Politics, religion, and culture where East meets West

Posts Tagged ‘sanctions

The Iran détente in context

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Some people have asserted that diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Iran were never really severed—they merely went underground, to reemerge at a convenient time.

The alacrity with which nuclear- and sanctions-talks have developed since the election of Rouhani should suggest the truth of this assertion.

First, to that effect, here’s some recent news—from Oct. 28th (here):

Tehran (AFP) – The Tehran municipality has removed anti-American posters from the streets of the capital which questioned US honesty in nuclear talks with Iran, media reported on Sunday.

And from today (here):

(Reuters) – Iran’s supreme leader gave strong backing on Sunday to his president’s push for nuclear negotiations, warning hardliners not to accuse Hassan Rouhani of compromising with the old enemy America.

Now, to put it in context, here’s George Friedman’s divination (2012), which I covered in a prior post:

In simple terms, the American president, in order to achieve his strategic goals, must seek accommodation with Iran.

. . .

The Iranians will be assuaged in the short run by their entente with the Americans, but they will be fully aware that this is an alliance of convenience, not a long-term friendship. It is the Turks who are open to a longer-term alignment with the United States

. . .

As long as the United States maintains the basic terms of its agreement with Iran, Iran will represent a threat to Turkey. Whatever the inclination of the Turks, they will have to protect themselves, and to do that, they must work to undermine Iranian power in the Arabian Peninsula and the Arab countries to the north of the peninsula—Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

. . .

In due course, the Turks will begin to react by challenging the Iranians, and thus the central balance of power will be resurrected, stabilizing the region. This will create a new regional balance of power.

Syria, too, must be understood in this context. And the Saudis know it.

Written by M. James

November 3, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Posted in News, Politics, Turkey

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Responding to a perceived white flag

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An appropriate follow-up from my last post, which suggested that the sanctions against Iran may have succeeded. The Financial Times reports (here):

The US is ready to hold direct talks with Iran if it is serious about negotiations, Vice-President Joe Biden said on Saturday, backing bilateral contacts that many see as crucial to easing an international dispute over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

The currency war in Iran may have been won, with the result that the eastern Mediterranean is opening to further Turkish influence.

Written by M. James

February 3, 2013 at 11:30 am

Posted in News, Politics, Turkey

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Iran: Backpedaling?

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Perhaps the biggest news since the sanctions against Iran began, and perhaps an indication of their success (here):

Mahmud Bahmani, Governor of Iran’s Central Bank, said on the sidelines of the second conference on Electronic Banking and Payment Systems, “There will be some changes to the foreign trade pattern, but the euro and US dollar won’t be removed from the foreign trade system.” He explained that these changes are required, as Iran does not trade with America and European countries. Previously, the Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance said that Iran would no longer use the euro and US dollar in its trade exchanges, in keeping with the government’s economic working group decision.

Here‘s a bit of background from the blog.

And here’s what the Minister of Economic Affairs was saying before Bahmani.

Written by M. James

January 30, 2013 at 8:34 am

Posted in News, Politics

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Turks subvert Iran sanctions

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Exclusive: Turkish gold trade booms to Iran, via Dubai
Humeyra Pamuk; Reuters; Oct. 23rd, 2012

To see one of Iran’s financial lifelines at work, pay a visit to Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport and find a gate for a flight to Dubai.

Couriers carrying millions of dollars worth of gold bullion in their luggage have been flying from Istanbul to Dubai, where the gold is shipped on to Iran, according to industry sources with knowledge of the business.

The sums involved are enormous. Official Turkish trade data suggests nearly $2 billion worth of gold was sent to Dubai on behalf of Iranian buyers in August. The shipments help Tehran manage its finances in the face of Western financial sanctions.

A trader in Turkey said Tehran had shifted to indirect imports because the direct shipments were widely reported in Turkish and international media earlier this year. “Now on paper it looks like the gold is going to Dubai, not to Iran,” he said.

Iranian gold buyers may want to conceal their Turkish gold deliveries for fear of attracting attention from the United States, which is pressing countries around the world to shrink their economic ties with Iran.

The buyers may also want to make their purchases less vulnerable to any possible interference by Turkey’s government. Turkey’s close relationship with Iran has begun to sour as the two states find themselves on opposite sides of the civil war in Syria, with Turkey advocating the departure of President Bashar al-Assad and Iran remaining Assad’s staunchest regional ally.

Written by M. James

October 23, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Posted in News, Politics, Turkey

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Arab Spring, Syrian fall

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I recently posted about a “deal” that the Arab League had supposedly struck with President al-Assad’s Syrian government (here). It would, in effect, end the violence in Syria and encourage a dialogue between the regime and the resistance. I didn’t post a follow-up because, quite frankly, I was confused. Nobody was quite clear about who the complicit “Syrian authorities” were, what “Damascus” meant, or how anyone would go about ending a vicious cycle of violent protest and military intervention.

And as the deadline for the “agreement” passes without an invitation being extended to any Arab League overseers, it seems that “Damascus” and “Syrian authorities” were not synonymous with “President al-Assad” after all. The real Ba’athist Syrian regime, as it has made eminently clear in the past, is not interested in negotiating with what it sees as a foreign-funded militant Islamist movement—and never was. But it doesn’t really matter who did, didn’t, or may have agreed with what or whom and when (although I’m curious who the Arab League thought it was talking to), because the result is the same:

Arab League officials said Thursday that if the government of President Bashar al-Assad failed to agree by Friday to sign a protocol detailing the mission of the observers, Arab finance ministers would meet Saturday in Cairo to discuss imposing sanctions that could include halting flights to Syria, curbing trade and stopping transactions with the country’s central bank.

The new sanctions would deal a severe blow to an economy already suffering under sanctions from the European Union and the United States. Syria’s two most vital sectors, oil and tourism, which account for more than a third of the government’s revenues, have all but come to a halt.

And the purpose of the sanctions (which Turkey agrees to mirror, by the way) is clear:

“We will not give up,” said Abu Kinan, a shop owner and protester from the Midan neighborhood in Damascus. “When the Arab League imposes its sanctions, the Syrian economy will collapse, and then the business class and the middle class will join the protests to change the regime.”

Familiar? With the merchant middle class between a rock and a hard place (read: lacking the necessities of life), al-Assad’s regime will take the fall. And the USS George H.W. Bush (the only deployed Atlantic Nimitz-class supercarrier) will be inconspicuously parked off the coast of Syria (as it is now), waiting to make the transition smooth for everyone. Including Bashar.

Written by M. James

November 26, 2011 at 2:01 am