Archive for November 4, 2018

UN worries about next ‘America First’ ambassador after Haley’s resignation

November 4, 2018

Source: UN worries about next ‘America First’ ambassador after Haley’s resignation | Nation/World | gazettextra.com

NEW YORK –– President Donald Trump’s “America First” rhetoric was never popular at the United Nations, but officials there are now worried they’re losing a critical ally as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, prepares to leave.

The gulf between a U.N. diplomatic community that cherishes multilateralism and Trump’s open disdain for “globalists” was always wide. Yet Haley managed to deliver the president’s domestic applause lines even as she forged a partnership with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres over budget cuts, and rallied the Security Council around new sanctions against North Korea.

With the U.N. depending on Washington for about a quarter of its budget, officials there worry that Haley’s successor as U.S. ambassador will lack the political savvy and –– more importantly –– the personal rapport with Trump to soften the president’s harder-edged foreign policy approach. The former South Carolina governor had direct access to the president and received a rare Oval Office send-off when she announced her resignation.

“You want the U.N. ambassador to have the president’s ear,” said former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who was U.S. ambassador to the U.N. in the late 1990s. “You also want someone with their own political stature.”

Haley arrived at the U.N. with little foreign policy experience but quickly established herself as a leading voice in Trump’s Cabinet on diplomatic issues. Haley warned upon her arrival at the U.N. that she would be “taking names” of countries that don’t “have our back.” She had allies and adversaries on edge with her promise to look at the U.N. with “fresh eyes.”

“Some of her statements were very political and aimed at domestic audiences,” said Jeffrey Feltman, a former U.N. undersecretary-general for political affairs. “But she was not there to destroy the organization; she was trying to make it more representative of U.S. interests. Haley was not a bomb-thrower.”

While Trump once derided the U.N. as a “club for people to get together, talk and have a good time,” the crisis over North Korea’s nuclear program gave Haley an opportunity to show the Security Council’s value, increasing sanctions throughout 2017 with backing from China and Russia.

Behind the scenes, Haley found a way to carry out the president’s desire to cut U.N. contributions in a targeted fashion, working with Guterres to help phase out ineffective peacekeeping programs in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan that the secretary-general acknowledged weren’t accomplishing their goals.

It didn’t hurt Haley in Trump’s eyes that she also took on the role of leading critic of what she called the U.N.’s “anti-Israel” bias. Trump has sought to tighten ties with Israel, moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and cutting aid to Palestinians, despite widespread international opposition to both policies.

Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., Danny Danon, acknowledged the close ties Haley helped forge, saying in an interview that the two of them “achieved a lot together; we changed a lot of things at the U.N.”

“I’m sure we will continue to work with whoever will step in, but Ambassador Haley is unique and very eloquent, and there’s no doubt her presence will be missed,” Danon said.

Haley said in her resignation announcement that she needed a break after two terms as governor and two years at the U.N. Critics suggested that Haley, who is widely believed to harbor ambitions to run for president someday, was bailing on the administration ahead of before potentially rocky midterm congressional elections for Republicans, and said her departure looked self-serving.

So far, the most-mentioned potential replacements –– including State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert and the U.S. ambassador to France, Jamie McCourt, –– have far less political experience than Haley did when she took the job. Trump’s choice may lose the Cabinet status that Trump gave Haley and end up reporting to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, whose antipathy for the U.N. dates back to before his days as ambassador in President George W. Bush’s administration.

 

Iranian marchers chant ‘Death to America’ on eve of U.S. oil sanctions

November 4, 2018

Source: Iranian marchers chant ‘Death to America’ on eve of U.S. oil sanctions

By Parisa Hafezi
Reuters
Iranian people burn the U.S. flag as they mark the anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. Embassy, in Tehran

Iranian people burn the U.S. flag as they mark the anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. Embassy, in Tehran, Iran, November 4, 2018. Tasnim News Agency /Handout via REUTERS

By Parisa Hafezi

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iranians chanting “Death to America” rallied on Sunday to mark both the anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. Embassy during the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the imminent reimposition of U.S. sanctions on Iran’s key oil sector.

Thousands of students in the government-organized rally in the capital Tehran, broadcast live by state television, burned the Stars and Stripes, an effigy of Uncle Sam and pictures of President Donald Trump outside the leafy downtown compound that once housed the U.S. mission.

Hardline students stormed the embassy on Nov. 4, 1979 soon after the fall of the U.S.-backed Shah, and 52 Americans were held hostage there for 444 days. The two countries have been enemies, on opposite sides of Middle East conflict, ever since.

Iranian state media said millions turned out for rallies in most cities and towns around the country, swearing allegiance to the clerical establishment and its hardline top authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The turnout figure could not be independently confirmed by Reuters.

Rallies replete with “Death to America” chants are staged on the embassy takeover anniversary every year. But U.S.-Iranian rancor is especially strong this time round following Trump’s decision in May to withdraw the United States from world powers’ 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose sanctions on Tehran.

The deal brought about the lifting of most international financial and economic sanctions on Iran in return for Tehran curbing its disputed nuclear activity under U.N. surveillance.

Trump said the deal, approved by predecessor Barack Obama, was weak and flawed in Iran’s favor. The other signatories – U.S. allies Britain, France and Germany, as well as Russia and China – remain committed to the accord.

“DONALD SALMAN”

Among events held on the embassy anniversary was a cartoon exhibit called “Donald Salman” – a reference to the close ties between the U.S. president and King Salman, ruler of Iran’s arch-rival for regional predominance, Saudi Arabia.

“My cartoons are focused on three themes: the Zionist regime (Israel), Al Salman (Saudi royal family) and America’s government,” artist Masoud Shojaei Tabatabai told state television in Tehran.

“It’s black humor but the audience can also be brought to reflect on the contradictions in the behavior of Trump and Al Saud,” he said, standing in front of a cartoon showing an old wheelchair-bound figure dressed like a comic-book superhero.

The restoration of U.S. sanctions on Monday targeting Iran’s oil sales and banking sectors is part of a wider effort by Trump to force Tehran to halt its nuclear and ballistic missile programs outright as well as support for proxy forces in conflicts across the Middle East.

The top commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, said at the Tehran rally that Iran would resist and defeat a U.S. “psychological war” and the return of U.S. sanctions, meant to cripple the Islamic Republic’s oil exports and financial institutions.

“America has launched an economic and psychological war as a last resort … But America’s plots and its plans for sanctions will be defeated through continued resistance,” said Jafari.

In a speech on Saturday, Khamenei said Trump’s policies faced opposition around the world. “America’s goal has been to re-establish the domination it had (before 1979) but it has failed. America has been defeated by the Islamic Republic over the past 40 years,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Dubai newsroom; Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

 

As Trump restores sanctions, Iranians rally to mark anniversary of U.S. Embassy takeover

November 4, 2018

Source: As Trump restores sanctions, Iranians rally to mark anniversary of U.S. Embassy takeover

Anger and distrust of the United States is surging again following President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Image: Anti-US protesters commemorate takeover of US embassy in Iran

Iranian students occupied the embassy on 04 November 1979 after the U.S. granted permission to the late Iranian Shah to be hospitalized in the States. Over 50 U.S. diplomats and guards were held hostage by students for 444 days.ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH / EPA

By Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran — Thousands of Iranians rallied in Tehran on Sunday to mark the 39th anniversary of the U.S. Embassy takeover, as Washington restored all sanctions lifted under the nuclear deal.

The crowd chanted “Down with U.S.” and “Death to Israel” during the rally in the capital, and state TV said similar demonstrations were held in other cities and towns.

Iranian students stormed the embassy shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, taking 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. The U.S. cut off diplomatic relations in response.

Anger and distrust of the United States is surging again following President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers despite Tehran’s compliance with the agreement, which was negotiated under the Obama administration.

On Friday, the Trump administration announced the restoration of sanctions on Iran’s shipping, financial and energy sectors, the second batch of penalties to be restored.

Iran is already in the grip of an economic crisis, and has seen sporadic protests in recent months as Iranian officials have tried to downplay the sanctions and their effects.

The United States says the sanctions are not aimed at toppling the government, but at persuading it to radically change its policies, including its support for regional militant groups and its development of long-range ballistic missiles.

At a gathering on Saturday, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, portrayed the sanctions as part of a long tradition of American hostility toward the Islamic Republic, which he said had nevertheless prevailed.

 

Trump Digs In for a Long, Cold War With Iran – WSJ

November 4, 2018

Source: Trump Digs In for a Long, Cold War With Iran – WSJ

Latest sanctions aim to “force” a regime determined to resist

Iran has vowed to resist punishing economic sanctions planned by the U.S. to compel Tehran to pull back from its Mideast posture. Above, the grand bazaar in Tehran.

Iran has vowed to resist punishing economic sanctions planned by the U.S. to compel Tehran to pull back from its Mideast posture. Above, the grand bazaar in Tehran. PHOTO:ATTA KENARE/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

President Trump has put Iran on notice that the punishing sanctions he plans to impose on Monday are just the opening salvo of an ambitious strategy to compel Tehran to pull back from its assertive posture in the Middle East or risk collapse.

“Our objective is to force the regime into a clear choice: either abandon its destructive behavior or continue down the path toward economic disaster,” Mr. Trump said in a statement Friday night.

The guiding assumption behind the administration’s policy is that Iran is economically weak, has little interest in a military confrontation with the U.S.—and that Washington can force changes in decadeslong Iranian behavior that will reconfigure the Middle East, officials and experts say.

But senior Iranian officials insist Tehran will neither retrench nor negotiate. Former U.S. officials with long experience say Tehran has cards to play, including trying to ride out the sanctions in the hope that Mr. Trump is a one-term president and taking advantage of the continued turmoil in the region to stir up fresh challenges for the U.S. and its allies.

“Iran is gaining ground in the region, and I don’t see these sanctions as reversing that,” said Jeffrey Feltman, who was the top State Department official on Middle East issues from 2009 to 2012 and later served as a United Nations undersecretary general for political affairs.

An early test of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign will come in Syria. The White House has sought Russian President Vladimir Putin’s help in prodding Iranian forces and the Shiite militias Tehran backs to leave the country—so far, without success.

Administration officials are now calculating that draconian economic measures can prompt Iran to declare its military mission accomplished in Syria and bring its forces home. To drive home the point, U.S. officials have released figures asserting that Iran’s annual tab for sustaining its Lebanese ally Hezbollah is about $700 million, while Tehran has spent at least $16 billion in recent years supporting its allies in Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

Some former U.S. officials say, however, that Iran’s support for the Assad regime and Hezbollah are top priorities Tehran will attempt to sustain at all cost.

“They are heavily invested in Syria, and the IRGC is not going anywhere soon,” said Ryan Crocker, the veteran U.S. diplomat, referring to Iran’s paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

In a meeting last month with Wall Street Journal reporters and editors, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif portrayed Iran’s military presence in Syria as defensive and disputed the notion that its forces should withdraw.

“We believe that if we do not fight ISIS in Syria and Iraq, we will have to fight it in Iran,” Mr. Zarif said. “Our people recognize that.”

 Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever and the day will come when the people will face a choice. Will they continue down the path of poverty, bloodshed and terror, or will the Iranian people return to the nation’s proud roots as a center of civilization, culture and wealth, where their people can be happy and prosperous? 

—President Trump at the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 19, 2017

Hassan Rouhani

@HassanRouhani

Ugly, ignorant words were spoken by the US president against the Iranian nation. Full or hatred & baseless allegations and unfit for

Iran’s nuclear activities are another area where the Trump administration’s strategy will be tested.

Iran has rebuffed U.S. demands that it accept constraints on its nuclear program that are far more stringent than those imposed by the 2015 accord negotiated by the Obama administration and disowned by Mr. Trump. At the same time, Iran has acceded to European appeals that it stick with the 2015 agreement, which Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China are trying to preserve.

But Mr. Zarif signaled that Tehran might relax its adherence to that accord if economic benefits it still expects to achieve from the agreement aren’t forthcoming.

“We have the possibility of a partial reduction of our commitment,” Mr. Zarif said. “We will have to make that decision when the time comes.”

Such a move could add to the strains between Europe and Washington over how to deal with Iran’s nuclear capability.

“Their strategy as of now is the expectation that Trump will be weakened by the midterm elections and won’t be re-elected in 2020, essentially a wait-and-see approach,” said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a nonpartisan think tank.

“But their economy is in bad shape, and the trend lines are only going to worsen,” he added. “They may soon conclude they have more leverage by reconstituting their nuclear activities—not by going from 0 to 100 but from 0 to 20.”

In an effort to persuade Iran to stick with the 2015 accord, the European Union is moving toward establishing a special payment channel to maintain economic ties with Iran. But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday he didn’t expect the channel to be effective in the face of U.S. pressure.

Iran also is expected to reactivate its long-developed capacity for evading sanctions, seeking to dodge the economic bullets coming from Washington. But the Trump administration has vowed to crack down.

In an August tweet, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei asserted that Iran wouldn’t challenge the U.S. militarily. “THERE WILL BE NO WAR, NOR WILL WE NEGOTIATE WITH THE U.S.” he wrote.

Despite the ayatollah’s declaration, some experts believe there is a risk the regime might lash out—perhaps though regional proxies or covert operations that Tehran would publicly deny—in response to the intensifying economic pressure and calls by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for Iranians to “restore democracy.”

“Anybody remember Beirut 1983?” said Mr. Crocker, referring to the bombing of a U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut. “They can find a way to make life rough for us.”

Iran trained and equipped Shiite militias that attacked U.S. forces during the Iraq war. So far, those militias have refrained from attacking the U.S. military advisers who returned to Iraq for the campaign against Islamic State. But the State Department said in September it was closing the U.S. consulate in Basra, citing security risks from Iranian-backed forces.

Even staunch supporters of the administration’s Iran policy acknowledge the risks.

“The administration has invested enormous energy into tightening the sanctions noose as tight as possible,” said John Hannah, who served as an adviser to former Vice President Dick Cheney and is now a senior counselor at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, which has urged the administration to impose tough sanctions on Iran.

“I hope they’ve spent as much time planning for all the ways Iran could use terrorism, proxies and cyberweapons to disrupt oil markets, destabilize our allies, and attack U.S. interests,” he added.

THE 12 DEMANDS ISSUED TO IRAN BY SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO ON MAY 21

  • 1. Iran must provide a full accounting of its previous nuclear weapons research and abandon such work forever.
  • 2. Iran must stop enriching uranium, never pursue plutonium reprocessing and close its heavy-water reactor.
  • 3. Iran must give unqualified access to the International Atomic Energy Agency to all sites in the country.
  • 4. Iran must end its proliferation of ballistic missiles and stop developing missiles that can carry nuclear weapons.
  • 5. Iran must release all U.S. citizens and those of U.S. allies and partners.
  • 6. Iran must end support to Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other Middle East “terrorist” groups.
  • 7. Iran must respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi government and permit the demobilization and reintegration of Shia militias.
  • 8. Iran must end its military support for the Houthi insurgency and work toward a political settlement in Yemen.
  • 9. Iran must withdraw all forces in Syria under Iranian command.
  • 10. Iran must end support for the Taliban and cease harboring al Qaeda leaders.
  • 11. Iran must end the support for terrorists and militant partners by its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
  • 12. Iran must end its threats against Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other neighbors.
  • (Source: U.S. State Department)

Write to Michael R. Gordon at michael.gordon@wsj.com

 

Iran’s supreme leader: The US is weaker now than 40 years ago 

November 4, 2018

Source: Iran’s supreme leader: The US is weaker now than 40 years ago – Israel Hayom

 

Off Topic: Friends of the IDF raise record $60M for Israeli soldiers at LA gala

November 4, 2018

Source: Friends of the IDF raise record $60M for Israeli soldiers at LA gala – Israel Hayom

 

Many countries planning to move embassies to Jerusalem, official says

November 4, 2018

Source: Many countries planning to move embassies to Jerusalem, official says – Israel Hayom