April 18, 2012

P5+1 and Iran’s meeting in Istanbul cools War Hysteria

Ever since the 2003 illegal invasion of Iraq , Western leaders and Israel and media have talked of taking out the other axis of evil i.e. Iran .From time to time the cacophony rises , on the pretext that Tehran is enriching Uranium for nukes (Never mind Tel Aviv has a few hundred nukes ).My feeling and assessment has been that end 2003 or early 2004 was the time when Washington led by the Zeocon crazies under blank slate Bush could have created a bigger catastrophe after Afghanistan and Iraq .And so I have written many times . Any attack by mistake or otherwise would be catastrophic for the region and the world. India foolishly voted against Tehran in Vienna for the case to go to UNSC when even Pakistan had abstained, advised by policeman NSA with many US pensioners in key positions.

A Swiss assets manager , after reading my pieces on Middle East used to telephone me every few months from 2006 and I would always reassure him to take it easy .Since a year or so his calls have declined since he is by now convinced of the bluff and psychological war propaganda being carried out by the west , more so after even USA’ own assessment of 2007, that leaked out , that Tehran is far from any near preparations for a nuke program .I had last written a piece based on El baradei’s book that western attitude on Iran and other nations in South was hypocritical and immoral ,quite often based on lies and half truths.


After the Istanbul meet ,Netanyahu remains most unhappy .From time to time to time US had to curb Israel propaganda and statements of alone or joint bombing of Iranian nuclear facilities .Incidentally Ehud Barak , who also now leads the chorus of bombing Iran with megalomaniac Netanyahu and extreme US Republican leadership , had asked Dick Cheney in 2005 , after clear signs of a disaster in making in Iraq , if Washington had a plan B .There was none .In fact the Israeli leaders had not bought the Operation Iraqi Freedom , which was then sold to Neocons and Zionists in USA.

After a gap of more than a year the meeting between Iran and 5 nuclear armed bullies and Germany took place in Istanbul and the propaganda heat of an imminent Israel/US or joint attack has been cooled.

Some earlier articles on Iran West stand down.


Some extracts of interest on Indian Iran similarities from


“--Numbering perhaps 25 million, India has the second largest Shi'ite population in the world. Oudh , Bijapur, Ahmednagar and Golconda were its kingdoms in the past. Shi'ites are now concentrated in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar , Andhra Pradesh and Ismaili Khojas in Mumbai. (Incidentally, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan , was an Ismaili Bohra).

Old linkages between India and Iran
India 's linkages and relations with Iran are ancient and almost umbilical. Not far from Iran 's western border, around the junction of Turkey , Syria and Iraq in the upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates , a chariot-riding Indian-Iranian military aristocracy, embedded among indigenous Hurrians, ruled its Mitanni kingdom between 1500 BC to 1200 BC. It used pre-Vedic Sanskrit phrases, worshipped common Daivya and Assura gods like Indira, Nasatya and Varuna, Mithra. The Mitannis had apparently separated from the main Aryan body, which after many centuries in the region of Amu and Syr Darya had moved on to Iran . Then after some acrimony there was a split into factions: Vedic with Daivya gods and Avestan with Assura gods, with the Vedic stream going on to the land of Sapt Sindhu, i.e. northwest India and beyond. On a theory based on linguistic, cultural, religious and other similarities, Iranian and Indian Aryans are, if not racial cousins, at least linguistic and cultural ones.

During the Muslim rule, Persians came as bureaucrats with the Turkish rulers in India and left a deep influence on Indian culture, civilization and languages; Hindustani, Urdu and Hindi. From Akbar's time, the Persians formed the majority of the Muslim Amir ul Umra, that is, courtiers and civil servants. To get in with Persian and its derivative Urdu as the language of the court and administration (even during the British era), even the Hindus took on some of their traits, like Moghului cuisine (Persian cuisine is the mother of most cuisines, except French and Chinese) and meat eating. Also adopted were a love of music and dance. Kayastahs dominated the civil services during the British rule.

Iran: A cradle of civilizations
situated at the crossroads and itself a cradle of many great civilizations; Iran has exercised great civilizing influence since ancient times. Whosoever (King of Kings, Sahanshah in Darius's words, its Hindu equivalent being Maharajdhiraj) ruled what now constitutes Iran , they exercised great political and cultural influence not only in the neighborhood but also in far-off places.

During the classical Greek political and social evolution in western Asia Minor which Turkey was then called, the Persian Achaemenid dynasty had its satrapies and outposts on the Aegean coast, known as Ionia , from which the word Yunan for Greece entered the eastern lexicon. In 517 BC it was Persian Emperor Darius who ordered Scylax, his Greek subject from Caria (western Turkey ) to survey the river Indus from Peshawar to its exit into the sea, part of his empire. And for the first time, the West became acquainted with India . Herodotus's chapters on Indian history were based on records of that exploration.

The Persians routinely crossed over to European Thrace and a Greek victory over the Persians in 490 BC at Marathon , perhaps the first of the West over the East, is still commemorated as an athletic event in the Olympics (showing Western bias in sports). The Trojan war of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey was a small event militarily and a storm in tea cup. Troy was a marginal appendage of the huge Hittite empire in Asia Minor ruled from Bogazkoy, northeast of Ankara .

Later, even in defeat, the Persians civilized Alexander the Great and his Macedonian and Greek hordes, introduced the small town boys to the protocol, trappings and grandeur of an imperial power and implanted the strongly held belief in the divine right of the kings, later adopted by Alexander's military commanders and successors. On these beliefs were laid the foundations of the structure for the Roman and Byzantine empires. The Islamic Omayyed Caliphate in Damascus and later the Abbassid Caliphate in Baghdad also borrowed from the same state structures and ceremonies. Up to the 7th century, the Persians disputed with the Romans control of Asia Minor and Syria , which exhausted them both, making them easy prey for the Muslim Arabs. Persians then acted as a civilizing sieve to nomad Turks, Mongols and others from the horse-riding nurseries of the Eurasian steppes who played such havoc for centuries in Asia and Europe alike. Whoever ruled Persia, Seljuk rulers in Anatolia (Turkey) or even Delhi's Turkish Sultans and early Moguls, for them the Iranians were the bureaucrats without equal?

Persia's conversion to Islam, which forced Zoroastrian Parsees to migrate to India in the 7th century, disrupted mutual interaction and enrichment of Indian and Persian social and cultural streams in place since Achemenean days, if not earlier. It isolated and weakened Hindustan , when the likes of Ghajnavi, Nadir Shah and Abdali could raid Hindustan with impunity.

But Islam did not liberate the sophisticated and evolved Persians, deeply influenced by spiritual and speculative Avestan, its excessive rituals and love for the intoxicant soma having been curbed earlier by Zoroaster's reforms (Buddhism was a similar attempt against Brahmanical rituals and excesses in India around the same time). Then the Persians lost their language, Pehlavi, which emerged a few centuries later as Persian in modified Arabic script. Having been ruled by Arabs, Turks, Mongols and Tartars for eight-and-half centuries, there emerged the Sufi-origin Persian Safavids, who became finally masters of their own land, which more or less comprises present-day Iran . At the same time, to preserve their sect and survive, Iranians after centuries of foreign rule developed an uncanny ability not to bring to their lips what is on their minds, and have institutionalized it as takiyya, i.e. dissimulation.

They had modified simple Arab Islam into a more sophisticated and innovative Shiite branch, with the direct descent of Imam Ali's progeny from Fatima, daughter of the Prophet Mohammed, echoing their deeply ingrained sense of the divinity of rulers. They strengthened (against the Arab caliphs and Turkish sultans) the status of the imams, who among more egalitarian Sunnis are no more than prayer leaders, in line with the Indian-Iranian tradition of placing priests higher than rulers (as are Brahmins in the Indian caste system). By tradition, Azeri (Turkish) speaking Iranians become chiefs of the armed forces. Ayatollah Ali Khameini is an Azeri speaking Iranian.

The status of the imam evolved into the doctrines of intercession and infallibility, i.e., of the faqih/mutjahid. (Somewhat like Hindu shankracharyas and the fraternity of learned pandits). The speculative Aryan mind fused the mystic traditions into Sufi Islam, bringing out the best in Islamic mysticism and softening the rigors of austere and crusading Islam which had emerged from the barren sands of Arabia . There were unparalleled contributions by Rumi, Hafij, Attar, El-Ghazali, Firdaus, Nizami, El-Beruni, Omar Khayyam and others to Islamic philosophy and civilization. Their answer to interminable Islamic theological arguments on free will vs. predetermination was that the opposites were the obverse and reverse sides of the divine mind, similar to the concepts in Hindu philosophy. Hindustani poetry, music, painting and architecture owe much to their Iranian cousins. Sufis played more than an equal role in the conversion to Islam of India as did the sword or material inducements. Sufi pirs are still as revered as Hindu or Sikh holy men in India .

From Shi'ite variants like the Ismailis emerged the "assassins" from the mountain vastness of Iran and later Syria , representing an individuals' ultimate and sublime sacrifice for a cause (or his master) against the tyranny of the absolute or collective power of the caliphs and sultans, inspired by Imam Hussein's martyrdom. The assassin's modern-day versions, the suicide bombers of the Hizbollah, Hamas, Sikh or Tamil Tiger, have become the terrors of mankind.”

Now back to the Istanbul meeting . 18 April 2012.

After Istanbul, confidence for confidence
By Kaveh L Afrasiabi Asia Times 17 April 2012

On Saturday, the world stepped back from the brink of a showdown on Iran's nuclear program as both sides in the multilateral nuclear talks emerged from 10-hour negotiations in Istanbul in a positive mood, setting the stage for a follow-up "substantive meeting" in Baghdad in late May.

The talks, after a 13-month hiatus, included representatives of the "Iran Six" - also known as the P5+1 - the United States, Great Britain, France, China and Russia plus Germany.

Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, labeled the talks as "constructive and useful" and added that the

Baghdad meeting will be guided by "the principle of a step-by-step approach and reciprocity ... We were assured that Iran is serious."

Indeed, reciprocity and mutual respect are key ingredients of the confidence-building process that is the sine qua non for a successful nuclear diplomacy, given the preponderance of confidence deficit and mutual distrust that has dominated the negotiation scene until now.

The talks come after months of increased tensions between Iran and the US, along with other Western countries, which suspect that Tehran's nuclear program is not peaceful, as it claims. Sanctions have been placed on Iran by the United Nations as well as individual countries, including the US.

In his press conference after the talks, Saeed Jalili, the resourceful Iranian nuclear negotiator, spoke under a banner showing the faces of Iran's assassinated nuclear scientists, defending Iran's nuclear rights under articles of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) - to which Iran is a signatory - and elaborating on what the agenda of the Baghdad round would consist of. That is nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and access to peaceful nuclear technology.

On the sidelines, Jalili held bilateral talks with the Russian representative, Sergei Rybakov, and reportedly denied an American request to hold a similar bilateral meeting.

Irrespective, the mere fact that US and Iranian officials met for 10 hours, albeit in a multilateral setting, and then refrained from vilifying each other and, instead, praised the talks' "serious and constructive" atmosphere, is definitely a good omen for the much-troubled US-Iran relations.

Israel, on the other hand, has criticized the lack of concrete progress in the talks and the decision for a follow-up in Baghdad, Iran's backyard. Therefore, the powerful pro-Israel lobby might increase pressure on the Barack Obama administration for a "get tough" approach on Iran during the next 40 days.

According to reports, Jalili reiterated the religious edict, fatwa, by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei against nuclear weapons and sounded conciliatory on the subject of transparency, enhanced cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the prospects for Iran's adoption of the intrusive Additional Protocol of the NPT. He also indicated support for a uranium swap for the Tehran medical reactor, while rejecting the Western demand to shut down the uranium enrichment facility at Fordow and to suspend 20% enrichment activities, as anticipated by this author. (See Nuclear chess in Istanbul Asia Times Online, April 14).

The mere agreement by Western governments to adopt NPT standards as the framework for the discussions has been hailed in Iran as a major victory, since there is no legal bar to Iran's possession of a nuclear fuel cycle and, inevitably, this represents a US retreat from the previous "red line" of not tolerating any centrifuges spinning in Iran; that arbitrary line has now been replaced with a more realistic approach that is focused on objective guarantees that Iran is not engaged in proliferation activities.

"This was a victory for the supreme leader's strategy of 'threat and sanctions in response to threats and sanctions on same level' that was spelled out by Khamenei in two key speeches recently," says a Tehran University political science professor who spoke on the condition of anonymity. This was in reference to Iran cutting off oil supplies to some European countries and the threat to close the vital Strait of Hormuz.

According to the Tehran professor, Iran's successful counter-strategy had worked with China and Russia, both of whom have opposed Western unilateral sanctions and threats of military action, as a result of which "there was no united front against Iran in Istanbul, only a united concession on Iran's nuclear rights".

By all indications, at the Baghdad meet, hosted by the pro-Iran Shi'ite-dominated government, the US and other Western powers will be further oriented to Iran's regional clout that requires reckoning with along the lines of political realism. This is not to mention Tehran's clout with Damascus and Iran's nod to the Syrian ceasefire brokered by former United Nations head Kofi Annan, who was in Tehran recently and praised Tehran's constructive role.

On the other hand, coinciding with fresh, and impressive, assaults by Taliban insurgents in Kabul and three other Afghan provinces, thus reminding the world of the unfinished business of Afghan security, the Istanbul round may have served another purpose, that is, to at least indirectly flesh out the "common points" between Iran and the West.

Iran's moderate Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, who penned an opinion article in the Washington Post under the title "Iran does not want nuclear weapons", blamed the US for reneging on its contractual obligations toward Iran's US-built medical reactor in Tehran, and he implicitly touched on the subject of future US-Iran nuclear cooperation - that was also touted by the Barack Obama administration in the initial nuclear talks with Iran in 2009 and 2010.

Both in the areas of upgrading the Tehran reactor and managing nuclear waste, the US could provide key assistance to Iran, should Washington's concerns about Iran's "nuclear weapons intentions" be put to rest as a result of Iran's guarantees.

For the Obama administration, which badly needs some concrete evidence of foreign policy success to secure re-election, the renewed fighting in Afghanistan, whose government is backed by both Tehran and Washington, is a complicating factor that, once again, draws attention to the need for a "regional solution" encompassing Iran, which has long and porous borders with Afghanistan and which could play mischief if the nuclear talks failed and the US resorted to more coercive tactics against Iran.

In light of the above-said, it makes sense to add another item on the agenda for the Baghdad talks: regional security. Much as Baghdad may be elated by the instant global attention that will be accorded to it by hosting the next round, by the same token neither Saudi Arabia nor the other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) appear to be very thrilled about this news, hence their lukewarm if not outright negative reactions to the results of the Istanbul talks.

The trip by President Mahmud Ahmadinejad to the island of Abu Mussa last week has raised the ire of GCC states that support the United Arab Emirates' claim to that island, thus portending a vigorous Saudi-led campaign in the coming weeks to convince the White House to keep the pressure on Iran.

But, with Iran and the US as essentially de facto allies in their common support for the present regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, the White House may now be caught in the dilemma of conflicting priorities.

In conclusion, we may now be on the verge of a new beginning marking the gradual end of the Iran nuclear crisis. The road ahead must be paved with good intention or it will be derailed by the multiple barriers that challenge both sides.

Kaveh L Afrasiabi, PhD, is the author of After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran's Foreign Policy (Westview Press) . For his Wikipedia entry, click here. He is author of Reading In Iran Foreign Policy After September 11 (BookSurge Publishing , October 23, 2008) and Looking for rights at Harvard. His latest book is UN Management Reform: Selected Articles and Interviews on United Nations CreateSpace (November 12, 2011).

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