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Entries in Turkey (40)


Iran Analysis: Four Perspectives on the Uranium-Sanctions Dance

Amidst the ongoing reaction on the uranium front, Dissected News offers a provocative reading, working through and around four partial viewpoints to argue:
The Obama administration was given the opportunity to eliminate the myths and start a new chapter in U.S. foreign policy. Instead, [the President] scrambled to defend the old policy.

Lack of change domestically [can] be blamed on predecessors or legislatures, but Obama owns his own foreign policy legacy.

Roger Cohen of The New York Times is even sharper in his criticism of Washington, calling for a negotiation between the caricatures of US-Iranian relations but concluding:
Last year, at the United Nations, Obama called for a new era of shared responsibilities. “Together we must build new coalitions that bridge old divides,” he declared. Turkey and Brazil responded — and got snubbed. Obama has just made his own enlightened words look empty.

EA's Ms Zahra offers a far different perspective:
The only language the Iranian system understands is power (zaban-e zoor). Accepting the Iran-Brazil-Turkey declaration as a first step would create another delay of several months. Rejecting it may appear as unwillingness to negotiate, but only from a very superficial perspective. The regime made this diversion on purpose, and Clinton replied, "Who do you think you're fooling?"

Well, let's see, if Tehran finally realises that it has crossed all red lines. If Turkey was really tacitly supported by the US, then it certainly was not for this mockup of treaty. I have the impression that [the Turkish and Brazilian leaders] Erdogan and Lula weren't able to push the Supreme Leader further.

Farideh Farhi, in a wide-ranging interview on the Iranian internal situation and US-Iranian relations, adds this incisive point:
It is very interesting to watch and see the different reactions to this nuclear agreement in the past few days and compare that to the kind of reaction that occurred when the previous agreement was announced last October. This time there is the sense to me that a very large sector of the Iranian elite are being called upon to support this deal. The kind of disagreement that manifested itself last time I do not see. There have been important voices that have objected to this deal, but, for example, 200 of the 290 members of the parliament say they support the agreement. And last year, for example, the Speaker of the Parliament Ali Larijani strongly opposed the deal. This time he told the
people to be united. Even some important individuals considered to be more reform-oriented have written editorials talking about these being very critical times for Iranian history. You get a real sense that a high-level decision has been made to push for an agreement and to try to resolve the nuclear issue.

Turkey Inside Line: It's Not Baykal in Video!; Kilicdaroglu Steps In; A UN "Well Done" to Turkey

It is Not Baykal: On Thursday, the National Criminal Bureau released the findings of their enquiry into a video clip allegedly showing the former leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Deniz Baykal, having sex with a party deputy, Nesrin Baytok.

The representative of the Bureau, Uğur Kurtulan, said that the man in the clip is not Baykal and the woman is not Baytok. He added that the head of Baykal in the first part of the clip was produced through a montage and that the man in the second part is thinner and taller than the one in the first part.

Turkey Inside Line: Latest War between Government and Opposition; New Era in Turkish-Greek Relations

Baykal's lawyer said: "It is clear that a victimhood is constituted after a video clip in which even the colours of socks and ties do not match. What is the aim of the person who released it? The duty of the government is to investigate who, with which purpose and why wanted to end Mr Baykal's political life in Turkey."

Kilicdaroglu as the Strongest Candidate: Obtaining overwhelming support from Republican People’s Party provincial chairpersons Tuesday, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu announced his candidacy for CHP leader at the party conference on 22-23 May. However, Kılıçdaroğlu said he wants to see the former head Deniz Baykal as honorary leader. He also added that if the circumstances permitted, he wanted to see Baykal as the president of Turkey.

Baykal refused the offer of honorary leader since it is Kemal Ataturk who formed the party.Speaking to the media after the meeting Baykal, acting CHP leader Cevdet Selvi said: “Baykal seemed dynamic and in high spirits. However, he was angry with his fate.” Selvi also said Baykal had no problem with the candidacy of Kılıçdaroğlu.

Kilicdaroglu, in an interview with Milliyet, said Wednesday he would work closely with the poor if elected as the new party leader. He would support youth and those who produce, invest and create employment opportunities.

According to a poll conducted by A&G Public Opinion in 39 provinces and districts, CHP’s share of a national vote would reach 32.3 percent if Kılıçdaroğlu took the leadership. If Deniz Baykal returned, the votes would go down to 18.6 percent, and another leader appointed by Baykal would return 21.7 percent.

Turkish Military Shows Flexibility: Following a series of agreements between Athens and Ankara, Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ told reporters Wednesday that he has proposed stopping flights of armed jets over the Aegean to his Greek counterpart in a move to end potential unwanted incidents. The response he received was, “I will consider this.”

A "Well Done" to Turkey: On Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised Turkey’s efforts in the Cyprus talks, the uranium swap deal signed in Tehran, the Somalia conference in Istanbul, the mediation role in the Middle East, the EU membership process, indirect talks between Syria and Israel, Alliance of Civilizations initiative,and rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia.

Ban added that he hoped Cypriot leaders would meet soon to continue the talks. "As I understand, they will meet at the end of this month." He continued:
I have extended strong support to negotiations, and I continue to do so. More than 70 talks have taken place between the two leaders in the past 18 months. This is an extremely positive development.

The Latest from Iran (19 May): Fallout

2035 GMT: The Uranium Sideshow. President Obama issued a boiler-plate, stay-the-course statement at a press conference alongside President Felipe Calderon of Mexico (which happens to have a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council):

"[We agree] on the need for Iran to uphold its international obligations or face increased sanctions and pressure, including UN sanctions. And I'm pleased that we've reached an agreement with our P5-plus-1 partners on a strong resolution that we now have shared with our Security Council partners.

Obama did not mention, for he was not asked, why he had encouraged Turkey to pursue talks with Iran leading to the uranium swap agreement in Tehran on Monday.

1845 GMT:Political Prisoner Watch. Housewife Masoumeh Yavari has been given a seven-year jail term at Rajai-Shahr Prison in Karaj. Yavari had been accused of "mohareb" (war against God), and the prosecutor had asked for the death penalty.

Zahra Jabbari, married and the mother of one child, has been sentenced to 4 years in prison. Jabbari was arrested during Qods Day protests on 18 September.

Student Activist Mohammad Yousef Rashidi has been handed a one-year jail term.

NEW Iran’s Uranium: Why Can’t the US Take Yes for an Answer? (Parsi)
NEW Iran’s Uranium: Washington “Can’t Afford to Look Ridiculous”, Makes Ridiculous Move (Emery)
NEW Iran’s Uranium: US Shows a Middle Finger to Tehran…and Turkey and Brazil and… (Gary Sick)
NEW Iran Document: Iranian Labour Unions “This is Not 1979″
Iran Analysis: Washington and the Tehran Nuclear Deal (Parsi)
Iran Alert: Filmmaker Firouz Faces Deportation From UK
Iran Analysis: The Contest at Home Over (and Beyond) the Uranium Agreement (Zahra)
Iran Analysis: Assessing the Tehran Nuclear Deal (Gary Sick)
The Latest from Iran (18 May): Getting Beyond the Uranium Agreement

1700 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The Revolutionary Court in Tehran has sentenced student and women's rights activist Bahareh Hedayat to 9 ½ years in prison: six months for insulting the president, two years for insulting the Leader, five years for anti-state and anti-national security actions, and two years, previously suspended, for organizing a gathering in June 2006.

Milad Asadi, another senior member of the alumni organisation Advar-e Tahkim Vahdat, has been sentenced to 7 years in prison.

Bahareh Hedayat's statement for Iran's National Student Day in December 2009:


1200 GMT: The Uranium Battle. Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's atomic energy agency, has issued the highest-level reaction to the US pursuit of a sanctions resolution at the United Nations, "They won't prevail and by pursuing the passing of a new resolution they are discrediting themselves in public opinion."

0940 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Masoud Heidari, the former head of the Iranian Labour News Agency,was released from prison on Tuesday. On Sunday, Heidari had begun serving a three-month prison sentence.

0840 GMT: Alice-in-Wonderland Media Statement of Day. I guess the editors of The New York Times have not paid any attention to the events of the last 72 hours:
Brazil and Turkey should join the other major players and vote for the Security Council resolution. Even before that, they should go back to Tehran and press the mullahs to make a credible compromise and begin serious negotiations.

0830 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Tahereh Saeedi, the wife of detained film director Jafar Panahi, has told Rah-e-Sabz that her husband has been on hunger strike since Sunday.

Panahi has demanded access to his lawyer, visits by his family, and an unconditional release until a court hearing is held.

Six journalists and cultural activists --- Mahnaz Karimi, Hafez Sardarpour, Mehdi Zeynali, Nader Azizi, Mustafa Jamshidi, and Ramin Jabbari --- were arrested on Monday in Iranian Azerbaijan.

0820 GMT: Shutting Down the Inquiry. Parleman News writes that a reformist proposal to investigate Iran's prisons has been rejected by the Parliament. Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani insists that the Majlis continues to observe prisons and has forwarded a report to the National Security Council.

0815 GMT: Claim of Day (No, It's Not about Uranium). Rah-e-Sabz claims new accusations of impropriety against Mohammad Javad Larijani, a high-ranking official in the judiciary. The website asserts that a deal has been struck: Ahmadinejad will not press a corruption case against Larijani, while the official and his powerful brothers will drop charges against First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi.

0810 GMT: And There's Always a "Terrorism" Story. Press TV features a summary of its interview with Abdolmalek Rigi, the captured leader of the Baluch insurgent group Jundullah: "While in Morocco, suspected Israeli or US agents had given him a list of people to assassinate in Tehran."

0755 GMT: Evaluating the Uranium/Sanctions Story. We have three analyses of the US response to the Iran-Brazil-Turkey agreement: Trita Parsi asks why Washington cannot take Yes for an answer, Chris Emery suggests it is because the US feels it "cannot afford to look  ridiculous", and Gary Sick thinks Washington just showed the middle finger not only to Tehran but to Turkey, Brazil, and a lot of other countries.

The Washington Post has posted a copy of the sanctions resolution introduced by the US into the United Nations Security Council.

0635 GMT: Nuclear Spin of Day. Peyke Iran tries an different angle to attack the Iran-Brazil-Turkey agreement. The website claims that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip is angry about his reception in Tehran: he and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva were offered an Iranian breakfast of sangak bread, Bulgarian white cheese, walnuts, and inferior dried fruit.

0630 GMT: Mousavi's Bodyguard. More manoeuvring over Monday's arrest of Mir Hossein Mousavi's head of security, Ahmad Yazdanfar. Khabar Online claims that Yazdanfar "withdrew" from his position, and the story that he was detained is a fiction of the "leaders of sedition" and foreign media.

Opposition outlets have responded that Yazdanfar is not "political" at all but a simple security officer. Through his arrest and the kidnapping, terror, and torture of others, the Government is slowly becoming a terrorist group.

0615 GMT: Iran's Debate on the Tehran Deal. The Government is still facing some opposition to the Iran-Brazil-Turkey agreement. From the conservative wing, Ahmad Tavakoli (and possibly, through indirect means, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani) made challenges on Tuesday. On the reformist side, Darius Ghanbari asked why Iran had waited seven months and expended so much capital in its foreign policy, only to move towards an agreement it could have had in October.

The response of pro-Government politicians is that this is only a "declaration", not a "treaty", so Tehran has not entered any binding commitments. Or, as Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said, "If the Vienna Group (US, UK, France, Germany, Russia, China) accepts Iran’s terms and conditions...both parties commit themselves to the implementation” of the deal."

(Which means that Washington's response --- throwing out any consideration of the agreement in favour of a sanctions-first approach --- has sheltered the Ahmadinejad Government against its internal opponents.)

0530 GMT: For many observers, the nuclear sideshow will remain the main event today. The Obama Administration pretty much guaranteed that when, despite the Iran-Brazil-Turkey agreement on a procedure for a uranium enrichment deal (and despite the small fact that President Obama appears to have encouraged the Turks to pursue the deal --- more on that later), Secretary of State Hillary Clinton loudly and not very politely announced that the US was proceeding with a sanctions resolution in the United Nations.

The resolution was submitted in the late afternoon, so now we will be treated to a lot of posturing on all sides, possibly obscuring this bottom-line assessment, courtesy of the National Iranian American Council: "This is an unbelievably stupid move on the part of the Obama administration. Not only are we rejecting our own terms of the agreement, but we are doing so in as tactless and diplomatically insulting way possible."

Meanwhile, on the centre stage of Iranian politics....

Containing Mousavi

Muhammad Sahimi offers a concise summary of the latest steps by the Government to intimidate Mir Hossein Mousavi ahead of the election anniversary on 12 June, including the arrest of Mousavi's top bodyguard.

The Labour Front

We have posted, in a separate entry, the statement of the Network of Iranian Labor Unions setting out its view of opposition to the Government, "This is Not 1979".

Iran Labor Report posts an overview of recent workers' protests.

Iran's Uranium: Why Can't the US Take Yes for an Answer? (Parsi)

Trita Parsi writes for ABC News:

A noticeable irritation can be sensed in Washington. After months of investing in a new UN Security Council resolution and an escalation of the conflict and apparently winning agreement among the permanent members of the council for such a measure two emerging powers had the audacity to intervene and find a solution. Brazil and Turkey should keep their expectations low, however, because there will not be any thank you party for them in Washington anytime soon.

Iran’s Uranium: Washington “Can’t Afford to Look Ridiculous”, Makes Ridiculous Move (Emery)
Iran’s Uranium: US Shows a Middle Finger to Tehran…and Turkey and Brazil and… (Gary Sick)

Only two days after the announcement of the Brazilian-Turkish brokered deal with Iran that would see 1,200 kg of Iran's low enriched uranium shipped out of the country, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a Senate panel that the United States and its partners seeking new sanctions against Iran have come up with a draft proposal for a new round of penalties. UN Ambassador Susan Rice held a press conference at the UN today unveiling the new resolution.

A day earlier, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley spoke dismissively about the Brazilian-Turkish deal. "The United States continues to have concerns about the arrangement. The joint declaration does not address core concerns of the international community," Crowley said, "Iran remains in defiance of five U.N. Security Council resolutions, including its unwillingness to suspend enrichment operations." Crowley then went on to link the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) deal with the Security Council demand for a suspension of Iran's enrichment activities. "Public statements today suggest that the TRR deal is unrelated to its ongoing enrichment activity. In fact they are integrally linked," he said.

These developments have taken many observers by surprise. Linking the TRR deal to suspension of enrichment is a new component it was the White House itself that decided last year to go forward with a deal to swap Iran's LEU for fuel rods without a suspension in order to throw back Iran's break out capability.

Furthermore, the earlier justification for the sanctions push was a reaction to Iran's failure to accept the swap proposal presented to it in October 2009. Administration officials stated on numerous occasions that sanctions would only be pursued if the diplomatic track failed to produce results. Sanctions would be needed to get Iran back to the table and to convince them to accept the deal.

Analysis: Washington Had Sudden Change of Heart

The sudden change of heart in Washington is particularly surprising mindful of the fact that the three objections Iran lodged against the 2009 TRR deal that the LEU needed to be shipped out in one shipment, that the swap would take place outside of Iran, and that the fuel rods would be delivered to Iran nine to twelve months have now all been withdrawn. Iran has agreed to the terms the US insisted on.

This may explain the comments of  Namik Tan, the Turkish Ambassador to the US, to the Associated Press, "We have delivered what they were asking for&If we fail to get a positive reaction it would be a real frustration."

But there are several factors that can shed light on Washington's apparent reluctance to take yes for an answer.

First, the Senate and the House are in the final phase of sending a broad sanctions bill to the President. The bill has several problems from the White House's perspective, including its limitations of Presidential waivers as well as the impact it will have on US allies who will be subjected to these sanctions.

Progress on the UN Security Council track has in the past few months been an important instrument to hold back Congress's own sanctions push. With Congress eager to sanction Iran, particularly now when the Brazilian-Turkish deal conceivably could derail or delay the UN sanctions track, the Obama administration feels the need to pacify the Congressional sanctions track by accelerating the UN sanctions track.

Second, the Brazilian-Turkish deal explicitly recognizes Iran's right to enrichment and would, as a result, eliminate the option of pursuing the zero-enrichment objective. While most analysts agree that the zero-enrichment objective simply isn't feasible, the White House has kept its options open on this issue. It has neither publicly confirmed it as a goal, nor rejected it. This, it has been argued, would provide the US with leverage. Even if it no longer is America's red line, it can still be America's opening position in a negotiation, the argument reads.

Does Washington's Reservations Hurt Obama's Attempt to Assert DC Diplomacy?

Third, there is a sense in the Obama administration that after the events of last year, a nuclear deal with Iran could only be sold domestically if Iran is first punished through a new round of sanctions. Only after a new round of sanctions would there be receptivity in Washington for a nuclear agreement with Iran. Hence, any nuclear deal that comes before a new round of sanctions would complicate the Obama administration's domestic challenges. A deal without punishment even a good deal simply wouldn't be enough.

Understandably, Washington's reaction to the Brazilian-Turkish deal has created some apprehension in the international community. The Obama administration has worked diligently to overcome the credibility gap America developed with the international community under President George W. Bush. One element of this effort was to utilize diplomacy as a premier tool of US foreign policy.

Punitive measures such as war or sanctions would no longer be the instruments of first resort. But the reaction to the Brazilian-Turkish deal may undo some of the progress the Obama administration has achieved with the international community. Washington's lack of appreciation for the breakthrough may fuel suspicions of whether sanctions are pursued to achieve success in diplomacy, or whether diplomacy was pursued to pave the way for sanctions and beyond.

Iran's Uranium: Washington "Can't Afford to Look Ridiculous", Makes Ridiculous Move (Emery)

EA's Chris Emery analyses:

The US response reminds me of the scene in The Godfather where the Don’s advisor asks the studio boss to drop his objection to using Jonny Fontaine in his next film. The studio boss admits that, although Jonny would be perfect for the role, he is committed to ruining Fontaine's career. Fontaine had made him look ridiculous, and the studio boss explains, "A man in my position can’t afford to look ridiculous."

NEW Iran’s Uranium: Why Can’t the US Take Yes for an Answer? (Parsi)
Iran’s Uranium: US Shows a Middle Finger to Tehran…and Turkey and Brazil and… (Gary Sick)

The Iran-Brazil-Turkey agreement was a good deal, but the US perceived that it would make them look ridiculous. Not just because it undercuts American diplomacy with China and Russia but because the deal resonates of a change in the international system ---- a change that is also a challenge. The US saw the IBT  deal not just as one unlikely to work; they saw it as a threat.

Technically, the deal does not address some concerns stated by the US: it does not include cessation of enrichment and leaves about 600-700 kilogrammes of low-enriched uranium inside Iran. Symbolically, however, this was Tehran saying that it wants a way out. At some point down the line, Iran could have found some handy technical reason for temporarily ending enrichment and decided that it was "cost-effective" to send most of its LEU abroad or to buy in medical isotopes.

But now, through its response, the US has reinforced the cyclical politics of confrontation and capitulation that have driven the crisis in US-Iranian relations for 30 years. Washington needs to recognise that breaking this dynamic is the only starting point for the eventual satisfaction of all its technical and geo-political security concerns.

The sanctions route through the United Nations is actually the worst-case scenario because, although there was not enough in the IBT agreement to get the Chinese and Russians off the hook, there is enough for them to substantially water down sanctions. The outcome will achieve nothing except to anger China, Russia, and all the non-permanent members of the Security Council while bolstering President Ahmadinejad at home and to some extent abroad.