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19 June 2009


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Laura Rozen has her doubts he's happy

Ross. I've reported on this but there've been various unfilled in uncertainties. But it just clicked in my small brain what's going on with Ross.

Say you're Obama and you are trying to engage with Iran. You have in mind that that effort will not really get underway in a major way until after Iran's elections. And because you want to emphasize that effort is at its basis diplomatic, an extension of US diplomacy as opposed to force, the Iran engagement policy will be run out of the State Department, and plan to be ramped up after Iran's June 12th elections.

The Iranians let it be known through UN channels immediately after Ross appointment floated that they will not deal with him. US actually made concessions to their objection without saying as much: Iran is not technically in Ross's title, (special advisor to HRC on Gulf and Southwest Asia), he didn't get the high profile roll out of Holbrooke and Mitchell nor the title that would have him reporting directly to the president as they have, nor the "envoy" title. Obama administration also made clear that undersecretary of state Bill Burns will remain US point person at P5+1 negotiations which Iran has now been invited to attend and US has indicated it will participate in if Iran comes to the table. But in the intervening weeks, Ross has served as State point person on Iran leading Iran policy review and as co-architect of inter-agency policy working in the background, although with no public press briefings so far, etc. And Obama administration decides that it so wants to see if it's possible to get diplomacy going that it ultimately does not want his position to be the excuse or obstacle to keep Iran coming to the table. Or to put it another way, that if diplomacy is going to fail, it doesn't want to have Iranians' refusal to deal with Ross have been the reason it failed.

So the plan is in advance that around the time of Iran's elections, Ross will be moved from State to NSC, given both an expanded portfolio, but officially no longer be the State point person on Iran, as he has been. He is officially off the Iran engagment front line, even while he's moving to the WH and given a senior strategic portfolio. Full court press to make sure nothing is standing in way of Iran possibly responding to US overture to engage.

Then the Iranian elections happen and Iran comes undone. The move is leaked through Israeli press. And White House and State don't do overly much to deny it but also don't clarify very much either.

But perhaps the audience for what Haaretz printed was indirectly Iran. We're taking Ross off the policy guys, because he's "too associated with Israel," Haaretz is told. (If you want Iran to think Ross is being taken off portfolio because it objects to him being allegedly too pro Israel, you wouldn't want to retail that to a US outlet, and Iran is out of the question too.) The underlying message: we're getting rid of this obstacle to engagement. If you'll engage, it will be with non Ross who is "demoted" to a job at the White House doing something vaguely strategic. And it was all set in motion before events of the past few days in Iran, it was planned to coincide with Iran's elections and post-elections US full court push to get engagement going in a big way.

Speculative, I admit, but rooted in various reported data points.

Larry Kart

But we don't yet know what is happening to him, do we? He could be up, he could be down, he could be headed sideways. We've heard all those accounts, no? Whom and what are we to believe?


Laura Rozen's point of view on the Dennis moves.

I am interested in the possible rationale why Khamenei may not be interested in the rapproachment dialog that Obama apparently would like.

Bill Wade, NH, USA

Well, given that the unemployment rate just jumped over 10% for us "regular" folks, he should be happy. That said, he's probably not happy, you have to wonder if Scty of State Clinton was trying to get rid of him and this new job is to placate him.


If he goes to the NSC Jones will "hug him to death". Ross should really should think about that nice corner office at WINEP.

Neil Richardson


I guess it would really depend on the nature of his new portfolio. I'll defer to your knowledge of the operational structure of NSC, but if he's going to become a new uber-senior director (over Talwar, Shapiro and General Lute) who has direct access to the President, then I guess he'd be pretty happy as a recent WaPo article mentioned one of his friends describing Ross as frustrated in his current position as a senior envoy. However, if this move was designed to: 1) remove a hardliner from the upcoming negotiations with Iran and 2) keep an eye on him by "promoting" him as the next senior director for strategic planning/SAP, then I don't think he'd be too happy. What sort of relationship does Ross have with General Jones? If the usual suspects among neoconservatives have been leaking stories to undermine Jones, then I don't expect the general to embrace Ross with open arms. If the latter possibility is closer to the mark, since Ross was the DPP under GHW Bush, maybe Jones will cook up a portfolio amorphous enough and "strategic" (preferably one of transational variety) to keep him occupied for some time while channeling the sensitive information flow around him.

Robert C.

The fact that he even has a spot in this administration is an AIPAC victory.

William R. Cumming

In the midst of reading a new book entitled "In The Shadow of the Oval Office" by Ivo Daalder and I.M. Destler. Whatever the merits of the book it discusses the various National Security Advisors after the Eisenhower Administration. It clearly establishes that movement between the STATE Dept. and WH/NSC and the reverse are usually orchestrated at behest of the President himself. My guess is no exception in the case of Ross who is brilliant, motivated, tireless, has deep personal and public history on Middle-East and is definitely pro-Israel. So many possible interpretations but my guess is Ross is now being blamed for the fact that once again the INTEL community completely missed the possibility of a deep disatisfaction being demonstrated by the vote whatever the official outcome in Iran. Probably Ross had the import of the election nailed. The PRESIDENT and HRC respected that, but now with turn of events wrong man in wrong place but the Administration does not want to lose his imput! I think DENNIS is a keeper and will have a long long run in DC but could be wrong. But again, another big one that appears to have eluded the INTEL community completely. Of course I only have access to open sources so maybe they (and Dennis)nailed the possible outcomes on the Streets of Iran. Clearly no one including the Administration knows how to pay this fumble by INTEL!


Somehow I think the rumors re Jones and the pending Ross porfolio shift are related. There's a tsunami raging.


And why exactly should we care about how Dennis feels? IMHO Washington has enough Likud-ites. Putting a few out to pasture would hardly be noticed.


Denis Ross is not happy.

I would classified as "toast" mole. Lucky for Denis Obama is not a stalinist regime that torture. Obama only puts him in the basement with little desk.

Denis Ross is a key person to entire Israel plan.

What Israel want: Iran be eleminated first before Israel/Palestine process restart. Iran issue will hopefully keep US busy from thinking Palestine. (Iran suppose to be evil, cheat on election, blood splattering all over TV screen, and target of bombing.)

Israel has been very consistant:
- Talk about Iran first before Palestine (nuclear, existential threat)
- Israel wants absolutely to play part of US inteligence process and negotiation (Bibi, negotiated this last visit. They need to inject their material into US game plan.)

And Dennis Ross is Israel point man:
- Front seat of US-Iran negotiation
- Control the Timing
- Match the negotiation result with bigger Israel diplomatic goal
- Get all the intel, insider discussion, feeding the US side with what Israel want.

What suppose to happen in Iran: Best case scenario for Israel: blood all over TV screen, US has to come in and help helpless Iranian people on TV. (public demand it) At the very least, it suppose to be another major world condemnation, and internally split Iran via Mussavi power struggle. Or, Ahmadinejad now is a legit open regime change material.


What seems to be going on right now:

1. After a week of protest Iran core structure seems to be working. And no blood all over TV screen. Just boring twitter rumor, cute protestors that brings sympathies, tons of blog stuff. Nothing photogenic.
2. neocon street team and high level plant inside Iran are all gone. This will set neocon crew back a decade at least. If A higher up person start singing, then ahamdinejad gets an ultra clean, well consolidated regime.
3. continuous communication into Iran now only means revealing even further methodology and connections. Whatever left of neocon team inside Iran are all toast.
4. Iran going SCO big time. (Once Iran is in, it means nuclear umbrealla and full economic integration with China/Russia.)

The protest in Iran is not over yet. But it's all crowd control now. The high drama is over. Best case scenario the protest will turn into recurring small street protests (healthy part of democracy), worst case, a 3-4 weeks standoff in a national monuments. (but all those are known protest techniques with known gentle or rough solution.) I am sure the secret police are all over, inside out the crowd.

Khameini only gives Musavvi one viable option, bring legal challange. (But he failed to show that challange to Iranian public, his major mistake. His team emphasizes too much on creation of "protest image" and media feed for international consumption isntead of direct appeal to wider Iranian public)

The best musavvi can do right now, is try to save "his version" of reform and save as many people as he can. Try to save his political career and not get shot. I can't see how he can get the big seat. (Unless he can turn this into an arm coup attempt. He has military faction backing him up. But a week pass by, The ICRG would have found all his weapon stash)


Neocon gang next move are still the same, creation of "diplomacy fails, let's bomb Iran" public narrative. But they are all so obvious, it's only a matter of time, they will get in trouble.

I hope the Iranian doesn't go berserk, keep everything cool, fix their internal rift and improve global public image. And watch the big neocon game plan.

US Iran relationship will thaw pretty soon afterward.


Is Dennis happy/would I be happy?

If he gets a chance to influence the policy, and he lately was described as a hard-working man, I would expect him to not be bothered at all. It all depends on what exactly is happening.

I even basically agree with Ross that solving the Israel-Palestine issue won't solve all problems in the Middle East, but I also think that the Palestine conflict is the top recruiting issue concerning arrogance and double dealings of the West as far as terrorism is concerned. As Israel's humiliation of the Palestinian "losers" is deeply disturbing far beyond the ME. And the US & Israel joined at the hip scenario is the best narrative to keep ME conspiracy tales alive.

We have a proverbial expression in Germany that suggests that someone is promoted up to get him out of the way. That would be my favorite scenario. But I actually doubt Obama has as much space to move.

Charles I

RE: possible rationale why Khamenei may not be interested in the rapproachment dialog;

I have heard commentary, most of it entirely speculative, that the fixed election got away from them. Now, there may be an internal struggle for power between the Guardian Council, and the Army, the Republican Guards, all in the context of a struggle for key mullahs, that was not foreseen even if all had been in on the fix.

Juan Cole has reported today that "former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is alleged to be trying to drum up support for Mousavi among senior clerics in the holy city of Qom. There are persistent rumors that reformist Ayatollah Yusuf Sani'i has given legal rulings that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not president of Iran."


It may be that all parties are constrained in any approach to the Great Satan during this internal struggle for fear of attack on their revolutionary Islamic legitimacy as a tool in the domestic fight.

They are proud Persians from an ancient empire. Maybe they don't see much legitimacy, let alone much to be gained during an internal struggle, from a bankrupt country, that started 2 incompetently managed wars, as well as being Israel's handmaiden for 2 recent aggressive and clearly illegal wars, all on the back of a hanging chad.

Flatheads are counseling scolding discourse and intervention with high dudgeon, but President Obama has it right.

We must wait and see.


Lang nailed it clear enough when he made the point regarding Ross's frame of mind at being used as a ping pong ball between an ambiguous appointment at state, to an even more obscurely characterized 'strategic' appointment in the NSC. An obvious corollary to his query is would Mitchell, Holbrooke, Burns or any lesser light over at state put up with the embarrassment and equivocal & uncertain significance of Ross's role in this administration. They would be out the door before the hat hit the floor.

No matter how this is spun or imagined Ross never obtained the status he craved at state and will likely not get it at the NSC, especially with retired Marine Corps General James Jones as National Security Adviser. From day one its been my opinion that Ross is a token appointment for domestic and foreign purposes and nothing more. Hilary's job was probably to keep this bird under surveillance, a task that's now being transferred to Jones.


The President of the United States sets foreign policy with the 'advice and consent of the Senate'. George W. Bush is not the president; yes, the 'real center' of foreign policy is with President Obama – at the White House. As to Ross maybe he is not only unhappy with his situation but is learning the truth of one of your prior posts, that a former Marine Corps Commandant is a dangerous enemy. The National Security Advisor will advise the President, who will then take the actions he sees fit to take. Ross will either catch on to that or catch the next ride to the unemployment line.


Yeah, the former Commandant of the Marine Corp giving ol Israel firster Denny boy a 'hug'. Looks like some cracked ribs, fractured vertebrates along with a realignment of Ross's mouth with his Gluteus maximus. If Gen. Jones decides to 'hug' Ross, Ross will be 'putty' afterwards. LOL LOL. It would be great to see Gen. Jones turn Ross over to the FBI for arrest and incarceration for Ross's failure to register himself as an Agent For the Israeli Government under FARA.

Wonder how much classified stuff Ross's lips has passed on to a number of Israeli D.C. Mossad operatives? Hmm.....


This is obviously NOT the Dennis Ross fan page.


Yeah, Ross is a spy, and while it's nice to fantasize about Jones running a FARA number on him, it seems unlikely. The AIPAC crew got wrist slaps; Ross will probably get gold stars and cookies from the Mossad.


i guess my favorite recent line was when david makovsky recently described dennis ross as the 'lebron james' of dimplomacy.

oh please.


What self respecting man would not be happy to get the hell away from the no doubt heavy thumb of Frau Hillary? Just ask former POTUS Bill.


I think Dennis is unhappy. This is just to give General Jones the chance to come up with a line like: Ross is the stupidest f****** man in the world.

Mark Stuart

I think if i were Ross i'd be pretty upset at all that noise around me with no clear definite answer to all the questioning.

That whole moving around the administration structure business after the 100 first days is not good. Can't they make up their mind already and realize how important i am, that I am "The Missing Piece" ?! No clear answer yet from the government cannot be a sign of strong support. It's all about image.

Then, I'm outed to the general public as a pawn of the AIPAC-Mossad shenanigans in DC. All my jewishness is out there on a daily basis. That can never be good. That can never be good if i want to remain an efficient behind the scene player .
Also, I lose the little diplomatic standing i had left.

Is that all the support i get for helping Obama write his speech for AIPAC last June? Was that all a ruse to get elected? Are they playing with my nerves or what? Darn! who can i ask?



Does Highlander realize that some people use the Clintons and their marriage as an informal screening TAT?


Ayatollah Yusuf Sani'i

An old Iranian friend deeply familiar with the internal processes wrote about that four days ago. Maybe there is calm again now, but given the not very open information flow, I somehow doubt.

He is very familiar with Iran and most of his publications are about it. He was in Iran after the revolution but had to leave again three years later.

German only:
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bahman_Nirumand>Bahman Nirumand

http://www.taz.de/1/politik/nahost/artikel/1/warum-die-ajatollahs-schweigen/>Warum the Ajatollahs schweigen

Why the Ajatollah's are silent.


rjj, How can the Clinton marriage be used in a TAT? It is not an ambiguous picture. Informal screenig for what and by whom? The DNC, State.

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