Iran

The systematic pattern is of intelligence reports that keep pushing back the date at which Iran is said to be able to produce a nuclear weapon. My concern is how much political manipulation is going on of the public, and has been for many years.

Also, there seems to be no straightforward approach at this moment in time to Iran. My own instinct is that the United States should engage in every way possible the people of Iran while keeping a distance from a regime that is discredited at this time among its own people. It is vital that the United States step up its relationship with any and all of Iran’s allies in order to find any way possible to pressure Iran to come to the negotiating table.

U.S. estimates Iran unable to produce nuke before 2013
Natasha Mozgovaya

A newly disclosed congressional document shows that U.S. State Department

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Iran threat pushing Arabs closer to normalization with Israel
By Akiva Eldar

…Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa notes that peace is not a light bulb easily switched on, but admits that the Arabs have made public-relations blunders. “An Israeli might be forgiven for thinking that every Muslim voice is raised in hatred,” he writes, “because that is usually the only one he hears. Just as an Arab might be forgiven for thinking every Israeli wants the destruction of every Palestinian.” Khalifa urges the Arabs to communicate directly with the Israelis and tell them their story.

If Olmert’s defense of the settlements was grist for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s mill, the Bahraini prince’s call for normalization made Obama’s weekend. The start of normalization between the nations is a key item on the president’s agenda. It’s the undertone intended to ease the creation of a blueprint for a final-status agreement.

LINK: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1102824.html

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The tumultuous events of recent days have further confirmed just how destructive militant American thinking about Iran has been. As President Obama understood and said relentlessly in the past year, there are clearly a huge amount of people to engage in Iran, probably the majority. Of course, the overwhelming question will be how to reach them. But the damage has been done to the conservative regime, and events on the ground in Iran, in addition to events in Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, and Gaza, intimate a re-alignment is emerging across the Middle East, a move of Islamic political movements toward the center and away from radicalism, as Dr. Mahdi Abdul Hadi, the Palestinian scholar,  has wisely noted. A wise president, and a wise Congressional leadership, will not squander the opportunity to engage.

Reported in the Washington Post, this Rand study, a bastion of American military thinking, should be read by …

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In another very interesting official American diplomatic gesture in the Age of Obama, a cable has been sent to all U.S. Embassies to invite Iranian officials to participate in July 4 parties that are held at each embassy. What a brilliant move, especially before the elections. It is open-ended, unilateral, quietly dispersed to hundreds of embassies to avoid a centralized response, and it is announced right before the elections.

But the traditional fare of these parties,  hamburgers and hot dogs, should  be hallal, acceptable for Orthodox Muslims. I am serious. The gesture mutatis mutandis is great, but it should be inclusive so that the President of Iran and others cannot say it is an attempt to corrupt Muslims. It could make some hallal meat contractor very happy.…

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It is  very important that we blog about the Iranian elections and expose to the world the Iranian choices. Read here on Karroubi’s platform to open up the universities. There are conflicting polls on who is ahead, with state polls putting Ahmedinijad ahead, obviously. Ahmadinijad controls all the public television stations, which is what the vast majority of the country has access to. But the youth are with the reform candidates so they are trying to utilize every social media possible to reach the voters anyway. Therefore, Ahmadinijad is blocking Facebook as much as he can. Karroubi, like Obama, is focused on the internet, the youth, the disenfranchised. This is an unfair fight for the future of the people of Iran, and I believe it is the deciding factor for the future of peace and war in the Middle East. Candidate Moussavi is saying more what Westerners want to hear

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(Originally published at Sh’ma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility, in a very good issue dedicated to Iran. It will give you a good overview of thinking in the American Jewish community right now on the slowly moving crisis with Iran)

Over the past 25 years I’ve developed relationships across the Middle East; in Syria, specifically, over the past five years. While I traveled as a peacemaker, to be cautious I would emphasize my role as a professor and only reveal my role as a rabbi when it felt safe. I never experienced any negative comments because I am a rabbi; rather I heard from some a longing to meet with old Jewish friends. Experiences with Syrians have given me confidence that similar inroads can be made in Iran. What Iran shares with Syria, most importantly, is a historical tradition of religious pluralism and progressive religious thinking. There is still …

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A must read by Roger Cohen on Iran, the Arab states and Israel. I think that Roger underestimates the threat from Iran to its neighbors and to Israel, but he is right on that the neoconservative logic of dominance, isolation, and intimidation, and purposeful perpetuation of the inhumane status quos from Egypt to the West Bank have actually fed the rise of a militant Iran. A grand strategy requires a reversal of the last thirty years of mistakes. It also requires a reversal of tendency in the Middle East to engage in the perpetual fallacies of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’. This has led to never ending rivalries that is the intellectual opposite of notions of collective security that have allowed Europe, for example, to thrive in recent decades. Engagement with Iran done well is going to shift the balance of power in Iran which will ultimately …

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SORROW FOR IRANIANS IN BAGHDAD

by mgopin on April 24, 2009 · 4 comments

It has become commonplace for innocent religious worshippers to be a focal point of war. This time it is Iranian pilgrims in Baghdad, and we must mourn for them. It is true that the United States is responsible for the destruction of Iraq, but no one familiar with the politics and leaders of the region can fail to note the decades long devastation from proxy Sunni-Shiite wars fought since the Iranian Revolution. Al Qaeda knows how to stir that pot as an extremist Sunni organization, but the current leaders of Iran stir it further by proxy wars and agitations all over the Middle East. It is time for opinion of the majority of the Iranian people to dominate their politics and foreign policy, which is a focus on prosperity, basic human needs and dignity. One senses the trap that leaderships across the region are in as far as Sunni/Shiite violence. …

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Hope springs eternal–and strangely. Kazakhstan, a nation with strong new ambitions, is offering to host a nuclear bank that would make it unnecessary for multiple nations to develop highly enriched unranium on their own. This is a critical alternative to many nations developing dual use technology leading to nuclear weapons grade  material. President Obama, of course, is supporting this proposal–and so is President Ahmadanijad of Iran. If this moves ahead it could form the basis of a non-military solution to the crisis between Iran, its neighbors, Israel and the West. Stay tuned.

There is a trend emerging here. First Turkey, now Kazakhstan, non-Arab Muslim nations who are stepping up to the plate to break the impasses of the Middle East that have dogged the world for hundreds of years. A confluence of new found confidence of emerging Islamic nations and the arrival of President Obama may be providing a way …

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TURKEY’S RETURN TO GLORY

by mgopin on March 18, 2009 · 5 comments

This article just appeared in Today’s Zaman and in Zaman which is Turkey’s preeminent journal. As you can see this has been part of my ongoing efforts to introduce and encourage far more intermediaries in the Middle Eastern conflict who can be effective, trustworthy and more even handed that Western intervention. This is meant also to encourage the United States, Hilary Clinton, and others to follow the lead of where the most moderate voices of the Islamic world are going. This is also a development of my work in Syria which has encouraged cultural revival that is peace-oriented, practical and visionary at once.

Turkey’s return to glory
by
Marc Gopin
For reasons of history, culture and geography, there is a surprising opportunity for Turkey to assume a position of central global leadership in the 21st century and thereby further all of its legitimate national interests.

This is shocking considering the

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