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08 November 2013

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David Habakkuk

Babak Makkinejad, CP,

I think it will be very difficult for any government to take Britain into a war with the Islamic Republic, unless its leaders do something egregiously stupid.

The comments on an article in the 'Telegraph' entitled 'Israel launches campaign against 'bad deal' with Iran' are I think extremely revealing. Those strongly hostile to Israel greatly outnumber those defending it.

(See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/10439641/Israel-launches-campaign-against-bad-deal-with-Iran.html )

Also interesting is the fact that two days ago the ‘Telegraph’ published an article by our former ambassador to the IAEA, Peter Jenkins, who is a leading advocate of a negotiated settlement with Iran. The comments too are instructive, in that while suspicion of Iran remains strong, there is a very substantial support for the position taken by Jenkins. The paper’s chief political correspondent, Peter Oborne, has also been a strong supporter of a rapprochement with Iran.

(See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/10366939/The-West-must-be-flexible-in-dealing-with-Iran.html )

In itself, what the British think is of very limited significance. However, I suspect that the underlying shift of opinion in the U.S., although much more muted, is in the same direction.

Among publics in both countries weariness with foolish military ventures is strong, and in both the Israeli and Saudi attempt to entangle us in Syria may have been a catalytic moment. To my surprise, the change in perceptions is now reflected not simply in comments on newspaper articles, but in the fact that not simply the former Labour Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, but also the current Tory holder of the post, William Hague, have been indicating a desire for a settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue. Apparently this has been recognised in the Iranian press.

(See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/10439077/Iran-dubs-France-a-gun-slinging-frog-over-nuclear-deal-failure.html )

Do not think I am underestimating the obstacles in the way of a deal, but the behaviour of the French should not I think be allowed to obscure the very real moves in opinion elsewhere. The palpable difference in manner and approach between Rouhani and Zarif and their predecessors is a very major factor in this – and of course the contrast with Netanyahu and Liebermann is not lost on people.

And if when Straw says what very many people here think about the disastrous impact of the American Israeli lobby – and the financial resources it commands – on the prospects for peace in Palestine, ‘America’s rabbi’ chooses to talk about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, that simply helps the process on.

Babak Makkinejad

The P5+1 format never made any sense to me; I well remembered that Machiavelli advised any prince against such arrangements that, in effect, ceded power by one prince to the others.

As for the P5+1 format - I think it is kaput.

Likewise any notion of any coherent EU foreign policy.

May be there could be a sort of informal gentlemen's agreement between US and Iran - like the one between US and USSR on Cuba.

Even that is a long shot.

Babak Makkinejad

I think Jack Straw is a man with whom one can do business.

It is regrettable that men like him cannot be sent to 10 Downing Street.

Thomas

"Among publics in both countries weariness with foolish military ventures is strong, and in both the Israeli and Saudi attempt to entangle us in Syria may have been a catalytic moment."

That is true here.

And those two prove why you listen into communications of all Leaders, enemy, adversary or ally. You never know when the later will cycle into the former.

confusedponderer

I you are right - the Israelis are IMO right now attempting to screw the Palestinians some more while everybody looks at Iran. The entire Iran isue is an exercise in distraction while Israel steadily expandes settlements.

And, lo and behold, Avigdor Liebermann is returning to his FM post, guaranteeing that we will get some unhinged bluster in adition to Bibi's histrionics.

Probably only in Israel a guy formerly employed as a bouncer qualifies for FM. But then, given Israel's conduct, what would be more apt?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/10439150/Israeli-cabinet-approves-Avigdor-Liebermans-return-as-foreign-mininster.html

brenda

In thinking about why the French delegate stopped the Iran negotiations cold, there is this little off-the-wall story which I totally discounted when I first read it -- the Meyer Habib connection. http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-will-attack-if-you-sign-the-deal-french-mp-told-fabius/

This is only a guy looking for his 15 minutes in the limelight, that was my first take. But The Times followed up a day later, Habib in Israel to address the Knesset Tuesday: http://www.timesofisrael.com/french-mp-invokes-munich-1938-in-warning-of-iran-talks/

France has a history in the issue and could be sensitive. In 1981 French engineers constructed the Iraq reactor at Osirak, France rejected Israel's diplomatic overtures against the project, Israel responded by bombing the reactor.

I suppose it is possible the French did us a favor. If Netanyahu took it upon himself to bomb Iran nuclear installations while the talks were ongoing -- which I think he is crazy enough to do -- it would have brought the US in willy-nilly. This is how real wars get started, from this kind of crazy dramatics.

Back to the drawing board for the Obama administration I think. This divorce might be a lot harder to deliver than what any of us can imagine. Not that it's not worth doing, just hard.

Colonel, many thanks for your opinion on who cares whether or not Iran has a bomb. It made me feel less out of step with the culture. Or maybe I should say, it made me not care so much about being out of step.

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