Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Gaza: Israel’s Tough Love?

Are Gaza Palestinians paying the price for Israel’s idea of peace?


This past week has seen some dramatic developments in the Middle East Peace Process, in particular where they relate to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

During his recent visit to the region, US Vice President Dick Cheney said that while peace between Israel and the Palestinians was long overdue, it would still need painful concessions from both sides if they were to achieve Washington’s deadline of a final agreement by the end of this year.

Israel for its part, has consistently insisted it wants to achieve a lasting peace with the Palestinians, but is refusing to enter into any dialogue with the Hamas movement that controls Gaza.

In its attempt to dislodge the democratically elected Hamas, Israel has imposed a months long siege on the strip, depriving the 1.5 million residents of most of the daily necessities of life.

Israel argues that the siege is aimed at weakening Hamas to the point where it has no choice but to yield to the authority of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the Israeli and American choice for negotiating partner.

Once Hamas is destroyed as a political and indeed military entity, the peace process can move forward and the long cherished wish of President George Bush of a peace deal by the end of this year could be achieved.

So, broken down to its basic element, Israel is actually being cruel to the Gaza Palestinians in order to be kind. You could call it a tough love. The Gaza siege, apparently, is aimed at furthering the peace process by destroying support for Hamas.

The unspeakable suffering of the Gaza Palestinians, it seems, is ultimately for their own good. A tough lesson to a recalcitrant child. A painful, albeit unwilling concession they are making now to achieve the goal of peace and freedom. Perhaps one of Cheney’s painful concessions, maybe.

On Sunday, meanwhile, Fatah and Hamas signed a joint statement in Yemen agreeing in principle to unite in a single Palestinian government.

By Monday, however, Dick Cheney accused Hamas of doing what it could to torpedo the process, while Fatah responded by saying their representative did not have the authority to sign what became known as the San’a Declaration.

Israel, for its part, warned Fatah that any reconciliation with Hamas could spell the end of the peace process.

Fatah’s envoy to San’a, Azzam Al-Ahmed defended his decision to sign the agreement, saying he had an open mandate from the Palestinian Authority and was in open contact with the president.

AL-Ahmed said he is convinced there are influential people who believe their interests will be harmed by the agreement and are doing their best to sabotage it. Perhaps even outside interests.

But who would stand to gain?

That question was posed in the introduction to the Tuesday 25th March edition of Middle East Today, hosted by the author and broadcast on PressTV.

A panel of experts drawn from different political backgrounds were then asked a number of questions related to the latest events in regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and some of their responses were quite surprising.

But rather than detail them here, I would now like to take this opportunity to put a few of those same questions to you, our readers.

In a second, follow up article, I would like to compare your answers to those of our panel of experts. It will be interesting to see if you draw the same conclusions, or see angles that they missed.

When answering by using the comment facility, simply put the question number and then your comment.


I look forward to your participation.


Q1. On his recent visit to the region, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney said reaching an agreement between Palestinians and Israelis was long overdue. But he said it would still require “tremendous effort” and “painful concessions.” Is Washington itself willing to make any compromises, the least being modifying its perceived unreserved support for Israel?

Q2. It has been suggested that Washington’s support actually emboldens Israel to the extent where it feels free to ignore calls for restraint from the wider international community, including the UN General Assembly and the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon. Washington’s unreserved support, pundits say, is in fact one of the greatest obstacles to peace in the Middle East. Your view on this?

Q3. There have been accusations that there are elements within Hamas and Fatah who are deliberately trying to sabotage the San’a Declaration for their own selfish motives. Who would benefit from its collapse?

Q4. Israel has issued a warning to Fatah against any reconciliation with Hamas, saying it would effectively sink the peace talks. What does this tell us about Israel’s commitment to striking a comprehensive peace deal with all Palestinians?

Q5.

It has been suggested said that if a fair peace could be established between Israel and Fatah in the West Bank, and if that peace could be seen to be working, it would dramatically undermine support for Hamas. So why isn’t it happening? Is Israel manipulating the crisis for its own ends?

Q6. Indeed, on the face of it, Israel isn’t doing itself any favors with Fatah either, through the dramatic and illegal expansion of Jewish settlements and the continued construction of the separation “apartheid” wall in the West Bank. Is Israel deliberately trying to alienate its only potential negotiating partner?

Q7. The Western and Israeli policy of isolating Hamas and the Gaza Strip is obviously counterproductive to the interests of peace. Let’s face it; isolating a population, causing them extreme distress is effectively a driving force for hatred of Israel. And hatred of Israel essentially equals support for Hamas. Vicious circle, but is it really just a misguided policy or a deliberate ploy?


First publication: Ohmynews International,

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Wednesday, 19 March 2008

It's the War, Stupid!

US Economic Crisis: Bush blames sub-prime loans, experts blame the war

Switzerland promptly gave the diplomatic finger to Washington following criticism over Bern's recently signed gas deal with Iran, saying it did not need US permission to make decisions about its foreign policy.

Responding to accusations from the Bush administration and Israel that the US$42 billion agreement violated the spirit (but obviously not the substance) of the third round of United Nations sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program, Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey said Switzerland was an independent country and quite capable of making its own strategic decisions.

"It was refreshing to hear somebody, particularly a European country, speak of their national sovereignty and right to act as an independent nation," legal affairs analyst Edward Spannaus told PressTV News.

"In this case," he said, "the Swiss Foreign Minister said they were successfully mixing diplomacy and business, and that this policy of engagement was part of their dialogue with Iran on human rights. Now, not only is that a more sensible policy than what is being carried out by the Bush administration, but it is their right to do that."

Attempting to influence countries to follow the "spirit" of the sanctions, as well as the sanctions themselves, effectively adds an extra layer of penalties on the target nation, penalties not approved by the Security Council.

"I think the US can only add as much pressure on these countries as they are willing to accept," Spannaus said. "There are legal experts in the US who say the deal does not even violate US sanctions law which allows for these types of contracts. So therefore, the State Department here has to resort to talking about the spirit of the law."

Other political and economic analysts believe the United States should not even be in the sanctions business.

"Sanctions are an act of war, an act of imperialism," said Professor Paul Sheldon Foote of California State University. "America should not be imposing sanctions. America's political leaders say this is a country for capitalism, for free enterprise and for democracy. Sanctions should play no part in that. We had a Republican candidate for president, Ron Paul, who strongly denounced sanctions. Any true Republican and any true capitalist will have no part of sanctions."

And according to Spannaus, there are plenty of people in the United States who agree.

"There is not a lot of enthusiasm in the United States for these types of sanctions," he said.

"There is a group in Congress called the Dialogue Congress which favors engagement. There are business groups opposed to sanctions. We've got sanctions on dozens of countries around the world. It is a foolish policy, it doesn't work. Business groups here say we are only cutting off our nose to spite our face."

Sanctions, an instrument designed to exert economic hardship on a target nation, frequently have the opposite effect. It often hardens the target country's resolve to resist what they usually perceive as bullying by more powerful or arrogant nations.

Spannaus cited Cuba as a classic example of the self defeating nature of sanctions.

"For almost 50 years the United States has had a trade embargo on Cuba. It hasn't changed Cuba, it has been totally unsuccessful."

However, the sanctions have cost the United States investment opportunities in the island. Those investments would have generated revenues and jobs. With the US economy "in sharp decline" according to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, those are revenues and jobs that the United States sorely needs.

President Bush, for his part, has narrowed his vision and puts all the blame on the slump in the housing market.

"For certain it is a challenging time for our economy," he said with disarming understatement, "You know that, I know that, a lot of Americans understand that. In the short run the strains on the economy have been caused by the turmoil in the housing market which required focused and decisive action. And that is exactly what the Federal Government is doing."

With many economists predicting the United States is heading for a long and hard recession, a softening of the sanctions regimes would attract much needed revenue through trade. It would also, as the Swiss model shows, open up channels for dialogue.

Dialogue, they say, could well have prevented the muddle headed decision to attack and occupy Iraq, five years ago this month.

"There are some economists like Stiglitz who are talking about the ultimate cost of the war in trillions of dollars," Foote told PressTV News, "The supporters of the administration try to say this is an inexpensive war and the real problem [with the economy] has been the mortgage market. In any case, Americans need to be smart enough to understand that the war benefits only a small number of defense contractors and vested interests and is hurting the livelihoods, the income and jobs of everyone else. This war needs to cease."

Foote doesn't lay the blame for the current economic crisis solely on the war in Iraq, but did put it at the top of his list.

"The US economy has had problems now for many years and for many reasons. The war is a reason. The breakdowns in control of corporations, the bad lending in the financial markets are others. There are a lot of reasons," he said.

But his recipe for averting financial meltdown also began with the war.

"What needs to be done is ending the war in Iraq and spending that money on infrastructure, investing in new kinds of industries," he said, "That will lead to long term competitive jobs for people in America."

George Bush inherited a budget and current account surplus when he came into office. The next tenant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will inherit at least two ongoing wars, a mind boggling national debt, and an economy in an utter shambles.

And unfortunately, Foote expressed no confidence anything will change for the better next January.

"Well the problem is that if the next one elected is a Democrat, they're going to want bigger spending and even more deficits," he said. "And if John McCain is elected, he wants endless wars and occupation of countries for the next hundred years. We don't have a good scenario with any of the current leading candidates for President."

Original pubulication: Ohmynews International,

Reproduced on: American Chronicle, The Democratic Underground, OpEdNews,

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Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Did Washington Set Up Admiral Fallon?

Analysts suggest a conspiracy to oust the outspoken top military officer in the Middle East

The sudden resignation of Washington's top military officer in the Middle East is shrouded in claim, counter-claim and denial. Whatever the truth may be behind Admiral William Fallon's decision to step down as Central Commander, with responsibilities covering the entire Middle East, very few pundits are buying the official line.

Since taking up the post about a year ago, Fallon has often been portrayed as being at odds with White House policy on how to conduct the war in Iraq, and of being firmly opposed to any military adventures against Iran. It is no secret that Fallon was in favor of diplomacy and engagement rather than confrontation in dealing with Tehran's nuclear issue. Once quoted as saying a war with Iran "would not happen on my watch," the former Navy fighter pilot earned the respect of his staff and the men and women in uniform he commanded, but according to Washington insiders, he also earned a bitter enemy in Vice President Dick Cheney.

Matters came to a head last week when Esquire magazine published an extensive article on Fallon titled, "The Man Between War and Peace." The article credited Fallon as being almost solely responsible for thwarting Vice President Cheney's and President George Bush's plans for a preemptive strike against Iran.

Describing the Esquire feature as "poison-pen journalism" Fallon said the reports of his differences with the White House were wrong, but had become a distraction.

Michele Steinberg, a Washington-based political analyst and Counter-intelligence Editor for the Executive Intelligence Review, says Fallon's disputes with Bush may have been exaggerated, but she left open the possibility that rather than resigning, Fallon was probably fired.

"I absolutely agree with Admiral Fallon's characterization of the Tom Barnett piece in Esquire," Steinberg told PressTV News, "It vastly overstated Fallon's role in being part of a very important policy establishment that wants to keep the United States safe, keep the world safe, without war."

In an almost prophetic article for the EIR, "Iran Warmongers Launch Operation To Oust Admiral Fallon" Steinberg wrote, "Don't be fooled. The upcoming March 12 article in Esquire magazine by former top policy adviser to warmonger Donald Rumsfeld, Tom Barnett, that pretends to praise Admiral William 'Fox' Fallon, head of the Central Command, is an attempt to get Fallon -- a major, clear-headed opponent to a flight-forward war against Iran -- kicked out."

And that, Steinberg told PressTV, "Is maybe what happened behind the scenes."

If the stories were false or exaggerated, then a simple joint statement would have put the controversy, and any of Fallon's "distractions' to rest. Instead, however, Fallon's resignation was quickly accepted and announced by a troubled looking Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at a Pentagon press conference. Steinberg pointed to the most likely culprit behind Fallon's fall.

"I think Fallon's differences were with Vice President Dick Cheney," Steinberg said, "who is very displeased with President Bush's Annapolis meeting, he is very displeased with the National Intelligence Estimate which came out in December and pretty much took the wind out of Cheney's sails. The fact that Cheney wants to go to war with Iran before he leaves office in January 2009 is a well-known fact around Washington, and that is really the story behind the resignation of Admiral Fallon."

According to Steinberg, Gates and Fallon shared many of the same opinions on how to deal with Iran, and that may account for the downbeat appearance of the Secretary at the press conference. Fallon's departure, she said, has left the region in a more dangerous situation.

"But let's be clear on this, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is also a strong believer in diplomacy as a tool of foreign policy, and a tool of getting a road to peace in a very unstable region. Bob Gates was a leading member of the Iraq Study Group which said very clearly that if the United States wants to seek a peaceful solution in Iraq and wants to stabilize the region, first of all you have to come to a peace between Israel and Palestine, and secondly, full engagement leading to diplomatic relations with Syria and with Iran," she said, "So that is Gates' view as well. So Fallon was not alone in this. However, it is a much more dangerous situation with a clear headed thinker like Fallon removed from command."

New York-based political analyst Ian Williams was also cautious about accepting the official line that Fallon had simply resigned over a piece of trashy journalism.

"It is quite clear that if you had a rational presidency and a rational White House, then having genuine disagreements with your high military would not necessarily be a bad thing," he told PressTV, "But it is also clear that this administration doesn't brook any discontent and there is a terrible sense of deja vu."

In the months before the Persian Gulf War, Williams said, the same things were happening.

"High military commanders were being forced to resign and being replaced with more pliable, more amenable, less worthy generals and admirals who would do what they were told without raising the issue of sanity or diplomacy," he said.

Many of Fallon's remarks, alleged or otherwise, would not have gone down well at the Pentagon.

"Well it depends on which part of the Pentagon," Williams said, "I mean the politically appointed civilian officials and the high ranking officers who have been appointed by the Bush administration would find him very unpopular. But for many of the more serious US military, they know just how overstretched the forces already are. They know there is no conceivable way the plans that are being hatched by the same dreamers who gave you Iraq would work in the case of Iran."

Williams said, however, with his resignation Fallon will now be free to speak his mind in public.

"If he feels that with a lame duck president who has no sort of accountability in the short nine months left of his tenure, then perhaps he needs to be in a position to speak out publicly about this, unconstrained by alleged loyalties to his Commander-in-Chief, the President," he said.

Steinberg shared the sentiment that as a civilian, Fallon could become even more effective in preventing the Vice President and the White House from embarking on any ill-advised military adventures.

"I certainly hope so," she said, "I would hope that is the case and he would join very outspoken individuals in the military who have been critical of the rush to war. Also it is possible that Congressional committees may call upon him, retired Admiral Fallon, and other retired military and diplomatic officials to give their advice in terms of what direction the United States should take."

First Published: Ohmynews International

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Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Gaza's Descent Into Darkness

When did the shooting death of a two-week old baby stop being headline news?


Imagine the absolute horror of seeing, of feeling your child die in your arms from an easily preventable disease. The necessary drugs are just a few kilometers away, but for all that, they might as well be on the moon.


Alternatively, make a mental detachment from your comfortable reality and transport yourself to a grubby hospital waiting room. As you lie there on the floor clutching the bloodied and broken body of your wife or husband, you are being told by doctors, "Sorry, we have no beds. We have no equipment, we have no drugs."


And with grim finality, "There is nothing we can do." Hold that mental image and wait for your loved one to die.


Imagine being the doctor, who day after day has to tell mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters the news they had been dreading. Day after grinding day.


Many would run. Many of Iraq's doctors did. But for whatever reason best known to themselves, many don't hang up their soiled scrubs at the end of a grueling shift and just walk away.


They are back the next day, and the next, fighting a hopeless situation. In fact, bringing what little hope still remains in the debris strewn streets and flyblown hospital waiting rooms of the impoverished Gaza Strip.


Doctor Mehdad Abbas of the Gaza Shifa Hospital, and Director of Crisis Management at the Ministry of Health in Gaza is one of those who have stayed.


The doctor took 10 minutes from his busy schedule, still wearing his scrubs, and spoke to PressTV's Middle East Today.


I first asked him about the conditions in his hospital, and how they compared to other hospitals in the Gaza Strip.


Looking drawn and exhausted, he still managed to respond in a strong and clear voice.


"We have some twelve hospitals throughout the Gaza Strip and the cases we have received were so serious. In fact we filled our intensive care beds and had to add an additional seven beds, so 19 intensive care beds were full by yesterday morning," he said.


That would be the first full day of the massive Israeli assault on Northern Gaza.


"We were then able to shift some of our cases to Egypt. We received more than 350 wounded cases, and the majority of them were children and women. We are also speaking about some 125 who've lost their lives during this aggression of the Israelis over the last few days in Jabalya, the northern province of the Gaza Strip," he said.


Without prompting, he confirmed the reports we'd been receiving that the majority of the victims were women and children, many of them killed inside their own homes by the rockets and bombs of jet fighters and helicopter gunships.


"We have never seen such injuries before," he said. "You know when the F-16 shell hits the top of the house, we have crush injuries, we have explosive injuries involving the majority parts of the body, nothing is safe. We have seen head trauma as well as chest and abdomen and extremities at the same time in a single patient. These patients faced a high risk of dying, and this explains why we lost more than 125 cases in these two or three days."


As our camera panned around the primitive emergency and intensive care unit, pausing to focus on human bodies, barely recognizable as young children, with wires and pipes attached to their faces, arms and bodies, I asked the doctor, "If you could get anything right now, what would be the most important thing you would wish for?"


Without hesitating and with his voice rising he told us, "The most urgently needed thing is to press the Israeli government to stop killing the Palestinian children, this is the first thing needed."


And end the siege, he said, at once. "We need medicine, we need food, we need freedom, this is the most needed thing inside Palestine."


As for medical supplies, the doctor said the hospitals in Gaza needed more ventilators and monitors in order to be able to cope with the frequent sudden rush of badly injured trauma victims.


"If the Israelis keep up the attacks that are killing our patients, I need more ventilators and monitors so we can receive and save more victims," he said.


He told of children being brought to the hospital with terrible injuries, but finding there were no empty beds, no equipment.


"We are losing those patients inside our hospitals," Dr. Abbas said, "for that reason I am appealing now for medical supplies -- in particular more ventilators and monitors to receive more cases into intensive care."


The doctor said it saddened him that everyone in the international community, even those who were trying to make efforts to stop the aggression against the civilians in Gaza, can easily see that nothing is changing on the ground in Gaza. That the only noticeable change is that things have gotten worse, much worse.


"The Israelis," he said, "are very interested in the blood of our children and they are not stopping."


In fact, the Israelis had just announced a halt to the massive air and ground assault. Not for humanitarian concerns, but in order not to offend US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who was currently visiting the region.


The doctor reacted, "Two days, is that what they are saying in the Israeli media? And after that they are launching their ground and air assaults again."


The extended Israeli embargo, justifiably described as a siege, has had a profound impact on the effectiveness of Gaza's hospitals and health care clinics.


"Yesterday we lost many cases in the intensive care unit simply because we did not have vacant beds to receive them," the doctor explained, "So we were forced to discharge them prematurely from the intensive care units to the general wards, and that was very bad of course. We lost many cases."


Slightly distracted for a moment, the doctor collected himself and began to complain about the lack of spare parts.


"I have said this in many reports. We do not have enough spare parts to fix the equipment. The Israelis are not allowing the spare parts to come because they claim they can be used for military purposes."


One positive development was the opening of the border between Gaza and Egypt to allow the most seriously injured patients to be taken into Sinai for treatment.


"They received some 36 cases the first day, and yesterday they received some 19 cases out of the intensive care," he said, "But we could not send those who were suffering from cancer, or kidney patients, or those with eye problems or cardiac diseases. We were not able to send them."


Dr. Abbas said the Egyptian borders must be opened right now for all the patients without any sort of discrimination.


"Those with cardiac disease, cancer, or kidney problems," the doctor said, "we will lose them. They will be martyrs. They are just counting the days to die here in Gaza unless they receive treatment."


Coming to the end of our short interview, Dr. Abbas tried to sound positive, upbeat.


"And if the Israelis do stop killing the children, it will be more or less stable in Gaza in the coming few days. That is unless they change their mind and start a new operation."


Unknown to Dr. Abbas, the Israelis had already changed their minds.


As he was winding up the interview and preparing to go back to his patients, a column of Israeli armored vehicles supported by troops was moving into Southern Gaza to attack the home of a suspected member of the Islamic Jihad.


The images of the aftermath of that attack were not long arriving in our press center.


We soon had the story into the system, and sitting in front of the camera I pushed the foot pedal controlling the tele-prompter system and began to read: "Israel launched a fresh incursion into the Gaza Strip this evening where ground troops supported by armored vehicles shot and killed a two-week old baby and wounded several other Palestinians."


Bland, unemotional, and to the point. But the pictures told a different story.


Tiny, wrapped in bloodied blankets, the child was carried into the hospital, closely followed by a group of agitated cameramen.


The hole in the side of the baby's head was about the size of a British 50 pence coin. Dark, deep and bloody.


A column of tanks, a company of soldiers.


And a two-week old baby with a huge round hole in the side of its ruined head.


It looks like Dr. Abbas won't be getting his two day respite after all.




Reproduced by: Ohmynews International, OpEdNews.com, American Chronicle, The Latest.com,

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Monday, 3 March 2008

Is peace even on the agenda?

Washington seeks confrontation not reconciliation with Iran

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has returned to Tehran after his landmark two-day visit to Iraq. Feted and warmly welcomed with military bands and honor guards on his arrival in Baghdad, it’s hard to believe such a reception would be laid on for the man that Washington accuses of being largely responsible for destabilizing Iraq.

“Well obviously the ruling party in Washington must be seething,” author and political analyst Ian Williams told PressTV News, “This has got to raise serious questions for the American public.”

How is it, Williams asked, that after 160,000 troops and 4,000 dead, Western leaders have to sneak in and out of Iraq under cover of secrecy, “while Iran, the other part of the alleged Axis of Evil, can send its president along a flower strewn route in a motorcade through the streets of Baghdad, and be greeting by the government that the US troops have supposedly put in power?”

Contrasting Ahmadinejad’s colorful arrival in Iraq, head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, arrived in Baghdad on an unannounced visit, with his itinerary a closely guarded secret.

Notwithstanding two wars, years of crippling sanctions, and continued occupation, Washington accuses Tehran of “meddling” and “interfering” in Iraq, a country with which it shares a 1,500 kilometer border.

“It seems very odd,” Williams said, “that most of the attacks on the US forces are coming from the Sunni militias and al-Qaeda, and these are the people who it is least likely for the Iranians to be supporting. It’s possible that some weapons might come from Iran. But in the end, the aircraft that went into the World Trade Center were American but they certainly were not directed by the United States.”

Iran denies charges that it has been supplying weapons to any groups in Iraq, an assertion flatly rejected by Washington. With the entire region awash with weapons combined with a long and porous border, the possibility that sympathetic or criminal elements might be smuggling guns and ammunition is a possibility that, apparently, has not occurred to the Pentagon and White House analysts.

Painting Iran as the culprit for continued instability in Iraq, on the other hand, appears to suit Washington policymakers.

“It’s a claim the Bush administration is going to make because it wants to avoid confronting the reality that it actually has to talk to the Iranian leadership and come to some sensible provisions for the region. It’s very difficult for them to admit that. They are ideologically incapable of it at the moment,” Williams told PressTV.

Government statements from Baghdad say talks between Ahmadinejad and Iraqi leaders focused mainly on economic, political and security issues – all areas where the United States has considerable influence or vested interests.

In a separate interview, Mahmoud Othman, member of the Iraqi Council of Representatives, told PressTV’s Middle East Today that with warnings from Washington to be wary of Iran on the one hand, and accusations from Tehran that the United States is to blame for the insecurity in Iraq on the other, Baghdad needs to tread a fine line in order to maintain a balance.

“I think the Iraqi leadership is stuck in between the conflict between Iran and America and obviously both countries have their influence in Iraq. That is why Iraq has tried to arrange meetings between the two countries,” he said.

Speaking on the same edition of Middle East Today, Professor of Politics and head of the Department of American Studies at Tehran University, Seyed Mohammad Marandi said from Tehran’s perspective it seems Washington is determined to maintain its hostile policy towards Iran.

“But this is not really in the interests of the United States,” he said, “If Iraq is to stabilize, and if the American government wants Iraq to stabilize, then the most important neighbor Iraq has is Iran because of its very long borders and because of the economic potential that exists between the two countries.”

But according to Williams, Iraq’s mediation efforts are unlikely to bear fruit in the short term.

“I don’t think it’s the beginning of a rapprochement in itself,” he told PressTV News, “I think wiser heads in Washington might draw some lessons from it and say we really have to deal with this.”

Williams noted that Iran has previously been remarkably cooperative in both Afghanistan against the Taliban and in Iraq against Saddam Hussein, “and the United States at the time did not grasp those opportunities.”

Closer ties with Iran would be at odds with Washington’s policies toward Israel, Williams said, and blamed a stubborn inability to admit past mistakes for the continued standoff.

“There are elements in Washington that refuse to admit that they’ve been wrong, that they basically either were having illusions or pipe dreams about the whole Axis of Evil to begin with, and there’s this bedrock reluctance to engage sensibly with Iran.”

Williams was speaking on the eve of a Security Council meeting seeking to impose further sanctions on Iran over its nuclear activities, an event taking place at the time of writing this article.

“Sadly,” Williams said, “when you look at the resolutionary creep at the United Nations it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that some people in Washington still want to see a confrontation with Iran.”

----

Author's note: As this article was being published the Security Council voted to impose a third round of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear activities.

The passage of the resolution was described as "irrational" by Iran's ambassador to the UN.


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