre de discours était contraire aux traditions d’Israël. Bien que ce pays soit fondé sur une terre historiquement juive, et sur le besoin de créer une nation juive, la démocratie israélienne repose sur la notion que tous ses citoyens sont égaux en droits. C’est ce qui fait la grandeur de cette démocratie. Si cela venait à changer, je pense que cela donnerait des arguments à ceux qui ne veulent pas d’un Etat juif, et que cela affaiblirait la démocratie israélienne », a commenté Barack Obama.

Interview traduite par Bamiyan Shiff pour Fast for Word

Voir par ailleurs:

Withdrawal Symptoms
The Bungling of the Iraq Exit

Rick Brennan
Foreign affairs

November/December 2014 Issue

In a speech at Fort Bragg on December 14, 2011, President Barack Obama declared that the U.S. military would soon depart Iraq, ending one of the longest wars in American history. The United States, Obama said, would leave behind “a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people.” Four days later, the last U.S. military unit crossed from Iraq into Kuwait, and American armed forces transferred all their responsibilities to either the central government of Iraq, U.S. Central Command, or the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, completing the most complex handoff from military to civilian authorities in U.S. history.

The next day, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — who since 2006 had sought to enhance his personal interests and those of Shiite religious parties at the expense of Iraq’s Kurds and Sunni Arabs — secured an arrest warrant for Iraq’s Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, accusing him of supporting terrorism. A crisis erupted when Hashimi’s Sunni-dominated political bloc boycotted the national unity government that Obama had so recently touted as inclusive and responsive to the Iraqi people.

That same week, 17 explosions rocked Baghdad, killing at least 65 people and wounding more than 200; al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) later claimed responsibility. With Iranian encouragement, Maliki’s government began to systematically target Sunni elites on the basis of trumped-up charges of terrorism or alleged affiliation with the outlawed Baath Party. Sectarian violence soon erupted, and by May 2013, it had reached levels not seen since the waning days of the civil war that engulfed Iraq in the wake of the 2003 U.S. invasion.

Meanwhile, Maliki firmed up his grip on the Iraqi intelligence and security forces, replacing competent Sunni and Kurdish officers whom he mistrusted with Shiites personally loyal to him. He refused to appoint permanent ministers for defense, the interior, and Iraq’s National Security Council, instead controlling those ministries himself through an extraconstitutional organization called the Office of the Commander in Chief. In April 2012, the Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani warned that Iraq was moving back toward dictatorship — the one thing, he said, that might lead him to seek Kurdish independence.

Obama had declared an end to the war in Iraq, but the Iraqis hadn’t gotten the memo. By mid-2013, the country appeared to be coming apart at the seams — and the worst was yet to come. By the summer of 2014, Maliki’s misrule had hollowed out the country’s security forces and deeply alienated Iraq’s Sunnis, which made it much easier for the Sunni jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS, or the Islamic State), the successor to AQI, to cross the border from its strongholds in war-torn Syria and capture a number of major Iraqi cities. ISIS has wantonly slaughtered religious minorities, Shiites, and any Sunnis who have stood in its way; imposed its brutal version of Islamic law on those unlucky enough to live in the swath of territory the group now holds; and released gruesome videos of militants murdering American and other Western hostages.

By any measure, the course of post-American Iraq has been tragic. But the tragedy is deepened by the fact that almost everything that has happened since 2011 was foreseeable — and, in fact, was foreseen by U.S. military planners and commanders, who years earlier cautioned against the complete withdrawal of the nearly 50,000 U.S. troops that still remained in Iraq in 2011. As a senior civilian adviser to the U.S. military in Iraq from 2006 through the end of 2011, I witnessed Obama and senior members of his national security team fail to reach an agreement with the government of Iraq that would have allowed a residual U.S. force to remain there temporarily, and also fail to establish a strategy for how to leave Iraq in a manner that would secure the gains made there during those years. Iraq, its neighbors, the United States, and the rest of the world are now paying the price of those failures.

Whatever lessons can be learned from that mistake won’t be of much help in Obama’s current effort to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS. But those lessons might be applied directly to the question of how to wind down the United States’ even longer-running post-9/11 war, that in Afghanistan. There, Obama still has the chance to avoid making some of the same mistakes and miscalculations that have come back to haunt him in Iraq and that, if current policies remain unchanged, the United States is poised to commit all over again. To do so, Obama will have to summon the political courage to recognize his earlier errors and try not to repeat them. His administration must undertake a complete reassessment of the NATO mission in Afghanistan and the plan to withdraw all U.S. troops from the country by the end of 2016, long before most experts believe the Afghan government has any chance of maintaining security and stability on its own. At the moment, the final acts of the U.S. war in Afghanistan are following a script remarkably similar to the one that played out in Iraq; Obama must do all he can to arrive at a different ending this time around.

TELL ME HOW THIS ENDS

Making the decision to go to war requires a profound sense of caution and a tremendous amount of planning. Wars often change countries’ internal political and social dynamics and affect both regional and international security. The way a war is fought shapes the postwar security environment. And long before the fighting begins, leaders must consider how it might conclude. As then Major General David Petraeus famously put it in March 2003, as U.S. forces battled their way to Baghdad: “Tell me how this ends.”

It soon became clear that the Bush administration and the U.S. military had failed to properly consider that question. Within 42 days of the initial U.S. invasion of Iraq, American forces had achieved all their combat objectives. But the Pentagon had done very little planning for postconflict stability and support operations, and U.S. forces were unprepared for the lawlessness that followed the collapse of the Iraqi government. Washington’s decisions to pursue a policy of de-Baathification, disband the Iraqi army, and back Shiite politicians with little interest in national reconciliation soon fed a ferocious Sunni insurgency.

Meanwhile, the determination of extremist Shiite militias to exact vengeance for decades of repression at the hands of Sunnis — along with the emergence of a brutal new Sunni jihadist group, AQI — led to extraordinary levels of bloodshed. By 2006, Iraq had descended into a full-blown sectarian civil war. Bush was left with two bad options: withdraw U.S. forces and allow the civil war to rage, or adopt a new strategy to restore basic security in Iraq, committing whatever resources it would take to get the job done.

Bush opted to double down, embracing a counterinsurgency strategy and a temporary “surge” of 30,000 additional U.S. forces. The additional U.S. troops, diplomats, and funding, along with a number of other factors — including the so-called Sunni Awakening, which saw Sunni tribes turn on AQI — pulled Iraq back from the brink of disintegration. By December 2008, the new U.S. strategy had yielded enough security to make political stability seem like a real possibility. Iraq was still a dangerous and dysfunctional place, but by the time Bush left office, he could credibly claim that the new approach had reversed Iraq’s slide into chaos and created the conditions necessary for the country’s survival and potential political, social, and economic development.

Still, two major obstacles stood in the way of a more definitive success. First was the sectarian divide. Maliki had failed to take any serious actions leading toward genuine Shiite-Sunni reconciliation. Instead, he used the success of the surge to solidify his power in Baghdad, all the while enjoying Washington’s firm support. But he mostly ignored American pleas to govern in a less divisive manner and find ways to bring the Sunni minority into the political process. Maliki had also failed to bridge the Arab-Kurdish divide and instead sought to weaken the Kurdistan Regional Government and its security forces. Finally, Maliki allowed Iran to use Iraqi territory to arm, train, and equip hard-line Iraqi Shiite militias. All of this set the stage for the rapid advance of ISIS this past summer and the potential disintegration of the country.

Second, the 2008 Strategic Framework Agreement and an associated security agreement between Iraq and the United States — which allowed U.S. forces to stay in Iraq beyond the end of that year, when the un resolution that sanctioned their presence would expire — set a timetable for the eventual withdrawal of all U.S. troops, but it failed to conclude with a permanent status-of-forces agreement to govern U.S. military activities. The temporary security agreement stipulated that the United States would withdraw its forces from all population centers by the end of 2009 and from the entire country by the end of 2011. To secure those terms, Washington had to drop its insistence that U.S. forces enjoy complete immunity from Iraqi law. Instead, in somewhat ambiguous terms, the agreement gave Iraqi authorities legal jurisdiction over cases in which U.S. service members were accused of committing serious, premeditated felonies while off duty and away from U.S. facilities.

In his memoir, Duty, published earlier this year, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates revealed that Pentagon lawyers strongly opposed the compromise. But Gates explains that he believed it was worth the risk if it meant that U.S. forces could stay in Iraq past 2008. Commanders in the field were also comfortable with the compromise; after all, since members of the U.S. armed forces are on duty 24 hours a day and are not permitted to leave their bases unless on a mission, there was little chance that an American marine or soldier would ever wind up in the hands of Iraqi authorities.

According to Gates, both Washington and Baghdad believed the 2008 agreement represented an interim step that would be modified before the 2011 withdrawal deadline in ways that would allow some U.S. troops to remain in Iraq to advise and assist their Iraqi counterparts. But in the years that followed, uncertainty about the Obama administration’s willingness to leave a residual force in Iraq, the turbulent Iraqi political system, and the sensitive issue of legal immunity for U.S. service members created serious stumbling blocks to developing a longer-term arrangement.

WE CAN’T GO ON, WE’LL GO ON

Just over a month after taking office in 2009, Obama delivered a major speech at Camp Lejeune reaffirming his campaign pledge to end the U.S. war in Iraq and laying out a timetable for withdrawal consistent with Bush’s agreement to pull all U.S. forces out of Iraq by the end of 2011. At the same time, however, Pentagon officials were telling U.S. military leaders in Iraq that the president remained open to the idea of keeping troops there beyond 2011 for noncombat missions if doing so were necessary to secure the gains made in recent years. As a result, the military had to plan to strictly abide by Bush’s 2008 agreement (and thus also fulfill Obama’s campaign promise to end the U.S. war) while quietly developing other options just in case the president chose to modify his policy and renegotiate the agreement.

By late 2009, General Raymond Odierno, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, concluded that the goals of U.S. policy in Iraq could not be achieved by the end of 2011. He shared this assessment with officials at U.S. Central Command and the Pentagon and with the staff of the National Security Council. He and his staff also provided candid reports and briefings, classified and unclassified, to members of Congress. Despite the efforts of Odierno and others, however, a large gap had opened up between the strategic goals articulated by the Obama administration and the resources and time the White House was willing to commit to achieving them.

Domestic politics in Iraq also complicated the picture: parliamentary elections were set to take place in March 2010, and the Obama administration decided to postpone discussions with Iraqi officials about keeping any U.S. forces in the country until after a new government had taken shape. But the elections did not prove to be the clarifying moment the administration had hoped for: instead, they devolved into a divisive legal and political battle that took nine months to resolve. Finally, in November 2010, Iraq’s parliament appointed Maliki to a second term as prime minister. But the political fight had fostered animosity and a lack of trust throughout the Iraqi political system, aggravating deep sectarian divisions within the parliament. Soon after forming a government, Maliki broke many of the promises he had made to secure his election. The result was political paralysis, a condition that would later undermine the prospects of resolving the question of a post-2011 U.S. presence in Iraq.

IF YOU LEAVE ME NOW

In September 2010, as the squabbling continued in Baghdad, I helped a group of U.S. military planners conduct an internal assessment of the political, economic, and security situation in the country. Their report painted a fairly grim picture of a country that had emerged from chaos in 2008 only to find itself extremely vulnerable to many enduring threats and pressures. The assessment noted that most Iraqi leaders continued to pursue their agendas through politics and had resisted a return to violence. But the divisive 2010 elections and Maliki’s marginalization of his political opponents and abuse of power raised serious concerns about whether Maliki would place sectarian interests aside and lead an inclusive government. The report warned that in the absence of sectarian reconciliation, Sunni-controlled portions of Iraq and Syria could emerge as a safe haven for terrorists and serve as a breeding ground for a revived Sunni insurgency.

Iraq had made substantial economic progress, but public expectations continued to outpace the central government’s ability to deliver essential services and foster economic stability and growth. The Iraqi economy remained overly dependent on oil revenue, the report said, and Baghdad was planning future spending based on unrealistic projections of future growth. Although the oil industry was a major source of funding for the government, and thus financed public-sector employment, it directly employed only two percent of the Iraqi work force, leaving somewhere between 45 and 60 percent of the work force either underemployed or unemployed. The lack of employment created a major source of social discontent and unrest, especially among young men of military age.

The analysis deemed Iraq’s security environment to be stable but fragile, a judgment that was broadly shared by both military and civilian leaders in the Pentagon. Although AQI had been all but defeated in Iraq, by the end of 2009, it had established a safe haven in Syria and was beginning to rebuild and rebrand itself. (It is important to note that the military planners, although deeply concerned about AQI, did not anticipate the group’s transformation into the jihadist army known today as ISIS — a change that took place between 2012 and 2014 as a result, in part, of the Syrian civil war.)

Meanwhile, Shiite militias — armed, trained, and equipped by Iran — enjoyed strong ties to Iraqi Shiite political parties and constituted a shadow government of sorts that “could one day pose an existential threat to the government of Iraq,” the assessment stated. U.S. military planners also worried about the potential for violence between Arabs and Kurds in the disputed territory that the Kurds consider their historic homeland and where they enjoy a great deal of autonomy; a struggle for control of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk would be the most likely trigger for a conflict.

Even after years of assistance and training from U.S. advisers, the Iraqi government and security forces were hardly prepared to face such threats. Between 2005 and 2011, the U.S. military provided quarterly reports to Congress warning that the Iraqi military suffered from significant shortfalls that would hinder its ability to defend the country against external threats. The Iraqi security forces were plagued by weak intelligence collection, analysis, and sharing; an inability to sustain combat operations; poor maintenance of equipment and weapons; the lack of a well-developed training program, or even a culture of training; poor command and control of its forces; a lack of sufficient intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets; and a very limited ability to conduct counterterrorism operations without direct support from U.S. Special Forces. The Iraqi air force was even worse off. It had no ability to provide lethal support to Iraqi ground forces in combat; it couldn’t do much besides transport forces from one air base to another.

All this evidence led U.S. military planners in Iraq to one clear conclusion: if U.S. forces completely withdrew by the end of 2011, it would be very difficult for the Iraqis to maintain the fragile gains made since 2007. Strategic failure had been delayed but was “still possible,” the 2010 internal assessment concluded. In the absence of U.S. forces and concerted political pressure from Washington, the central government in Baghdad would become ever more corrupt, sectarian, and acquiescent to Tehran, setting the stage for a revival of the Sunni insurgency, a resurgence of AQI, and the end of the relative stability that the United States had worked so hard to foster.

If that sounds familiar, that is because it is an accurate description of the current situation in Iraq. Put bluntly, U.S. military planners anticipated with eerie accuracy the dreadful state of affairs that exists there today.

A MODERATE RISK

According to numerous reports, including accounts published by former Obama administration officials, U.S. military planners believed that to prevent the disaster they feared would engulf Iraq if the central government had to stand on its own after 2011, a significant number of American forces — around 24,000 — would have to remain in Iraq past 2011. The proposed plan called for the military to reassess the situation sometime between 2014 and 2016 to determine whether a continuing presence was necessary to achieve the goals approved by both Bush and Obama. The planners judged that this course presented a “moderate risk” of harm to U.S. forces and of mission failure — a level of uncertainty they deemed acceptable given the importance of the objectives.

The planners were requesting a continued investment in a place that most Americans, including political elites across the ideological spectrum, hoped would never again consume much of Washington’s time, energy, or money. But the planners believed that the wide range of challenges facing Iraq — and the terrible nature of the worst-case scenario — justified the expense.

For Iraq to sustain the progress made in the security sector, they argued, U.S. forces would need to continue to advise, train, and assist all elements of Iraq’s security forces. The planners also argued that the United States needed to keep its forces in Iraq to demonstrate Washington’s commitment to Baghdad; to help counter what the 2010 assessment described as “Iran’s malign influence”; and to have a moderating effect on Maliki’s sectarian inclinations.

The U.S. military would also need to help Iraq maintain control of its airspace until it was capable of doing so on its own. Since 2003, the United States had protected Iraqi airspace, and the planners believed that U.S. forces should continue to do so with an F-16 squadron stationed at Al Asad Air Base, in Anbar Province. Although U.S. planners considered the Iraqi Special Operations Forces to be high performing by regional standards, they concluded that their counterterrorism missions still required U.S. assistance in intelligence and aviation support, especially for night operations.

U.S. military planners also believed that American forces would have to remain on the border of the Kurdish region to help prevent conflict between the Iraqi security forces and the Kurdish forces known as the Pesh Merga. The planners further noted that al Qaeda militants often traveled through the corridor that runs between the city of Mosul, in northern Iraq, and Diyala Province, in the country’s east. To secure the area, the military planners recommended that U.S. forces continue to work alongside Iraqi and Kurdish forces to jointly man 22 checkpoints along that route.

RUNNING THE NUMBERS

In January 2011, Gates met with James Jeffrey, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq; Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and General Lloyd Austin, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq. As Gates recounts in his memoir, Austin argued that he would need at least 20,000 troops to remain in Iraq after 2011 for a transitional period that would last between three and five years. Anticipating resistance from the White House to the idea of such a large residual force, Gates directed Austin to prepare options below 20,000 troops. And indeed, in April, Obama directed Austin to develop a plan that would result in a residual force of just 8,000 to 10,000 troops and to identify the missions that a force of that size could realistically accomplish.

In early June, Obama participated in a secure videoconference with Maliki — his first conversation with the Iraqi prime minister in over a year. According to an administration official, Obama conveyed the U.S. desire to maintain a partnership with Iraq but did not discuss any specific force numbers. Meanwhile, Maliki was discussing with other Iraqi leaders the idea of allowing 8,000 to 20,000 U.S. troops to remain in Iraq, according to remarks made in August 2011 by Samir Sumaidaie, Iraq’s ambassador to the United States at the time, in an interview with Foreign Policy. Most of those leaders understood that Iraq was not yet ready for the U.S. military to totally disengage, but they were determined to avoid any infringement, real or perceived, on the country’s sovereignty. A recurring theme in the discussions between Maliki and U.S. negotiators was the Iraqis’ desire for their American “guests” to be subject to Iraqi law — the same issue that had dogged negotiations between Maliki and Bush in 2008.

In August, according to Jeffrey, Obama informed him that he was free to start negotiations with the Iraqis to keep 5,000 U.S. service members in Iraq: 3,500 combat troops who would be stationed on yearlong tours of duty and 1,500 special operations forces who would rotate in and out every four months. This residual force would include support personnel for half a squadron of F-16s that would be stationed at Al Asad Air Base. Obama rejected the military’s call for a large-scale presence to continue training the Iraqi army and to secure the Arab-Kurdish border area near Kirkuk. Obama believed that the number of troops he proposed would allow the United States to continue collecting intelligence, cooperating with the Iraqis on counterterrorism, training elements of the Iraqi army, and periodically monitoring the checkpoints established three years earlier in the Kurdish border region.

But Obama also made it clear that his plan would require the Iraqi parliament to formally request that the U.S. military stay in Iraq and to agree to a status-of-forces agreement that would grant legal immunity to all U.S. troops remaining in Iraq beyond 2011. In early September, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns visited Iraq to press Maliki on both those issues. According to a former administration official familiar with what happened during the meeting, Maliki told Burns that although he could likely persuade Iraq’s parliament to request a residual force, anyone who believed that the parliament would approve a status-of-forces agreement that included complete immunity did not understand Iraqi politics. Instead, Maliki proposed signing an executive memorandum granting immunity without the need to gain parliamentary approval. White House lawyers rejected that offer, arguing that for any such agreement to be legally binding, it would have to be formally ratified by the Iraqi parliament.

In early October, as Maliki had predicted, the parliament approved the request for an extended U.S. military presence but declined to grant legal immunity to U.S. military personnel. Later that month, Obama told Maliki that all U.S. troops would leave Iraq by the end of 2011, in fulfillment of the terms of the agreement signed by the Bush administration in 2008.

A number of commentators have concluded that the Obama administration was negotiating in bad faith, making an offer that it knew would be politically toxic in Iraq. Had Obama wanted to maintain a residual force in Iraq, he could have accepted Maliki’s compromise proposal. This compromise would have incurred some risk, since Iraqi law clearly required parliamentary approval. However, in the nearly three years since Bush had agreed to a similar compromise, no U.S. service member or civilian official stationed in Iraq had been charged with violating an Iraqi law. It is also worth pointing out that the U.S. military personnel stationed in Iraq today count on a promise of immunity backed only by a diplomatic note signed by the Iraqi foreign minister — an assurance even less solid than the one Maliki offered (and Obama rejected) in 2011.

DEGRADE AND DESTROY

After Obama announced his decision, U.S. commanders in Iraq conducted what they called a “war termination assessment,” to measure the degree to which the military had achieved its objectives. According to military planners who worked on the assessment, the large majority of those goals could best be described as incomplete, and some of them would take many years — even a generation — to achieve. The Iraqi military, for example, was still three to five years away from being able to independently sustain the gains made during the past four years.

Many of the goals remained unfulfilled thanks to Iraq’s internal divisions and the poor performance of Iraqi leaders; others were stymied by neighboring countries such as Iran. But the military planners’ scorecard made one thing perfectly clear: by 2011, enough information was available to conclude that absent a significant U.S. military presence, within a few years, the situation in Iraq was likely to deteriorate — perhaps irreversibly.

Of course, at that point, few foresaw the significant negative effect that the Syrian civil war would soon have on the security situation in Iraq. However, had a residual U.S. force stayed in Iraq after 2011, the United States would have had far greater insight into the growing threat posed by ISIS and could have helped the Iraqis stop the group from taking so much territory. Instead, ISIS’ march across northern Iraq took Washington almost completely by surprise.

Iraq now presents Obama with no good options — as it did Bush before him. Obama’s plan is for the United States to lead an international coalition to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS. The U.S. military will provide intelligence, a limited number of U.S. advisers, and air support to ground forces that will come from other countries. This plan is unlikely to succeed, not least because it creates few incentives for the other partners in the coalition to accept the costs and risks that the United States is unwilling to take on itself. Unless the United States decides to take more direct action, including the deployment of some U.S. combat troops and special operations forces, the rebooted “coalition of the willing” in Iraq will likely prove to be little more than a coalition of the uncommitted.

DÉJÀ VU

In Afghanistan, meanwhile, the administration still has a chance to avoid a repeat of its Iraq experience. Unfortunately, it is not clear whether the appropriate lessons have yet been learned.

For example, there is a growing mismatch between the United States’ objectives in Afghanistan and the resources and time that Washington has given its military forces and diplomats to achieve them. The stated goal of the NATO mission is “to create the conditions whereby the Government of Afghanistan is able to exercise its authority throughout the country, including the development of professional and capable Afghan National Security Forces.” But little evidence exists to suggest that NATO will be able to achieve that goal by the end of 2016, when all U.S. and NATO forces are scheduled to depart. In fact, a congressionally mandated independent assessment of the Afghan security forces completed in January 2014 by the Center for Naval Analyses identified the same types of capability gaps that existed in the Iraqi security forces in 2011. Most credible estimates suggest that those gaps cannot be filled until at least 2018.

After the planned departure of NATO and U.S. forces in 2016, the security situation in Afghanistan will likely deteriorate and could ultimately pose an existential threat to the government in Kabul. Unless something changes, the disaster that has unfolded in Iraq in recent months is on track to repeat itself — and in a few years, Washington might face yet another wrenching decision about whether to reengage militarily in a combat zone that Americans thought they had left behind for good.

Before heading down that route, the Obama administration should conduct a comprehensive strategic assessment that includes a detailed analysis of how the Afghan security environment will likely develop between 2014 and 2018. Meanwhile, the Pentagon should weigh which of Washington’s objectives in Afghanistan have been achieved and measure the risks of withdrawing U.S. forces before the remaining objectives have been met, developing a new strategy for Afghanistan and the region to mitigate the costs and risks. The United States should lead the same type of strategic review within NATO to determine the extent to which it is necessary and feasible to maintain a NATO training mission in the country beyond 2016.

If Obama decides to stick with his current plan to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2016, his administration must develop a clearer strategy for how to maintain the gains made there without U.S. and NATO forces on the ground. At the moment, it is unclear how the United States or its allies intend to help the Afghan government maintain security on its own. The plan to withdraw completely seems blind to the transformational — and almost certainly negative — impact that the exit of U.S. and NATO forces and capabilities will have on Afghanistan’s internal political and security dynamics.

Even without pursuing a major strategic overhaul, the administration should at the very least take the crucial step of creating a so-called transitional embassy in Kabul. After U.S. forces withdraw, the U.S. embassy should house a “dual-hatted” chief of security assistance: a military officer who would manage the State Department’s role in facilitating arms sales to Afghanistan and also advise, train, and assist Afghan security forces. (In 2011, U.S. military officials recommended creating such a position within the U.S. embassy in Baghdad in the wake of the American withdrawal, but that idea was rejected by the State Department and the White House.) Creating this position would allow some U.S. military infrastructure to remain in place, not only to aid Afghan security forces but also to allow for a more rapid redeployment of U.S. forces should the transition go badly.

In critical respects, Afghanistan today looks quite a lot like Iraq did in 2011. The United States prepares to withdraw its forces while a weak, divided, corrupt central government sputters and flails. Meanwhile, an extremist insurgent group grows stronger in safe havens across the border in a fractious, unstable state. Just substitute Kabul for Baghdad, the Taliban for ISIS, and Pakistan for Syria, and the pictures line up quite well. And without a dramatic shift in strategy and policy, a few years after U.S. and NATO forces leave Afghanistan, the country will look quite a lot like Iraq does today. The Obama administration must act swiftly, or else it risks losing a second war by once again departing before the job is done.

Voir également:

Alors qu’Obama le courtise, Khamenei répond par « mort à l’Amérique »
Juif.org
22.03.15

Deux jours seulement après que président américain Barack Obama ait exhorté le peuple iranien à profiter d’une « occasion unique » pour résoudre la question nucléaire, une foule iranienne a scandé samedi « mort à l’Amérique », avec le « guide suprême » tout à fait d’accord avec ce slogan.

Selon Reuters, l’ayatollah Ali Khamenei a fait un discours dans le nord de l’Iran, où il a accusé les Etats-Unis d’utiliser la pression économique et l’intimidation pour essayer de tourner ses compatriotes contre le régime islamique.

Khamenei, qui a le dernier mot sur toutes les questions de l’état iranien, a rappelé dans son discours que Téhéran ne pliera pas face aux pressions pour céder aux exigences des pays occidentaux sur son nucléaire.

Khamenei a dénoncé les sanctions et ce qu’il décrit comme les puissances occidentales « arrogantes », les blâmant ainsi que les acteurs régionaux pour la réduction de moitié du prix du pétrole depuis juin dernier, ce qui a encore plus mis sous pression l’économie iranienne.

A ce moment, selon Reuters, un homme dans le public a crié « mort à l’Amérique », ce à quoi le dictateur islamiste a répondu : « bien entendu, mort à l’Amérique, parce que l’Amérique est la source d’origine de cette pression. Ils insistent à mettre la pression sur l’économie de nos chères personnes. Quel est leur objectif ? Leur objectif est de monter les gens contre le système. »

Khamenei a contesté le message fait par Obama aux Iraniens, dans lequel le président a déclaré que les pourparlers nucléaires représentaient la meilleure occasion depuis des décennies de poursuivre une relation différente entre les deux pays.

Il a rejeté l’affirmation d’Obama qu’il y avait des gens en Iran qui se tenaient contre une solution diplomatique à la question nucléaire.

« C’est un mensonge. Il n’y a pas une personne en Iran qui ne veuille pas une solution à la question nucléaire, résolution par des négociations. Ce que le peuple iranien ne veut pas c’est l’imposition et l’intimidation de l’Amérique, » a-t-il dit, selon Reuters.

« L’autre partie dit ‘allons négocier et vous acceptez tous les détails de ce que nous disons’… Ni nos dirigeants, ni notre équipe de négociation, ni le peuple d’Iran qui est derrière eux ne vont accepter cela, » a ajouté Khamenei.

« Mort à l’Amérique » est souvent chanté par les foules lors des rassemblements en Iran. En fait, le slogan est scandé depuis plus de trois décennies à tous les événements publics, y compris la prière du vendredi.

Alors qu’il y a eu des appels à s’abstenir de ces chants, au vu des tentatives de l’Iran de convaincre le monde qu’il est devenu plus modéré, les chefs religieux de l’Iran ont rejeté ces appels, affirmant que le slogan « reflète la doctrine islamique de la résistance à l’impérialisme, et symbolise également la force de l’Iran. »

Les Gardiens de la Révolution ont récemment dit clairement que les Etats-Unis « sont toujours le grand Satan et l’ennemi numéro un de la révolution (islamique), et la république islamique et la nation iranienne… ne permettront jamais que la dignité et l’indépendance de la patrie islamique soient menacées et lésées par la volonté des ennemis. »

Voir aussi:

Israeli officials say US anger aims to distract from Iran deal
Jerusalem downplays Obama’s dismay with the apparent Netanyahu rejection of 2-state solution, says Washington knows the Palestinians, not Israel, sank peace talks
Raphael Ahren
The Times of Israel
March 22, 2015

The US administration’s comments calling into question Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s commitment to a two-state solution are intended to divert the public’s attention from the prospective nuclear deal with Iran, senior officials in Jerusalem said Sunday.

Ties between Jerusalem and Washington appeared to hit a new low over the last week, with US officials speaking of supporting Palestinian overtures at the UN after Netanyahu appealed for right-wing support ahead of election day by saying he would not allow a Palestinian state.

But sources in Jerusalem indicated that Sunday that they believed the US was using the issue to distract from a controversial deal being hammered out with Iran over its nuclear program, which Netanyahu has lobbied against.

“In my eyes, [the US administration’s comments on the two-state solution] are less related to the Palestinian issue but are much more connected to the Iranian issue,” Dore Gold, a former ambassador to the United Nations and close Netanyahu adviser, told Army Radio Sunday. “We’re having a substantial disagreement with Washington over the agreement they’re about to sign in the coming days and weeks.”

Over the weekend, US President Barack Obama issued thinly veiled threats of allowing the passage of a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for the creation of a Palestinian side.

He said his government would have to “evaluate” again its stance on Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts in light of Netanyahu’s pre-election rejection of Palestinian statehood.

Although Netanyahu later backtracked in interviews with four American television networks, reiterating a commitment in principle to a “sustainable, peaceful two-state solution,” Obama said in an interview published Saturday that his administration is now operating under the assumption that Netanyahu does not envision the creation of a Palestinian state.

In Jerusalem, the president’s comments were interpreted as an American ploy to place the Palestinian issue on the agenda to draw interest away from a prospective agreement between six world powers — led by the US — and Iran over the latter’s rogue nuclear program. Netanyahu is openly critical of the deal, arguing that it would pave the way toward a nuclear-armed Iran.

The Americans know that the Palestinian Authority was the key obstacle to a peace agreement during last year’s negotiations, Gold argued. Therefore, he suggested, Obama’s comments on the peace process and on Netanyahu’s ostensible repudiation of the two-state solution could be seen as motivated by a desire to distract from the Iran deal, he suggested.

The US is a serious country that doesn’t play political games, Gold said. “But we need to understand that there are tensions [with Israel] on these two issues. Regarding the Palestinian issue — the prime minister himself clarified his positions. But the tensions persist, in my view, in light of our disagreement about key aspects of the Iranian nuclear issue.”

Another senior official in the Prime Minister’s Office told The Times of Israel on Sunday that Netanyahu gave interviews to four American television station in order to clarify his position on the Palestinian statehood. “The prime minister reiterated that there’s no change to his commitment to the principle of two states for two peoples,” the senior official said. “We thought that would be enough to put that issue aside.”

The fact that Obama nevertheless opted to focus on the Palestinian issue indicates that he wants to deflect Israeli criticism on the prospective Iran deal, the senior official added.

He did not comment on whether or how the prime minister intends to satisfy the president’s demand for clarification on Jerusalem’s stance toward Palestinian statehood.

In his interview with The Huffington Post, Obama promised to maintain cooperation with the Israeli government on military and intelligence operations, but would not say whether the US would continue to block Palestinian efforts to secure statehood via the United Nations. He said he had told the Likud leader when they spoke on Thursday that it would be difficult to find a way to restart peace talks when people are seriously doubting that negotiations are possible.

“We take him at his word when he said that [the creation of a Palestinian state] wouldn’t happen during his prime ministership,” Obama said, “and so that’s why we’ve got to evaluate what other options are available to make sure that we don’t see a chaotic situation in the region.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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Annals of the Presidency
Going the Distance
On and off the road with Barack Obama.
David Remnick

The New Yorker

January 27, 2014

Obama’s Presidency is on the clock. Hard as it has been to pass legislation, the coming year is a marker, the final interval before the fight for succession becomes politically all-consuming. Obama’s Presidency is on the clock. Hard as it has been to pass legislation, the coming year is a marker, the final interval before the fight for succession becomes politically all-consuming. Credit Photographs by Pari Dukovic

On the Sunday afternoon before Thanksgiving, Barack Obama sat in the office cabin of Air Force One wearing a look of heavy-lidded annoyance. The Affordable Care Act, his signature domestic achievement and, for all its limitations, the most ambitious social legislation since the Great Society, half a century ago, was in jeopardy. His approval rating was down to forty per cent—lower than George W. Bush’s in December of 2005, when Bush admitted that the decision to invade Iraq had been based on intelligence that “turned out to be wrong.” Also, Obama said thickly, “I’ve got a fat lip.”

That morning, while playing basketball at F.B.I. headquarters, Obama went up for a rebound and came down empty-handed; he got, instead, the sort of humbling reserved for middle-aged men who stubbornly refuse the transition to the elliptical machine and Gentle Healing Yoga. This had happened before. In 2010, after taking a self-described “shellacking” in the midterm elections, Obama caught an elbow in the mouth while playing ball at Fort McNair. He wound up with a dozen stitches. The culprit then was one Reynaldo Decerega, a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. Decerega wasn’t invited to play again, though Obama sent him a photograph inscribed “For Rey, the only guy that ever hit the President and didn’t get arrested. Barack.”

This time, the injury was slighter and no assailant was named—“I think it was the ball,” Obama said—but the President needed little assistance in divining the metaphor in this latest insult to his person. The pundits were declaring 2013 the worst year of his Presidency. The Republicans had been sniping at Obamacare since its passage, nearly four years earlier, and HealthCare.gov, a Web site that was undertested and overmatched, was a gift to them. There were other beribboned boxes under the tree: Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency; the failure to get anything passed on gun control or immigration reform; the unseemly waffling over whether the Egyptian coup was a coup; the solidifying wisdom in Washington that the President was “disengaged,” allergic to the forensic and seductive arts of political persuasion. The congressional Republicans quashed nearly all legislation as a matter of principle and shut down the government for sixteen days, before relenting out of sheer tactical confusion and embarrassment—and yet it was the President’s miseries that dominated the year-end summations.

Obama worried his lip with his tongue and the tip of his index finger. He sighed, slumping in his chair. The night before, Iran had agreed to freeze its nuclear program for six months. A final pact, if one could be arrived at, would end the prospect of a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities and the hell that could follow: terror attacks, proxy battles, regional war—take your pick. An agreement could even help normalize relations between the United States and Iran for the first time since the Islamic Revolution, in 1979. Obama put the odds of a final accord at less than even, but, still, how was this not good news?

The answer had arrived with breakfast. The Saudis, the Israelis, and the Republican leadership made their opposition known on the Sunday-morning shows and through diplomatic channels. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, called the agreement a “historic mistake.” Even a putative ally like New York Senator Chuck Schumer could go on “Meet the Press” and, fearing no retribution from the White House, hint that he might help bollix up the deal. Obama hadn’t tuned in. “I don’t watch Sunday-morning shows,” he said. “That’s been a well-established rule.” Instead, he went out to play ball.

Usually, Obama spends Sundays with his family. Now he was headed for a three-day fund-raising trip to Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, rattling the cup in one preposterous mansion after another. The prospect was dispiriting. Obama had already run his last race, and the chances that the Democratic Party will win back the House of Representatives in the 2014 midterm elections are slight. The Democrats could, in fact, lose the Senate.

For an important trip abroad, Air Force One is crowded with advisers, military aides, Secret Service people, support staff, the press pool. This trip was smaller, and I was along for the ride, sitting in a guest cabin with a couple of aides and a staffer who was tasked with keeping watch over a dark suit bag with a tag reading “The President.”

Obama spent his flight time in the private quarters in the nose of the plane, in his office compartment, or in a conference room. At one point on the trip from Andrews Air Force Base to Seattle, I was invited up front for a conversation. Obama was sitting at his desk watching the Miami Dolphins–Carolina Panthers game. Slender as a switch, he wore a white shirt and dark slacks; a flight jacket was slung over his high-backed leather chair. As we talked, mainly about the Middle East, his eyes wandered to the game. Reports of multiple concussions and retired players with early-onset dementia had been in the news all year, and so, before I left, I asked if he didn’t feel at all ambivalent about following the sport. He didn’t.

“I would not let my son play pro football,” he conceded. “But, I mean, you wrote a lot about boxing, right? We’re sort of in the same realm.”

The Miami defense was taking on a Keystone Kops quality, and Obama, who had lost hope on a Bears contest, was starting to lose interest in the Dolphins. “At this point, there’s a little bit of caveat emptor,” he went on. “These guys, they know what they’re doing. They know what they’re buying into. It is no longer a secret. It’s sort of the feeling I have about smokers, you know?”
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Obama chewed furtively on a piece of Nicorette. His carriage and the cadence of his conversation are usually so measured that I was thrown by the lingering habit, the trace of indiscipline. “I’m not a purist,” he said.
I—ON THE CLOCK

When Obama leaves the White House, on January 20, 2017, he will write a memoir. “Now, that’s a slam dunk,” the former Obama adviser David Axelrod told me. Andrew Wylie, a leading literary agent, said he thought that publishers would pay between seventeen and twenty million dollars for the book—the most ever for a work of nonfiction—and around twelve million for Michelle Obama’s memoirs. (The First Lady has already started work on hers.) Obama’s best friend, Marty Nesbitt, a Chicago businessman, told me that, important as the memoir might be to Obama’s legacy and to his finances, “I don’t see him locked up in a room writing all the time. His capacity to crank stuff out is amazing. When he was writing his second book, he would say, ‘I’m gonna get up at seven and write this chapter—and at nine we’ll play golf.’ I would think no, it’s going to be a lot later, but he would knock on my door at nine and say, ‘Let’s go.’ ” Nesbitt thinks that Obama will work on issues such as human rights, education, and “health and wellness.” “He was a local community organizer when he was young,” he said. “At the back end of his career, I see him as an international and national community organizer.”

Yet no post-Presidential project—even one as worthy as Ulysses S. Grant’s memoirs or Jimmy Carter’s efforts to eradicate the Guinea worm in Africa—can overshadow what can be accomplished in the White House with the stroke of a pen or a phone call. And, after a miserable year, Obama’s Presidency is on the clock. Hard as it has been to pass legislation since the Republicans took the House, in 2010, the coming year is a marker, the final interval before the fight for succession becomes politically all-consuming.

“The conventional wisdom is that a President’s second term is a matter of minimizing the damage and playing defense rather than playing offense,” Obama said in one of our conversations on the trip and at the White House. “But, as I’ve reminded my team, the day after I was inaugurated for a second term, we’re in charge of the largest organization on earth, and our capacity to do some good, both domestically and around the world, is unsurpassed, even if nobody is paying attention.”

In 2007, at the start of Obama’s Presidential campaign, the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and her husband, Richard Goodwin, who worked in the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations, visited him in his Senate office. “I have no desire to be one of those Presidents who are just on the list—you see their pictures lined up on the wall,” Obama told them. “I really want to be a President who makes a difference.” As she put it to me then, “There was the sense that he wanted to be big. He didn’t want to be Millard Fillmore or Franklin Pierce.”

The question is whether Obama will satisfy the standard he set for himself. His biggest early disappointment as President was being forced to recognize that his romantic vision of a post-partisan era, in which there are no red states or blue states, only the United States, was, in practical terms, a fantasy. It was a difficult fantasy to relinquish. The spirit of national conciliation was more than the rhetorical pixie dust of Obama’s 2004 speech to the Democratic National Convention, in Boston, which had brought him to delirious national attention. It was also an elemental component of his self-conception, his sense that he was uniquely suited to transcend ideology and the grubby battles of the day. Obama is defensive about this now. “My speech in Boston was an aspirational speech,” he said. “It was not a description of our politics. It was a description of what I saw in the American people.”

The structures of American division came into high relief once he was in office. The debate over the proper scale and scope of the federal government dates to the Founders, but it has intensified since the Reagan revolution. Both Bill Clinton and Obama have spent as much time defending progressive advances—from Social Security and Medicare to voting rights and abortion rights—as they have trying to extend them. The Republican Party is living through the late-mannerist phase of that revolution, fuelled less by ideas than by resentments. The moderate Republican tradition is all but gone, and the reactionaries who claim Reagan’s banner display none of his ideological finesse. Rejection is all. Obama can never be opposed vehemently enough.

The dream of bipartisan coöperation glimmered again after Obama won reëlection against Mitt Romney with fifty-one per cent of the popular vote. The President talked of the election breaking the “fever” in Washington. “We didn’t expect the floodgates would open and Boehner would be Tip O’Neill to our Reagan,” Dan Pfeiffer, a senior adviser to the President, said. But reëlection, he thought, had “liberated” Obama. The second Inaugural Address was the most liberal since the nineteen-sixties. Obama pledged to take ambitious action on climate change, immigration, gun control, voting rights, infrastructure, tax reform. He warned of a nation at “perpetual war.” He celebrated the Seneca Falls Convention, the Selma-to-Montgomery marches, and the Stonewall riots as events in a narrative of righteous struggle. He pledged “collective action” on economic fairness, and declared that the legacy of Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid does “not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.” Pfeiffer said, “His point was that Congress won’t set the limits of what I will do. I won’t trim my vision. And, even if I can’t get it done, I will set the stage so it does get done” in the years ahead. Then came 2013, annus horribilis.
Cartoon“To make it more sporting, I’ve also blindfolded the men.”Buy the print »

Obama’s election was one of the great markers in the black freedom struggle. In the electoral realm, ironically, the country may be more racially divided than it has been in a generation. Obama lost among white voters in 2012 by a margin greater than any victor in American history. The popular opposition to the Administration comes largely from older whites who feel threatened, underemployed, overlooked, and disdained in a globalized economy and in an increasingly diverse country. Obama’s drop in the polls in 2013 was especially grave among white voters. “There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black President,” Obama said. “Now, the flip side of it is there are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I’m a black President.” The latter group has been less in evidence of late.

“There is a historic connection between some of the arguments that we have politically and the history of race in our country, and sometimes it’s hard to disentangle those issues,” he went on. “You can be somebody who, for very legitimate reasons, worries about the power of the federal government—that it’s distant, that it’s bureaucratic, that it’s not accountable—and as a consequence you think that more power should reside in the hands of state governments. But what’s also true, obviously, is that philosophy is wrapped up in the history of states’ rights in the context of the civil-rights movement and the Civil War and Calhoun. There’s a pretty long history there. And so I think it’s important for progressives not to dismiss out of hand arguments against my Presidency or the Democratic Party or Bill Clinton or anybody just because there’s some overlap between those criticisms and the criticisms that traditionally were directed against those who were trying to bring about greater equality for African-Americans. The flip side is I think it’s important for conservatives to recognize and answer some of the problems that are posed by that history, so that they understand if I am concerned about leaving it up to states to expand Medicaid that it may not simply be because I am this power-hungry guy in Washington who wants to crush states’ rights but, rather, because we are one country and I think it is going to be important for the entire country to make sure that poor folks in Mississippi and not just Massachusetts are healthy.”

Obama’s advisers are convinced that if the Republicans don’t find a way to attract non-white voters, particularly Hispanics and Asians, they may lose the White House for two or three more election cycles. And yet Obama still makes every effort to maintain his careful, balancing tone, as if the unifying moment were still out there somewhere in the middle distance. “There were times in our history where Democrats didn’t seem to be paying enough attention to the concerns of middle-class folks or working-class folks, black or white,” he said. “And this was one of the great gifts of Bill Clinton to the Party—to say, you know what, it’s entirely legitimate for folks to be concerned about getting mugged, and you can’t just talk about police abuse. How about folks not feeling safe outside their homes? It’s all fine and good for you to want to do something about poverty, but if the only mechanism you have is raising taxes on folks who are already feeling strapped, then maybe you need to widen your lens a little bit. And I think that the Democratic Party is better for it. But that was a process. And I am confident that the Republicans will go through that same process.”

For the moment, though, the opposition party is content to define itself, precisely, by its opposition. As Obama, a fan of the “Godfather” movies, has put it, “It turns out Marlon Brando had it easy, because, when it comes to Congress, there is no such thing as an offer they can’t refuse.”
II—THE LONG VIEW

At dusk, Air Force One touched down at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Obama and his adviser Valerie Jarrett stood for a moment on the tarmac gazing at Mt. Rainier, the snow a candied pink. Then Obama nodded. Moment over. They got in the car and headed for town. Obama’s limousine, a Cadillac said to weigh as much as fifteen thousand pounds, is known as the Beast. It is armored with ceramic, titanium, aluminum, and steel to withstand bomb blasts, and it is sealed in case of biochemical attack. The doors are as heavy as those on a Boeing 757. The tires are gigantic “run-flats,” reinforced with Kevlar. A supply of blood matching the President’s type is kept in the trunk.

The Beast ascended the driveway of Jon Shirley, in the Seattle suburb of Medina, on Lake Washington. (Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates live in town, too.) Shirley earned his pile during the early days of high tech, first at Tandy and then, in the eighties, at Microsoft, where he served as president. Shirley’s lawn is littered with gargantuan modern sculptures. A Claes Oldenburg safety pin loomed in the dark. The Beast pulled up to Shirley’s front door.

One of the enduring mysteries of the Obama years is that so many members of the hyper-deluxe economy—corporate C.E.O.s and Wall Street bankers—have abandoned him. The Dow is more than twice what it was when Obama took office, in 2009; corporate profits are higher than they have been since the end of the Second World War; the financial crisis of 2008-09 vaporized more than nine trillion dollars in real-estate value, and no major purveyor of bogus mortgages or dodgy derivatives went to jail. Obama bruised some feelings once or twice with remarks about “fat-cat bankers” and “reckless behavior and unchecked excess,” but, in general, he dares not offend. In 2011, at an annual dinner he holds at the White House with American historians, he asked the group to help him find a language in which he could address the problem of growing inequality without being accused of class warfare.

Inside Shirley’s house, blue-chip works of modern art—paintings, sculpture, installations—were on every wall, in every corner: Katz, Kline, Klein, Pollock, Zhang Huan, Richter, Arp, Rothko, Close, Calder. The house measures more than twenty-seven thousand square feet. There are only two bedrooms. In the library, the President went through a familiar fund-raiser routine: a pre-event private “clutch,” where he shakes hands, makes small talk, and poses for pictures with an inner group—the host, the governor, the chosen.
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Down the hall, in a room scaled like an airplane hangar, about seventy guests, having paid sixteen thousand dollars each to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee kitty, ate dinner and waited. Near some very artistic furniture, I stood with Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s most intimate consigliere. To admirers, Jarrett is known as “the third Obama”; to wary aides, who envy her long history with the Obamas and her easy access to the living quarters of the White House, she is the Night Stalker. Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, Robert Gibbs, David Plouffe, and many others in the Administration have clashed with her. They are gone. She remains—a constant presence, at meetings, at meals, in the Beast. While we were waiting for Obama to speak to the group, I asked Jarrett whether the health-care rollout had been the worst political fiasco Obama had confronted so far.

“I really don’t think so,” she said. Like all Obama advisers, she was convinced that the problems would get “fixed”—just as Social Security was fixed after a balky start, in 1937—and the memory of the botched rollout would recede. That was the hope and that was the spin. And then she said something that I’ve come to think of as the Administration’s mantra: “The President always takes the long view.”

That appeal to patience and historical reckoning, an appeal that risks a maddening high-mindedness, is something that everyone around Obama trots out to combat the hysterias of any given moment. “He has learned through those vicissitudes that every day is Election Day in Washington and everyone is writing history in ten-minute intervals,” Axelrod told me. “But the truth is that history is written over a long period of time—and he will be judged in the long term.”

Obama stepped up to a platform and went to work. First ingratiation, then gratitude, then answers. He expressed awe at the sight of Mt. Rainier. Being in Seattle, he said, made him “feel the spirit of my mom,” the late Ann Dunham, who went to high school nearby, on Mercer Island. He praised his host’s hospitality. (“The only problem when I come to Jon’s house is I want to just kind of roam around and check stuff out, and instead I’ve got to talk.”) Then came a version of the long-game riff: “One thing that I always try to emphasize is that, if you look at American history, there have been frequent occasions in which it looked like we had insoluble problems—either economic, political, security—and, as long as there were those who stayed steady and clear-eyed and persistent, eventually we came up with an answer.”

As Obama ticked off a list of first-term achievements—the economic rescue, the forty-four straight months of job growth, a reduction in carbon emissions, a spike in clean-energy technology—he seemed efficient but contained, running at three-quarters speed, like an athlete playing a midseason road game of modest consequence; he was performing just hard enough to leave a decent impression, get paid, and avoid injury. Even in front of West Coast liberals, he is always careful to disavow liberalism—the word, anyway. “I’m not a particularly ideological person,” Obama told Jon Shirley and his guests. “There’s things, some values I feel passionately about.” He said that these included making sure that everybody is “being treated with dignity or respect regardless of what they look like or what their last name is or who they love,” providing a strong defense, and “leaving a planet that is as spectacular as the one we inherited from our parents and our grandparents.” He continued, “So there are values I’m passionate about, but I’m pretty pragmatic when it comes to how we get there.”

Obama said he’d take some questions—in “boy, girl, boy, girl” order. He tried to rally the Democrats and expressed dismay with the opposition. (“There are reasonable conservatives and there are those who just want to burn down the house.”) He played both sides of the environment issues, rehearsing the arguments for and against the Keystone pipeline and sympathizing with the desire of China and India to lift millions out of poverty—but if they consume energy the way the United States has “we’ll be four feet under water.” This is the archetypal Obama habit of mind and politics, the calm, professorial immersion in complexity played out in front of ardent supporters who crave a rallying cry. It’s what compelled him to declare himself a non-pacifist as he was accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, in Oslo, and praise Ronald Reagan in a Democratic primary debate.

And that was the end of the performance. A few minutes later, the motorcade was snaking through the streets of suburban Seattle—kids in pajamas holding signs and sparklers, the occasional protester, Obama secured in the back seat of the Beast. He could hear nothing. The windows of his car are five inches thick.
III—PRESIDENTIAL M&M’S

The next morning, a Monday, I woke early and turned on CNN. Senator Lindsey Graham, who is facing a primary challenge from four Tea Party candidates in South Carolina, was saying with utter confidence that Iran had hoodwinked the Administration in Geneva. Next came a poll showing that the majority of the country now believed that the President was neither truthful nor honest. The announcer added with a smile that GQ had put Obama at No. 17 on its “least influential” list—right up there with Pope Benedict XVI in his retirement, the cicadas that never showed up last summer, and Manti Te’o’s fake dead girlfriend.

In the hotel lobby, I met Jeff Tiller, who works for the White House press operation. In college, he became interested in politics and later joined Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign. From there, he volunteered at the White House, which led to a string of staff jobs, and eventually he was doing advance work all over the world for the White House. The aides on the plane were like Tiller—committed members of a cheerful, overworked microculture who could barely conceal their pleasure in Presidential propinquity. I’m twenty-seven and this is my thirty-second time on Air Force One. “I pinch myself sometimes,” Tiller said. Dan Pfeiffer, who has been with Obama since 2007, was so overworked last year that he suffered a series of mini-strokes. “But no worries,” he told me. “I’m good!”
“The things you start may not come to full fruition on your timetable,” Obama says. “But you can move things forward. And sometimes the things that start small may turn out to be fairly significant.”“The things you start may not come to full fruition on your timetable,” Obama says. “But you can move things forward. And sometimes the things that start small may turn out to be fairly significant.”

We arrived in San Francisco, and the motorcade raced along, free of traffic and red lights, from the airport to a community center in Chinatown named after Betty Ong, a flight attendant who perished when American Airlines Flight 11 was hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Center. Obama was to give a speech on immigration. Out the window, you could see people waving, people hoisting their babies as if to witness history, people holding signs protesting one issue or another—the Keystone pipeline, especially—and, everywhere, the iPhone clickers, the Samsung snappers.

The Beast pulled under a makeshift security tent. Obama gets to events like these through underground hallways, industrial kitchens, holding rooms—all of which have been checked for bombs. At the Ong Center, he met with his hosts and their children. (“I think I have some Presidential M&M’s for you!”) People get goggle-eyed when it’s their turn for a picture. Obama tries to put them at ease: “C’mon in here! Let’s do this!” Sometimes there is teasing of the mildest sort: “Chuck Taylor All-Stars! Old style, baby!” A woman told the President that she was six months pregnant. She didn’t look it. “Whoa! Don’t tell that to Michelle. She’ll be all . . .” The woman said she was having a girl. Obama was delighted: “Daughters! You can’t beat ’em!” He pulled her in for the photo. From long experience, Obama has learned what works for him in pictures: a broad, toothy smile. A millisecond after the flash, the sash releases, the smile drops, a curtain falling.

A little later, Betty Ong’s mother and siblings arrived. Obama drew them into a huddle. I heard him saying that Betty was a hero, though “obviously, the heartache never goes away.” Obama really is skilled at this kind of thing, the kibbitzing and the expressions of sympathy, the hugging and the eulogizing and the celebrating, the sheer animal activity of human politics—but he suffers an anxiety of comparison. Bill Clinton was, and is, the master, a hyper-extrovert whose freakish memory for names and faces, and whose indomitable will to enfold and charm everyone in his path, remains unmatched. Obama can be a dynamic speaker before large audiences and charming in very small groups, but, like a normal human being and unlike the near-pathological personalities who have so often held the office, he is depleted by the act of schmoozing a group of a hundred as if it were an intimate gathering. At fund-raisers, he would rather eat privately with a couple of aides before going out to perform. According to the Wall Street Journal, when Jeffrey Katzenberg threw a multi-million-dollar fund-raiser in Los Angeles two years ago, he told the President’s staff that he expected Obama to stop at each of the fourteen tables and talk for a while. No one would have had to ask Clinton. Obama’s staffers were alarmed. When you talk about this with people in Obamaland, they let on that Clinton borders on the obsessive—as if the appetite for connection were related to what got him in such deep trouble.

“Obama is a genuinely respectful person, but he doesn’t try to seduce everyone,” Axelrod said. “It’s never going to be who he’ll be.” Obama doesn’t love fund-raising, he went on, “and, if you don’t love it in the first place, you’re not likely to grow fonder of it over time.”

Obama has other talents that serve him well in public. Like a seasoned standup comedian, he has learned that a well-timed heckler can be his ally. It allows him to dramatize his open-mindedness, even his own philosophical ambivalences about a particularly difficult political or moral question. Last May, at the National Defense University, where he was giving a speech on counter-terrorism, a woman named Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of the group Code Pink, interrupted him, loudly and at length, to talk about drone strikes and about closing the American prison at Guantánamo Bay. While some in the audience tried to drown her out with applause, and security people proceeded to drag her away, Obama asserted Benjamin’s right to “free speech,” and declared, “The voice of that woman is worth paying attention to.”

At the Ong Center, an undocumented immigrant from South Korea named Ju Hong was in the crowd lined up behind the President. Toward the end of Obama’s speech, Ju Hong, a Berkeley graduate, broke in, demanding that the President use his executive powers to stop deportations.

Obama wheeled around. “If, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so, but we’re also a nation of laws,” he said, making his case to a wash of applause.

At the next event, a fund-raiser for the Democratic National Committee at a music venue, the SFJAZZ Center, Obama met the host’s family (“Hold on, we got some White House M&M’s”) and then made his way to the backstage holding area. You could hear the murmur of security communications: “Renegade with greeters”—Renegade being Obama’s Secret Service handle.

Obama worked with more enthusiasm than at the midday event. He did the polite handshake; the full pull-in; the hug and double backslap; the slap-shake; the solicitous arm-around-the-older woman. (“And you stand here. . . . Perfect!”)

The clutch over, the crowd cleared away, Obama turned to his aides and said, “How many we got out there?”

“Five hundred. Five-fifty.”

“Five-fifty?” Obama said, walking toward the wings of the stage. “What are we talking about? Politics? Can’t we talk about something else? Sports?”

The aides were, as ever, staring down at their iPhones, scrolling, tapping, mentally occupying a psychic space somewhere between where they were and the unspooling news cycle back in Washington.

“We’re off the cuff,” Pfeiffer said. No prepared speech.

“Off the cuff? Sounds good. Let’s go do it.”

Obama walked toward the stage and, as he was announced, he mouthed the words: “Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.”
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Then it happened again: another heckler broke into Obama’s speech. A man in the balcony repeatedly shouted out, “Executive order!,” demanding that the President bypass Congress with more unilateral actions. Obama listened with odd indulgence. Finally, he said, “I’m going to actually pause on this issue, because a lot of people have been saying this lately on every problem, which is just, ‘Sign an executive order and we can pretty much do anything and basically nullify Congress.’ ”

Many in the crowd applauded their approval. Yes! Nullify it! Although Obama has infuriated the right with relatively modest executive orders on gun control and some stronger ones on climate change, he has issued the fewest of any modern President, except George H. W. Bush.

“Wait, wait, wait,” Obama said. “Before everybody starts clapping, that’s not how it works. We’ve got this Constitution, we’ve got this whole thing about separation of powers. So there is no shortcut to politics, and there’s no shortcut to democracy.” The applause was hardly ecstatic. Everyone knew what he meant. The promises in the second inaugural could be a long time coming.
IV—THE WELCOME TABLE

For every flight aboard Air Force One, there is a new name card at each seat; a catalogue of the Presidential Entertainment Library, with its hiply curated choices of movies and music; baskets of fruit and candy; a menu. Obama is generally a spare eater; the Air Force One menu seems designed for William Howard Taft. Breakfast one morning was “pumpkin spiced French toast drizzled with caramel syrup and a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Served with scrambled eggs and maple sausage links.” Plus juice, coffee, and, on the side, a “creamy vanilla yogurt layered with blackberries and cinnamon graham crackers.”

The most curious character on the plane was Marvin Nicholson, a tall, rangy man in his early forties who works as the President’s trip director and ubiquitous factotum. He is six feet eight. Nicholson is the guy who is always around, who carries the bag and the jacket, who squeezes Purell onto the Presidential palms after a rope line or a clutch; he is the one who has the pens, the briefing books, the Nicorette, the Sharpies, the Advil, the throat lozenges, the iPad, the iPod, the protein bars, the bottle of Black Forest Berry Honest Tea. He and the President toss a football around, they shoot baskets, they shoot the shit. In his twenties, Nicholson was living in Boston and working as a bartender and as a clerk in a windsurfing-equipment shop, where he met John Kerry. He moved to Nantucket and worked as a caddie. He carried the Senator’s clubs and Kerry invited him to come to D.C. Since taking the job with Obama, in 2009, Nicholson has played golf with the President well over a hundred times. The Speaker of the House has played with him once.

A fact like this can seem to chime with the sort of complaints you hear all the time about Obama, particularly along the Acela Corridor. He is said to be a reluctant politician: aloof, insular, diffident, arrogant, inert, unwilling to jolly his allies along the fairway and take a 9-iron to his enemies. He doesn’t know anyone in Congress. No one in the House or in the Senate, no one in foreign capitals fears him. He gives a great speech, but he doesn’t understand power. He is a poor executive. Doesn’t it seem as if he hates the job? And so on. This is the knowing talk on Wall Street, on K Street, on Capitol Hill, in green rooms—the “Morning Joe” consensus.

There are other ways to assess the political skills of a President who won two terms, as only seventeen of forty-four Presidents have, and did so as a black man, with an African father and a peculiar name, one consonant away from that of the world’s most notorious terrorist. From the start, however, the political operatives who opposed him did what they are paid to do—they drew a cartoon of him. “Even if you never met him, you know this guy,” Karl Rove said, in 2008. “He’s the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a Martini and a cigarette, that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by.” The less malign version is of a President who is bafflingly serene, as committed to his duties as a husband and father—six-thirty family dinner upstairs in the private residence is considered “sacrosanct,” aides say—as he is to his duties as Cajoler-in-Chief.

Still, Obama’s reluctance to break bread on a regular basis with his congressional allies is real, and a source of tribal mystification in Washington. “Politics was a strange career choice for Obama,” David Frum, a conservative columnist, told me. “Most politicians are not the kind of people you would choose to have as friends. Or they are the kind who, like John Edwards, seem to be one thing but then turn out to have a monster in the attic; the friendship is contingent on something you can’t see. Obama is exactly like all my friends. He would rather read a book than spend time with people he doesn’t know or like.” Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia who was elected to the Senate three years ago, said recently that Obama’s distance from members of Congress has hurt his ability to pass legislation. “When you don’t build those personal relationships,” Manchin told CNN, “it’s pretty easy for a person to say, ‘Well, let me think about it.’ ”

Harry Truman once called the White House “the great white jail,” but few Presidents seem to have felt as oppressed by Washington as Obama does. At one stop on the West Coast trip, Marta Kauffman, a Democratic bundler who was one of the creators of “Friends,” said that she asked him what had surprised him most when he first became President. “The bubble,” Obama said. He said he hoped that one day he might be able to take a walk in the park, drop by a bookstore, chat with people in a coffee shop. “After all this is done,” he said, “how can I find that again?”

“Have you considered a wig?” she asked.

“Maybe fake dreads,” her son added.

The President smiled. “I never thought of that,” he said.
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Obama’s circle of intimates is limited; it has been since his days at Columbia and Harvard Law. In 2008, Obama called on John Podesta, who had worked extensively for Bill Clinton, to run his transition process. When Clinton took office, there was a huge list of people who needed to be taken care of with jobs; the “friends of Bill” is a wide network. After Podesta talked to Obama and realized how few favors had to be distributed, he told a colleague, “He travels light.”

Obama’s favorite company is a small ensemble of Chicago friends—Valerie Jarrett, Marty Nesbitt and his wife, Anita Blanchard, an obstetrician, and Eric and Cheryl Whitaker, prominent doctors on the South Side. During the first Presidential campaign, the Obamas took a vow of “no new friends.”

“There have been times where I’ve been constrained by the fact that I had two young daughters who I wanted to spend time with—and that I wasn’t in a position to work the social scene in Washington,” Obama told me. But, as Malia and Sasha have grown older, the Obamas have taken to hosting occasional off-the-record dinners in the residence upstairs at the White House. The guests ordinarily include a friendly political figure, a business leader, a journalist. Obama drinks a Martini or two (Rove was right about that), and he and the First Lady are welcoming, funny, and warm. The dinners start at six. At around ten-thirty at one dinner last spring, the guests assumed the evening was winding down. But when Obama was asked whether they should leave, he laughed and said, “Hey, don’t go! I’m a night owl! Have another drink.” The party went on past 1 A.M.

At the dinners with historians, Obama sometimes asks his guests to talk about their latest work. On one occasion, Doris Kearns Goodwin talked about what became “The Bully Pulpit,” which is a study, in part, of the way that Theodore Roosevelt deployed his relentlessly gregarious personality and his close relations with crusading journalists to political advantage. The portrait of T.R. muscling obstreperous foes on the issue of inequality—particularly the laissez-faire dinosaurs in his own party, the G.O.P.—couldn’t fail to summon a contrasting portrait.

The biographer Robert Caro has also been a guest. Caro’s ongoing volumes about Lyndon Johnson portray a President who used everything from the promise of appointment to bald-faced political threats to win passage of the legislative agenda that had languished under John Kennedy, including Medicare, a tax cut, and a civil-rights bill. Publicly, Johnson said of Kennedy, “I had to take the dead man’s program and turn it into a martyr’s cause.” Privately, he disdained Kennedy’s inability to get his program through Congress, cracking, according to Caro, that Kennedy’s men knew less about politics on the Hill “than an old maid does about fucking.” Senator Richard Russell, Jr., of Georgia, admitted that he and his Dixiecrat colleagues in the Senate could resist Kennedy “but not Lyndon”: “That man will twist your arm off at the shoulder and beat your head in with it.”

Obama delivers no such beatings. Last April, when, in the wake of the mass shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, eighty-three per cent of Americans declared themselves in favor of background checks for gun purchases, the Times ran a prominent article making the case that the Senate failed to follow the President’s lead at least partly because of his passivity as a tactical politician. It described how Mark Begich, a Democratic senator from Alaska, had asked for, and received, a crucial favor from the White House, but then, four weeks later, when Begich voted against the bill on background checks, he paid no price. No one shut down any highway lanes in Anchorage; no Presidential fury was felt in Juneau or the Brooks Range. The historian Robert Dallek, another guest at the President’s table, told the Times that Obama was “inclined to believe that sweet reason is what you need to use with people in high office.”

Yet Obama and his aides regard all such talk of breaking bread and breaking legs as wishful fantasy. They maintain that they could invite every Republican in Congress to play golf until the end of time, could deliver punishments with ruthless regularity—and never cut the Gordian knot of contemporary Washington. They have a point. An Alaska Democrat like Begich would never last in office had he voted with Obama. L.B.J., elected in a landslide victory in 1964, drew on whopping majorities in both houses of Congress. He could exploit ideological diversity within the parties and the lax regulations on earmarks and pork-barrel spending. “When he lost that historic majority, and the glow of that landslide victory faded, he had the same problems with Congress that most Presidents at one point or another have,” Obama told me. “I say that not to suggest that I’m a master wheeler-dealer but, rather, to suggest that there are some structural institutional realities to our political system that don’t have much to do with schmoozing.”

Dallek said, “Johnson could sit with Everett Dirksen, the Republican leader, kneecap to kneecap, drinking bourbon and branch water, and Dirksen would mention that there was a fine young man in his state who would be a fine judge, and the deal would be cut. Nowadays, the media would know in an instant and rightly yell ‘Corruption!’ ”

Caro finds the L.B.J.-B.H.O. comparison ludicrous. “Johnson was unique,” he said. “We have never had anyone like him, as a legislative genius. I’m working on his Presidency now. Wait till you see what he does to get Medicare, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act through. But is Obama a poor practitioner of power? I have a different opinion. No matter what the problems with the rollout of Obamacare, it’s a major advance in the history of social justice to provide access to health care for thirty-one million people.”
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At the most recent dinner he attended at the White House, Caro had the distinct impression that Obama was cool to him, annoyed, perhaps, at the notion appearing in the press that his latest Johnson volume was an implicit rebuke to him. “As we were leaving, I said to Obama, ‘You know, my book wasn’t an unspoken attack on you, it’s a book about Lyndon Johnson,’ ” Caro recalled. L.B.J. was, after all, also the President who made the catastrophic decision to deepen America’s involvement in the quagmire of Vietnam. “Obama seems interested in winding down our foreign wars,” Caro said approvingly.

When Obama does ask Republicans to a social occasion, he is sometimes rebuffed. In the fall of 2012, he organized a screening at the White House of Steven Spielberg’s film “Lincoln.” Spielberg, the cast, and the Democratic leadership found the time to come. Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and three other Republicans declined their invitations, pleading the press of congressional business. In the current climate, a Republican, especially one facing challenges at home from the right, risks more than he gains by socializing or doing business with Obama. Boehner may be prepared to compromise on certain issues, but it looks better for him if he is seen to be making a deal with Harry Reid, in the Senate, than with Barack Obama. Obama’s people say that the President’s attitude is, Fine, so long as we get there. Help me to help you.

When I asked Obama if he had read or seen anything that fully captured the experience of being in his office, he laughed, as if to say, You just have no idea. “The truth is, in popular culture the President is usually a side character and a lot of times is pretty dull,” he said. “If it’s a paranoid conspiracy-theory movie, then there’s an evil aide who is carrying something out. If it’s a good President, then he is all-wise and all-knowing”—like the characters played by Martin Sheen in “The West Wing,” and Michael Douglas in “The American President.” Obama says that he is neither. “I’ll tell you that watching ‘Lincoln’ was interesting, in part because you watched what obviously was a fictionalized account of the President I most admire, and there was such a gap between him and me that it made you want to be better.” He spoke about envying Lincoln’s “capacity to speak to and move the country without simplifying, and at the most fundamental of levels.” But what struck him most, he said, was precisely what his critics think he most avoids—“the messiness of getting something done.”

He went on, “The real politics resonated with me, because I have yet to see something that we’ve done, or any President has done, that was really important and good, that did not involve some mess and some strong-arming and some shading of how it was initially talked about to a particular member of the legislature who you needed a vote from. Because, if you’re doing big, hard things, then there is going to be some hair on it—there’s going to be some aspects of it that aren’t clean and neat and immediately elicit applause from everybody. And so the nature of not only politics but, I think, social change of any sort is that it doesn’t move in a straight line, and that those who are most successful typically are tacking like a sailor toward a particular direction but have to take into account winds and currents and occasionally the lack of any wind, so that you’re just sitting there for a while, and sometimes you’re being blown all over the place.”

The politician sensitive to winds and currents was visible in Obama’s coy talk of his “evolving” position on gay marriage. Obama conceded in one of our later conversations only that it’s “fair to say that I may have come to that realization slightly before I actually made the announcement” favoring gay marriage, in May of 2012. “But this was not a situation where I kind of did a wink and a nod and a hundred-and-eighty-degree turn.” The turn may not have been a sudden one-eighty; to say that your views are “evolving,” though, is to say there is a position that you consider to be more advanced than the one you officially hold. And he held the “evolved” position in 1996, when, as a candidate for the Illinois state senate, he filled out a questionnaire from Outlines, a local gay and lesbian newspaper, saying, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages.”

When I asked Obama about another area of shifting public opinion—the legalization of marijuana—he seemed even less eager to evolve with any dispatch and get in front of the issue. “As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”

Is it less dangerous? I asked.

Obama leaned back and let a moment go by. That’s one of his moves. When he is interviewed, particularly for print, he has the habit of slowing himself down, and the result is a spool of cautious lucidity. He speaks in paragraphs and with moments of revision. Sometimes he will stop in the middle of a sentence and say, “Scratch that,” or, “I think the grammar was all screwed up in that sentence, so let me start again.”
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Less dangerous, he said, “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer. It’s not something I encourage, and I’ve told my daughters I think it’s a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy.” What clearly does trouble him is the radically disproportionate arrests and incarcerations for marijuana among minorities. “Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do,” he said. “And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties.” But, he said, “we should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing.” Accordingly, he said of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington that “it’s important for it to go forward because it’s important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.”

As is his habit, he nimbly argued the other side. “Having said all that, those who argue that legalizing marijuana is a panacea and it solves all these social problems I think are probably overstating the case. There is a lot of hair on that policy. And the experiment that’s going to be taking place in Colorado and Washington is going to be, I think, a challenge.” He noted the slippery-slope arguments that might arise. “I also think that, when it comes to harder drugs, the harm done to the user is profound and the social costs are profound. And you do start getting into some difficult line-drawing issues. If marijuana is fully legalized and at some point folks say, Well, we can come up with a negotiated dose of cocaine that we can show is not any more harmful than vodka, are we open to that? If somebody says, We’ve got a finely calibrated dose of meth, it isn’t going to kill you or rot your teeth, are we O.K. with that?”
V—MAGIC KINGDOMS

By Monday night, Obama was in Los Angeles, headed for Beverly Park, a gated community of private-equity barons, Saudi princes, and movie people. It was a night of fund-raisers—the first hosted by Magic Johnson, who led the Lakers to five N.B.A. championships, in the eighties. In the Beast, on the way to Johnson’s house, Obama told me, “Magic has become a good friend. I always tease him—I think he supported Hillary the first time around, in ’08.”

“He campaigned for her in Iowa!” Josh Earnest, a press spokesman, said, still sounding chagrined.

“Yeah, but we have developed a great relationship,” Obama said. “I wasn’t a Lakers fan. I was a Philadelphia 76ers fan, because I loved Doctor J.”—Julius Erving—“and then became a Jordan fan, because I moved to Chicago. But, in my mind, at least, what has made Magic heroic was not simply the joy of his playing.” Obama said that the way Johnson handled his H.I.V. diagnosis changed “how the culture thought about that—which, actually, I think, ultimately had an impact about how the culture thought about the gay community.” He also talked about Johnson’s business success as something that was “deeply admired” among African-Americans—“the notion that here’s somebody who would leverage fame and fortune in sports into a pretty remarkable business career.”

“Do you not see that often enough, by your lights?” I asked.

“I don’t,” Obama said.

The Obamas are able to speak to people of color in a way that none of their predecessors could. And the President is quick to bring into the public realm the fact that, for all his personal cool, he is a foursquare family man. He has plenty of hip-hop on his iPod, but he also worries about the moments of misogyny. Once, I mentioned to him that I knew that while Malia Obama, an aspiring filmmaker, was a fan of “Girls,” he and Michelle Obama were, at first, wary of the show.

“I’m at the very young end of the Baby Boom generation, which meant that I did not come of age in the sixties—took for granted certain freedoms, certain attitudes about gender, sexuality, equality for women, but didn’t feel as if I was having to rebel against something,” Obama said. “Precisely because I didn’t have a father in the home and moved around a lot as a kid and had a wonderfully loving mom and grandparents, but not a lot of structure growing up, I emerged on the other side of that with an appreciation for family and marriage and structure for the kids. I’m sure that’s part of why Michelle and her family held such appeal to me in the first place, because she did grow up with that kind of structure. And now, as parents, I don’t think we’re being particularly conservative—we’re actually not prudes. . . . But, as parents, what we have seen, both in our own family and among our friends, is that kids with structure have an easier time of it.”

He talked about a visit that he made last year to Hyde Park Academy, a public high school on Chicago’s South Side, where he met with a group of about twenty boys in a program called Becoming a Man. “They’re in this program because they’re fundamentally good kids who could tip in the wrong direction if they didn’t get some guidance and some structure,” Obama recalled. “We went around the room and started telling each other stories. And one of the young men asked me about me growing up, and I explained, You know what? I’m just like you guys. I didn’t have a dad. There were times where I was angry and wasn’t sure why I was angry. I engaged in a bunch of anti-social behavior. I did drugs. I got drunk. Didn’t take school seriously. The only difference between me and you is that I was in a more forgiving environment, and if I made a mistake I wasn’t going to get shot. And, even if I didn’t apply myself in school, I was at a good enough school that just through osmosis I’d have the opportunity to go to college.
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“And, as I’m speaking, the kid next to me looks over and he says, ‘Are you talking about you?’ And there was a benefit for them hearing that, because when I then said, You guys have to take yourselves more seriously, or you need to have a backup plan in case you don’t end up being LeBron or Jay Z . . . they might listen. Now, that’s not a liberal or a conservative thing. There have been times where some thoughtful and sometimes not so thoughtful African-American commentators have gotten on both Michelle and me, suggesting that we are not addressing enough sort of institutional barriers and racism, and we’re engaging in sort of up-by-the-bootstraps, Booker T. Washington messages that let the larger society off the hook.” Obama thought that this reaction was sometimes knee-jerk. “I always tell people to go read some of Dr. King’s writings about the African-American community. For that matter, read Malcolm X. . . . There’s no contradiction to say that there are issues of personal responsibility that have to be addressed, while still acknowledging that some of the specific pathologies in the African-American community are a direct result of our history.”

The higher we went up into Beverly Hills, the grander the houses were. This was where the big donors lived. But Obama’s thoughts have been down in the city. The drama of racial inequality, in his mind, has come to presage a larger, transracial form of economic disparity, a deepening of the class divide. Indeed, if there is a theme for the remaining days of his term, it is inequality. In 2011, he went to Osawatomie, Kansas, the site of Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 New Nationalism speech—a signal moment in the history of Progressivism—and declared inequality the “defining issue of our time.” He repeated the message at length, late last year, in Anacostia, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., this time noting that the gap between the rich and the poor in America now resembled that in Argentina and Jamaica, rather than that in France, Germany, or Canada. American C.E.O.s once made, on average, thirty times as much as workers; now they make about two hundred and seventy times as much. The wealthy hire lobbyists; they try to secure their interests with campaign donations. Even as Obama travels for campaign alms and is as entangled in the funding system at least as much as any other politician, he insists that his commitment is to the middle class and the disadvantaged. Last summer, he received a letter from a single mother struggling to support herself and her daughter on a minimal income. She was drowning: “I need help. I can’t imagine being out in the streets with my daughter and if I don’t get some type of relief soon, I’m afraid that’s what may happen.” “Copy to Senior Advisers,” Obama wrote at the bottom of the letter. “This is the person we are working for.”

In one of our conversations, I asked him what he felt he must get done before leaving office. He was silent for a while and then broke into a pained grin. “You mean, now that the Web site is working?” Yes, after that. “It’s hard to anticipate events over the next three years,” he said. “If you had asked F.D.R. what he had to accomplish in 1937, he would have told you, ‘I’ve got to stabilize the economy and reduce the deficit.’ Turned out there were a few more things on his plate.” He went on, “I think we are fortunate at the moment that we do not face a crisis of the scale and scope that Lincoln or F.D.R. faced. So I think it’s unrealistic to suggest that I can narrow my focus the way those two Presidents did. But I can tell you that I will measure myself at the end of my Presidency in large part by whether I began the process of rebuilding the middle class and the ladders into the middle class, and reversing the trend toward economic bifurcation in this society.”

Obama met last summer with Robert Putnam, a Harvard political scientist who became famous for a book he wrote on social atomization, “Bowling Alone.” For the past several years, Putnam and some colleagues have been working on a book about the growing opportunity gap between rich and poor kids. Putnam, who led a Kennedy School seminar on civic engagement that Obama was in, sent the President a memo about his findings. More and more, Putnam found, the crucial issue is class, and he believes that a black President might have an easier time explaining this trend to the American people and setting an agenda to combat it. Other prominent politicians—including Hillary Clinton, Paul Ryan, and Jeb Bush—have also consulted Putnam. Putnam told me that, even if legislation combatting the widening class divide eludes Obama, “I am hoping he can be John the Baptist on this.” And Obama, for his part, seems eager to take on that evangelizing role.

“You have an economy,” Obama told me, “that is ruthlessly squeezing workers and imposing efficiencies that make our flat-screen TVs really cheap but also puts enormous downward pressure on wages and salaries. That’s making it more and more difficult not only for African-Americans or Latinos to get a foothold into the middle class but for everybody—large majorities of people—to get a foothold in the middle class or to feel secure there. You’ve got folks like Bob Putnam, who’s doing some really interesting studies indicating the degree to which some of those ‘pathologies’ that used to be attributed to the African-American community in particular—single-parent households, and drug abuse, and men dropping out of the labor force, and an underground economy—you’re now starting to see in larger numbers in white working-class communities as well, which would tend to vindicate what I think a lot of us always felt.”
VI—A NEW EQUILIBRIUM

After the event at Magic Johnson’s place—the highlight was a tour of an immense basement trophy room, where Johnson had installed a gleaming hardwood basketball floor and piped in the sound of crowds cheering and announcers declaring the glories of the Lakers—the Beast made its way to the compound that the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers built. Haim Saban, who made his billions as a self-described “cartoon schlepper,” was born in Egypt, came of age in Israel, and started his show-business career as the bass player in the Lions of Judah. His politics are not ambiguous. “I am a one-issue guy,” he once said, “and my issue is Israel.” His closest political relationship is with Bill and Hillary Clinton, and he was crushed when she lost to Obama, in 2008. Saban publicly expressed doubts about whether Obama was sufficiently ardent about Israel, but he has come around.
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The main house on Saban’s property is less of an art museum than Jon Shirley’s, though it features a Warhol diptych of Golda Meir and Albert Einstein over the fireplace. The fund-raiser was held in back of the main house, under a tent. Addressing a hundred and twenty guests, and being peppered with questions about the Middle East, Obama trotted around all the usual bases—the hope for peace, the still strong alliance with Israel, the danger of “lone wolf” terror threats. But, while a man who funds the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution may have warmed to Obama, there is no question that, in certain professional foreign-policy circles, Obama is often regarded with mistrust. His Syria policy—with its dubious “red line” and threats to get rid of Bashar al-Assad; with John Kerry’s improvised press-conference gambit on chemical weapons—has inspired little confidence. Neither did the decision to accelerate troop levels in Afghanistan and, at the same time, schedule a withdrawal.

Obama came to power without foreign-policy experience; but he won the election, in part, by advocating a foreign-policy sensibility that was wary of American overreach. If George W. Bush’s foreign policy was largely a reaction to 9/11, Obama’s has been a reaction to the reaction. He withdrew American forces from Iraq. He went to Cairo in 2009, in an attempt to forge “a new beginning” between the United States and the Muslim world. American troops will come home from Afghanistan this year. As he promised in his first Presidential campaign—to the outraged protests of Hillary Clinton and John McCain alike—he has extended a hand to traditional enemies, from Iran to Cuba. And he has not hesitated in his public rhetoric to acknowledge, however subtly, the abuses, as well as the triumphs, of American power. He remembers going with his mother to live in Indonesia, in 1967—shortly after a military coup, engineered with American help, led to the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people. This event, and the fact that so few Americans know much about it, made a lasting impression on Obama. He is convinced that an essential component of diplomacy is the public recognition of historical facts—not only the taking of American hostages in Iran, in 1979, but also the American role in the overthrow of Mohammad Mossadegh, the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, in 1953.

The right’s response has been to accuse Obama of conducting a foreign policy of apology. Last year, Republican senators on the Foreign Affairs Committee, including Marco Rubio, of Florida, demanded to know if Samantha Power, Obama’s nominee for U.N. Ambassador and the author of “A Problem from Hell,” a historical indictment of American passivity in the face of various genocides around the world, would ever “apologize” for the United States. (In a depressing Kabuki drama, Power seemed forced to prove her patriotic bona fides by insisting repeatedly that the U.S. was “the greatest country on earth” and that, no, she would “never apologize” for it.) Obama’s conservative critics, both at home and abroad, paint him as a President out to diminish American power. Josef Joffe, the hawkish editor of Die Zeit, the highbrow German weekly, told me, “There is certainly consistency and coherence in his attempt to retract from the troubles of the world, to get the U.S. out of harm’s way, in order to do ‘a little nation-building at home,’ as he has so often put it. If you want to be harsh about it, he wants to turn the U.S. into a very large medium power, into an XXL France or Germany.”

Obama’s “long game” on foreign policy calls for traditional categories of American power and ideology to be reordered. Ben Rhodes, the deputy national-security adviser for strategic communications, told me that Washington was “trapped in very stale narratives.”

“In the foreign-policy establishment, to be an idealist you have to be for military intervention,” Rhodes went on. “In the Democratic Party, these debates were defined in the nineties, and the idealists lined up for military intervention. For the President, Iraq was the defining issue, and now Syria is viewed through that lens, as was Libya—to be an idealist, you have to be a military interventionist. We spent a trillion dollars in Iraq and had troops there for a decade, and you can’t say it wielded positive influence. Just the opposite. We can’t seem to get out of these boxes.”

Obama may resist the idealism of a previous generation of interventionists, but his realism, if that’s what it is, diverges from the realism of Henry Kissinger or Brent Scowcroft. “It comes from the idea that change is organic and change comes to countries in its own way, modernization comes in its own way, rather than through liberation narratives coming from the West,” Fareed Zakaria, a writer on foreign policy whom Obama reads and consults, says. Anne-Marie Slaughter, who worked at the State Department as Hillary Clinton’s director of policy planning, says, “Obama has a real understanding of the limits of our power. It’s not that the United States is in decline; it’s that sometimes the world has problems without the tools to fix them.” Members of Obama’s foreign-policy circle say that when he is criticized for his reaction to situations like Iran’s Green Revolution, in 2009, or the last days of Hosni Mubarak’s regime, in 2011, he complains that people imagine him to have a “joystick” that allows him to manipulate precise outcomes.

Obama told me that what he needs isn’t any new grand strategy—“I don’t really even need George Kennan right now”—but, rather, the right strategic partners. “There are currents in history and you have to figure out how to move them in one direction or another,” Rhodes said. “You can’t necessarily determine the final destination. . . . The President subscribes less to a great-man theory of history and more to a great-movement theory of history—that change happens when people force it or circumstances do.” (Later, Obama told me, “I’m not sure Ben is right about that. I believe in both.”)

The President may scorn the joystick fantasy, but he does believe that his words—at microphones from Cairo to Yangon—can encourage positive change abroad, even if only in the long run. In Israel last March, he told university students that “political leaders will never take risks if the people do not push them to take some risks.” Obama, who has pressed Netanyahu to muster the political will to take risks on his own, thinks he can help “create a space”—that is the term around the White House—for forward movement on the Palestinian issue, whether he is around to see the result or not.
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Administration officials are convinced that their efforts to toughen the sanctions on Iran caused tremendous economic pain and helped Hassan Rouhani win popular support in the Iranian Presidential elections last year. Although Rouhani is no liberal—he has revolutionary and religious credentials, which is why he was able to run—he was not Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s favored candidate. Khamenei is an opaque, cautious figure, Administration officials say, but he clearly acceded to Rouhani as he saw the political demands of the population shift.

The nuclear negotiations in Geneva, which were preceded by secret contacts with the Iranians in Oman and New York, were, from Obama’s side, based on a series of strategic calculations that, he acknowledges, may not work out. As the Administration sees it, an Iranian nuclear weapon would be a violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and a threat to the entire region; it could spark a nuclear arms race reaching Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey. (Israel has had nukes since 1967.) But the White House is prepared to accept a civilian nuclear capacity in Iran, with strict oversight, while the Israelis and the Gulf states regard any Iranian nuclear technology at all as unacceptable. Obama has told Netanyahu and Republican senators that the absolutist benchmark is not achievable. Members of Obama’s team believe that the leaders of Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf states, who are now allied as never before, want the U.S. to be their proxy in a struggle not merely for de-nuclearization in Iran but for regime change—and that is not on the Administration’s agenda, except, perhaps, as a hope.

Republican and Democratic senators have expressed doubts about even the interim agreement with Iran, and have threatened to tighten sanctions still further. “Historically, there is hostility and suspicion toward Iran, not just among members of Congress but the American people,” Obama said, adding that “members of Congress are very attentive to what Israel says on its security issues.” He went on, “I don’t think a new sanctions bill will reach my desk during this period, but, if it did, I would veto it and expect it to be sustained.”

Ultimately, he envisages a new geopolitical equilibrium, one less turbulent than the current landscape of civil war, terror, and sectarian battle. “It would be profoundly in the interest of citizens throughout the region if Sunnis and Shias weren’t intent on killing each other,” he told me. “And although it would not solve the entire problem, if we were able to get Iran to operate in a responsible fashion—not funding terrorist organizations, not trying to stir up sectarian discontent in other countries, and not developing a nuclear weapon—you could see an equilibrium developing between Sunni, or predominantly Sunni, Gulf states and Iran in which there’s competition, perhaps suspicion, but not an active or proxy warfare.

“With respect to Israel, the interests of Israel in stability and security are actually very closely aligned with the interests of the Sunni states.” As Saudi and Israeli diplomats berate Obama in unison, his reaction is, essentially, Use that. “What’s preventing them from entering into even an informal alliance with at least normalized diplomatic relations is not that their interests are profoundly in conflict but the Palestinian issue, as well as a long history of anti-Semitism that’s developed over the course of decades there, and anti-Arab sentiment that’s increased inside of Israel based on seeing buses being blown up,” Obama said. “If you can start unwinding some of that, that creates a new equilibrium. And so I think each individual piece of the puzzle is meant to paint a picture in which conflicts and competition still exist in the region but that it is contained, it is expressed in ways that don’t exact such an enormous toll on the countries involved, and that allow us to work with functioning states to prevent extremists from emerging there.”

During Obama’s performance under Saban’s tent, there was no talk of a Sunni-Israeli alignment, or of any failures of vision on Netanyahu’s part. Obama did allow himself to be testy about the criticism he has received over his handling of the carnage in Syria. “You’ll recall that that was the previous end of my Presidency, until it turned out that we are actually getting all the chemical weapons. And no one reports on that anymore.”
VII—HAMMERS AND PLIERS

Obama’s lowest moments in the Middle East have involved his handling of Syria. Last summer, when I visited Za’atari, the biggest Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, one displaced person after another expressed anger and dismay at American inaction. In a later conversation, I asked Obama if he was haunted by Syria, and, though the mask of his equipoise rarely slips, an indignant expression crossed his face. “I am haunted by what’s happened,” he said. “I am not haunted by my decision not to engage in another Middle Eastern war. It is very difficult to imagine a scenario in which our involvement in Syria would have led to a better outcome, short of us being willing to undertake an effort in size and scope similar to what we did in Iraq. And when I hear people suggesting that somehow if we had just financed and armed the opposition earlier, that somehow Assad would be gone by now and we’d have a peaceful transition, it’s magical thinking.
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“It’s not as if we didn’t discuss this extensively down in the Situation Room. It’s not as if we did not solicit—and continue to solicit—opinions from a wide range of folks. Very early in this process, I actually asked the C.I.A. to analyze examples of America financing and supplying arms to an insurgency in a country that actually worked out well. And they couldn’t come up with much. We have looked at this from every angle. And the truth is that the challenge there has been, and continues to be, that you have an authoritarian, brutal government who is willing to do anything to hang on to power, and you have an opposition that is disorganized, ill-equipped, ill-trained, and is self-divided. All of that is on top of some of the sectarian divisions. . . . And, in that environment, our best chance of seeing a decent outcome at this point is to work the state actors who have invested so much in keeping Assad in power—mainly the Iranians and the Russians—as well as working with those who have been financing the opposition to make sure that they’re not creating the kind of extremist force that we saw emerge out of Afghanistan when we were financing the mujahideen.”

At the core of Obama’s thinking is that American military involvement cannot be the primary instrument to achieve the new equilibrium that the region so desperately needs. And yet thoughts of a pacific equilibrium are far from anyone’s mind in the real, existing Middle East. In the 2012 campaign, Obama spoke not only of killing Osama bin Laden; he also said that Al Qaeda had been “decimated.” I pointed out that the flag of Al Qaeda is now flying in Falluja, in Iraq, and among various rebel factions in Syria; Al Qaeda has asserted a presence in parts of Africa, too.

“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Obama said, resorting to an uncharacteristically flip analogy. “I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.

“Let’s just keep in mind, Falluja is a profoundly conservative Sunni city in a country that, independent of anything we do, is deeply divided along sectarian lines. And how we think about terrorism has to be defined and specific enough that it doesn’t lead us to think that any horrible actions that take place around the world that are motivated in part by an extremist Islamic ideology are a direct threat to us or something that we have to wade into.”

He went on, “You have a schism between Sunni and Shia throughout the region that is profound. Some of it is directed or abetted by states who are in contests for power there. You have failed states that are just dysfunctional, and various warlords and thugs and criminals are trying to gain leverage or a foothold so that they can control resources, populations, territory. . . . And failed states, conflict, refugees, displacement—all that stuff has an impact on our long-term security. But how we approach those problems and the resources that we direct toward those problems is not going to be exactly the same as how we think about a transnational network of operatives who want to blow up the World Trade Center. We have to be able to distinguish between these problems analytically, so that we’re not using a pliers where we need a hammer, or we’re not using a battalion when what we should be doing is partnering with the local government to train their police force more effectively, improve their intelligence capacities.”

This wasn’t realism or idealism; it was something closer to policy particularism (this thing is different from that thing; Syria is not Libya; Iran is not North Korea). Yet Obama’s regular deployment of drones has been criticized as a one-size-fits-all recourse, in which the prospect of destroying an individual enemy too easily trumps broader strategic and diplomatic considerations, to say nothing of moral ones. A few weeks before Obama left Washington to scour the West Coast for money, he invited to the White House Malala Yousafzai, the remarkable Pakistani teen-ager who campaigned for women’s education and was shot in the head by the Taliban. Yousafzai thanked Obama for the material support that the U.S. government provided for education in Pakistan and Afghanistan and among Syrian refugees, but she also told him that drone strikes were “fuelling terrorism” and resentment in her country.

“I think any President should be troubled by any war or any kinetic action that leads to death,” Obama told me when I brought up Yousafzai’s remarks. “The way I’ve thought about this issue is, I have a solemn duty and responsibility to keep the American people safe. That’s my most important obligation as President and Commander-in-Chief. And there are individuals and groups out there that are intent on killing Americans—killing American civilians, killing American children, blowing up American planes. That’s not speculation. It’s their explicit agenda.”

Obama said that, if terrorists can be captured and prosecuted, “that’s always my preference. If we can’t, I cannot stand by and do nothing. They operate in places where oftentimes we cannot reach them, or the countries are either unwilling or unable to capture them in partnership with us. And that then narrows my options: we can simply be on defense and try to harden our defense. But in this day and age that’s of limited—well, that’s insufficient. We can say to those countries, as my predecessor did, if you are harboring terrorists, we will hold you accountable—in which case, we could be fighting a lot of wars around the world. And, statistically, it is indisputable that the costs in terms of not only our men and women in uniform but also innocent civilians would be much higher. Or, where possible, we can take targeted strikes, understanding that anytime you take a military strike there are risks involved. What I’ve tried to do is to tighten the process so much and limit the risks of civilian casualties so much that we have the least fallout from those actions. But it’s not perfect.”
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It is far from that. In December, an American drone flying above Al Bayda province, in Yemen, fired on what U.S. intelligence believed was a column of Al Qaeda fighters. The “column” was in fact a wedding party; twelve people were killed, and fifteen were seriously injured. Some of the victims, if not all, were civilians. This was no aberration. In Yemen and Pakistan, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, American drones have killed between some four hundred and a thousand civilians—a civilian-to-combatant ratio that could be as high as one to three. Obama has never made it clear how the vast populations outraged and perhaps radicalized by such remote-control mayhem might figure into his calculations about American security.

“Look, you wrestle with it,” Obama said. “And those who have questioned our drone policy are doing exactly what should be done in a democracy—asking some tough questions. The only time I get frustrated is when folks act like it’s not complicated and there aren’t some real tough decisions, and are sanctimonious, as if somehow these aren’t complicated questions. Listen, as I have often said to my national-security team, I didn’t run for office so that I could go around blowing things up.”

Obama told me that in all three of his main initiatives in the region—with Iran, with Israel and the Palestinians, with Syria—the odds of completing final treaties are less than fifty-fifty. “On the other hand,” he said, “in all three circumstances we may be able to push the boulder partway up the hill and maybe stabilize it so it doesn’t roll back on us. And all three are connected. I do believe that the region is going through rapid change and inexorable change. Some of it is demographics; some of it is technology; some of it is economics. And the old order, the old equilibrium, is no longer tenable. The question then becomes, What’s next?”
VIII—AMONG THE ALIENS

On his last day in Los Angeles, Obama romanced Hollywood, taking a helicopter to visit the DreamWorks studio, in Glendale. Jeffrey Katzenberg, Obama’s host and the head of DreamWorks Animation, is one of the Democrats’ most successful fund-raisers. But it is never a good idea for the White House to admit to any quid pro quo. When one of the pool reporters asked why the President was going to Katzenberg’s studio and not, say, Universal, a travelling spokesman replied, “DreamWorks obviously is a thriving business and is creating lots of jobs in Southern California. And the fact of the matter is Mr. Katzenberg’s support for the President’s policies has no bearing on our decision to visit there.”

That’s pretty rich. Katzenberg has been a supporter from the start of Obama’s national career, raising millions of dollars for him and for the Party’s Super PACs. Nor has he been hurt by his political associations. Joe Biden helped pave the way with Xi Jinping and other officials so that DreamWorks and other Hollywood companies could build studios in China. (In an awkward postscript, the S.E.C. reportedly began investigating, in 2012, whether DreamWorks, Twentieth Century Fox, and the Walt Disney Company paid bribes to Chinese officials, in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.)

A flock of military helicopters brought the Obama party to Glendale, and, after a short ride to DreamWorks Animation, Katzenberg greeted the President and gave him a tour. They stopped in a basement recording studio to watch a voice-over session for a new animated picture called “Home,” starring the voice of Steve Martin. Greeting Martin, Obama recalled that the last time they saw each other must have been when Martin played banjo with his band at the White House.

Martin nodded. “I always say the fact that I played banjo at the White House was the biggest thrill of his life.”

Katzenberg explained that “Home” was the story of the Boov, an alien race that has taken over the planet. Martin is the voice of Captain Smek, the leader of the Boov.

“Where did we go?” Obama asked Tim Johnson, the director. “Do they feed us?”

“Mostly ice cream.”

Katzenberg said that, unlike dramatic films with live actors, nineteen out of twenty of DreamWorks’ animated pictures succeed.

“My kids have aged out,” Obama said. “They used to be my excuse to watch them all.”

Katzenberg led Obama to a conference room, where the heads of most of the major movie and television studios were waiting. There would be touchy questions about business—particularly about the “North versus South” civil war in progress between the high-tech libertarians in Silicon Valley and the “content producers” in Los Angeles. The war was over intellectual-property rights, and Obama showed little desire to get in the middle of these two constituencies. If anything, he knows that Silicon Valley is ascendant, younger, more able to mobilize active voters, and he was not about to offer the studio heads his unqualified muscle.

Finally, the subject switched to global matters. Alan Horn, the chairman of Walt Disney Studios, raised his hand. “First,” he said, “I do recommend that you and your family see ‘Frozen,’ which is coming to a theatre near you. ”

Then he asked about climate change.
IX—LISTENING IN

On the flight back to Washington, Obama read and played spades with some aides to pass the time. (He and his former body man Reggie Love took a break to play spades at one point during the mission to kill Osama bin Laden.) After a while, one of the aides led me to the front cabin to talk with the President some more. The week before, Obama had given out the annual Presidential Medals of Freedom. One went to Benjamin C. Bradlee, the editor who built the Washington Post by joining the Times in publishing the Pentagon Papers, in 1971, and who stood behind Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as they began publishing the Watergate exposés that led to the fall of the Nixon Presidency. I asked Obama how he could reconcile such an award with his Administration’s aggressive leak investigations, which have ensnared journalists and sources, and its hostility to Edward Snowden’s exposure of the N.S.A.’s blanket surveillance of American and foreign communications.
Cartoon“Use your inside voice.”April 18, 2011Buy the print »

After a long pause, Obama began to speak of how his first awareness of politics came when, as an eleven-year-old, he went on a cross-country bus trip with his mother and grandmother and, at the end of each day, watched the Watergate hearings on television. “I remember being fascinated by these figures and what was at stake, and the notion that even the President of the United States isn’t above the law,” he said. “And Sam Ervin with his eyebrows, and Inouye, this guy from Hawaii—it left a powerful impression on me. And so, as I got older, when I saw ‘All the President’s Men,’ that was the iconic vision of journalism telling truth to power, and making sure our democracy worked. And I still believe that. And so a lot of the tensions that have existed between my White House and the press are inherent in the institution. The press always wants more, and every White House, including ours, is trying to make sure that the things that we care most about are what’s being reported on, and that we’re not on any given day chasing after fifteen story lines.”

Then Obama insisted that what Snowden did was “not akin to Watergate or some scandal in which there were coverups involved.” The leaks, he said, had “put people at risk” but revealed nothing illegal. And though the leaks raised “legitimate policy questions” about N.S.A. operations, “the issue then is: Is the only way to do that by giving some twenty-nine-year-old free rein to basically dump a mountain of information, much of which is definitely legal, definitely necessary for national security, and should properly be classified?” In Obama’s view, “the benefit of the debate he generated was not worth the damage done, because there was another way of doing it.” Once again, it was the President as Professor-in-Chief, assessing all sides, and observing the tilt of the scales. (The day before his speech last week on reforming the N.S.A., he told me, “I do not have a yes/no answer on clemency for Edward Snowden. This is an active case, where charges have been brought.”)

The coverage of the leaks, Obama complained, paints “a picture of a rogue agency out there running around and breaking a whole bunch of laws and engaging in a ‘domestic spying program’ that isn’t accurate. But what that does is it synchs up with a public imagination that sees Big Brother looming everywhere.” The greater damage, in his view, was the way the leaks heightened suspicions among foreign leaders. Obama enjoyed a good relationship with Angela Merkel, but he admitted that it was undermined by reports alleging that the U.S. tapped her cell phone. This, he said, felt “like a breach of trust and I can’t argue with her being aggravated about that.”

But, he said, “there are European governments that we know spy on us, and there is a little bit of Claude Rains in ‘Casablanca’—shocked that gambling is going on.” He added, “Now, I will say that I automatically assume that there are a whole bunch of folks out there trying to spy on me, which is why I don’t have a phone. I do not send out anything on my BlackBerry that I don’t assume at some point will be on the front page of a newspaper, so it’s pretty boring reading for the most part.”

Obama admitted that the N.S.A. has had “too much leeway to do whatever it wanted or could.” But he didn’t feel “any ambivalence” about the decisions he has made. “I actually feel confident that the way the N.S.A. operates does not threaten the privacy and constitutional rights of Americans and that the laws that are in place are sound, and, because we’ve got three branches of government involved and a culture that has internalized that domestic spying is against the law, it actually works pretty well,” he said. “Over all, five years from now, when I’m a private citizen, I’m going to feel pretty confident that my government is not spying on me.”

Obama has three years left, but it’s not difficult to sense a politician with an acute sense of time, a politician devising ways to widen his legacy without the benefit of any support from Congress. The State of the Union speech next week will be a catalogue of things hoped for, a resumption of the second inaugural, with an added emphasis on the theme of inequality. But Obama knows that major legislation—with the possible exception of immigration—is unlikely. And so there is in him a certain degree of reduced ambition, a sense that even well before the commentariat starts calling him a lame duck he will spend much of his time setting an agenda that can be resolved only after he has retired to the life of a writer and post-President.

“One of the things that I’ve learned to appreciate more as President is you are essentially a relay swimmer in a river full of rapids, and that river is history,” he later told me. “You don’t start with a clean slate, and the things you start may not come to full fruition on your timetable. But you can move things forward. And sometimes the things that start small may turn out to be fairly significant. I suspect that Ronald Reagan, if you’d asked him, would not have considered the earned-income-tax-credit provision in tax reform to be at the top of his list of accomplishments. On the other hand, what the E.I.T.C. has done, starting with him, being added to by Clinton, being used by me during the Recovery Act, has probably kept more people out of poverty than a whole lot of other government programs that are currently in place.”

Johnson’s Great Society will be fifty years old in 2014, but no Republican wants a repeat of that scale of government ambition. Obama acknowledges this, saying, “The appetite for tax-and-transfer strategies, even among Democrats, much less among independents or Republicans, is probably somewhat limited, because people are seeing their incomes haven’t gone up, their wages haven’t gone up. It’s natural for them to think any new taxes may be going to somebody else, I’m not confident in terms of how it’s going to be spent, I’d much rather hang on to what I’ve got.” He will try to do things like set up partnerships with selected cities and citizens’ groups, sign some executive orders, but a “Marshall Plan for the inner city is not going to get through Congress anytime soon.”
Cartoon“The striptease I like! The clothes on the floor I’m not wild about.”September 13, 2010Buy the print »

Indeed, Obama is quick to show a measure of sympathy with the Reagan-era conservative analysis of government. “This is where sometimes progressives get frustrated with me,” he said, “because I actually think there was a legitimate critique of the welfare state getting bloated, and relying too much on command and control, top-down government programs to address it back in the seventies. It’s also why it’s ironic when I’m accused of being this raging socialist who wants to amass more and more power for their own government. . . . But I do think that some of the anti-government rhetoric, anti-tax rhetoric, anti-spending rhetoric that began before Reagan but fully flowered with the Reagan Presidency accelerated trends that were already existing, or at least robbed us of some tools to deal with the downsides of globalization and technology, and that with just some modest modification we could grow this economy faster and benefit more people and provide more opportunity.

“After we did all that, there would still be poverty and there would still be some inequality and there would still be a lot of work to do for the forty-fifth through fiftieth Presidents,” he went on, “but I’d like to give voice to an impression I think a lot of Americans have, which is it’s harder to make it now if you are just the average citizen who’s willing to work hard and has good values, and wasn’t born with huge advantages or having enjoyed extraordinary luck—that the ground is less secure under your feet.”

In the White House, advisers are resigned by now to the idea that some liberal voters, dismayed by a range of issues—drones, the N.S.A., the half measures of health care and financial reform—have turned away from Obama and to newer figures like Elizabeth Warren or Bill de Blasio. “Well, look, we live in a very fast-moving culture,” Obama said. “And, by definition, the President of the United States is overexposed, and it is natural, after six, seven years of me being on the national stage, that people start wanting to see . . .”

“Other flavors?”

“Yes,” he said. “ ‘Is there somebody else out there who can give me that spark of inspiration or excitement?’ I don’t spend too much time worrying about that. I think the things that are exciting people are the same things that excite me and excited me back then. I might have given fresh voice to them, but the values are essentially the same.”
X—WHAT TIME ALLOWS

Obama came home from Los Angeles in a dark, freezing downpour. The weather was too rotten even for Marine One. He hustled down the steps of Air Force One and ducked into his car.

A few weeks later, I was able to see him for a last conversation in the Oval Office. The Obamas had just had a long vacation in Hawaii—sun, golf, family, and not much else. The President was sitting behind his desk—the Resolute desk, a gift from Queen Victoria to Rutherford B. Hayes—and he was reading from a folder marked “Secret.” He closed it, walked across the room, and settled into an armchair near the fireplace. “I got some rest,” he said. “But time to get to work.”

Obama has every right to claim a long list of victories since he took office: ending two wars; an economic rescue, no matter how imperfect; strong Supreme Court nominations; a lack of major scandal; essential support for an epochal advance in the civil rights of gays and lesbians; more progressive executive orders on climate change, gun control, and the end of torture; and, yes, health-care reform. But, no matter what one’s politics, and however one weighs the arguments of his critics, both partisan and principled, one has to wonder about any President’s capacity to make these decisions amid a thousand uncertainties, so many of which are matters of life and death, survival and extinction.

“I have strengths and I have weaknesses, like every President, like every person,” Obama said. “I do think one of my strengths is temperament. I am comfortable with complexity, and I think I’m pretty good at keeping my moral compass while recognizing that I am a product of original sin. And every morning and every night I’m taking measure of my actions against the options and possibilities available to me, understanding that there are going to be mistakes that I make and my team makes and that America makes; understanding that there are going to be limits to the good we can do and the bad that we can prevent, and that there’s going to be tragedy out there and, by occupying this office, I am part of that tragedy occasionally, but that if I am doing my very best and basing my decisions on the core values and ideals that I was brought up with and that I think are pretty consistent with those of most Americans, that at the end of the day things will be better rather than worse.”

The cheering crowds and hecklers from the West Coast trip seemed far away now. In the preternaturally quiet office, you could hear, between every long pause that Obama took, the ticking of a grandfather clock just to his left.

“I think we are born into this world and inherit all the grudges and rivalries and hatreds and sins of the past,” he said. “But we also inherit the beauty and the joy and goodness of our forebears. And we’re on this planet a pretty short time, so that we cannot remake the world entirely during this little stretch that we have.” The long view again. “But I think our decisions matter,” he went on. “And I think America was very lucky that Abraham Lincoln was President when he was President. If he hadn’t been, the course of history would be very different. But I also think that, despite being the greatest President, in my mind, in our history, it took another hundred and fifty years before African-Americans had anything approaching formal equality, much less real equality. I think that doesn’t diminish Lincoln’s achievements, but it acknowledges that at the end of the day we’re part of a long-running story. We just try to get our paragraph right.”

A little while later, as we were leaving the Oval Office and walking under the colonnade, Obama said, “I just wanted to add one thing to that business about the great-man theory of history. The President of the United States cannot remake our society, and that’s probably a good thing.” He paused yet again, always self-editing. “Not ‘probably,’ ” he said. “It’s definitely a good thing.” ♦

 Voir de plus:

Checkpoint
U.S. walks fine, awkward line when addressing Iranian airstrikes in Iraq
Dan Lamothe

The Washington Post

December 3, 2014

Iranian fighter jets are now said to be bombing the Islamic State militant group in Iraq. It’s an escalation in Tehran’s presence there — and a development that has forced U.S. officials to walk a fine line while addressing it.

The latest example came Wednesday, when Secretary of State John F. Kerry was asked if he was aware of any Iranian airstrikes in Iraq, and whether he thought they were helpful in the fight against the militants. He declined to confirm whether any occurred and said Tehran and Washington are not coordinating military actions, a standing talking point for U.S. officials in recent days. But the secretary went a step further, saying Iranian airstrikes wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

“I think it’s self-evident that if Iran is taking on ISIL in some particular place and it’s confined to taking on ISIL and it has an impact … the net effect is positive,” Kerry said, using one of the acronyms for the group. “But that’s not something that we’re coordinating. The Iraqis have the overall responsibility for their own ground and air operations, and what they choose to do is up to them.”

That’s a noteworthy reaction after decades in which Iran and the United States have been on the opposite of national security issues. From the Iranian hostage crisis that ended in 1981, to the support the U.S. gave Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in a war against Iran in the 1980s, to the ongoing tensions of Iran’s nuclear program, Washington and Tehran have long been at odds with one another.

During the Iraq war, U.S. officials accused Tehran of supplying weapons to Shiite militia groups that attacked American troops. And in Afghanistan, Iran has exerted influence by providing support to Taliban insurgents fighting U.S. and coalition troops, while at the same time cultivating relationships in the Afghan central government, according to a 2011 analysis prepared by the Rand National Defense Research Institute for Marine Corps intelligence officials.

Iran spurned an American request for cooperation against the Islamic State in September, with its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, calling the coalition formed “empty, shallow & biased” on Twitter. President Obama wrote a letter to Khamenei afterward to tell him Tehran and Washington had shared interests in Iraq, but Iran is believed to exert its military influence there on its own without any American involvement.

Several Iraqi military victories against the militants this fall have come with Iranian involvement, and the commander of Iran’s Quds force, Gen. Ghasem Soleimani, has paid a visit to Iraq, according to the Associated Press. Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia group — long backed by Iran — also may have been involved.

The Pentagon press secretary, Adm. John Kirby, said Tuesday that he had seen the media reports about Iran launching airstrikes on the Islamic State, and had no reason to doubt them. But he declined to take any position on them.

“Our message to Iran is the same today as it was when it started, and as it is to any neighbor in the region that is involved in the anti-ISIL activities,” Kirby said. “And that’s that we want nothing to be done that further inflames sectarian tensions in the country.”

Dan Lamothe covers national security for The Washington Post and anchors its military blog, Checkpoint.

Voir aussi:

Opposition United
Captain Obama and the Great White Whale

President Obama perseveres, convinced that everyone will thank him when the Great White Whale of Middle East policy—a lasting nuclear deal with Iran—is finally harpooned. But as the endgame draws nigh, a unified chorus of naysayers is rising in volume.

Walter Russell Mead

The American interest

20/03/15

With the House nearly united against him, can Obama still stand? Today, 360 Representatives (including more than half of the House’s Democrats) sent a letter to the President warning that permanent sanctions relief for Iran must entail new legislation from Congress. More from The Hill:

“In reviewing such an agreement, Congress must be convinced that its terms foreclose any pathway to a bomb, and only then will Congress be able to consider permanent sanctions relief,” [the letter] adds.

The letter stops short of supporting legislation pursued by the Senate that would allow Congress 60 days to weigh in on any final deal before its implementation.

However, it adds, “We are prepared to evaluate any agreement to determine its long-term impact on the United States and our allies.”
Taken on its face, this letter would apparently doom the Iran deal in the form it is being presented through leaks from the negotiators. Iran is insisting on a time limit for the deal; the House appears to be saying that no such time limit will be acceptable to the U.S. Congress. If House Democrats stick to this message, the President’s Iran policy looks doomed to veto-proof rebukes from both branches of Congress.

This is probably not what President Obama meant when he promised to fight the partisanship in American politics, but he seems to be creating a strong bipartisan consensus on the Middle East. (He’s also been something of a uniter in the Middle East as well; Israel and the Sunni Arab countries have never been closer than they are now.)

The Dem-supported House letter isn’t the only high-profile rebuke to emerge today from the President’s camp. President Obama’s old CIA director is saying that the Iran-backed Shia militias are worse news than ISIS. In an interview with the Washington Post, General Petraeus was blunt:

The current Iranian regime is not our ally in the Middle East. It is ultimately part of the problem, not the solution. The more the Iranians are seen to be dominating the region, the more it is going to inflame Sunni radicalism and fuel the rise of groups like the Islamic State. While the U.S. and Iran may have convergent interests in the defeat of Daesh, our interests generally diverge.  The Iranian response to the open hand offered by the U.S. has not been encouraging.

Iranian power in the Middle East is thus a double problem. It is foremost problematic because it is deeply hostile to us and our friends. But it is also dangerous because, the more it is felt, the more it sets off reactions that are also harmful to our interests — Sunni radicalism and, if we aren’t careful, the prospect of nuclear proliferation as well.

The Petraeus interview and the mass defections of House Dems highlight the degree to which Obama is going out on a limb on Iran policy. But this isn’t just a matter of Beltway elites jumping ship. John Kraushaar analyzed the Iran poll numbers in the National Journal and made a convincing argument that the public, while it supports negotiating with Iran as a general proposition, doesn’t think President Obama has gotten it right. A recent NBC/WSJ poll finds that 71% of respondents think the deal won’t do what it’s supposed to and keep Tehran from getting the bomb. This is why so many members of the President’s own party are jumping ship. Nobody wants to be on this boat, but Ahab is still at the wheel, pursuing the Great White Whale at all costs.Ahab is still at the wheel, pursuing the Great White Whale at all costs.

One has to think back almost 100 years to Wilson chasing his Treaty of Versailles in the face of growing public skepticism and Congressional dissent to see this many omens of a car crash. The more the opposition mounts, the more grimly determined the President becomes to hold his course. The more determined the President looks, the more disquieting the doubts that circulate among Democrats—and the more Republicans smell the opportunity to land a crippling blow against a policy they despise.

There seem to be four leading scenarios on the horizon. One is that the President gets his deal, somehow steers it past (or around) Congress, and the deal works: Iran becomes our friend and the Middle East gets better. At that point he looks like a genius and the doubts are forgotten. The critics look bad as the United States sails into a bright new day, and President Obama goes down in history as a courageous and visionary peacemaker who stuck to his guns when the going got tough. This seems unlikely, but it can’t be ruled out.

The second is uglier, but more probable. In this scenario, Iran signs a deal, and after an ugly fight, Congress gives it a grudging and perhaps partial OK. Then pundits and policymakers argue for years about whether it was a success or not, the public mostly dislikes it, and the Iran deal, like Obamacare, becomes a pyrrhic victory. The President notches up a win but his party stumbles under the weight of the baggage.

The third possibility is uglier and, based on today’s news from Congress, more probable still. In this scenario, Iran and the President strike a deal, but Congress succeeds in crippling it. Perhaps it passes a bill and then overrides his veto; perhaps it refuses to pass enabling legislation that the Iranians say is necessary. At that point, the deal breaks down, some of the P-5 begin to circumvent the sanctions, and the President will have a big mess on his hands as Iran, perhaps, accelerates its march toward a bomb.

The final possibility is that the Iranians walk away from the deal. That is not a worst case scenario for the President; if there isn’t any deal he doesn’t have to consume the next several months of his presidency in an all-out effort to protect it from Congress. The biggest downside: He will then have to start from close to zero on Middle East policy, and presumably head back to some angry, jilted allies for help even as relations with Iran grow worse.

The President himself gives 50-50 odds for a deal at this point; if he’s right, and if we assume that the other scenarios are equally probable, he has about a 17 percent chance of emerging from this process with a clear win, a 17 percent chance of a pyrrhic victory, and a 67 percent chance of an outcome that will be considered a defeat.

The President’s biggest remaining advantage is that a significant part of the pro-Obama wing of the Democratic press and pundit establishment are still looking at the Middle East in a compartmentalized way. They don’t get the causal connection between the quest for an Iran deal and regional disorder. So caught up are they in the “Negotiations always good, confrontation always bad” worldview that they haven’t come to grips with the reality that in the Middle East, Obama’s regional strategy of withdrawal and accommodation to Iran undermines rather than supports the goal of a nuclear deal.

Thus, instead of criticizing Obama’s policy incoherence and the way in which his chosen strategies undercut his stated goals, such observers frame the whole issue as whether it’s better to try to reach a nuclear deal with Iran than to just let hostility fester while the Islamic Republic comes closer to its nuclear goals. Stated this way, it’s easy to make a case for the White House approach even as the shadows deepen and the region burns — and this is the line that the remaining loyalists take.

But more and more people in the center are beginning to see beyond the pretty packaging and to ask questions the White House doesn’t seem to be able to answer about its overall plan. Thomas Friedman looked askance at the President this week, asking “Why are we, for the third time since 9/11, fighting a war on behalf of Iran?” Henry Kissinger’s most recent book contains a long warning against the course we are on. Jeffrey Goldberg, anything but a knee-jerk opponent of the President, has been voicing his growing worries over the cost of the deal—most recently declaring that there’s “no solution” when it comes to Iran, very much including a nuclear deal. Former Administration officials are aghast; like Martin Indyk before him, what David Petraeus is really saying is that President’s strategy doesn’t cohere.

Yet Ahab sails on, convinced that the crew will thank him when the Great White Whale is finally harpooned. The crew hopes he is right, but faith is ebbing as the endgame draws nigh.

Voir de plus:

Israel’s Gilded Age
Paul Krugman

The New York times

March 16, 2015

Why did Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel feel the need to wag the dog in Washington? For that was, of course, what he was doing in his anti-Iran speech to Congress. If you’re seriously trying to affect American foreign policy, you don’t insult the president and so obviously align yourself with his political opposition. No, the real purpose of that speech was to distract the Israeli electorate with saber-rattling bombast, to shift its attention away from the economic discontent that, polls suggest, may well boot Mr. Netanyahu from office in Tuesday’s election.

But wait: Why are Israelis discontented? After all, Israel’s economy has performed well by the usual measures. It weathered the financial crisis with minimal damage. Over the longer term, it has grown more rapidly than most other advanced economies, and has developed into a high-technology powerhouse. What is there to complain about?

The answer, which I don’t think is widely appreciated here, is that while Israel’s economy has grown, this growth has been accompanied by a disturbing transformation in the country’s income distribution and society. Once upon a time, Israel was a country of egalitarian ideals — the kibbutz population was always a small minority, but it had a large impact on the nation’s self-perception. And it was a fairly equal society in reality, too, right up to the early 1990s.

Since then, however, Israel has experienced a dramatic widening of income disparities. Key measures of inequality have soared; Israel is now right up there with America as one of the most unequal societies in the advanced world. And Israel’s experience shows that this matters, that extreme inequality has a corrosive effect on social and political life.

Consider what has happened at either end of the spectrum — the growth in poverty, on one side, and extreme wealth, on the other.

According to Luxembourg Income Study data, the share of Israel’s population living on less than half the country’s median income — a widely accepted definition of relative poverty — more than doubled, to 20.5 percent from 10.2 percent, between 1992 and 2010. The share of children in poverty almost quadrupled, to 27.4 percent from 7.8 percent. Both numbers are the worst in the advanced world, by a large margin.

And when it comes to children, in particular, relative poverty is the right concept. Families that live on much lower incomes than those of their fellow citizens will, in important ways, be alienated from the society around them, unable to participate fully in the life of the nation. Children growing up in such families will surely be placed at a permanent disadvantage.

At the other end, while the available data — puzzlingly — don’t show an especially large share of income going to the top 1 percent, there is an extreme concentration of wealth and power among a tiny group of people at the top. And I mean tiny. According to the Bank of Israel, roughly 20 families control companies that account for half the total value of Israel’s stock market. The nature of that control is convoluted and obscure, working through “pyramids” in which a family controls a firm that in turn controls other firms and so on. Although the Bank of Israel is circumspect in its language, it is clearly worried about the potential this concentration of control creates for self-dealing.

Still, why is Israeli inequality a political issue? Because it didn’t have to be this extreme.

I think it’s more likely Netanyahu simply doesn’t give the economy as much thought as someone like Krugman may think. Netanyahu is like…

You might think that Israeli inequality is a natural outcome of a high-tech economy that generates strong demand for skilled labor — or, perhaps, reflects the importance of minority populations with low incomes, namely Arabs and ultrareligious Jews. It turns out, however, that those high poverty rates largely reflect policy choices: Israel does less to lift people out of poverty than any other advanced country — yes, even less than the United States.

Meanwhile, Israel’s oligarchs owe their position not to innovation and entrepreneurship but to their families’ success in gaining control of businesses that the government privatized in the 1980s — and they arguably retain that position partly by having undue influence over government policy, combined with control of major banks.

In short, the political economy of the promised land is now characterized by harshness at the bottom and at least soft corruption at the top. And many Israelis see Mr. Netanyahu as part of the problem. He’s an advocate of free-market policies; he has a Chris Christie-like penchant for living large at taxpayers’ expense, while clumsily pretending otherwise.

So Mr. Netanyahu tried to change the subject from internal inequality to external threats, a tactic those who remember the Bush years should find completely familiar. We’ll find out on Tuesday whether he succeeded.

Voir par ailleurs:

Yémen: un premier avion iranien atterrit à Sanaa, contrôlée par des miliciens chiites

Romandie.com

01.03.15

Sanaa – Un premier avion iranien est arrivé dimanche à Sanaa, au lendemain de la signature d’un accord entre Téhéran et des responsables de l’aviation de la capitale yéménite, contrôlée par la milice chiite des Houthis, a constaté un photographe de l’AFP.

L’appareil de la compagnie Mahan Air est arrivé à Sanaa avec à son bord une équipe du Croissant rouge iranien et des caisses de médicaments, a précisé à l’AFP un responsable de l’aviation yéménite.

Il a ajouté que des diplomates iraniens étaient présents pour accueillir ce vol, le premier entre les deux pays depuis des années.

L’agence officielle Saba, contrôlée par les Houthis qui sont entrés dans Sanaa en septembre et ont renforcé leur emprise sur la capitale en janvier, a indiqué que le Yémen et l’Iran ont signé samedi un accord de coopération aéronautique.

Signé à Téhéran entre l’Autorité de l’aviation civile yéménite et son homologue iranienne, cet accord autorise Mahan Air et la compagnie Yemenia à assurer 14 vols chacune par semaine.

Selon Saba, une délégation houthie menée par un membre de son conseil politique, Saleh al-Sammad, devait en outre se rendre dimanche à Téhéran pour une visite qualifiée d’officielle et destinée à renforcer la coopération, notamment économique et politique, entre les deux pays.

Le président yéménite Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi a qualifié l’accord avec l’Iran d’illégal et promis de demander des comptes à ceux qui l’avaient signé, a indiqué un membre de son entourage. Il a tenu ces propos en recevant des dizaines de dignitaires des différentes provinces.

Assigné à résidence par les Houthis pendant un mois, M. Hadi s’est enfui de Sanaa le 21 février et s’est réfugié à Aden, la grande ville du sud.

Nous avons choisi de venir à Aden après que les Houthis ont occupé la capitale Sanaa. Venir à Aden ne signifie pas revenir à la partition du pays comme le prétendent certains, mais préserver la sécurité et stabilité du Yémen, a ajouté le président, qui a accusé à plusieurs reprises l’Iran de soutenir les Houthis.

M. Hadi a également réaffirmé son rejet de tout ce qui s’est passé à Sanaa en disant qu’il s’agit d’un coup d’Etat dans tous les sens du terme. Il a annoncé son intention de faire face aux Houthis, a indiqué un participant Naji Hanichi, représentant du Parti socialiste de la province de Marib (centre).

Le secrétaire d’Etat américain John Kerry avait affirmé le 24 février que le soutien apporté par l’Iran aux miliciens chiites a contribué à leur avènement et à la chute du gouvernement à Sanaa. Des accusations catégoriquement rejetées par l’Iran.

Voir encore:

Does Iran really control Yemen?
On Jan. 22, the embattled Western- and Saudi-backed president of Yemen, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and his Cabinet resigned. Immediately afterward, the Houthi Shiite rebels, who have controlled the capital Sanaa since September and are officially organized under the banner of Ansarollah (God’s Partisans), announced that they seek “a peaceful transfer of power.”

Shahir ShahidSaless

Iran pulse

Al-Monitor

February 12, 2015

Despite some differences in their religious beliefs, when it comes to foreign policy, very little separates the Iranian Twelver Shiites from Houthis, who are Zaidi Shiites. The political narrative that Houthis have propagated is “Death to America, Death to Israel,” which is modeled on revolutionary Iran’s motto.

Houthis adhere to a branch of Shiite Islam known as Zaidism. Their name is derived from Badr al-Din al-Houthi, the group’s leader during the uprising in 2004 that sought autonomy for their heartland, Saada province, and protection for their tradition against Sunni domination. Saada province is in Yemen’s northwest and sits adjacent to the southwest border of Saudi Arabia. According to some estimates, Zaidis make up one-third of Yemen’s 25 million population.

A series of statements by Iranian officials shed light on Iran’s point of view: Yemen is now within Iran’s sphere of influence and is viewed as a new member of the “axis of resistance,” which encompasses Syria, Lebanese Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite militants. This axis is an Iran-led alliance of state and non-state actors in the Middle East that seeks to primarily confront Western interests and Israel.

Aside from shared regional objectives, another pillar of the axis is Iran’s extensive material, financial, training and logistical assistance to the members of the grouping.

On Jan. 25, Hojatoleslam (a Shiite clerical rank just below that of ayatollah) Ali Shirazi, representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, said, “Hezbollah was formed in Lebanon as a popular force like Basij (Iran’s militia). Similarly popular forces were also formed in Syria and Iraq, and today we are watching the formation of Ansarollah in Yemen.”

A few days earlier, IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami said, “Ansarollah is a similar copy of [Lebanese] Hezbollah in a strategic area.”

In both statements, the likening of Ansarollah to Hezbollah could be interpreted as Iran’s involvement in financing and weaponizing Ansarollah as it does for Hezbollah.

The former speaker of Iran’s Majles, Ali Akbar Nategh-Nuri, who heads the Office of Inspection of the House of the Supreme Leader, has also added Yemen to Iran’s new sphere of influence, maintaining on Jan. 31, “We witness today that our revolution is exported to Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.”

On Dec. 16, Ali Akbar Velayati, the foreign affairs adviser to Khamenei, asserted that Iran’s influence stretches now “from Yemen to Lebanon.”

In October, Hojjat al-Eslam Ali Said, the supreme leader’s representative in the IRGC, touted Iran’s growing influence by saying, “The Islamic Republic’s borders … are now transferred to the farthest points in the Middle East. Today, the strategic depth of Iran stretches to Mediterranean coasts and Bab al-Mandab Strait [southwest of Yemen].”

In addition, there are claims that Iran is directly involved in sponsoring the Ansarollah (Houthi) movement.

In September, according to Reuters, the Yemeni government freed “at least three suspected Iranian Revolutionary Guard members … who had been held for months over alleged ties to” Ansarollah.

Hussein Al-Bukhaiti, a Houthi activist who is familiar with the inner workings of the group, has denied the story as “false claims about the involvement of Iran” in Yemen’s developments.

Despite some reports about Iran’s material support and training to Ansarollah, Houthis have continually denied allegations that they are proxies for Iranian foreign policy objectives but have admitted Iranian backing due to a shared vision in confronting “the American project. »

Former Yemeni officials continually complained about Iran’s intervention. As a glaring example, they stressed the “Jihan 1” affair as evidence. Allegedly the ship Jihan 1 was seized by Yemen in 2013 and was smuggling weapons from Iran to Yemeni insurgents. Iran denied any connection to the incident.

Meanwhile, Ali Al-Bukhaiti, a prominent member of the group’s political arm, said, “Iran is not so stupid so as to send this big quantity of weapons to easily provide evidence about itself. Iran could have sent money to Houthis, who would then buy any weapons they want from local markets or from African smugglers.”

Given these circumstances, why do several Iranian officials depict Yemen as a new Islamic Republic stronghold and part of the “resistance”?

There could be two explanations.

The first is that Iran has not materially assisted and supported the Houthis, and that Iranian statements of the opposite are simply targeting several audiences domestically and regionally. Iranian officials who do insist on Yemen’s place in the “resistance” depict the rise of revolutionary Shiite Houthis in Yemen as yet another victory for Iran and against the West, and particularly their Sunni rival, Saudi Arabia.

Iran, then, is exaggerating its regional power and military reach to create a mystical stature aimed at solidifying the confidence of its grassroots supporters within and outside its borders — in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon — while muscle-flexing, and discouraging and pushing its domestic and international opponents onto the defensive.

Many observers maintain that the developments in Yemen are likely to set off alarms in the West and Israel, but most seriously in neighboring Sunni Saudi Arabia, which backed Hadi’s government with billions of dollars and is locked in a proxy cold war with Shiite Iran over regional hegemony.

The presence of an Iran ally at the borders of Saudi Arabia is not only a serious threat militarily but could also destabilize the country from within. The victory of Houthis may inspire the Shiites in Eastern Province, an estimated 10% to 15% of the Saudi population who are already in a tense relationship with the establishment, to rise.

The weakness of this explanation is that while Saudis have poured billions of dollars into supporting the Yemeni establishment, it is hard to believe that Houthis succeeded in organizing such a massive movement and fought a victorious war, as one analysts maintained, just by selling “pomegranates and grapes,” Saada’s major source of income.

The second explanation is that there is truth in the former Yemeni president’s claims and accusations that Iran meddles in Yemen’s affairs as well as Iranians’ statements implying that Ansarollah is a new member of the “axis of resistance.” But if so, why do Zaidi Houthis reject such a connection?

There is a near consensus among Yemen experts that no single tribe or political current can individually govern the country. Although pictures of ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamenei and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah have been carried by Houthi supporters during demonstrations, in the last year or so, no member of the Houthi political bureau has made any statement praising Iran.

The Houthis’ position might be explained by pointing to their lack of desire to stir up unnecessary resistance from inside and outside of the country against them, and that they do not seek to become the sole holder of power in Yemen. Hussein Al-Bukhaiti explains Houthis’ realistic view of Yemen as follows:

“We cannot apply this [Iranian system] in Yemen because the followers of the Shafi [Sunni] doctrine are bigger in number than [us], the Zaidis [Shiite].”

Voir de même:

Iran Reacts Favorably to the Baker-Hamilton Plan
Scott Macleod/Tehran

Time

Dec. 09, 2006

The Iranian government has responded more positively than the Bush Administration has to the Iraq Study Group’s proposal for talks between the two. And government sources in Tehran tell TIME that this reflects a sincere and calculated desire among the Iranian leadership for improved relations with Washington.Responding to the Baker-Hamilton report’s proposal that Washington move quickly to engage Iran on talks over stabilizing Iraq, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki dangled an offer of cooperation in a statement published by an Iranian news agency. « Iran will support any policies returning security, stability and territorial integrity to Iraq, » he said, « and considers withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and leaving security to the Iraqi government as the most suitable option. » In an interview on Al Jazeera, Mottaki added that if the U.S. needs an « honorable way out of Iraq, » and Iran « is in a position to help. »

President Bush, by contrast, appeared to rebuff the suggestion, insisting that Iran would have to suspend its uranium-enrichment program before it could talk to the U.S. about Iraq. And the response from many U.S. lawmakers questioning Iran’s motives in Iraq underscored the continued taboo in Washington over dealing openly with the Islamic Republic.

Three Iranian sources — a government official and two figures close to government policymakers — tell TIME that Mottaki’s statement is reflective of a solid consensus among the regime’s foreign-policy decision makers that restoring relations with the U.S. is in Iran’s best interests. « If tomorrow the U.S. seriously — and I emphasize the word seriously — tried to engage Iran, in a way that accepted the 1979 Iranian revolution and engaged Iran in a respectful atmosphere, then Iran would welcome the chance to address mutual concerns, » said one of the sources, a prominent expert on U.S.-Iranian relations.

TIME’s sources offered a glimpse into the internal Iranian debate on the issue, which involves Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Supreme National Security Council headed by Ali Larijani, as well as other senior Iranian officials. While radical elements inside the regime remain adamantly opposed to dealing with the « Great Satan, » the sources said, a strong consensus has nonetheless developed among Iran’s ruling conservatives in favor of talks with the U.S. The basis of this consensus is a belief that improved relations with the U.S. would serve Iranian interests on a variety of fronts, including Iraq, Afghanistan, oil production, foreign investment and Iran’s nuclear energy program. Iran’s definition of talks, the sources emphasize, is not simply an American harangue about Iran’s policies, but discussions that include Iranian concerns about the U.S., including sanctions, frozen Iranian assets, future American military plans for the region and Washington’s support for anti-government groups.

Some Iranian leaders and officials, including President Ahmadinejad, also believe that Iran now has the opportunity to deal with Washington from a position of strength, for the first time since the 1979 revolution. The sources say that this assessment is based on a perception that the U.S. is stuck in quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan, while Iran’s influence in the region and throughout the Muslim world is expanding. These officials see further evidence of Iran’s advantage in the difficulties the U.S. continues to encounter in winning support for U.N. tough sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program. The sources say that Iranian officials believe that to open a serious dialogue with the U.S. in these circumstances would significantly enhance Iran’s international prestige and regional influence.

Iran is also increasingly concerned about the need to stabilize Iraq, say TIME’s sources, in contrast to U.S. charges that Tehran is fueling instability there. The sources indicate that Iranian officials essentially agree with the Baker-Hamilton conclusion that while Iran gains an advantage from having the U.S. mired in Iraq, its long-term interests are not served by Iraqi chaos and territorial disintegration. « Iran would love to see the situation stabilized in Iraq, » says a source. « That is a very important concern for Iran. But Iran doesn’t want to see the U.S. declare victory, in case the Americans would like to attack Iran next. » The sources say that among the ways Iran could be helpful is to try to persuade groups representing the Shi’ite majority and Kurds in Iraq to be more conciliatory to the Sunni minority whose grievances fuel the insurgency.

As evidence of Iran’s readiness, the sources say, Larijani earlier this year publicly accepted an offer made by U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad to hold talks with Iranian officials in Baghdad. But in Iran’s view, the U.S. withdrew the offer and that undercut Larijani’s standing inside the regime, strengthening the position of more hard-line elements, including Ahmadinejad. « It was a missed opportunity, » contends the expert on U.S.-Iranian relations.

And, in light of the debates that continue to swirl both in Tehran and Washington over whether to talk to each other, it may not have been the last one.

Voir encore:

How Obama Flubbed His Missile Message
Scrapping missile defense was the right thing to do, says former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski—but how the U.S. conveyed the decision to its Eastern European allies couldn’t have been worse.

Gerald Posner

The Daily beast

09.17.09

President Obama’s decision Thursday to scrap the Bush administration’s missile-defense umbrella for Europe is being bemoaned by Republicans at home and top diplomats from Poland, which was slated to be the main staging ground for the missile system.

But Zbigniew Brzezinski—who as Jimmy Carter’s Polish-born national security adviser confronted problems in Iran, Afghanistan, and the Middle East—says that dropping the missile-shield program gives the U.S. more defense options in Europe. At 81, Brzezinski, an early and enthusiastic Obama supporter, is as opinionated as ever about what America is doing right and wrong when it comes to the key foreign-policy issues.

“The Bush missile-shield proposal was based on a nonexistent defense technology, designed against a nonexistent threat, and designed to protect West Europeans, who weren’t asking for the protection.”

Brzezinski, who was considered a hawk in the Carter administration and was often touted by Democratic politicians as the party’s response to Henry Kissinger, spoke to The Daily Beast about how Obama flubbed the delivery of his decision to the Czechs and the Poles, why dropping the program won’t convince Russia to help us on Iran, and the effect of a possible Israeli preemptive strike on Tehran.

Is the Obama administration decision to end the missile-defense program the right one?
Well, let me first of all say that my view on this subject for the last two years has been that the Bush missile-shield proposal was based on a nonexistent defense technology, designed against a nonexistent threat, and designed to protect West Europeans, who weren’t asking for the protection.

Does scrapping the missile program weaken our defense options in Europe vis-à-vis the Russians?
Not at all. What is left is militarily sounder. It gives the U.S. more options while still enhancing America’s ability to develop more effective defense systems, which is what the Russians really dislike. But now they have less of an excuse to bitch about it.

What about the way we informed our allies of our decision?
The way it was conveyed to the Czechs and Poles could not have been worse. It involved [laughs] waking up the Czech prime minster after midnight with a sudden phone call from President Obama. The Polish prime minister was at least allowed to sleep late. But as far as Poland was concerned, unfortunately, poor staff work did not alert the United States that today, September 17, is a particularly painful anniversary for Poland. In 1939, the Poles were still fighting the Germans when on September 17 the Russians stabbed them in the back. To the Poles, that is something very painful. And since they misconstrued—and I emphasize the word “misconstrue”—that the missile shield somehow strengthened their relationship with the U.S. when it comes to Russia, it was immediately suggestive of the notion of a sellout. It’s the wrong conclusion, but in politics, even wrong conclusions have to be anticipated.

How is it possible that the State Department did not bring up the sensitivity of this day to the Poles?
Lousy staff work. Period. I don’t know who precisely to point the finger at. It was obviously not anticipated in this case.

There are some pundits who believe that by abandoning the missile-defense program, we will gain the help of Russia when it comes to arm-twisting Iran over its nuclear weapons program. Anything to that?
I doubt it. The Russians have their own interests in Iran, which are far more complex than the simplistic notion that the Russians want to help us with Iran. The Russians have a complicated agenda with Iran. They also know in the back of their heads that if worse came to worse—and I am not saying they are deliberately promoting the worst—but if worse came to worse, which is an American-Iranian military collision, who would pay the highest price for that? First, America, whose success in ending the Cold War the Russians still bitterly resent. And we would also pay a high price in Iraq, Afghanistan, and massively so with regards to the price of oil. Second, who would suffer the most? The Chinese, who the Russians view as a long-range threat and of whom they are very envious, because the Chinese get much more of their oil from the Middle East than we do, and the skyrocketing price would hurt them even more than us. Third, who would then be totally dependent on the Russians? The West Europeans. And fourth, who would cash in like crazy? The Kremlin.

Is the fallout as bad if Israel preemptively strikes Iran?
Absolutely. That is the way, more importantly, how the Iranians would view it. They really can’t do much to the Israelis, despite all their bluster. The only thing they can do is unify themselves, especially nationalistically, to rally against us, and the mullahs might even think of it as a blessing.

How aggressive can Obama be in insisting to the Israelis that a military strike might be in America’s worst interest?
We are not exactly impotent little babies. They have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch?

What if they fly over anyway?
Well, we have to be serious about denying them that right. That means a denial where you aren’t just saying it. If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not. No one wishes for this but it could be a Liberty in reverse. [Israeli jet fighters and torpedo boats attacked the USS Liberty in international waters, off the Sinai Peninsula, during the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel later claimed the ship was the object of friendly fire.]

Did it surprise you that it took the Obama administration so long to do away with the missile-defense program? Is he setting firm lines that can’t be crossed, such as with Iran and Israel?
Well, Obama has been very impressive in refining our policy toward the world on a lot of issues, very impressive. But he has been relatively much less impressive in the follow-through.

You mean his policy sounds ideal but the follow-up isn’t good?
Not as precise, clear-cut, and forthcoming as would be desirable.

What would you like have seen already from this administration?
By now we should have been able to formulate a clearer posture on what we are prepared to do to promote a Palestinian-Israeli peace. Simply giving a frequent-traveler ticket to George Mitchell is not the same thing as policy. It took a long time to get going on Iran, but there is an excuse there, the Iranian domestic mess. And we are now eight months into the administration, and I would have thought by now we could have formulated a strategy that we would have considered “our” strategy for dealing with Iran and Pakistan. For example, the Carter administration, which is sometimes mocked, by now had in motion a policy of disarmament with the Russians, which the Russians didn’t like, but eventually bought; it had started a policy of normalization with the Chinese; it rammed through the Panama Canal treaty; and it was moving very, very openly toward an Israeli-Arab political peace initiative.

Where did the impetus come from in the Carter administration, and why aren’t we seeing it with Obama?
There was a closer connection between desire and execution. Also the president was not as deeply embroiled, and buffeted, by a very broad, and commendable and ambitious domestic program as President Obama is. I think the Republican onslaught to the president, the wavering of some Democrats, has vastly complicated not only his choices in foreign affairs, but even limited the amount of attention he can give to them.

Is there truth that the more issues he is embroiled in, the less he can act?
I don’t think it’s the number of issues; it’s how decisively a president acts. A president, in his first year, is at the peak of his popularity, and if he acts decisively, even if some oppose him, most will rally around him, out of patriotism, out of opportunism, out of loyalty, out of the crowd instinct, just a variety of human motives.

Some in the Obama administration have told me that it’s only just over half a year, and we are jumping to too early conclusions about anything. Are the early months more critical than other times in an administration?
The first year is decisive. How much you can set in motion the first year sets the tone for much of the rest of the term. In part, that’s because all these things take more than one year to complete. But the point is you want to have a dynamic start that carries momentum with it.

President Carter early on ran into strong opposition from American-based pro-Israeli lobbying groups that opposed the administration’s ideas for a peace initiative in the Middle East. What lesson should the Obama administration learn in formulating its own approach to an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue?
The lesson is if you are forthright in what you are seeking, you tend to mobilize support within the Jewish community. Because a majority of American Jews are liberal, and in the long run they know that peace in the Middle East is absolutely essential to Israel’s long-term survival.

Are you concerned about Afghanistan?
Quite unintentionally, but potentially and tragically, we are sliding into a posture which is beginning—and I emphasize the word “beginning”—to be reminiscent of what happened to the Soviets.

We have plenty of time to reverse course?
There is some time to reverse course. But time flies.

Gerald Posner is The Daily Beast’s chief investigative reporter. He’s the award-winning author of 10 investigative nonfiction bestsellers, ranging from political assassinations, to Nazi war criminals, to 9/11, to terrorism. His latest book, Miami Babylon: Crime, Wealth and Power—A Dispatch from the Beach , will be published in October. He lives in Miami Beach with his wife, the author Trisha Posner.

Voir de plus:

Go Ahead, Ruin My Day
Thomas L. Friedman

The NYT

March 18, 2015

As the saying goes, “to err is human, to forgive is divine,” to which I’d add: “to ignore” is even more human, and the results rarely divine. None of us would be human if we didn’t occasionally get so wedded to our wishes that we failed to notice — or outright ignored — the facts on the ground that make a laughingstock of our hopes. Only when the gap gets too wide to ignore does policy change. This is where a lot of U.S. policy is heading these days in the Middle East. Mind the gaps — on Iran, Israel and Iraq. We’re talking about our choices in these countries with words that strike me as about 10 years out of date. Alas, we are not dealing anymore with your grandfather’s Israel, your father’s Iran or the Iraq your son or daughter went off to liberate.

Let’s start with Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party pretty well trounced the Labor Party leader, Isaac Herzog, in the race to form Israel’s next government. Netanyahu clearly made an impressive 11th-hour surge since the pre-election polls of last week. It is hard to know what is more depressing: that Netanyahu went for the gutter in the last few days in order to salvage his campaign — renouncing his own commitment to a two-state solution with the Palestinians and race-baiting Israeli Jews to get out and vote because, he said, too many Israeli Arabs were going to the polls —  or the fact that this seemed to work.

To be sure, Netanyahu could reverse himself tomorrow. As the Yediot Ahronot columnist Nahum Barnea wrote: Netanyahu’s promises are like something “written on ice on a very hot day.” But the fact is a good half of Israel identifies with the paranoid, everyone-is-against-us, and religious-nationalist tropes Netanyahu deployed in this campaign. That, along with the fact that some 350,000 settlers are now living in the West Bank, makes it hard to see how a viable two-state solution is possible anymore no matter who would have won.

It would be wrong, though, to put all of this on Netanyahu. The insane, worthless Gaza war that Hamas initiated last summer that brought rockets to the edge of Israel’s main international airport and the Palestinians’ spurning of two-state offers of previous Israeli prime ministers (Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert) built Netanyahu’s base as much as he did.

On Iran, there’s an assumption among critics of President Obama’s approach to negotiating limits on Iran’s nuclear program that if Obama were ready to impose more sanctions then the Iranians would fold. It’s not only the history of the last 20 years that mocks that notion. It is a more simple fact: In the brutal Middle East, the only thing that gets anyone’s attention is the threat of regime-toppling force. Obama has no such leverage on Iran.

It was used up in Afghanistan and Iraq, wars that have left our military and country so exhausted that former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big U.S. land army into the Middle East “should have his head examined.” Had those wars succeeded, the public today might feel differently. But they didn’t. Geopolitics is all about leverage, and we are negotiating with Iran without the leverage of a credible threat of force. The ayatollahs know it. Under those circumstances, I am sure the Obama team will try to get the best deal it can. But a really good deal isn’t on the menu.

Have I ruined your morning yet? No? Give me a couple more paragraphs.

O.K., so we learn to live with Iran on the edge of a bomb, but shouldn’t we at least bomb the Islamic State to smithereens and help destroy this head-chopping menace? Now I despise ISIS as much as anyone, but let me just toss out a different question: Should we be arming ISIS? Or let me ask that differently: Why are we, for the third time since 9/11, fighting a war on behalf of Iran?

In 2002, we destroyed Iran’s main Sunni foe in Afghanistan (the Taliban regime). In 2003, we destroyed Iran’s main Sunni foe in the Arab world (Saddam Hussein). But because we failed to erect a self-sustaining pluralistic order, which could have been a durable counterbalance to Iran, we created a vacuum in both Iraq and the wider Sunni Arab world. That is why Tehran’s proxies now indirectly dominate four Arab capitals: Beirut, Damascus, Sana and Baghdad.

ISIS, with all its awfulness, emerged as the homegrown Sunni Arab response to this crushing defeat of Sunni Arabism — mixing old pro-Saddam Baathists with medieval Sunni religious fanatics with a collection of ideologues, misfits and adventure-seekers from around the Sunni Muslim world. Obviously, I abhor ISIS and don’t want to see it spread or take over Iraq. I simply raise this question rhetorically because no one else is: Why is it in our interest to destroy the last Sunni bulwark to a total Iranian takeover of Iraq? Because the Shiite militias now leading the fight against ISIS will rule better? Really?

If it seems as though we have only bad choices in the Middle East today and nothing seems to work, there is a reason: Because past is prologue, and the past has carved so much scar tissue into that landscape that it’s hard to see anything healthy or beautiful growing out of it anytime soon. Sorry to be so grim.

Voir également:

IRAK Un commandant iranien en première ligne contre l’EI en Irak

France 24

04/09/2014

Des photos et des vidéos amateur prouvent que Qassem Soleimani, le commandant des forces d’élites iraniennes, est en Irak et se bat au côté des forces irakiennes – soutenues et armées par les États-unis – contre les jihadistes de l’organisation de l’État islamique.

La ville d’Amerli, tenue depuis le 18 juin par les jihadistes de l’organisation de l’EI, a été libérée le 31 août après une contre-attaque de l’armée irakienne appuyée par des miliciens chiites et des raids aériens américains. Mais d’autres acteurs étaient de la partie : une vidéo publiée jeudi par des activistes chiites sur Facebook et récupérée par France 24 montre le commandant Soleimani, au milieu de soldats, en train de célébrer la prise d’Amerli par les combattants et l’armée irakienne.  A la troisième seconde, un homme portant une écharpe noire et blanche est visible en train de se congratuler.

Mercredi, une autre photo circulait sur les réseaux sociaux sur laquelle le commandant Soleimani, portant les mêmes vêtements et la même écharpe que sur la vidéo, apparaît cette fois à côté d’un soldat irakien vêtu d’un uniforme fourni par les États-unis et tenant une arme de fabrication américaine.

Le commandant Qassem Soleimani est en charge du commandement militaire de la Force Qods, une unité d’élite de l’armée qui intervient en dehors du territoire iranien. Plusieurs rumeurs faisaient état de sa présence sur le territoire irakien mais sans avoir pu être confirmées. Il y a trois mois déjà, le militaire était déjà apparu sur une photo au côté du député irakien Qasem Alarji, ce dernier commentant « maintenant que le commandant Soleimani est là, je n’ai plus peur ».

La photo était selon des médias iraniens accompagnée d’une légende : « Maintenant que le commandant Soleimani est là, je n’ai plus peur ».

Les preuves de la présence de ce commandant iranien en Irak se multiplient donc alors même que l’Iran refuse d’admettre sa participation dans la guerre en Irak contre l’organisation de l’État islamique, ce qui reviendrait à officialiser sa collaboration militaire de fait avec les États-Unis.

Le commandant Soleimani a entrainé pendant une décennie des milices irakiennes qui se sont opposées et ont tué des centaines de soldats américains lors de la guerre d’Irak en 2003. Ses unités seraient également intervenues en Syrie en 2013 en appui au régime de Bachar el-Assad. Il a pour cela été sanctionné par le département du Trésor américain.

Ce n’est pas la première fois que la participation de l’Iran à l’intervention militaire en Irak est dévoilée : en juillet, des avions iraniens camouflés avaient été aperçus sur le sol irakien.

Voir enfin:

Face à l’Iran, les républicains saluent la fermeté de la France
Laure Mandeville
Le Figaro

11/11/2013

L’alliance de fait entre la France, le Congrès américain et Israël met Obama et les colombes de la Maison-Blanche sous pression.

«Vive la France!» a tweeté le sénateur républicain John McCain ce week-end après la fermeté de Paris sur le dossier du nucléaire iranien. Les Français ont eu «le courage d’empêcher un mauvais accord avec l’Iran», a-t-il ajouté. Son vieux complice Lindsay Graham est tout aussi positif sur la volonté de Laurent Fabius de ne pas accepter «un accord de dupes» avec Téhéran. «Dieu merci pour la France…», a lancé l’élu de Caroline du Sud sur CNN, qui ne veut pas «d’une Corée du Nord au Proche-Orient!».

Cette francophilie en dit long sur les profondes réticences que suscite au Congrès la négociation engagée par l’Administration Obama avec Téhéran. Beaucoup d’élus, démocrates comme républicains, ont peur que les colombes de la Maison-Blanche, soucieuses d’éviter une confrontation armée, ne soient prêtes à accepter un accord mal ficelé, qui ne ferait que donner du temps à Téhéran pour construire la bombe, comme il y a dix ans. En ce sens, «ils sont en phase avec les préoccupations de la France, qui ne veut pas d’un accord au rabais», note une source diplomatique française. Une intéressante alliance des «faucons» se dessine de facto entre Paris, Jérusalem, le Congrès et les monarchies du Golfe, ­anxieuses d’un accord avec la Perse qui se ferait sur leur dos.

C’est donc sur ces multiples fronts extérieurs et intérieurs que la diplomatie américaine va devoir se mobiliser d’ici au 20 novembre, après un week-end qui a vu capoter l’accord espéré à Genève. L’Iran et le groupe 5 + 1 (qui comprend les États-Unis, la France, la Grande-Bretagne, la Russie, la Chine + l’Allemagne) continuent de parier sur un succès – Paris y compris. Mais le secrétaire d’État John Kerry, qui rentrait ce lundi à Washington avant d’être entendu sur la colline du ­Capitole, va devoir convaincre le Congrès de laisser du temps à la négociation, alors que les élus veulent voter dès cette semaine un nouveau train de sanctions.

Arrivée tardive
Aux États-Unis, divisés sur le dossier, certains sont tentés de taper sur la France et de lui faire porter la responsabilité de l’échec du week-end. Le blog de Josh Rogin, The Cable, s’est fait l’écho de propos de diplomates qui dénoncent l’immixtion supposément tardive de Paris dans la négociation et affirment que la fermeté française a pris Kerry par surprise. Mais cette description ne semble pas tenir la route, vu le dialogue étroit que Paris entretient avec Washington et les parte­naires du groupe 5 + 1 depuis des mois. «Sous-entendre que la France s’est pointée au dernier moment, alors que nous sommes depuis dix ans en première ligne, c’est très étonnant», note une source française. Les diplomates de l’Hexagone balaient aussi les arguments des mau­vaises langues washingtoniennes qui affirment que Paris a voulu se placer auprès des Saoudiens dans l’espoir de leur vendre armes et centrales. «Il faut être sérieux, le nucléaire iranien est un sujet trop important pour qu’on raisonne à ce niveau: notre position est de principe, note la même source. La France ne voulait pas d’un accord précipité sans mécanismes clairs de vérification et a posé des conditions de bon sens, notamment sur l’arrêt de la construction de la centrale d’Arak et sur les limites du droit à l’enrichissement de l’Iran.» Nombre d’experts à Washington, comme Mark Dubowitz, de la Fondation de la défense des démocraties, font d’ailleurs l’éloge des «compétences techniques» uniques des négociateurs français sur le nucléaire iranien, jugeant qu’ils sont les seuls à faire le poids face aux roués négociateurs persans.

Les Français sont d’ailleurs persuadés que la Maison-Blanche est finalement plutôt contente du partage des rôles (entre bons flics américains et méchants flics français). Même si la fermeté française embarrasse l’Administration Obama, la faisant implicitement passer pour une équipe de mollassons imprévoyants. John Kerry a d’ailleurs évité tout coup de griffe à Paris, remerciant au contraire les Français et soulignant que les négociateurs du 5 + 1 avaient présenté une position unifiée aux Iraniens, qui avaient pris la responsabilité de la rejeter. «Nous ne sommes pas aveugles et je ne pense pas que nous soyons stupides», a-t-il dit sur NBC, précisant qu’il préférerait une absence d’accord à un mauvais accord.

Plus que les Français, ce sont les Israéliens et le Congrès qui réclament son attention. Prolongeant l’action déployée par le premier ministre Nétanyahou, son ministre de l’Économie, Naftali Bennett, arrive ce mardi aux États-Unis pour «mener campagne au Congrès» contre un «mauvais accord». Kerry va donc devoir convaincre le lobby pro-Israël omniprésent sur la Colline de geler tout vote sur les sanctions, le temps de la négociation.

Les inspecteurs de l’ONU vont avoir accès à l’usine iranienne d’Arak
L’Iran et l’Agence nucléaire de l’ONU se sont accordés lundi sur les vérifications que pourront conduire les inspecteurs de l’AIEA, lors de la visite à Téhéran du chef de l’Agence internationale de l’énergie atomique, Yukiya Amano. Cette feuille de route prévoit une inspection de l’usine de production d’eau lourde d’Arak, à laquelle l’agence onusienne tente d’accéder depuis 2011. Yukiya Amano a affirmé qu’une visite de la base militaire iranienne de Parchin, soupçonnée d’avoir abrité des essais nucléaires, serait discutée après la finalisation de cet accord préliminaire. Téhéran refuse depuis 2012 à l’AIEA l’accès à des bâtiments suspects de cette base, en raison de sa nature militaire et parce que l’agence y a déjà conduit des inspections en 2005, qui n’avaient rien donné.


Nucléaire iranien: Attention, une gifle peut en cacher une autre ! (Dangerously naive: After Israeli slap, Obama gets French tap on wrist)

21 mars, 2015
https://thebsreport.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/obambi.jpg?w=450&h=448
As for their accusations of terrorizing the innocent, the children, and the women, these are in the category of ‘accusing others with their own affliction in order to fool the masses.’ The evidence overwhelmingly shows America and Israel killing the weaker men, women and children in the Muslim world and elsewhere. A few examples of this are seen in the recent Qana massacre in Lebanon, and the death of more than 600,000 Iraqi children because of the shortage of food and medicine which resulted from the boycotts and sanctions against the Muslim Iraqi people, also their withholding of arms from the Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina leaving them prey to the Christian Serbians who massacred and raped in a manner not seen in contemporary history. Not to forget the dropping of the H-bombs on cities with their entire populations of children, elderly, and women, on purpose, and in a premeditated manner as was the case with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Osama bin Laden (Nida’ul Islam magazine October-November 1996)
Allah has ordered us to glorify the truth and to defend Muslim land, especially the Arab peninsula … against the unbelievers. After World War II, the Americans grew more unfair and more oppressive towards people in general and Muslims in particular. … The Americans started it and retaliation and punishment should be carried out following the principle of reciprocity, especially when women and children are involved. Through history, American has not been known to differentiate between the military and the civilians or between men and women or adults and children. Those who threw atomic bombs and used the weapons of mass destruction against Nagasaki and Hiroshima were the Americans. Can the bombs differentiate between military and women and infants and children? America has no religion that can deter her from exterminating whole peoples. Your position against Muslims in Palestine is despicable and disgraceful. America has no shame. … We believe that the worst thieves in the world today and the worst terrorists are the Americans. Nothing could stop you except perhaps retaliation in kind. We do not have to differentiate between military or civilian. As far as we are concerned, they are all targets, and this is what the fatwah says … . The fatwah is general (comprehensive) and it includes all those who participate in, or help the Jewish occupiers in killing Muslims. Osama bin Laden (May 1998)
La CIA a intercepté l’année dernière un message sibyllin mais qui fait froid dans le dos d’un membre d’al-Qaeda se vantant qu’Oussama Ben Laden préparait un ‘Hiroshima’ contre l’Amérique, selon des sources officielles. Le NYT (le 14 octobre 2001)
Ce qui se vit aujourd’hui est une forme de rivalité mimétique à l’échelle planétaire. Lorsque j’ai lu les premiers documents de Ben Laden, constaté ses allusions aux bombes américaines tombées sur le Japon, je me suis senti d’emblée à un niveau qui est au-delà de l’islam, celui de la planète entière. Sous l’étiquette de l’islam, on trouve une volonté de rallier et de mobiliser tout un tiers-monde de frustrés et de victimes dans leurs rapports de rivalité mimétique avec l’Occident. René Girard
Le problème n’est pas la sécurité d’Israël, la souveraineté du Liban ou les ingérences de la Syrie ou du Hezbollah : Le problème est centré sur l’effort de l’Iran à obtenir le Droit d’Abolir l’Exclusivité de la Dissuasion. La prolifération sauvage, le concept de «tous nucléaires» sera la fin de la Guerre Froide et le retour à la période précédant la Dissuasion. Les mollahs et leurs alliés, le Venezuela, l’Algérie, la Syrie, la Corée du Nord et la Russie…, se militarisent à une très grande échelle sachant qu’ils vont bientôt neutraliser le parapluie protecteur de la dissuasion et alors ils pourront faire parler la poudre. Chacun visera à dominer sa région et sans que les affrontements se déroulent en Europe, l’Europe sera dépouillée de ses intérêts en Afrique ou en Amérique du Sud et sans combattre, elle devra déposer les armes. Ce qui est incroyable c’est la myopie de la diplomatie française et de ses experts. (…) Aucun d’entre eux ne se doute que la république islamique a des alliés qui ont un objectif commun: mettre un terme à une discrimination qui dure depuis 50 ans, la dissuasion nucléaire ! Cette discrimination assure à la France une position que beaucoup d’états lui envient. Ils attendent avec impatience de pouvoir se mesurer avec cette ancienne puissance coloniale que beaucoup jugent arrogante, suffisante et gourmande. Iran-Resist
L’Iran aurait pu être la Corée du Sud; il est devenu la Corée du Nord. (…) Mais n’oubliez pas qu’Ahmadinejad n’est que le représentant d’un régime de nature totalitaire, qui ne peut se réformer et évoluer, quelle que soit la personne qui le représente. (…) Aujourd’hui, le problème ne vient pas de l’idée de se doter de l’énergie nucléaire ; il provient de la nature du régime islamique. (…) je ne crois pas que les mollahs soient assez fous pour penser un jour utiliser la bombe contre Israël: ils savent très bien qu’ils seraient aussitôt anéantis. Ce qu’ils veulent, c’est disposer de la bombe pour pouvoir s’institutionnaliser une fois pour toutes dans la région et étendre leurs zones d’influence. Ils rêvent de créer un califat chiite du XXIe siècle et entendent l’imposer par la bombe atomique (…) il est manifeste qu’un gouvernement paranoïaque crée des crises un peu partout pour tenter de regagner à l’extérieur la légitimité qu’il a perdue à l’intérieur. Les dérives du clan au pouvoir ne se limitent pas au soutien au Hamas, elles vont jusqu’à l’Amérique latine de Chavez. Il ne s’agit en rien d’une vision qui vise à défendre notre intérêt national. Si le régime veut survivre, il doit absolument mettre en échec le monde libre, combattre ses valeurs. La République islamique ne peut pas perdurer dans un monde où l’on parle des droits de l’homme ou de la démocratie. Tous ces principes sont du cyanure pour les islamistes. Comment voulez-vous que les successeurs de Khomeini, dont le but reste l’exportation de la révolution, puissent s’asseoir un jour à la même table que le président Sarkozy ou le président Obama? Dans les mois à venir, un jeu diplomatique peut s’engager, mais, au final, il ne faut pas se faire d’illusion. Même si Khatami revenait au pouvoir, le comportement du régime resterait identique, car le vrai décideur c’est Khamenei. Je ne vois aucune raison pour laquelle le régime islamiste accepterait un changement de comportement. Cela provoquerait, de manière certaine, sa chute. Il ne peut plus revenir en arrière. J’ai bien peur que la diplomatie ne tourne en rond une nouvelle fois et que la course à la bombe ne continue pendant ce temps. Reza Pahlavi
En tant que défenseur de la rue arabe, [l’Iran] ne peut pas avoir un dialogue apaisé avec les Etats-Unis, dialogue au cours duquel il accepterait les demandes de cet Etat qui est le protecteur par excellence d’Israël. Téhéran a le soutien de la rue arabe, talon d’Achille des Alliés Arabes des Etats-Unis, car justement il refuse tout compromis et laisse entendre qu’il pourra un jour lui offrir une bombe nucléaire qui neutralisera la dissuasion israélienne. Pour préserver cette promesse utile, Téhéran doit sans cesse exagérer ses capacités militaires ou nucléaires et des slogans anti-israéliens. Il faut cependant préciser que sur un plan concret, les actions médiatiques de Téhéran ne visent pas la sécurité d’Israël, mais celle des Alliés arabes des Etats-Unis, Etats dont les dirigeants ne peuvent satisfaire les attentes belliqueuses de la rue arabe. Ainsi Téhéran a un levier de pression extraordinaire sur Washington. Comme toute forme de dissuasion, ce système exige un entretien permanent. Téhéran doit sans cesse fouetter la colère et les frustrations de la rue arabe ! Il doit aussi garder ses milices actives, de chaînes de propagande en effervescence et son programme nucléaire le plus opaque possible, sinon il ne serait pas menaçant. C’est pourquoi, il ne peut pas accepter des compensations purement économiques offertes par les Six en échange d’un apaisement ou une suspension de ses activités nucléaires. Ce refus permanent de compromis est vital pour le régime. (…) Il n’y a rien qui fasse plus peur aux mollahs qu’un réchauffement avec les Etats-Unis : ils risquent d’y perdre la rue arabe, puis le pouvoir. C’est pourquoi, le 9 septembre, quand Téhéran a accepté une rencontre pour désactiver les sanctions promises en juillet, il s’est aussitôt mis en action pour faire capoter ce projet de dialogue apaisé qui est un véritable danger pour sa survie. Iran Resist
Des photos et des vidéos amateur prouvent que Qassem Soleimani, le commandant des forces d’élites iraniennes, est en Irak et se bat au côté des forces irakiennes – soutenues et armées par les États-unis – contre les jihadistes de l’organisation de l’État islamique. (…) Les preuves de la présence de ce commandant iranien en Irak se multiplient donc alors même que l’Iran refuse d’admettre sa participation dans la guerre en Irak contre l’organisation de l’État islamique, ce qui reviendrait à officialiser sa collaboration militaire de fait avec les États-Unis. France 24 (04.09.14)
The foremost threat to Iraq’s long-term stability and the broader regional equilibrium is not the Islamic State, it is Shiite militias, many backed by — and some guided by — Iran. (…) The current Iranian regime is not our ally in the Middle East. It is ultimately part of the problem, not the solution. The more the Iranians are seen to be dominating the region, the more it is going to inflame Sunni radicalism and fuel the rise of groups like the Islamic State. (…) Our withdrawal from Iraq in late 2011 contributed to a perception that the U.S. was pulling back from the Middle East. This perception has complicated our ability to shape developments in the region and thus to further our interests. These perceptions have also shaken many of our allies and, for a period at least, made it harder to persuade them to support our approaches. (…) Neither the Iranians nor Daesh are ten feet tall, but the perception in the region for the past few years has been that of the U.S. on the wane, and our adversaries on the rise. I hope that we can begin to reverse that now. David Petraeus
Depuis la révolution de 1979, qui a amené au pouvoir en Iran une théocratie chiite, les mollahs ont constamment utilisé l’arme du terrorisme à l’étranger afin de parvenir à leurs fins. Toutefois, Téhéran a toujours pris garde de systématiquement utiliser des intermédiaires, de manière à ne pas apparaître directement, ce qui aurait nuit à l’image de marque du régime, particulièrement dans les pays musulmans. (…) Les mollahs jouent à merveille de cette ambiguïté : ne pas reconnaître être derrière des opérations « Homo » (assassinats ciblés organisés par des services d’Etat), mais laisser entendre que toute personne qui s’oppose à leur politique peut constituer une cible potentielle. Rien de tel pour créer une indicible crainte, particulièrement au sein des pouvoirs politiques des pays démocratiques qui ne souhaitent pas que des vagues d’attentat terroristes aient lieu sur leur sol ou contre leurs intérêts à l’étranger. La réélection des gouvernements en place est souvent à ce prix. (…) L’objectif (…) est double pour Téhéran : créer des abcès de fixation qui empêchent les Américains d’envisager toute action militaire contre les installations nucléaires iraniennes et contrôler, autant que faire se peut, les différents mouvements autochtones dont les anciens gouvernants ont été considérés comme des ennemis importants de l’Iran. En conséquence, l’idée d’un Irak et d’un Afghanistan instables semble rencontrer la faveur des mollahs iraniens. (…) Le terrorisme est un moyen de combat au même titre que la guérilla. Téhéran a montré dans le passé qu’à défaut d’armes de destruction massive, il ne répugnait pas à recourir au terrorisme d’Etat car c’est en quelque sorte « l’arme du faible au fort ». L’Iran en a les moyens humains, techniques et pratiques grâce à ses réseaux qui couvrent une grande partie de la planète. Si un bras de fer sévère s’engage vraiment entre les Occidentaux et la république théocratique, il est très probable que des opérations terroristes seront déclenchées comme moyen de rétorsion. L’identification formelle du commanditaire sera difficile à faire car les services iraniens sont passés maîtres dans le domaine du brouillage de pistes en utilisant des mouvements qui servent d’écrans de dissimulation. Alain Rodier
L’ouvrage signé sous un pseudonyme – on parle d’un collectif d’opposants iraniens – revient d’abord sur l’organisation de l’appareil d’Etat iranien, avant d’analyser l’action de celui-ci à l’étranger, à travers le mouvement politique chi’ite mondial (POCHM) et la nébuleuse nationale-islamique iranienne (NINI), entre autres. Une approche très exhaustive s’attache à passer en revue les actions les plus déstabilisatrices et les réseaux d’amitiés / complicités de la république islamique sur l’ensemble de la planète, y compris dans des zones où une menace iranienne n’apparaissait pas évidente aux observateurs (de la Nouvelle Zélande à l’Uruguay, en passant par la Bolivie ou la Roumanie). (…) Malgré l’absence d’une hypothèse forte, sans doute due à l’effet-catalogue de ce travail, on voit bien la centralité des solidarités chi’ites à l’œuvre dans les réseaux présentés ici. (…) Il ne faut pas se fier au titre de cet ouvrage : il n’est pas question – ou si peu – du Hezbollah ici, ni en tant que tel, ni en tant que symptôme d’une méthode iranienne, consistant par exemple à transformer un pays arabe donné en « multivocal state », par l’établissement d’un pouvoir parallèle fondé sur la mise en œuvre d’un mouvement armé d’identité chi’ite mais capitalisant sur l’opposition à Israël. (…) On pourra, à partir des exemples nombreux qui sont passés en revue dans ce document, réfléchir à quelques problématiques qui en émergent : La question de l’animation, par l’Iran et d’autres, d’un réseaux de « politiques étrangères protestataires », solidaires entre elles, refusant les initiatives occidentales et leur « diplomatie de club » (pour reprendre l’expression de Bertrand Badie), politiques qui comptent des relais de téhéran à Caracas en passant par Pyongyang, Minsk, voire Pékin ou Moscou. La question de la nuisance en politique étrangère, qui consiste à contrer efficacement les initiatives dominantes au cas par cas, plutôt que de proposer une politique de puissance alternative avec une stratégie globale (ainsi l’Iran a-t-il davantage profité des erreurs américaines au Moyen-Orient, plutôt qu’il n’aurait bâti de stratégie a priori). Enfin, bien évidemment, la question de la mobilisation de ressources et de réseaux religieux à l’appui d’une action extérieure … Frédéric Charillon
Les opérations-suicide sont le sommet de la bravoure du peuple iranien … Le chef suprême Khamenei appelle les citoyens de toutes les régions d’Iran à se joindre volontairement aux forces qui luttent contre les ennemis de l’Islam. Les membres des saintes brigades suicidaires de la République islamique suivront une formation spéciale et partiront combattre Israël et les Américains… Ayatollah Messbah-Yazdi (annonce dans un journal iranien)
Si les Etats-Unis devaient attaquer l’Iran, le seul pays dirigé par Dieu, nous contre-attaquerions en Amérique latine et même à l’intérieur des Etats-Unis eux-mêmes. Nous avons les moyens et le savoir-faire. Nous saboterons le transport du pétrole de l’Amérique latine aux USA. Vous êtes prévenus. Commandante Teodoro (Chef de la filiale vénézuélienne du Hezbollah)
Nous pensions que nous ne verrions jamais le jour où un président français montrerait plus de résolution que le commandant en chef de l’Amérique pour affronter un des plus graves défis posés à la sécurité mondiale. Eh bien, nous y sommes. Le WSJ
Nous avons raison de parler de l’avenir (…) mais nous vivons dans un monde réel, pas dans un monde virtuel. (…) le Président Obama a même dit : « je rêve d’un monde où il n’y en aurait plus ». Et sous nos yeux, deux pays font exactement le contraire, en ce moment. L’Iran a violé, depuis 2005, cinq résolutions du Conseil de Sécurité. (…) Monsieur le Président Obama, je soutiens la main tendue des Américains. Qu’ont amené à la communauté internationale ces propositions de dialogue ? Rien. Plus d’uranium enrichi, plus de centrifugeuses et de surcroît, une déclaration des dirigeants iraniens proposant de rayer de la carte un membre de l’Organisation des Nations Unies. Nicolas Sarkozy (Conseil de sécurité, 24.09.09)
I think anyone who is going to build a Palestinian state today will be freeing up space to give an attack area to radical Islam against Israel. This is the reality created here in recent years. Anyone who ignores this sticks his head in the sand. The left does this, burying its head in the sand again and again. We are realistic and understand… [If you are elected head of state, no Palestinian state will come to fruition?] Indeed. [Construction in Jerusalem and the West Bank will renew?] We are continuing all the time, but that’s not a question about additional building. There is a real threat that the government of the left will join the international community and do their bidding…. Benjamin Netanyahu
I haven’t changed my policy. I never changed my speech in Bar-Ilan University six years ago calling for a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state. What has changed is the reality. Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas], the Palestinian leader, refuses to recognize the Jewish state and has made a pact with Hamas that calls for the destruction of the Jewish state. And every territory that is vacated in the Middle East is taken up by Islamist forces… We want that to change, so we can realize a vision of real, sustained peace. And I don’t want a one-state solution. I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution. But for that, circumstances have to change. Benjamin Netanyahu
Il y a deux semaines, Benyamin Nétanyahou défiait Barack Obama depuis le Congrès, le présentant comme un naïf et un opportuniste, prêt à négocier avec l’Iran un «mauvais et dangereux accord» pour la sécurité d’Israël et du monde. Mais si le président américain, furieux de ce défi, espérait se débarrasser de lui à la faveur des élections israéliennes, le voilà bien déçu. La claire victoire de «Bibi» est un violent camouflet politique et stratégique pour Barack Obama, vu l’état catastrophique des relations bilatérales entre les deux hommes. D’anciens conseillers électoraux du président avaient même fait le voyage de Jérusalem pour tenter d’éviter sa réélection… «Ils détestent Bibi, et ils prient pour qu’il quitte le pouvoir», avait confié à Politico un ancien responsable de l’Administration Obama, mardi, juste avant les résultats. Les nouvelles n’en sont que plus «amères», note le Wall Street Journal. Signe des temps, les républicains ont été les premiers à se réjouir du succès de Nétanyahou, pavoisant bruyamment. «Félicitations au premier ministre Nétanyahou pour sa réélection. Il est un vrai leader qui continuera à assurer la sécurité et la force d’Israël», a écrit Jeb Bush, candidat quasi officiel à la Maison-Blanche sur Twitter. «Son succès électoral est d’autant plus impressionnant que des forces puissantes ont tenté de l’affaiblir, notamment, tristement, tout le poids de l’équipe politique d’Obama», a réagi le sénateur Ted Cruz, soutenu par les Tea Party. «Il aurait été ironique qu’Obama ait réussi à sortir Bibi mais pas Assad», a carrément plaisanté le représentant républicain, Steve King. Le maintien de Nétanyahou aux affaires va sérieusement compliquer la politique iranienne d’Obama, prévoit Martin Indyk, l’un des anciens conseillers du président pour la région. Avec la volte-face de dernière minute de Nétanyahou sur le fait qu’il n’accepterait jamais d’État palestinien – alors qu’il avait toujours affirmé soutenir ce projet défendu par Washington – «assainir ses relations empoisonnées avec le président sera encore plus difficile», écrit le New York Times dans un éditorial, dénonçant aussi la «vilaine campagne» menée par Bibi contre les électeurs arabes d’Israël. «C’est une claque à la face des États-Unis», confiait mardi au Figaro un ancien ambassadeur à Washington, évoquant les décennies passées par les présidents américains successifs à tenter d’arracher un État palestinien. (…)  L’opinion israélienne n’a pas été suffisamment choquée par la détérioration des relations avec Washington pour en faire une raison de renvoyer son premier ministre, semblant indiquer qu’elle compte plus sur lui pour défendre sa sécurité que sur l’alliance avec le grand ami américain. En filigrane, ce vote révèle les doutes que suscite aujourd’hui la politique étrangère américaine au Moyen-Orient. La question est maintenant de savoir comment les deux alliés américain et israélien vont pouvoir fonctionner dans ce contexte de «guerre» politique ouverte. Le Figaro
France is again adopting the toughest line against Iran in negotiations aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear program, potentially placing Paris at odds with the Obama administration as a diplomatic deadline to forge an agreement approaches at month-end. (…) French diplomats have been publicly pressing the U.S. and other world powers not to give ground on key elements—particularly the speed of lifting United Nations sanctions and the pledge to constrain Iran’s nuclear research work—ahead of the March 31 target. Paris also appears to be operating on a different diplomatic clock than Washington, arguing that the date is an “artificial” deadline and that global powers should be willing to wait Tehran out for a better deal if necessary. (…) In a sign of France’s determination, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called his negotiating team in Lausanne on Thursday to insist no deal could be forged that allowed for the rapid easing of U.N. Security Council measures, according to European officials. France worries the quick repeal of the U.N. penalties could lead to a broader collapse of the West’s financial leverage over Tehran, according to these officials. Paris is demanding Tehran address evidence that it has conducted research into the development of nuclear weapons to get those U.N. penalties relaxed. Iran has for years denied the allegations and some officials fear that forcing Tehran to publicly reverse itself could break the diplomacy. Mr. Fabius has served as diplomatic foil in the Iranian diplomacy in the past. In November 2013, the former French prime minister said a deal that the U.S. had been negotiating with Tehran in Geneva was a “fool’s game” and didn’t go far enough in limiting Iran’s nuclear capabilities. His comments briefly delayed the signing of an interim agreement that modestly rolled back Tehran’s program. (…)  Obama administration officials have voiced frustration with France’s public posturing, arguing it isn’t constructive. Some U.S. officials privately believe France is seeking in part to maintain strong ties to Israel and to Arab countries deeply skeptical of Washington’s outreach to Tehran. French defense companies have signed lucrative arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in recent years. French diplomats, however, say their strong stance against nuclear proliferation has been a central foreign policy tenet for years. WSJ
French leaders think the U.S. president is dangerously naïve on Iran’s ambitions, and that his notion of making Iran an « objective ally » in the war against ISIS, or even a partner, together with Putin’s Russia, to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis, is both far-fetched and « amateurish. » When Claude Angéli says that both France’s Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, and its President, François Hollande, have told friends that they rely on « the support of the US Congress » to prevent Obama from giving in to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, it is the kind of quote you can take to the bank. French diplomats worry that if Iran gets nuclear weapons, every other local Middle East power will want them. Among their worst nightmares is a situation in which Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia join the Dr. Strangelove club. French diplomats may not like Israel, but they do not believe that the Israelis would use a nuclear device except in a truly Armageddon situation for Israel. As for Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Turkey going nuclear, however, they see terrifying possibilities: irresponsible leaders, or some ISIS-type terrorist outfit, could actually use them. In other words, even if they would never express it as clearly as that, they see Israelis as « like us, » but others potentially as madmen. The Quai d’Orsay (the French Foreign Ministry) may loathe, on principle, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: any briefing by French diplomats will, as a matter of course, explain how very wrong Israel is to alienate its « American ally. » All the same, France’s political stance on the projected U.S.-Iran deal is astonishingly close to that of the Israeli PM, as he outlined to the U.S. Congress on March 3. Laurent Fabius — once François Mitterrand’s youngest Prime Minister; today’s François Hollande’s seasoned Foreign Minister — is « fed up with Barack Obama’s nuclear laxity » regarding Iran, a Quai senior diplomat told Le Canard Enchaîné’s usually well-informed Claude Angéli, who can be relied on to give the unvarnished French view on matters foreign. « Just as in 2013, France will oppose any agreement too favorable to Iran if this turns out to be necessary. Fabius made this very clear to John Kerry when they met on Saturday March 7th. » This, Angéli points out, is far from the « soothing communiqué » issued at the end of the Kerry-Fabius meeting in which both men supposedly « shared » the same view of the Iran negotiations. The communiqué itself may have come as a surprise to a number of French MPs and Senators from their respective Foreign Affairs Committees. Fabius himself, in a meeting last week, made extremely clear his deep distrust (« contempt, really, » one MP says) of both John Kerry and Barack Obama. Another of the group quotes Fabius as saying: « The United States was really ready to sign just about anything with the Iranians, » before explaining that he himself had sent out, mid-February, a number of French ‘counter-proposals’ to the State Department and White House, in order to prevent an agreement too imbalanced in favor of Iran. Anne-Elisabeth Moutet

Après la leçon d’hébreu, la leçon de français !

A l’heure où un monde atterré commence à deviner toute l’étendue du véritable accident industriel que de bien imprudents électeurs américains ont remis il y a deux ans à la tête du Monde libre …

Et où face à une administration américaine qui n’a toujours pas compris qu’emporté par sa volonté mimétique de revanche, un régime totalitaire ne peut tout simplement pas renoncer, sous peine d’effondrement immédiat, à sa vitale capacité de nuisance …

La machine infernale lâchée sur le monde il y a quarante ans par Khomeny peut aujourd’hui se vanter, du Golan au Yemen et sans parler de son réseau terroriste mondial comme l’a tout récemment rappelé l’assassinat d’un juge argentin, d’une quasi-continuité territoriale avec ses pires ennemis israéliens ou saoudiens …

Comment s’étonner encore …

Après le double camouflet du discours au Congrès et de la réélection contre toute attente du Premier ministre israélien …

De cette nouvelle gifle, française de surcroît, à la veille de la fin supposée des négociations sur le nucléaire iranien …

Qu’évoque, à nouveau et à la suite du Canard enchainé comme le rappelle Anne-Elisabeth Moutet, le Wall Street Journal  ?

What France Really Thinks of U.S. Iran Policy
Anne-Elisabeth Moutet
Gateson institute

March 17, 2015

The Quai d’Orsay (the French Foreign Ministry) may loathe, on principle, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: any briefing by French diplomats will, as a matter of course, explain how very wrong Israel is to alienate its « American ally. » All the same, France’s political stance on the projected U.S.-Iran deal is astonishingly close to that of the Israeli PM, as he outlined to the U.S. Congress on March 3.

Laurent Fabius — once François Mitterrand’s youngest Prime Minister; today’s François Hollande’s seasoned Foreign Minister — is « fed up with Barack Obama’s nuclear laxity » regarding Iran, a Quai senior diplomat told Le Canard Enchaîné’s usually well-informed Claude Angéli, who can be relied on to give the unvarnished French view on matters foreign. « Just as in 2013, France will oppose any agreement too favorable to Iran if this turns out to be necessary. Fabius made this very clear to John Kerry when they met on Saturday March 7th. »

This, Angéli points out, is far from the « soothing communiqué » issued at the end of the Kerry-Fabius meeting in which both men supposedly « shared » the same view of the Iran negotiations. The communiqué itself may have come as a surprise to a number of French MPs and Senators from their respective Foreign Affairs Committees. Fabius himself, in a meeting last week, made extremely clear his deep distrust (« contempt, really, » one MP says) of both John Kerry and Barack Obama. Another of the group quotes Fabius as saying: « The United States was really ready to sign just about anything with the Iranians, » before explaining that he himself had sent out, mid-February, a number of French ‘counter-proposals’ to the State Department and White House, in order to prevent an agreement too imbalanced in favor of Iran.

Le Canard Enchaîné (« The Manacled Mallard ») is France’s best-informed political gossip weekly. Long before the rest of the French press, away from General de Gaulle’s paralyzing shadow, started investigative reports of their own, Le Canard, using a contact network second to none, used to break scoops only rarely picked up by the rest of a servile media pack.

We owe it the story of conservative President Giscard d’Estaing’s ill-gotten gifts of diamonds (from Central Africa’s self-styled Emperor Bokassa). An equal-opportunity hitter, Le Canard also broke the story of the Socialist Mitterrand’s wiretaps of some 5,000 journalists and personalities, only stopping short of explaining why: Mitterrand wanted to hide from the public the existence of his mistress and their daughter Mazarine. Newer brash French tabloids have only very recently started to examine the private lives of politicians, and Le Canard still doesn’t care to do so. More recently, it revealed that the head of France’s Communist union CGT had his new luxury apartment entirely refurbished at the ailing union’s expense, complete with a home cinema: this cost him his job after an undignified couple of weeks of useless stonewalling.

So when Claude Angéli says that both Fabius and President François Hollande have told friends that they rely on « the support of the US Congress » to prevent Obama from giving in to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, it’s the kind of quote you can take to the bank. French leaders think the U.S. president is dangerously « naïve » on Iran’s ambitions, and that his notion of making Iran an « objective ally » in the war against ISIS, or even a partner, together with Putin’s Russia, to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis, is both far-fetched and amateurish.

The French are still smarting from the last-minute reprieve Obama granted Syria, as the French air force was about to bomb the Assad regime’s military positions back in 2013, because the U.S. President had been convinced by Russia that they had succeeded in making Syrian President Bashar al-Assad give up on the use of his chemical weapons. « Our Rafale fighters were about to scramble, » a French air force officer is quoted as saying; « Hollande was furious. »

When Laurent Fabius briefed members of the French parliament last week, he was, according to Angéli, quite precise, mentioning as conditions necessary in any agreement a « reconfiguration » of the Arak nuclear site, where Iran enriches the heavy water necessary to produce plutonium bombs, as well as a sharp limit to the number of Iranian centrifuges, and complete access to all nuclear sites for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections.

French diplomats are no angels, and they haven’t suddenly turned 180 degrees from their usual attitude of reflexive dislike toward Israel. They worry, however, that if Iran gets nuclear weapons, every other local Middle East power will want them. Among their worst nightmares is a situation in which Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia join the Dr. Strangelove club. French diplomats may not like Israel, but they do not believe Israelis would use a nuclear device except in a truly Armageddon situation for Israel. As for Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Turkey going nuclear, however, they see terrifying possibilities: irresponsible leaders, or some ISIS-type terrorist outfit, could actually use them. In other words, even if they would never express it as clearly as that, they see Israelis as « like us, » but others potentially as madmen.

Voir aussi:

Middle East News
France Takes Toughest Line at Iran Nuclear Talks
Negotiations move closer to March 31 cutoff without a breakthrough
Jay Solomon and Laurence Norman
The Wall Street Journal

March 20, 2015

LAUSANNE, Switzerland—France is again adopting the toughest line against Iran in negotiations aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear program, potentially placing Paris at odds with the Obama administration as a diplomatic deadline to forge an agreement approaches at month-end.

President Barack Obama called French President François Hollande on Friday to discuss the Iran diplomacy and try to unify their positions. The presidents “reaffirmed their commitment” to a deal “while noting that Iran must take steps to resolve several remaining issues,” the White House said.

French diplomats have been publicly pressing the U.S. and other world powers not to give ground on key elements—particularly the speed of lifting United Nations sanctions and the pledge to constrain Iran’s nuclear research work—ahead of the March 31 target.

Paris also appears to be operating on a different diplomatic clock than Washington, arguing that the date is an “artificial” deadline and that global powers should be willing to wait Tehran out for a better deal if necessary.

Obama administration officials have said that expected moves by the U.S. Congress to put new sanctions on Iran as soon as next month limit their ability to extend the diplomacy. But French officials took exception.

“Making the end of March an absolute deadline is counterproductive and dangerous,” France’s ambassador to the U.S., Gérard Araud, said via Twitter after the latest round of negotiations in Switzerland concluded Friday.

“No agreement without concrete decisions on issues beyond the enrichment capability question,” he said a day earlier, specifically mentioning the need for extensive monitoring and clarity on Iran’s past research work. Western officials believe they included the pursuit of nuclear-weapon capabilities.

In a sign of France’s determination, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called his negotiating team in Lausanne on Thursday to insist no deal could be forged that allowed for the rapid easing of U.N. Security Council measures, according to European officials.

France worries the quick repeal of the U.N. penalties could lead to a broader collapse of the West’s financial leverage over Tehran, according to these officials.

Paris is demanding Tehran address evidence that it has conducted research into the development of nuclear weapons to get those U.N. penalties relaxed. Iran has for years denied the allegations and some officials fear that forcing Tehran to publicly reverse itself could break the diplomacy.

Mr. Fabius has served as diplomatic foil in the Iranian diplomacy in the past.

In November 2013, the former French prime minister said a deal that the U.S. had been negotiating with Tehran in Geneva was a “fool’s game” and didn’t go far enough in limiting Iran’s nuclear capabilities. His comments briefly delayed the signing of an interim agreement that modestly rolled back Tehran’s program.

Western officials in recent days have stressed that Washington and the other powers negotiating with Iran—France, the U.K., Germany, Russia and China—remain united. Still, Obama administration officials have voiced frustration with France’s public posturing, arguing it isn’t constructive.

‘Our nations have been separated by mistrust and fear. Now it is early spring. We have a chance—a chance—to make progress that will benefit our countries, and the world, for many years to come.’
—U.S. President Barack Obama.

Some U.S. officials privately believe France is seeking in part to maintain strong ties to Israel and to Arab countries deeply skeptical of Washington’s outreach to Tehran. French defense companies have signed lucrative arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in recent years.

French diplomats, however, say their strong stance against nuclear proliferation has been a central foreign policy tenet for years. By remaining one of the world’s few nuclear powers, France can maintain an independent role in global affairs.

Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up five days of direct talks with his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, in Lausanne without a breakthrough. Mr. Kerry is traveling to London on Saturday to meet with Mr. Fabius and the foreign ministers of the U.K. and Germany.

These countries will return to Switzerland as soon as Wednesday to resume the negotiations.

“We’ve had a series of intensive discussions with Iran this week, and given where we are in the negotiations, it’s an important time for high-level consultations with our partners in these talks,” said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf.

While U.S., Russian, Chinese and Iranian diplomats have stressed the progress made in the talks, others have been more cautious. One European diplomat said on Thursday: “I don’t think we have made sufficient progress. A lot of issues remain on the table.”

Wang Qun, China’s senior diplomat at the talks, said Friday there had been “good progress” this past week. “I do see some novelties in this round of negotiations,” he said, adding that both sides had shown “very strong political will.”

Failure to reach a political understanding on time could firm up political opposition to the negotiations in Washington.

On Thursday, Senators Bob Corker (R.-Tenn.) and Robert Menendez (D.-N.J.) said the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote April 14 on a bill that would give U.S. lawmakers an up-and-down vote on the agreement.

U.S. officials initially believed the negotiations could stretch until Sunday. But Iran’s delegation abruptly left on Friday, citing the death of the mother of President Hasan Rouhani. Iranian officials also said they wanted to return to Tehran for the beginning of the Persian New Year, called Nowruz.

In a meeting with his Iranian counterpart on Friday, Mr. Kerry expressed his condolences for the death of the president’s mother and called for “progress and peace” at the start of Nowruz.

Mr. Zarif responded: “I hope this new day will be a new day for the entire world.”

Both sides had hoped to wrap up the talks before the start of the Iranian holiday.

Mr. Obama also sent a Nowruz message to Iranians on Thursday. He stressed the importance of a deal in potentially opening a new era of cooperation between Washington and Tehran, who have been staunch adversaries since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.

“Our nations have been separated by mistrust and fear. Now it is early spring. We have a chance—a chance—to make progress that will benefit our countries, and the world, for many years to come,” Mr. Obama said.

Voir également:

WorldViews
Five thoughts Petraeus has about the future of the Middle East
Liz Sly

The Washington Post

March 20

Gen. David H. Petraeus, who commanded U.S. troops during the 2007-2008 surge, was back in Iraq last week for the first time in more than three years. He was attending the annual Sulaimani Forum, a get-together of Iraqi leaders, thinkers and academics, at the American University of Iraq – Sulaimani in northern Iraq’s Kurdistan region.

In his most expansive comments yet on the latest crisis in Iraq and Syria, he answered written questions from The Post’s Liz Sly, offering insights into the mistakes, the prosecution and the prospects of the war against the Islamic State, which he refers to by its Arabic acronym, Daesh.

Here are the five key takeaways from the interview.

1. Shiite militias and Iran now pose a bigger regional threat than the Islamic State

The Islamic State is already “on a path to defeat,” at least in Iraq, thanks to international, regional and Iraqi effort to rally against them. The biggest threat now is the Shiite militias taking over former Islamic State territories, with Iranian support.

“The foremost threat to Iraq’s long-term stability and the broader regional equilibrium is not the Islamic State, it is Shiite militias, many backed by — and some guided by — Iran.”

“The current Iranian regime is not our ally in the Middle East. It is ultimately part of the problem, not the solution. The more the Iranians are seen to be dominating the region, the more it is going to inflame Sunni radicalism and fuel the rise of groups like the Islamic State.”

2. You can’t find a solution to the Islamic State without empowering capable local Sunni forces

It will not be enough to have Shiite units of the Iraqi army or militias conquer territory. Capable Sunni forces that will be regarded “as liberators, not conquerors” will have to be identified before battles are launched. And that will require broad political reconciliation between Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government and the country’s Sunnis.

“The bottom line is that Daesh’s defeat requires not just hammering them on the battlefield, but simultaneously, revived political reconciliation with Sunnis. Iraq’s Sunnis need to be brought back into the fold. They need to feel as though they have a stake in the success of Iraq, rather than a stake in its failure.”

As it is, reports of atrocities committed by Shiite militias against Sunnis in areas they conquer “constitute Daesh’s best hope for survival, pushing Sunnis to feel once again the need to reject the Iraqi forces in their areas.”

3. Syria is a « geopolitical Chernobyl » and needs to be addressed immediately

Though the Obama administration is embarking on a program to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State, the effort falls short. If the new force is to function effectively, steps will also be required to halt airstrikes by the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad against areas under opposition control.

“Legitimate questions … can be raised about the sufficiency of the present scale, scope, speed and resourcing of this effort.”

It is also not enough to focus on Iraq and set aside the problem of Syria’s war to be solved later.

“I am profoundly worried about the continuing meltdown of Syria, which is a geopolitical Chernobyl. Until it is capped, it is going to continue to spew radioactive instability and extremist ideology over the entire region.”

4. America’s influence is waning in the Middle East

The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, indications from the Obama administration that its priorities lay elsewhere and the lack of attention paid to Syria’s war have created the impression that American influence is waning.

“Our withdrawal from Iraq in late 2011 contributed to a perception that the U.S. was pulling back from the Middle East,” he says. “This perception has complicated our ability to shape developments in the region and thus to further our interests. These perceptions have also shaken many of our allies and, for a period at least, made it harder to persuade them to support our approaches.”

“Neither the Iranians nor Daesh are ten feet tall, but the perception in the region for the past few years has been that of the U.S. on the wane, and our adversaries on the rise. I hope that we can begin to reverse that now. »

5. Petraeus told Iranian general Qasem Soleimani to “pound sand”

In 2008, as fierce battles raged in Baghdad between U.S. troops and Shiite militias – including those fighting against the Islamic State today – an Iraqi intermediary conveyed a message to Petraeus from Iran’s top general in Iraq, Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

« General Petraeus, you should be aware that I, Qasem Soleimani, control Iran’s policy for Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan, » the message said.

Petraeus says he responded by telling the interlocutor to tell Soleimani to « pound sand. »

These days, Maj. Gen. Soleimani regularly visits the front lines in Iraq, much as Petraeus used to when he commanded troops in the country. Photos of his former adversary’s battlefield tours, widely posted on social media, provoke thoughts that Petraeus said he could not share.

“I have several thoughts when I see the pictures of him, but most of those thoughts probably aren’t suitable for publication in a family newspaper.”

Liz Sly is the Post’s Beirut bureau chief. She has spent more than 15 years covering the Middle East, including the Iraq war. Other postings include Africa, China and Afghanistan.

Voir encore:

WorldViews
Petraeus: The Islamic State isn’t our biggest problem in Iraq
Liz Sly

The Washington Post

March 20 2015

Gen. David H. Petraeus, who commanded U.S. troops in Iraq during the 2007-2008 surge, was back in that country last week for the first time in more than three years. He was attending the annual Sulaimani Forum, a get-together of Iraqi leaders, thinkers and academics, at the American University of Iraq – Sulaimani in northern Iraq’s Kurdistan region.

In his most expansive comments yet on the latest crisis in Iraq and Syria, he answered written questions from The Post’s Liz Sly, offering insights into the mistakes, the prosecution and the prospects of the war against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, which he refers to by its Arabic acronym, Daesh.

How does it feel to be back in Iraq after four years away?

Iraq is a country I came to know well and the place where I spent some of the most consequential years of my life. So it has been a bit of an emotional experience to return here after my last visit in December 2011 as director of the CIA. I was very grateful for the chance to be back to see old friends and comrades from the past.

That said, it is impossible to return to Iraq without a keen sense of opportunities lost. These include the mistakes we, the U.S., made here, and likewise the mistakes the Iraqis themselves have made. This includes the squandering of so much of what we and our coalition and Iraqi partners paid such a heavy cost to achieve, the continuing failure of Iraq’s political leaders to solve longstanding political disputes, and the exploitation of these failures by extremists on both sides of the sectarian and ethnic divides.

Having said that, my sense is that the situation in Iraq today is, to repeat a phrase I used on the eve of the surge, hard but not hopeless. I believe that a reasonable outcome here is still achievable, although it will be up to all of us — Iraqis, Americans, leaders in the region and leaders of the coalition countries — to work together to achieve it.

You oversaw the gains of the surge in 2007-08. How does it make you feel to see what is happening today, with ISIS having taken over more of Iraq than its predecessor, AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq], ever did?

What has happened in Iraq is a tragedy — for the Iraqi people, for the region and for the entire world. It is tragic foremost because it didn’t have to turn out this way. The hard-earned progress of the Surge was sustained for over three years. What transpired after that, starting in late 2011, came about as a result of mistakes and misjudgments whose consequences were predictable. And there is plenty of blame to go around for that.

Yet despite that history and the legacy it has left, I think Iraq and the coalition forces are making considerable progress against the Islamic State. In fact, I would argue that the foremost threat to Iraq’s long-term stability and the broader regional equilibrium is not the Islamic State; rather, it is Shiite militias, many backed by — and some guided by — Iran.

These militia returned to the streets of Iraq in response to a fatwa by Shia leader Grand Ayatollah Sistani at a moment of extreme danger. And they prevented the Islamic State from continuing its offensive into Baghdad. Nonetheless, they have, in some cases, cleared not only Sunni extremists but also Sunni civilians and committed atrocities against them. Thus, they have, to a degree, been both part of Iraq’s salvation but also the most serious threat to the all-important effort of once again getting the Sunni Arab population in Iraq to feel that it has a stake in the success of Iraq rather than a stake in its failure. Longer term, Iranian-backed Shia militia could emerge as the preeminent power in the country, one that is outside the control of the government and instead answerable to Tehran.

Beyond Iraq, I am also profoundly worried about the continuing meltdown of Syria, which is a geopolitical Chernobyl. Until it is capped, it is going to continue to spew radioactive instability and extremist ideology over the entire region.

Any strategy to stabilize the region thus needs to take into account the challenges in both Iraq and Syria. It is not sufficient to say that we’ll figure them out later.

[Related: ‘Daesh’: John Kerry starts calling the Islamic State a name they hate]

What went wrong?

The proximate cause of Iraq’s unraveling was the increasing authoritarian, sectarian and corrupt conduct of the Iraqi government and its leader after the departure of the last U.S. combat forces in 2011. The actions of the Iraqi prime minister undid the major accomplishment of the Surge. [They] alienated the Iraqi Sunnis and once again created in the Sunni areas fertile fields for the planting of the seeds of extremism, essentially opening the door to the takeover of the Islamic State. Some may contend that all of this was inevitable. Iraq was bound to fail, they will argue, because of the inherently sectarian character of the Iraqi people. I don’t agree with that assessment.

The tragedy is that political leaders failed so badly at delivering what Iraqis clearly wanted — and for that, a great deal of responsibility lies with Prime Minister Maliki.

As for the U.S. role, could all of this have been averted if we had kept 10,000 troops here? I honestly don’t know. I certainly wish we could have tested the proposition and kept a substantial force on the ground.

For that matter, should we have pushed harder for an alternative to PM Maliki during government formation in 2010? Again, it is impossible to know if such a gambit might have succeeded. But certainly, a different personality at the top might have made a big difference, depending, of course, on who that individual might have been.

Where I think a broader comment is perhaps warranted has to do with the way we came to think about Iraq and, to a certain extent, the broader region over the last few years. There was certainly a sense in Washington that Iraq should be put in our rearview mirror, that whatever happened here was somewhat peripheral to our national security and that we could afford to redirect our attention to more important challenges. Much of this sentiment was very understandable given the enormous cost of our efforts in Iraq and the endless frustrations that our endeavor here encountered.

In retrospect, a similar attitude existed with respect to the civil war in Syria — again, a sense that developments in Syria constituted a horrible tragedy to be sure, but a tragedy at the outset, at least, that did not seem to pose a threat to our national security.

But in hindsight, few, I suspect, would contend that our approach was what it might — or should — have been. In fact, if there is one lesson that I hope we’ve learned from the past few years, it is that there is a linkage between the internal conditions of countries in the Middle East and our own vital security interests.

Whether fair or not, those in the region will also offer that our withdrawal from Iraq in late 2011 contributed to a perception that the U.S. was pulling back from the Middle East. This perception has complicated our ability to shape developments in the region and thus to further our interests. These perceptions have also shaken many of our allies and, for a period at least, made it harder to persuade them to support our approaches. This has been all the more frustrating because, of course, in objective terms, we remain deeply engaged across the region and our power here is still very, very significant.

Neither the Iranians nor Daesh are 10 feet tall, but the perception in the region for the past few years has been that of the U.S. on the wane, and our adversaries on the rise. I hope that we can begin to reverse that now.

What are your thoughts when you see Qasem Soleimani, the IRGC’s Quds Force commander who funded and armed the militias who blew up U.S. troops and shelled the U.S. Embassy while you were in it, taking battlefield tours like you used to?

Yes, « Hajji Qasem, » our old friend. I have several thoughts when I see the pictures of him, but most of those thoughts probably aren’t suitable for publication in a family newspaper like yours. What I will say is that he is very capable and resourceful individual, a worthy adversary. He has played his hand well. But this is a long game, so let’s see how events transpire.

It is certainly interesting to see how visible Soleimani has chosen to become in recent months — quite a striking change for a man of the shadows.

Whatever the motivations, though, they underscore a very important reality: The current Iranian regime is not our ally in the Middle East. It is ultimately part of the problem, not the solution. The more the Iranians are seen to be dominating the region, the more it is going to inflame Sunni radicalism and fuel the rise of groups like the Islamic State. While the U.S. and Iran may have convergent interests in the defeat of Daesh, our interests generally diverge. The Iranian response to the open hand offered by the U.S. has not been encouraging.

Iranian power in the Middle East is thus a double problem. It is foremost problematic because it is deeply hostile to us and our friends. But it is also dangerous because, the more it is felt, the more it sets off reactions that are also harmful to our interests — Sunni radicalism and, if we aren’t careful, the prospect of nuclear proliferation as well.

You have had some interactions with Qasem Soleimani in the past. Could you tell us about those?

In the spring of 2008, Iraqi and coalition forces engaged in what emerged as a decisive battle between the Iraqi Security Forces and the Iranian-supported Shiite militias.

In the midst of the fight, I received word from a very senior Iraqi official that Qasem Soleimani had given him a message for me. When I met with the senior Iraqi, he conveyed the message: « General Petraeus, you should be aware that I, Qasem Soleimani, control Iran’s policy for Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan. » The point was clear: He owned the policy and the region, and I should deal with him. When my Iraqi interlocutor asked what I wanted to convey in return, I told him to tell Soleimani that he could « pound sand. »

If you look back at what happened when the surge of U.S. troops under your command turned the tide of the war, is there anything you would have done differently? What are your regrets?

There are always actions that, with the benefit of hindsight, you realize you misjudged or would have done differently. There are certainly decisions, in the course of my three deployments to Iraq, that I got wrong. Very candidly, there are several people who are causing enormous harm in Iraq today whom I wish we had taken off the battlefield when we had the chance to do so. Beyond that, there certainly were actions taken in the first year in Iraq, in particular, that made our subsequent effort that vastly more difficult that it needed to be. But those are well known.

What would be (or is, assuming people must be asking) your main advice on how best to prosecute the war against ISIS now?

In general terms, what is needed in Iraq at this point is all of the elements of the comprehensive, civil-military counterinsurgency campaign that achieved such significant progress during the Surge, with one huge difference — that Iraqis must perform a number of the critical tasks that we had to perform. Iraqis must, for example, provide the « boots on the ground, » albeit enabled by advisers and U.S. air assets, with tactical air controllers if necessary.

If the Iraqis cannot provide such forces, we should increase efforts to develop them. Iraqis must also be the ones who pursue reconciliation with Sunni leaders and the Sunni Arab community. We may help in various ways, but again, sustainable results can only be achieved by Iraqis — who clearly have the ability to do so, even if the will is sometimes not fully evident.

In more specific terms, I would offer the following:

First, it is critical that Iraqi forces do not clear areas that they are not able or willing to hold. Indeed, the « hold » force should be identified before the clearance operation begins. This underscores the need for capable, anti-Daesh Sunni forces that can go into Sunni-majority areas and be viewed as liberators, not conquerors or oppressors.

Second, the Iraqi forces that conduct(s) operations have to demonstrate much greater care in their conduct. I am deeply concerned by reports of sectarian atrocities — in particular by the Shiite militias as they move into Sunni areas previously held by the Islamic State. Kidnappings and reprisal killings, mass evictions of civilians from their homes — these kinds of abuses are corrosive to what needs to be accomplished. Indeed, they constitute Daesh’s best hope for survival — pushing Sunnis to feel once again the need to reject the Iraqi forces in their areas. The bottom line is that Daesh’s defeat requires not just hammering them on the battlefield, but simultaneously, revived political reconciliation with Sunnis. Iraq’s Sunnis need to be brought back into the fold. They need to feel as though they have a stake in the success of Iraq, rather than a stake in its failure.

Third, as I explained earlier, we need to recognize that the #1 long term threat to Iraq’s equilibrium — and the broader regional balance — is not the Islamic State, which I think is on the path to being defeated in Iraq and pushed out of its Iraqi sanctuary. The most significant long term threat is that posed by the Iranian-backed Shiite militias. If Daesh is driven from Iraq and the consequence is that Iranian-backed militias emerge as the most powerful force in the country — eclipsing the Iraqi Security Forces, much as Hezbollah does in Lebanon — that would be a very harmful outcome for Iraqi stability and sovereignty, not to mention our own national interests in the region.

Fourth, as long as we are talking about difficult problems, there is Syria. Any acceptable outcome [in Syria] requires the build-up of capable, anti-Daesh opposition forces whom we support on the battlefield. Although it is encouraging to see the administration’s support for this initiative, I think there are legitimate questions that can be raised about the sufficiency of the present scale, scope, speed, and resourcing of this effort. It will, for example, be impossible to establish a headquarters inside Syria to provide command and control of the forces we help train and equip as long as barrel bombs are dropped on it on a regular basis.

Voir de plus:

La présidente argentine Kirchner accusée d’avoir couvert les suspects iraniens d’un attentat
Libération/AFP

14 février 2015

Un procureur l’accuse d’avoir couvert de hauts dirigeants iraniens, soupçonnés d’être les commanditaires de l’attentat antisémite de 1994 à Buenos Aires.

La présidente argentine Cristina Kirchner a été formellement accusée par un procureur d’avoir couvert de hauts dirigeants iraniens, soupçonnés d’être les commanditaires de l’attentat antisémite de 1994 à Buenos Aires, accusation formulée avant sa mort par le procureur Alberto Nisman.

Vingt ans après, l’attentat contre la mutuelle juive AMIA qui a fait 85 morts et 300 blessés, n’a toujours pas été élucidé.

Avant Cristina  Kirchner, au pouvoir depuis 2007, un autre président, Carlos Menem (1989-1999), a été mis en cause et doit être jugé pour entrave, dans les années 1990, à l’enquête sur l’attentat contre l’AMIA.

Le procureur Nisman, en charge du dossier AMIA depuis 2004, a été retrouvé mort le 18 janvier dernier. Les premiers éléments de l’enquête indiquent un suicide, thèse à laquelle ne croient pas les Argentins. Le magistrat assurait que le pouvoir avait mis en place un plan pour protéger l’Iran de poursuites judiciaires en Argentine.

Pour Alberto Nisman, l’Iran avait commandité l’attentat et des hommes du groupe armé chiite libanais Hezbollah ont fait sauter le bâtiment abritant les principales institutions juives d’Argentine.

Le procureur Gerardo Pollicita a requis vendredi l’inculpation de Cristina Kirchner et de son ministre des Affaires étrangères, Hector Timerman, pour «les délits d’entrave à la justice et manquement au devoir d’un fonctionnaire».

Gerardo Pollicita a donné un nouvel élan au retentissant dossier d’accusation contre Cristina Kirchner, rendu public le 14 janvier par Alberto Nisman.

Le juge Daniel Rafecas devra désormais examiner le dossier de 300 pages, complété d’écoutes téléphoniques, et devra décider s’il ouvre ou non une procédure judiciaire contre Cristina Kirchner.

«Coup d’Etat judiciaire»
Cet ultime rebondissement dans le dossier Nisman/Kirchner intervient près d’un mois après la disparition non élucidée du procureur, dont la mort alors qu’il était sous le feu des projecteurs a consterné les Argentins.

Alberto Nisman, en charge de l’enquête sur l’attentat contre la mutuelle juive AMIA, a été retrouvé mort dans son appartement à la veille de son allocution devant le Congrès où il comptait étayer son accusation.

Avant l’attentat contre l’AMIA en 1994, une autre attaque menée avec un véhicule piégé avait visé l’ambassade d’Israël à Buenos Aires, tuant 29 personnes en mars 1992.

En 2013, Cristina Kirchner avait scellé avec Téhéran un mémorandum prévoyant l’audition en Iran des suspects iraniens dont l’Argentine demandait en vain l’extradition depuis 2007, pour les juger à Buenos Aires.

La communauté juive, l’opposition à Kirchner, les Etats-Unis et Israël estiment que cette initiative est une entrave à l’élucidation car elle écarte l’éventualité d’un procès en Argentine.

La procédure judiciaire contre Cristina Kirchner a peu de chances d’aboutir. Sa coalition de centre-gauche, le Front pour la victoire (FPV), détient la majorité dans les deux chambres du parlement, qui seraient éventuellement sollicitées pour lever son immunité.

Réagissant à un article du journal Clarin anticipant la mise en cause de Cristina Kirchner, le chef du gouvernement argentin Jorge Capitanitch a dénoncé «un coup d’état judiciaire».

«C’était prévisible et grave d’un point de vue politique et institutionnel. Je ne sais pas quel sera l’impact sur l’opinion publique. Les anti-Kirchner seront confortés dans leur position alors que ses sympathisants vont dénoncer une «tentative de déstabilisation», estime Matias Carugati, de l’institut de sondage Management & Fit.

L’enquête sur l’attentat de 1994 a été émaillée d’irrégularités. Des suspects sont arrêtés puis remis en liberté, dont des policiers et le fournisseur présumé du fourgon piégé Carlos Telleldin.

Le juge chargé de l’instruction du dossier de 1994 à 2003, Juan José Galeano, inculpé pour avoir remis 400000 dollars à Carlos Telleldin pour qu’il incrimine un suspect, l’ancien patron des services secrets et l’ex-président Carlos Menem doivent être jugés pour avoir freiné ou dévié l’enquête, mais la date du procès n’a pas encore été fixée.

Vendredi, la procureure générale argentine Alejandra Gils Carbo a annoncé la nomination d’une équipe de trois magistrats, Roberto Salum, Patricio Sabadini, Sabrina Namer, et d’un un coordinateur, à la tête du parquet spécial AMIA que dirigeait Alberto Nisman depuis 2004.

Mercredi, une marche silencieuse en hommage à Alberto Nisman, a été convoquée par des magistrats. Divers secteurs de l’opposition et les dirigeants de la communauté juive ont d’ores et déjà annoncé leur participation à la manifestation.

Voir encore:

NOTE D’ACTUALITÉ N°203
LE SOUTIEN DE L’IRAN AU TERRORISME INTERNATIONAL

Alain Rodier

F2R

21-01-2010

Depuis la révolution de 1979, qui a amené au pouvoir en Iran une théocratie chiite, les mollahs ont constamment utilisé l’arme du terrorisme à l’étranger afin de parvenir à leurs fins. Toutefois, Téhéran a toujours pris garde de systématiquement utiliser des intermédiaires, de manière à ne pas apparaître directement, ce qui aurait nuit à l’image de marque du régime, particulièrement dans les pays musulmans.

Parfois cette manière d’opérer a considérablement nuit à l’efficacité opérationnelle des actions entreprises. Ainsi, des « premiers couteaux » ont été arrêtés, mais jamais aucun système judiciaire de pays démocratique n’a réussi à prouver formellement l’implication du régime dans des actions répréhensibles. Seuls de forts soupçons concordants ont permis de lancer des mandats d’arrêt internationaux contre les plus hauts responsables du régime, mais comme ces derniers ne se sont évidemment pas présentés devant les juridictions concernées, leur responsabilité n’a pu être établie légalement. Les mollahs jouent à merveille de cette ambiguïté : ne pas reconnaître être derrière des opérations « Homo » (assassinats ciblés organisés par des services d’Etat), mais laisser entendre que toute personne qui s’oppose à leur politique peut constituer une cible potentielle. Rien de tel pour créer une indicible crainte, particulièrement au sein des pouvoirs politiques des pays démocratiques qui ne souhaitent pas que des vagues d’attentat terroristes aient lieu sur leur sol ou contre leurs intérêts à l’étranger. La réélection des gouvernements en place est souvent à ce prix.

Les buts poursuivis par Téhéran ont été multiples. En tête d’entre eux se trouve la lutte contre toute opposition. Suit la guerre contre les « grand et le petit Satan » (Etats-Unis et Israël), puis le règlement de litiges, comme cela a été le cas au milieu des années 1980 avec la France.

La lutte contre les opposants
La lutte acharnée contre les opposants au régime a toujours été une préoccupation majeure des mollahs. La liste des victimes d’attentats terroristes ciblés organisés par la Savama puis par le Vevak – les services spéciaux iraniens – et la force Al-Qods des Pasdaran est longue [1]. Elle comporterait plus d’une centaine de victimes, dont certaines sont particulièrement connues.

- Le 13 juillet 1989, Abdul Raman Gassemlou, le secrétaire général du Parti démocratique du Kurdistan d’Iran (PDKI) est assassiné à Vienne en compagnie d’Abdullah Ghaderi Azar et d’Amir Mansur Bozorgian. Ils avaient été attirés dans un piège par de « pseudos négociations » initiées par le régime des mollahs qui avait exprimé son souhait de « régler une fois pour toutes » le problème kurde en Iran.

- Le professeur Kazem Radjavi, ancien ambassadeur de l’Iran auprès de l’ONU et surtout frère aîné de Massoud Radjavi, le leader du Conseil national de la résistance iranienne (CNRI), est assassiné par balles à Genève, le 24 avril 1990. Suite à cette affaire qui a mis en cause pas moins de treize agents iraniens couverts par l’immunité diplomatique, la justice suisse a lancé en 1996 un mandat d’arrêt contre Ali Fallahian qui était alors le chef du Vevak.

- Le 7 août 1991, Chapour Bakhtiar, le dernier Premier ministre du Shah, est assassiné à l’arme blanche avec son secrétaire à son domicile en banlieue parisienne. Le commando de trois hommes a fait preuve à l’occasion d’un professionnalisme et d’un sang froid extraordinaires. En effet, Chapour Bakhtiar était alors protégé par une section de CRS qui n’y a vu que du feu ! Il avait fait l’objet d’une première tentative de meurtre en juillet 1980 qui avait coûté la vie à un policier et à une voisine de son appartement de Suresnes.

- Le 4 juin 1992, le représentant en Turquie du CNRI, Ali Akbar Ghorbani, est enlevé à Istanbul. Son corps est retrouvé quelques mois plus tard dans un parc de la ville. Il porte de nombreuses marques de torture qui laissent entendre qu’il a été interrogé avant d’être exécuté. Le lendemain, un attentat à la voiture piégée échoue de peu devant le siège de l’OMPI à Istanbul.

- Le 16 mars 1993, Mohammad-Hussein Naghdi, le représentant du CNRI en Italie, est assassiné par balles à Rome.

- Le 17 septembre 1992, le secrétaire général du PDKI (et successeur d’Abdul Rahman Gassemlou), Mohammad Sadegh Sharafkandi, Fattah Abdoli, Homayoun Ardalan et Nouri Dehkordi sont assassinés dans le restaurant Mykonos à Berlin. Depuis 1997, Ali Fallahian fait l’objet d’un autre mandat d’arrêt international pour son rôle de commanditaire dans cette affaire.

- Le 20 février 1996, Zahra  Rajabi, une responsable du CNRI résidant en France, est assassinée alors qu’elle effectue un voyage à Istanbul.

Bien sûr, cette liste n’est pas exhaustive. De nombreux autres Iraniens ayant fui le pays ont été rattrapés par les tueurs du régime et froidement assassinés, souvent « pour l’exemple ».

La lutte contre les Etats-Unis et Israël

Les attentats contre les intérêts ou ressortissants américains et israéliens ont également été nombreux :

- Le 18 avril 1983, une voiture kamikaze bourrée d’explosifs s’encastre dans l’immeuble abritant l’ambassade des Etats-Unis au Liban. 17 morts sont décomptés.

- Le 23 octobre de la même année, un camion explose dans le cantonnement des Marines à Beyrouth. 241 militaires américains sont tués lors de cette opération. Non seulement les expertises américaines prouvent que le camion Mercedes Benz qui a servi de vecteur à l’explosion provenait bien d’Iran, mais Hachemi Rafsandjani, alors représentant de l’ayatollah Khomeiny au sein du Conseil de la guerre, a revendiqué quasi-ouvertement cette opération.

Le but de ces deux attentats était de saper l’influence des Etats-Unis au Proche-orient en général et au Liban en particulier. La mission a été remplie car Washington a alors ordonné le départ des Marines de Beyrouth et Téhéran a ainsi pu étendre son influence sur le pays en passant par l’intermédiaire de son allié syrien et du Hezbollah libanais.

- Le 17 mars 1992, l’ambassade d’Israël en Argentine est visée par une attaque terroriste. 29 personnes sont tuées et 235 autres blessées. Ni les exécutants ni les commanditaires ne seront identifiés.

- Le 25 juin 1993, une bombe détruit de complexe d’Al Khobar en Arabie saoudite qui abrite des militaires américains. 19 Américains sont tués ainsi que 147 Saoudiens. Il semble que cette opération a été menée en liaison avec l’organisation naissante Al-Qaida [2]. Oussama Ben Laden, alors réfugié au Soudan entretenait, à cette époque les meilleures relations avec le Hezbollah libanais. Un certain nombre d’activistes ont ainsi été formés par le mouvement chiite libanais, particulièrement aux attentats suicide. L’objectif poursuivi par cet attentat était de mettre à mal le régime saoudien considéré comme un adversaire par Téhéran et comme un ennemi personnel par Oussama Ben Laden, qui venait de se faire retirer en mai sa nationalité saoudienne.

- Le 18 juillet 1994, le centre juif d’Amia à Buenos Aires est détruit par une voiture piégée. 84 morts et 230 blessés sont relevés. L’enquête révèle que cette opération a été décidée par Rafsandjani lors d’une réunion du Conseil suprême de la sécurité nationale [3] qui s’est tenue le 14 août 1993 dans la ville de Mashad. Selon l’institution judiciaire argentine, le but poursuivi consistait à punir Buenos Aires d’avoir arrêté sa coopération avec l’Iran dans le domaine nucléaire. L’opération aurait été menée par la force Al-Qods des Pasdaran, alors commandée par le général Ahmad Vahidi. Cette unité d’élite composée de fanatiques est une sorte de « service action » qui se charge de toutes les opérations sales déclenchées à l’étranger. L’enquête amènera le lancement d’un mandat d’arrêt international contre Hashemi Rasfandjani, ancien président de la république islamique d’Iran et actuellement président du Conseil de discernement du bien de l’Etat ; Ali Akbar Velayati, à l’époque ministre des Affaires étrangères ; Mohsen Rezaï, alors commandant les Pasdaran et aujourd’hui secrétaire du Conseil de discernement des intérêts de l’Etat et soit disant « opposant » au président Ahmadinejad ; Ahmad Vahidi, actuel vice-ministre de la Défense ; Ahmad Reza Askari, ancien troisième secrétaire auprès de la représentation diplomatique iranienne en Argentine, en fait officier supérieur des Pasdaran ; Mohsen Rabbani, chef des écoles théologiques à l’étranger et proche conseiller de Khamenei ; et Ali Fallahian, actuel conseiller en sécurité du Guide suprême de la révolution.

En Irak et en Afghanistan, Téhéran est fortement soupçonné avoir soutenu certains mouvements rebelles. Même Al-Qaida aurait servi de paravent à certaines opérations. En effet, une « branche iranienne » de l’organisation semble être active. Elle est commandée par l’ancien colonel des forces spéciales égyptiennes, Saif al-Adel. De plus, des membres de la famille d’Oussama Ben Laden y sont « accueillis » et servent en quelque sorte de « monnaie d’échange ». Même le chef d’Al-Qaida en Irak, Abou Moussab Al-Zarqaoui, tué le 7 juin 2006, aurait été, du moins à l’origine, un agent recruté par les services iraniens. Il se serait ensuite affranchi des liens l’unissant à ses mentors et se serait lancé dans les attentats à grande échelle contre les populations chiites d’Irak. Cela expliquerait sa fin : il aurait tout simplement été « donné » aux Américains par les services iraniens.

L’objectif dans ces deux Etats est double pour Téhéran : créer des abcès de fixation qui empêchent les Américains d’envisager toute action militaire contre les installations nucléaires iraniennes et contrôler, autant que faire se peut, les différents mouvements autochtones dont les anciens gouvernants ont été considérés comme des ennemis importants de l’Iran. En conséquence, l’idée d’un Irak et d’un Afghanistan instables semble rencontrer la faveur des mollahs iraniens.

Cette liste d’opérations terroristes ne prend pas en compte les attentats ciblés dirigés contre des membres des services Américains ou des Israéliens. Ces derniers font partie de la guerre secrète que se livrent les services concernés [4], mais ne peuvent être qualifiés d’« actes terroristes » qui, par définition, visent pour leur part à un maximum de publicité.

Litiges avec la France
Bien que la France ait accueilli l’ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeiny en France, à Neauphle-le-Château, d’octobre à 1978 à janvier 1979, le régime des mollahs ne montrera aucune sympathie à l’égard de Paris. Il faut dire qu’aux yeux de Téhéran, la France sera rapidement considérée comme un pays hostile. En effet, les opposants au régime trouveront en France la terre d’exil qui leur convient. Ensuite, Paris soutiendra l’Irak dans la guerre qui l’oppose à l’Iran, particulièrement en fournissant des armes, dont des Mirages F1, des Super étendards, des missiles Exocet et de nombreuses munitions.

La réponse de Téhéran sera énergique. Elle se traduit par des prises d’otages au Liban et des attaques terroristes. La plus spectaculaire est l’attentat au camion piégé qui a lieu à Beyrouth contre l’immeuble Drakkar , le 23 octobre 1983, qui fait 61 victimes françaises.

De nombreux attentats à la bombe ont également lieu sur le sol français, particulièrement en région parisienne, au cours de la période 1985-86 : 23 février 1985, magasin Marks & Spencer : un mort, 14 blessés ; 9mars 1985 cinéma Rivoli Beaubourg, 18 blessés ; 7 décembre 1985, double attentat contre les Galeries Lafayette et le Printemps Haussmann, 43 blessés ; 3 février 1986, hôtel Claridge, 8 blessés ; 4 février, magasin Gibert Jeune, 5 blessés ; FNAC Sport du Forum des Halles, 22 blessés ; 17 mars 1986, une bombe dans le TGV Paris-Lyon à hauteur de Brunoy, 29 blessés ; 8 septembre, bureau de poste de l’hôtel de ville à Paris, un mort et 21 blessés ; 12 septembre, cafétéria du super marché Casino à la Défense, 54 blessés ; 14 septembre, Pub Renault sur les Champs-Elysées, deux policiers et un maître d’hôtel sont tués alors qu’ils ont détecté l’engin explosif ; 15 septembre, locaux des services du permis de conduire de la Préfecture de police, un mort et 56 blessés ; 17 septembre, magasin Tati rue de Rennes, sept morts et 55 blessés.

La DST découvrira que le réseau Ali Fouad Saleh responsable de ces vagues de terreur était placé sous les ordres du Hezbollah libanais. L’officier traitant d’Ali Fouad Saleh aurait été Hussein Mazbou, un haut responsable du Hezbollah proche collaborateur d’Imad Fayez Mughniah, le responsable opérationnel pour l’étranger du mouvement [5].

Un autre litige provient du problème d’Eurodif, projet de production d’uranium enrichi dans lequel Téhéran était partie prenante depuis le Shah. Sous la pression, la France finira par rembourser Téhéran à hauteur de 1,6 milliard de dollars. A noter qu’à ce propos, un mystère entoure encore l’assassinat de Georges Besse, PDG de Renault mais également ancien président du directoire d’Eurodif. Il est abattu le 17 novembre 1986, jour du premier remboursement de la France à l’Iran. Certains experts avancent l’idée que le groupe Action Directe, qui a commis puis revendiqué cette opération, était en fait manipulé par les services secrets iraniens. Cela est du domaine du possible puisque les services iraniens ont toujours privilégié l’utilisation d’intermédiaires qui servaient de « fusibles ».

Aujourd’hui, les relations politiques bilatérales entre les deux Etats sont exécrables car Paris insiste sur le respect des Droits de l’Homme en Iran et occupe une place de premier rang au sein des pays qui s’opposent au développement du programme nucléaire iranien. Nul doute que si le besoin s’en fait sentir, Téhéran pourra utiliser de nouveau l’arme du terrorisme contre les intérêts français.

Les liens de Téhéran avec les mouvements terroristes étrangers

Téhéran a toujours maintenu secrètement des relations avec les mouvements terroristes étrangers de manière à pouvoir les utiliser à son profit. Cependant, les preuves formelles sont rares.

En 1995, une conférence secrète aurait eu lieu en Iran sous l’égide des Gardiens de la Révolution (Pasdaran). Elle a rassemblé des représentants des mouvements terroristes suivants : l’Armée rouge japonaise, l’Armée secrète arménienne, le PKK, le parti irakien Dawah, le Font islamique de libération du Bahrain et le Hezbollah libanais. Le but poursuivi à l’époque était la déstabilisation des Etats du Golfe persique. Téhéran aurait alors proposé son aide à ces différents mouvements, notamment en matière d’entraînement.

Aujourd’hui, Téhéran utilise surtout le Hezbollah libanais (voir ci-dessous) mais aurait également des contacts au sein de différents mouvements révolutionnaires sud-américains. Ces derniers auraient lieu au Venezuela – le président Hugo Chavez ne cache pas sa profonde sympathie pour le régime iranien – et dans la région des trois frontières (Foz de Iguaçu) située entre le Paraguay, l’Argentine et le Brésil.

Le Hezbollah libanais

Le Hezbollah libanais, fondé en juin 1982, est un mouvement chiite libanais qui possède une branche armée appelée la Résistance islamique. En fait, depuis l’origine, ce mouvement est infiltré, rémunéré et dirigé en sous-main par Téhéran. Il est utilisé non seulement au Liban, mais aussi à l’étranger pour servir les intérêts du régime des mollahs.

Son chef, le Cheikh Hassan Nasrallah, qui est sorti vainqueur, du moins sur le plan psychologique du conflit qui a opposé son mouvement à l’Etat d’Israël en juillet-août 2006, réorganise son mouvement et se prépare à de nouvelles opérations destinées à reprendre le combat si l’ordre lui en est donné.

Parallèlement, sur instructions de Téhéran, le Hezbollah fournirait armements et formations au Hamas et au Djihad islamique palestiniens (qui sont pourtant des mouvements sunnites) en vue d’un prochain conflit. En effet, la tactique envisagée par Téhéran en cas de frappes israéliennes sur ses installations nucléaires consiste à ouvrir d’autres fronts qui obligeraient l’adversaire à disperser ses forces. De l’aveu même de Galeb Abou Zeinab, un membre dirigeant du Hezbollah, «  la coopération avec le Hamas est la meilleure possible. Nous discutons en permanence ensembles et échangeons nos expériences. Le Hezbollah tente d’aider le Hamas du mieux qu’il le peut  ». La Cisjordanie n’est pas oubliée et le Hezbollah serait en train d’y déployer des activistes afin d’y constituer un front supplémentaire. Même les services de sécurité israéliens reconnaissent que la menace représentée par le Hezbollah dans cette zone y est supérieure à celle du Hamas et du Fatah ! Un autre front pourrait s’ouvrir dans le Golan, un nouveau mouvement ayant fait son apparition : le « Front de libération du Golan » qui serait en fait une émanation du Hezbollah libanais appuyé par des conseillers iraniens et syriens.

Le Hezbollah profite de l’importante communauté libanaise expatriée pour tisser ses réseaux à l’étranger. Très présent sur le continent africain, sud-américain, ce mouvement est capable d’apporter une aide logistique, voire opérationnelle, à des actions terroristes qui pourraient viser les intérêts occidentaux sur ces continents.

Le rôle des ambassades iraniennes
Bien qu’il s’en défende, l’Iran peut également fournir un appui logistique à des activistes à l’étranger, grâce à ses nombreuses représentations diplomatiques, culturelles ou même des ONG. Il est à remarquer que partout où des changements politiques ont amené au pouvoir des responsables hostiles aux Etats-Unis – tout particulièrement en Amérique latine – les représentations diplomatiques iraniennes ont été considérablement renforcées sans que les échanges politiques, économiques ou culturels avec ces Etats ne le justifie. Washington soupçonne Téhéran de mettre en fait en place un réseau logistique destiné à nuire aux Etats-Unis, peut-être en utilisant l’arme du terrorisme. C’est ainsi que des filières d’infiltration d’agents clandestins à destination de l’Amérique du Nord auraient été mises en place à partir du Nicaragua et du Venezuela.

Le terrorisme est un moyen de combat au même titre que la guérilla. Téhéran a montré dans le passé qu’à défaut d’armes de destruction massive, il ne répugnait pas à recourir au terrorisme d’Etat car c’est en quelque sorte « l’arme du faible au fort ». L’Iran en a les moyens humains, techniques et pratiques grâce à ses réseaux qui couvrent une grande partie de la planète. Si un bras de fer sévère s’engage vraiment entre les Occidentaux et la république théocratique, il est très probable que des opérations terroristes seront déclenchées comme moyen de rétorsion. L’identification formelle du commanditaire sera difficile à faire car les services iraniens sont passés maîtres dans le domaine du brouillage de pistes en utilisant des mouvements qui servent d’écrans de dissimulation.

[1] Voir les Notes d’actualité n°194 de novembre 2009 et n°200 de janvier 2010.
[2] Al-Qaida a été officiellement créée en 1991.
[3] CSSN, la plus haute juridiction en matière de défense en Iran.
[4] Voir les Notes d’actualité n°107 de novembre 2007 et n°117 de février 2008.
[5] Il a été assassiné à Damas le 12 février 2008, vraisemblablement par le Mossad.

http://www.iran-resist.org/mot102.html
« Kaveh Le Forgeron », Le Hezbollah Global. Les réseaux secrets de l’Iran

Frédéric Charillon

Carnets internationaux

29 novembre 2012

« Kaveh Le Forgeron », Le Hezbollah Global. Les réseaux secrets de l’Iran, Choiseul, Paris, 2012

L’ouvrage signé sous un pseudonyme – on parle d’un collectif d’opposants iraniens – revient d’abord sur l’organisation de l’appareil d’Etat iranien, avant d’analyser l’action de celui-ci à l’étranger, à travers le mouvement politique chi’ite mondial (POCHM) et la nébuleuse nationale-islamique iranienne (NINI), entre autres. Une approche très exhaustive s’attache à passer en revue les actions les plus déstabilisatrices et les réseaux d’amitiés / complicités de la république islamique sur l’ensemble de la planète, y compris dans des zones où une menace iranienne n’apparaissait pas évidente aux observateurs (de la Nouvelle Zélande à l’Uruguay, en passant par la Bolivie ou la Roumanie).

Le caractère systématique de l’ouvrage permet de passer en revue, pour différents pays, la liste des actions connues et répertoriées par la presse sur des points donnés. Exemple : la liste des opposants iraniens liquidés en Turquie, p.167-170.

Des dimensions mal connues du grand public sont analysées avec précision, ainsi la force des liens avec le Pakistan (p.107 et sqq.), le rôle des militaires pakistanais (p.123 et sqq.). D’autres dimensions pourtant mieux repérées sont tout de même éclairées avec pertinence également, par exemple sur le dossier nucléaire (p.86 et sqq.) ou sur l’Armée des Gardiens de la Révolution Islamique (p.70 et sqq.).

Malgré l’absence d’une hypothèse forte, sans doute due à l’effet-catalogue de ce travail, on voit bien la centralité des solidarités chi’ites à l’œuvre dans les réseaux présentés ici. Même si pour un lecteur français, le fait de traiter l’activité iranienne au Canada ou en Scandinavie, presque sur même pied que les passages consacrés au Liban, à la Syrie (p.261-262) ou à l’Irak (p.175-80), étonne.

Il ne faut pas se fier au titre de cet ouvrage : il n’est pas question – ou si peu – du Hezbollah ici, ni en tant que tel, ni en tant que symptôme d’une méthode iranienne, consistant par exemple à transformer un pays arabe donné en « multivocal state », par l’établissement d’un pouvoir parallèle fondé sur la mise en œuvre d’un mouvement armé d’identité chi’ite mais capitalisant sur l’opposition à Israël. Sur ces points, on se tournera plutôt, pour des sources françaises, vers les travaux de Sabrina MERVIN, Mona HARB, ou surtout, sur le dossier libanais, ceux de Bernard ROUGIER. Ou, pour des sources anglaises, vers Hala JABER ou Eitan AZANI.

Ce livre constitue néanmoins un document à consulter comme aide mémoire, pays par pays, sur la question de l’action extérieure iranienne. On pourra, à partir des exemples nombreux qui sont passés en revue dans ce document, réfléchir à quelques problématiques qui en émergent :
– – La question de l’animation, par l’Iran et d’autres, d’un réseaux de « politiques étrangères protestataires », solidaires entre elles, refusant les initiatives occidentales et leur « diplomatie de club » (pour reprendre l’expression de Bertrand BADIE), politiques qui comptent des relais de téhéran à Caracas en passant par Pyongyang, Minsk, voire Pékin ou Moscou.
– – La question de la nuisance en politique étrangère, qui consiste à contrer efficacement les initiatives dominantes au cas par cas, plutôt que de proposer une politique de puissance alternative avec une stratégie globale (ainsi l’Iran a-t-il davantage profité des erreurs américaines au Moyen-Orient, plutôt qu’il n’aurait bâti de stratégie a priori).
– – Enfin, bien évidemment, la question de la mobilisation de ressources et de réseaux religieux à l’appui d’une action extérieure (pour des exemples de travaux récents sur des cas comparés en monde musulman, on regardera Amélie BLOM sur le Pakistan ou Delphine ALLES sur l’Indonésie).

Voir également:

Un rapport US exclut le Hezbollah et l’Iran du chapitre sur les menaces terroristes

Dans la presse

Remis en février au Sénat, le document annuel du Renseignement national vient d’être rendu public.

L’Orient le jour
17/03/2015

L’Iran et le Hezbollah ont été exclus cette année du chapitre consacré aux menaces terroristes dans le rapport annuel remis en février au Sénat américain par le directeur du Renseignement national, James Clapper, et qui vient d’être rendu public.

Dans le rapport, intitulé « Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community » (évaluation des  menaces mondiales par l’ensemble des services de renseignements) de 2015, la section terrorisme est largement consacrée aux mouvements sunnites extrémistes, notamment le groupe Etat islamique et le Front al-Nosra (en Irak et en Syrie), et la menace que représente leur montée en puissance pour les alliés des Etats-Unis, leurs partenaires et leurs intérêts.

En 2014, il était écrit dans le rapport que le Hezbollah et l’Iran continuaient de menacer directement les intérêts des alliés de Washington et que le parti chiite avait augmenté son « activité terroriste globale ». L’Iran et le Hezbollah figuraient également dans les éditions des années précédentes, dans la section terrorisme.

A noter que de manière générale, le rapport n’est pas l’équivalent de la liste officielle américaine des organisations considérées comme terroristes. La plupart des organisations inscrites sur la liste officielle ne sont, en effet, pas citées dans le rapport du Renseignement national.

Dans le document du Renseignement national, le Hezbollah, impliqué dans le conflit syrien au côté du régime de Bachar el-Assad, est cité dans la section intitulée « menaces régionales », en rapport avec l’activité des groupes jihadistes sunnites. « Le Liban subit la menace grandissante des groupes terroristes, dont l’EI et al-Nosra. Les extrémistes sunnites essaient d’établir des réseaux au Liban où ils ont multiplié les attaques contre des positions de l’armée libanaise et du Hezbollah à la frontière libano-syrienne »,  peut-on lire.

Quant à l’Iran, il est mentionné dans la section « menaces régionales » pour les Etats-Unis en raison de son soutien au président Bachar el-Assad, du développement de capacités militaires avancées et de la poursuite de son programme nucléaire. Le rapport note cependant l’aide de Téhéran dans la lutte contre l’expansion de l’EI en Irak. Téhéran est également cité dans les sections consacrées à la cybermenace et aux armes de destruction massive.

En 2013, l’Union européenne avait inscrit la branche armée du Hezbollah sur sa liste des organisations terroristes. Dans leur décision, les Européens n’étaient pas allés aussi loin que les Etats-Unis qui ont placé sur leur liste noire le Hezbollah dans toutes ses déclinaisons, estimant qu’il était impossible de distinguer entre ses branches politique et militaire.

A noter par ailleurs que la Russie et la Corée du nord sont mentionnées dans plusieurs parties du rapport.
Le rapport de James Clapper intervient alors que l’Iran et les grandes puissances sont dans la dernière ligne droite de leurs négociations en vue de résoudre la crise du programme nucléaire controversé de Téhéran et discuter de la levée des sanctions internationales qui frappent l’économie iranienne.

Après 12 ans de tensions entre l’Iran et les Occidentaux et 18 mois de pourparlers intenses, la République islamique et les grandes puissances du groupe 5+1 (Etats-Unis, Chine, Russie, Royaume-Uni, France, et Allemagne) se sont donné jusqu’au 31 mars pour sceller un règlement politique qui garantirait que l’Iran n’aura jamais la bombe atomique, en échange d’une levée des sanctions.


Election israélienne: Attention: une ingérence peut en cacher une autre ! (How US interference turned Bibi’s victory into Barack’s defeat)

19 mars, 2015

https://i2.wp.com/pbs.twimg.com/media/CAPe4Y_U8AIBFaS.jpg

https://i0.wp.com/cdn.pophangover.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/dewey.jpgLe journal Al-Hayat, basé à Londres, a rapporté lundi que des gardiens de la révolution iraniens ainsi que des membres combattants du Hezbollah libanais ont récemment commencé à se déployer le long de la frontière syro-jordanienne. Selon le rapport, la force iranienne déployée près de la frontière, qui pour la plupart sont arrivés directement de l’Iran, comprend entre 10.000 et 15.000 soldats. Les combattants du Hezbollah, quant à eux, sont arrivés des camps d’entraînement militaire établies dans le sud du Liban, près de la frontière avec la Syrie… La Jordanie s’est déclarée inquiète de la forte concentration de combattants iraniens à sa frontière et a dépêché le ministre des Affaires étrangères de la Jordanie, Nasser Judeh, à Téhéran ces derniers jours pour s’entretenir avec les responsables iraniens. Judeh a transmis un message sans équivoque aux Iraniens, il leur a clairement indiqué que le déploiement de troupes a proximité de la Jordanie est un signe trés négatif. Selon le rapport, Judeh a demandé des éclaircissements sur cette accumulation de troupes et il a dit  à ses hôtes que cette décision pourrait saper la stabilité régionale et même déclencher une confrontation militaire entre l’armée jordanienne et les forces iraniennes si le commandement de la défense de la Jordanie conclut que ce déploiement constitue une menace pour la sécurité du royaume. Israel Hayom
Le Hamas et les factions de la résistance ne renonceront pas à leurs principes afin de résoudre les problèmes quotidiens qui affectent les Gazaouis. Nous ne pouvons accepter les conditions de Blair, parce qu’elles sont très dangereuses pour la cause palestinienne. Tout élément palestinien qui accepterait les messages et les conditions de Blair, y compris le Hamas, commettrait une grave erreur et un crime historique qui serait impardonnable… Nous sommes prêts à accepter un Etat dans les frontières de 1967, mais nous ne reconnaîtrons ni Israël, ni son droit de propriété sur un seul centimètre carré de la Palestine. Faire dépendre la reconstruction de Gaza de la fin du conflit est un marchandage inacceptable pour le Hamas, et le Hamas dispose d’alternatives à cet égard. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar (représentant du Hamas )
Je ne peux plus le voir, c’est un menteur. Nicolas Sarkozy (confidence sur le président Netanyahou, G20, Cannes, nov. 2011)
Tu en as marre de lui, mais moi, je dois traiter avec lui tous les jours! Barak Obama
The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit. The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars. The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states. The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he’s not [Ariel] Sharon, he’s certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He’s got no guts. Senior Obama administration official 
[U]ltimately [Netanyahu] couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late. Senior Obama administration official
Malgré les différences et la compétition entre nous, notre ennemi direct est le sionisme. Ayman Odeh (liste arabe unie)
The goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and the desire to reach an agreement that will push Iran back as much as possible is not an issue of disagreement between Israel’s [political] parties. Amos Yadlin
Tightness of exits in Israel suggests Bibi’s shameful 11th hour demagoguery may have swayed enough votes to save him. But at what cost? David Axelrod
Les élections législatives ce mardi en Israël, pourrait marquer la fin de pouvoir de Benjamin Netanyahu, 65 ans, premier ministre depuis mars 2009, selon les quotidiens français. AFP
Elections en Israël : Bye Bye Bibi. Affaibli, le premier ministre israélien, Benjamin Netanyahu, pourrait bien quitter le pouvoir à l’issue des législatives ce mardi. Libération
On ne peut durablement gouverner en usant de la peur comme seule politique. On ne peut sans cesse construire des murs et des fortins plutôt que des dispensaires et des logements sociaux. (…) A trop hystériser la vie politique, »Bibi » s’est montré tel qu’il était réellement: un politicien sans autre projet que celui de se maintenir au pouvoir, et non un homme politique avec une vision.  Alexandra Schwartzbrod (Libération)
Il y a deux semaines, Benyamin Nétanyahou défiait Barack Obama depuis le Congrès, le présentant comme un naïf et un opportuniste, prêt à négocier avec l’Iran un «mauvais et dangereux accord» pour la sécurité d’Israël et du monde. Mais si le président américain, furieux de ce défi, espérait se débarrasser de lui à la faveur des élections israéliennes, le voilà bien déçu. La claire victoire de «Bibi» est un violent camouflet politique et stratégique pour Barack Obama, vu l’état catastrophique des relations bilatérales entre les deux hommes. D’anciens conseillers électoraux du président avaient même fait le voyage de Jérusalem pour tenter d’éviter sa réélection… «Ils détestent Bibi, et ils prient pour qu’il quitte le pouvoir», avait confié à Politico un ancien responsable de l’Administration Obama, mardi, juste avant les résultats. Les nouvelles n’en sont que plus «amères», note le Wall Street Journal. Signe des temps, les républicains ont été les premiers à se réjouir du succès de Nétanyahou, pavoisant bruyamment. «Félicitations au premier ministre Nétanyahou pour sa réélection. Il est un vrai leader qui continuera à assurer la sécurité et la force d’Israël», a écrit Jeb Bush, candidat quasi officiel à la Maison-Blanche sur Twitter. «Son succès électoral est d’autant plus impressionnant que des forces puissantes ont tenté de l’affaiblir, notamment, tristement, tout le poids de l’équipe politique d’Obama», a réagi le sénateur Ted Cruz, soutenu par les Tea Party. «Il aurait été ironique qu’Obama ait réussi à sortir Bibi mais pas Assad», a carrément plaisanté le représentant républicain, Steve King. Le maintien de Nétanyahou aux affaires va sérieusement compliquer la politique iranienne d’Obama, prévoit Martin Indyk, l’un des anciens conseillers du président pour la région. Avec la volte-face de dernière minute de Nétanyahou sur le fait qu’il n’accepterait jamais d’État palestinien – alors qu’il avait toujours affirmé soutenir ce projet défendu par Washington – «assainir ses relations empoisonnées avec le président sera encore plus difficile», écrit le New York Times dans un éditorial, dénonçant aussi la «vilaine campagne» menée par Bibi contre les électeurs arabes d’Israël. «C’est une claque à la face des États-Unis», confiait mardi au Figaro un ancien ambassadeur à Washington, évoquant les décennies passées par les présidents américains successifs à tenter d’arracher un État palestinien. (…)  L’opinion israélienne n’a pas été suffisamment choquée par la détérioration des relations avec Washington pour en faire une raison de renvoyer son premier ministre, semblant indiquer qu’elle compte plus sur lui pour défendre sa sécurité que sur l’alliance avec le grand ami américain. En filigrane, ce vote révèle les doutes que suscite aujourd’hui la politique étrangère américaine au Moyen-Orient. La question est maintenant de savoir comment les deux alliés américain et israélien vont pouvoir fonctionner dans ce contexte de «guerre» politique ouverte. Le Figaro
La seule démocratie véritable du Moyen orient est paradoxalement traitée en paria des nations, sans qu’on sache si la cause de cette stigmatisation est la poursuite des implantations juives dans les territoires occupés, ou bien l’existence même d’un foyer juif indépendant en terre d’Islam… Brice Couturier
The real loser is President Barack Obama, who undoubtedly hoped for a poor showing by Netanyahu. And the even bigger loser is the Iranian regime, who will now face an emboldened Israeli leader who made the case for his re-election on the grounds of strong public opposition to the generous terms of the nuclear deal that Obama is negotiating with Iran. The most important immediate consequence of the election is that Netanyahu’s defense minister, Moshe “Bogey” Ya’alon, is likely to retain his post. A thorn in the side of Secretary of State John Kerry, whom he called “messianic,” Ya’alon is one of the few military planners in the western world with a grasp on the strategic realities of the Middle East. He has been a counsel of patience for Netanyahu, advising him not to waste resources on Hamas while Iran still looms as the enemy. Netanyahu will also have some compromises to make en route to forming a new coalition. He will likely have to deliver on his promise to hand control over the finance ministry to one of his rivals, for example. And this may be his final term in office, given how close he came to defeat. Yet the importance of his victory cannot be diminished. It is the biggest media surprise since “Dewey Defeats Truman”–a remarkable feat in today’s environment of big data, big media and big money. Breitbart
It’s not too soon to say who lost — President Obama. The President threw his personal prestige, and that of his office, into undermining and defeating Prime Minister Netanyahu. Acolytes of the president were thronging to an electioneering operation called V15 in the hopes of delivering the premiership to anyone but the leader of the Likud. That was the least of it. Mr. Obama gave Mr. Netanyahu the cold shoulder when the prime minister came to town to address a joint meeting of Congress. He belittled the speech. To describe Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Obama’s aides used gutter language never before used by an American presidency in respect of a foreign ally. Yet as the exit polling comes in, it looks like Mr. Netanyahu made a fool of the pollsters and may well have gained a new mandate. More broadly though, it looks like what happened is that a hardheaded electorate, in a vibrant democracy, endorsed two broadly centrist factions. Mr. Netanyahu of Likud and Isaac Herzog of the Zionist Union both were buoyed by that instinct. So, as we see it, no matter what happens, Mr. Obama’s attempt to paint Mr. Netanyahu as a marginal, rejectionist figure is shown for what it is — a mark of disrespect for Israel itself. He should have stood on the sidelines. Will Mr. Obama concede his error? One thing for Americans to keep in mind as the maneuvering begins is that neither the right of center nor the left of center Israeli faction is enthusiastic about the Obama-Kerry negotiations with Iran. The pact is being called by the American editor of Israel’s leading liberal newspaper, Haaretz, in an interview on MSNBC, a deal “which most Israelis are opposed to.” No matter how it turns out, the thing for Mr. Obama to do would be to credit and to work with whoever is given a mandate by the Mideast’s only real democracy. The New York Sun
Sur les 8 millions de citoyens de l’Etat juif, 1,2 millions de musulmans profitent pleinement des avantages de la démocratie dans laquelle ils vivent, y compris du droit de diffamer publiquement Israël comme un État raciste, et même de contester son existence ! Ayman Odeh, chef de la nouvelle liste arabe unie en cours de constitution pour les prochaines élections à la Knesset, a annoncé récemment que « notre ennemi direct est le sionisme » ce qui signifie tout simplement qu’Israël doit cesser d’exister en tant qu’Etat juif ! Si la Cour suprême israélienne ne fait rien pour arrêter l’objectif déclaré de ce parti : Démanteler l’Etat d’Israël et le fait qu’Israël a été reconnu comme un État juif par la communauté internationale. La résolution de San Remo de 1920 a confirmé « qu’en vertu de la Déclaration Balfour, le gouvernement britannique avait entrepris de favoriser la création d’un foyer national juif en Palestine, sans préjudice des droits civils et religieux des communautés non-juives existantes.» Cette résolution a été réaffirmé en mai 1947 par les Nations Unies résolution 181 qui « impose la partition de la Palestine sous mandat britannique en un État juif et un Etat arabe. » La déclaration d’indépendance de l’état d’Israël en mai 1948, rédigée avec ces résolutions antérieures à l’esprit, affirme tout d’abord l’évidence que « la terre d’Israël [Palestine] a été le berceau du peuple juif » et poursuit en disant que « cette reconnaissance par les Nations Unies, du droit du peuple juif à établir son Etat, est irrévocable. Ce droit est le droit naturel du peuple juif à être maître de son destin, comme toutes les autres nations, dans leur propre État souverain. » La communauté internationale, à l’exception des ennemis d’Israël, a accepté le droit historique des Juifs de vivre sur leurs terres, mais avec des réserves concernant les frontières actuelles, étant donné qu’elles ont été établies le long des lignes d’armistice. Pour sa part, Israël essaie, tant en théorie qu’en pratique, de garantir les droits de ses minorités. En revanche, le dirigeant arabe-palestinien Mahmoud Abbas lors de la dernière convention de l’OLP le 3 mars a répété son engagement à deux principes sans compromis : Oui à une Palestine arabe « Judenrein » et non à un Etat juif ! Selon le dirigeant arabe-palestinien, s’il y a la paix dans cette région les Juifs ne sauraient être autorisés à vivre dans un futur « Etat palestinien » et Israël ne devrait pas continuer d’exister comme un État juif. Et pourtant, c’est Israël qui est étiqueté comme raciste, malgré le fait que les arabes israéliens jouissent de droits pleins et équitables. Bien que les fausses accusations de racisme font que beaucoup d’Israéliens se joignent au chœur des « viva Palestina » dans une vaine tentative d’apaisement, il n’en est pas moins que certains refusent d’éteindre les lumières. Le ministre des affaires étrangères Avigdor Lieberman a raison quand il dit que la liste du nouveau parti United Arab, qui partage la vision d’Abbas et bénéficie également maintenant de sa bénédiction, expose un nouveau plan arabe-palestinien pour « faire exploser Israël de l’intérieur ». Si habilement, cette nouvelle faction arabe qui partage le rêve d’Abbas d’une « Palestine Judenrein » et joue la carte du racisme, a incité Lieberman d’avertir que ce parti « nous prépare une intifada intérieure d’Israël. » Malheureusement, on dira qu’avec l’expérience du passé, seuls quelques-uns prendront cet avertissement au sérieux. Tsvi Sadan
Most American coverage of the Israeli election continues to center on the fate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his possible replacement by a Labor-led coalition that will steer the Jewish state away from confrontation with the United States. If Netanyahu loses tomorrow, there’s no doubt that it will greatly please the Obama administration. The president and his foreign-policy team regard the Israeli leader as public enemy No. 1 both because of their personal antipathy for him and his willingness to challenge their desire to create détente with Iran. But just as the White House’s expectations for a more pliable Israeli negotiating partner with the Palestinians may be unrealistic, so, too, is their confidence about Labor’s attitude about Iran. As a Times of Israel interview makes clear, the opposition’s designated candidate for defense minister, former general Amos Yadlin, is every bit the hawk about stopping and, if necessary, bombing Iran, as Netanyahu has been. It bears repeating that the image of Netanyahu as an extremist that is often the keynote of American press coverage betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the realities of Israeli politics. Though after three terms and nine years as prime minister Netanyahu may have outlasted his expiration date for the Israeli public, the general dissatisfaction with him should not be mistaken for disagreement with this policies on either the Palestinians or Iran. To the contrary, polls show that there is little support for more concessions to a Palestinian Authority that has repeatedly rejected chances for peace, let alone to the even more implacable Hamas in Gaza. Nor is there much of a constituency for complacency about the peril about the prospect of an Iranian nuclear bomb. Netanyahu’s problems in the election stem from anger about his foolish decision to call an election when he didn’t need to do so and the fact that many voters want more attention paid to economic and domestic issues that the prime minister has sidelined while highlighting security threats. Though his Zionist Union opponents have criticized Netanyahu’s confrontational tactics with the Obama administration, they have been falling over themselves to make the public think there isn’t much difference between them on security issues. That is largely the case since it is unlikely that either Isaac Herzog or Tzipi Livni (who represented Netanyahu in the peace talks the past two years) will be able to offer the Palestinians any more than the prime minister. Indeed, Herzog has been eager to declare that he wouldn’t divide Jerusalem, as Obama wants him to do. Assuring the Israeli public that his government wouldn’t be any less tough than that of Netanyahu was the reason Herzog brought Amos Yadlin onto his ticket and designated him as the likely defense minister in the next government. Yadlin, a former head of intelligence for the Israel Defense Forces, is, like many in the old left-dominated army establishment, a stern critic of Netanyahu. But if Obama and his team are reading what Yadlin is saying they might be a little less enthusiastic about the prospect of a new Israeli government. (…) There really isn’t any genuine disagreement between Israel’s mainstream parties (Labor and Likud) on the basic issues of war and peace. Neither can offer a Palestinian leadership that is not interested in peace anything that will tempt them to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn. And both are adamantly opposed to appeasement of Iran. Labor may speak kindly about the administration whereas Netanyahu is no longer bothering with pretending that he trusts the president. But when it comes to opposing the sort of concessions the U.S. is making to Iran, Yadlin is every bit the hawk that Netanyahu has been. All of which means that no matter who wins tomorrow, tension between an American government determined to embrace Iran and to push for territorial concessions to the Palestinians and Israel’s government will continue. Jonathan S. Tobin
Of all the idiocies uttered in reaction to Benjamin Netanyahu’s stunning election victory, none is more ubiquitous than the idea that peace prospects are now dead because Netanyahu has declared that there will be no Palestinian state while he is Israel’s prime minister. I have news for the lowing herds: There would be no peace and no Palestinian state if Isaac Herzog were prime minister either. Or Ehud Barak or Ehud Olmert for that matter. The latter two were (non-Likud) prime ministers who offered the Palestinians their own state — with its capital in Jerusalem and every Israeli settlement in the new Palestine uprooted — only to be rudely rejected. This is not ancient history. This is 2000, 2001, and 2008 — three astonishingly concessionary peace offers within the last 15 years. Every one rejected. The fundamental reality remains: This generation of Palestinian leadership — from Yasser Arafat to Mahmoud Abbas — has never and will never sign its name to a final peace settlement dividing the land with a Jewish state. And without that, no Israeli government of any kind will agree to a Palestinian state. Today, however, there is a second reason a peace agreement is impossible: the supreme instability of the entire Middle East. For half a century, it was run by dictators no one liked but with whom you could do business. For example, the 1974 Israel–Syria disengagement agreement yielded more than four decades of near-total quiet on the border because the Assad dictatorships so decreed. That authoritarian order is gone. Syria is wracked by a multi-sided civil war that has killed 200,000 people and that has al-Qaeda allies, Hezbollah fighters, government troops, and even the occasional Iranian general prowling the Israeli border. Who inherits? No one knows. In the last four years, Egypt has had two revolutions and three radically different regimes. Yemen went from pro-American to Iranian client so quickly the U.S. had to evacuate its embassy in a panic. Libya has gone from Moammar Qaddafi’s crazy authoritarianism to jihadi-dominated civil war. On Wednesday, Tunisia, the one relative success of the Arab Spring, suffered a major terror attack that the prime minister said “targets the stability of the country.” From Mali to Iraq, everything is in flux. Amid this mayhem, by what magic would the West Bank, riven by a bitter Fatah–Hamas rivalry, be an island of stability? What would give any Israeli–Palestinian peace agreement even a modicum of durability? There was a time when Arafat commanded the Palestinian movement the way Qaddafi commanded Libya. Abbas commands no one. Why do you think he is in the eleventh year of a four-year term, having refused to hold elections for the last five years? Because he’s afraid he would lose to Hamas. With or without elections, the West Bank could fall to Hamas overnight. At which point fire rains down on Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport, and the entire Israeli urban heartland — just as it rains down on southern Israel from Gaza when it suits Hamas. Any Arab–Israeli peace settlement would require Israel to make dangerous and inherently irreversible territorial concessions on the West Bank in return for promises and guarantees. Under current conditions, these would be written on sand. Israel is ringed by jihadi terrorists in Sinai, Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Islamic State and Iranian proxies in Syria, and a friendly but highly fragile Jordan. Israelis have no idea who ends up running any of these places. Well, say the critics. Israel could be given outside guarantees. Guarantees? Like the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, in which the U.S., Britain, and Russia guaranteed Ukraine’s “territorial integrity”? Like the red line in Syria? Like the unanimous U.N. resolutions declaring illegal any Iranian enrichment of uranium — now effectively rendered null? Peace awaits three things. Eventual Palestinian acceptance of a Jewish state. A Palestinian leader willing to sign a deal based on that premise. A modicum of regional stability that allows Israel to risk the potentially fatal withdrawals such a deal would entail. I believe such a day will come. But there is zero chance it comes now or even soon. That’s essentially what Netanyahu said in explaining — and softening — on Thursday his no-Palestinian-state statement. In the interim, I understand the crushing disappointment of the Obama administration and its media poodles at the spectacular success of the foreign leader they loathe more than any other on the planet. The consequent seething and sputtering are understandable, if unseemly. Blaming Netanyahu for banishing peace, however, is mindless. Charles Krauthammer
“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. » That Churchillian one-liner summarizes the glorious chaos that is Israeli politics. In the one Middle Eastern nation where you can still speak your mind without being arrested, disappeared, or executed, Israelis went to the polls Tuesday to decide whether Benjamin « Bibi » Netanyahu or Isaac « Bougie » Herzog would lead the Jewish State for the next four years. The unexpected out come came as a shock to many pundits on both sides of the Atlantic. Netanyahu’s Likud Party won between 29 and 30 seats Mr. Herzog’s Zionist Union’s, 24. This means that Netanyahu will be given time to forge a new coalition government. Without question the results will deeply disappoint President Obama and some European leaders, who were hoping Israelis would swap out an intractable “hawk” for a more flexible “dove,” one whom they assumed would pave the way for a quick final deal with Iran and hasten a two-state solution in the Holy Land before President Obama leaves office. In reality however, there is no real distance between Bibi and Bougie over the existential threat posed by Iran. Israel’s next prime minister must come up with a plan to thwart Tehran, whose leaders continue to call for the Jewish State’s annihilation, from becoming a nuclear power. Additionally, Jerusalem will be confronted with a new strategic threat from Iran and its Hezbollah terrorist lackeys whose brazen entrenchment on the Golan Heights has raised nary a peep from the U.S. or the European Union. Even if Israel’s left had prevailed it is hard to imagine that a deal for a Two-State solution could be reached in the next two years. Hamas’ continuous terrorism and genocidal hate and the celebration by leaders of the PA of vicious terrorist outrages against Jews, have left most Israelis warily awaiting a Palestinian leader — someone unlike PA President Abbas — who would be ready to tell his constituents that their Jewish neighbors are there to stay and that the Jewish state has a legitimate right to be there. Against this background it seems almost ludicrous for anyone to believe that Israeli voters could somehow be manipulated by forces outside of Israel as to whom they should cast their ballots for. For us as Americans, Election Day is certainly important. For most Israeli parents — right, center, and left — who have to send their 18-year-old sons and daughters for two years of military service to protect the homeland — they cast their votes as if their lives and the lives of their children depend on making the right choice. Those in Washington who were reportedly involved in such an effort did a great disservice to both democracies. Rabbi Abraham Cooper
Les prochains 22 mois jusqu’à la fin du mandat du président Obama promettent d’être la période la plus difficile dans l’histoire des relations USA – Israël. Désormais guère entravé par des préoccupations électorales, au cours de la semaine dernière Obama a démontré ses mauvaises intentions à l’encontre d’Israël de deux façons. D’abord, le département de la justice a fait fuiter son intention de mettre en examen le Sénateur Démocrate Robert Menendez pour corruption. Il est le sénateur Démocrate le plus senior, et l’ancien président du Comité des Relations Etrangères du Sénat. C’est aussi le critique le plus affirmé de la politique de compromis d’Obama avec le régime iranien. (…) La raison pour laquelle Obama est si enclin à transformer Israël en une question partisane a été démontrée par la seconde décision qu’il a prise la semaine dernière. Jeudi dernier, 28 février, la conseillère Nationale à la Sécurité, Susan Rice, a annoncé que le coordinateur du NSC pour le Moyen-Orient Phil Gordon était rétrogradé et remplacé par le dénigreur obsessionnel d’Israël Robert Malley. (…) La nomination de Malley montre qu’il n’y a rien qu’Israël puisse faire pour dissiper le tsunami de la pression américaine qu’il s’apprête à endurer. Elire un gouvernement de Gauche pour remplacer le Premier ministre Benyamin Netanyahou ne fera aucune différence. Exactement comme Malley voulait blâmer Ehud Barak pour l’absence de paix, – qui alla à camp David comme dirigeant d’une coalition minoritaire, dont les positions sur les retraits territoriaux étaient rejetées par une large majorité d’Israéliens  – de la même façon on peut supposer que lui, comme son patron, reprochera à Israël l’absence de paix au cours des 22 mois à venir, sans égard à qui sera à la tête du prochain gouvernement. Dans cette veine, on peut s’attendre à ce que le gouvernement américain étende les positions anti Israël qu’il a toujours tenues. La position écrite des USA concernant la négociation israélo-palestinienne qui a fuité la semaine dernière vers le journal ‘Yediot Aharonot’ a montré clairement la direction où Obama souhaite aller. Ce document appelait Israël à se retirer aux lignes d’armistice indéfendables de 1949, avec de minimes révisions. Dans les 22 mois à venir, nous pouvons nous attendre à ce que les USA utilisent des mesures de plus en plus coercitives pour contraindre Israël à capituler sur cette position. (…) Nous devons nous attendre à ce que les USA fassent un usage extensif de la guerre économique européenne contre Israël dans les années à venir, continuent de stimuler le mouvement antisémite BDS (Boycott, Désinvestissement, sanctions) et augmentent la rhétorique diffamatoire plaçant Israël dans le même sac que le régime d’apartheid d’Afrique du Sud. Les relations de renseignement et de défense entre les USA et Israël seront aussi placées sur la table de découpe. Alors qu’Obama et ses conseillers se vantent constamment que les liens de renseignement et de défense entre Israël et les USA ont augmenté pendant sa présidence, au cours des années passées, cers liens ont souffert coup après coup. Pendant la guerre avec le Hamas l’été dernier, agissant sous les ordres directs de la Maison Blanche, le Pentagone a instauré un embargo partiel – non officiel – sur les armes vers Israël. De même pour les liens de renseignement, au cours du mois passé, le gouvernement US a annoncé à plusieurs reprises qu’il met fin au partage du renseignement vers Israël sur Iran. Le scandale des ‘courriels’ d’Hillary Clinton a révélé que pendant sa mission au poste de Secrétaire d’Etat, Clinton a transféré au ‘New York Times’ des informations ultra secrètes concernant les opérations d’Israël contre l’Iran. On a aussi appris que le vice-président de l’Etat Major est pointé du doigt comme la source des fuites concernant le virus informatique ‘Stuxnet’ qu’Israël et les USA auraient développé conjointement pour paralyser les centrifugeuses nucléaires de l’Iran. En d’autres termes, depuis qu’il a pris son poste, Obama a utilisé les liens du renseignement des USA avec Israël pour nuire à la sécurité nationale d’Israël à au moins deux occasions. Il a aussi usé de la diplomatie pour nuire à Israël. L’été dernier, Obama a cherché un règlement diplomatique de la guerre entre le Hamas et Israël qui aurait assuré au Hamas tous ses buts de guerre, dont son exigence de frontières ouvertes et l’accès au système financier international. Maintenant bien sûr, il se moque éperdument de son opposition bipartisane, et de l’opposition d’Israël et des Etats arabes sunnites, dans l’espoir de conclure un accord nucléaire avec l’Iran qui ouvrira la voie aux ayatollahs pour développer des armes nucléaires et étendre leur contrôle hégémonique sur le Moyen Orient. (…) Il est clair que les choses ne feront que devenir plus difficiles dans les mois à venir. Mais étant donnés les risques, le choix des électeurs d’Israël mardi prochain est aisé. Caroline Glick

La pire forme de gouvernement – à l’exception de toutes les autres !

Au lendemain de la réédition israélienne de la fameuse présidentielle Dewey-Truman de 1948 …

Qui a vu contre toutes les imprécations de la Maison Blanche comme de la plupart de nos médias …

L’éclatante victoire du premier ministre sortant Benjamin Netanyahou …

Alors que via l’Irak, la Syrie et le Liban, un Etat qui appelle explicitement au rayage de la carte de la seule démocratie du Moyen-Orient dispose désormais pour ses pour ses transferts d’armes et d’hommes d’une quasi-contiguïté territoriale avec Israël …

Et que les entités avec lesquelles l’Etat juif est censé négocier ont dument fait suivre depuis une vingtaine d’années chacun des accords de paix ou concessions territoriales par l’appel à l’insurrection ou la transformation des territoires cédés en base terroriste …

Pendant qu’en Israël même le chef de file d’une liste unie arabe concourant dans la même élection n’hésite pas à préciser que « leur ennemi direct est le sionisme » …

Comment ne pas voir …

Comme le rappelait dès avant l’élection, l’éditorialiste du Jerusalem Post Caroline Glick …

La véritable ingérence d’une Administration américaine prête apparemment à tout pour confier aux pyromanes iraniens rien de moins que les clés du Moyen-Orient …

Et par conséquent l’évidente logique …

Du choix que viennent de faire une majorité d’électeurs israéliens ?

Les 22 prochains mois en Israël
Caroline Glick
The Jerusalem Post

13/03/2015

Adaptation française de Sentinelle 5775
Les prochains 22 mois jusqu’à la fin du mandat du président Obama promettent d’être la période la plus difficile dans l’histoire des relations USA – Israël.

Désormais guère entravé par des préoccupations électorales, au cours de la semaine dernière Obama a démontré ses mauvaises intentions à l’encontre d’Israël de deux façons.

D’abord, le département de la justice a fait fuiter son intention de mettre en examen le Sénateur Démocrate Robert Menendez pour corruption. Il est le sénateur Démocrate le plus senior, et l’ancien président du Comité des Relations Etrangères du Sénat. C’est aussi le critique le plus affirmé de la politique de compromis d’Obama avec le régime iranien.

En tant qu’ancien procureur fédéral des USA, Andrew McCarthy a écrit cette semaine sur ‘PJMedia’ : « Il est parfaitement raisonnable de croire que Menendez soit coupable de délits de corruption et que son opposition politique sur l’Iran est un facteur de la décision du gouvernement de le mettre en cause. Dit autrement, si Menendez s’efforçait de créer une interférence en faveur d’Obama pour l’accord avec l’Iran plutôt que de le saborder, je crois qu’il ne serait pas inquiété ».

La poursuite contre Menendez nous apprend qu’Obama souhaite quitter son poste après avoir énormément diminué le soutien à Israël chez les Démocrates. Et il n’hésitera pas à user de tactiques d’un bras puissant contre ses amis Démocrates pour atteindre son but.

Nous avons déjà fait l’expérience des efforts d’Obama en ce domaine dans ce qui a conduit au discours de Benjamin Netanyahou devant les Chambres réunies du Congrès le 3 mars avec sa campagne pour inciter les législateurs Démocrates à boycotter ce discours.

Maintenant, par sa décision contre Menendez, Obama a clairement démontré que le soutien à Israël – même sous forme d’une opposition à l’armement nucléaire de l’Iran – sera personnellement et politiquement coûteux pour les Démocrates.

On ne peut souhaiter que les implications à long terme des décisions d’Obama de transformer le soutien des USA à Israël en une question partisane n’existent pas. Il est possible que son successeur, chef du Parti Démocrate, possède une vision plus sympathique d’Israël. Mais il est possible aussi que l’architecture de récolte des financements Démocrates et les racines du soutien qu‘Obama a construites au cours des six années précédentes survivront à sa présidence et en conséquence, les Démocrates auront intérêt à s’opposer à Israël.

La raison pour laquelle Obama est si enclin à transformer Israël en une question partisane a été démontrée par la seconde décision qu’il a prise la semaine dernière.

Jeudi dernier, 28 février, la conseillère Nationale à la Sécurité, Susan Rice, a annoncé que le coordinateur du NSC pour le Moyen-Orient Phil Gordon était rétrogradé et remplacé par le dénigreur obsessionnel d’Israël Robert Malley.

Malley, qui a servi comme membre junior de l’équipe de NSC sous le gouvernement Clinton, se mit en avant à la fin 2000 quand, après l’échec du sommet pour la paix de Camp David en juillet 2000 et l’éclatement de la guerre terroriste palestinienne, Malley co-rédigea un éditorial dans le ‘New York Times’ reprochant l’échec des négociations à Israël et au Premier ministre d’alors Ehud Barak.

Ce qui était le plus remarquable à l’époque sur les positions de Malley, c’est qu’elles étaient en totale opposition avec  celles exprimées par Bill Clinton. Clinton imputait le blâme de l’échec des pourparlers sans hésitation sur les épaules du dirigeant palestinien d’alors, Yasser Arafat.

Non seulement Yasser Arafat avait rejeté les offres sans précédent d’un Etat palestinien et de la souveraineté sur Gaza, la majorité de la Judée et de la Samarie et de parties de Jerusalem, y compris le Mont du Temple, mais il refusa de faire une contre-offre. Puis deux mois plus tard, il lança la guerre terroriste palestinienne.

Comme Jonathan Tobin l’a expliqué dans la revue ‘Commentary’ cette semaine, à travers ses écrits et commentaires, Malley a légitimé le rejet palestinien du droit d’Israël à l’existence. Malley pense qu’il est parfaitement raisonnable que les Palestiniens refusent de concéder leur exigence d’une immigration libre de millions d’Arabes étrangers vers l’Etat juif dans le cadre de leur ‘droit au retour’ concocté, même si l’objectif clair de cette exigence est de détruire Israël. Comme Tobin l’a noté, Malley croit que le terrorisme palestinien contre Israël est « compréhensible même s’il n’est pas vraiment louable ».

Pendant sa campagne présidentielle en 2008, Obama encore sénateur plaça Malley sur sa liste comme membre de son  équipe de politique étrangère. Quand des groupes pro-Israël critiquèrent sa nomination, Obama renvoya Malley.

Mais après sa réélection en 2012, ne craignant plus les conséquences d’engager un conseiller ouvertement anti-Israël, de ceux qui ont des contacts documentés avec des terroristes du  Hamas et qui a exprimé son soutien à la reconnaissance du groupe terroriste, Obama a nommé Malley pour servir de conseiller senior pour l’Iran, l’Irak et la Syrie et les Etats du Golfe.

Encore face aux élections au Congrès de 2014, Obama promit que Malley n’aurait aurait aucune responsabilité sur les questions liées à Israël et aux Palestiniens. Mais la semaine dernière, il l’a nommé pour diriger la politique du NSC en relation avec tout le Moyen Orient, y compris Israël.

La signification plus profonde de la nomination de Malley est qu’elle démontre que l’objectif d’Obama dans le temps qui lui reste à son poste est de réaligner la politique des USA aux Etats-Unis  à l’écart d’Israël. Avec sa politique au Moyen Orient conduite par un homme qui pense que le but des Palestiniens de détruire Israël est légitime, on peut s’attendre à ce qu’Obama étende sa pratique de reprocher l’absence de paix entre Israël et les Palestiniens uniquement sur les épaules d’Israël.

La nomination de Malley montre qu’il n’y a rien qu’Israël puisse faire pour dissiper le tsunami de la pression américaine qu’il s’apprête à endurer. Elire un gouvernement de Gauche pour remplacer le Premier ministre Benyamin Netanyahou ne fera aucune différence.

Exactement comme Malley voulait blâmer Ehud Barak pour l’absence de paix, – qui alla à camp David comme dirigeant d’une coalition minoritaire, dont les positions sur les retraits territoriaux étaient rejetées par une large majorité d’Israéliens  – de la même façon on peut supposer que lui, comme son patron, reprochera à Israël l’absence de paix au cours des 22 mois à venir, sans égard à qui sera à la tête du prochain gouvernement.

Dans cette veine, on peut s’attendre à ce que le gouvernement américain étende les positions anti Israël qu’il a toujours tenues.

La position écrite des USA concernant la négociation israélo-palestinienne qui a fuité la semaine dernière vers le journal ‘Yediot Aharonot’ a montré clairement la direction où Obama souhaite aller. Ce document appelait Israël à se retirer aux lignes d’armistice indéfendables de 1949, avec de minimes révisions.

Dans les 22 mois à venir, nous pouvons nous attendre à ce que les USA utilisent des mesures de plus en plus coercitives pour contraindre Israël à capituler sur cette position.

Le jour où les négociations parrainées par le gouvernement US ont commencé en juillet 2013, l’UE  a annoncé qu’elle interdisait à ses Etats membres d’avoir des liens avec des entités israéliennes opérant au-delà des lignes d’armistice de 1949, à moins que ces opérations n’impliquent l’assistance aux Palestiniens dans leurs activités anti Israël. L’idée que l’UE aurait initié une guerre économique contre Israël le jour où les pourparlers ont commencé sans coordonner la décision avec le gouvernement Obama est bien sûr absurde.

Nous devons nous attendre à ce que les USA fassent un usage extensif de la guerre économique européenne contre Israël dans les années à venir, continuent de stimuler le mouvement antisémite BDS (Boycott, Désinvestissement, sanctions) et augmentent la rhétorique diffamatoire plaçant Israël dans le même sac que le régime d’apartheid d’Afrique du Sud.

Les relations de renseignement et de défense entre les USA et Israël seront aussi placées sur la table de découpe.

Alors qu’Obama et ses conseillers se vantent constamment que les liens de renseignement et de défense entre Israël et les USA ont augmenté pendant sa présidence, au cours des années passées, cers liens ont souffert coup après coup. Pendant la guerre avec le Hamas l’été dernier, agissant sous les ordres directs de la Maison Blanche, le Pentagone a instauré un embargo partiel – non officiel – sur les armes vers Israël.

De même pour les liens de renseignement, au cours du mois passé, le gouvernement US a annoncé à plusieurs reprises qu’il met fin au partage du renseignement vers Israël sur Iran.

Le scandale des ‘courriels’ d’Hillary Clinton a révélé que pendant sa mission au poste de Secrétaire d’Etat, Clinton a transféré au ‘New York Times’ des informations ultra secrètes concernant les opérations d’Israël contre l’Iran. On a aussi appris que le vice-président de l’Etat Major est pointé du doigt comme la source des fuites concernant le virus informatique ‘Stuxnet’ qu’Israël et les USA auraient développé conjointement pour paralyser les centrifugeuses nucléaires de l’Iran.

En d’autres termes, depuis qu’il a pris son poste, Obama a utilisé les liens du renseignement des USA avec Israël pour nuire à la sécurité nationale d’Israël à au moins deux occasions.

Il a aussi usé de la diplomatie pour nuire à Israël. L’été dernier, Obama a cherché un règlement diplomatique de la guerre entre le Hamas et Israël qui aurait assuré au Hamas tous ses buts de guerre, dont son exigence de frontières ouvertes et l’accès au système financier international.

Maintenant bien sûr, il se moque éperdument de son opposition bipartisane, et de l’opposition d’Israël et des Etats arabes sunnites, dans l’espoir de conclure un accord nucléaire avec l’Iran qui ouvrira la voie aux ayatollahs pour développer des armes nucléaires et étendre leur contrôle hégémonique sur le Moyen Orient.

Au milieu de tout cela, et face à 22 mois d’hostilité toujours croissante, alors qu’Obama poursuit son but de mettre fin à l’alliance entre les USA et Israël, les Israéliens sont appelés à élire un nouveau gouvernement.

Cette semaine, le consortium des anciennes grosses légumes de la sécurité qui se sont alliés pour élire un gouvernement de Gauche conduit par Isaac Herzog et Tzipi Livni a accusé Netanyahou de détruire les relations d’Israël avec les USA. L’implication était qu’un gouvernement conduit par Herzog et Livni restaurera les liens d’Israël avec les USA.

Pourtant, comme Obama l’a montré clairement dans ces deux-là pendant tout son mandat, et au cours de la semaine passée avec la nomination de Malley et la mise examen de Menendez, Obama a la responsabilité unique de la détérioration de nos liens avec notre premier allié. Et comme ses actes l’ont aussi démontré, Herzog et Livni à la barre n’auront aucun répit face à la pression des USA. Leur volonté de faire des concessions aux Palestiniens que Netanyahou refuse de faire mènera simplement Obama à changer les règles du jeu plus loin sur le terrain. Selon son objectif d’abandonner l’alliance des USA avec Israël, aucune des concessions qu’Israël n’acceptera ne suffira.

Et donc nous devons nous demander quel est le dirigeant qui fera le meilleur job pour limiter le danger en attendant le départ d’Obama tout en maintenant un soutien global suffisant des USA à Israël pour reconstruire l’alliance après qu’Obama aura quitté la Maison Blanche.

La réponse, semble-t-il, va de soi.

La campagne de la Gauche pour reprocher à Netanyahou l’hostilité d’Obama rendra à tout le moins impossible à un gouvernement Herzog/Livni de résister à la pression de USA dont ils disent qu’elle disparaîtra dès le moment où Netanyahou aura quitté son poste.

A l’opposé, comme l’opposition publiée des USA fuitée dans ‘Yediot Aharonot’, Netanyahou a démontré une grande capacité pour éluder la pression des USA. Il a donné son accord pour avoir des négociations fondées sur une position des USA qu’il a rejetée et a poursuivi des pourparlers pendant neuf mois jusqu’à ce que les Palestiniens y mettent fin. Ce faisant, il est parvenu à neuf mois de répit avec une pression ouverte des USA tout en démontrant le radicalisme des Palestiniens et leur opposition à une coexistence pacifique.

Sur le front iranien, le discours courageux de Netanyahou devant le Congrès la semaine dernière a donné de l’énergie aux opposants d’Obama pour agir et poussé Obama sur la défensive pour la première fois tout en élargissant le soutien populaire à Israël.

Il est clair que les choses ne feront que devenir plus difficiles dans les mois à venir. Mais étant donnés les risques, le choix des électeurs d’Israël mardi prochain est aisé.

Voir aussi:

Iran
Israel election: What Netanyahu’s victory means

Rabbi Abraham Cooper
Fox news

March 18, 2015

“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. » That Churchillian one-liner summarizes the glorious chaos that is Israeli politics.

In the one Middle Eastern nation where you can still speak your mind without being arrested, disappeared, or executed, Israelis went to the polls Tuesday to decide whether Benjamin « Bibi » Netanyahu or Isaac « Bougie » Herzog would lead the Jewish State for the next four years.

The unexpected out come came as a shock to many pundits on both sides of the Atlantic. Netanyahu’s Likud Party won between 29 and 30 seats Mr. Herzog’s Zionist Union’s, 24. This means that Netanyahu will be given time to forge a new coalition government.

Without question the results will deeply disappoint President Obama and some European leaders, who were hoping Israelis would swap out an intractable “hawk” for a more flexible “dove,” one whom they assumed would pave the way for a quick final deal with Iran and hasten a two-state solution in the Holy Land before President Obama leaves office.

In reality however, there is no real distance between Bibi and Bougie over the existential threat posed by Iran. Israel’s next prime minister must come up with a plan to thwart Tehran, whose leaders continue to call for the Jewish State’s annihilation, from becoming a nuclear power.

Additionally, Jerusalem will be confronted with a new strategic threat from Iran and its Hezbollah terrorist lackeys whose brazen entrenchment on the Golan Heights has raised nary a peep from the U.S. or the European Union.

Even if Israel’s left had prevailed it is hard to imagine that a deal for a Two-State solution could be reached in the next two years. Hamas’ continuous terrorism and genocidal hate and the celebration by leaders of the PA of vicious terrorist outrages against Jews, have left most Israelis warily awaiting a Palestinian leader — someone unlike PA President Abbas — who would be ready to tell his constituents that their Jewish neighbors are there to stay and that the Jewish state has a legitimate right to be there.

Against this background it seems almost ludicrous for anyone to believe that Israeli voters could somehow be manipulated by forces outside of Israel as to whom they should cast their ballots for. For us as Americans, Election Day is certainly important. For most Israeli parents — right, center, and left — who have to send their 18-year-old sons and daughters for two years of military service to protect the homeland — they cast their votes as if their lives and the lives of their children depend on making the right choice. Those in Washington who were reportedly involved in such an effort did a great disservice to both democracies.

I was present in our nation’s capital for Netanyahu’s speech on Iran. Love him or hate him, everyone in the Chamber, and Israelis watching at home, saw a true world leader in action. In the end, his respectful and masterful speech reminded everyone, that he has earned his place on the international stage, no matter how discomfiting his message is to some.

Finally, it would not surprise me if, when Israeli President Ruby Rivlin invites Netanyahu to form the next government, he winds up reaching out to some of the very people who tried to topple him, especially those who gave strong voice to the frustrations of young couples lacking affordable housing as well as the many citizens left behind by Israel’s expanding economy.

After all, that would be the Churchillian thing to do.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. Follow the Simon Wiesenthal Center on Facebook and on Twitter.

Voir aussi:

If Bibi Loses, the Next Defense Minister Still Wants to Bomb Iran
Jonathan S. Tobin

Commentary

03.16.2015

Most American coverage of the Israeli election continues to center on the fate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his possible replacement by a Labor-led coalition that will steer the Jewish state away from confrontation with the United States. If Netanyahu loses tomorrow, there’s no doubt that it will greatly please the Obama administration. The president and his foreign-policy team regard the Israeli leader as public enemy No. 1 both because of their personal antipathy for him and his willingness to challenge their desire to create détente with Iran. But just as the White House’s expectations for a more pliable Israeli negotiating partner with the Palestinians may be unrealistic, so, too, is their confidence about Labor’s attitude about Iran. As a Times of Israel interview makes clear, the opposition’s designated candidate for defense minister, former general Amos Yadlin, is every bit the hawk about stopping and, if necessary, bombing Iran, as Netanyahu has been.

It bears repeating that the image of Netanyahu as an extremist that is often the keynote of American press coverage betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the realities of Israeli politics. Though after three terms and nine years as prime minister Netanyahu may have outlasted his expiration date for the Israeli public, the general dissatisfaction with him should not be mistaken for disagreement with this policies on either the Palestinians or Iran. To the contrary, polls show that there is little support for more concessions to a Palestinian Authority that has repeatedly rejected chances for peace, let alone to the even more implacable Hamas in Gaza. Nor is there much of a constituency for complacency about the peril about the prospect of an Iranian nuclear bomb. Netanyahu’s problems in the election stem from anger about his foolish decision to call an election when he didn’t need to do so and the fact that many voters want more attention paid to economic and domestic issues that the prime minister has sidelined while highlighting security threats.

Though his Zionist Union opponents have criticized Netanyahu’s confrontational tactics with the Obama administration, they have been falling over themselves to make the public think there isn’t much difference between them on security issues. That is largely the case since it is unlikely that either Isaac Herzog or Tzipi Livni (who represented Netanyahu in the peace talks the past two years) will be able to offer the Palestinians any more than the prime minister. Indeed, Herzog has been eager to declare that he wouldn’t divide Jerusalem, as Obama wants him to do.

Assuring the Israeli public that his government wouldn’t be any less tough than that of Netanyahu was the reason Herzog brought Amos Yadlin onto his ticket and designated him as the likely defense minister in the next government. Yadlin, a former head of intelligence for the Israel Defense Forces, is, like many in the old left-dominated army establishment, a stern critic of Netanyahu. But if Obama and his team are reading what Yadlin is saying they might be a little less enthusiastic about the prospect of a new Israeli government. That is especially true of his rhetoric on Iran:

“Are we at the juncture where [all options have failed and] we have to choose between two very problematic alternatives: to accept an Iranian bomb, or to do what it takes so they don’t have a bomb? In English, ‘the bomb or the bombing?’ We have to ask ourselves constantly if we have reached this juncture? Have we exhausted all the other options to stop Iran?”

Many in Washington — “in the ‘belt,’” as Yadlin calls it from his days as military attaché to the US — “are at this juncture and are willing to accept a nuclear Iran. They believe in containment and deterrence.”

Do “they” include President Obama or his cabinet?

Yadlin skirts the question. “You’ll find them among the strategists and among the government officials. I still belong to those who believe that President Obama won’t let Iran obtain a nuclear weapon.” …

Readers who discern distinctively Netanyahu-esque rhetoric in this list of US-Israeli differences on Iran are not mistaken. When it comes to the scale of the danger, the precariousness of trusting in American assurances, and the intentions of the ruling ayatollahs in Tehran, one might be forgiven for labeling Yadlin something slightly more hawkish than the catch-all “centrist.”

And that’s only natural, Yadlin explains.

“The goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and the desire to reach an agreement that will push Iran back as much as possible is not an issue of disagreement between Israel’s [political] parties.”

This is a key point. There really isn’t any genuine disagreement between Israel’s mainstream parties (Labor and Likud) on the basic issues of war and peace. Neither can offer a Palestinian leadership that is not interested in peace anything that will tempt them to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn. And both are adamantly opposed to appeasement of Iran. Labor may speak kindly about the administration whereas Netanyahu is no longer bothering with pretending that he trusts the president. But when it comes to opposing the sort of concessions the U.S. is making to Iran, Yadlin is every bit the hawk that Netanyahu has been.

All of which means that no matter who wins tomorrow, tension between an American government determined to embrace Iran and to push for territorial concessions to the Palestinians and Israel’s government will continue.

Voir de plus:

Le plan de la nouvelle liste arabe unie en Israël : « Faire exploser l’Etat juif de l’intérieur » !
Tsvi Sadan

Europe Israël

mar 10, 20157

Sur les 8 millions de citoyens de l’Etat juif, 1,2 millions de musulmans profitent pleinement des avantages de la démocratie dans laquelle ils vivent, y compris du droit de diffamer publiquement Israël comme un État raciste, et même de contester son existence ! Ayman Odeh, chef de la nouvelle liste arabe unie en cours de constitution pour les prochaines élections à la Knesset, a annoncé récemment que « notre ennemi direct est le sionisme » ce qui signifie tout simplement qu’Israël doit cesser d’exister en tant qu’Etat juif !

Si la Cour suprême israélienne ne fait rien pour arrêter l’objectif déclaré de ce parti : Démanteler l’Etat d’Israël et le fait qu’Israël a été reconnu comme un État juif par la communauté internationale.

La résolution de San Remo de 1920 a confirmé « qu’en vertu de la Déclaration Balfour, le gouvernement britannique avait entrepris de favoriser la création d’un foyer national juif en Palestine, sans préjudice des droits civils et religieux des communautés non-juives existantes.»

Cette résolution a été réaffirmé en mai 1947 par les Nations Unies résolution 181 qui « impose la partition de la Palestine sous mandat britannique en un État juif et un Etat arabe. »

La déclaration d’indépendance de l’état d’Israël en mai 1948, rédigée avec ces résolutions antérieures à l’esprit, affirme tout d’abord l’évidence que « la terre d’Israël [Palestine] a été le berceau du peuple juif » et poursuit en disant que « cette reconnaissance par les Nations Unies, du droit du peuple juif à établir son Etat, est irrévocable.

Ce droit est le droit naturel du peuple juif à être maître de son destin, comme toutes les autres nations, dans leur propre État souverain. »

La communauté internationale, à l’exception des ennemis d’Israël, a accepté le droit historique des Juifs de vivre sur leurs terres, mais avec des réserves concernant les frontières actuelles, étant donné qu’elles ont été établies le long des lignes d’armistice. Pour sa part, Israël essaie, tant en théorie qu’en pratique, de garantir les droits de ses minorités.

En revanche, le dirigeant arabe-palestinien Mahmoud Abbas lors de la dernière convention de l’OLP le 3 mars a répété son engagement à deux principes sans compromis : Oui à une Palestine arabe « Judenrein » et non à un Etat juif !

Selon le dirigeant arabe-palestinien, s’il y a la paix dans cette région les Juifs ne sauraient être autorisés à vivre dans un futur « Etat palestinien » et Israël ne devrait pas continuer d’exister comme un État juif.

Et pourtant, c’est Israël qui est étiqueté comme raciste, malgré le fait que les arabes israéliens jouissent de droits pleins et équitables.

Bien que les fausses accusations de racisme font que beaucoup d’Israéliens se joignent au chœur des « viva Palestina » dans une vaine tentative d’apaisement, il n’en est pas moins que certains refusent d’éteindre les lumières.

Le ministre des affaires étrangères Avigdor Lieberman a raison quand il dit que la liste du nouveau parti United Arab, qui partage la vision d’Abbas et bénéficie également maintenant de sa bénédiction, expose un nouveau plan arabe-palestinien pour « faire exploser Israël de l’intérieur ».

Si habilement, cette nouvelle faction arabe qui partage le rêve d’Abbas d’une « Palestine Judenrein » et joue la carte du racisme, a incité Lieberman d’avertir que ce parti « nous prépare une intifada intérieure d’Israël. »

Malheureusement, on dira qu’avec l’expérience du passé, seuls quelques-uns prendront cet avertissement au sérieux.

Voir aussi:

 Bibi, come-back kid

Brice Couturier

France culture

18.03.2015

La gauche israélienne réalise son meilleur score, sans doute, depuis 1992. Et pourtant elle échoue à provoquer l’alternance. Après une nuit d’intense suspense, durant laquelle les média donnaient l’égalité entre l’Union sioniste et le Likoud, puis une légère avance à ce dernier, on se réveille en apprenant que Bibi a rattrapé in extremis son retard. Et qu’il est même revenu en tête. Il l’a fait en siphonnant les électeurs de Bennett et de la droite radicale. Si le Likoud échappe ainsi à un échec que lui promettaient tous les sondages – et Netanyayou, à l’usure du pouvoir – c’est pour avoir fait la course à droite toute, en fin de campagne.

Le système électoral israélien – la proportionnelle pure dans le cadre d’une circonscription unique et à listes fermées a un mérite, c’est qu’il est démocratique : toutes les sensibilités peuvent être représentées au Parlement, sitôt qu’elles franchissent le seuil de 3,25 % des suffrages. On en a ce matin une nouvelle preuve avec le succès de la liste arabe unie, qui se place en 3° position. Même s’il a fallu pour parvenir à ce résultat spectaculaire, marier les communistes et des islamistes qui n’ont rien en commun… A lui seul, cette percée d’une liste arabe, constitue une réponse à tous ceux qui osent évoquer un « apartheid » à propos d’Israël. Je me demande dans quel pays arabe aurait pu se présenter aux élections une liste juive….

Mais la proportionnelle pure a, dit-on, un défaut : elle favorise l’éparpillement et ne permet pas de dégager des majorités claires. Elle encourage les manœuvres d’appareil, les aventures en solitaire. Pas cette fois, dirait-on. On ne voit pas comment Moshé Kahlon, pourrait échapper à une alliance avec le Likoud. Il n’est donc pas le « faiseur de roi » qu’on disait…

Les électeurs israéliens avaient le choix entre deux priorités : la sécurité de l’Etat d’Israël – dont le premier ministre sortant se pose en garant ; et le niveau de vie des Israéliens, que promettait d’améliorer Itzak Herzog. Hé bien, ils ont choisi les deux.

Selon toute probabilité, « Bibi » Netanyahou est appelé à se succéder à lui-même. Mais il peut opter pour une coalition entre la droite et les partis religieux, ou pour une union nationale avec la gauche de l’Union sioniste – formule qui aurait la faveur du président de l’Etat d’Israël.

Ce qui ne changera pas, ce sont les défis auxquels est exposé Israël, minuscule îlot de paisible prospérité au cœur d’un Moyen Orient en proie à une sorte de réédition de la guerre de Trente ans.

Comment ce minuscule pays est-il parvenu jusqu’à présent à ne pas être entraîné dans le maelström provoqué par l’affrontement entre sunnites et chiites, pétromonarchies conservatrices et Iran révolutionnaire, activistes et modérés ? C’est un mystère. Il l’a fait en maintenant des relations acceptables avec ceux de ses voisins qui se comportent en pôles de stabilité : la Jordanie et l’Egypte du maréchal Abdel Fattah al-Sissi.

Nétanyahou, comme la très grande majorité des Israéliens, voit dans l’Iran et ses alliés du Hezbollah et de Syrie, d’Irak et du Yémen, la menace la plus dangereuse pour la sécurité de son pays. Il redoute la montée en puissance de Téhéran, qui vise manifestement l’hégémonie régionale. Israël, qui dispose lui-même d’une capacité nucléaire dissuasive, n’a jamais accepté qu’un de ses voisins accède à l’arme fatale. En juin 1981, un gouvernement israélien a bombardé le réacteur nucléaire d’Osirak en Irak. En septembre 2007, un autre gouvernement israélien a bombardé un réacteur nucléaire fourni par la Corée du Nord à la Syrie.

Face à l’Iran, les choses paraissent plus compliquées. Notamment du fait que le président américain semble faire un pari sur ce pays, voire de lui confier les clés du Moyen Orient. Netanyahou s’y est opposé de toutes ses forces, s’aliénant le président Obama, sans parvenir pour autant à bloquer la progression des négociations. C’est bien imprudemment qu’il a paru tout miser sur une victoire des républicains aux élections américaines de l’année prochaine.

Israël est aussi menacé par l’exaspération de l’Autorité Palestinienne qui, ne voyant aucun progrès dans le processus de paix, se comporte de plus en plus en acteur quasi-étatique sur la scène internationale, et y remporte de réels succès.

Cela contribue beaucoup à une tendance à la délégitimation d’Israël qu’on observe à présent aussi en Europe et en Amérique – et pas seulement sur les campus. La seule démocratie véritable du Moyen orient est paradoxalement traitée en paria des nations, sans qu’on sache si la cause de cette stigmatisation est la poursuite des implantations juives dans les territoires occupés, ou bien l’existence même d’un foyer juif indépendant en terre d’Islam…

La première tâche d’un gouvernement israélien, quel qu’il soit, ne sera-t-elle pas de rompre l’isolement international où Israël est en train de tomber ?

Voir encore:

Victoire de Nétanyahou : une gifle politique pour Barack Obama
Laure Mandeville
Le Figaro

18/03/2015

La question est maintenant de savoir comment les deux alliés américain et israélien vont pouvoir fonctionner dans le contexte de «guerre» politique ouverte entre les deux hommes.

Il y a deux semaines, Benyamin Nétanyahou défiait Barack Obama depuis le Congrès, le présentant comme un naïf et un opportuniste, prêt à négocier avec l’Iran un «mauvais et dangereux accord» pour la sécurité d’Israël et du monde. Mais si le président américain, furieux de ce défi, espérait se débarrasser de lui à la faveur des élections israéliennes, le voilà bien déçu. La claire victoire de «Bibi» est un violent camouflet politique et stratégique pour Barack Obama, vu l’état catastrophique des relations bilatérales entre les deux hommes.

D’anciens conseillers électoraux du président avaient même fait le voyage de Jérusalem pour tenter d’éviter sa réélection… «Ils détestent Bibi, et ils prient pour qu’il quitte le pouvoir», avait confié à Politico un ancien responsable de l’Administration Obama, mardi, juste avant les résultats. Les nouvelles n’en sont que plus «amères», note le Wall Street Journal. Signe des temps, les républicains ont été les premiers à se réjouir du succès de Nétanyahou, pavoisant bruyamment. «Félicitations au premier ministre Nétanyahou pour sa réélection. Il est un vrai leader qui continuera à assurer la sécurité et la force d’Israël», a écrit Jeb Bush, candidat quasi officiel à la Maison-Blanche sur Twitter. «Son succès électoral est d’autant plus impressionnant que des forces puissantes ont tenté de l’affaiblir, notamment, tristement, tout le poids de l’équipe politique d’Obama», a réagi le sénateur Ted Cruz, soutenu par les Tea Party. «Il aurait été ironique qu’Obama ait réussi à sortir Bibi mais pas Assad», a carrément plaisanté le représentant républicain, Steve King.

Volte-face de dernière minute
Le maintien de Nétanyahou aux affaires va sérieusement compliquer la politique iranienne d’Obama, prévoit Martin Indyk, l’un des anciens conseillers du président pour la région. Avec la volte-face de dernière minute de Nétanyahou sur le fait qu’il n’accepterait jamais d’État palestinien – alors qu’il avait toujours affirmé soutenir ce projet défendu par Washington – «assainir ses relations empoisonnées avec le président sera encore plus difficile», écrit le New York Times dans un éditorial, dénonçant aussi la «vilaine campagne» menée par Bibi contre les électeurs arabes d’Israël.

«C’est une claque à la face des États-Unis»

Un ancien ambassadeur à Washington
«C’est une claque à la face des États-Unis», confiait mardi au Figaro un ancien ambassadeur à Washington, évoquant les décennies passées par les présidents américains successifs à tenter d’arracher un État palestinien. Le secrétaire d’État John Kerry a lui aussi consacré des mois d’efforts à naviguer entre Israéliens, Palestiniens et pays arabes pour tenter d’aboutir à une paix basée sur le principe de deux États. Hier, la Maison-Blanche a fait savoir qu’elle soutient toujours une solution à deux États. Les Européens ont aussi été indignés par la manœuvre de dernière minute de Bibi sur la question palestinienne.

L’opinion israélienne n’a pas été suffisamment choquée par la détérioration des relations avec Washington pour en faire une raison de renvoyer son premier ministre, semblant indiquer qu’elle compte plus sur lui pour défendre sa sécurité que sur l’alliance avec le grand ami américain. En filigrane, ce vote révèle les doutes que suscite aujourd’hui la politique étrangère américaine au Moyen-Orient.

La question est maintenant de savoir comment les deux alliés américain et israélien vont pouvoir fonctionner dans ce contexte de «guerre» politique ouverte. Shmuel Sandler, de l’université Bar Ialan, a expliqué que Nétanyahou s’était battu pour sa survie politique, mais qu’il devrait travailler désormais à apaiser la relation centrale d’Israël avec l’Amérique. Cela sera-t-il possible? L’optimisme ne semble pas dominer à la Maison-Blanche…

Voie de même:

Odeh: racist Israeli laws to benefit joint Arab list
Daoud Kuttab

Al Monitor

February 17, 2015

The Arab-Jewish party Hadash (the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality) has been a small but permanent fixture in the Israeli parliament for years. It usually won four or five of the 120 Knesset seats in elections, providing a fig leaf to Israeli democratic claims without being able to influence either internal or external policies. In 2013, Hadash won four seats. This « problem » is set to change in the coming elections, ironically, as a result of the Israeli right’s attempts to keep Palestinian Arabs out of the Knesset.

Ayman Odeh, the head of the joint list of all the Arab parties in Israel, told Al-Monitor that the combination of racist policies and changes to the election law helped produce this unprecedented list. The unification was created as a result of “raising the threshold and an increase in racist policies and practices, which appeared in racist laws as well as the unprecedented assault on Gaza in the summer of 2014.”

Although he is not sure that the unification of democratic and peace forces in Israel will succeed in removing the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Odeh says, “This new experiment is still in its early stage.” However, the Haifa lawyer hopes that “this experience succeeds and continues because of the possibility of defeating the right wing.”

While focusing on the goal of removing the ruling right-wing government in Israel, the head of the Arab list is not very excited about the existing alternatives to Netanyahu. He tells Al-Monitor, “Our fight against the occupation, racism and discrimination constitutes a democratic alternative against the nationalist camp led by Netanyahu and the Zionist Camp led by [Isaac] Herzog and [Tzipi] Livni.”

Odeh is hoping that at the very least, their efforts, along with other democratic forces in Israel, can slow or stop what he calls a “deterioration toward fascism,” which he concludes is the result of the occupation. “Ending the occupation and establishing an atmosphere of peace are the first step in ending the racial discrimination against Arab citizens as a national minority,” he says.

Odeh is aware of the challenges ahead but has focused his attention on the need to encourage Arabs to participate in the elections that will not include any competition between Arab parties. He is hoping to increase the participation of Palestinian citizens in Israel from 56% in 2013 to 70% or more in this round.

The text of the full interview follows:

Al-Monitor:  What are the most important factors for the success of the unification of Palestinian citizens in Israel in preparation for the next electoral cycle?

Odeh:  There are a number of factors. The first is an attempt to deny the Arab and democratic representation in parliament by raising the threshold, and the second is the increase in racist policies and practices, which appeared in racist laws and schemes and last summer’s war on Gaza. The joint Arab list reflects the unity of Palestinians against the Israeli ruling establishment and the partnership with the Jewish powers, which fight occupation, racism and discrimination, and thus constitutes a democratic alternative against the nationalist camp led by Netanyahu and the Zionist Camp led by Herzog and Livni.

Al-Monitor:  The Democratic Front for Peace and Equality has always emphasized the parallel process of the paths of equality and peace. Will the list continue in the same process, or will equality be a priority due to the rise in racial attacks?

Odeh:  We believe that one of the main reasons for the increase in levels of racism is the overall crisis of the Israeli rulers due to the impasse they reached on the political and socio-economic levels. The deterioration toward fascism is the result of this crisis, and therefore, our issues cannot be separated from the major cause of our people. As the poet Tawfiq Ziad said, « The tragedy that I live is but my share of your tragedies. » The parallelism of these two tracks and their connection should be highlighted. Ending the occupation and establishing an atmosphere of peace is the first step in halting the racial discrimination against Arab citizens as a national minority and not as individuals, and defeating the right-wing racial program by developing an alternative political program, based on different foundations and one that eliminates hostility to the Palestinian people under occupation and to the Arab citizens in Israel, too.

Al-Monitor:  Are voters and the Israeli political system on the verge of change in dealing with the Arab population, or do we expect very little progress?

Odeh:  All Israeli governments were bad, racist and hostile to the rights of our people, but Netanyahu and his partners have escalated in recent years the tone of incitement to the Arab population. We cannot predict the outcome today, and despite the progress of the right-wing parties in the polls, overthrowing Netanyahu is still possible. The same applies to the party of [Avigdor] Liberman, who is already in full swing due to the alleged corruption scandal that was unveiled recently, and even Meretz, which lost a lot of votes in favor of the Zionist Camp led by Herzog and Livni.

We say that the Arab population may have a decisive weight after the election, and this relates primarily to raising the participation in the vote from 56% in the last election to 70% or more in this election.

We are confident of our progress and of the increase in our representation, and we will boldly demand the reinforcing of the status of the Arab population and setting our issues in priorities, because we are tired of the government delays. We will call in the Knesset to obtain the chair of key committees and develop an action plan that includes the enactment of laws and provisions guaranteeing equality for Arab citizens.

Al-Monitor:  There are signs that many are betting on the presence of an opposition front to the extreme right in the next election. How do you see your role in the fight against the right?

Odeh:  It is premature to bet now on restoring the experience of the « blocking vote » during the Rabin era [1992-95]. But certainly we don’t depend on Herzog and Livni. At the same time, we are not neutral concerning Netanyahu’s return to power — especially after the war perpetrated in Gaza — nor concerning [Naftali] Bennett’s [Jewish Home], which openly calls for the annexation of Area C to Israel and stands behind the settlement activities in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem.

We recall that to this day, any Israeli withdrawal from an inch of Palestinian land has occurred through the political weight of the Arabs in the Knesset. The equation is that any progress and any breakthrough require the political weight of the Arab population. Our battle against the right is in full force and we are determined to topple him.

Al-Monitor:  What are the main challenges that you personally see in presiding over a joint list for the first time, especially with the presence of personalities from different parties’ ideology in your list?

Odeh:  Despite the difference and competition between us, our direct enemy is Zionism. I think everyone is aware of the size of the tasks ahead of us and everyone behaves according to the required responsibility.

The biggest challenge was the formation of this list and the engagement in this partnership to overcome the increase of the threshold rate and other obstacles imposed by the right, and the bet on our existence and our representation in parliament. This new experiment is still in its early stage, and we in the front want this experience to succeed and continue because of the possibility of defeating the right.

Al-Monitor:  How do you assess Avraham Burg joining Hadash? Will his participation reduce the gap between Arabs and Jews?

Odeh:  When a Jewish man, born in the house of a Zionist leader from the Mifdal party, joins Hadash, and having presided over the Jewish Agency, then abandons Zionism and adopts the front’s positions, this is considered a critical national gain and has its impact on the Jewish community and on the progressive circles, both on the quantitative and qualitative levels. Each breakthrough we accomplish in the Zionist consensus is a net gain for the cause of justice for our people. Overall, despite the induction of the ruling establishment and its arms and horns on the joint list, it has the support of the Jewish community and a wide range of anti-Zionism fighting against the occupation, racism and fascism forces. Burg’s positive step confirms the credibility of our position and our way, because this man has previous fixed convictions.

Al-Monitor:  There is fear of indifference among Arabs in Israel. What are the practical steps to prevent it, and what percentage do you hope to achieve from the Arab participation in the elections?

Odeh:  This fear is justified, especially in the absence of the usual rivalry within the Arab community. We are aware that the main challenge is to raise the percentage of the vote to 70%, and if we succeed in this, we can raise the representation from the current 12 seats to 14 or 15 seats.

Al-Monitor:  The Palestinian issue is at a delicate stage. Is there an opportunity for the joint list to bridge the gap between the Palestinian leadership and the next government?

Odeh:  The Palestinian issue is undergoing its finest and most dangerous stage in recent decades, due to Israeli and US policies and also in light of regional developments. This requires arranging the Palestinian house and promoting national unity and popular resistance against the occupation. This is our position, and the Palestinian leadership and all factions know it. This is a prerequisite for the realization of the rights of our people and for attempts to prevent the establishment of the state of Palestine.

Overthrowing Netanyahu may change the regional atmosphere and create a new opportunity to reassess serious dialogue on the path of negotiations and peace, but Netanyahu’s staying may drag the region into a new abyss, especially with the growth of racism and fascism in Israel.

Al-Monitor:  The law declaring the Jewishness of the state failed in the past year. Will the current elections strengthen the issue or terminate the discussion? What is your role in dealing with the subject?

Odeh:  We believe that the issue of a Jewish state formed a convenient way out for Netanyahu, lest the political issue [of negotiations] and economic topics be part of the electoral agenda. From our side, we will confront each piece of legislation or action that affects our rights and legitimacy in our country, through the unification among the Palestinian minority on the one hand and strengthening the partnership with the rational forces of democracy in Israeli society on the other hand.

Al-Monitor:  There is a serious US-Israeli disagreement on Netanyahu’s invitation to the White House without any coordination. What is your take on this?

Odeh:  We believe that this dispute is in the trenches, the enemies of the Palestinian people. Therefore, it should not be overly relied upon because Israel has been and remains a tool of US dominance in the region and a front claw for the imperial interests and plans, regardless of the internal contradictions between them.

On the other hand, Israel’s international isolation may create better ground to overthrow Netanyahu, because it concerns the economic and cultural elites and the military and security as well. Perhaps the time has come for the [Barack] Obama administration to think about stopping Netanyahu’s arrogance; the failure of [US Secretary of State John] Kerry’s efforts proved to the US administration who Netanyahu is, and this crisis comes now to reconsider what is certain and sustained with this administration. The question remains whether there will be a change in the US mentality toward Netanyahu and whether there will be any intention of an actual realization of the rights of the Palestinian people to establish an independent state.

Voir encore:

Elections législatives en Israël : « Bye Bye Bibi ‘ »
L’Express/AFP

17/03/2015

Paris, 17 mars 2015 – Les élections législatives ce mardi en Israël, pourrait marquer la fin de pouvoir de Benjamin Netanyahu, 65 ans, premier ministre depuis mars 2009, selon les quotidiens français.

« Elections en Israël : Bye Bye Bibi ‘ », titre Libération. « Affaibli, le premier ministre israélien, Benjamin Netanyahu, pourrait bien quitter le pouvoir à l’issue des législatives ce mardi », pense Libé.

Le Figaro, assure que « la gauche israélienne veut mettre fin à l’ère Netanyahu. »

Selon les ultimes sondages publiés ce week-end, la liste du travailliste Isaac Herzog afficherait une légère avance sur celle du premier ministre sortant.

« On ne peut durablement gouverner en usant de la peur comme seule politique. On ne peut sans cesse construire des murs et des fortins plutôt que des dispensaires et des logements sociaux », explique Alexandra Schwartzbrod, dans Libération.

« A trop hystériser la vie politique, +Bibi+ s’est montré tel qu’il était réellement: un politicien sans autre projet que celui de se maintenir au pouvoir, et non un homme politique avec une vision », assène-t-elle.

Pour Le Figaro, « la campagne électorale engagée début décembre a mis au jour l’usure d’un premier ministre qui, dans l’incertitude, peine désormais à dissimuler sa fébrilité ».

« Nétanyahu qui est sur la sellette, paie à la fois l’usure du pouvoir, et le sentiment diffus qu’il n’a pas rempli son mandat », estime Laurent Marchand, dans Ouest-France, qui rappelle que « les thèmes économiques et sociaux priment pour un électeur sur deux ».

Pour Philippe Waucampt, du Républicain lorrain, « +Bibi+ » est bien confronté « à l’usure du pouvoir ». Et de détailler : « un Premier ministre bunkerisé, incapable de répondre à la crise du logement, inapte à intégrer les inquiétudes sur la vie chère, torpillé par une succession de scandales, cela traduit au fond une chose très simple: l’usure du pouvoir. »

Et désormais, « il craint plus que jamais le slogan rudimentaire mais redoutable : tout sauf Netanyahu », conclut Dominique Jung, des Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace.

Ce mardi, 5,88 millions d’électeurs israéliens sont appelés à choisir leurs 120 députés. Ils devraient avoir dans la nuit de mardi à mercredi une idée assez précise de la composition de la 20ème Knesset. Les résultats définitifs sont attendus d’ici à jeudi après-midi, a indiqué à l’AFP le porte-parole de la commission électorale.

Voir également:

Nétanyahou en Israël : le mandat de trop ?
Marc Semo

Libération

18 mars 2015

ANALYSE Malgré la victoire incontestable du Likoud aux législatives, le plus dur est à venir pour le leader de la droite, à commencer par la constitution d’une coalition.

La victoire de Benyamin Nétanyahou est incontestable. Fort d’une avance de 5 à 6 sièges sur son principal challenger, l’Union sioniste (centre gauche), l’indestructible leader de la droite israélienne, a toutes les chances de se succéder à lui-même. Mais ce nouveau mandat, le troisième consécutif et le quatrième de sa carrière politique — un record en Israël —, pourrait bien s’avérer être le mandat de trop.

Réflexe de peur
Son premier défi est de constituer une coalition. Donné perdant ou du moins en difficulté dans les sondages, le chef du Likoud a réussi à récupérer le terrain perdu en mettant le cap à droite toute. «Il a joué, voire surjoué [le rôle de] rempart face à tous les dangers qui menacent Israël», note l’essayiste et géopolitologue Frédéric Encel. Ce réflexe de peur a joué au dernier moment dans l’isoloir. Après avoir misé tout au long de la campagne sur les questions sécuritaires, et notamment le danger existentiel que représente pour l’Etat juif le nucléaire iranien, il a encore durci son discours, clamant son opposition à la constitution d’un Etat palestinien qui ne pourrait être qu’un nouvel «Hamastan» comme Gaza. Revenant sur des propos antérieurs où pour la première fois il se ralliait à une solution politique «à deux Etats», il a pu ainsi ramener vers lui toute une partie de l’électorat de la droite extrême en siphonnant les voix de ses partis.

La logique serait donc de constituer une équipe de droite dure regroupant tout le camp nationaliste avec l’appoint des partis religieux et des centristes de Moshé Kahlon, transfuge du Likoud. Mais une telle alliance composite serait loin de garantir «le gouvernement fort et stable» qu’il a promis à ses électeurs au soir de son triomphe. La durée de vie moyenne des gouvernements israéliens depuis trente-cinq ans est d’à peine deux ans et demi. Et une telle alliance risque de ne même pas durer autant, surtout qu’elle compliquerait encore un peu plus la diplomatie de l’Etat hébreu, qui n’a jamais été aussi isolé sur la scène internationale. Les relations avec Washington se sont de plus en plus dégradées. La tournée de «Bibi» au Congrès — défi ouvert au président Obama — pour dénoncer tout accord avec Téhéran sur le programme nucléaire a encore creusé le contentieux entre ces deux leaders qui se sont toujours détestés. L’administration américaine dissimule de moins en moins son exaspération face à l’immobilisme de Nétanyahou sur le processus de paix et sa poursuite des implantations autour de Jérusalem.

Une union suicidaire pour le centre gauche
Le leader du Likoud est néanmoins un pragmatique. Il peut être tenté de jouer la carte d’une grande coalition, avec les partis centristes, mais aussi et surtout avec l’Union sioniste. Après tout, Tzipi Livni, la coleader du centre gauche, était encore récemment dans son équipe, et «Bibi» a aussi gouverné avec Ehud Barak, l’ex-leader travailliste. Ce choix aurait pour effet de faire de la liste arabe unifiée — arrivée en troisième position — la principale force de l’opposition, ce qui aurait un effet symbolique lourd.

Une telle coalition serait solide et à la mesure des enjeux auxquels doit faire face Israël dans un Moyen-Orient en plein chaos. Entre l’Iran et la mer, tous les Etats nés du démantèlement de l’empire ottoman après la Première Guerre mondiale sont en train de s’effondrer sous les coups des jihadistes de l’Etat islamique alors que se structure un camp chiite, à Damas comme à Bagdad, parrainé par Téhéran, qui envoie sur le terrain des hauts gradés des «gardiens de la révolution» et des milliers de combattants du Hezbollah libanais. L’union nationale a donc sa logique. Elle serait néanmoins suicidaire pour le centre gauche, qui a retrouvé lors de ce scrutin un nouveau souffle. Jamais, depuis 1992, le Parti travailliste n’avait engrangé de tels résultats. Il a profité d’un «tout sauf Bibi» et de l’immense ras-le-bol d’un nombre toujours plus grands d’Israéliens des classes moyennes écœurés de l’augmentation des inégalités. Les élites, les milieux d’affaires, les entrepreneurs de la «nation start-up» s’inquiètent, eux, toujours plus ouvertement des risques d’isolement du pays, voire même d’éventuels boycotts européens.

C’est un danger bien réel. Derrière les critiques légitimes de la communauté internationale — y compris des alliés traditionnels d’Israël — à la politique menée ces dernières années par Nétanyahou se dessine toujours plus clairement une remise en cause de la légitimité même de l’Etat juif au nom d’un prétendu antisionisme. Les autorités israéliennes risquent d’être toujours plus à la peine face à l’offensive diplomatique palestinienne pour être reconnu comme Etat à l’ONU. Un nombre croissant de Parlements européens mais aussi de gouvernements envisagent de suivre l’exemple de Stockholm qui, seul au sein des 28, a déjà franchi le pas. Les Palestiniens s’apprêtent aussi à déposer contre Israël devant la Cour pénale internationale. «Par le passé, on pouvait compter sur les Etats-Unis pour bloquer ces démarches, mais cela pourrait changer avec un gouvernement israélien encore plus clairement à droite», s’inquiète Yigal Palmor, ex-porte-parole du ministère des Affaires étrangères. Seulement un quart des électeurs israéliens ont voté pour Nétanyahou même si cela lui a donné la victoire. Mais le plus dur commence maintenant.

Voir encore:

Israël a choisi un homme fort : Bibi
Jforum
18/03/2015

Israël a les pieds sur terre. Elle a refusé l’aventure de la gauche qui vit dans un monde de bisounours, où l’on voulait nous faire croire que, demain, il y aurait la paix avec les Palestiniens du Hamas-Daesh-OLP. Les médias prenaient leur rêve pour des réalités, en enterrant Netanyahu par avance, en faisant du parti Arabe leur coqueluche, et de la gauche leur favori.

Surtout Obama et les Européens qui avaient considérablement subventionné le camp de la reddition, et non le camp de la paix, en sont pour leurs frais.

Les Israéliens qui ont bien des choses à reprocher à Netanyahu, dans les domaines économique et social, comme sur le plan sécuritaire, ont constaté qu’il n’y avait pas d’alternative crédible à Bibi. Ils ont voté utile face aux risques de vide dans une période très dangereuse, dans un Moyen-Orient déstabilisé, avec un État islamique aux portes d’Israël.

Seul un homme capable de tenir tête, dans l’intérêt d’Israël, à toutes les forces qui exigent la reddition d’Israël leur a semblé être l’unique choix, quite à abandonner  leur parti de cœur, que ce soit Habayt Hayéhudi, Israël Beiténou, Yahad, soit le Chass.

Bibi a su faire comprendre ce risque aux électeurs israéliens, qui ont préféré un vote utile. Les médias ayant survendu la victoire de la gauche ont rendu un fier service à Bibi. Ne serait-ce que pour cela nous pouvons leur dire un grand merci.

On attend maintenant les félicitations hypocrites du monde entier, celles d’Obama et des autres.

Après avoir réussi à faire mentir les sondages qui le donnaient perdant, Benyamin Nétanyahou, fort de cette surprenante victoire à l’arrachée, doit maintenant relever un autre défi : le premier ministre sortant n’effectuera un quatrième mandat de chef du gouvernement israélien qu’à la condition qu’il parvienne à former une coalition.

Selon son parti, le Likoud, M. Nétanyahou s’est déjà entretenu avec différents chefs de parti, et il a « l’intention de se mettre immédiatement à la formation du gouvernement afin d’achever cette tâche dans un délai de deux à trois semaines ». Le but : obtenir la majorité absolue à la Knesset, soit 61 sièges sur 120, alors que le parti conservateur en obtiendrait à lui seul 29 ou 30, selon les derniers résultats, soit moins de la moitié.

Derrière, l’Union sioniste obtiendrait 24 sièges ; puis la liste commune des partis arabes, autre surprise du scrutin, devient la troisième force au Parlement, avec 14 sièges. La dispersion des voix entre une dizaine de partis et la complexité des alliances possibles n’entament pas la certitude quand au nom du prochain premier ministre.

Une fois que les résultats officiels auront été proclamés, peut-être d’ici à la fin de la semaine, le président Reuven Rivlin aura sept jours pour accomplir la tâche capitale de choisir auquel des 120 députés élus confier la formation du gouvernement.

Herzog rejette un gouvernement d’union nationale
M. Rivlin s’est prononcé mardi soir en faveur d’un gouvernement d’union nationale qui réunirait MM. Nétanyahou et Herzog, au côté d’autres partis. Benyamin Nétanyahou avait repoussé l’option d’une union nationale à la sortie de son bureau de vote, à Jérusalem aux premières heures de la matinée mardi : « Il n’y aura pas de gouvernement d’union avec le parti travailliste. »

Selon le quotidien Yediot Aharonot, MM. Nétanyahou et Bennett se sont déjà entendus pour engager des négociations pour une coalition de droite lors d’une conversation téléphonique.

Les résultats confirment le rôle de Moshe Kahlon, un ancien du Likoud dont la formation centriste Koulanou obtiendrait 10 sièges. Mais le poids du likoud ne fait plus de lui le faiseur de roi. Ses relations sont exécrables avec M. Nétanyahou, bien que celui-ci lui ait, avant le vote, promis le portefeuille des finances. Si Kahlon veut survivre politiquement, il doit rejoindre le gouvernement. Si non il n’aura aucune visibilité politique pendant 4 ans.

M. Kahlon avait conduit la libéralisation du secteur de la téléphonie mobile durant son mandat. Il a annoncé qu’il rejoindrait « un gouvernement aux orientations sociales », formulation relativement vague. Dans le quotidien Haaretz (édition abonnés), le journaliste Akiva Eldar affirme que M. Kahlon ne pourra pas s’allier avec M. Nétanyahu après que celui-ci a rejeté la solution des deux Etats. Mais seul la gauche qui n’a pas le sens des réalités est prête à croire à ces fadaises. Ce n’est pas du sort des palestiniens dont sont en charge les députés israéliens, mais bien des israéliens eux-mêmes.

Selon Haaretz, M. Herzog a engagé des négociations immédiatement après l’annonce des résultats avec d’autres formations, à l’exclusion du Likoud de M. Nétanyahou et du Foyer juif de Naftali Bennett. Selon le site Ynetnews, MM. Nétanyahou et Herzog ont tous deux appelé Aryeh Deri, du parti religieux ultraorthodoxe Shas (7 voix), qui a accepté de rencontrer le premier mercredi. Si la liste regroupant les partis arabes décidait de soutenir l’Union sioniste, elle pourrait faire perdre à M. Herzog d’autres partenaires éventuels.

Dans ce contexte même Yaïr Lapide se verra dans l’obligation de rejoindre le gouvernement dont il est un membre sortant.

C’est donc à la tête d’une majorité forte, comprenant 78 sièges que Bibi pourra gouverner. Aucun des partis de la coalition ne pourra exercer à son encontre un quelconque chantage tant les composantes autre que le Likoud, ne pèseront pas dans la coalition de façon dangereuse.

Quant à la troisième force d’opposition, le parti arabe, son avenir est incertain. C’est une somme hétéroclite d’idéologies contraires, qui va voler en éclat, tant les points de vu sont différents voire contraire.

Voir également:

Le Hamas rejette les demandes du représentant du Quartet, Tony Blair : “Nous n’abandonnerons pas nos principes pour résoudre les problèmes des habitants de Gaza”

MEMRI

18 mars 2015

Le 15 février 2015, le représentant du Quartet Tony Blair a visité la bande de Gaza et présenté une série de demandes au Hamas pour promouvoir le processus politique israélo-palestinien et reconstruire Gaza. La principale de ces demandes était que le Hamas accepte la solution à deux Etats pour mettre fin au conflit. Cela aurait effectivement répondu aux conditions posées par le Quartet : abandon du terrorisme, respect des accords antérieurement signés et reconnaissance d’Israël.

Blair a aussi demandé au Hamas de clarifier s’il était « un mouvement nationaliste palestinien se consacrant à la création d’un Etat palestinien », ou s’il faisait partie d’un mouvement islamiste plus large, ayant des ambitions régionales influant sur des gouvernements hors de Gaza (à savoir, les Frères musulmans).

Appelant les Palestiniens à mettre en œuvre l’accord de réconciliation entre le Fatah et le Hamas, Blair a évoqué la nécessité d’ouvrir les points de passage pour réunifier Gaza au le reste du monde. Il a aussi demandé à Israël de soutenir la reconstruction de Gaza et d’ouvrir les points de passage entre Israël et Gaza, et à l’Egypte d’assumer un rôle de direction des négociations israélo-palestiniennes.

Des représentants du Hamas et des commentateurs s’exprimant sur des sites Internet proches du Hamas ont rejeté entièrement les demandes de Blair, affirmant qu’elles mettaient en danger la cause palestinienne et soulignant que, même si le Hamas acceptait un Etat palestinien dans les frontières de 1967, cela n’aurait pas pour signification l’abandon de ses droits ou la reconnaissance d’Israël. Répondant à la demande de clarifier son identité, certains ont soutenu que le Hamas était un mouvement palestinien, tandis que d’autres ont affirmé qu’il fait partie de la Oumma islamique.

Extraits des déclarations de Blair et des réponses des représentants et éditorialistes du Hamas :

Les demandes de Blair au Hamas, à Israël et à l’Egypte

Au cours de sa visite à  Gaza, Blair a présenté la position du Quartet sur le processus politique, sur l’amélioration de la vie des Palestiniens, en particulier à Gaza, et sur le rôle qu’Israël, l’Egypte, l’Autorité palestinienne (AP) et le Hamas devraient jouer en ce sens.

Lors de sa rencontre avec des membres du gouvernement d’unité nationale palestinien et des représentants des secteurs public et privé, Blair a affirmé que la paix devait être fondée sur les conditions suivantes : « Tout d’abord, une amélioration considérable de la vie quotidienne des Palestiniens, deuxièmement, une politique palestinienne unifiée reposant sur l’acceptation explicite de la paix et du principe des deux Etats, à savoir un Etat de Palestine souverain et un Etat d’Israël vivant en sécurité et accepté, et troisièmement, un rôle accru pour la région, en coopération avec la communauté internationale, qui doit assumer un rôle de premier plan sur cette question ».

Blair a souligné la nécessité de payer les salaires des fonctionnaires de l’AP et de trouver des arrangements concernant les infrastructures vitales de Gaza, comme l’électricité, l’eau et le logement : « Nous avons besoin de changement à Gaza pour qu’elle s’ouvre et se connecte au monde. Pour que cela se produise, nous avons besoin d’une réconciliation au sein de la politique palestinienne, et pour que cette réconciliation intervienne, nous avons besoin d’une unité fondée sur le soutien à la paix ».

Certaines des demandes de Blair étaient adressées au Hamas : « La communauté internationale a besoin de recevoir des clarifications du Hamas : s’agit-il d’un mouvement nationaliste palestinien ou d’un élément faisant partie d’un mouvement islamiste plus large, ayant des ambitions régionales qui influent sur les gouvernements en dehors de Gaza ? Sont-ils disposés à accepter un Etat palestinien dans les frontières de 1967 ou non, un tel Etat mettant fin au conflit ? S’ils le sont, cela permettra à la communauté internationale de promouvoir la réconciliation et la reconstruction.

« L’Egypte a reçu des garanties crédibles concernant sa propre sécurité, celle-ci étant affectée par la situation à Gaza, et des assurances que Gaza ne serait pas utilisée comme base d’activité terroriste dans le Sinaï et qu’il y aurait coopération avec le gouvernement égyptien pour empêcher une telle situation ».

Blair a également présenté des demandes à Israël, à l’Egypte et à l’AP : « Les passages avec Gaza doivent être ouverts pour faciliter la circulation des hommes et des marchandises, de sorte que Gaza soit réunifiée au monde extérieur et que son économie puisse se développer. Israël doit aussi faire tout son possible pour aider à la reconstruction et ouvrir les points de passage avec Gaza pour permettre l’entrée d’une quantité maximale de matériel, et pour éviter de revenir à la destruction engendrée par trois conflits intervenus au cours des six dernières années. L’Egypte doit diriger les négociations concernant l’avenir à long terme de Gaza, y compris sur des questions telles que l’aéroport et le port maritime, comme cela était envisagé dans l’accord de cessez-le-feu du dernier conflit. Ce plan pour Gaza devrait faire partie d’un accord plus vaste après la constitution du nouveau gouvernement israélien, qui devrait avoir pour élément principal l’amélioration dramatique des conditions de vie des Palestiniens en Cisjordanie. Ceci pourrait ensuite paver la voie à des élections palestiniennes et à la reprise des négociations en vue de l’aboutissement du processus de paix ».[1]

Des représentants du Hamas : nous ne reconnaîtrons pas Israël

Des représentants du Hamas ont rejeté les demandes de Blair, qu’ils considèrent comme des conditions préalables à la reconstruction de Gaza, affirmant que leur mouvement n’abandonnerait pas ses principes. Ainsi, le représentant du Hamas Mahmoud Al-Zahhar a déclaré à un site Internet proche du Jihad islamique palestinien que Blair avait adopté les positions israéliennes et que le Hamas rejetait ces conditions, en particulier l’acceptation de la solution à deux Etats pour mettre fin au conflit : « Le Hamas et les factions de la résistance ne renonceront pas à leurs principes afin de résoudre les problèmes quotidiens qui affectent les Gazaouis. Nous ne pouvons accepter les conditions de Blair, parce qu’elles sont très dangereuses pour la cause palestinienne. Tout élément palestinien qui accepterait les messages et les conditions de Blair, y compris le Hamas, commettrait une grave erreur et un crime historique qui serait impardonnable… Nous sommes prêts à accepter un Etat dans les frontières de 1967, mais nous ne reconnaîtrons ni Israël, ni son droit de propriété sur un seul centimètre carré de la Palestine. Faire dépendre la reconstruction de Gaza de la fin du conflit est un marchandage inacceptable pour le Hamas, et le Hamas dispose d’alternatives à cet égard ». [2]

Un autre représentant du Hamas, Moussa Abou Marzouq, a affirmé que “le problème ne se trouve pas de notre côté mais de celui d’Israël, et Blair doit s’adresser à Israël et lui demander d’accepter un Etat palestinien avec Jérusalem pour capitale, d’évacuer les colonies et de cesser de s’emparer de la terre de Cisjordanie occupée ». Concernant l’acceptation de la solution des deux Etats pour mettre fin au conflit, il a affirmé : « Le Hamas ne renoncera pas aux droits et aux espoirs du peuple palestinien. Pourquoi ne demandons-nous pas à Israël d’accorder aux Palestiniens leurs droits sur leur patrie et de mettre en œuvre les résolutions de l’ONU concernant le retour des réfugiés palestiniens dans leurs foyers et leurs biens ? » [3]

L’éditorialiste du Hamas ‘Issam Shawar  a écrit que “si l’Occident peut contraindre Israël à appliquer les accords conclus après sa défaite [lors du dernier conflit à Gaza], et prouver qu’il est sérieux et respecte les accords signés, le Hamas pourra envisager une solution politique à long terme. Toutefois, Israël, les Emirats arabes unis, l’Egypte et toute personne qui complote contre le peuple palestinien doit faire une croix sur la reconnaissance par le Hamas de la légitimité de l’occupation des territoires conquis en 1948 ». [4]

Réactions diverses concernant l’identité du Hamas : mouvement palestinien ou composante des Frères musulmans ?

La demande de Blair que le Hamas clarifie son identité et précise s’il se considère comme un mouvement palestinien œuvrant pour les objectifs palestiniens, ou comme faisant partie d’un mouvement islamique ayant des ambitions régionales, a suscité diverses réactions parmi les représentants du Hamas, reflétant les différents courants qui le composent. Si certains ont estimé que le Hamas faisait partie de la Oumma islamique, d’autres ont souligné son aspect local en tant que mouvement islamique palestinien. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar a déclaré : « Le Hamas croit en une Oumma islamique unique et il ne renoncera pas à ce principe. Nous ne répondrons pas à une demande visant à faire du problème palestinien une question nationale, et non pas islamique, et à le restreindre aux frontières de la Palestine, parce que la Palestine est un élément fondamental de la Oumma arabe et islamique. Le Hamas est un mouvement national [et aussi] une partie de la Oumma [islamique] ».[5]

De son côté, Moussa Abou Marzouq a affirmé que le Hamas n’avait pas d’aspirations régionales : “Blair fait référence à l’organisation internationale des Frères musulmans, et il est bien connu que beaucoup emploient ce nom comme une excuse et pas comme un fait, parce que chaque mouvement islamique possède des directions locales [dans différents pays] qui créent leur propre climat et arène politique, et rien ne relie les politiques divergentes et parfois contradictoires des pays où se trouvent ces directions. L’affirmation qu’il y aurait un mouvement islamique avec des aspirations régionales nécessite des preuves, comme l’existence d’un plan et d’une politique. Où sont-ils ? » Il a ajouté que « le Hamas est un mouvement de libération nationale qui mène la résistance sur le territoire de la Palestine, et qui n’a aucun intérêt ou projet d’attaquer d’autres personnes, même s’ils sont en désaccord idéologique ou politique. Le Hamas ne conduit aucune activité en dehors de la Palestine »[6]

« Blair fait partie d’une alliance qui a été vaincue par la Résistance… [Il] n’a aucun droit de poser des conditions

S’agissant de la demande de Blair de mettre en œuvre la réconciliation entre le Fatah et le Hamas, Abou Marzouq a déclaré : « Nous soutenons la mise en œuvre de chaque clause de l’accord de réconciliation avec le Fatah ».[7]

‘Issam Shawar a de son côté rejeté cette demande dans son éditorial : “Blair fait partie d’une alliance qui a été vaincue par la résistance et par les Brigades Al-Qassam et il n’a aucun droit de fixer des conditions, mais devrait plutôt les rencontrer avant que les choses ne s’enveniment… Il n’a aucun droit de se mêler de la réconciliation ou des relations entre le Hamas et l’Egypte. La réconciliation est une question interne, et les relations avec l’Egypte sont le fruit d’une agression de la part de l’Egypte, qui a désigné les Brigades Al-Qassam comme organisation terroriste alors même que l’Europe retirait le Hamas de sa liste des organisations terroristes ».

L’Egypte continue de diaboliser la résistance palestinienne et d’accroître la pression sur la bande de Gaza, alors que le Hamas fait preuve de retenue et œuvre à la restauration des relations, qui sont constamment endommagées par le régime du [président égyptien] Sissi et ses médias corrompus. L’Europe devrait faire pression sur le régime égyptien illégitime pour qu’il cesse de provoquer les Brigades Al-Qassam et le peuple palestinien tout entier ». [8]

Notes :

[1] Unispal.un.org, 15 février 2015.

[2] Paltoday.ps, 19 février 2015.

[3] Al-Risala (Gaza), 17 février 2015.

[4] Felesteen.ps, 18 février 2015.

[5] Paltoday.ps, 19 février 2015.

[6] Al-Risala (Gaza), 17 février 2015.

[7] Al-Risala (Gaza), 17 février 2015.

[8] Felesteen.ps, 18 février 2015.

Voir encore:

No Peace Any Time Soon, but Not Because of Bibi

Charles Krauthammer

National Review

March 19, 2015

Palestinians have demonstrated neither the will nor the leadership to sign a deal with Israel.
Of all the idiocies uttered in reaction to Benjamin Netanyahu’s stunning election victory, none is more ubiquitous than the idea that peace prospects are now dead because Netanyahu has declared that there will be no Palestinian state while he is Israel’s prime minister.

I have news for the lowing herds: There would be no peace and no Palestinian state if Isaac Herzog were prime minister either. Or Ehud Barak or Ehud Olmert for that matter. The latter two were (non-Likud) prime ministers who offered the Palestinians their own state — with its capital in Jerusalem and every Israeli settlement in the new Palestine uprooted — only to be rudely rejected.

This is not ancient history. This is 2000, 2001, and 2008 — three astonishingly concessionary peace offers within the last 15 years. Every one rejected.

The fundamental reality remains: This generation of Palestinian leadership — from Yasser Arafat to Mahmoud Abbas — has never and will never sign its name to a final peace settlement dividing the land with a Jewish state. And without that, no Israeli government of any kind will agree to a Palestinian state.
Today, however, there is a second reason a peace agreement is impossible: the supreme instability of the entire Middle East. For half a century, it was run by dictators no one liked but with whom you could do business. For example, the 1974 Israel–Syria disengagement agreement yielded more than four decades of near-total quiet on the border because the Assad dictatorships so decreed.

That authoritarian order is gone. Syria is wracked by a multi-sided civil war that has killed 200,000 people and that has al-Qaeda allies, Hezbollah fighters, government troops, and even the occasional Iranian general prowling the Israeli border. Who inherits? No one knows.

In the last four years, Egypt has had two revolutions and three radically different regimes. Yemen went from pro-American to Iranian client so quickly the U.S. had to evacuate its embassy in a panic. Libya has gone from Moammar Qaddafi’s crazy authoritarianism to jihadi-dominated civil war. On Wednesday, Tunisia, the one relative success of the Arab Spring, suffered a major terror attack that the prime minister said “targets the stability of the country.”

From Mali to Iraq, everything is in flux. Amid this mayhem, by what magic would the West Bank, riven by a bitter Fatah–Hamas rivalry, be an island of stability? What would give any Israeli–Palestinian peace agreement even a modicum of durability?

There was a time when Arafat commanded the Palestinian movement the way Qaddafi commanded Libya. Abbas commands no one. Why do you think he is in the eleventh year of a four-year term, having refused to hold elections for the last five years? Because he’s afraid he would lose to Hamas.

With or without elections, the West Bank could fall to Hamas overnight. At which point fire rains down on Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport, and the entire Israeli urban heartland — just as it rains down on southern Israel from Gaza when it suits Hamas.

Any Arab–Israeli peace settlement would require Israel to make dangerous and inherently irreversible territorial concessions on the West Bank in return for promises and guarantees. Under current conditions, these would be written on sand.

Israel is ringed by jihadi terrorists in Sinai, Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Islamic State and Iranian proxies in Syria, and a friendly but highly fragile Jordan. Israelis have no idea who ends up running any of these places.

Well, say the critics. Israel could be given outside guarantees. Guarantees? Like the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, in which the U.S., Britain, and Russia guaranteed Ukraine’s “territorial integrity”? Like the red line in Syria? Like the unanimous U.N. resolutions declaring illegal any Iranian enrichment of uranium — now effectively rendered null?

Peace awaits three things. Eventual Palestinian acceptance of a Jewish state. A Palestinian leader willing to sign a deal based on that premise. A modicum of regional stability that allows Israel to risk the potentially fatal withdrawals such a deal would entail.

I believe such a day will come. But there is zero chance it comes now or even soon. That’s essentially what Netanyahu said in explaining — and softening — on Thursday his no-Palestinian-state statement.

In the interim, I understand the crushing disappointment of the Obama administration and its media poodles at the spectacular success of the foreign leader they loathe more than any other on the planet. The consequent seething and sputtering are understandable, if unseemly. Blaming Netanyahu for banishing peace, however, is mindless.

— Charles Krauthammer is a nationally syndicated columnist. © 2014 The Washington Post Writers Group

 
From The Mediterranean to the Golan, Iran Builds Active Front And Direct Military Presence On Israel’s Border To Deter Israel And Further Ideology Of Eliminating The Zionist Regime

Y. Carmon and Y. Yehoshua*

MEMRI
Inquiry & Analysis Series Report No. 1146

February 16, 2015

« Israel faces a fateful crisis. As much as it feared the Iranian nuclear program, it never imagined that Iran would be standing on its border even before its nuclear agreement with the Americans was complete. The Iranian threat to Israel is no longer theoretical, nor does it have anything to do with Israel’s deterrent of using its nuclear weapons, which cannot be used considering the international power balance. The threat has become direct, practical and conventional. »[1]
Introduction

In recent years, Iran has based its deployment in Syria on the establishment of a new Hizbullah Syria organization along the lines of Hizbullah Lebanon, as well as on the direct presence of Iranian forces in Syria, particularly in the Golan Heights.

Iran’s deployment in Syria, and particularly the presence of its forces in the Golan Heights, at first only as command posts and a limited number of special forces, reveals a trend of Iranian activity in the region that is direct, not only by proxy as it has been to date. According to the Iranian plan, the command posts are meant to operate « 130,000 trained Iranian Basij fighters waiting to enter Syria, » as is evident from May 2014 statements by Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) senior official Hossein Hamedani, that were censored and removed immediately after publication in Iran.[2]

Statements expressing intent to establish a front of anti-Israel activity in the Golan were heard from Iranian and Syrian officials as early as 2013, and have been implemented openly and in practice  in the past two years (see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5307, Assad And His Allies Threaten To Open A Front In Golan Heights, May 21, 2013). During this time, there were also a few terror operations as well as operations to collect intelligence information in the Golan, which Israel claims were carried out by Hizbullah and Iranian elements; for example, there have been rocket fire, roadside bombs, drones launched, and weapons transferred to Hizbullah. Israel for its part has carried out pinpoint counter-operations inside Syrian territory, such as bombing missile deliveries and attacking senior Iranian officials in Syria, for example, the January 2015 assassination of Gen. Mohammad Ali Allahdadi and other IRGC soldiers who have not been publicly identified, alongside several Hizbullah operatives, and the February 2013 assassination of top IRGC official Hassan Shateri, which Iran claims was carried out by Israel.[3]

Iran’s direct deployment in the Golan creates a single battle front against Israel from Rosh HaNikra to Quneitra.[4] It also constitutes a violation of the status quo of the Golan Heights front, which has been quiet since the Separation of Forces Agreement of 1974,[5] and comes on top of Hizbullah’s violations of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701.[6] Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Mu’allem said in an interview on Iran’s Al-Alam TV channel that « there is resistance in the Golan that is acting against Jabhat Al-Nusra and against the Israeli plans. »[7] Lebanese analyst Anis Naqash, who is close to Hizbullah, also said that « there is indeed resistance in the Golan. » According to him, there have been several actions against Israel by the Golan resistance, which he called popular Syrian resistance, and Israel has not acknowledged this so as to not reveal its helplessness. Regarding the violation of Resolution 1701 he said: « From the onset there was confusion about it. We – the resistance camp – violated Resolution 1701 from the moment they began implementing it. »[8]

Furthermore, Iran’s deployment on the border has implications for the chances of a war breaking out in the region and for the character of such a war. This, because it increases the possibility that any local eruption could quickly develop into a regional conflict, since Iran now commands the theater that stretches from Iran and Iraq through Syria and Lebanon and the Mediterranean.[9] It should be noted that Hizbullah’s January 28, 2015 retaliatory attack against Israel’s January 18 attack in itself did not develop into a broader conflict only because Israel refrained from responding to it. A senior Iranian spokesman assessed that this was due to Israel’s « intense fear of the outbreak of an all-out war. »[10]

Iran’s aim in deploying in the Golan Heights is not only to deter Israel from acting against its nuclear program, defend Syria as part of the resistance axis, and establish an active front for anti-Israel terror attacks in the Golan and even liberate the Israeli Golan. It also meshes with the Iranian regime’s ideological perception of Israel as an entity that must be eliminated, as is evident in statements by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. According to this perception, the West Bank must be armed, as the Gaza Strip was, in advance of eliminating the state of Israel.

It should be noted that in addition to its deployment for the purpose of eliminating the state of Israel, Iran is building capabilities and ways of operating against Israel and against Jewish/Israeli targets worldwide; these are occasionally put into action.[11]

Iran’s front on Israel’s northern border, in addition to its involvement in other arenas in the region, creates tremendous pressure on its dwindling resources and exhausts it, intensifying its dependence on regional forces. But the export of Iran’s Islamic Revolution always contributes directly to the survival of the Iranian regime. This is because the mobilization of Iranian national forces and Iranian youth in the ideological framework of struggle outside Iran inoculates Iran’s dictatorial regime against internal uprising and rebellion against it.

I. Regional Background: Under Guise Of Fighting Sunni Jihadi Organizations, Iran Deploys On Israel’s Border

In recent years Iran has taken advantage of the fact that the theater between Iraq and the Mediterranean – that is, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon – has become a veritable no man’s land like Afghanistan, and has tightened its grip there and built up its deployment vis-a-vis Israel. Following the abandonment of the Syrian theater by the West, primarily the U.S., and the absence of any operation to decide the conflict following the Syrian uprising, Syria has become an arena of regional and global conflict. Participating in this conflict are fighters in the global jihad, such as Jabhat Al-Nusra and the Islamic State (ISIS), which have the support of Sunni elements, and on the other side Iran and its satellites, such as Hizbullah Lebanon and Hizbullah Syria, as well as the Iraqi militia Asa’ib ‘Ahl Al-Haqq and « the Fatimiyyoun Brigade » of Afghan Shi’ites.[12]

The West’s nonintervention in Syria has spawned not only Iran’s infiltration into that country but also its infiltration into two additional theaters where it has tightened its grip. First, the non-intervention has brought about the undermining of the situation in Lebanon, where in addition to the influx of millions of refugees and the collapse of the political system, the country has become an arena of conflict between Iran and the Sunni jihadis. Likewise, it has brought about the complete undermining of the situation in Iraq, where ISIS – which first established itself in Syria – has invaded the Sunni region and has consolidated its status there. The Iraqi army has collapsed, leading to the emergence on the ground of pro-Iran militias and of troops of the IRGC’s Qods Force, which is headed by Qassem Soleimani.[13]

Thus, Iran has created for itself a single theater of operation stretching from Iran to the Mediterranean, as Iranian officials describe it. For example, Yahya Rahim Safavi, former IRGC commander and security affairs advisor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, boasted in May 2014: « Our strategic depth reaches to the Mediterranean, and above Israel’s head. »[14] In recent similar statements, Ali Saeedi, Khamenei’s representative in the IRGC, said: « The borders of Islamic Iran have expanded [all the way] to the shores of the Mediterranean, and the countries of the region are supported by Iran. » He said further that « we must prepare the ground for the globalization of the Islamic Revolution. »[15] In another speech, he said: « In the past, our borders were Haji Omran [on the Iran-Iraq border], while today our borders are the shore of the Mediterranean and Bab El-Mandeb [in Yemen]. »[16] IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said: « Today, the borders of Islamic Iran and [its Islamic] Revolution have expanded, and we are not defending our country from its own borders but are standing fast and fighting together with our Shi’ite and Sunni brothers against the front of the arrogance [i.e. the West, headed by the U.S.] many kilometers from Iran’s borders. »[17]

In deploying directly on Israel’s border, Iran has effectively become a country neighboring Israel, despite being geographically distant, while Syria and Lebanon have become components in a broader Iran-led regional resistance entity bordering Israel.

II. Building A Single Conflict Front With Israel From Rosh HaNikra To Quneitra

Implementing the statements it has made over the past two years, Iran has created a single conflict front with Israel stretching from Rosh HaNikra to Quneitra, where it and its satellites, Hizbullah Lebanon and Hizbullah Syria, operate freely against Israel in violation of UN Resolution 1701 and while changing the status quo that has existed between Israel and Syria since the Separation of Forces Agreement of 1974.

As part of this implementation, the Syrian Golan has become an Iranian theater of operation as well. This strategic Iranian presence in the Golan was at first clandestine, under the auspices of « defending the resistance axis » and in the name of « the war on Sunni terrorism, » but later became public, and was accompanied by open threats to target Israel from the Syrian border. Thus, for example, in response to a May 2013 Israeli airstrike in the Damascus area targeting Fateh-110 long-range missiles being transferred from Iran to Hizbullah, spokesmen in Iran, Syria, and Hizbullah issued statements regarding the need for resistance in the Golan.[18] At a May 7, 2013 meeting with Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad announced, « The Golan will become a front of resistance. »[19] Iranian Army chief of staff Hassan Firouzabadi also revealed that « according to Assad’s strategic decision, a popular resistance based on the Hizbullah template is being established across Syria. »[20]

In their statements, the top leaders of the resistance axis stress that, in addition to forming an active front in the Syrian Golan vis-a-vis Israel, the axis means to actually « liberate the Syrian Golan » from Israeli control. The deputy of the Iranian chief of staff, Mas’oud Jazeyeri, promised that the region would see many changes, « some of which will pass through the Golan, » and added that « the liberation of the Golan is not impossible. »[21] Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah announced, for his part, that his organization would aid the Syrian resistance « in order to liberate the Syrian Golan. »[22] Nahed Hattar wrote in the Lebanese Al-Akhbar  that « ending the Syria war [i.e., expelling the jihad organizations from it] is meaningless without wresting the Golan from Israeli hands. »[23]

In the framework of this plan for creating a single front from Rosh HaNikra to Quneitra, Hizbullah Lebanon is ignoring the Lebanon-Syria border and is operating freely in Syria, particularly in the Golan, despite criticism in Lebanon.[24] Nasrallah’s January 30, 2015 speech, delivered two days after Hizbullah’s counterattack following Israel’s January 18 attack in Quneitra, amounted to an acknowledgement of a reality in which « there is no recognition of division into arenas » and the resistance is entitled to confront the enemy « wherever it wants and however it wants. » Moreover, in this speech Nasrallah described the death of Hizbullah and IRGC operatives in Israel’s operation as « the mingling of Lebanese blood with Iranian blood on Syrian soil » and stated that this reflected the fact that there is « one cause, one destiny, and one battle. »[25] He also declared in his speech that « the rules of engagement » with Israel had now changed, referring to the rules set out in UN Resolution 1701; as a matter of fact, Hizbullah is indeed violating this resolution in various ways, including with its presence south of Lebanon’s Litani River, alongside the presence of IRGC forces.

III. Elements Of The New Iranian Deployment In Syria: Hizbullah Syria And A Direct Iranian Presence On Israel’s Border

The building of the new Iranian front has two elements: a) establishing a Hizbullah Syria based on the Hizbullah Lebanon model, and b) Iranian forces’ direct involvement in the Golan.

A. Hizbullah Syria – Another Resistance Arm Against Israel

The new Hizbullah Syria is also being established as part of an extensive strategic view and in preparation for the coming conflict with Israel. Senior IRGC official Hossein Hamedani said in a May 2014 speech that « Syria has become a decisive geopolitical region in the regional power balance » and that Iran has established « a second Hizbullah – popular militias in 14 Syrian governorates with 70,000 members, from Syria’s Shi’ites, Sunnis, and Alawites. »[26]

Likewise, an April 21, 2014 analysis published by the moderate conservative Iranian website Farda stated, « The establishment of a Hizbullah Syria, as a bud of resistance, will not only impact the Syrian crisis but will also serve as a mighty arm of the resistance that will give the Zionists nightmares. The Zionist regime, which was previously concerned with the threats along the Lebanese border, must now prepare itself for the new situation. As ongoing events show, the resistance front is uniting from day to day, and the situation for the Zionists and their supporters is worsening. »[27]

Also, Mohammad Reza Naqdi, commander of the Basij paramilitary force, explained: « Hizbullah emerged after the 1982 war in Lebanon. The Palestinian resistance was born after the attacks against Palestine. And today in Syria we are witnessing the establishment of a military force, following the aggression and plots against Syria. » He added, « The resistance force will liberate Jerusalem. »[28]

B. Direct Iranian Activity In The Golan And Lebanon

In the past, Iran preferred to manage the conflict with Israel exclusively through its proxies and allies – Assad and Hizbullah. However, there has recently been open physical presence of IRGC and Qods Force soldiers in Syria, specifically in the Syrian Golan. As mentioned above, Hossein Hamedani, former IRGC commander in the Tehran province, even stated in a speech that « there are 130,000 trained Iranian Basij fighters waiting to enter Syria. »[29]

Arab media also published reports that Iranian forces have been present in the Golan since May 2013. The reports included details provided by Syrian oppositionist circles regarding important bases in the Golan where IRGC forces were present: bases in the Tal Al-Sha’ar area and Tal Al-Ahmar, the Division 90 headquarters, an espionage base near Mazari’ Al-Amal, and a camp in Al-Shuhada.[30]

Testimony also appeared regarding significant IRGC presence on the Israeli-Lebanese border, including on a Twitter account close to the IRGC which posted photos indicating that « the IRGC soldiers of the Islamic revolution are on the border of [Lebanon and] occupied Palestine. »[31] In this context it should be mentioned that, back in January 2012, there was outrage in Lebanon following statements by the commander of the IRGC’s Qods Force, General Qassem Soleimani, who said that « Iran has a presence in South Lebanon and Iraq » and that « these regions are under the influence of the activity and philosophy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. »[32]

The physical presence of senior IRGC generals in the Golan and South Lebanon also indicates the importance of this arena in Iran’s eyes. Examples are presence of Iranian General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi in the Golan, which was exposed after he was killed in an Israeli airstrike in January 2015, and of Iranian General and IRGC commander in Lebanon Hassan Shateri, who was killed in February 2014 in an attack on a military convoy from Damascus to Beirut.[33] This, alongside reports that General Qassem Soleimani was present in Syria in general and in the Quneitra and Dar’a areas in particular.[34]

IV. Calls In Palestinian Resistance Movements To Join Northern Front

Palestinian resistance movements such as Hamas also expressed willingness to join the northern front against Israel by activating Palestinians living in refugee camps there.

Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar called to enable the establishment of military groups belonging to the Al-Qassam Brigades – Hamas’s military wing – in Lebanese and Syrian refugee camps in order « to resist the enemy from northern Palestine. »[35] At the same time, there have been increasing reports recently on renewed Hamas contacts with Iran and Hizbullah, after a period of tension between them due to Hamas’s support for the Syrian revolution.[36]

Abu Ahmad Fouad, deputy secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), supported Al-Zahar’s call and said that the establishment of these militias « should take place as part of a general framework of resistance movements, including the Lebanese Hizbullah. » He told the Al-Mayadeen TV channel: « We believe what Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said regarding uniting the fronts against the Israeli occupation, and there are ongoing meetings to develop the Palestinian resistance operation and coordinate it with the Lebanese resistance. »[37]

‘Imad Zaqout, news director for Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV, even admitted for the first time that the ‘Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades have already operated groups in neighboring countries, and that the rocket fire from Lebanon into Israel during the 2014 conflict in Gaza had been ordered by the Brigades. He added: « Hamas thought and planned for every future war with the Zionist enemy to be a total one. Meaning that it would include every inch of land in Palestine and inflict large-scale damage on the enemy. »[38]

V. The Iranian Front In The Golan – Implementing Iranian Ideological Perception Regarding Need To Eliminate Israel

Constructing a united front from Rosh HaNikra to Quneitra meshes with Iran’s comprehensive strategy to eliminate Israel. Iranian regime heads have repeatedly stated their commitment to this goal over the years, from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to other regime and military leaders.[39]

To bring only a handful of examples, in a July 23, 2014 speech, Khamenei said that « the only solution is to destroy the Zionist regime. »[40] Furthermore, Mehdi Taeb, head of Khamenei’s « Ammar Headquarters » think tank and the brother of IRGC intelligence chief Hossein Taeb, said in a November 12, 2014 speech in Qom that « Iran’s sword is currently stuck in the throat of the accursed Israeli regime, and according to the instructions of the founder of the Islamic Republic [Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini, we must remove this oppressive regime from the world map… The Imam Khomeini saw the Basij [as a force] that would destroy the Zionist regime, and today, thanks to divine grace, Iran has besieged Israel with those same popular forces. »[41] Similar statements were repeatedly made by IRGC officials as well. On August 27, 2014, IRGC Deputy Commander Hossein Salami said: « Destroying the Zionist regime is a very simple matter… [It] will take place gradually. It is a matter of divine faith, [it is] more than a mere wish for us. »[42] On November 26, 2014, Basij Commander Mohammad Reza Naqdi said: « The Iranian nation and Basij members are determined to hold victory prayers led by their Imam [Khamenei] at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. »[43] The next day, IRGC navy official Ali Razmjou said that the Zionist regime « will be eliminated from the world map in the near future thanks to the resistance of Basij and Hizbullah members throughout the world. »[44]

VI. Developing The Palestinian Front By Arming West Bank, Israeli Arabs

To comprehensively implement this Iranian strategy to eliminate Israel, in addition to its activity in Syria and the Golan, the Iranian regime has increasingly expressed its intent to arm the West Bank, and even the Israeli Arabs, as it has armed the Gaza Strip.[45] Khamenei called on several occasions to arm the West Bank. In a July 23, 2014 speech, he said: « Allah willing, the day will come when this regime is destroyed. [But] so long as this false regime is on its feet – what is the solution? The solution is total armed resistance against this regime. This is the solution… Therefore, it is my belief that the West Bank should be armed just like Gaza. »[46]  A July 26, 2015 post on Khamenei’s Facebook page said: « The West Bank should be armed like Gaza. »[47]

Other officials also referred to the arming of the West Bank as part of a strategic policy of the Iranian regime. The deputy chair of the Majlis National Security Committee, Mansour Haghighatpour, said: « One of our goals is to arm the West Bank, because it is the best measure for fighting the Zionist regime. »[48] Ahmad Vahidi, who was defense minister under Ahmadinejad and commander of the IRGC Qods Force, said that « arming the West Bank is a strategic policy of the Leader [Khamenei], whose implementation will transform the Palestine arena, » and even called to arm the territories that were conquered in 1948, in addition to the West Bank. [49] Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said in a rally honoring the Hizbullah members killed in the Quneitra attack, held on January 27, 2015 at the Hizbullah representation in Tehran: « We will utilize every available capability in order to arm the West Bank… The policy of the Islamic Republic regime is to arm the West Bank and strengthen the resistance axis and the forces of Hizbullah in order to fight the usurping and occupying Zionist regime. »[50]

In an August 29, 2014 message of congratulations to the Palestinian people at the close of the 2014 Gaza conflict, IRGC commander Jafari expressed Iran’s support of the Gaza resistance, while mentioning the hope for the elimination of the Zionist regime. He said: « We shall stand fast with you to the end. Continue to raise the banner of jihad in the path of God, for your honor and the honor of all Muslims is linked to this holy jihad. And know that, with Allah’s help, eliminating this crumbling and bloodthirsty Zionist regime will be the greatest achievement on this divine path, and the final victory is not so far away. »[51]

VII. The Battle In The Dar’a Region – Completing The Siege Around Israel

It should be mentioned that the Syrian army, Hizbullah and Iranian forces recently launched a large-scale joint attack on the southern front to expel the rebels from the Dar’a region. During this campaign, titled « The Quneitra Martyrs Battle, » the Syrian regime admitted openly for the first time that Iranian forces were fighting in Syria alongside Assad’s forces. In addition, Gen. Qassem Soleimani visited the region, and Hizbullah and IRGC flags were flown there.[52]

This joint effort to wrest control of the southern Syria front from the hands of the rebels is regarded by Syria, Iran and Hizbullah as part of their struggle against Israel and its allies. A victory in this region will bring the Iranian forces closer to the Jordanian border in the south and the Israeli border in the west, will prepare the ground for defeating the opposition forces in the Quneitra area, and will enable the creation of a territorial continuum of resistance axis forces stretching from Dar’a through Damascus and Quneitra to Lebanon.

A Syrian army commander admitted on Syrian TV that the operation in the Dar’a region was being carried out « in collaboration with the resistance axis – Hizbullah and Iran. » He added that the goal of the army’s actions in the Dar’a and Quneitra area was « to ensure calm on the borders with the neighboring countries [Israel and Jordan] and disrupt the security zone they are attempting to establish. »[53]

The Al-Hadath News website, which is close to the Syrian regime, also exposed Iran’s involvement  in the fighting, and even posted a photo of Gen. Qassem Soleimani in the area. It reported: « Iran, which had been taking part in the fighting in Syria by means of military advisors within the Syrian army, recently decided to join the military conflict officially and openly. » According to the site, Soleimani arrived in the area « to supervise and follow the campaign in southern Syria, and take part in directing it, » and his presence there lends the campaign « a clear geopolitical military character » that means that « the resistance is calling the shots in southern Syria. » The site added that the first goal of this attack was to defeat the armed opposition forces in Dar’a in advance of defeating them in Quneitra, which would be « a blow to the Zionist enemy. » This, in addition to preventing them from advancing towards Damascus. The site stated further that « southern Syria is clearly no longer involved in an inter-Syrian conflict, or a conflict between Syrians and takfiri forces [i.e., the jihad groups], but rather in a conflict between the resistance axis [comprising] Iran, Syria and Hizbullah on the one hand and the Israel-Jordan-U.S. alliance on the other. »[54]

Ibrahim Al-Amin, board chairman of the Lebanese Al-Akhbar daily, which is close to Hizbullah, wrote on this matter on February 11 that the top leadership of the resistance axis has decided « to create new political, military and security facts [on the ground] along the border between Jordan and occupied Palestine. »[55]

VIII. The Implications Of Iran And Its Proxies Surrounding Israel

Iran’s presence in the Golan, as well as in Lebanon and on the Mediterranean, creates a situation where any local conflict can rapidly escalate into a comprehensive regional war with direct Iranian involvement. Though Nasrallah stressed in his speech in late January 2015 that Hizbullah had completed its punitive measures for the killing of its six operatives in Quneitra, and that it is not interested in war, Iran continues to threaten further attacks, and may arrange further eruptions in the region or outside it by employing Hizbullah cells in various parts of the world.[56] In addition, articles in the Lebanese press spoke of the possible outbreak of a regional war.[57]

As long as Hizbullah operates from Lebanon, Israel is able to deter it, since Israel’s response to an attack from Lebanon employing the full force of Hizbullah’s missile arsenal (comprising over 100,000 missiles) will be the destruction of Lebanon’s infrastructures, a scenario that deters Hizbullah. However, if Hizbullah is activated from outside Lebanon, Israel will not be able to respond in the same manner.

As for Iran, it does not regard itself as deterred by Israel, now that it has built a single, comprehensive front against Israel stretching from the Mediterranean to southern Syria. It also has the capability of activating Hizbullah, despite the heavy price this organization will pay.

In fact, the Syrian front in general, and especially in the Golan, has become Iran’s favored theatre of operations, since acting there diminishes the chance of a war within its own borders. In this context, Khamenei’s advisor Ali Ahmad Velayati said on February 8, 2013 that « Iran has planned its defensive positions outside its own borders, and has linked its fate to the fate of the Islamic countries; this is why it will support those such as [Syrian President] Bashar Al-Assad to the end… »[58] Mehdi Taeb, the head of Khamenei’s « Ammar Headquarters » think tank, said in one of his speeches: « The loss of Syria will lead to the loss of Tehran itself. »[59]

Moreover, Iran’s presence on the Israeli border limits Israel’s ability to use military measures against Iran’s nuclear program. This, since Iran is building up its response capabilities in the region, to complement its long-range missiles. In the past, it was Hizbullah Lebanon that deterred Israel, to some extent, from acting militarily against Iran’s nuclear program. Today this deterrence is significantly strengthened by the advent of Hizbullah Syria and the direct presence of Iranian forces in the Golan.

According to Mehdi Taeb, the centrality of Hizbullah to Iran’s deterrence vis-a-vis Israel was already demonstrated in the 2006 Lebanon war. In a 2013 speech, he said that Iran never had to attack Israel’s nuclear warheads because « we completely locked up [Israel] with Hizbullah. During the 2006 Lebanon war, the Zionist regime tried to break this lock [i.e. Hizbullah], but after 33 days [of fighting], it gave up, and left [Lebanon]. »[60]

Al-Akhbar columnist Nahed Al-Hattar also addressed the implications of Iran’s deployment on Israel’s border. He said that, while Israel is unable to use its nuclear capabilities due to international considerations, Iran has created a « practical, direct and conventional » threat against it: « Israel faces a fateful crisis. As much as it feared the Iranian nuclear program, it never imagined that Iran would be standing on its border even before its nuclear agreement with the Americans was complete. The Iranian threat to Israel is no longer theoretical, nor does it have anything to do with Israel’s deterrent of using its nuclear weapons, which cannot be used considering the international power balance. The threat has become direct, practical and conventional. »[61]

*Y. Carmon is President and Founder of MEMRI; Y. Yehoshua is Vice President for Research and Director of MEMRI Israel.

Endnotes:

[1] From a February 13, 2015 article by columnist Nahed Al-Hattar in the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar.

[2] Fars (Iran), April 5, 2014. See also MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5848, Iranian Media Reports Deleted Following Publication (1): Senior IRGC Official Speaking On Iran’s Military Involvement In Syria Says Iran Has Established ‘Second Hizbullah’ There, September 25, 2014.

[3] In the last two years, numerous security incidents have occurred on Israel’s northern border. The incidents include the launch of a drone from South Lebanon in April 2013, which, according to Israeli estimates, was carried out by IRGC members; rocket fire towards the Hermon outpost in May 2013; a roadside bomb near the Israeli-Lebanese border in August 2013; roadside bombs on the Israeli-Syrian border in March and October 2014; anti-tank missile fire from Syria towards an Israeli vehicle in June 2014; a drone infiltrating Israel from Quneitra in August 2014; and  rocket fire on the Golan in January 2015. This, alongside Israeli attacks on weapons shipments such as a shipment of SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles to Hizbullah in Syria in January 2013, an attack on a truck convoy carrying missiles and a launcher in February 2014, and an attack on a warehouse storing Russian-made missiles that were on their way from Syria to Lebanon in December 2014.

[4] The notion of a single front from the Rosh HaNikra to Quneitra (i.e., from the Mediterranean to the Golan) was expressed  repeatedly in the Lebanese press. See for example a January 19, 2015 article in the daily Al-Safir, an article by Firas Al-Shoufi from the same date in Al-Akhbar, and Nahed Hattar’s January 21, 2015 article in Al-Akhbar. The head of Al-Akhbar’s board of directors, Ibrahim Al-Amin, expressed a similar notion in the daily as early as May 27, 2013.

[5] This violation of a decades-long status quo is so grave that, in a late January 2015 interview with Foreign Affairs magazine, Bashar Al-Assad persisted in denying that it was happening, claiming, « Never has an operation against Israel happened through the Golan Heights since the cease-fire in 1974. It has never happened. So for Israel to allege that there was a plan for an operation—that’s a far cry from reality, just an excuse, because they wanted to assassinate somebody from Hizbullah. » Foreign Affairs (U.S.), January 25, 2015.

[6] On Hizbullah’s violations of  Resolution 1701, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5857, « Daily Close To Hizbullah: In Violation Of UNSCR 1701, Hizbullah Has Resumed Operations South Of The Litani River, » October 13, 2014.

[7] Al-Alam TV (Iran), February 2, 2015.

[8] LDC (Lebanon), January 29, 2015.

[9] Many columnists close to Hizbullah and Iran addressed the scenario of an imminent all-out war with Israel. For example, columnist Wafiq Qanso described Hizbullah’s considerations prior to reacting to the Israeli attack as follows: « The time, place, and manner of a reaction  is subject  to the examination of  the leadership of the resistance. » He said that such an examination takes into account several elements, including « the reality in the region and the possibility of a counter-reaction [by Israel] and a slide into extensive war. » Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), January 21, 2015. Lebanese analyst ‘Ali Haidar  wrote: « It is now clear that direct Israeli military intervention will trigger a parallel regional intervention on an [even] larger and more dangerous scale, leading to a scenario of  regional escalation. » Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), February 13, 2015. Iranian analyst Hassan Hanizadeh, who is close to Iranian  regime circles, wrote: « The current confrontation is a prelude to a comprehensive war that will not be confined to South Lebanon, and may even spread  south of Quneitra. » Fars, Iran, January 28, 2015. Al-Akhbar’s Ibrahim Al-Amin wrote, « The possibility of an all-out conflict breaking out that will leave no border between Lebanon and Syria is valid and in effect. » Al-Akhbar, Lebanon, May 27, 2013.

[10]  Brigadier Yadollah Javani, an advisor to Khamenei’s representative in the IRGC, said in a February 15, 2015 interview on Iran’s Al-Alam TV: « Nasrallah announced they [Hizbullah]  would respond to the [January 18] attack, and we saw how this response was carried out. The beauty of it is that the Zionists, for their part, did not respond at all. The reason is their intense fear of the outbreak of an all-out war. »

[11] Recently, many Iran and Hizbullah cells across the world planning attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets were discovered. For example, Uruguay in early January 2015 expelled a top diplomat at the Iranian Embassy in Montevideo on suspicion of his involvement in placing a bomb near the Israeli Embassy in the city; see: English.alarabiya.net, February 6, 2015. Likewise, in April 2014, two Hizbullah operatives planning an attack against Israeli tourists were arrested in Thailand; see: English.alarabiya.net, April 18, 2014. In May 2013, Nigerian security forces uncovered a Hizbullah terror cell that planned to carry out attacks against Israeli targets in the country and in other parts of West Africa. In February 2013, Nigerian security forces uncovered a terror squad operated by the IRGC’s Qods Force that was planning attacks against Chabad House and against offices of the Israeli Zim shipping lines in the city of Lagos. See: Haaretz, IBA, May 30, 2013.

[12] Reports on Iranian forces participating in the fighting in Syria appeared in Iran as early as 2013. See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1040, « Despite Denials By Iranian Regime, Statements By Majlis Member And Reports In Iran Indicate Involvement Of Iranian Troops In Syria Fighting, » December 4, 2013.

Recently, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported, citing Ahmad Ramadan, a member of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, that Iran  was airlifting Shi’ite warriors, especially Iraqis and Afghans, to Latakia, Syria, where they are trained by the IRGC before being dispatched to Dar’a. Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, February 13, 2015.

[13] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5877, Iranian Campaign Touts IRGC Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani As ‘Savior Of Iraq’; Soleimani: Iran Has Thousands Of Organizations Like Hizbullah; I Pray To Die A Martyr, November 10, 2014.

[14] Mehr (Iran), February 5, 2015.

[15] Tasnim (Iran), February 11, 2015.

[16] Tasnim (Iran), February 4, 2015.

[17] Mehr (Iran), January 30, 2015.

[18] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5848, Iranian Media Reports Deleted Following Publication (1): Senior IRGC Official Speaking On Iran’s Military Involvement In Syria Says Iran Has Established ‘Second Hizbullah’ There, September 25, 2014.

[19] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), Almayadeen.net, May 7, 2013.

[20] ISNA (Iran), May 11, 2013.

[21] The statements were made in an interview on Hizbullah’s Al-Manar TV. Irinn.ir, May 17, 2013.

[22] Al-Safir (Lebanon), May 10, 2013.

[23] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), February 13, 2015.

[24] Recently, former Lebanese prime minister Sa’d Al-Hariri, chairman of the Al-Mustaqbal faction, expressed harsh criticism of Hizbullah’s involvement in Syria. In a speech marking the 10th anniversary of the assassination of his father, Rafiq Al-Hariri, he said: « [In the past] we said to Hizbullah: entering the Syrian war is lunacy in itself. It has brought the terrorist insanity into our country. Today we say to it that connecting the Golan with the South [of Lebanon] is also lunacy, and another reason for us to say to it: Get out of Syria. Stop importing Syrian conflagrations into our country, first a terrorist conflagration, then a conflagration from the Golan, and tomorrow who knows where [the conflagration] will come from. » See Youtube.com/watch?v=G90oHQpD-AU#t=174, February 14, 2015.

On earlier criticism inside Lebanon on Hizbullah’s involvement in Syria, see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 980, Lebanon Openly Enters Fighting In Syria, June 13, 2013. The Lebanese press close to Hizbullah  has since May 2013 mentioned numerous times the notion of abolishing the Lebanon-Syria border and the expansion of the resistance front from Lebanon to Syria in the framework of all-out conflict with Israel. For example, Ibrahim Al-Amin wrote in Al-Akhbar: « Everyone must act based on the expansion in practice of [Israel’s] northern front, [which now stretches from  Lebanon to Syria]. In the near future, we may see the border with Lebanon remaining calm, while the most active front will be on the Palestine-Syria border [in the Golan]… We are simply facing a new level of unity between the resistance in Lebanon and [that in] Syria… such that the possibility of an all-out conflict breaking out that will leave no border between Lebanon and Syria is valid and in effect. » Al-Akhbar, Lebanon, May 27, 2013. Columnist Nahed Hattar wrote in Al-Akhbar recently that the Golan was « a pan-Arab arena shared by the Lebanese, the Syrian, the Jordanian, and the Iraqi [people]. From today onwards, there is no longer room for partial resistance and for partial national plans. » Al-Akhbar, Lebanon, January 23, 2015. See also  MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1138, Following Killing Of Hizbullah Operative Jihad Mughniyah, New Information Comes To Light Regarding Hizbullah, Iranian Activity In Syrian Golan On Israeli Border, January 28, 2015.

[25] Al-Safir (Lebanon), January 31, 2015. The previous day, similar statements were made by IRGC commander Jafari: « Iran and Hizbullah are one, and everywhere the blood of our martyrs on the front is spilled together, and our response will be the same. » Fars, Iran, January 30, 2015.

[26] Fars (Iran), May 4, 2014. See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5848, Iranian Media Reports Deleted Following Publication (1): Senior IRGC Official Speaking On Iran’s Military Involvement In Syria Says Iran Has Established ‘Second Hizbullah’ There, September 25, 2014.

[27] Farda (Iran), April 21, 2014.

[28] Al-Manar TV (Lebanon), May 10, 2013.

[29] Fars (Iran), May 4, 2014.

[30] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series Report No. 1138, Following Killing Of Hizbullah Operative Jihad Mughniyah, New Information Comes To Light Regarding Hizbullah, Iranian Activity In Syrian Golan On Israeli Border, January 28, 2015.

[31] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5915, Iranian Army Twitter Account, Iranian Army-Affiliated Blog Report: IRGC Troops At Lebanon-Israel Border, December 26, 2014.

[32] ISNA (Iran), January 18, 2012. The Lebanese government requested clarifications on these statements, which resulted in denials by the Iranian foreign ministry. See Fars (Iran), January 25, 2012.

[33] Al-Gumhouriyya (Egypt), Alarabiya.net, February 15, 2014.

[34] The Syrian opposition reported  that  Soleimani was spotted in Quneitra. Al-Nahar (Lebanon), January 19, 2015. Another report indicated that, on January 11, 2015, « Qassem Soleimani visited Damascus on his way to Beirut, where he met with the resistance leadership. » Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), January 21, 2015. There were also reports, accompanied with photos, that Soleimani recently visited the Dar’a region. Alhadathnews.net, February 10, 2015.

[35] Almanar.com, February 4, 2015.

[36] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), January 10, 2015, October 23, 2014.

[37] Alwatanvoice.com, February 6, 2015.

[38] Alwatanvoice.com, February 6, 2015.

[39] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5906, Iranian Regime Escalates Threats To Annihilate Israel, December 17, 2014.

[40] See MEMRI TV Clip 4366, Iran’s Leader Khamenei: Armed Struggle Should Continue until Israel Is Destroyed by a Referendum, July 23, 2014.

[41] Snn.ir, November 12, 2014.

[42] Fars (Iran), August 27, 2014.

[43] Fars (Iran), November 26, 2014.

[44] IRNA (Iran), November 27, 2014.

[45] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5906, Iranian Regime Escalates Threats To Annihilate Israel, December 17, 2014.

[46] See MEMRI TV Clip No. 4366, « Iran’s Leader Khamenei: Armed Struggle Should Continue until Israel Is Destroyed by a Referendum, » July 23, 2014.

[47] See Special Dispatch No. 5808, « Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei Calls For The Annihilation Of Israel, » July 28, 2014.

[48] Fars (Iran), November 27, 2014.

[49] Tasnim (Iran), July 26, 2014.

[50] ISNA (Iran), January 27, 2015.

[51] Tasnim (Iran), August 29, 2014.

[52] On Soleimani’s presence in Dar’a, including photos, see Alhadathnews.net, February 11, 2015. There have recently been many other reports in the Arab press on the involvement of Iranian troops in the fighting in Dar’a. See a February 13, 2015 report in the Lebanese  Al-Akhbar, as well as reports in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat  from February 12 and February 13. The February 12 article in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat stated that Hizbullah’s leadership in the area was stationed in a special war room in the 9th Division base in Sanamin, north of Dar’a.

[53] Lbcgrouop.tv; Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), February 12, 2015.

[54] Alhadathnews.net, February 11, 2015.

[55] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), February 11, 2015.

[56] Iran has made numerous threats to this effect.  IRGC Qods Force deputy commander Esmail Qaani said after the Quneitra attack: « We will not rest until Israel is eliminated, » Mehr (Iran), January 22, 2015. IRGC commander ‘Ali Jafari threatened a response by means of Hizbullah’s cells across the world: « They [Israel] are surely familiar with the capabilities of the Hizbullah cells that have been established  around the  world [to fight] the enemies of Islam, and they fear them. If  they expect Hizbullah to respond to their action, they must expect a firm and crushing response not only in the region of their border but in any part of the world where there are Zionist Israelis or their supporters » Fars (Iran), January 30, 2015.

[57] On this, see note 9.

[58]  Yjc.ir, February 8, 2013.

[59] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 946, « Iranian Official: The Loss Of Syria Will Lead To The Loss Of Tehran Itself; Syria Is An Iranian Province; Iran Has Formed A 60,000-Strong Syrian Basij; Israel Is Our Only Threat, » March 11, 2013.

[60] See reference in note 59.

[61] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), February 13, 2015.

Voir de plus:

Jordan concerned over Iranian, Hezbollah fighters on its border
Thousands of Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops and Hezbollah fighters have begun deploying along Syrian-Jordanian border, Al-Hayat reports • Jordanian foreign minister warns Tehran the move could undermine regional stability and spark a military clash.
Daniel Siryoti

Hayom

March 17, 2015

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard along with Hezbollah operatives have recently begun deploying along the Syrian-Jordanian border, the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported on Monday.

According to the report, the Iranian force deployed near the border, which mostly arrived directly from Iran, comprises between 10,000 and 15,000 soldiers. The Hezbollah fighters, meanwhile, arrived from the military training camps established by the Revolutionary Guard in southern Lebanon near the border with Syria.

Jordan, worried about the Revolutionary Guard concentration on its border, dispatched Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh to Tehran in recent days, Al-Hayat reported.

Jordanian security officials said Judeh conveyed an unequivocal message to the Iranians, saying the Hashemite kingdom sees Tehran’s troop deployment in a negative light.

According to the report, Judeh demanded clarifications on the troop build-up and told his hosts that their move could undermine regional stability and even spark a military confrontation between the Jordanian army and Iranian forces, if Jordan’s defense establishment concludes the deployment poses a threat to the kingdom’s security.

Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar Assad said Monday that only Syrians can decide his future — apparently dismissing U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s remark that Washington would be willing to talk with Assad to help broker a political resolution to the country’s civil war.

Asked about Kerry’s statement regarding potential talks with the Syrian government, Assad said, « We are still hearing statements and have to wait for actions. Then we will decide. » He added that any « talk about the future of the Syrian president is for Syrian people alone. »

Assad said Damascus was not concerned about comments made from abroad, describing them as « bubbles that disappear after some time. »

The Syrian leader spoke to Iranian TV after a meeting with visiting Iranian Economy Minister Ali Tayebnia. Tehran is one of Assad’s closest allies and strongest backers in his battle against rebels trying to remove him from power.

Kerry said in an interview with CBS News that the U.S. is pushing for Assad to seriously discuss a transition strategy to help end the Syrian conflict, which has killed more than 220,000 people since it started four years ago.

Some in the Middle East saw Kerry’s statement as a shift in America’s policy on Syria after President Barack Obama’s repeated calls for Assad to step down. Damascus has long accused Washington and its allies of militarizing Syria’s conflict.

The foreign minister of Turkey, another U.S. ally, also reacted sharply to Kerry’s comments, and reiterated Ankara’s position that Assad must go.

« What can you negotiate with a regime that has killed more than 200,000 people and used chemical weapons? » Mevlut Cavusoglu said during a visit Monday to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. « What result have you achieved from past negotiations? »

The main Western-backed opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, said in a statement Monday that « bringing down the head of the regime and all officials responsible for crimes against the Syrian people are a main goal of the coalition. »

Assad said that international overtures are positive « if they are sincere. » He added that such a move should start with « ceasing political support to terrorists, stop financing them and stop sending weapons. »

He said that pressure should be exerted on European countries and regional states who give « logistical, financial and military support to terrorists and then we can say that the change has become real. »

Voir enfin:

Le conseiller du président iranien Rohani : l’Iran est un empire, l’Irak est notre capitale ; Nous défendrons tous les peuples de la région ; l’islam iranien est l’islam pur, dépourvu d’arabisme, de racisme, de nationalisme
MEMRI

11 mars 2015

Source : english.farsnews.com
Le 8 mars 2015, Ali Younesi, conseiller du président iranien Hassan Rohani et ancien ministre du Renseignement (2000-2005) au sein du gouvernement du président Khatami, s’est exprimé lors de la conférence sur le thème « Iran, nationalisme, histoire et culture » en Iran. Ses déclarations ont été publiées par l’agence de presse iranienne ISNA le même jour.

Selon Younesi, l’Iran est redevenu un empire, comme il l’était dans le passé, et sa capitale, l’Irak, est « le centre du patrimoine, de la culture et de l’identité iranienne ». Délimitant les frontières de l’Empire perse, ou, selon ses termes, du « Grand Iran », il y fait entrer des pays allant de la Chine, du sous-continent indien et du nord et sud du Caucase jusqu’au golfe Persique. Depuis l’aube de son histoire, selon lui, l’Iran est un empire et un melting-pot de différentes cultures, langues et populations.

Younesi souligne que, malgré les obstacles actuels à l’unification des pays de la région sous le leadership iranien, l’Iran ne peut ignorer cette influence régionale s’il veut préserver ses intérêts nationaux. L’ran, dit-il, opère dans cette région, en particulier en Irak, pour garantir la sécurité des populations dont le lien à l’Iran est évident de par leur histoire et leur culture. L’Arabie saoudite n’a rien à craindre des actions iraniennes, précise-t-il, les Saoudiens eux-mêmes étant incapables de défendre les peuples de la région. Il a aussi promis aux peuples de la région que l’Iran agirait contre l’extrémisme islamique incarné par l’Etat islamique, ainsi que contre les wahhabites saoudiens, la Turquie, les laïcs, la domination occidentale et le sionisme.

Soutenant que tout ce qui entre dans le giron de l’Iran s’améliore en devenant iranien, en particulier l’islam lui-même, il ajoute que l’islam dans sa forme iranienne chiite est l’islam pur, car il a perdu toute trace d’arabisme, de racisme ou de tout autre élément qui divise les différents groupes islamiques.

Voir par ailleurs:

St. Patrick’s Day Miracle in Israel: Netanyahu Comes From Behind to Win

Joel B. Pollak

Breitbart

17 Mar 2015
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has apparently defied the mainstream media and the Obama administration with a stunning, come-from-behind victory in Israel’s elections on Tuesday. Netanyahu’s Likud Party had been projected to lose to Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Union by a margin of 26-22. Two exit polls released at the close of voting, however, suggested Likud would win, 28-27 (a third poll showed them tied). Netanyahu is now expected to form a new governing coalition.
The results suggest that the race shifted dramatically in the last few days, as Netanyahu opted for an all-in, “gevalt” effort to rally his supporters.

Netanyahu had three messages: first, that if Israelis wanted him to return to power, they would have to vote for his party; second, that he would not allow a Palestinian state to be created despite earlier commitments; third, that foreign donors and governments were mobilizing Arab voters, including some who oppose Israel’s existence, to turn out.

It was a blunt, ugly message that may create future political and diplomatic problems for Netanyahu, but it appears to have worked.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media are at a loss for words. They had expected Netanyahu to lose, perhaps even by a wide enough margin to put Herzog in the pole position to form a new government. They had expected economic issues to trump security issues, which were Netanyahu’s focus. And they expected far stronger Arab turnout (as did Netanyahu).

Herzog did put up a good fight, and will have cemented his leadership role in the opposition while building an international profile. The real loser is President Barack Obama, who undoubtedly hoped for a poor showing by Netanyahu. And the even bigger loser is the Iranian regime, who will now face an emboldened Israeli leader who made the case for his re-election on the grounds of strong public opposition to the generous terms of the nuclear deal that Obama is negotiating with Iran.

The most important immediate consequence of the election is that Netanyahu’s defense minister, Moshe “Bogey” Ya’alon, is likely to retain his post. A thorn in the side of Secretary of State John Kerry, whom he called “messianic,” Ya’alon is one of the few military planners in the western world with a grasp on the strategic realities of the Middle East. He has been a counsel of patience for Netanyahu, advising him not to waste resources on Hamas while Iran still looms as the enemy.

Netanyahu will also have some compromises to make en route to forming a new coalition. He will likely have to deliver on his promise to hand control over the finance ministry to one of his rivals, for example. And this may be his final term in office, given how close he came to defeat.

Yet the importance of his victory cannot be diminished. It is the biggest media surprise since “Dewey Defeats Truman”–a remarkable feat in today’s environment of big data, big media and big money.
Will Obama Concede?
The New York Sun

March 17, 2015

http://www.nysun.com/editorials/will-obama-concede/89094/
It may be too soon to say who won the election in Israel but it’s not too soon to say who lost — President Obama. The President threw his personal prestige, and that of his office, into undermining and defeating Prime Minister Netanyahu. Acolytes of the president were thronging to an electioneering operation called V15 in the hopes of delivering the premiership to anyone but the leader of the Likud.

That was the least of it. Mr. Obama gave Mr. Netanyahu the cold shoulder when the prime minister came to town to address a joint meeting of Congress. He belittled the speech. To describe Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Obama’s aides used gutter language never before used by an American presidency in respect of a foreign ally. Yet as the exit polling comes in, it looks like Mr. Netanyahu made a fool of the pollsters and may well have gained a new mandate.

No one would call it a landslide, and the final election results could always bring in a surprise. This point is being made by nearly every analyst, and the potential king maker in the race to form a coalition — Moshe Kahlon of Kulanu — is playing his cards close to his vest, saying, according to the Jerusalem post, that his decision will depend on official ballot results. A center-right figure, he eyes the finance ministry, at least for now.

More broadly though, it looks like what happened is that a hardheaded electorate, in a vibrant democracy, endorsed two broadly centrist factions. Mr. Netanyahu of Likud and Isaac Herzog of the Zionist Union both were buoyed by that instinct. So, as we see it, no matter what happens, Mr. Obama’s attempt to paint Mr. Netanyahu as a marginal, rejectionist figure is shown for what it is — a mark of disrespect for Israel itself. He should have stood on the sidelines.

Will Mr. Obama concede his error? One thing for Americans to keep in mind as the maneuvering begins is that neither the right of center nor the left of center Israeli faction is enthusiastic about the Obama-Kerry negotiations with Iran. The pact is being called by the American editor of Israel’s leading liberal newspaper, Haaretz, in an interview on MSNBC, a deal “which most Israelis are opposed to.” No matter how it turns out, the thing for Mr. Obama to do would be to credit and to work with whoever is given a mandate by the Mideast’s only real democracy.

 Voir encore:

The Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations Is Officially Here
The Obama administration’s anger is « red-hot » over Israel’s settlement policies, and the Netanyahu government openly expresses contempt for Obama’s understanding of the Middle East. Profound changes in the relationship may be coming.
Jeffrey Goldberg
The Atlantic
Oct 28 2014

The other day I was talking to a senior Obama administration official about the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most. “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit,” this official said, referring to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, by his nickname.

This comment is representative of the gloves-off manner in which American and Israeli officials now talk about each other behind closed doors, and is yet another sign that relations between the Obama and Netanyahu governments have moved toward a full-blown crisis. The relationship between these two administrations— dual guarantors of the putatively “unbreakable” bond between the U.S. and Israel—is now the worst it’s ever been, and it stands to get significantly worse after the November midterm elections. By next year, the Obama administration may actually withdraw diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations, but even before that, both sides are expecting a showdown over Iran, should an agreement be reached about the future of its nuclear program.

The fault for this breakdown in relations can be assigned in good part to the junior partner in the relationship, Netanyahu, and in particular, to the behavior of his cabinet. Netanyahu has told several people I’ve spoken to in recent days that he has “written off” the Obama administration, and plans to speak directly to Congress and to the American people should an Iran nuclear deal be reached. For their part, Obama administration officials express, in the words of one official, a “red-hot anger” at Netanyahu for pursuing settlement policies on the West Bank, and building policies in Jerusalem, that they believe have fatally undermined Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace process.

Over the years, Obama administration officials have described Netanyahu to me as recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and “Aspergery.” (These are verbatim descriptions; I keep a running list.)  But I had not previously heard Netanyahu described as a “chickenshit.” I thought I appreciated the implication of this description, but it turns out I didn’t have a full understanding. From time to time, current and former administration officials have described Netanyahu as a national leader who acts as though he is mayor of Jerusalem, which is to say, a no-vision small-timer who worries mainly about pleasing the hardest core of his political constituency. (President Obama, in interviews with me, has alluded to Netanyahu’s lack of political courage.)

“The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars,” the official said, expanding the definition of what a chickenshit Israeli prime minister looks like. “The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states. The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he’s not [Ariel] Sharon, he’s certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He’s got no guts.”

I ran this notion by another senior official who deals with the Israel file regularly. This official agreed that Netanyahu is a “chickenshit” on matters related to the comatose peace process, but added that he’s also a “coward” on the issue of Iran’s nuclear threat. The official said the Obama administration no longer believes that Netanyahu would launch a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in order to keep the regime in Tehran from building an atomic arsenal. “It’s too late for him to do anything. Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late.”

U.S. officials had described Netanyahu to me as recalcitrant, pompous, and “Aspergery.” But this was the first time I’d heard him called “chickenshit.”
This assessment represents a momentous shift in the way the Obama administration sees Netanyahu. In 2010, and again in 2012, administration officials were convinced that Netanyahu and his then-defense minister, the cowboyish ex-commando Ehud Barak, were readying a strike on Iran. To be sure, the Obama administration used the threat of an Israeli strike in a calculated way to convince its allies (and some of its adversaries) to line up behind what turned out to be an effective sanctions regime. But the fear inside the White House of a preemptive attack (or preventative attack, to put it more accurately) was real and palpable—as was the fear of dissenters inside Netanyahu’s Cabinet, and at Israel Defense Forces headquarters. At U.S. Central Command headquarters in Tampa, analysts kept careful track of weather patterns and of the waxing and waning moon over Iran, trying to predict the exact night of the coming Israeli attack.

Today, there are few such fears. “The feeling now is that Bibi’s bluffing,” this second official said. “He’s not Begin at Osirak,” the official added, referring to the successful 1981 Israeli Air Force raid ordered by the ex-prime minister on Iraq’s nuclear reactor.

The belief that Netanyahu’s threat to strike is now an empty one has given U.S. officials room to breathe in their ongoing negotiations with Iran. You might think that this new understanding of Netanyahu as a hyper-cautious leader would make the administration somewhat grateful. Sober-minded Middle East leaders are not so easy to come by these days, after all. But on a number of other issues, Netanyahu does not seem sufficiently sober-minded.

Another manifestation of his chicken-shittedness, in the view of Obama administration officials, is his near-pathological desire for career-preservation. Netanyahu’s government has in recent days gone out of its way to a) let the world know that it will quicken the pace of apartment-building in disputed areas of East Jerusalem; and b) let everyone know of its contempt for the Obama administration and its understanding of the Middle East. Settlement expansion, and the insertion of right-wing Jewish settlers into Arab areas of East Jerusalem, are clear signals by Netanyahu to his political base, in advance of possible elections next year, that he is still with them, despite his rhetorical commitment to a two-state solution. The public criticism of Obama policies is simultaneously heartfelt, and also designed to mobilize the base.

Just yesterday, Netanyahu criticized those who condemn Israeli expansion plans in East Jerusalem as “disconnected from reality.” This statement was clearly directed at the State Department, whose spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, had earlier said that, “if Israel wants to live in a peaceful society, they need to take steps that will reduce tensions. Moving forward with this sort of action would be incompatible with the pursuit of peace.”

It is the Netanyahu government that appears to be disconnected from reality. Jerusalem is on the verge of exploding into a third Palestinian uprising. It is true that Jews have a moral right to live anywhere they want in Jerusalem, their holiest city. It is also true that a mature government understands that not all rights have to be exercised simultaneously. Palestinians believe, not without reason, that the goal of planting Jewish residents in all-Arab neighborhoods is not integration, but domination—to make it as difficult as possible for a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem to ever emerge.

Unlike the U.S. secretary of state, John Kerry, I don’t have any hope for the immediate creation of a Palestinian state (it could be dangerous, at this chaotic moment in Middle East history, when the Arab-state system is in partial collapse, to create an Arab state on the West Bank that could easily succumb to extremism), but I would also like to see Israel foster conditions on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem that would allow for the eventual birth of such a state. This is what the Obama administration wants (and also what Europe wants, and also, by the way, what many Israelis and American Jews want), and this issue sits at the core of the disagreement between Washington and Jerusalem.

Israel and the U.S., like all close allies, have disagreed from time to time on important issues. But I don’t remember such a period of sustained and mutual contempt. Much of the anger felt by Obama administration officials is rooted in the Netanyahu government’s periodic explosions of anti-American condescension. The Israeli defense minister, Moshe Ya’alon, in particular, has publicly castigated the Obama administration as naive, or worse, on matters related to U.S. policy in the Middle East. Last week, senior officials including Kerry (who was labeled as “obsessive” and “messianic” by Ya’alon) and Susan Rice, the national security advisor, refused to meet with Ya’alon on his trip to Washington, and it’s hard to blame them. (Kerry, the U.S. official most often targeted for criticism by right-wing Israeli politicians, is the only remaining figure of importance in the Obama administration who still believes that Netanyahu is capable of making bold compromises, which might explain why he’s been targeted.)

“The Israelis do not show sufficient appreciation for America’s role in backing Israel,” the head of the Anti-Defamation League told me.
One of the more notable aspects of the current tension between Israel and the U.S. is the unease felt by mainstream American Jewish leaders about recent Israeli government behavior. “The Israelis do not show sufficient appreciation for America’s role in backing Israel, economically, militarily and politically,” Abraham Foxman, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, told me. (UPDATE: Foxman just e-mailed me this statement: « The quote is accurate, but the context is wrong. I was referring to what troubles this administration about Israel, not what troubles leaders in the American Jewish community. »)

What does all this unhappiness mean for the near future? For one thing, it means that Netanyahu—who has preemptively “written off” the Obama administration—will almost certainly have a harder time than usual making his case against a potentially weak Iran nuclear deal, once he realizes that writing off the administration was an unwise thing to do.

This also means that the post-November White House will be much less interested in defending Israel from hostile resolutions at the United Nations, where Israel is regularly scapegoated. The Obama administration may be looking to make Israel pay direct costs for its settlement policies.

Next year, the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, will quite possibly seek full UN recognition for Palestine. I imagine that the U.S. will still try to block such a move in the Security Council, but it might do so by helping to craft a stridently anti-settlement resolution in its place. Such a resolution would isolate Israel from the international community.

It would also be unsurprising, post-November, to see the Obama administration take a step Netanyahu is loath to see it take: a public, full lay-down of the administration’s vision for a two-state solution, including maps delineating Israel’s borders. These borders, to Netanyahu’s horror, would be based on 1967 lines, with significant West Bank settlement blocs attached to Israel in exchange for swapped land elsewhere. Such a lay-down would make explicit to Israel what the U.S. expects of it.

Netanyahu, and the even more hawkish ministers around him, seem to have decided that their short-term political futures rest on a platform that can be boiled down to this formula: “The whole world is against us. Only we can protect Israel from what’s coming.” For an Israeli public traumatized by Hamas violence and anti-Semitism, and by fear that the chaos and brutality of the Arab world will one day sweep over them, this formula has its charms.

But for Israel’s future as an ally of the United States, this formula is a disaster.


Discours de Netanyahou: Attention, une violation de protocole peut en cacher une autre ! (Purim on the Potomac: will the real leader of the Free world stand up ?)

4 mars, 2015
https://i2.wp.com/www.metmuseum.org/media/3599/natm_gentileschi_69.281.jpghttps://i2.wp.com/www.mrdrybones.com/blog/D15304_1.gifhttps://scontent-ams.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpf1/v/t1.0-9/11018791_1043887128971546_2976276497768221024_n.jpg?oh=35b1b7fe71996c2f26716bf809d47256&oe=5591EDC2https://fbcdn-sphotos-b-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xfp1/v/t1.0-9/11034190_1043885642305028_2789026816451313212_n.jpg?oh=08cb212b36b5b604bb4927dcc1c1eabb&oe=5592DBB0&__gda__=1433698528_17b29523095b941c8db12ddb13906cb2Ne t’imagine pas que tu échapperas seule d’entre tous les Juifs, parce que tu es dans la maison du roi; car, si tu te tais maintenant, le secours et la délivrance surgiront d’autre part pour les Juifs, et toi et la maison de ton père vous périrez. Et qui sait si ce n’est pas pour un temps comme celui-ci que tu es parvenue à la royauté? Esther 4: 13-14
L’affrontement entre la modernité et le médiévalisme ne doit pas être un affrontement entre modernité et tradition. Les traditions du peuple juif remontent à des milliers d’années. Elles sont la source de nos valeurs collectives et le fondement de notre force nationale. Dans le même temps, le peuple juif a toujours regardé vers l’avenir. Tout au long de l’histoire, nous avons été à l’avant-garde des efforts visant à étendre la liberté, à promouvoir l’égalité, et à faire progresser les droits de l’homme. Nous défendons ces principes non pas en dépit de nos traditions, mais à cause d’elles. Nous écoutons les paroles des prophètes juifs Isaïe, Amos, Jérémie, traitons tout le monde avec dignité et compassion, recherchons la justice, chérissons la vie et prions pour la paix. Ce sont les valeurs intemporelles de mon peuple et celles-ci sont le plus grand don du peuple juif à l’humanité. Engageons-nous aujourd’hui pour défendre ces valeurs afin que nous puissions défendre notre liberté et la protection de notre civilisation commune. Benjamin Netanyahou (ONU, 27/09/2012)
Parce que l’Amérique et Israël partagent un destin commun, le destin de terres promises qui chérissent la liberté et offrent de l’espoir. Israël est reconnaissant du soutien de l’Amérique – de la population de l’Amérique et des présidents de l’Amérique, de Harry Truman à Barack Obama.(…) Mes amis, je suis venu ici aujourd’hui parce que, en tant que Premier ministre d’Israël, je me sens une obligation profonde de vous parler d’une question qui pourrait bien menacer la survie de mon pays et l’avenir de mon peuple: la quête iranienne pour obtenir des armes nucléaires. Nous sommes un peuple ancien. Dans nos près de 4000 ans d’histoire, beaucoup ont essayé à plusieurs reprises de détruire le peuple juif. Demain soir, lors de la fête juive de Pourim, nous allons lire le Livre d’Esther. Nous lisons le récit d’un vice-roi de Perse puissant nommé Haman, qui complotait pour détruire le peuple juif il y a quelque 2500 ans. Mais une femme juive courageuse, reine Esther, a démontré ce complot et a donné au peuple juif le droit de se défendre contre ses ennemis. Le complot a été déjoué. Notre peuple a été sauvé. Aujourd’hui le peuple juif fait face à une autre tentative, d’un autre potentat perse, de nous détruire. Le Guide suprême l’ayatollah Khamenei crache sa haine la plus ancienne, la haine de l’antisémitisme, avec les nouvelles technologies. Il tweete qu’Israël doit être anéanti – il tweete ! Vous savez, en Iran, Internet n’est pas vraiment ce qu’on peut appeler livre. Mais il tweet en anglais qu’Israël doit être détruit. Pour ceux qui croient que l’Iran menace l’Etat juif, mais pas le peuple juif, écoutez Hassan Nasrallah, le chef du Hezbollah, chef mandataire terroriste de l’Iran. Il a dit: Si tous les Juifs se rassemblent en Israël, cela va nous épargner la fatigue de les pourchasser dans le monde entier. Mais le régime iranien n’est pas seulement un problème juif, pas plus que le régime nazi n’était qu’un problème juif. Les 6 millions de juifs assassinés par les nazis n’étaient qu’une fraction des 60 millions de personnes tuées dans la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Donc, si le régime de l’Iran constitue une grave menace non seulement pour Israël, c’est aussi le cas pour la paix du monde entier. Pour comprendre à quel point l’Iran serait dangereux avec des armes nucléaires, nous devons comprendre pleinement la nature du régime. Le peuple d’Iran est composé de gens très talentueux. Ils sont les héritiers d’une des plus grandes civilisations du monde. Mais en 1979, ils ont été détournés de leur histoire par des fanatiques religieux, des fanatiques religieux – qui ont imposé une dictature sombre et brutale. Cette année là, les fanatiques ont rédigé une constitution nouvelle pour l’Iran. Elle ordonne aux gardiens de la révolution de ne pas seulement protéger les frontières de l’Iran, mais aussi de remplir la mission idéologique du jihad. Le fondateur du régime, l’ayatollah Khomeini, a exhorté ses partisans à « exporter la révolution dans le monde entier. » Je suis ici à Washington, et la différence est tellement frappante. Le document fondateur de l’Amérique promet la vie, la liberté et la poursuite du bonheur. Le document fondateur de l’Iran s’engage dans la mort, la tyrannie, et la poursuite du djihad. Et alors que les États s’effondrent à travers le Moyen-Orient, l’Iran se charge d’occuper le vide pour faire exactement cela. Les hommes de main de l’Iran à Gaza, ses laquais au Liban, ses gardiens de la révolution sur le plateau du Golan entourent Israël avec trois tentacules de terreur. Soutenu par l’Iran, Assad massacre Syriens. Soutenu par l’Iran, les milices chiites sont lâchées en Irak. Soutenu par l’Iran, les Houthis prennent le contrôle du Yémen, menaçant les détroits stratégiques à l’embouchure de la mer Rouge. Avec le détroit d’Ormuz, ce serait donner à l’Iran une seconde point d’approvisionnement en pétrole du monde. (…) L’Iran a pris des dizaines d’Américains en otage à Téhéran, a assassiné des centaines de soldats américains, des Marines à Beyrouth, et est responsable de la mort et de mutilations des milliers d’hommes et de femmes, de militaires américains en Irak et en Afghanistan. Au-delà du Moyen-Orient, l’Iran attaque l’Amérique et ses alliés à travers son réseau mondial de terrorisme. Il a fait sauter le centre de la communauté juive et l’ambassade israélienne à Buenos Aires. Il a aidé Al Qaida à attaquer les ambassades américaines en Afrique. Il a même tenté d’assassiner l’ambassadeur saoudien, ici à Washington DC. Au Moyen-Orient, l’Iran domine désormais quatre capitales arabes, Bagdad, Damas, Beyrouth et Sanaa. Et si l’agression de l’Iran n’est pas défaite, d’autres suivront sûrement. Donc, à un moment où beaucoup espèrent que l’Iran se joindra à la communauté des nations, l’Iran est occupé engloutir les nations.(…) Ne soyez pas dupe. La bataille entre l’Iran et l’ISIS ne fait pas l’Iran dans un ami de l’Amérique. L’Iran et l’ISIS sont en compétition pour le trône de l’Islam militant. Le premier se nomme République Islamique, le second Etat Islamique. les deux veulent imposer un empire islamique militant, d’abord sur la région, puis sur le reste du monde. Ils sont simplement en désaccord sur celui qui sera le chef de cet empire. Dans cette lutte mortelle pour un trône, il n’y a pas de place pour l’Amérique ou pour Israël, pas de paix pour les chrétiens, les juifs ou les musulmans qui ne partagent pas la croyance médiévale islamiste, pas de droits pour les femmes, pas de libertés pour les peuples.(…) La différence est que l’ISIS est armé avec des couteaux de boucher, des armes saisies et YouTube, alors que l’Iran pourrait bientôt être armé avec des missiles balistiques intercontinentaux et des bombes nucléaires. Nous devons toujours nous rappeler – je vais le dire une fois de plus – que le plus grand danger auquel notre monde doit faire face, est le mariage de l’Islam militant avec des armes nucléaires. Vaincre l’Etat Islamique et laisser l’Iran obtenir des armes nucléaires serait comme gagner la bataille, mais perdre la guerre. (…) Vous n’avez pas à lire Robert Frost pour le savoir. Vous devez vivre votre vie afin de savoir que le chemin difficile est habituellement le moins fréquenté, mais il faudra savoir faire toute la différence pour l’avenir de mon pays, la sécurité du Moyen-Orient et la paix du monde, paix que nous avons tous pour désir.(…) Mes amis, se tenir debout face à l’Iran n’est pas simple. Etre debout face à des régimes sombres et meurtriers n’est jamais simple. Il y a parmi nous aujourd’hui un survivant de la Shoah et lauréat du prix Nobel, Elie Wiesel. Elie, votre vie et votre travail nous inspirent pour donner un sens aux mots, « plus jamais ça. » Et je souhaite pouvoir vous promettre, Elie, que les leçons de l’histoire ont été tirées. Je ne peux qu’encourager les dirigeants du monde à ne pas répéter les erreurs du passé. (…) Mais je ne peux vous garantir cela. Les jours où le peuple juif sont restés passifs face à des ennemis génocidaires, ces jours sont révolus. Nous ne sommes plus dispersé parmi les nations, impuissants pour nous défendre. Nous avons restauré notre souveraineté dans notre ancienne maison. Et les soldats qui défendent notre maison ont un courage sans bornes. Pour la première fois en 100 générations, nous, le peuple juif, pouvons nous défendre. Mais je sais qu’Israël n’est pas seul. Je sais que l’Amérique se tient avec Israël (…) parce que vous savez que l’histoire d’Israël n’est pas seulement l’histoire du peuple juif, mais de l’esprit humain qui refuse encore et encore de succomber à des horreurs de l’histoire. Face à moi, juste là dans cette galerie, on voit l’image de Moïse. Moïse a conduit notre peuple de l’esclavage aux portes de la terre promise. Et avant que le peuple d’Israël n’entre sur la terre d’Israël, Moïse nous a donné un message qui a endurci notre détermination depuis des milliers d’années. Je vous laisse avec son message aujourd’hui, « Soyez forts et déterminés, sans peurs ni craintes à leurs égards. » (…) Que Dieu bénisse l’Etat d’Israël et que Dieu bénisse les Etats-Unis d’Amérique. Benjamin Netanyahou
Nous essayons de rendre la décision d’attaquer l’Iran la plus dure possible pour Israël. Responsable de l’Administration Obama (au Washington Post, 02.03.12)
Aucun gouvernement israélien ne peut tolérer une arme nucléaire dans les mains d’un régime qui nie l’Holocauste, menace de rayer Israël de la carte et parraine des groupes terroristes engagés à la destruction d’Israël. Barak Obama (devant le groupe de pression pro-israélien AIPAC, 05.03.12)
Le droit du peuple palestinien à l’autodétermination, leur droit à la justice, doit également être reconnu. Mettez-vous dans leurs souliers.  Regardez le monde à travers leurs yeux.  Il n’est pas juste qu’un enfant palestinien ne puisse pas grandir dans son propre état sa vie entière avec la présence d’une armée étrangère qui contrôle les mouvements non seulement des jeunes, mais de leurs parents, leurs grands-parents, chaque jour.  Ce n’est pas seulement quand la violence des colons contre les Palestiniens reste impunie.  Ce n’est pas juste d’empêcher les Palestiniens de cultiver leurs terres agricoles ou de restreindre la capacité d’un élève à se déplacer en Cisjordanie, ou de déplacer des familles palestiniennes de leurs maisons.  L’occupation et l’expulsion ne sont pas la réponse.  Tout comme les Israéliens ont construit un état dans leur patrie, les Palestiniens ont le droit d’être un peuple libre dans leur propre terre.  (…) Comme homme politique, je peux vous dire que je peux vous promettre ceci : Les dirigeants politiques ne prendront jamais de risques si le peuple ne les pousse pas à prendre certains risques.  Vous devez créer le changement que vous voulez voir. Obama (devant étudiants israéliens, mars 2013)
Ce que nous pouvons dire avec certitude, c’est que l’administration qui supporte les Frères musulmans « démocratiquement élus » en Égypte et qui a tant fait pour éliminer tous les obstacles de leur élection, snobe le gouvernement israélien démocratiquement élu, et même, tous les officiels élus d’Israël en général.  « Barack Obama a invité les Frères musulmans à la Maison Blanche.  Il s’est rendu au Caire pour s’adresser à toute l’Égypte et a insisté sur le fait que les Frères musulmans résistent contre la volonté du président d’alors, Hosni Moubarak.  Pourtant, il n’a pas visité la Knesset en Israël !  N’est-ce pas étrange ?  Cela prouve certainement que nous ne pouvons pas prendre ce que cet homme dit à sa valeur nominale. Caroline Glick
Obama est le premier président américain élevé sans attaches culturelles, affectives ou intellectuelles avec la Grande-Bretagne ou l’Europe. Les Anglais et les Européens ont été tellement enchantés par le premier président américain noir qu’ils n’ont pu voir ce qu’il est vraiment: le premier président américain du Tiers-Monde. The Daily Mail
Culturellement, Obama déteste la Grande-Bretagne. Il a renvoyé le buste de Churchill sans la moindre feuille de vigne d’une excuse. Il a insulté la Reine et le Premier ministre en leur offrant les plus insignifiants des cadeaux. A un moment, il a même refusé de rencontrer le Premier ministre. Dr James Lucier (ancien directeur du comité des Affaires étrangères du sénat américain)
Je sais que c’est horrible à dire, mais je ne pense pas que le président aime l’Amérique. Il ne vous aime pas, il ne m’aime pas. Il n’a pas été élevé comme vous et moi dans l’amour de ce pays. Il critique l’Amérique. Il parle des croisades en disant que les chrétiens étaient des barbares, oubliant de finir sa phrase en disant que les musulmans étaient aussi des barbares. Rudolph Giuliani
Je ne remets pas en cause son patriotisme, je suis sûr qu’il est patriote. Mais dans sa rhétorique, je l’entends très rarement dire les choses que j’avais l’habitude d’entendre chez Ronald Reagan ou Bill Clinton concernant leur amour pour l’Amérique. Je l’entends critiquer l’Amérique beaucoup plus que d’autres présidents américains. Rudolph Giuliani
Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress was notable in two respects. Queen Esther got her first standing O in 2,500 years. And President Obama came up empty in his campaign to preemptively undermine Netanyahu before the Israeli prime minister could present his case on the Iran negotiations. On the contrary. The steady stream of slights and insults turned an irritant into an international event and vastly increased the speech’s audience and reach. Instead of dramatically unveiling an Iranian nuclear deal as a fait accompli, Obama must now first defend his Iranian diplomacy. In particular, argues The Post, he must defend its fundamental premise. It had been the policy of every president since 1979 that Islamist Iran must be sanctioned and contained. Obama, however, is betting instead on detente to tame Iran’s aggressive behavior and nuclear ambitions. For six years, Obama has offered the mullahs an extended hand. He has imagined that with Kissingerian brilliance he would turn the Khamenei regime into a de facto U.S. ally in pacifying the Middle East. For his pains, Obama has been rewarded with an Iran that has ramped up its aggressiveness in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Yemen, and brazenly defied the world on uranium enrichment. He did the same with Russia. He offered Vladimir Putin a new detente. “Reset,” he called it. Putin responded by decimating his domestic opposition, unleashing a vicious anti-American propaganda campaign, ravaging Ukraine and shaking the post-Cold War European order to its foundations. Like the Bourbons, however, Obama learns nothing. He persists in believing that Iran’s radical Islamist regime can be turned by sweet reason and fine parchment into a force for stability. It’s akin to his refusal to face the true nature of the Islamic State, Iran’s Sunni counterpart. He simply can’t believe that such people actually believe what they say. That’s what made Netanyahu’s critique of the U.S.-Iran deal so powerful. Especially his dissection of the sunset clause. In about 10 years, the deal expires. Sanctions are lifted and Iran is permitted unlimited uranium enrichment with an unlimited number of centrifuges of unlimited sophistication. As the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens points out, we don’t even allow that for democratic South Korea. The prime minister offered a concrete alternative. Sunset? Yes, but only after Iran changes its behavior, giving up its regional aggression and worldwide support for terror. Netanyahu’s veiled suggestion was that such a modification — plus a significant reduction in Iran’s current nuclear infrastructure, which the Obama deal leaves intact — could produce a deal that “Israel and its [Arab] neighbors may not like, but with which we could live, literally.” (…) Netanyahu offered a different path in his clear, bold and often moving address, Churchillian in its appeal to resist appeasement. This was not Churchill of the 1940s, but Churchill of the 1930s, the wilderness prophet. Which is why for all its sonorous strength, Netanyahu’s speech had a terrible poignancy. After all, Churchill was ignored. Charles Krauthammer
The leader of the free world will be addressing Congress on Tuesday. (…) in a world where the Oval Office is manned by someone openly apologetic for most American exercises of power; and where Western Europe’s economy is enervated, its people largely faithless, and its leadership feckless; and where Freedom House has found “an overall drop in [global] freedom for the ninth consecutive year,” the safeguarding of our civilization might rely more on leaders who possess uncommon moral courage than on those who possess the most nukes or biggest armies. Right now, nobody on the world stage speaks for civilization the way Netanyahu does. While Barack Obama babbles about the supposedly “legitimate grievances” of those who turn to jihad (…) Netanyahu — who spent far more of his formative years on the American mainland than Obama did, and who took enemy fire at the age when Obama was openly pushing Marxist theory, and who learned and practiced free enterprise at the same age when Obama was practicing and teaching Alinskyism — has spoken eloquently for decades in praise of the Western heritage of freedom and human rights. (…) The ayatollahs have never backed down from their stated aim of destroying Christendom. They have never wavered from their depiction of the United States as the “Great Satan.” Just last week, Iran bragged about its recent test-firing of “new strategic weapons” that it says will “play a key role” in any future battle against the “Great Satan U.S.” Iran also continues developing, while trying to keep them secret, new missiles and launch sites with devastatingly long-range capability. It continues to enrich uranium, including an allegedly secret program, to a level that’s a short jump-step from bomb strength. It has a lengthy record of lying and cheating about its military activities, its compliance with U.N. mandates (not that the U.N. is worth much anyway), and its protections of even the limited human rights it actually recognizes as such. About the only thing Iran never lies about is its absolute, unyielding determination to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. It was only a few months ago, for example, that the “revolutionary” regime’s “Supreme Leader,” the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, released a nine-point plan for how to “annihilate” the Jewish state. Yet Obama not only begrudges the Israeli prime minister the opportunity to make his case against this existential threat to his nation, but he conducts a diplomatic and political assault against Netanyahu of a ferocity rarely seen in the annals of American foreign policy. Obama’s actions aren’t just wrongheaded; they are malignant. They pervert American tradition and American interests, and they attempt to deprive the entire free world of its single most clarion voice for enlightenment values. Benjamin Netanyahu of course speaks first for Israel, but he speaks also for you and for me, for decency and humaneness, and for vigilance and strength against truly evil adversaries. Congress, by inviting him, is wise. Obama, by opposing him, is horribly wrong. And the civilized world, if it ignores him, will be well-nigh suicidal. Quin Hillyer
Selon un sondage Gallup publié lundi (…)  45 % des Américains voient Netanyahu de manière positive – le record était en 1998 avec 46% d’opinions positives. 45% en 2015, c’est 10 points de plus qu’en 2012. A l’inverse, seulement 24% des américains voient Netanyahu de manière négative (et parmi eux de nombreux latinos et musulmans). Les républicains apprécient beaucoup plus Netanyahu (60%) que négativement (18%), tandis que les démocrates sont divisés: 31% favorables et 31% défavorables. Parmi les indépendants, 45% ont une opinion favorable de Netanyahu, tandis que 23% le considèrent défavorablement. Par comparaison avec les chiffres de Netanyahu, un sondage publié le 23 février par the Economist / YouGov, a révélé que 45% des Américains ont un avis favorable d’Obama, contre 50% ayant une mauvaise opinion négative. JSSnews
Le discours de Netanyahou au Congrès américain fut un moment grandiose. En mettant en garde le monde occidental contre la menace qui pèse sur lui, en l’exhortant à ne pas pratiquer de politique d’apaisement envers l’Iran, il constitue un événement d’importance mondiale. Aucun homme politique occidental, a fortiori israélien, n’est capable d’une telle audace. En privilégiant la sauvegarde du lien à Obama, le tandem Livni-Herzog ne propose qu’une politique de démission nationale sur tous les enjeux vitaux d’Israël. Le « camp sioniste » qu’ils représentent est dans l’orbite de la démission munichoise qui les fait ressembler à l’Union Européenne. Ce discours prend aussi une résonnance américaine ou un président qui n’a plus de majorité gouverne par ukases et coups de force. En se dressant contre sa politique démissionnaire, il invite aussi les élus américains à résister au dévoiement de la démocratie américaine. La présidence Obama a ruiné les intérêts et les défenses du monde libre. Elle a ouvert la voie à une multitude de conflits locaux et notamment à la décomposition du monde arabe. Elle a acculé Israël à un affaiblissement dans sa puissance qu’il n’a jamais connu, l’obligeant à réitérer la même guerre tous les deux ans. Elle a réveillé un climat de guerre froide avec la Russie. Mais ce qui est le plus important, c’est que Netanyahou a eu l’audace de nommer l’ennemi, ce dont les leaders juifs du monde entier n’ont plus la force. Il a eu l’audace d’affirmer que le « peuple juif » – c’est le terme employé – saura se tenir debout pour faire face à l’ennemi et n’hésitera pas à défendre son existence. En évoquant la leçon de la Shoah, il a clairement défini l’enjeu vital et total qui se joue pour le peuple juif aujourd’hui et qui nécessite une levée en masse des Juifs pour défendre le sanctuaire de leur existence comme peuple. Enfin, la touche juive de son propos est capitale. (…) Netanyahou a évoqué la figure d’Aman, un autre perse, et il a terminé sur la figure de Moïse. C’est là la tonalité d’un vrai leader du peuple juif, capable d’intégrer l’histoire éternelle d’Israël aux enjeux les plus contemporains. Shmuel Trigano
Pourquoi tant d’animosité envers le dirigeant d’un allié de longue date, la seule et unique démocratie du Moyen-Orient, et auquel Obama a juré de sa loyauté indéfectible ? Eh bien parce que la Maison Blanche s’est déclarée exaspérée par cette visite dont elle n’a pas été informée par Israël, et qu’elle a donc perçue comme une « violation au protocole ». Laquelle l’emporte sur les bénéfices que le Congrès pourrait retirer de la présence – et du point de vue – du leader du pays le plus immédiatement concerné par les négociations actuellement menées avec l’Iran. Remarquablement, ce n’est guère la première fois que la question du protocole se situe au cœur d’une menace de destruction du peuple juif posée par l’Iran. On en trouve un précédent biblique. Sinistre écho de l’histoire contemporaine, le Livre d’Esther relate la toute première occurrence d’une tentative de génocide visant les Juifs dans l’empire antique de Perse, actuellement connu comme l’Iran. Quand, plus de deux millénaires en arrière, Mardochée apprend qu’Aman complote de « détruire, tuer, et exterminer tous les Juifs, jeunes et vieux, petits enfants et femmes, en un seul jour » (Esther 3,13), il persuade sa fille adoptive, devenue reine, d’intercéder en leur faveur. Mais Esther a peur. Si elle se présentait devant son mari pour faire appel contre le décret d’Aman, ce serait rompre avec le protocole royal. « Tous les serviteurs du roi et la population des provinces du roi savent bien, réplique-t-elle à Mardochée, que toute personne, homme ou femme, qui pénètre chez le roi, dans la cour intérieure, sans avoir été convoquée, une loi égale pour tous, la rend passible de la peine de mort; celui-là seul à qui le roi tend son sceptre d’or a la vie sauve. Or, moi, je n’ai pas été invitée à venir chez le roi voilà trente jours. » (Esther 4,11) Néanmoins, le Livre d’Esther nous raconte qu’après avoir supplié les Juifs de prier et de jeûner en sa faveur, Esther choisit de faire fi du protocole face à la menace d’extermination qui plane sur son peuple. Et elle parvient à abroger ce funeste décret. En conséquence, les Juifs, à ce jour, célèbrent la fête de Pourim. Dans la tradition juive, le récit de Pourim marque la commémoration d’un autre type de miracle. Le scénario du Livre d’Esther est fait d’une série de coïncidences si statistiquement improbables qu’il témoigne de la main divine cachée derrière la nature. C’est la raison pour laquelle c’est le seul livre de tout le canon biblique qui ne comporte pas la moindre mention du nom de Dieu. Dans ce monde, Dieu cache Sa face, mais Il est tout aussi impliqué dans la direction du monde que lorsqu’Il sépara la mer devant les Hébreux qui fuyaient les Égyptiens. Pour les commentateurs juifs, Pourim incarne donc cet adage célèbre – et ironiquement anonyme – affirmant que « la coïncidence est le moyen que Dieu choisit pour conserver Son anonymat. » Et dans cette optique, il est tout à fait remarquable que le discours du Premier ministre Benyamin Netanyahou « coïncide » avec la veille du jeûne d’Esther, lequel commémore l’héroïsme d’une reine qui décida que la survie de son peuple avait préséance sur le respect du protocole. Rabbin Benjamin Blech

Attention: un chef du Monde libre peut en cacher un autre !

Citations du poète national (Robert Frost), références bibliques (Esther, Mardochée, Haman), analogies historiques (l’Iran comme nouveau régime nazi), hommage au plus respecté des prix Nobel de la paix et survivants de la Shoah (Elie Wiesel), slogans digne de « Game of Thrones » …

Au lendemain d’un nouveau discours aussi attendu que controversé de Benjamin Netanyahou sur le dossier nucléaire iranien au sein même cette fois, alors qu’il n’est plus ou pas encore premier ministre, du Congrès américain  …

Alors que du Liban à Gaza et à présent de la Syrie à l’Irak et au Yemen et tout en préparant sa Solution finale, la Révolution islamique n’en finit pas de faire ce qu’elle a toujours fait depuis 35 ans, à savoir mettre le Moyen-Orient à feu et à sang …

Pendant qu’à la tête du Monde libre et face à un Congrès où il a perdu tout appui, le Tergiverseur-en-chef qui n’arrive toujours pas à nommer l’ennemi tente de sauver sa place dans l’histoire en s’accrochant désespérement à ses rêves de rapprochement avec, de Cuba à l’Iran, tout ce que la planète peut contenir de régimes renégats …

Et qu’un mois à peine après le prétendu « sursaut républicain » de Paris, le déni politiquement correct a repris comme de plus belle et nos belles âmes n’ont pas de mots assez durs pour dénoncer le « complexe d’Auschwitz » et la « diplomatie du bulldozer » du dirigeant israélien …

Mais que face aux horreurs si longtemps tolérées et même subventionnées de nos nouveaux damnés de la terre et trois décennies à peine après les faits, la Belle au bois des bois de la justice commence à peine tant en France qu’aux Etats-Unis à se réveiller …

Comment en cette vieille de la fête juive des Sorts dite de Pourim …

Ne pas voir avec nombre de juifs, d’Israéliens et de simples connaisseurs de la Bible …

L’étrange parallèle avec une autre tentative d’interférence dans les affaires de la superpuissance de l’époque …

A savoir celle d’Esther dont Pourim est justement la fête ?

Et comment ne pas saluer, avec  Shmuel Trigano, l’incroyable audace et la magistrale leçon d’histoire …

D’un des descendants, plus populaire et peut-être plus « américain » que ce moins américain des présidents des Etats-Unis, de cette même courageuse reine juive …

Qui devant une énième tentative d’annihilation par les ancêtres, de surcroit, des dirigeants iraniens actuels …

Osa elle aussi pour sauver son peuple …

Défier la bien-pensance et le protocole du moment ?

Quand Bibi Netanyahou viole le protocole
Échos de la reine Esther qui fit entorse au protocole royal pour défendre son peuple face à la menace de destruction posée par l’Iran d’antan…
rabbin Benjamin Blech
Aish.com
24/2/2015

La prochaine apparition du Premier ministre israélien sur la colline du Capitole se retrouve au centre d’une véritable tempête diplomatique.

Convié par le président républicain de la Chambre des représentants, John Boehner, à s’exprimer devant le Congrès sur les menaces posées par les ambitions nucléaires de l’Iran, Benyamin Netanyahou a saisi cette occasion rêvée de partager l’inquiétude existentielle de son pays à l’heure où le régime des Mollahs s’apprête plus que jamais à atteindre son objectif avoué de l’annihilation totale d’Israël. Mais la Maison Blanche a fait part de son irritation. Un nombre croissant de législateurs démocrates ont annoncé qu’ils boycotteraient son discours. Le vice président américain Joe Biden qui, en sa qualité de président du Sénat, devrait traditionnellement superviser l’allocution de Netanyahou, a fait savoir qu’il serait « en déplacement à l’étranger » à ce moment-là. Quant à Nancy Pelosi, chef de la minorité démocrate, elle a carrément déclaré qu’elle espérait que le « discours n’aurait pas lieu. »

Pourquoi tant d’animosité envers le dirigeant d’un allié de longue date, la seule et unique démocratie du Moyen-Orient, et auquel Obama a juré de sa loyauté indéfectible ? Eh bien parce que la Maison Blanche s’est déclarée exaspérée par cette visite dont elle n’a pas été informée par Israël, et qu’elle a donc perçue comme une « violation au protocole ». Laquelle l’emporte sur les bénéfices que le Congrès pourrait retirer de la présence – et du point de vue – du leader du pays le plus immédiatement concerné par les négociations actuellement menées avec l’Iran.

Remarquablement, ce n’est guère la première fois que la question du protocole se situe au cœur d’une menace de destruction du peuple juif posée par l’Iran. On en trouve un précédent biblique. Sinistre écho de l’histoire contemporaine, le Livre d’Esther relate la toute première occurrence d’une tentative de génocide visant les Juifs dans l’empire antique de Perse, actuellement connu comme l’Iran. Quand, plus de deux millénaires en arrière, Mardochée apprend qu’Aman complote de « détruire, tuer, et exterminer tous les Juifs, jeunes et vieux, petits enfants et femmes, en un seul jour » (Esther 3,13), il persuade sa fille adoptive, devenue reine, d’intercéder en leur faveur.

Mais Esther a peur. Si elle se présentait devant son mari pour faire appel contre le décret d’Aman, ce serait rompre avec le protocole royal. « Tous les serviteurs du roi et la population des provinces du roi savent bien, réplique-t-elle à Mardochée, que toute personne, homme ou femme, qui pénètre chez le roi, dans la cour intérieure, sans avoir été convoquée, une loi égale pour tous, la rend passible de la peine de mort; celui-là seul à qui le roi tend son sceptre d’or a la vie sauve. Or, moi, je n’ai pas été invitée à venir chez le roi voilà trente jours. » (Esther 4,11)

Néanmoins, le Livre d’Esther nous raconte qu’après avoir supplié les Juifs de prier et de jeûner en sa faveur, Esther choisit de faire fi du protocole face à la menace d’extermination qui plane sur son peuple. Et elle parvient à abroger ce funeste décret. En conséquence, les Juifs, à ce jour, célèbrent la fête de Pourim.

Dans la tradition juive, le récit de Pourim marque la commémoration d’un autre type de miracle. Le scénario du Livre d’Esther est fait d’une série de coïncidences si statistiquement improbables qu’il témoigne de la main divine cachée derrière la nature. C’est la raison pour laquelle c’est le seul livre de tout le canon biblique qui ne comporte pas la moindre mention du nom de Dieu. Dans ce monde, Dieu cache Sa face, mais Il est tout aussi impliqué dans la direction du monde que lorsqu’Il sépara la mer devant les Hébreux qui fuyaient les Égyptiens. Pour les commentateurs juifs, Pourim incarne donc cet adage célèbre – et ironiquement anonyme – affirmant que « la coïncidence est le moyen que Dieu choisit pour conserver Son anonymat. »

Et dans cette optique, il est tout à fait remarquable que le discours du Premier ministre Benyamin Netanyahou « coïncide » avec la veille du jeûne d’Esther, lequel commémore l’héroïsme d’une reine qui décida que la survie de son peuple avait préséance sur le respect du protocole.

Voir aussi:

Le discours de Netanyahou : Enfin !
Shmuel Trigano
Desinfos
3 mars 2015

Le discours de Netanyahou au Congrès américain fut un moment grandiose. En mettant en garde le monde occidental contre la menace qui pèse sur lui, en l’exhortant à ne pas pratiquer de politique d’apaisement envers l’Iran, il constitue un événement d’importance mondiale. Aucun homme politique occidental, a fortiori israélien, n’est capable d’une telle audace. En privilégiant la sauvegarde du lien à Obama, le tandem Livni-Herzog ne propose qu’une politique de démission nationale sur tous les enjeux vitaux d’Israël. Le « camp sioniste » qu’ils représentent est dans l’orbite de la démission munichoise qui les fait ressembler à l’Union Européenne.

Ce discours prend aussi une résonnance américaine ou un président qui n’a plus de majorité gouverne par ukases et coups de force. En se dressant contre sa politique démissionnaire, il invite aussi les élus américains à résister au dévoiement de la démocratie américaine.

La présidence Obama a ruiné les intérêts et les défenses du monde libre.

Elle a ouvert la voie à une multitude de conflits locaux et notamment à la décomposition du monde arabe.

Elle a acculé Israël à un affaiblissement dans sa puissance qu’il n’a jamais connu, l’obligeant à réitérer la même guerre tous les deux ans.

Elle a réveillé un climat de guerre froide avec la Russie.

Mais ce qui est le plus important, c’est que Netanyahou a eu l’audace de nommer l’ennemi, ce dont les leaders juifs du monde entier n’ont plus la force.

Il a eu l’audace d’affirmer que le « peuple juif » – c’est le terme employé – saura se tenir debout pour faire face à l’ennemi et n’hésitera pas à défendre son existence.

En évoquant la leçon de la Shoah, il a clairement défini l’enjeu vital et total qui se joue pour le peuple juif aujourd’hui et qui nécessite une levée en masse des Juifs pour défendre le sanctuaire de leur existence comme peuple.

Enfin, la touche juive de son propos est capitale.

On est loin des discours insipides et bureaucratiques à la Livni !

Netanyahou a évoqué la figure d’Aman, un autre perse, et il a terminé sur la figure de Moïse.

C’est là la tonalité d’un vrai leader du peuple juif, capable d’intégrer l’histoire éternelle d’Israël aux enjeux les plus contemporains.

Nous devons y trouver la force d’un sursaut !

Voir également:

Netanyahu’s Churchillian warning

Charles Krauthammer
Washington Post
March 5, 2005

Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress was notable in two respects. Queen Esther got her first standing O in 2,500 years. And President Obama came up empty in his campaign to preemptively undermine Netanyahu before the Israeli prime minister could present his case on the Iran negotiations.

On the contrary. The steady stream of slights and insults turned an irritant into an international event and vastly increased the speech’s audience and reach. Instead of dramatically unveiling an Iranian nuclear deal as a fait accompli, Obama must now first defend his Iranian diplomacy.

In particular, argues The Post, he must defend its fundamental premise. It had been the policy of every president since 1979 that Islamist Iran must be sanctioned and contained. Obama, however, is betting instead on detente to tame Iran’s aggressive behavior and nuclear ambitions.

For six years, Obama has offered the mullahs an extended hand. He has imagined that with Kissingerian brilliance he would turn the Khamenei regime into a de facto U.S. ally in pacifying the Middle East. For his pains, Obama has been rewarded with an Iran that has ramped up its aggressiveness in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Yemen, and brazenly defied the world on uranium enrichment.

He did the same with Russia. He offered Vladimir Putin a new detente. “Reset,” he called it. Putin responded by decimating his domestic opposition, unleashing a vicious anti-American propaganda campaign, ravaging Ukraine and shaking the post-Cold War European order to its foundations.

Like the Bourbons, however, Obama learns nothing. He persists in believing that Iran’s radical Islamist regime can be turned by sweet reason and fine parchment into a force for stability. It’s akin to his refusal to face the true nature of the Islamic State, Iran’s Sunni counterpart. He simply can’t believe that such people actually believe what they say.

That’s what made Netanyahu’s critique of the U.S.-Iran deal so powerful. Especially his dissection of the sunset clause. In about 10 years, the deal expires. Sanctions are lifted and Iran is permitted unlimited uranium enrichment with an unlimited number of centrifuges of unlimited sophistication. As the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens points out, we don’t even allow that for democratic South Korea.

The prime minister offered a concrete alternative. Sunset? Yes, but only after Iran changes its behavior, giving up its regional aggression and worldwide support for terror.

Netanyahu’s veiled suggestion was that such a modification — plus a significant reduction in Iran’s current nuclear infrastructure, which the Obama deal leaves intact — could produce a deal that “Israel and its [Arab] neighbors may not like, but with which we could live, literally.”

Obama’s petulant response was: “The prime minister didn’t offer any viable alternatives.” But he just did: conditional sunset, smaller infrastructure. And if the Iranians walk away, then you ratchet up sanctions, as Congress is urging, which, with collapsed oil prices, would render the regime extremely vulnerable.

And if that doesn’t work? Hence Netanyahu’s final point: Israel is prepared to stand alone, a declaration that was met with enthusiastic applause reflecting widespread popular support.

It was an important moment, especially because of the libel being perpetrated by some that Netanyahu is trying to get America to go to war with Iran. This is as malicious a calumny as Charles Lindbergh’s charge on Sept. 11, 1941, that “the three most important groups who have been pressing this country toward war are the British, the Jewish and the Roosevelt administration.”

In its near-70 year history, Israel has never once asked America to fight for it. Not in 1948 when 650,000 Jews faced 40 million Arabs. Not in 1967 when Israel was being encircled and strangled by three Arab armies. Not in 1973 when Israel was on the brink of destruction. Not in the three Gaza wars or the two Lebanon wars.

Compare that to a very partial list of nations for which America has fought and for which so many Americans have fallen: Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Vietnam, Korea, and every West European country beginning with France (twice).

Change the deal, strengthen the sanctions, give Israel a free hand. Netanyahu offered a different path in his clear, bold and often moving address, Churchillian in its appeal to resist appeasement. This was not Churchill of the 1940s, but Churchill of the 1930s, the wilderness prophet. Which is why for all its sonorous strength, Netanyahu’s speech had a terrible poignancy. After all, Churchill was ignored.

Voir encore:

Right Turn
Our Arab allies understand what Obama doesn’t
Jennifer Rubin
Washington Post
February 16

Were President Obama to acknowledge forthrightly that “extremists” are out to kill Jews (whether in Europe or in genocidal fashion once nuclear weapons are obtained) and then Christians and other “nonbelievers,” he would be obliged, in turn, to recognize the ideological underpinnings of the Islamic jihadists. It is unsurprising, then, that he is in a political and rhetorical fight with the Jewish state’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who will not ignore the deliberate targeting of Jews; will not minimize the threat (unlike Obama, Netanyahu is quite clear this is an existential threat); will not go along with the charade in the P5+1 talks that will, if Obama has his way, result in a North Korea-like deal that allows the mullahs to go nuclear; will not accept (like Obama) Iranian gains throughout the region; and worst of all, will not shut up and let Obama enjoy his denial in peace. But what is even more intriguing is the degree to which Obama ignores the concerns of our Arab allies.

Jordanians participate in a mass demonstration after Friday prayers near Al Hussein Mosque to express their solidarity with the pilot murdered by the Islamic State group earlier this month. (Jordan Pix/Getty Images)

A conservative Middle East scholar recently commented to me, “Notice how Obama never says ‘Iran threatens Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Israel.’ It’s always just about Israel.” Indeed, if one really wanted to mount a robust opposition militarily, politically and rhetorically, one would not portray the Iranian problem as “merely” a threat to Israel; one would have to concede it is an existential threat to all of our Arab allies. If one wanted to stop treading water and throw everything we have against the Islamic State, one might follow the example of Jordan and Egypt, which conducted bombing runs when their people were slaughtered by jihadists. If Obama actually appreciated the threat Iran poses to its Sunni neighbors, he would be horrified instead of copacetic about Iran’s efforts to dominate Iraq. (“Shiite militias backed by Iran are increasingly taking the lead in Iraq’s fight against the Islamic State, threatening to undermine U.S. strategies intended to bolster the central government, rebuild the Iraqi army and promote reconciliation with the country’s embittered Sunni minority.”)

While he might imagine he can shut up Netanyahu or make it nearly impossible for the Jewish state to object to a done-deal with Iran on its nukes, Obama will not be able to dissuade Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia from ordering up their own nuclear weapons, thereby setting off a regional nuclear arms race. He might try to bully Israel, as his secretary of state did in truce talks to end the latest Gaza War, but Egypt won’t abide by a deal that strengthens the hand of Iranian-backed Hamas. (Nor will Egypt desist from attacking Hamas forces in the Sinai.)

In short, Obama’s vision for reconciliation with Iran and for slow-walking the battle with the Islamic State is doomed to fail, not just because the jihadists will continue to strike out against the West and not just because Israel won’t allow a nuclear-armed Iran. It is destined to fail because Sunni Arab states won’t abide by an Iran-dominated Middle East or by jihadists who slaughter their people. In a very real sense, on the threat posed by Islamic terrorists, Obama is far behind our Arab allies and Israel, neither of which have the luxury of self-delusion.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.

Voir de plus:

Bad News, Democrats: Netanyahu’s popularity rivals Obama’s
Noah Rothman
Hot air

March 2, 2015

For weeks, those trapped within the Beltway echo chamber have reassured themselves that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to accept an invitation from congressional Republicans to address a joint session of the federal legislature was a significant strategic blunder of the first order.

They insisted that Netanyahu’s determination to take advantage of a GOP offer made without consulting the president would only further isolate the Israeli prime minister, politicize the Israeli-American relationship, and create a controversy in Israel that could result in a backlash against the prime minister and his party ahead of an upcoming general election. These were always more assertions of faith than examples of objective political analysis. The commentary class might have hoped that providence would punish Netanyahu for this brazen display of defiance in opposition to the president’s preferences, but the fates’ wrath has not yet materialized.

Ahead of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress on Tuesday, Gallup found the Israeli Prime Minister’s popularity rating in the United States was nearing an all-time high. 45 percent of the public views Netanyahu positively compared to just 24 percent of the public who views the Israeli leader unfavorably. That’s a 10-point increase from just 2012 when 35 percent of American survey respondents viewed Netanyahu positively and 23 percent had a negative opinion about the Israeli prime minister.

While Netanyahu’s favorable score has varied slightly over the years, his unfavorable score has been relatively stable, ranging from 20% to 28%. Notably, even while his favorable score increased since 2012, his unfavorable score stayed about the same. Meanwhile, fewer Americans have no opinion of Netanyahu today than did so in 2012, with 31% vs. 41%, respectively, either saying they are unsure or have never heard of him.
The survey found that six in ten Republicans are predisposed to view Netanyahu favorably and self-described independents are more likely to align with Republicans in their view of the Israeli leader. Democrats, however, are split. 31 percent have a favorable opinion of the prime minister and another 31 percent have an unfavorable view.

By contrast, Barack Obama’s favorability rating with the American public is largely equal to Netanyahu’s. The most recent Economist/YouGov poll finds 45 percent of the American public views Obama’ favorably while 50 percent view him unfavorably. Gallup, meanwhile, pegs Obama’s favorability rating at 51 percent – the highest it has been in that survey in months and a dramatic rebound from his 42 percent rating in November of last year – while 48 percent have a negative opinion of the president. Only 44 percent, however, have a favorable view of the job Obama has done in office according to Gallup’s rolling three-day polling average.

Given these conditions, it has become increasingly clear that Obama is forcing his fellow Democrats into a trap. The White House tacitly invited a Democratic boycott of Netanyahu’s address to Congress by refusing to make the president, the vice president, or any high-level Cabinet official available to him during his visit. The president has not urged his fellow Democrats to avoid boycotting Netanyahu, and an ever-increasing number of Democratic officeholders have revealed their intention to engage in a display of fealty to Obama and his wounded ego by disrespecting Netanyahu.

Perhaps these Democrats are emboldened to walk out on Netanyahu by polls, like a recent NBC News/Marist survey, which show a plurality of Americans think it was bad form for Republicans to invite Netanyahu to speak, as is their privilege, without first consulting with the White House. But even that survey, which also found Israel and Netanyahu are generally viewed positively by a plurality of Americans, suggests that this “controversy” will not have long-lasting implications and the ramifications associated with Netanyahu’s speech will be short lived.

The New York Times warned on Monday that a tipping point in Israeli-American relations had been reached. The piece warned that Democrats who are shunning Netanyahu are the vanguard of a larger movement that could threaten Israel’s position as a preferred U.S. ally.

So far, 30 Democrats — four senators and 26 representatives — have said they will not attend the speech. Nearly half are African-Americans, who say they feel deeply that Mr. Netanyahu is disrespecting the president by challenging his foreign policy. But a half-dozen of those Democrats planning to stay away are Jewish, and represent 21 percent of Congress’s Jewish members.
It is just as logical to read this paragraph and conclude that the anti-Netanyahu movement on the far-left is an ideologically homogenous one. When taken in consideration with public polling, it is clear that the boycott movement represents a fraction of a fraction of the Democratic Party and is utterly unrepresentative of the American people.

What’s more, the public polling on Israel contrast sharply with a Gallup survey that discovered that only 11 percent of the American public has a favorable opinion of the Islamic Republic of Iran. 84 percent of the public has an unfavorable opinion of the Islamic Republic, results that call into question the administration’s ability to sell a nuclear accord to the American public. As the administration works tirelessly toward securing a deal, any deal, with Iran that would forestall its ability to construct a nuclear weapon, White House officials cannot be encouraged by these numbers.

Democrats have been put in an awkward position by this administration’s naked hostility toward the Israeli leader. Last week, Harvard University Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, a committed Democrat, warned his fellow party members in Congress to avoid making support for Israel a partisan issue. For most Americans, it isn’t. Between Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama, the president is in the most danger of alienating the American people.

Voir de plus:

Analyse: discours de Netanyahou, une belle entrée mais un final décevant
L’impact de l’intervention du PM israélien ne sera mesurable qu’au terme des négociations avec l’Iran

Tal Shalev

i24news

04 Mars 2015

 « Tellement de choses ont été écrites sur un discours qui n’a pas encore été prononcé », a déclaré le Premier ministre israélien lundi soir, avec un sourire fier.

Netanyahou a pu observer les drames que l’annonce de son allocution a provoqués des deux côtés de l’océan Atlantique dans les semaines et les jours qui ont précédé sa venue à Washington.

Ce même sourire s’affichait à nouveau sur son visage mardi soir, après plus d’une vingtaine d’ovations, prouvant, à ses yeux, que toutes les paroles prononcées visant à provoquer le président américain face aux centaines d’élus présents dans l’assistance en valaient la peine.

Aux yeux de Netanyahou, ce discours au Congrès restera dans l’histoire comme une brillante allocution de plus de l’orateur acclamé.

Comme prévu, Netanyahou a fait preuve de ses talents d’orateur.

Après une entrée grandiose et de chaleureux applaudissements, il a entamé son discours avec quelques paroles bienveillantes pour le président américain. S’il a admis les tensions provoquées par sa collaboration avec le président républicain de la Chambre des représentants John Bohner, il a salué l’engagement d’Obama en faveur de la sécurité d’Israël et a été acclamé lorsqu’il a souligné la force de l’alliance américano-israélienne.

Mais le Premier ministre a fait son exposé, et c’en était alors fini des ovations bipartisanes – des deux côtés de l’hémicycle.

Les observateurs ont relevé l’expression sur le visage de Nancy Pelosi, représentante des démocrates à la Chambre. Après le discours, Pelosi, qui soutient avec force Israël, a déclaré par la suite qu’elle avait presque pleuré pendant le discours, blessée par « l’insulte faite aux renseignements des États-Unis ».

Netanyahou avait de nombreux atouts en poche pour renforcer son message, sans attaquer directement la Maison Blanche : les citations de Robert Frost sur le chemin qui n’a pas été pris, les références aux personnages de Pourim Esther et Haman, l’analogie incontestable entre l’Iran et le régime nazi, ses slogans digne de « Game of Thrones », et l’hommage au prix Nobel de la paix et survivant de la Shoah Elie Wiesel, invité pour apporter un appui moral dans l’assistance.

Il a également fait des déclarations fortes et convaincantes sur la menace nucléaire iranienne, et lancé un avertissement au monde face devant la pression iranienne et sur la nécessité de parvenir à un meilleur accord plutôt qu’en accepter un mauvais.

Mais sans le nommer, il a continué ses attaques détournées contre Obama, sous-entendant que celui-ci est naïf, qu’il ne fait pas son travail, et qu’il restera dans l’histoire comme quelqu’un qui a mis l’Etat juif et peut-être même le monde entier en danger.

Le président lui-même n’a pas pris la peine d’assister au discours et a programmé une conférence téléphonique internationale exactement à la même heure. Cinquante députés démocrates ont fait de même, étant absents du Congrès pour montrer leur soutien au président et protester contre l’invité israélien.

Toutefois, le “lobby Netanyahou” au Congrès a réalisé un travail incroyable en effaçant l’absence des démocrates et les sièges vides ont été remplis par de fervents partisans. Quand les démocrates ont cessé d’applaudir, les applaudissements du milliardaire Sheldon Adelson, du leader conservateur Newt Gringrinch, de Elie Wiesel et de la délégation israélienne ont résonné de plus fort.

Réagissant à ce discours, l’administration a marqué un autre point, en minimisant son importance, le qualifiant de simple rhétorique, notant qu’ « il n’y avait rien de nouveau ». Simplement exiger de l’Iran qu’il capitule complètement n’est pas un projet ou une idée nouvelle, comme l’a relevé un haut fonctionnaire. Après que tant de choses ont été écrites sur le “Congress Gate” et après les applaudissements, il y avait au final un sentiment de déception.

Netanyahou a fait son show, mais le résultat de son intervention ne sera connu qu’après la tentative américaine de parvenir à un accord sur le programme nucléaire de Téhéran. Pendant ce temps, les relations toxiques entre Jérusalem et Washington ne vont pas disparaître, et le choc des intérêts sur la question iranienne continuera de déranger les partisans de la précieuse alliance américano-israélienne.

Netanyahou, de son côté, peut envisager les choses à plus court terme. Deux semaines avant les élections, son spectacle de deux jours à Washington lui a procuré le public parfait pour reprendre la main sur l’agenda, et distraire l’attention d’Israël des récents scandales et de la crise du logement qui se profile.

Selon les prochains sondages, Netanyahou aurait entre 2 et 3 points de moins que ses rivaux de l’Union Sioniste. Avant de quitter Washington dimanche, Netanyahou s’est rendu au Mur des Lamentations à Jérusalem pour y trouver de l’inspiration. Sur le chemin du retour, il priera pour que son discours au Congrès lui permette d’obtenir au moins quelques voix supplémentaires.

Tal Shalev est la correspondante diplomatique de la chaîne i24news.

Voir de plus:

Netanyahu, Not Obama, Speaks for Us

While under fierce attack from President Obama, the Israeli prime minister defends Western values and speaks the truth about Iran.

Quin Hillyer

National review on line

March 2, 2015

The leader of the free world will be addressing Congress on Tuesday. The American president is doing everything possible to undermine him.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a nation surrounded by enemies, a nation so small that it narrows at one point to just 9.3 miles. Yet, in a world where the Oval Office is manned by someone openly apologetic for most American exercises of power; and where Western Europe’s economy is enervated, its people largely faithless, and its leadership feckless; and where Freedom House has found “an overall drop in [global] freedom for the ninth consecutive year,” the safeguarding of our civilization might rely more on leaders who possess uncommon moral courage than on those who possess the most nukes or biggest armies.

Right now, nobody on the world stage speaks for civilization the way Netanyahu does. While Barack Obama babbles about the supposedly “legitimate grievances” of those who turn to jihad, Netanyahu talks like this (from his speech to the United Nations on September 27, 2012):

The clash between modernity and medievalism need not be a clash between progress and tradition. The traditions of the Jewish people go back thousands of years. They are the source of our collective values and the foundation of our national strength.

At the same time, the Jewish people have always looked towards the future. Throughout history, we have been at the forefront of efforts to expand liberty, promote equality, and advance human rights. We champion these principles not despite of our traditions but because of them.

We heed the words of the Jewish prophets Isaiah, Amos, and Jeremiah to treat all with dignity and compassion, to pursue justice and cherish life and to pray and strive for peace. These are the timeless values of my people and these are the Jewish people’s greatest gift to mankind.

Let us commit ourselves today to defend these values so that we can defend our freedom and protect our common civilization.

When Hamas fired thousands of rockets into Israel last year, Netanyahu, in his necessary military response, did something almost unprecedented in the history of warfare. As he accurately described in his U.N. speech last year, on September 29:

Israel was doing everything to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties. Hamas was doing everything to maximize Israeli civilian casualties and Palestinian civilian casualties. Israel dropped flyers, made phone calls, sent text messages, broadcast warnings in Arabic on Palestinian television, always to enable Palestinian civilians to evacuate targeted areas.

No other country and no other army in history have gone to greater lengths to avoid casualties among the civilian population of their enemies

As Barack Obama complains (with scant grasp of the historical context) about how Christians were such gosh-darn meanies a thousand years ago in the Crusades, Netanyahu protects the ability of Muslims today to have free access to the Old City of Jerusalem, even as Jews and Christians are prohibited from visiting the Temple Mount. At the beginning of his first term, in his first trip overseas as president, Obama delivered a speech to Turkey’s parliament, under the thumb of the repressive Tayyip Erdogan. “The United States is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history,” he confessed, sounding like America’s therapist-in-chief. “Our country still struggles with the legacies of slavery and segregation, the past treatment of Native Americans.”

Netanyahu, in contrast, in a 2011 Meet the Press interview, offered unabashed words of praise for the United States: “Israel is the one country in which everyone is pro-American, opposition and coalition alike. And I represent the entire people of Israel who say, ‘Thank you, America.’ And we’re friends of America, and we’re the only reliable allies of America in the Middle East.” (Netanyahu was accurate in his description of how much Israelis appreciate Americans, as I saw last summer during a visit to the country.)

In thanking America, Netanyahu was not posturing for political advantage. Netanyahu — who spent far more of his formative years on the American mainland than Obama did, and who took enemy fire at the age when Obama was openly pushing Marxist theory, and who learned and practiced free enterprise at the same age when Obama was practicing and teaching Alinskyism — has spoken eloquently for decades in praise of the Western heritage of freedom and human rights. He also speaks and acts, quite obviously, to preserve security — for Israel, of course, but more broadly for the civilized world. On Tuesday, as he has done for more than 30 years, Netanyahu will talk about the threat to humanity posed by Iran.

It’s mind-boggling to imagine that any national leader in the free world would fail to understand the danger. The ayatollahs have never backed down from their stated aim of destroying Christendom. They have never wavered from their depiction of the United States as the “Great Satan.” Just last week, Iran bragged about its recent test-firing of “new strategic weapons” that it says will “play a key role” in any future battle against the “Great Satan U.S.”

Iran also continues developing, while trying to keep them secret, new missiles and launch sites with devastatingly long-range capability. It continues to enrich uranium, including an allegedly secret program, to a level that’s a short jump-step from bomb strength. It has a lengthy record of lying and cheating about its military activities, its compliance with U.N. mandates (not that the U.N. is worth much anyway), and its protections of even the limited human rights it actually recognizes as such.

About the only thing Iran never lies about is its absolute, unyielding determination to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. It was only a few months ago, for example, that the “revolutionary” regime’s “Supreme Leader,” the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, released a nine-point plan for how to “annihilate” the Jewish state.

Yet Obama not only begrudges the Israeli prime minister the opportunity to make his case against this existential threat to his nation, but he conducts a diplomatic and political assault against Netanyahu of a ferocity rarely seen in the annals of American foreign policy. Obama’s actions aren’t just wrongheaded; they are malignant. They pervert American tradition and American interests, and they attempt to deprive the entire free world of its single most clarion voice for enlightenment values.

Benjamin Netanyahu of course speaks first for Israel, but he speaks also for you and for me, for decency and humaneness, and for vigilance and strength against truly evil adversaries. Congress, by inviting him, is wise. Obama, by opposing him, is horribly wrong. And the civilized world, if it ignores him, will be well-nigh suicidal.

— Quin Hillyer is a contributing editor for National Review Online.

Voir aussi:

Herb Keinon
The Jerusalem Post
03/02/2015

Netanyahu views that his destiny is to protect the Jewish state, and — by extension — the future of the Jews. In his mind, this is why he was fated to come to power. Nothing less.

When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses Congress on Tuesday, he will likely make reference to Purim, that holiday that will begin Wednesday night commemorating the Jews’ salvation from the hands of Haman and the Persians thousands of years ago.

How could he not; it’s a slam dunk.

Then the Persians wanted to destroy the Jews; today the Persians want to destroy the state of the Jews. Same peoples, same tired story line.

And in this modern day version of the Biblical Book of Esther that many of the US legislators he will be speaking to are familiar with from their Sunday school days, Netanyahu — at least judging from his rhetoric over the last few weeks — sees himself cast as a combination of Mordechai and Esther.

Mordechai was the character in the Book of Esther who recognized the threats to his people in real time; Esther the one who — through the right words, at the right time, in the right situation — took action to thwart them. Netanyahu sees himself playing both roles.

In his mind he is the one who, going back to his first speech to Congress in 1996 where he already identified the danger of a nuclear Iran as the biggest threat facing Israel, is the Mordechai character. He is also the one lobbying the King, in this case US President Barack Obama in the role of King Ahashverush, to get him to squelch the Persian plot against the Jews.

One of the most poignant moments in the Book of Esther comes toward the end of Chapter 4, when Mordechai has alerted Esther to the dangers hovering above the Jews, and entreats her to plead her people’s case before the King. Her answer was to hem-and-haw a bit and say she was not invited to meet the King, and those who approach him without being invited face death.

Mordechai’s reply: « If you remain silent at such a time as this, relief and deliverance for the Jews will appear from some other quarter, but you and your father’s house will perish. Who knows, perhaps it is for such a time as this that you have come to your royal position. »

Netanyahu’s critics say this speech is all about the elections. But Judging from everything that Netanyahu has said over the years, not just for this election cycle, he views that this — protecting his people and his country from destruction — is the reason he came to power.

Other prime ministers, such as Yitzhak Rabin or Shimon Peres, viewed their reason for rule as becoming The Peacemaker. Netanyahu never cast himself in that role. He views that his destiny is to protect the Jewish state, and — by extension — the future of the Jews. In his mind, this is why he was fated to come to power. Nothing less.

Netanyahu, the best English orator Israel has ever had at its helm, also believes — much like Obama — in the power of words. That he is going forward with a speech that he obviously knows will severely complicate his life with Obama until the end of the President’s term, indicates that he — as sources close to him have said — believes in the possibility that words can convince key policy makers that the concessions being offered to Iran are much too much.

Esther saved the Jewish people not through a great military achievement, but with daring to speak to the King. Netanyahu seems to see himself playing a similar role.

It is worth noting that in recent days Netanyahu, including Monday in his address to AIPAC, has noted other Israeli Prime Ministers who at key crossroads have been willing to take action even when it ran contrary to US policy.

Netanyahu has mentioned David Ben-Gurion, who declared statehood in 1948, even though the US State Department was adamantly opposed. He has mentioned Levi Eshkol, who took preemptive action in June 1967 against the Egyptians, even though the US president at the time, Lyndon Baines Johnson, was firmly against. He mentioned Menachem Begin, who took out the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 even though then president Ronald Reagan was so incensed at the move that he temporarily halted the delivery of fighter planes to Israel. And he cited Ariel Sharon, who continued with Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, even when president George W. Bush called on him to stop.

(Netanyahu also could have mentioned Ehud Olmert, who — according to foreign reports — issued the order in 2007 to take out a Syrian nuclear facility, even though the US preferred to deal with the matter at the UN).

By raising these cases, Netanyhau is saying that the prime minister is joining the ranks of other Israeli premiers who took brave action even if it risked a rocky patch in the relationship with the US.

But the parallels are far from perfect. Ben-Gurion, Eshkol, Begin and Sharon all took concrete actions to further what they viewed as vital Israeli interests, even if these ran up against American wishes. What Netanyahu is doing is giving a speech — not ordering a military strike.

But Netanyahu has shown over his long career that he believes in the efficacy of the speech, and how the right words, at the right time, delivered in the right way, can change history. One precedent he is leaning on is the Book of Esther.

Some are likening Netanyahu’s speech to Congress as a duel with Obama and calling it High Noon. Considering the season, however, it may be more apt to call it Purim on the Potomac.

Voir aussi:

Why Religious Jews See a Parallel Between the Netanyahu-Obama Rift on Iran and the Bible’s Book of Esther
Sharona Schwartz
The Blaze
Feb. 25, 2015

Religious Jews are drawing parallels between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address next week to Congress, which has earned the ire of the Obama administration, and the experiences of the biblical Esther who made the case to Persia’s king on behalf of the Jewish people to halt the designs of a hate-consumed official to annihilate the Jews.

The faithful have been sharing their thoughts on social media and have pointed to the the timing of Netanyahu’s speech, March 3, which happens to fall of the eve of the Fast of Esther, when Jews commemorate the three-day fast Queen Esther asked the Jews to undertake while they repented and prayed she would succeed in her mission to convince King Ahasuerus to scuttle the evil Haman’s genocidal plans.

The Obama administration has lambasted Israel over Netanyahu’s accepting an invitation from House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) to speak to Congress, which it described as a break in diplomatic protocol.

Some religious leaders have noted that the same kind of break in protocol was key to the Jews’ redemption in the Book of Esther. The Jewish holiday of Purim, which this year is celebrated March 5, marks Esther’s success in her mission to thwart Haman’s destructive plan.

“Remarkably, this is not the first time the issue of protocol lies at the heart of an Iranian threat to destroy the Jewish people,” Yeshiva University Professor Rabbi Benjamin Blech wrote in an article for the Jewish educational organization Aish Hatorah. “There is biblical precedent. Eerily echoing today’s story, the Book of Esther recounts the first recorded instance of attempted genocide against Jews in the ancient empire of Persia, today known as Iran.”

In the Book of Esther, Mordechai learns of Haman’s plot to exterminate all the Jews “in a single day.” Mordechai urges his adopted daughter Esther to intercede with her husband, the king.

“But Esther is afraid. If she were to approach her husband to appeal Haman’s decree, she would be breaking royal protocol” by approaching the king when she had not been summoned, which could lead to a death penalty for her, Blech explained.

After begging the Jews to fast and pray, “Esther chose to disregard protocol in the face of possible extermination of her people. Esther succeeded in averting the evil decree. As a result, Jews to this day around the world celebrate the Festival of Purim,” Blech wrote.

Rabbi Efrem Goldberg of the Boca Raton Synagogue in Florida also likened Mordechai and Esther to Netanyahu.

“Why did we ultimately triumph over Haman such that we are here today and he is a distant memory? The answer is simple: Mordechai and Esther, two heroes stood up and, like an alarm, rang and rang until they woke up our people from their practically comatose sleep,” Goldberg wrote. “Like Mordechai and Esther before him, on the eve of Ta’anis Esther [Fast of Esther] this year, the Prime Minister of Israel will speak before a joint a session of Congress and seek to sound the alarm, to awaken from their sleep the decision-makers who can stop the wicked plans of modern day Persia.”

Goldberg recalled a lesson shared by the late Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, considered one of the leading rabbinical figures of Orthodox Judaism.

Purim is often celebrated as commemorating a miracle, but Soloveitchik offered a unique view on what the real miracle was.

“A madman rose and articulated his intentions to destroy the Jewish people. The miracle was that we didn’t ignore him, we didn’t excuse him, and we didn’t seek to reinterpret him. The miracle was that we actually believed him and sought to do something about it,” Goldberg wrote, citing Soloveitchik’s lesson.

Rabbi Benzion “Benny” Hershcovich, an emissary of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement who directs the Cabo Jewish Center, pointed out that the redemption of the Jews as told in the Book of Esther was described as occurring by natural means, with no overt divine miracle recounted.

Indeed, God is never mentioned in the Book of Esther, though religious Jews note the improbable string of coincidences that led to the Jews’ salvation, suggesting God’s invisible hand was at work.

Hershcovich told TheBlaze Wednesday that like Esther, “here Netanyahu is trying to go about ensuring Israel’s survival through political means” and is not “depending on a miracle.”

The rabbi explained that the current Jewish month of Adar in which Purim is celebrated is considered to be a joyous month.

“Adar is the month where the Jewish people are victorious against Persia so the timing of Netanyahu’s speech – not only in political sense – but from a religious point of view, there’s probabaly no better time for him to speak out against the modern day Haman than in the proximity to Purim,” Hershcovich said.

He noted that the 1991 Gulf War even ended on the Purim holiday.

“So in general, Purim is a good day for Jews,” Hershcovich said.

Voir également:

Netanyahu gives Obama the Book of Esther. Biblical parable for nuclear Iran?
Esther tells of a Persian plot against the Jews that was thwarted through cunning and the intercession of a gentile king. Purim, the holiday that celebrates the story, starts tonight.
Dan Murphy
The Christian Science Monitor
March 7, 2012

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave President Obama the Book of Esther as a gift a few days ago, the message was only slightly less subtle than if he had constructed a massive neon billboard across the street from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with the message « Mr. President, please help me destroy Iran before they destroy us. »

The Book of Esther is from the Old Testament, and it’s a story that Jews across the world will celebrate tonight and tomorrow with the holiday of Purim. Unlike much of the good book, there are hardly any mentions of God. Instead it’s a tale of backroom maneuvering ending in victory for the Jews and destruction of their enemies, with a woman in the rare role of hero. Did this 2,500-year-old tale of double-dealing and deceit, set in the old Persian Empire, really happen? Well, your mileage may vary. Does it contain lessons for today? Bibi certainly thinks so.

One of his aides told a reporter that gift was meant to provide “background reading” on Iran for Obama. In a speech to the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a pro-Israel lobbying group, Netanyahu described Haman, the villain of the tale, as « a Persian anti-Semite [who] tried to annihilate the Jewish people. » The context of his speech was that Iran, the modern successor to Persia, presents the greatest danger to peace and security on the planet.

While I’m not sure foreign policy is well-crafted with ancient biblical texts as a guide, the lessons of the Esther story are taken seriously by Netanyahu and millions of Jews. Some Jewish traditions say Hitler is not a historical aberration, but a descendent of Haman (who, in turn, was a descendant of the Jews’ enemies in Egypt). The story of a proposed genocide of the Jews in ancient Persia? Evidence for why the modern state of Israel had to be established – there could be no guaranteed security or safety for Jews living in a Gentile-majority state.

What happened? The Persian king Ahasuerus is displeased with his wife and casts her aside, ordering his men to scour the country for a new bride. The beautiful orphan Esther, being fostered by her cousin Mordechai, is brought before Ahasuerus and he takes her as his wife. Mordechai tells her to keep her Jewish identity a secret.

Some time later, Mordechai overhears a plot against the king and transmits the warning through Esther. But Mordechai’s role is unknown and he runs into trouble when some time after that, Haman is elevated to vizier – the king’s prime minister and right-hand man. Haman is not a nice man. After Mordechai refuses to bow down before the vain and bullying Haman, the vizier decides to eradicate all Jews in Persia in revenge. With a honeyed tongue in the king’s ear warning that Jews are disloyal and dangerous, he wins approval. On a set date, all the Jews in the empire will be slaughtered.

Mordechai learns of the plot, and sends word to Esther that she must intercede with the king. He beseeches her: « If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this. » (As quoted in the New International Version of the Bible.)

So she arrays herself in finery and presents herself to Ahasuerus, who promises to give her anything she wants. She finally reveals she’s a Jew and that Haman’s plan means the destruction of her own people, and Mordechai – whose role in uncovering the assassination plot against the king has by now been revealed.

The furious king shifts positions, and gives the Jews permission to destroy their enemies. The story ends with Haman, his brothers, and 75,000 other Persians put to the sword. Mordechai is elevated to vizier, and given wide latitude to make policy.

It appears that in a modern context, Netanyahu sees himself as Mordechai, Iran’s leaders as Haman, and Obama perhaps as Ahasuerus, the powerful but easily influenced king who almost led to the Jews’ downfall but saved them in the nick of time. There isn’t an obvious Esther figure at the moment (though fans of the evangelical Christian politician Sarah Palin often compared her to Queen Esther, come to save her people « at a time such as this, » during her vice presidential run). But I think that’s enough of the plot to get the point.

The holiday itself, though very Jewish, is really a celebration of man (and woman) taking action to save themselves rather than waiting for divine intervention. There are no miracles but human ingenuity and intelligence, no great lessons beyond a reminder that the Jews have enemies, and when the chips are down they’d better look to themselves first (as Netanyahu told AIPAC, « The purpose of the Jewish state is to defend Jewish lives and to secure the Jewish future. Never again will we not be masters of the fate of our very survival. Never again. That is why Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat. »)

The holiday has evolved down the centuries into a cross between Halloween and Hogmanay. There will be readings from Esther in synagogues tonight, but also kids running around in costumes gobbling sweet Hamantaschen (« Haman’s hats, » though in modern Hebrew they’re called « Haman’s ears »). Their elders generally indulge in the harder stuff. It’s a celebration of victory and survival.

In the modern tale being told by Netanyahu, with his frequent warnings that Iran’s nuclear program is the gathering storm of a new Holocaust, the Islamic Republic of Iran is the one « trying to kill us. » War talk has been quieted slightly by Obama’s skillful handling of his own meetings with Netanyahu and AIPAC this week. But the biblical underpinnings of Netanyahu’s and many others Jews fears promise to, eventually, ratchet up the heat again.

Voir par ailleurs:

Nétanyahou agite une menace imminente du nucléaire iranien… depuis 20 ans
Elvire Camus

Le Monde

03.03.2015

Depuis plus de vingt ans, les interventions de Benyamin Nétanyahou sur le nucléaire iranien se suivent et se ressemblent. A quinze jours des élections législatives anticipées en Israël, le premier ministre prononce, mardi 3 mars, un discours devant le Congrès américain, afin de dissuader une nouvelle fois le groupe P5 + 1 (Etats-Unis, Russie, Chine, France, Royaume-Uni et Allemagne) de parvenir à un accord sur le nucléaire iranien.

« Mes amis, pendant plus d’un an on nous a dit qu’aucun accord était préférable à un mauvais accord. C’est un mauvais accord, le monde se portera mieux sans lui », a déclaré le premier ministre israélien mardi. Selon lui, cet accord, qui vise à limiter le programme nucléaire de l’Iran mais dont les contours ne sont pas connus, y compris d’Israël, permettrait à la République islamique de « s’empresser de fabriquer une bombe » atomique. « Le régime iranien représente une grande menace pour Israël, mais aussi pour la paix du monde entier », a encore lancé M. Netanyahu, mardi, très applaudi par les élus américains présents.

Ce n’est pas la première fois que Benyamin Nétanyahou alerte sur l’imminence de la nucléarisation de l’Iran – et il oublie parfois que ses anciennes prédictions ne se sont pas vérifiées.

En 1996 : « Le temps nous est compté »

Comme le relève le site d’information The Intercept, dès 1992, alors qu’il n’est pas encore premier ministre, le député Nétanyahou avertit le Parlement israélien, que l’Iran sera capable de fabriquer une arme nucléaire dans « trois à cinq ans ».

Quatre ans plus tard, la République islamique n’est pas en capacité de se doter de l’arme atomique. Le premier ministre israélien se contente de répéter, lors de son premier discours devant le Congrès américain, au mois de juillet 1996, qu’il faut tout faire pour empêcher, sans tarder, « la nucléarisation d’Etats terroristes », en l’occurrence l’Iran et l’Irak. « Mais la date limite pour atteindre cet objectif se rapproche fortement », prévient-il alors, avant de poursuivre :

« Mesdames et Messieurs, le temps nous est compté. […] Il ne s’agit pas de dramatiser la situation plus qu’elle ne l’est déjà. »
En 2011, soit quinze ans plus tard, Nétanyahou s’adresse une deuxième fois à la Chambre des représentants américains et répète la même formule, sans tenir compte de ses calculs de 1992 ou de 1996 :

« Maintenant, le temps nous est compté […]. Car le plus grand de tous les dangers pourrait bientôt s’abattre sur nous : un régime islamique militant doté de l’arme nucléaire. de la bombe nucléaire. »
En 2012 : « quelques mois, peut-être quelques semaines »

En 2012, Benyamin Nétanyahou brandit, lors d’un célèbre discours aux Nations unies, une pancarte représentant schématiquement une bombe. Il assure que la République islamique a atteint le seuil dangereux de 70 % d’enrichissement de son uranium et qu’aux alentours du printemps, voire de l’été 2013 « au plus tard », le pays pourrait passer à « l’étape finale », soit un enrichissement à 90 %, seuil minimum pour pouvoir fabriquer une bombe.

« Ils n’ont besoin que de quelques mois, peut-être quelques semaines, avant d’avoir suffisamment d’uranium enrichi pour la première bombe. »
Or, un câble diplomatique obtenu par Al-Jazira révèle que les services secrets israéliens étaient à l’époque parvenus à des conclusions opposées : l’Iran ne « fournit pas l’activité nécessaire à la production d’armes » nucléaires, affirmait le Mossad.

En 2013 : à nouveau « une question de semaines »

Un an plus tard, dans un entretien accordé au Monde en octobre 2013, peu avant la reprise des discussions entre l’Iran et le groupe P 5+1, le premier ministre israélien tient encore le même discours, mais en changeant l’échéance :

« Si on laisse aux Iraniens la capacité d’enrichir à un faible degré, ils seront capables d’enrichir rapidement l’uranium à haute dose, c’est une question de semaines. »
Lire l’entretien : « L’Iran veut développer 200 bombes nucléaires »

Après un accord préliminaire conclu en novembre 2013 entre le groupe P5+1 et l’Iran, qui prévoyait que la République islamique accepte de limiter son programme nucléaire, en échange d’un allégement des sanctions économiques, M. Nétanyahou dénonce une « erreur historique » et son ministre de l’économie met en garde contre la possibilité pour l’Iran de fabriquer une bombe nucléaire dans un délai très court :

« L’accord laisse intacte la machine nucléaire iranienne et pourrait permettre à l’Iran de produire une bombe dans une période de six à sept semaines. »
Cette rhétorique récurrente peut expliquer pourquoi Barack Obama a minimisé la portée des derniers propos de Benyamin Nétanyahou, quelques heures avant le discours de ce dernier au Congrès américain. Le président américain a ainsi tenu à souligner que le premier ministre israélien s’était déjà « trompé par le passé » en présentant l’accord de novembre 2013 comme un « mauvais accord » que l’Iran ne respecterait pas.

Netanyahou, président de la droite américaine ?
Serge Halimi

Le Monde diplomatique

4 mars 2015

Il y a une vingtaine d’années, un ancien candidat républicain à l’élection présidentielle américaine avait comparé le Congrès des Etats-Unis à un « territoire israélien occupé ». En 2015, il est devenu inimaginable qu’un dirigeant républicain s’exprime avec autant de perfidie. M. Benyamin Netanyahou et ses idées s’imposent en effet sans résistance et sans effort dans le cénacle des parlementaires de Washington. Ils rencontrent davantage d’opposition… à la Knesset israélienne.

La chose ne s’explique pas uniquement par une majorité républicaine dans les deux chambres du Congrès, car les démocrates — et M. Barack Obama lui-même — ne refusent presque jamais rien à la droite israélienne et à son puissant lobby, l’AIPAC (1). Défendant devant celui-ci la cause du président des Etats-Unis et de son administration, Mme Samantha Powers, ambassadrice des Etats-Unis auprès des Nations unies, vient de rappeler que, ces six dernières années, le président Obama avait consacré 20 milliards de dollars à la sécurité d’Israël (2).

Néanmoins, en partie pour des raisons religieuses liées à la prégnance chez les évangélistes les plus conservateurs de théories fumeuses sur l’Apocalypse (3), en partie parce que le Parti républicain, comme l’actuel premier ministre israélien, adore décrire un Occident encerclé d’ennemis (en général musulmans) afin de justifier des interventions armées plus nombreuses et des dépenses militaires plus plantureuses, M. Netanyahou est devenu le héros de la droite américaine, son Winston Churchill. Celui qu’elle aimerait avoir comme chef d’Etat plutôt que l’actuel locataire de la Maison Blanche, un homme qu’elle exècre au point de douter sans cesse de son patriotisme, voire de la nationalité américaine inscrite sur son passeport (4).

Lors de la dernière expédition meurtrière d’Israël à Gaza, enthousiasmée par les moyens employés à cette occasion, l’une des vedettes de Fox News, Ann Coulter, avait avoué : « J’aimerais que Netanyahou soit notre président. Oui, bien sûr, parfois des enfants palestiniens sont tués. Mais c’est parce qu’ils sont associés à une organisation terroriste qui fait du mal à Israël. Et Netanyahou se moque bien de ce que des responsables religieux lui disent en pleurnichant à propos des enfants palestiniens. Il se moque bien de ce que lui disent les Nations unies. Il se moque bien de ce que lui disent les médias. Nous sommes un pays, nous avons des frontières. Netanyahou, lui, fait respecter les siennes. Pourquoi ne pouvons-nous pas en faire autant ? (5) »

M. John Boehner, président républicain de la Chambre des Représentants, a donc, sans prévenir M. Obama, invité cet homme à poigne afin qu’il explique aux parlementaires américains que la politique iranienne de la Maison Blanche menace l’existence même d’Israël. Spécialiste de la communication et ayant une longue expérience des Etats-Unis, où il fut ambassadeur de son pays auprès des Nations unies (ce qui lui valut des centaines d’invitations dans les médias), le premier ministre israélien n’a pas manqué de se recueillir devant le mur des Lamentations (et quelques caméras) avant de s’envoler pour Washington. Et d’y assimiler sans relâche le régime iranien avec celui du IIIe Reich.

Lire Trita Parsi, « Le temps de la haine entre les Etats-Unis et l’Iran est-il révolu ? », Le Monde diplomatique, mars 2015, en kiosques.Devant le caractère grossier — pour ne pas dire la grossièreté — de la démarche, M. Obama s’est montré plus audacieux qu’il n’en a l’habitude : il a fait savoir aussitôt qu’il ne recevrait pas le premier ministre israélien. Et même que ni son vice-président Joseph Biden ni son secrétaire d’Etat John Kerry n’assisteraient au discours solennel du chef du Likoud, destiné à pourfendre la politique étrangère de leur administration sous un tonnerre d’applaudissements parlementaires. Il y a près de trois ans, pour expliquer l’engagement inhabituellement voyant de M. Netanyahou dans la campagne présidentielle de M. Mitt Romney contre M. Obama, le quotidien israélien Haaretz soulignait déjà que le premier ministre israélien « ne parle pas seulement anglais, ou même américain, il parle couramment le républicain. »

Sa fastidieuse diatribe devant le Congrès des Etats-Unis permettra-t-elle à M. Netanyahou de rendre politiquement impossible tout accord entre Washington et Téhéran en présentant celui-ci comme un nouveau Munich, et M. Obama comme un Chamberlain nouvelle manière ? Lui assurera-t-elle un avantage électoral grâce auquel il l’emportera une nouvelle fois lors du scrutin du 17 mars prochain (lire Marius Schattner, « Le coup de poker de M. Netanyahou ») ? En tout cas, cette fois, « Bibi l’Américain » semble avoir réalisé l’impossible aux Etats-Unis : il a indisposé une partie de l’opinion publique, qui lui était jusqu’alors largement acquise quoi qu’il fasse et quoi qu’il dise.
(1) Sur le rôle de ce lobby, lire Serge Halimi, « Le poids du lobby pro-israélien aux Etats-Unis », « Israël, plus que jamais enfant chéri de l’Amérique » et « Aux Etats-Unis, M. Sharon n’a que des amis », Le Monde diplomatique, respectivement août 1989, mai 1991 et juillet 2003.
(2) L’administration Obama a par ailleurs opposé son veto à toutes les résolutions des Nations unies critiquant Israël, y compris quand elles se contentaient de reprendre des formulations américaines… Et les Etats-Unis ont quitté l’Unesco lorsque, en 2011, la Palestine y a été admise.
(3) Lire Ibrahim Warde, « Il ne peut y avoir de paix avant l’avènement du Messie », Le Monde diplomatique, septembre 2002.
(4) Le 18 février dernier, l’ancien maire de New York et ancien candidat républicain à la Maison Blanche M. Rudolph Giuliani a déclaré : « Je ne crois pas, et je sais que c’est terrible à dire, que ce président aime l’Amérique. Il ne vous aime pas et il ne m’aime pas. Il n’a pas été élevé comme vous et moi dans l’amour de ce pays. »
(5) Fox News, 31 juillet 2014.

Selon l’institut Gallup, Netanyahu est plus populaire qu’Obama aux Etats-Unis !
Jack Philip

JSSNews

3 mars 2015

Malgré les attaques violentes lancées par une certaine presse américaine, la côte de popularité du Premier Ministre israélien Benjamin Netanyahu est quasiment à un niveau record, selon un sondage Gallup publié lundi.

Les résultats du sondage montrent que les tensions avec l’administration du président Barack Obama sur son discours prévu au Congrès mardi n’ont pas nui à son image auprès du public américain, et les Américains le voient à peu près aussi favorablement aujourd’hui que depuis 1996 et sa prise de pouvoir en Israël.

Dans ce sondage, on apprend que 45 % des américains voient Netanyahu de manière positive – le record était en 1998 avec 46% d’opinions positives. 45% en 2015, c’est 10 points de plus qu’en 2012.

A l’inverse, seulement 24% des américains voient Netanyahu de manière négative (et parmi eux de nombreux latinos et musulmans).

Les républicains apprécient beaucoup plus Netanyahu (60%) que négativement (18%), tandis que les démocrates sont divisés: 31% favorables et 31% défavorables. Parmi les indépendants, 45% ont une opinion favorable de Netanyahu, tandis que 23% le considèrent défavorablement.

Par comparaison avec les chiffres de Netanyahu, un sondage publié le 23 février par the Economist / YouGov, a révélé que 45% des américains ont un avis favorable d’Obama, contre 50% ayant une mauvaise opinion négative.

Voir encore:

The Hidden Message in Netanyahu’s Speech
Rick Richman

Commentary

03.08.2015

In “Echoes of Churchill Pervade Netanyahu’s Speech,” Belladonna Rogers notes that the address included a subtle reference to Churchill’s “Chicken Speech”–one of the British leader’s most eloquent war speeches, delivered December 30, 1941 to the Canadian Parliament. She argues persuasively that Netanyahu’s allusion conveyed a powerful message about a particular historical parallel.

Ms. Rogers writes that, three weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Churchill braved the perils of wartime travel to meet with FDR and address Congress, and then spoke to the Canadian Parliament four days later. In Canada, he reminded his listeners that in 1940 the Nazis had conquered four nations–Norway, Denmark, Holland, and Belgium–and then the “great French catastrophe” took place: France fell into “utter confusion” and the French abandoned their pledge “in which [they had] solemnly bound themselves with us not to make a separate peace.” Churchill told the Canadians that if France had stood with England, instead of capitulating to Germany, the war could already have been won. Then he said:

When I warned [the French] that Britain would fight on alone whatever they did, their generals told their Prime Minister and his divided Cabinet, ‘In three weeks England will have her neck wrung like a chicken.’ Some chicken! Some neck!” [Laughter and applause].

In Netanyahu’s address this week to Congress, as Ms. Rogers wrote, he noted that Iran “now dominates four Arab capitals–Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, and Sana’a”–and that “at a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations.” Netanyahu then borrowed Churchill’s cadence from 1941:

Now, two years ago, we were told to give President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif a chance to bring change and moderation to Iran. Some change! Some moderation!

Rouhani’s government hangs gays, persecutes Christians, jails journalists and executes even more prisoners than before. … Iran’s regime is as radical as ever, its cries of “Death to America” — that same America that it calls the “Great Satan” — as loud as ever … and that’s why this regime will always be an enemy of America.

Michael Doran, Bret Stephens, Lee Smith, and others have noted that President Obama appears to be implementing a grand strategy to re-align America with Iran, establishing a de facto alliance in which America recognizes Iran as a “very successful regional power,” in the President’s words in his year-end NPR interview. It is a shift that worries not only Israel but also America’s moderate Arab allies, with the Saudi press now openly editorializing about it. Ms. Rogers writes that the situation parallels what Churchill saw as the utter confusion of the French in 1940:

Not only from the Israeli perspective, but also that of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other American allies in the Middle East, the deal under consideration appears to be a what Churchill called “a separate peace” with a terrorist state the U.S. is on the brink of recognizing as the new hegemonic power in the region. … In his subtle but unmistakable reference to Churchill’s “Chicken Speech,” the Israeli prime minister sought to persuade the United States to stand with its allies in the Middle East …

The day after the 1941 address, the New York Times editorialized that Churchill had spoken “magnificently” in a speech with “no shrillness … as it [moved] from impassioned eloquence to its contagious chuckle” that would give the speech its popular title. This week, Netanyahu spoke similarly, without shrillness, moving from eloquence to a subtle allusion to Churchill’s speech, ending with an assertion that if Israel had to stand alone, it would stand–a final echo from Churchill’s 1941 address.

Echoes of Churchill Pervade Netanyahu Speech
Belladonna Rogers

Real Clear Politics

March 7, 2015

If Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sounded Churchillian in his speech to the Congress on Tuesday, one reason is that he echoed several of the most memorable phrases in Winston Churchill’s 1941 address to the Canadian House of Commons, a speech still celebrated by Canadians as rallying their nation at a crucial moment in World War II.

Those phrases deserve attention because of the message they convey to the United States in 2015. Alas, most members of Congress are insufficiently aware of one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century to have taken notice. A line that should have had them on their feet left them in their seats.

Only three weeks after the Dec. 7 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had drawn the United States into World War II, the British prime minister braved the cold and the perils of wartime travel to visit Washington to speak to the Congress on Dec. 26. He then left for Canada.

His speech there contains two lines that have become part of the Churchill canon. The first, although it does not have an echo in the Netanyahu speech, is worth repeating because it evokes what Edward R. Murrow called Sir Winston’s gift for mobilizing the English language and sending it into battle:

I should like to point out to you, Mr. Speaker, that we have not at any time asked for any mitigation in the fury or malice of the enemy. The peoples of the British Empire may love peace. They do not seek the lands or wealth of any country, but they are a tough and hardy lot. We have not journeyed all this way across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy.

The second notable line in Churchill’s address concerned the Nazi conquest of four sovereign nations — Norway, Denmark, Holland, and Belgium — followed by the « great French catastrophe » when the French army collapsed. Churchill proclaimed that if France had remained loyal to Britain, the two allies might have already won the war. Then he said this:

When I warned them that Britain would fight on alone whatever they did, their generals told their prime minister and his divided cabinet, “In three weeks England will have her neck wrung like a chicken.” Some chicken; some neck.

The Canadian Parliament responded with a spontaneous burst of laughter and sustained applause.

In Natanyahu’s address to Congress, he echoed Churchill’s mention of the four neutral European countries overrun by the Nazis when he said:

In the Middle East, Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sana’a. And if Iran’s aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow. So, at a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations.

Then he paraphrased the line that had provoked a warm response 73 years earlier:

We must all stand together to stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation and terror. Now, two years ago, we were told to give President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif a chance to bring change and moderation to Iran. Some change! Some moderation!

In 1941, Churchill did not have to persuade his listeners of the evil of the Nazi regime: Canada and the United States were then at war with Germany. By contrast, one of the Israeli prime minister’s main purposes was to warn his American audience of the malevolent and untrustworthy nature of the Iranian regime with which the Obama administration is negotiating. Not only from the Israeli perspective, but also that of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other American allies in the Middle East, the deal under consideration appears to be a what Churchill called “a separate peace” with a terrorist state the U.S. is on the brink of recognizing as the new hegemonic power in the region:

Rouhani’s government hangs gays, persecutes Christians, jails journalists and executes even more prisoners than before … Iran’s regime is as radical as ever, its cries of « Death to America, » that same America that it calls the « Great Satan, » as loud as ever … and that’s why this regime will always be an enemy of America.

Churchill only had to rally his listeners; Netanyahu had to educate his. The address to the Canadian Parliament was one of the greatest in the history of western civilization, and one of the most consequential in World War II. In his unmistakable reference to it, Netanyahu sought to urge America to stand by its allies in the Middle East.

In a speech that included allusions to the Robert Frost poem President Kennedy quoted in his inaugural address – “The Road Not Taken” — and intimations of one of the most consequential of World War II, Netanyahu was sending a message that his speech focused on a threat as ominous as Nazi Germany of 1941 and the nuclear-armed Soviet Union of 1961.

In his subtle but unmistakable reference to Churchill’s “Chicken Speech,” the Israeli prime minister sought to persuade the United States to stand with its allies in the Middle East and demand from their common foe that it dismantle its illegal – under multiple, binding United Nations resolutions—nuclear enrichment program. Churchill’s address to the Canadian Parliament was a crucial part of the message he so urgently conveyed.

Belladonna Rogers is a writer, editor, lawyer and former advice columnist at PJ Media.

Voir enfin:

Le discours