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November 27, 2014 / 5 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘sanctions’

Sanctions Are Crushing Iranian Economy

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Iran’s lack of hard currency because of economic sanctions may force food and medicine shortages as the local Rial currency continues to tumble and inflation soars to more than 40 percent .

“Iran is an economical wreck,” Yahya Ale Eshaq, a former trade minister, told an Iranian business newspaper last week.

President Hassan Rohani said this week he will address the economic problems, but has showed no intentions of slowing Iran’s race for a nuclear weapon. In his swear-including-ion ceremony Sunday, he urged the West to stop using the “language of sanctions” and seek “bilateral trust building, mutual respect and the lessening of hostilities.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney said, “Should this new government choose to engage substantively and seriously to meet its international obligations and find a peaceful solution to this issue, it will find a willing partner in the United States.”

Iran: Can Rouhani Deliver?

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

By Nir Boms and Shayan Arya

Last week, more than 250 Iranian steel workers gathered in front of the Supreme Leader’s residence in protest against unjustified layoffs and unpaid salaries. They were not the only ones. Reports from the past week revealed a dozen other such protests and strikes that range from a tire company, cable workers, the cinema association and even employees of Iran’s Ministry of Youth Affairs.

Protests and demonstrations are not that common in Iran; their last wave was met with harsh repression and violence. Now they have spread again and become more brazen. Signs again read “Down with the dictator,” while police used tear gas in an attempt to scare protesters away.

A combination of international sanctions and domestic mismanagement has resulted in rapidly rising unemployment and restive unemployed youth. The worsening economic conditions were also a key driver for the vote for change which took place in Tehran during the last Presidential election. But change is still a long way off.

Rouhani’s victory by such a wide margin was not just a testament to his politics, but seemingly a total rejection of the more conservative candidates more closely aligned with the widely despised supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.

Rouhani’s campaign symbol was a giant golden key, which he waved at rallies to symbolize his ability to open locked doors. To an Iranian electorate all too familiar with locked doors in every aspect of their lives — both domestic and international — even the remote possibility of things getting better was irresistible. But now that Rouhani has been elected, he may find it difficult to deliver on his promise.

Rouhani, to be sure, will face a mountain of problems, even compared to those of his predecessors. Iran’s international isolation has never been so severe. There is virtually no segment of Iran’s economy, or for that matter of Iranian society, that has been immune to the ill effects of the economic sanctions. In less than a year, Iran’s currency has lost two-thirds of its value against the dollar; and even by the most optimistic estimates, inflation is above 30%, with unemployment reaching similar proportions among urban youth.

Iran’s economy is under attack from two major fronts: international sanctions and domestic mismanagement inherent in the Islamic system.

Sanctions are not a new phenomenon there. Previous sanctions were imposed in response to the Islamic regime’s international support for terrorism and Iran’s dismal human rights record. But the more stringent sanctions now afflicting Iran were levied in response to the country’s nuclear program — and these are the crippling sanctions Rouhani needs to undo. To accomplish such a change, a change of policy is required. In addition to the nuclear issue, any negotiations for lifting sanctions obviously need to include Iran’s abandoning support for Hezbollah, its involvement in Syria, its continued support of other terrorist groups, as well as the Assad regime that continues to slaughter its people.

Rouhani’s first challenge is that he does not hold the keys to most of these issues. Iran’s policies on the nuclear issue, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, international terrorism and supporting the Assad regime are the sole purview of Iran’s supreme leader. No president has ever been able to enter these domains in any meaningful way, let alone alter them substantially; these issues have, in fact, always been sources of tension and discreet friction between presidents and the supreme leader.

Another challenge lies in the United States Congress. As many of the sanctions against Iran have been embedded in laws, it would take a Herculean effort on the part of President Obama to convince the legislative branch to change them. Even if the president were to decide to “trust” Rohani, he would still need to convince Congress. Given the political atmosphere in Washington, it is unlikely the president would even consider risking his remaining political capital on lifting sanctions without being able to demonstrate substantial progress in changing Iran’s course.

A third challenge lies on the domestic front. Here Rouhani must face an endemic system of corruption, in addition to gangs of Revolutionary Guards [IRGC], who have extended their control over almost every aspect of Iran’s economy, government, military and security apparatus. To change that, Rouhani would have to tackle the IRGC and their powerful ally, the Supreme Leader Khamenei, who sees them as his extended arm for controlling Iran and key to the Islamic regime’s survival.

DM Moshe Ya’alon Teaches the EU a Lesson

Friday, July 26th, 2013

In direct response to the EU’s directives against Israel’s sovereignty over Judea and Samaria (as well as over Jerusalem and the Golan), Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon has given the order that the IDF and other relevant government bodies under his control stop all cooperation with EU representatives. This includes any assistance that the IDF may have been providing the EU in infrastructure projects, according to a report in Ma’ariv.

Other steps the Defense Ministry have taken include no longer renewing special EU travel permits nor issuing new ones. Permits for projects in Gaza and Area C are not being granted. Furthermore, the relevant government offices are not taking phone calls from EU representatives.

Ya’alon has also given the order to block the direct transit of EU officials between Israel and Gaza. If EU officials want to go in or out of Gaza, they’ll have to go through the Sinai. Already the transit of three EU groups have been blocked.

On the EU’s part, they are not yet convinced that this is actually a new Israeli policy or just a temporary retaliation, and they plan to wait a few weeks to review if the restrictions are still in place.

Hitting Back: Israel Threatens EU Prestige and Success with Pullout

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

In response to the EU directive that attacked Israel’s sovereign rights and claims over the land of Israel, Israel has taken its first retaliatory step.

According to a report in Ma’ariv, Israel has threatened to pull out of the EU’s massive science and technology project, “Horizon 2020″.

Israel is the only non-European full partner in the project, and is supposed to invest 600 million Euro (785 million US dollars) in the project over 7 years.

Besides the financial hit the EU project would take as a result, the move would be a serious blow to the project’s prestige and success. Israel is a central partner in the projects that Horizon 2020 undertakes, and part of these project’s successes are dependent on Israeli human resources and research.

When announcing their anti-Israeli directive, the EU thought they had Israel over the barrel, but the EU overestimated their power, as Israel clearly has plenty of powerful ammunition it can fire back in return.


Iran Still Imports $18.6 Million of US Goods in Two Months

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

American sanctions on trade with Iran have enough exceptions that the Islamic Republic imported from the United States 4,000 tons of goods valued at $18.6 million in the last two months, Iran’s Mehr News Agency reported Tuesday.

Iran measures the two-month period from March 21, the beginning of its calendar year. The imports of approximately 4,000 tons of goods included packed butter, pharmaceutical and food complementary products, alloy sheets, vegetable seeds, antibiotics, and medical equipment

The news agency also said that in the same period, Iran exported to the United States 42 tons of goods worth $106,000, mainly carpets, saffron, and raisin.

Kerry Beats the Drum for Talks on Iran but War Drums Grow Louder

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told ABC that Iran’s failure to negotiate makes “confrontation more possible,” and hours later, the American delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) accused Iran of “deception, defiance and delay” while it enriches uranium.

Kerry has jumped into his new position with the full character of the State Dept. to solve the world’s problems with talk, but the unusually harsh comments from Joseph Macmanus, the chief U.S. delegate to the IAEA, indicates that the noose is tightening around Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

So far, he seems to believe that the United States is bluffing about a military strike and is making a show to keep Israel quiet.

However, the more the Obama administration, sees Iranian nuclear capability as a threat to the United States, the closer everyone gets to the red line to talk with action and not words.

“I’m not going to get into red lines and timing publicly except to reiterate what the president has said again and again, which is he prefers to have a diplomatic solution,” Kerry told ABC News in Qatar.

“If they keep pushing the limits and not coming with a serious set of proposals or are prepared to actually resolve this, obviously, the risks get higher and confrontation becomes more possible,” he said.

Joseph Macmanus’ comment blew holes into the recent complacency of the international community, which was soothed by Iran’s expression of being interested in  proposals by the world’s six powers.

Even the European Union appears to be getting fed up with Iran.

The EU told the IAEA board in Vienna Wednesday that it “considers … Iran’s procrastination to be unacceptable.”

Iran has refused IAEA requests to visit the Parchin military site, where satellite pictures have shown explosive tests probably were carried out for  nuclear weapons capability.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said this week, not for the first time, that Iran is using the negotiations and talks of negotiations as a camouflage for its nuclear weapons program.

Tehran, of course, insists its nuclear development is only for peace and is counting on more talks to erase any American red lines.

“We are committed to continue our dialogue with the IAEA but at the same time we can’t give a blank check” because of Iran’s national security concerns, Iranian Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh told reporters in Vienna.

Kerry notwithstanding, louder voices are being increasingly heard from the most senior American officials.

Gen. James Mattis, head of U.S. Central Command, told a Senate committee on Tuesday, “I’m paid to take a rather dim view of the Iranians, frankly.”

Looking at the future of a military strike, he stated, “There are number of means to do that, perhaps even short of open conflict. But certainly that’s one of the options that I have to have prepared for the president.”

Head of US Central Command: Iran Sanctions Useless

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

It’s official: the U.S. approach of mixing sanctions and diplomatic outreach in order to persuade Iran to stop its nuclear weapons program is not getting the job done. So testified the top U.S. commander in the Middle East before a Senate committee on Tuesday, describing the Iranian side as using denial and deceit while it continues “enriching uranium beyond any plausible peaceful purpose.”

Gen. James Mattis, head of U.S. Central Command, warned that he believes Iran is using the endless, ongoing negotiations simply to buy time, AP reported.

“That should not be in any way construed as we should not try to negotiate. I still support the direction we’re taking,” Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I’m just — I’m paid to take a rather dim view of the Iranians, frankly.”

Mattis’ no-nonsense view should work like a bucket of icy water poured over any Western diplomat’s remaining delusions regarding the course of sanctions and talks. In fact,

Continuing international worries and uncertainty over the purpose of Iran’s enrichment programs. Tehran denies any work on, or interest in, nuclear weapons, but international leaders believe its uranium enrichment is aimed at developing atomic weapons. Yukiya Amano, the director general of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, said on Monday that he cannot guarantee that Iran’s nuclear activities are peaceful. Not as long as Tehran remains uncooperative and inspectors are not allowed access to sites where they believe work on weapons development is taking place.

The Obama administration has not ruled out—at least theoretically—using military action to prevent Iran from possessing a nuclear weapon. Gen. Mattis told senators that the U.S. military has the capability of forcing Iran to shut down its nuclear business.

“There are number of means to do that,” he said, “perhaps even short of open conflict. But certainly that’s one of the options that I have to have prepared for the president.”

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., asked what the U.S. needs to do to prove that it is serious that it will not accept a nuclear-armed Iran.

“I fear that if they (Iran) continue to use negotiations to delay, that we will be at a point where they have nuclear-weapons capability, and then it’s too late,” she said.

Gen. Mattis pointed out that Iran is still dangerously involved in the civil war in Syria, backing the Bashar Assad regime against rebel forces, and that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is directly involved in the fighting, with assistance from foreign mercenaries.

The General said chemical weapons sites in Syria are more vulnerable today, even after some of the weapons have been stored in more secure locations.

“Our planning is taking this into account to the degree that it can. And I’ll just tell you that we have options prepared,” he said.

Gen. Mattis noted that should the Assad regime fall, it would cause the “biggest strategic setback for Iran in 25 years.” Assad’s collapse, Mattis believes, would push Iran to arm and fund militias inside Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Asked about arming the rebels seeking to overthrow Assad, Mattis said he was troubled by the fact that a “significant minority” of the rebel forces has extremist Islamic views and are linked to al-Qaida.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/head-of-us-central-command-iran-sanctions-useless/2013/03/06/

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