Wednesday, November 27, 2013

  • Wednesday, November 27, 2013
  • Elder of Ziyon
Michael Weiss of Now Lebanon has a very sobering analysis:
Much has been written about the technical points of the P5+1 interim agreement that authorized international sanctions relief in exchange for a slowdown (but not cessation or cancellation) of Iran’s nuclear program. Much attention has also been paid to the anatomy of the deal, with an intense focus on secret Oman-based negotiations the Obama administration held with the Iranians as early as eight months ago. However, the details about breakout capacity, inspections regimes, and the dollar amount of actual sanctions relief have distracted from the invisible rider on this accord, which is Western acquiescence to Iran’s gradual takeover of Syria.

As analysts Mike Doran and James Glassman have written, the six-month nuclear deal may now be used to retroactively explain President Obama’s seeming incoherence in responding to nearly three years of a grave humanitarian catastrophe. ....“Rather than merely being feckless,” Doran and Glassman write, “the administration may actually have a long-term plan, and this initial nuclear deal is only a tactic in a broader strategy. The overall aim is a strategic partnership with Iran because the administration sees that country as the only island of stability in a sea of chaos and violence.”

This is the direst assessment that can be made of the White House’s intentions at Geneva, and conclusions that derive therefrom are quite cynical. Yet there’s some evidence to support Doran and Glassman’s thesis.

For one thing, although the administration still clings to vaguely democratic talking points about supporting the Syrian opposition and demanding Assad’s removal from power, it has not prevented Iran’s inheritance of the regime’s security detail, the breathtaking extent of which has never once been publicly articulated or condemned by Obama....

Since September of this year, there’s also been another not-so-hidden administration motive for ceding greater control of Syria to Iran: the US-Russia chemical weapons disarmament plan, which resulted in the first UN Security Council resolution passed on the Syria carnage while also re-legitimizing Assad as a necessary Western partner in overseeing the destruction of the regime’s stockpiles of nerve agents. The deadline set for full disarmament is well into next year, at which point Assad will almost certainly still be in power. To remove the stockpiles, either the regime or a third party will need to provide them with safe conduct out of the war-ravaged country on roads that are either in rebel hands or are constantly being interdicted by rebels. The chances of American forces being deployed to Damascus and Aleppo for this undertaking are slim to none. Nor is anyone stupid enough to believe that Jabhat al-Nusra or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham will refrain from attacking dangerous convoys of toxins because of a piece of paper inked in New York. So built right into the chemical accord was a necessary, if unwritten, guarantee that the regime retain or regain control of major highway systems throughout the country. This clearly is not a job for the inept and depleted Syrian Army to carry out on its own. But, as the CIA and the White House surely know, it doesn’t do anything on its own anymore.

....Indeed, both Assad and Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah welcomed the P5+1 nuclear deal, which they would not have done if they thought that it spelled a reduction of Iran’s footprint in Syria rather than an enlargement. On November 24, The New York Times also cited White House aides who said that Obama was amenable to the possibility of turning the deal into the “opening act in a more ambitious engagement with Iran that might give it a role in Syria, Afghanistan, and other trouble spots,” though the aides stipulated that this would “depend on factors that are out of America’s control, like moderates gaining on the ground in Iran.”

There are no moderates in the IRGC or Hezbollah, which already have an expansive role in Syria. Nor will “hardliners” in Iran, such as IRGC-Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani, ever consent to abandoning Assad or the nation they consider just another province of Iran. The aides’ stipulation reads like a tacked-on rationalization for a fait accompli.

The much-delayed Geneva II conference on Syria, now scheduled for January 22, thus promises to be quite an interesting affair. So far, there are no firm commitments of attendance by any parties to the conflict, and the actual rebels on the ground – as opposed to their irrelevant spokespersons abroad – have said that whatever happens, they will not abide by a ceasefire during the talks. Meanwhile, Iran’s participation, we are now informed by the very administration that once ruled it out, will be contingent upon its acceptance of the 2012 Geneva Protocol, which would create a “transitional government” for Syria and which Washington putatively thinks will be headed by someone other than Bashar al-Assad. Iran has said no to the Protocol. I wonder what else it thinks it can get away with between now and January 22.

The mullahs’ nuclear program, we often forget, was always intended as a safeguard for their most valued foreign policy objective: the expansion of Khomeinism across the Middle East through the use of paramilitary proxies, terrorism, advanced weaponry, and sophisticated intelligence and counterintelligence operations. The idea behind this objective was to systematically weaken and undermine what had been, since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, a Pax Americana stitched together by a tenuous but surprisingly stable consortium of US allies, namely Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the other Gulf Arab Sunni-majority states. Without possessing so much as a single warhead, Iran has managed to achieve much of what it set out to do, as well as to negotiate itself a license to do even more in exchange for putting a few more weeks “on the clock” for its ability to build a warhead. This is nothing short of extraordinary. It’s also a great tragedy for Syria.
Read the whole thing.

I don't know if the Obama administration set out from the beginning with a plan to help strengthen Iran's role in the Middle East - after all, they did increase sanctions - but it is plausible that around the time of the secret negotiations earlier this year, such a thought began to gel.

Whether it was planned or not, Syria is even further screwed by this Iranian nuclear agreement, and Iran's geopolitical position  - which could have been fatally injured by a defeat of Assad in Syria - has now been strengthened immeasurably.

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