Tuesday, August 9, 2016


'Pallets of cash' controversies pay off for conservatives in US, Iran ... why didn't the driveby media report it then???

Former US Marine Amir Hekmati arrives at an airport in Flint, Michigan, days after being released from an Iranian prison, Jan. 21, 2016 
For those in Tehran and Washington who have spent a generation trying to redefine the US-Iranian relationship, Jan. 16, 2016, was a day of victories that had long been elusive. In the morning, Iran was found to have complied fully with the terms of the historic Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, marking the deal’s Implementation Day, and as such, triggering the lifting of all nuclear-related sanctions. Almost immediately, four Iranian-Americans jailed in Tehran’s Evin Prison were freed and hustled to Mehrabad Airport to catch a private plane bound for Germany. At the same time, an unmarked plane carrying $400 million in non-dollar currencies landed in Tehran, marking the successful settlement of a disputed US-Iranian arms sale dating back to 1979. Proponents of diplomacy saw the dramatic events as vindication of the notion that festering disputes between the two countries could be resolved through talks. Conservative skeptics of the nuclear deal in the United States and Iran, however, saw something very different — a hefty ransom paid to free the jailed American citizens.

The controversy over a US-Iran settlement of a canceled arms deal indicates that opponents of reconciliation between the two countries are likely to try to use future settlements for political gain.

Despite the fraught US-Iranian political relationship, legal settlements between the two countries historically have not been accompanied by the level of controversy surrounding this latest case. This has largely been due to the effective work of the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal, set up at The Hague by the terms of the Algiers Accord that resolved the 1979-81 US Embassy hostage crisis. The tribunal consists of an equal number of Iranian, American and neutral arbitrators who have worked on some 4,700 claims since 1981. To date, the tribunal has ordered Iran to pay more than $2.5 billion to Americans for broken business relationships and facilitated the settlement of restitution payments to the victims of the US missile attack on an Iran Air plane in 1988. Its work has progressed quietly, largely without fanfare or controversy, and has resulted in the peaceful resolution of many disputes between the two former allies.

Private American claims against Iran have all now largely been resolved, and most of the remaining cases before the claims tribunal are Iranian claims against the US government. With about 14 controversial cases outstanding, each with an estimated time frame of five years to resolve, the United States faces the prospect of paying significant settlements to Iran for the next 70 years. Some of the remaining cases include explosive Iranian claims, such as accusations of covert CIA activities breaching the Algiers Accord, meaning the claims are likely to be even more politicized than the recent settlement of a relatively straightforward canceled arms deal.

Indeed, the “ransom” controversy may be just the beginning of a long period of outrage in the United States over “pallets of cash” regularly arriving in Tehran to settle the remaining cases at the claims tribunal. The arms sale settlement makes certain things clear: First, the resolution of valid legal claims between the United States and Iran will take an exceptionally long time to resolve through the tribunal system; second, each future settlement will be accompanied by dramatic cries of capitulation from one side and triumphalist declarations from the other; and third, each resulting controversy will be used to undermine any attempts at a political understanding between the two governments.

There is no doubt that the claims tribunal has been an effective mechanism for resolving significant legal disputes between two capitals that have kept each other at arm’s length for more than three decades. Yet, the slow resolution of its large caseload is also a threat to an evolving political relationship that today largely depends on the fragile willingness of both governments to quietly talk to each other.

Up to now, the tribunal has arguably been used as a crutch that allows the two governments to avoid direct interaction, a remnant of the days when it was unthinkable for Iranian and American officials to sit across from each other to negotiate anything. The nuclear deal shattered this taboo for both sides, and the ultimately successful negotiations were a testament to the ability of the United States and Iran to resolve their differences bilaterally. As such, a legal “grand bargain” that resolves all outstanding claims between the two governments and their citizens at one go may be an exceptionally complicated, but ultimately decisive and effective way to reset a relationship beset by many past grievances.

Of course, there has been no sign of willingness by either Tehran or Washington to expend the immense political capital needed to force such a dramatic end to their legal disputes. If anything, for those invested in the continued hostility between the two countries, these extended legal disputes are an important tool in preserving animosity, and each future settlement is seen as an opportunity to be used for political gain. The ransom controversy has thus proven that even well-intentioned attempts to resolve disputes between the two nations can be repackaged as a weapon against reconciliation if framed adeptly — a weapon that opponents of reconciliation will be loathe to relinquish any time soon.

Meanwhile, the Middle East is on the verge of a historically unprecedented collapse. The regional wellsprings of civilization — the Iranian plateau, the Nile River Valley and Anatolia (corresponding with the modern states of Iran, Egypt and Turkey) — are all under severe duress. Two of these three civilizational pillars are teeming with internal strife and discord. The continued stability of Iran is now all that stands between the region and all-consuming chaos.

The writer of this piece has been strong advocate of a nuclear deal between Iran and the US for years even before the current deal was reached , and rightly so, however the Iranian supporters of the deal should face the reality now.

The reality is this: 1. cheating and breaking promises is US establishment's DNA, the evidence is there , Iraq, Libya, Syria all gave up their nuclear or chemical weapons but the reward was their destruction. North Korea escaped this fate, at least so far. 2. it has become clear that the strategic goal of the US in reaching the nuclear with Iran is "one-sided transactional" aimed at two objectives. a) curbing Iranian nuclear capability while keeping Iran relatively isolated economically and strategically < read: Iran containment policy continues . b) the US is using the deal to bring about ''soft" and gradual regime change In Tehran, such policy was clearly admitted by top US officials including NSA Suzan Rice. this means Iran will not get the benefits of the deal, the promises of "Iran will re-enter the International community economically and politically" , "Iranian people will get huge economic benefits if their government agrees the deal" as Obama breached many times, and "Iranian economy will recover and the growth will pick up", all these promises were designed to lure Iran to sign the deal, but they were intentional false promises.

Now that it has become clear that the US is not keeping its end of the bargain and wants to use deal for its advantage only, what Iran should do?

First, I agree with the writer of this article that Iran should not rush to nullify the deal, in fact, Iran should not play into the hands of neocon/Zionist, Israeli and Gulf opponents of the deal, Tehran should have its own game-plan and play by its terms and timeline, that is right, however Iran needs to have both long term and short term strategy to address the problem. first, the Iranian politicians from both sides of political landscape should not use the deal as a tool to undermine each other, that is what the US wants. this is a matter of national security and it must be above any political bickering. second Iran could the the following:

1. The Iranians should acknowledge the reality which is: the US will not honor the deal specially those Iranian negotiators and diplomats who naively anticipated that the US will keep its word. 

2. in light of this US cheating, the Iranian political and military strategists should recognize the need for ''strategic deterrence" if things go south, if there has been any idea that a relatively improved US-Iran relations will improve Iranian security needs, that idea should be re-evaluated, Iran lives in a dangerous security environment, with probably military conflict with Israel and Saudi arabia and possible confrontation with Turkey and Pakistan (though less likely) two of them are nuclear armed countries while one is a NATO member (Turkey's downing of Russian fighter should be a concern for Iran ) all above and the US Military presence in the region for the expressed aim of deterring/containing/denuclearizing Iran, pose a huge strategic threat to Tehran. 

3 Iran should vigorously fight what ever benefit it can gain from the deal in its early years. 

4. By hedging it bets, Iran should embark what I call ''go underground" project, which means Iran should create deep underground bases that the US bunker buster bombs cannot reach, such deep underground bases should be used as missiles bases or for other military purposes including nuclear facilities if and when needed, if the US continues its current policy toward the deal (I expect next US president will be more hawkish than Obama on Iran), then Iran at some point in the future could relocate its nuclear facilities to those deep underground bases.

5. Iran should not end the deal at least for the next five years when the UN military sanctions will end, however, Iran should now start military acquisition talks with Russia and China, deals should be struck even before the 5-year term ban and personnel training and military equipment should be ready at the end the military sanctions. 

6. As the time goes by, US power will relatively decline as China's grows (assuming Chinese economy will grow above 5 percent per year in the coming years) that will create relatively more balanced global power distribution well into the 2020s and 2030s, with the US now challenged by more powerful China, possibly resurgent Russia and now Iran improved its conventional capability specially air defence, A2/AD and airforce, Tehran could decide whether it should get a credible ''strategic deterrent" with its underground bases nearly safe from conventional attacks. 

7. The US is in a battle to lure Iranian people specially the youth and women to create tension or even crisis between them and the government, with this in mind Iranian government and nationalist elites of both sides should counter this, they should tell the Iranian people that they have done nearly everything the US and West wanted on the nuclear issue, but the other side broke their promises, there should be sustained campaign to discredit Western false promises for Iranian people, media should be used substantially,there should be organizations dedicated for this purpose, ads should be used, Obama and other Western leaders promising Iranian people prosperity and peace if their government sign the nuclear deal should be repeatedly shown on major tv networks. An all out campaign to win the hearts and minds of the Iranian people specially the youth and women and convince them the US/West are enemies of Iranian nation, should be launched and sustained. Iranian people are not fools that the West can easily cheat them, but still they need to get the correct information and that is what their government should do, the mantra should be ''US/Western hostilities toward Iran is not about nuclear program or Tehran's regional policy, it is about Iran as a nation, civilization, political system and preeminent regional power), in short words " the US/West cannot accept independent powerful Iran" such words should go deep into the minds of the Iranian public.