How Despots Interpret Deals with the West

Via:  buzz-of-the-orient  •  4 months ago  •  2 comments

How Despots Interpret Deals with the West
As Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said last month, America should "bow down" to Iran. Seems it is.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

How Despots Interpret Deals with the West

by   Bassam Tawil . Gatestone Institute, September 6, 2019


US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper was quoted as saying on August 28 that the US is "not seeking conflict with Iran." During the Pentagon press briefing, Esper repeated Trump's calls for diplomatic efforts with Iran. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The European Union   says   it will support talks between the US and Iran, but only if the current nuclear deal with Tehran is preserved.

The idea of direct talks between the US and Iran seems to have developed after President Donald Trump recently said he was ready to meet Iran's President Hassan Rouhani.

"We are always in favor of talks, the more people talk, the more people understand each other better, on the basis of clarity and on the basis of respect," EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini   said   last month.

The EU wants the world to welcome Iran back into the international community because -- this might sound harsh, but it is increasingly hard not to believe it -- they are hoping that the leaders of Tehran will focus their efforts on achieving their goal of annihilating Israel. As far as the Europeans are concerned, it appears that the stronger Iran is, the better: a renewed Iran would further Europe's hope of seeing   Israel and the Jews wiped off the face of the earth . Heard just a few months ago were   calls   such as, "send Jews to the ovens," "Hitler didn't finish the job," and "kill the Jews."

US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper was quoted as   saying   on August 28 that the US is "not seeking conflict with Iran." During the Pentagon press briefing, Esper repeated Trump's calls for diplomatic efforts with Iran. "You saw over the weekend some reporting. The president once again said that he's more than willing to meet with Iran's leaders to resolve this... diplomatically."

The Trump administration's gestures towards Iran, however, do not appear to have impressed the leaders of the Islamic Republic. In fact, Arabs and Muslims have a habit of misinterpreting gestures from Westerners as a sign of weakness and retreat. In addition, such gestures have historically whetted the appetite of Arabs and Muslims, leading to demands for yet more concessions.

The Trump administration has created the impression in the Arab and Muslim world that it is ready to beg the leaders of Iran to engage in direct negotiations with Washington. This approach is exceptionally harmful to US interests: it sends a message to many Arabs and Muslims that Americans are prepared to surrender again and humiliate themselves for the sake of any kind of deal with the Iranians. As Iran's President Hassan Rouhani   said   last month, America should "bow down" to Iran. Seems it is.

In the eyes of many Arabs and Muslims, the US now appears to be courting the Iranian regime despite Tehran's increased support for terrorism, particularly in the Middle East. These Arabs and Muslims are even convinced that it is only a matter of time before the Trump administration comes knocking on Iran's door, begging for a meeting between Trump and Rouhani.

The Iranians are already making it appear as if they are the ones who need to consider whether or not to meet with the Trump administration. This policy is designed to send the following message to Arabs and Muslims: "See how these pathetic Westerners have come to us, begging? See how they have zero self-respect?"

Echoing this approach, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif   said last month:

"It won't be possible for us to engage with US unless they stop imposing a war, engaging in economic terrorism... If they want to come back to the [negotiating] room, there is a ticket, and that ticket is to observe the agreement."

Zarif was referring to the 2015 nuclear deal, also known as the JCPOA, but   never signed   by Iran and   never submitted   to the US Senate to make it a binding treaty.

Zarif is saying, in other words, that Iran has its own pre-conditions for talking with the Trump administration. Statements like these are aimed at making Iran appear to Arabs and Muslims as a country that can afford openly to challenge -- and even degrade -- the US.

For now, the Iranians appear as if they have the upper hand and final say in the crisis with the US. This bearing further emboldens Tehran's leaders and proxies throughout the Middle East, especially Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip and the Houthi Shia militias in Yemen.

The Trump administration, rather than   avoiding the telephone calls   of Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, would do well to learn from Israel's experience when it comes to offering gestures and making territorial and political concessions: that striking deals with Arab and Islamic regimes and organizations, such as Iran and the Palestinian Authority -- as well as the Taliban, China, North Korea and Russia, which all seem to think that honoring agreements is for other people -- tends to come with a heavy price.

In 1993, Israel signed the Oslo Accord with the PLO -- a move that allowed then PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and thousands of his "fighters" to move from Tunis to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Israelis were hoping back then that the Oslo Accords would lead to real peace and coexistence, with the Palestinians living under PLO rule. The Oslo Accords, nonetheless, have since proven to be a disaster for both Israelis and Palestinians. Why? As it later transpired, Arafat and the PLO   never had any intention   of implementing the agreements. Arafat, in fact,   spoke   of the Oslo Accord as a modern version of Mohammad's Treaty of Hudaibiyyah, in which the prophet had promised not to attack a Jewish tribe for ten years, but instead came back in two years and wiped it out.

PLO official Faisal Husseini   on two separate occasions in 2001 described Oslo as a "Trojan Horse" – presumably first to open Israel to Palestinian demands and then to destroy it.

In 2006, Palestinian journalist Abdel Al-Bari Atwan   revealed   in a television interview that Arafat had told him that he was planning to turn the Oslo Accords into a curse for Israel.

"When the Oslo Accords were signed, I went to visit [Arafat] in Tunis. It was around July, before he went to Gaza. I said to him: We disagree. I do not support this agreement. It will harm us, the Palestinians, distort our image, and uproot us from our Arab origins. This agreement will not get us what we want, because these Israelis are deceitful.
"He [Arafat] took me outside and told me: By Allah, I will drive them [the Jews] crazy. By Allah, I will turn this agreement into a curse for them. By Allah, perhaps not in my lifetime, but you will live to see the Israelis flee from Palestine. Have a little patience. I entrust this with you. Don't mention this to anyone."

When Arafat and the PLO realized at the 2000 Camp David summit that their plan had been uncovered, they launched a massive wave of terrorism, called "the Second Intifada," against Israel. At that meeting, Arafat received the most generous offer to date from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak -- but the Palestinian leader still said "no."

Barak's   proposal , according to various sources, included the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state on approximately 92% of the West Bank and 100% of the Gaza Strip, with some territorial compensation for the Palestinians from land inside Israel; the dismantling of most of the settlements; and the establishment of the future Palestinian capital in large parts of east Jerusalem. (An offer in 2008 from then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, even more far-reaching, was   rejected   by the Palestinians without even a   counter-offer .)

Israel had believed what the PLO and Yasser Arafat said, and ended up facing an unprecedented campaign of suicide bombings and different forms of terrorism that have claimed the lives of thousands of Israelis in the past 27 years.

In 2005, Israel again paid a heavy price for a move that was supposed to promote peace and stability in the Middle East: the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Then, Israel withdrew to the 1949 armistice line bordering the Gaza Strip after evacuating more than 8,000 Jews from their homes in the Gaza Strip settlements. Israel's gesture, however, was misinterpreted by many Palestinians as a sign of weakness and retreat. The way most Palestinians saw it was: "Wow, we have killed 1,000 Jews in four and a half years -- and now the Jews run! What we need to do is step up our terrorism: today they are evacuating the Gaza Strip, tomorrow they will evacuate the cities of Ashkelon, then Ashdod, then Tel Aviv ... and from there to the sea."

So, the Palestinians continued to fire rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israel even after the Israeli pullout. They had evidently concluded that spilling more Jewish blood would force the Jews to make even greater concessions and lead eventually lead to the elimination of Israel.

Similarly, Israel has repeatedly paid a heavy price for other gestures, such as releasing convicted terrorists from prison or removing checkpoints. Virtually each time, the Palestinian response was mounting more terrorism and killing more Jews. Many Palestinians who were released by Israel in the past few decades have   returned   to terrorist activity. They clearly saw their release from prison as a sign of weakness, and not as a gesture of goodwill on the part of Israel. Their conclusion was: to get Israel to release more prisoners, kill more Jews.

Most of all, the Trump administration would be wise to learn from Israel's bitter experience in dealing with Iran's Palestinian proxies: Hamas and Islamic Jihad. How many ceasefire   agreements   has Israel reached with the Gaza-based terrorist groups in the past 15 years? Probably at least ten. What has happened since then?   Most   of the agreements were violated by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, sometimes within hours, days or weeks.

Israel has learned the hard way that agreements with terrorists and dictators (such as Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas) are not worth the paper they are written on -- and usually simply serve to invite further violence.

The Trump administration, in its overtures towards the Iranian regime -- and China, North Korea, Russia and the Taliban -- could well be facing the same scenario. Advice to the Trump administration is: Stay strong. As Osama bin Laden correctly   observed , "When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse."

Strength and more strength is the only way to earn the respect of those running the show in Beijing, Kabul, Moscow, Pyongyang, and especially Tehran, Gaza and Beirut.

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.


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Buzz of the Orient
1  seeder  Buzz of the Orient    4 months ago
"For now, the Iranians appear as if they have the upper hand and final say in the crisis with the US. This bearing further emboldens Tehran's leaders and proxies throughout the Middle East, especially Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip and the Houthi Shia militias in Yemen."

The European Union has already bowed down to Iran - Let's see if Trump has the cajones to stand up to Iran.

1.1  Ronin2  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1    4 months ago

Outside of stating "He is willing to negotiate directly with Iran leaders" what has Trump done to show that he is "capitulating to Iran"?

Let me know when Trump lifts any of the sanctions he has against Iran- that will be a real indicator.

November 4, 2018 marked the final day of the 180-day wind-down period following the President’s May 8, 2018 announcement to cease the United States’ participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).  On November 5, 2018, the United States fully re-imposed the sanctions on Iran that had been lifted or waived under the JCPOA.  These are the toughest U.S. sanctions ever imposed on Iran, and will target critical sectors of Iran’s economy, such as the energy, shipping and shipbuilding, and financial sectors.  The United States is engaged in a campaign of maximum financial pressure on the Iranian regime and intends to enforce aggressively these sanctions that have come back into effect.
On November 5, 2018, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) posted to its website additional frequently asked questions (FAQs) that provide guidance on the sanctions that have been re-imposed.  In addition, OFAC amended FAQ 256 and FAQ 417 , and archived outdated FAQs.
As part of the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions, in its largest ever single-day action targeting the Iranian regime, OFAC sanctioned more than 700 individuals, entities, aircraft, and vessels on November 5, 2018.  This action was a critical part of the re-imposition of the remaining U.S. sanctions that were lifted or waived in connection with the JCPOA.  For more information on this action, click here .
Additionally, on November 5, 2018, OFAC moved persons identified as meeting the definition of the terms “Government of Iran” or an “Iranian financial institution” from the List of Persons Blocked Solely Pursuant to E.O. 13599 (the “E.O. 13599 List”) to the SDN List and removed the E.O. 13599 List from its website.

Finally, OFAC also amended the Iranian Transactions Sanctions Regulations (ITSR) , effective November 5, 2018 to, among other things, reflect the re-imposition of sanctions pursuant to certain sections of Executive Order 13846 and technical changes that remove references to the E.O. 13599 List.
Or withdraws the troops he sent to the ME to counter Iran.

The U.S. will send hundreds of additional troops and a dozen fighter jets to the Middle East in the coming weeks to counter what the Pentagon said is an escalating campaign by Iran to plan attacks against the U.S. and its interests in the region. And for the first time, Pentagon officials on Friday publicly blamed Iran and its proxies for recent tanker bombings near United Arab Emirates and a rocket attack in Iraq.

President Donald Trump told reporters Friday that the 1,500 troops would have a “mostly protective” role as part of a build-up that began this month in response to what the U.S said was a threat from Iran.

The announcement caps three weeks of elevated tensions with Iran, as the administration hurled accusations of an imminent attack and abruptly deployed Navy warships to the region. The moves alarmed members of Congress, who demanded proof and details, amid fears the U.S. was lurching toward open conflict with Iran.

Adding to the uncertainty, Trump alternated between tough talk toward Iran and a more conciliatory message, insisting he is open to negotiations with the Islamic Republic.

On Friday he seemed to downplay the prospect of conflict when he spoke at the White House.

“Right now, I don’t think Iran wants to fight and I certainly don’t think they want to fight with us,” he said.

In a related move, the Trump administration on Friday used an emergency legal loophole to move ahead with the sale of $7 billion in precision-guided munitions and other military support to Saudi Arabia, citing threats the kingdom faces from Iran.

So no capitulation to Iran. Just a willingness to negotiate. Same as he has done with North Korea, China, NATO, and all of the US trade partners.

If Israel is so worried it has the military means to strike at Iran. Just leave the US out of it.


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