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"Naval Blockade" or All Out War Against Iran?



by Michel Chossudovsky


The Bush administration is envisaging the possibility of launching a naval blockade directed against Iran.


Extensive war games were held off the US Atlantic Coastline under "Operation Brimstone" in late July.


These war games were activated shortly after the submission in the US House of Representatives (May 22), of a bill (H CON 362) which called upon the Bush administration to carry out an economic blockade directed against Iran.


"Operation Brimstone": North Atlantic Ocean War Games

Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) 08-4 'Operation Brimstone' commenced on July 21 in North Carolina and off the Eastern US Atlantic coast from Virginia to Florida. Of significance was the participation of British, French, Brazilian and Italian naval forces as part of a multinational US naval exercise directed against Iran.


More than a dozen ships participated in the naval exercise including the USS Theodore Roosevelt and its Carrier Strike Group Two, the expeditionary Strike Group Iwo Jima, the French submarine Amethyste, Britain's HMS Illustrious Carrier Strike Group, Brazil's navy frigate Greenhalgh and Italy's ITS Salvatore Todaro (S 526) submarine. (See Middle East Times, August 11, 2008 , Dailypress(contact admin if its a beneficial link), July 28, 2008 , you are not allowed to post links yetmt-milcom.blogspot(contact admin if its a beneficial link))


Stating the purpose of a war game and identifying the real "foreign enemy" by name is not the normal practice, unless there is a decision to send an unequivocal message to the enemy.


Invariably in war games, the foreign enemy is given a fictitious country name: Irmingham, Nemazee, Rubeck and Churia stand for Iran, North Korea, Russia and China (codes used in the Vigilant Shield 07 War Games' Scenario opposing the US to four fictitious enemies. (See William Arkin, The Vigilant Shield 07 War Games: Scenario opposing the US to Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, Washington Post, February 10, 2007)


In the case of "Operation Brimstone", the stated military purpose of the naval exercise is crystal clear: the North Atlantic war games are carried out with a view "to practice enforcing an eventual blockade on Iran". These naval exercises are intended to display US and allied "combat capabilities as a warning to Iran." They are tantamount to a declaration of war:


"The drill is aimed at training for operation in shallow coastal waters such as the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz."


The USS Theodore Roosevelt equipped with 80-plus combat planes, was carrying an additional load of French Naval Rafale fighter jets from the French carrier Charles de Gaulle. (Ibid). France's E2C Hawkeye early warning aircraft, which was "assigned to the 4th Squadron began flight operations with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 aboard Roosevelt, marking the first integrated U.S. and French carrier qualifications aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier. French Rafale fighter aircraft assigned to the 12th Squadron also joined." Navy.mil, July 24, 2008


Anglo-US war games are a routine practice. What is significant in these large scale naval manoeuvres is the active participation of France, Brazil and Italy in war games which are explicitly directed against Iran.


The participation of these countries in extensive war games points to broad consensus. It also suggests that the participating nations have accepted (in political and military terms) to participate in a US-led military operation directed against Iran. The active participation of France and to a lesser extent Italy also suggests that the European Union is firmly behind the US initiative:


"Operations with our friends and allies are the cornerstone of the U.S. Navy's current maritime strategy," said Capt. Ladd Wheeler, Roosevelt's commanding officer. "These combined operations will certainly pay dividends into the future as our navies continue to work together to increase global security."Navy.mil, July 24, 2008


Another important precedent has been set. Brazil's President Luis Ignacio da Silva has ordered the dispatch of the Greenhalgh Frigate, marking the first time that a Brazilian warship (under a government which claims to be "socialist") has operated as part of a US. strike group in war games directed against a foreign country.


According to the Greenhalgh's Commander Claudio Mello, "It allows us to be one more asset in an international operation." (Pilot Online(contact admin if its a beneficial link), July 28, 2008)




Brazil's Frigate Greenhalgh dispatched to participate in US War Games


Congressional Initiative


The naval blockade against Iran, which is tantamount to a declaration of war, is a bipartisan project, which has tacitly been endorsed by the Democrats. In May 2008, a bill was introduced in the House of Representatives (H.CON. RES 362) that called for the enforcement of an all out economic blockade, including the encroachment of trade and the freeze of monetary transactions with the Islamic Republic:


"The President [shall] initiate an international effort to immediately and dramatically increase the economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on Iran .... prohibiting the export to Iran of all refined petroleum products; imposing stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran; and prohibiting the international movement of all Iranian officials not involved in negotiating the suspension of Iran's nuclear program."


"[H. CON. RES. 362] urges the President, in the strongest of terms, to immediately use his existing authority to impose sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran, ... international banks which continue to conduct financial transactions with proscribed Iranian banks; ... energy companies that have invested $20,000,000 or more in the Iranian petroleum or natural gas sector in any given year since the enactment of the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996; and all companies which continue to do business with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps." (See full text of H.CON RES 362) (emphasis added)


Meanwhile, H CON RES 362 has been referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. A similar procedure has taken place in the Senate.


Concurrent Military Operations: War in the Caucasus


The planning of a naval blockade by the Bush administration (Operation Brimstone, H Con 362) occurs at the very outset of an unfolding crisis in the Caucasus, marked by the Georgian air and ground attacks on South Ossetia and Russia's counterattack. The timing and chronology of these related and concurrent military operations is crucial.


We are not dealing with separate and unrelated military events. The war in Georgia is an integral part of US-NATO-israeli war preparations in relation to Iran.


Georgia does not act militarily without the assent of Washington. The Georgian head of State is a US proxy and Georgia is a de facto US protectorate.


The attack on South Ossetia was launched by Georgia on the orders of the US and NATO. US military advisers and trainers were actively involved in the planning of Georgia's attacks on the South Ossetia capital. (For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, War in the Caucasus, Towards a Broader Russia-US Military Confrontation, Global Research, August 10, 2008)


Russia is an ally of Iran.


Russia is currently caught up in a military confrontation with Georgia. The Georgian attack on South Ossetia constitutes an act of provocation directed against Russia. It creates an aura of instability in the Caucasus, marked by heavy civilian casualties. It serves to distract Russia from playing a meaningful diplomatic and military role, which might undermine or obstruct the US-led war plans directed against Iran.


Both Russia and China have bilateral military cooperation agreements with Iran. Russia supplies the Islamic Republic with military hardware and technical expertise in relation to Iran's air defense system and missile program.


Since 2005, Iran has an observer member status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). In turn, the SCO has ties to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), an overlapping military cooperation agreement between Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan.


The structure and strength of military alliances is crucial. In the context of US war plans directed against Iran, the US is intent upon weakening Iran's allies, namely Russia and China. In the case of China, Washington is seeking to disrupt Beijing's bilateral ties with Tehran as well as Iran's rapprochement with the SCO, which has its headquarters in Beijing.


The Georgian attack on South Ossetia seeks to undermine Russia, which constitutes a significant countervailing military power and ally of Iran.


The ultimate objective is to isolate Iran, cut it off from its powerful allies: China and Russia.


In Washington's mindset, the events in Georgia coupled with media propaganda, can be usefully applied to discredit and weaken Russia prior to the enforcement of a naval blockade on Iran in the Persian Gulf, which could lead into an all out war on Iran.


This somewhat crude line of reasoning tends, however, to overlook America's own military setbacks and weaknesses as well as the enormous risks to America and the World which could result from a continued and sustained confrontation with Russia, let alone an attack on Iran.


In view of the evolving situation in Georgia and Moscow's military commitments in the Caucasus, military analysts believe that Russia will not protect Iran and encroach upon a US led operation directed against Iran, which would be preceded by a naval blockade.


In other words, Washington believes that Moscow is unlikely to get actively involved in a showdown with US and allied forces in the Persian Gulf.


Naval Deployment


According to press reports, upon completing the North Atlantic war games on July 31st, the participating warships in "Operation Brimstone" headed for the Middle East, to join up with other carrier strike groups and a constellation of US, British and French war ships.


Which Carrier Strike groups and Expeditionary Forces sailed for the Middle East upon the completion of "Operation Brimstone" remains to be ascertained.


Below we provide the most recent information pertaining to the movement of Carrier Strike Groups and Expeditionary Strike Groups


According to Stratfor and military sources:


-the USS Iwo Jima and the USS Theodore Roosevelt, according to Stratfor, returned to their home port in Norfolk after concluding participation in JTFEX Operation Brimstone on July 31


-the nuclear powered USS Ronald Reagan Carrier and its Strike Group Seven; according to Stratfor USS Reagan is currently under way in the South China Sea on a routine deployment in the 7th fleet area of responsibility (AOR) (Indian Ocean and Western Pacific)


-the USS Abraham Lincoln is in the Arabian Sea (confirmed by Strafor, "operations in the 5th fleet AOR, which includes Iraq and Afghanistan", namely Ariabian Sea,


- the USS Peleliu which was in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. (latest news from Stratfor USS Peleliu is in the Arabian Sea, "operations in the 5th fleet AOR, which includes Iraq and Afghanistan")




USS Abraham Lincoln


In other words, there are at present (August 14, 2008) two Strike Groups in the region: USS Abraham Lincoln, northern Arabian Sea, USS Peleliu Strike Group, northern Arabian sea. There is no confirmation as to whether the USS Ronald Reagan is moving towards the Arabian Sea.


"Maritime Security" to Enforce a Naval Blockade


US Central Command (CENTCOM) under the helm of General Petraeus, coordinates out of Bahrain so-called Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in Middle East waters ( Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Red Sea and Indian Ocean).


This MSO initiative is conducted by the Combined Maritime Force (CMF) with a powerful armada of 36 warships.


Established at the outset of the Iraq war, CMF involves the participation of the US, Canada, Australia, UK, Germany, Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and Pakistan.


There are several combined task forces responsible for maritime security (including CTF 150, CTF 152 and the CTF 158 North Arabian Gulf (NAG))


The mandate of the Combined Task Forces "aims to establish security and stability by countering terrorism in the Middle Eastern maritime environment and allowing legitimate mariners to operate safely in the area..." (see Canadian Navy, News),


In the present context, this multinational naval alliance, will be used to encroach upon maritime trade with Iran as well as play an active role in implementing the proposed economic blockade of Iran.


Canada has recently deployed three war ships to the Arabian sea, including HMC Iroquois along with HMC Calgary and HMC Protecteur which will be operating under CTF 150, which is responsible for MSO in the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.




Canada's HMC Iroquois, involved in Maritime Security.

Canada currently leads the CTF 150 Task Force



Among the 36 war vessels involved in so-called Maritime Security Operations, are:


RBNS Sabha (FFG 90) – The Bahraini flagship of CTF 152 conducting Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in the Central and Southern Arabian Gulf.


USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) – The U.S. flagship of CTF 50, conducting MSO in the Central and Southern Arabian Gulf , as well as support Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. (currently in the Atlantic Ocean according to Stratfor).


FS Guepratte (F 714) – French Navy ship operating as part of CTF 150 in the North Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.


USCGC Wrangell (WPB 1332) – One of several USCG 110’ patrol boats conducting MSO in the North Arabian Gulf.


HMAS Arunta (F 151) – Australian Navy ship conducting MSO as part of CTF 158 .


PNS Tippu Sultan (D 186) – Pakistan Navy ship conducting MSO as part of CTF 150.


RFA Cardigan Bay (L 3009) – British Royal Navy auxiliary ship operating with CTF 158.


USS Port Royal (CG 73) – US Navy guided-missile cruiser deployed with USS Tarawa Expeditionary Strike Group.


Source: US Naval forces, Central Command, Fifth fleet, Combined Maritime Forces



Naval Blockade


The first stage of a naval blockade directed against Iran would in all likelihood be initiated by Maritime Security Operations (MSO) under USCENTCOM.


For Iran, a naval blockade, were it to be implemented, is tantamount to a declaration of war. The blockade constitutes a blatant violation of international law. According to Francis Boyle, a renowned specialist in international law:


"A blockade is an act of war under international and domestic law. A "Blockade" is a term used under international law to specifically refer to belligerent measures taken by a nation for the purposes of preventing the passage of vessels or aircraft to and from another country. Customary international law recognizes blockades as an act of war because of the belligerent use of force even against third party nations in enforcing the blockade. Blockades as acts of war have been recognized as such in the Declaration of Paris of 1856 and the Declaration of London of 1909 that delineate the international rules of warfare."


Meanwhile, war preparations are also being undertaken by israel and NATO in the Eastern Mediterranean. German war ships are stationed off the Syrian coastline. Turkey which constitutes a major military actor within NATO is a major partner of the US led coalition. It has an extended bilateral military cooperation agreement with israel. Turkey has borders with both Iran and Syria. (For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, "Triple Alliance": The US, Turkey, israel and the War on Lebanon, Global Research, August 6, 2006)


Pre-emptive Nuclear War


A diabolical and related consensus is emerging at the political level, pointing to the pre-emptive first strike use of nuclear weapons in the Middle East war theater, more concretely against Iran:


"In January 2005, at the outset of the military build-up directed against Iran, USSTRATCOM was identified as "the lead Combatant Command for integration and synchronization of DoD-wide efforts in combating weapons of mass destruction."


To implement this mandate, a brand new command unit entitled Joint Functional Component Command Space and Global Strike, or JFCCSGS was created.


JFCCSGS has the mandate to oversee the launching of a nuclear attack in accordance with the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review, approved by the US Congress in 2002. The NPR underscores the pre-emptive use of nuclear warheads not only against "rogue states" but also against China and Russia."Michel Chossudovsky, Nuclear War against Iran, Global Research, January 2006)


More recently, a December 2007 NATO sponsored report entitled “Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World: Renewing Transatlantic Partnership". calls for a first strike pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons. The NATO doctrine in this report is a virtual copy and paste version of America's post 9/11 nuclear weapons doctrine as initially outlined in the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).


(for details, see Michel Chossudovsky, The US-NATO Preemptive Nuclear Doctrine: Trigger a Middle East Nuclear Holocaust to Defend "The Western Way of Life", Global Research, January 2008)


The preemptive use of nukes as formulated in the NATO Transatlantic Partnership document would be used to undermine an "increasingly brutal World" (e.g. Iran) as well as a means to prevent "rogue enemies" to use "weapons of mass destruction".


Under this NATO framework, which is explicitly envisaged in relation to Iran, US and allied forces including israel would "resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the imminent spread of nuclear weapons, " (quoted in Paul Dibb, Sidney Morning Herald, 11 February 2008).


"They [the authors of the report] consider that nuclear war might soon become possible in an increasingly brutal world. They propose the first use of nuclear weapons must remain "in the quiver of escalation as the ultimate instrument to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction". (Paul Dibb, op cit)


In terms of the ongoing threats directed against Iran, a pre-emptive nuclear attack using tactical nuclear weapons, which are according to the Pentagon is "harmless to the surrounding civilian population" could be carried out in relation to Iran, even if if Iran does not possess nuclear weapons capabilities, as confirmed by the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE).


According to a 2003 Senate decision, the new generation of tactical nuclear weapons or "low yield" "mini-nukes", with an explosive capacity of up to 6 times a Hiroshima bomb, are now considered "safe for civilians" because the explosion is underground.


Through a propaganda campaign which has enlisted the support of "authoritative" nuclear scientists, the mini-nukes are being presented as an instrument of peace rather than war. The low-yield nukes have now been cleared for "battlefield use", they are slated to be used in the next stage of the Middle East war (Iran) alongside conventional weapons:


"Administration officials argue that low-yield nuclear weapons are needed as a credible deterrent against rogue states.[iran, North Korea] Their logic is that existing nuclear weapons are too destructive to be used except in a full-scale nuclear war. Potential enemies realize this, thus they do not consider the threat of nuclear retaliation to be credible. However, low-yield nuclear weapons are less destructive, thus might conceivably be used. That would make them more effective as a deterrent."(Opponents Surprised By Elimination of Nuke Research Funds Defense News November 29, 2004)


In an utterly twisted logic, nuclear weapons are presented as a means to building peace and preventing "collateral damage".


The NATO sponsored report --which broadly reflects a growing consensus-- insists that the option of a nuclear first strike is indispensable, "since there is simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world." (Report, p. 97):


"Nuclear weapons are the ultimate instrument of an asymmetric response – and at the same time the ultimate tool of escalation"


The US-NATO doctrine to use nukes on a pre-emptive basis against Iran, with a view to "saving the Western World's way of life", is not challenged in any meaningful way by the antiwar movement.


The mainstream media has a strong grip on the public's perception and understanding of the Middle East war. The dangers of nuclear war in the Post cold War era are barely mentioned and when they are, the use of nuclear weapons are justified as a preemptive military option to ensure the security of Western World.


The truth is twisted and turned upside down.


Media disinformation instills within the consciousness of Americans and Europeans that somehow the war on Iran is a necessity, that Iran is a threat to the Homeland and that the Islamic Republic is supporting Islamic terrorists, who are planning a Second 9/11. And that a pre-emptive nuclear attack is the answer.


In contrast, the powerful economic interests behind the war economy, the Anglo-American oil giants military, the defense contractors, Wall Street are rarely the object of media coverage. The real economic and strategic objectives behind this war are carefully obfuscated.


9/11 is used profusely both by the Bush administration and the media as a justification for waging war, despite the fact that there is mounting evidence of cover-up and complicity of key members of the Bush Administration.


Despite the evidence, Afghanistan, Iraq and now Iran have been portrayed as the "State sponsors of terrorism" and a threat to the Homeland, thereby justifying the various stages of the Middle East military roadmap. The Project for a New American Century, had already described in a 2000 document the nature of this road map or "long war". What is envisaged is a global war without borders:


fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars (PNAC, September 2000)


At present US and coalition forces including NATO and israel are in an advanced state of readiness to launch an attack on Iran. Leaders of the US led coalition including France, Germany and Italy, should understand that such an action could result in a World War III scenario.


Escalation scenarios have already been envisaged and analyzed by the Pentagon.


US sponsored war games have foreseen the possible intervention of Russia and China in the Middle East. World War III has been on the lips of NeoCon architects of US foreign policy from the outset of the Bush regime.


In response to "Operation Brimstone" and the Naval deployment, Iran's Foreign Ministry said that "Tehran will give a 'maximum response' to the slightest threat against the country's national security."


War propaganda, through media disinformation consists in galvanizing US citizens not only in favor of "the war on terrorism", but in support of a social order which repeals the Rule of Law, derogates fundamental civil liberties, upholds the use of torture and establishes a modern police state apparatus as a means to "preserving Western democracy".


There is a tacit public acceptance of a diabolical and criminal military agenda, which in a very sense threatens "the community of nations" and life on this planet.





In the course of the last four years, Global Research has documented in detail the various war plans directed against Iran. Operation TIRANNT (Theater Iran Near Term) was initially formulated in July 2003, in the wake of the US led Iraq invasion.


We have done our utmost to reverse the tide of media disinformation, to inform our readers and the broader public on the impending dangers underlying the US military adventure.


This is the most serious crisis in modern history which in a very real sense threatens the future of humanity.


Michel Chossudovsky is the author of the international bestseller America’s "War on Terrorism" Global Research, 2005.




Countdown to the end of Bush-Cheney regime: War with Iran: What Could Happen If ... ?

If war is averted, hopefully a Democratic President may enter the White House, then, who knows? Dialogue with Iran?



by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach


As the countdown to the end of the hated Bush-Cheney regime proceeds, calls for the U.S. and/or israel to take military action against Iran, have been multiplying almost in inverse proportion. At the same time, the Islamic Republic has redoubled its efforts to thwart such aggression, in a two-pronged maneuver. On the one hand, the government, and the new leadership in the Majlis (parliament) under Ali Larijani, have reiterated Tehran's rejection of blackmail regarding the country's nuclear program; on the other, Iran has launched a campaign to engage its leading international interlocutors in discussion of concrete cooperation aimed at defusing, if not solving, major strategic crisis situations. The recent solution to the prolonged Lebanon crisis is but the most eloquent example of what could and can be achieved in pursuing peace in many crises plaguing the region, {if} Tehran's role and contribution were accepted.


That the war party is still committed to an attack against Iran, is no secret, and continues to be an item discussed daily in anti-war websites. Writing in Asia Times on May 27 (you are not allowed to post links yetatimes(contact admin if its a beneficial link) and picked up by you are not allowed to post links yetglobalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9099), Muhammed Cohen revealed that there were plans for the Bush cabal to attack Iran by August. His "informed source" told him, that two members of the U.S. Senate, Sen. Diane Feinstein of California and Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, informed of the plans, had intended to go public, but that their op-ed piece slated for the New York Times, had been blocked. The source, identified as "a retired U.S. career diplomat and former assistant secretary of state still active in the foreign affairs community," as well as an ambassador under the reign of Bush senior, told him there was a plan to launch air strikes against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Qods force headquarters. Neo-con Daniel Pipes added his two cents, saying that if Barack Obama were elected in November, then President George W. Bush would wage war on Iran before leaving office.


In parallel, the issue of what to do about “unruly†Iran has been placed high on the agenda of the unofficial presidential contenders from the two major U.S. parties. John McCain, who apparently cannot function psychologically without deference to his de facto alter ego, George W. Bush, has assailed the presumed Democratic Party contender Barack Obama for his declared willingness to sit down and talk with Iran's leadership. Obama, for his part, not only qualified and requalified his openness to dialogue with Tehran, but focussed on Iran as a strategic threat to israel -- and therefore -- the U.S., in a most unfortunate speech to AIPAC on June 4. One might argue, and with reason, that no speaker at AIPAC dare say anything that might conflict with the agenda of anti-Iran Zionist forces in israel, but Obama did not need to go so far. Not only, but israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, taking the podium at AIPAC a day later, lashed out at Iran, and demanded that Bush take appropriate measures. Olmert proceeded then to hold talks with lame-duck President Bush, in hopes of convincing him that the time were ripe for an Iran war. israeli Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz, who is a former army chief and defence minister, was explicit: "If Iran continues with its program for developing nuclear weapons, we will attack it," he said in discussion with Yediot Ahronoth on June 6. "Attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable."


The option of an israeli strike against Iran has been discussed at length, also on this website. What was quite unusual was that someone like Joschka Fischer, former foreign minister of Germany, would publicly warn against such an event. Fischer, whose chequered political career in the 1960s-1970s, rendered him, so to speak, a not-totally sovereign, independent player, was expected, as foreign minister, to make certain gestures to israel, which he punctually did when in office. Now, however, the old '68er, of all people, comes out with a bloodcurdling forecast, featured in Lebanon's Daily Star May 30, and carried by Global Research June 1, entitled, "As things look, israel may well attack Iran soon."


Iran's Global Proposal


What might Iran do, to prevent such an attack, be it from Washington or Tel Aviv? As reported on this website(you are not allowed to post links yetglobalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8868), Iran has been pursuing a global war-avoidance strategy based on forging ties with nations throughout Eurasia, beginning with Russia, China and India, and extending through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which it hopes to join as a full member. Iran's Eurasian policy is based on economic cooperation, especially in transportation and energy infrastructure, as well as security agreements. The same applies to its policy in the Persian Gulf.


The Islamic Republic announced last month that it had issued a proposal for solving the major problems in the world, through discussion and cooperation. The proposal, which has since been made public, has received nowhere near the attention it deserves. The document, entitled "The Islamic Republic of Iran's Proposed Package for Constructive Negotiations," was first presented to the Russians, then to the Chinese, the United Nations, EU, and so on. It starts from the premise that respect for justice, sovereignty, peace, democracy and different cultures, must be stressed, and proceeds to list areas of possible cooperation, such as "security issues, regional and international developments, nuclear energy, terrorism, democracy, etc." Iran proposes negotiations on these and other issues (drugs, the environment, economic, technological and other cooperation, especially energy), in which "the main objective of the Islamic Republic of Iran is to reach a comprehensive agreement, one that is based on collective goodwill -- that will help to establish long-term cooperation between the parties, and will contribute to the sustainability and strength of regional and international security and a just peace."


Iran says it is ready to start negotiations on the following issues: protecting the "rights and dignity of [the] human being and respect for the culture of other nations"; and, advancing democracy regionally and worldwide in the context of respect for the rights of nations and national sovereignty. Here, the document makes specific reference to the possibility of solving certain burning regional issues. Such cooperation, it says, may occur in various regions, "most specifically in the Middle East, the Balkans, Africa and Latin America. Cooperation to assist the Palestinian people to find a comprehensive plan -- one that is sustainable, democratic and fair -- to resolve the 60-year old Palestinian issue can become a symbol of such cooperation." Common efforts against various security threats, like terrorism, drugs, organized crime, etc. are also solicited.


Regarding economic issues, the proposal stresses cooperation on energy, trade and investment, fighting poverty, and -- most intriguing -- "Reducing the impact of sharp price fluctuations and retooling global monetary and financial arrangements to benefit the nations of the world."


The final paragraph deals extensively with the nuclear issue per se, in which Iran reiterates its commitment to the IAEA and NPT, and calls for "Establishing enrichment and nuclear fuel production consortiums in different parts of the world - including Iran."


Russia’s Interested Response


This proposal has been pooh-poohed as mere rhetoric or “nothing new,†and has been essentially ignored. But it contains several extremely important ideas which deserve attention. Moscow, for one, has taken note. First, regarding the nuclear issue, Iran agrees here to the Russian proposal for international enrichment centers, for example in Russia, but repeats that it wants one in Iran as well. Secondly, the document raises suggestions for international cooperation to deal with the financial, monetary and economic crises that are ravaging the world. Finally, Iran proposes intervening directing to solve -- not exacerbate -- regional crises in the Middle East.


Regarding the nuclear issue, it is not coincidental perhaps that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin stated unequivocally in an interview to Le Monde on May 31, that he did {not} believe Iran were pursuing a weapons progam. "I don't think the Iranians are looking to make a nuclear bomb," he said. "We have no reason to believe this." He went on: "I should say that formally Iran hasn't violated any rules. It even has the right to carry out enrichment.... I repeat there is no official basis for legal claims against Iran." Putin elaborated Russia's total rejection of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and explained his country's enrichment idea. "We offered an international program of enrichment, because Iran is only part of the problem. A lot of countries are on the threshold of the peaceful use of nuclear energy. And this means that they will need enrichment technology. And if they create their own closed cycle to solve the problem, there will always be the suspicion that they could produce military grade uranium. It is difficult to control. That is why we propose carrying out the enrichment on the territory of those countries which are beyond suspicion because they already possess nuclear weapons," (i.e. Russia.) In short, Russia still has hesitations regarding enrichment facilities on Iranian soil, but the discussion process is ongoing, and that is what is important.


As for the financial and monetary crises, it is quite unusual for Iran to address them in these terms. Here, the Iranian government, in talking about "retooling global monetary and financial arrangements to benefit the nations of the world," is implicitly saying the current dollar-based system is collapsing and needs to be replaced. Russia's new President Dmitry Medvedyev made the same point on June 7, in an address to the opening session of the 12th St. Petersburg Economic Forum


( you are not allowed to post links yetitar-tass(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/eng/level2.html?NewsID=12757537and12757608&PageNum=0 ).


Medvedyev stated: "Russia's role on global economic and raw markets enables us to take an active part in the discussions of ways of concrete settlement of the above mentioned problems [problems on the world financial and raw materials markets]." According to a German radio report (Deutschlandfunk) on June 7, he said he did not believe that the U.S. could handle the crisis alone. ITAR-TASS reported that he proposed Russia as a site for such discussions, concretely that it organize an international conference this year with finance experts and scientists. He also suggested Moscow become "a powerful world financial center" and that the ruble become "one of the leading regional reserve currencies." ITAR-TASS headlined its coverage of the speech, "Medvedyev calls to reform global financial architecture."


Putting Out Regional Fires: Lebanon


The third area addressed in Iran's proposal, the settlement of regional crises, is potentially the most explosive, because it touches on what the Islamic Republic could contribute positively, were it allowed to. The case in point is the recent solution to the Lebanon crisis. After 19 unsuccessful attempts to convene Parliament to elect a new president, a U.S.-backed provocation by the Siniora government, led to the firing of a pro-Hezbollah security chief at Beirut airport, and the attempt to dismantle Hezbollah's communications system. The outbreak of armed hostility between the opposition and government circles, raised the spectre of a new civil war, and Hezbollah's takeover of part of the capital indicated that the correlation of forces would not favor the government. Then came the breakthrough in Doha, Qatar, where a large gathering of Lebanese political factions came to agreement on a political solution, to elect Gen. Michael Suleiman, and share power.


The details of the Lebanese deal are well known. What is less well known, is the role played by Iran. Significantly, the first foreign guest to be received by President Suleiman was Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki. Both he and Parliament speaker Nabih Berri were quoted expressing gratitude to Iran for its “help†in solving the crisis. Hezbollah leader Seyyed Hassan Nasrullah, in a remarkable address on May 26 (you are not allowed to post links yetpresstv.ir, June 1), thanked Iran, Syria, the Qataris and the Arab League for supporting this “victory for Lebanon itself.â€


According to well-informed Iranian sources, the renewed Lebanese hostilities alarmed both Damascus and Tehran, forcing them to act. Iran approached the Saudis, suggesting that they convene a gathering of the Lebanese factions, which Riyadh rejected. Qatar at that point picked up the proposal and moved on it. Iran pledged its support to organize the meeting, and to use its influence on those Lebanese forces allied to it. One Arab diplomatic source with good contacts to the U.S., noted that whatever the Qataris would do, must have been okayed -- or at least not sabotaged -- by some circles in Washington. If this reading is accurate, it has immense implications: to wit, that, were there to be a cessation of hostilities between the U.S. and Iran, then indeed the major crises threatening peace in the region, could be settled.




The next immediate theatre of confrontation appears to be Gaza, where the Olmert government is threatening a new military incursion. In this context, the reports that Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas has proposed talks with Hamas, and that Hamas leader Ismail Hanniyeh has welcomed the idea, may also indicate some behind-the-scenes activities by Iran. It may or may not be coincidental that Ali Larijani, newly elected speaker of the Majlis (Parliament) spoke to Hanniyeh on June 2. At any rate, Reuters ran an unconfirmed report on June 7 (you are not allowed to post links yetasharqalawsat(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/english/) that delegations of the two sides were in Dakar, for talks with Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade to reach a common position vis a vis israel. Wade’s spokesman said, “The first phase is an interPalestinian phase†to be followed by negotiations planned in seven stages.


The Iranian global proposal contains a crucial reference to the Palestinian crisis, suggesting cooperation on a "comprehensive plan" that is "sustainable, democratic and fair." This means -- notwithstanding continuing rhetorical statements by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, -- that, were there to be an agreement struck between the Palestinians (i.e. Fatah and Hamas together) and israel, then Tehran would not object. This was the official position of the Iranian government under former President Mohammad Khatami, and is implicit in the new package proposal.




The other leading crisis to be dealt with is, of course, Iraq. Although the fourth round of tripartite talks, among Iraq, Iran and the U.S., has been put on ice for the time being, an exchange of views among the three is being aired indirectly in the press. The subject is the U.S.'s demand that Baghdad sign a Status of Forces Agreement (SFA) by July 31, and that Parliament ratify it well in advance of the expiration of the U.N. mandate, at year's end.


There is {no way} that this deal is going to go through. It will not be due to Iran’s opposition (which has been made explicit by Parliament speaker Ali Larijani as well as former President Hashemi Rafsanjani), but to an organic political process inside Iraq, shaped by consciousness of the region’s colonial past. Although no details have been made public by an obviously defensive and jittery U.S., leaks indicate that the deal would foresee permanent U.S. bases (numbering from 9 to 50, depending on the source), immunity for U.S. military as well as private contractors, the right to detain Iraqis and conduct military operations, and a de facto continuation of occupation, -- perhaps for what John McCain has said could last 100 years.


Moqtadar al-Sadr’s faction was the first to take to the streets on May 30 to protest the deal, and he vows to continue mass demonstrations every Friday until the draft has been scrapped. Mainstream Shi’ite parties, like the government coalition member United Iraqi Alliance under Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, have turned thumbs down on the idea, and the major Sunni parties and organizations, like the Association of Muslim Scholars and the National Accordance Front, have followed suit.


But far more important, is the intervention made by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the highest religious authority for all Shi’ites, currently based in Najaf, in Iraq. Al-Sistani said, essentially, that such a deal with the U.S. could occur only over his dead body. PressTV reported on May 24 that the Grand Ayatollah, in a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on May 22, had said he would not allow such an accord to be signed with “the U.S. occupiers†as long as he was alive. The same news outlet reported on June 5, that Ayatollah al-Sistani had set clear conditions for any agreement: as al-Hakim stated in a press conference following his meeting with the Grand Ayatollah, “The cleric stressed that any long-term pact in Iraq should should maintain four key terms including safeguarding Iraqis’ interests, national sovereignty, national consensus and being presented to the Iraqi parliament for approval.†He added that the current draft violates Iraqi sovereignty and does not remove it from the U.N. Charter’s Chapter 7; nor does it safeguard Iraq’s natural wealth. Although, as al-Hakim said, the leading cleric only set the parameters, leaving details up to the government, it is clear that al-Sistani is the supreme authority, and his stance is decisive. It was al-Sistani who had forced the U.S. to accept a referendum on the constitution, as well as elections. He supported elections on grounds that only an elected government could end the occupation. His foremost concern remains ending the occupation. Any fatwa issued by al-Sistani, including a call to armed resistance against the occupiers, would be followed by Shi’ites everywhere without question.


As one regional expert put it to this author, the very idea of permanent occupation is repugnant, as it revives memories of the hated “capitulations†imposed by colonial powers, which guaranteed immunity to their lackeys. Such capitulations were imposed on Iran under the Shah in 1964, which led to organized protest under Ayatollah Khomeini, and his subsequent expulsion, followed by his organizing revolutionary forces from exile. One source mooted that, were such capitulations imposed on Iraq today, this could lead to actual revolution in Iraq over the next 5 years or so. Iraq has already experienced revolution against British-backed governments.


This specific matter of the SFA can be resolved only through strictly bilateral discussions between Washington and Baghdad, if there is to be any credibility given to Iraqi “sovereignty.†Considering the depth and breadth of the opposition to new colonial-style capitulations, it is to be expected that no Iraqi government could acquiesce. Agreement would be tantamount to a suicide note. At that point, when the U.S. deal were defeated, the issue would be redefined: since the Bush administration’s fantasies of permanent occupation will be rejected, how could an orderly withdrawal of U.S. and remaining occupation troops be organized, to ensure their safe withdrawal as well as security for a newly independent, sovereign Iraq? In this context, yes, Iran could and should become an interlocutor, alongside other neighboring states. If the U.S. elections in November bring a Democrat into the White House, and if that new President makes good on his campaign pledges to withdraw from Iraq, and to hold rational discussions with Iraq’s neighbors (i.e. including Syria and Iran) on how to guarantee stability and security in the war-torn nation, then anything and everything is possible.


Questions in Washington


The U.S. election campaign to date has been an unprecedented battle, and a serious discussion of its internal workings go far beyond the scope of this article. But a few things may be said. First, both contenders for the Democratic Party nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama, have gone on record pledging their commitment to end the war, and withdraw U.S. troops, within relatively similar timeframes. Republican John McCain, on the other hand, has opted for permanent occupation. Whoever the final candidate voted at the Democratic Party convention in August may be, the consensus among the voters, both those who backed Hillary and those who backed Obama, is for a speedy end to the Iraq war.


Parallel to these party political developments, there have been a number of important events indicating that circles opposed to the Cheney-Bush war party, are mobilizing to prevent an “October surprise†attack on Iran. For one, Zbigniew Brzezinski co-authored an OpEd in the Washington Post on May 27 with William Odom, saying essentially that, since current policy had led nowhere, one had to reassess and redefine U.S. policy to Iran. Denouncing the “widely propagated notion of a suicidal Iran detonating its very first nuclear weapon against israel†as “more the product of paranoia or demagogy than of serious strategic calculus,†the authors call for a diplomatic approach that “could help bring Iran back into its traditional role of strategic cooperation with the United States in stabilizing the Gulf region.†At the same time, it was made known that Defense Secretary Robert Gates fired two leading figures in the Air Force, allegedly in connection with that branch’s security failures regarding nuclear materials. Informed sources in Washington have mooted that Gates’s action -– taken months after the cited incident -– had less to do with that, than with plans for a U.S. aggression against Iran, an attack which the Air Force, would be deployed to execute. Gates is known to favor diplomacy over aggression.


In short, even if Bush, Cheney and their israeli friends are huffing and puffing for war on Iran, influential political and military circles in the U.S. are moving to prevent it. If war can be averted until a new, hopefully Democratic President may enter the White House, then, who knows? Dialogue with Iran might even come back on the agenda.


The author can be reached at mirak.weissbach[at]googlemail(contact admin if its a beneficial link)

Muriel Mirak-Weissbach is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach


--------Iran Opens War Avoidance Flank



by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach


As threats of military action against Iran continue to issue from various spokesmen of the war party in the U.S., the Islamic Republic has launched an ambitious initiative aimed at preventing war, based on a comprehensive package of economic, political and security measures on a vast regional plane. The package includes proposals to settle remaining questions related to Iran's nuclear energy program, but is not limited to that.


It was Saeed Jalili, the new head of the Supreme National Security Council and chief nuclear negotiator, who first announced the initiative. As Acting Secretary of the Russian Security Council Valentin Sobolev arrived in Tehran, April 28, Jalili declared that his government was presenting the Russian delegation a package of proposals aimed at solving the problems of the world. "The package is about the great questions of the world," he said, "and the nuclear question could be the subject of discussion." While declining to give details, he added, "We spoke in detail with our Russian friend and we explained our vision. Our approach could be a good basis for negotiation between the influential powers of the world," according to AFP. Talks continued in the Iranian capital for three days, including with Gholamreza Aghazadeh, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on return from his South Asian tour.


Although both sides said the package would not be made public yet, remarks made by Sobolev at a joint press conference April 28, indicated that Russia had listened to Iran's proposals with keen interest. He praised the expansion of relations with Iran "in all areas." After their second round of talks on April 29, Jalili said of the package that it "has provided a new opportunity for constructive cooperation for restoration of regional and international peace and stability and those who have adopted positive stands on the issue should welcome it." Ahmadinejad, following his talks with the Russian envoy, indicated that the discussions aimed at introducing a new international order. "The might of the United States and some other countries speaking the language of force that used to dictate international relations after the Second World War is now rapidly vanishing," The same day, the Iranian student news agency ISNA reported that, following that meeting, Sobolev, "said his country hails Iran's package of proposals covering a wide range of issues including Iran's nuclear program." TASS said Sobolev explicitly ruled out any Iranian weapons program. "We believe," he said, "that Iran is not engaged in any military nuclear research, but we are confident that not only Russia should think so but all countries that are involved in the settlement of the situation [revolving around the Iranian nuclear program]."


Further confirmation of Russia's positive response, came, albeit indirectly, from the top. Sobolev announced to RIA , "An oral message from Russian President Vladimir Putin was conveyed to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a meeting. The substance of it is that Russia confirms the principles of mutual relations (with Iran) and her policy will not depend on who is in power," a reference to the new president Dmitry Medvedev.


While talks were going on with the Russian delegation, Jalili informed Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey of the initiative by telephone, saying it should be considered at the next meeting of the five permanent memers of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany.


The Mystery Package


The content of the Iranian package has remained shrouded in secrecy, but certain features have emerged. Alaeddin Borujerdi, head of Iran's parliamentary commission on national security and foreign policy, spoke of the fact that it would guarantee the country's enrichment rights. According to well-informed Iranian sources, the initiative develops the idea of an international consortium for the enrichment of uranium, on Iranian territory. This idea had been floated by Tehran earlier, when the President issued an invitation to international partners to participate. Most important, it has also been under consideration by a group of U.S. figures opposed to the war policy of the administration, led by former diplomat Thomas R. Pickering. Together with William Luers and Jim Walsh, Pickering outlined the idea in an article, "A Solution for the US-Iran Nuclear Standoff," published in The New York Review of Books in its March 20 issue. (you are not allowed to post links yetnybooks(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/articles/21112) The paper stated that the authors had been part of "a group of former American diplomats and regional experts" who "have been meeting directly and privately with a group of Iranian academics and policy advisers." The article stated: "We propose that Iran's efforts to produce enriched uranium and other related nuclear activities be conducted on a multilateral basis, that is to say jointly managed and operated on Iranian soil by a consortium including Iran and other governments." This approach reflected a similar idea worked out by the International Crisis Group, of which Pickering is a member, and presented to an international conference in Berlin in March 2006. (1) In a section entitled, "Turning Iran's Enrichment Activities into a Multilateral Program," the article goes on to suggest that "the Iranian government would allow two or more additional governments (for example, France and Germany) to participate in the management and operation of those activities within Iran." It notes that, of course, several Iranian officials, including Ahmadinejad, had "already publicly endorsed a multilateral solution."


However, as Iranian sources pointed out to this author, Tehran, significantly, did {not} address Paris or Berlin, but rather Moscow. Russia is considered the priority interlocutor due to the special relationship that exists between the two countries, epitomized by Russia's participation in building the Bushehr nuclear plant, but also because the Russians, unlike the Germans and French, have refused to let the nuclear issue become a casus belli. Russia and China have succeeded in blocking more hostile sanctions through the Security Council, and are both fully aware of the danger that the issue might be exploited by the war party in London and Washington, to justify military aggression. For this reason, the Russian government has been insisting that Iran return to the negotiating table with the 5+1 group. On March 31, Ambassador to the U.N. Vitaly Churkin urged Tehran to restart such talks. That was just prior to Sobolev's visit. And China had taken the unprecedented initiative of convening a meeting of the permanent five in Shanghai in mid-April, to seek a solution; although the meeting yielded no solution, it underlined Beijing's concern that war could be on the agenda otherwise.


Iran expressed its readiness to settle all remaining questions related to the controversial program, just a week prior to Sobolev's mission. On April 21-22, a delegation of the International Atomic Energy Agency led by Oli Heinonen met with Iran's leading nuclear officials, including Mohammed Saeedi, Iran's IAEA envoy Ali-Asghar Soltanieh, and several AEOI and foriegn ministry representatives. Iran announced it would cooperate in clarifying anything that had to be settled. IAEA chied Mohammad ElBaradei did not hesitate to praise the move. "That is certainly a milestone," he said, "and hopefully by the end of May we will be in a position to get the explanation and clarification from Iran as to these alleged studies," referring to studies that allegedly Iran had made regarding nuclear weapons. He said this was "the only remaining topic for us to investigate about past and present Iran nuclear activities."


But, the nuclear issue is merely one aspect of Tehran's global package. The rest is of a strategic nature.


As noted above, Ahmadinejad was visiting South Asia when Sobolev landed in Tehran, and his mission involved other components of the package. The main focus of his talks was the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project (IPI), which has been held up for various reasons, some more real than others. Aside from bickering about the price India would have to pay Pakistan, the main glitch was pressure that certain U.S. officials were placing on New Delhi, to sabotage the agreement.


Once it had been announced that Ahmadinejad would visit India, the Bush administration moved into high gear. Tom Casey, State Department spokesman, came out somewhat undiplomatically suggesting that India should "use its influence" with Iran, to persuade it to give up its uranium enrichment program. The Indian government was not amused. External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna was quoted by Tehran Times April 23, saying, "Neither country needs any guidance on the future conduct of bilateral relations as both countries believe that engagement and dialogue alone lead to peace." He went on to develop the concept, saying, "Both nations are perfectly capable of managing all aspects of their relationship with the appropriate degree of care and attention." The foreign ministry issued a statement which must have been somewhat embarassing for youthful Washington: "India and Iran," it read, "are ancient civilizations whose relations span centuries."


Ahmadinejad's visit was a resounding success. In an April 29 press conference, he said that progreess was being made on the IPI. "Ministers from the three countries," he was quoted by Arab News as saying, "hope to reach a tripartite agreement in the next 45 days." Construction on the pipeline is to begin in 2009, and should be completed by 2012. The 2,600 km pipeline is to transport Iranian gas to Pakistan and India. Prior to his visit to India, Ahmadinejad had been in Pakistan, where he fine-tuned details of the project with President Parvaz Musharraf. He also committed Iran to providing 1,100 MW of electricity to Pakistan, to help it overcome energy shortages.


Talks between Pakistan and India had also taken place at the end of April, after which Indian Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora announced that the deal would be "clinched soon." At an Islamabad press conference on April 25, IRNA reported that the oil ministers of the two countries said they had reached agreement on "fundamental issues," and that a final agreement could be signed in weeks, if not days. One factor which may have nudged India in the direction of a deal, is that China was showing interest in the project. In his meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Ahmadinejad said that the IPI deal would soon be finalized "and my government will also welcome the inclusion of China in the project."


The crucial question of financing for the $7.4 billion project, was being hammered out in the Asian Development Bank. According to sources in the Pakistani Petroleum Ministry cited by the Tehran Times on April 23, the ADB was ready to foot the bill. The ADB is also sponsoring the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, in which Pakistan would import 3.2 billion cubic feet of gas, to be shared with India.


So much for pipelines. But Iran's "package" contains much more. As Iranian sources have indicated, India is also committed to invest in Iran's oil industry. And Sri Lanka, another stop on Ahmadinejad's Asian tour, is looking forward to Iranian participation in $1.5 billion worth of infrastructure projects, including the $450-million Uma Oya hydro power project slated to produce 100 MW electricity, and an upgrading of the country's oil refinery. In addiiton, Iran is ready to offer credits for military equipment to be brought in from China and Pakistan, as well as training.


Beyond energy agreements, the Iranian package also deals with developing transportation infrastructure. As reported in the Tehran Times April 16, Iran and India signed an MoU for starting work on the India-Iran-Russia railway line.


When one puts all these bits and pieces together, then a rather wonderful mosaic image emerges. As confirmed by Iranian sources, what the Iranians are proposing in their new package is nothing less than a blueprint for a new correlation of nations in Eurasia, whose collaboration in developing continental infrastucture--nuclear energy, gas and oil pipelines, and transportation--should establish the economic, and therefore political, basis for true independence. Iran's Foreign Minister Mottaki made clear, during his visit to Dushanbe on March 24, that his country wanted to become a full-fledged member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a grouping which includes Russia and China, along with the leading nations of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.


Not only: the Iranians are also moving in their more immediate regional environment, to erect this alternative economic, political and security structure. Most significant in this context, is the meeting that took place in Tehran April 30, between Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Pourmohamadi and Saudi Arabian Deputy Interior Minister for Security Affairs Ahmed bin Mohammad Al-Salem. The aim of this 2nd joint Iran-Saudi security committee meeting was to implement the agreements the two countries had reached in groundbreaking talks in October 2001, when they signed a joint security agreement. At the same time, Iran had been engaged in talks with Turkey on security. Iran's deputy interior minister for security and political affairs, Abbas Mohtaj, had said that Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia had reached some form of agreement on regional security. Add to this the ongoing process of discussions between Iran and the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council for establishment of a free trade zone, as well as for a regional nuclear energy agreement, and it becomes clear that what is on the agenda is nothing less than a regional economic-security arrangement.


The Iranian leadership has understood that, in order to face the continuing threat of militrary aggression by the war party, it must not only mobilize its military capabilities, as a defensive measure, but, more importantly, that it must move in a positive direction, to build the economic-strategic alliances in

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