Showing posts with label Diplomacy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Diplomacy. Show all posts

November 20, 2015

A Teaching Moment for US Embassy to Russian Paper on Phony LGBT Letter

ikolai Alexeyev punched at a gay demonstration in Moscow
The US embassy in Moscow has given a Russian newspaper a grammar lesson over a fake letter that purports to show that the US pays gay rights activists to smear Russian officials.
The embassy marked more than two dozen mistakes in a copy of the alleged letter that it posted on its Twitter account. “Dear Izvestia, next time you use fake letters, send them to us – we will be happy to help correct the mistakes,” it wrote at the bottom.

 The post was in response to an article in Izvestia on Wednesday that said activists were accusing the Russian officials of homosexuality to “earn grants” from the US State Department. 
The article focused on prominent activist Nikolai Alexeyev, who told Ekho Moskvy radio station in May 2013 that Vladimir Putin’s aide Vyacheslav Volodin, the head of a state-owned bank and a director at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport were gay. 
As proof of the US-backed “campaign to discredit” these officials, Izvestia quoted what the newspaper said was hacked correspondence between Alexeyev and the US State Department. Although it failed to provide a direct link, several quotes come from a letter posted on the CyberGuerilla website earlier this year. 
In the letter, dated 11 May 2015, a rights envoy supposedly thanked Alexeyev for helping to organise a rally against Russian aggression in Ukraine, which drew “negative responses from Russian officials … a clear sign of excellent training and qualification of the protesters”.
“LGBT organisations will get increased financing at the expense of other opposition democratic organisations considering their low efficiency in developing civic society in Russia,” the alleged letter said.
In its red pen-marked version of the letter, the US embassy pointed out mistakes with punctuation, spelling and use of “the”, which is often tricky for Russian speakers. 
“Really?? Gmail??” the embassy wrote next to an email address that the letter instructed Alexeyev to contact for “further financial and organisational issues”.
Russia passed a controversial law in 2013 against what it called gay propaganda. Alexeyev has been frequently detained and beaten during annual attempts to hold a gay pride parade over the past decade.

May 20, 2015

Obama The Miracle Worker } Has United Israel with Saudi Arabia


A nuclear-armed Tehran presents an urgent threat to freedom. Opposing the Iran deal are two unlikely allies, Saudi Arabia and Israel. And it’s just the latest sign of a thaw in a relationship that proves the wisdom of the old Sanskrit proverb, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
Saudi Arabia officially dropped the Arab boycott against Israel in 2005 as a condition of joining the World Trade Organization. Last July, Prince Turki Al Faisal, Saudi Ambassador to US from 2005-2006, published an op-ed in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. It did not mention the Palestinian people’s “right of return” to their former homes in current Israel, a key demand of Palestinian activists for decades. Even more surprising, Faisal’s article did affirm the importance of the Holocaust and the Jewish people’s historic claim to Jerusalem.
Prince Faisal wrote “Imagine if I could get on a plane in Riyadh, fly directly to Jerusalem, get on a bus or taxi, go to the Dome of the Rock Mosque or the Al-Aqsa Mosque, perform the Friday prayers, and then visit the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre… If, the next day, I could visit the tomb of Abraham in Al-Khalil, Hebron, and the tombs of the other prophets, peace be upon them all. I could then drive to, and visit Bethlehem, the site of the Nativity. 
I could go on to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust center and museum as I visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, when I was ambassador there.” Ironically, as the State Department attempts to lift the economic boycott against Iran, President Obama and his supporters are pushing a new boycott — against Israel. From the White House to Congress and from the New York City Council to America’s college campuses, Democrats are boycotting opponents of Obama’s pending nuclear deal with Iran. While some Democrats applaud lifting economic sanctions against Tehran, others want to slap such restrictions on Israel.
When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress on the dangers of a nuclear Iran; 58 Democratic members of Congress boycotted his speech. Vice President Joe Biden, who serves as the president of the Senate, also skipped Mr. Netanyahu’s appearance. As for Mr. Obama, he refused to meet in person with Mr. Netanyahu and virtually boasted that he did not even watch the remarks by the leader of America’s closest ally in the Middle East.
Last April 20th, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R – Texas) discussed the dangers of the Iran deal with a small group of Jewish business leaders at a private dinner, security briefing, and discussion that I organized. This event was held in the Manhattan home of two gay entrepreneurs who dared to meet with Mr. Cruz — as if America were a free country, and as if dialogue with people of opposing viewpoints fostered consensus and mutual understanding. Once this gathering became public, the gay community and its caucus in the New York City Council led an 11,000-person-strong economic boycott against the hosts of this gathering and the hotel that they own and manage.
Media reports indicate that gay college students are some of the loudest voices screaming for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel. All 58 Members who boycotted Mr. Netanyahu’s speech received top scores from the Human Rights Campaign for their support of gay-rights issues.
On May 5, Mr. Cruz told journalists that Democrats are terrified to vote on legislation that would require Iran to recognize Israel’s rights to exist as a Jewish state. Rather than go on record and expose the Democrat senators’ fundamental opposition to Israel, they are blocking every amendment on the Iran deal, in hopes that this tough vote does not come up.
Even as Democrats and their allies move to distance themselves from Israel, GCC countries, including their business leaders, journalists and politicians, are moving closer to Israel. “In an accident of fate,” writes UAE industrialist Khalaf Habtoor, “Israel and Sunni Arab states find themselves on the same page vis-à-vis the Iran threat. Were an Arab country perceived to be hostile to the US or the international community, it would be attacked without hesitation. On the other hand, this administration is treating its ‘favorite enemy’ with a silk glove instead of the iron fist it deserves. This sure feels like a pro-Iranian administration.”
Dubai-based publisher Madarek last year released an Arabic translation of Saudi Arabia and the New Strategic Landscape by Joshua Teitelbaum, a professor at Bar Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv. Mr. Teitelbaum encourages US  policy makers to cement America’s alliance with Saudi Arabia by addressing the Iranian threat to Saudi domestic politics. In his book, he explains that Gulf Cooperation Council countries such as Bahrain, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, which have significant Shiite populations, have been jittery about Shiite Iran for years. Such jitters are very well founded, Mr. Teitelbaum argues. Among other worries, in 2009, according to Israeli sources, the UAE uncovered an Iranian plot to blow up the world’s tallest building, the Burj Dubai, now called the Burj Khalifa.
Madarek is owned by Saudi journalist Turki bin Abdullah Aldakhil, General Manager of Al Arabiya Television News Network in Dubai. He also interviewed scholar Rashid Al-Khayoun on Al Arabiya regarding the Farhud — a 1941 pogrom against Iraqi Jews, which prompted their exodus. Mr. Aldakhil also founded the Al Mesbar Center for Arab Scholarship and Expertise for Peace and Stability in the Middle East. In September 2014, this think tank published Yusif Al-Mutayri’s paper, “Jews of Kuwait: Presence, Situation, and Emigration (1860-1952).” This work highlighted the historically meaningful economic and cultural role of Jews in Kuwait. Just a few years ago, it would be unthinkable that an Arab institution would recognize Jews as capable of anything other than “anti-Palestinian oppression.”
The last decade has witnessed improved understanding and growing trade between Israel and the six member nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council: Bahrain, Dubai, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Credit Suisse launched an emerging-market credit fund in 2010, headed by the Qatar Investment Authority, Saudi Arabia’s Olayan Group, and Israel’s IDB Holdings. In 2006, Idan Ofer, chief of Israeli shipping company ZIM came to the defense of DP World, which was embroiled in the debate over allowing Dubai’s companies to manage U.S. ports. In a letter to then-Senator Hillary Clinton, Mr. Ofer wrote: “DP World has been an industry leader with regard to security and works closely with us on an ongoing basis to maintain the highest security standards in all its terminals around the world.”
While Saudi Arabia and the UAE slowly have been improving their relationship with Israel, they have at the same time been resolute in their opposition to Iran. According to news accounts, Wikileaks cables uncovered these gems:
In a 2008 cable from Saudi Arabia’s then-ambassador to the U.S., Adel al Jubeir, King Abdullah offered “frequent exhortations to the U.S. to attack Iran and thus put an end to its nuclear weapons program,” As Mr. al-Jubeir recalled the king’s advice to America: “He told you to cut off the head of the snake.”
“That program must be stopped,” Bahrain’s King Hamad said, according to a November 2009 cable on Iran’s atomic ambitions. “The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it.”

Several reports have surfaced detailing meetings between the Mossad and Saudi intelligence to coordinate in-flight refueling of Israeli aircraft and rescue operations for downed pilots en route to demolish Iran’s nuclear capability.

In a July 2009 memo, UAE’s defense chief, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, was remarkably blunt about Iran’s then-president: “Ahmadinejad is Hitler.”
This past April, hours after Secretary of State John Kerry told a U.N. nuclear non-proliferation meeting in New York that a deal with Iran was “closer than ever,” Riyadh appointed as its new foreign minister Adel al Jubeir, the kingdom’s former ambassador to Washington. This is the first time that position has been held by anyone outside the royal family. Mr. Al-Jubeir’s appointment sent a clear message: Jubeir was the target of a foiled plot by Iranian agents who aimed to assassinate him in 2011 as he dined in a Georgetown restaurant.
Mr. Cruz told the small group of Jewish business leaders I assembled (and he repeated in Washington the following week) that “the next president who enters the White House in January of 2017 is likely to encounter a world with Iran on the verge of having nuclear weapons where sanctions will have been taken off the table by Barack Obama, because they cannot be placed back with our allies in any reasonable period of time to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, which means in all likelihood the next president will face a binary choice: Either allow Iran to have nuclear weapons or use military force to prevent it. This deal makes war a certainty.”
In March it was reported that Israel and Saudi Arabia are completely in synch on Iran. Several reports have surfaced detailing meetings between the Mossad and Saudi intelligence to coordinate in-flight refueling of Israeli aircraft and rescue operations for downed pilots en route to demolish Iran’s nuclear capability.
At last week’s Camp David summit, the gulf states staged a boycott of their own. Four invited heads of state didn’t bother to show up to meet with Mr. Obama, underscoring the growing divide between the White House and America’s former allies of the GCC. It also signaled a realignment of Israel and the GCC, much to the chagrin of Obama, Congressional Democrats, and the ayatollahs.
Kalman Sporn is a Middle East strategist and advisor to Vatican based Dignitatis Humanae Institute. Reach him on Twitter at @kalmansporn. 

September 29, 2013

Obama’s Smart Call to Iran

 US President Barack Obama speaking by phone to President Hassan Rouhani of Iran (27 September)
The White House released this photo of President Obama speaking to President Rouhani of Iran
US President Barack Obama has spoken by phone to Iran's Hassan Rouhani - the first such top-level conversation in more than 30 years.
Mr Obama spoke of a "unique opportunity" to make progress with Iran's new leadership, amid a flurry of diplomacy over its nuclear programme.
Earlier, Mr Rouhani said Iran was keen to reach a deal soon.
He also asserted that Iran did not seek a nuclear bomb, as Western powers have long suspected.
Describing meetings at the UN this week as a "first step", he said he believed the nuclear issue could be settled "within the not too distant future".
Mr Rouhani said initial discussions had taken place in an environment that was "quite different" from the past.
'Full backing'


Hassan Rouhani's actions in New York reveal a man dealing with the inherent, overwhelming contradiction of his job: he has a popular mandate without actual power.
In a speech given on 17 September in Tehran, Ali Khamenei approved the use of "heroic flexibility" in diplomacy. This would appear to translate as an instruction to President Rouhani: by all means see what you can get from the Americans, but don't go around shaking Obama's hand.
The ayatollah-approved outreach in New York included the first sustained direct talks between the US and Iran at foreign minister level for more than 30 years.
Hassan Rouhani may be able to recommend a deal, he may be able to explain how concessions are the best way to get sanctions lifted, and improve the lives of ordinary Iranians. But in the end, it is the supreme leader who will have the final say.
The call with Mr Obama was made just before Mr Rouhani left New York, where he has been attending the annual summit of the UN General Assembly, Iranian news agency Irna said.
White House officials described the 15 minute conversation - apparently initiated by Mr Rouhani - as cordial, the BBC's Bridget Kendall reports from New York.
Mr Obama raised concerns about American prisoners in Iran, but the bulk of the call was about efforts to reach a solution on the nuclear issue, she says.
Afterwards, Mr Obama said: "While there will surely be important obstacles to moving forward and success is by no means guaranteed, I believe we can reach a comprehensive solution."
Mr Rouhani, who is regarded as a moderate and was elected in June, has said he wants to reach a deal over the nuclear issue in three to six months.
He says he is fully empowered by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to negotiate.
On Friday, he told a press conference at the UN: "Whatever result we achieve through negotiations my government will have the full backing of all the main branches of power in Iran as well as the support of the people of Iran."
And he said he wanted a deal "within a very short period of time".
'Bomb is dangerous'
Earlier the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it had held "very constructive" talks with Iran in Vienna.
IAEA Deputy Director-General Herman Nackaerts did not give details of Friday's talks, but said the two parties would meet again on 28 October.
"We will start substantial discussions on the way forward to resolving all outstanding issues," Mr Nackaerts said.
Reza Najafi, Iran's envoy to the IAEA, was quoted as saying that the aim was to reach an agreement "as soon as possible" and also spoke of a "constructive discussion".

Start Quote

If Iran's new President Hassan Rouhani can deliver what he has been saying in New York - and if the world's big powers can reciprocate - then there's a real chance to make progress”
On Thursday US Secretary of State John Kerry held a rare meeting with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Mr Kerry said he was struck by the "very different tone", but added that Iran still had questions to answer.
There had been speculation that Mr Rouhani and Mr Obama might meet in New York. Mr Rouhani told journalists that "in principle we did not have any problems with having a meeting", but "there was not sufficient time" for planning the encounter.
The Iranian president rebuffed questions about Iran's reliability as a negotiating partner, saying his country wanted to retain nuclear technology but would submit to IAEA supervision.
"We say explicitly that we do not seek a bomb," he said. "We say explicitly that we believe the building of a bomb is dangerous for us - for our region."
The US and China have said they expect Iran to respond to an existing offer by the US, Russia, Britain, France, China and Germany, who form a negotiating group known as the P5+1.
The group has asked Iran to halt production and stockpiling of uranium enriched to 20% - a step away from achieving a nuclear weapons capability.
They also demanded Iran shut down the Fordo underground enrichment facility, near Qom.
Substantive talks between Iran and the P5+1 are due to take place on 15 October, and Mr Rouhani said Iran would bring a plan to that meeting, though he did not give details.
Iran's key nuclear sites
Key nuclear sites map
Source: 1155/New Scientist Global Security

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