Iran Deal: A Possible Crossroads to Peace

Exclusive: The Israeli-Saudi alliance and the American neocons are furious over the framework agreement for a peaceful settlement to the Iran nuclear dispute, but the deal gives hope to people who see the need to end the perpetual wars that have roiled the Middle East and deformed the U.S. Republic, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

The April 2 framework agreement with Iran represents more than just a diplomatic deal to prevent nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. It marks a crossroad that offers a possible path for the American Republic to regain its footing and turn away from endless war.

Whether that more peaceful route is followed remains very much in doubt, however, given the adamant opposition from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Sunni Arab allies in Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich sheikdoms. On Thursday, Netanyahu continued his denunciations of the deal — saying it would “threaten the survival of Israel” — and no one should underestimate the Israel Lobby’s power over Congress.

Secretary of State John Kerry and his team of negotiators meeting with Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and his team in Switzerland on March 26, 2015. (State Department photo)

Secretary of State John Kerry and his team of negotiators meeting with Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and his team in Switzerland on March 26, 2015. (State Department photo)

But the choice before the American people is whether they want to join a 1,300-year-old religious war in the Middle East between Sunnis and Shiites with Israel now having thrown in its lot with the Sunnis despite the fact that Saudi Arabia and its cohorts have been supporting Al-Qaeda and Islamic State terrorists.

Despite blame also falling on Iran and the Shiite side in this sectarian conflict, the Iranians have emerged as the most effective resistance to Al-Qaeda, which carried out the 9/11 attacks killing some 3,000 Americans, and to the Islamic State, which has engaged in and franchised out to other extremist groups the practice of chopping off the heads of Americans, Christians, Shiites and other “apostates.”

Though the Saudi royal family and other Sunni princes around the Persian Gulf deny that they support Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, few knowledgeable people believe them, since the jihadists follow Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabist fundamentalist teachings and have consistently served Saudi interests as the frontline fighters in the Sunni-Shiite conflict. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Secret Saudi Ties to Terrorism.”]

Preference for Al-Qaeda

Plus, Saudi Arabia and Israel have made clear that they would prefer the Sunni fighters, even Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, to prevail over governments and other forces linked to Iran. The Saudi-Israeli alliance has provided real military assistance to these Sunni jihadists.

For instance, the current Saudi bombing campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen (who practice a form of Shiite Islam) has served to bolster Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, including aiding in a prison break that released scores of hardened Al-Qaeda militants. A source familiar with the Yemeni conflict told me that the Saudis also are giving Al-Qaeda weapons supplied by Israel.

In the Syrian civil war, senior Israelis have made clear they would prefer Sunni extremists to prevail over President Bashar al-Assad, who is an Alawite, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. Assad’s relatively secular government is seen as the protector of Shiites, Christians and other minorities who fear the vengeful brutality of the Sunni jihadists who now dominate the anti-Assad rebels and have absorbed the U.S.-trained “moderates” into the extremist ranks.

In September 2013, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren told the Jerusalem Post that Israel favored the Sunni extremists over Assad and the Shiites. “The greatest danger to Israel is by the [Shiite] strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc,” Oren said in an interview.

“We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” He said this was the case even if the “bad guys” were affiliated with Al-Qaeda.

In June 2014, Oren expanded on this Israeli position. Then, speaking as a former ambassador, Oren said Israel would even prefer a victory by the Islamic State. “From Israel’s perspective, if there’s got to be an evil that’s got to prevail, let the Sunni evil prevail,” Oren said.

This Israeli preference has extended into a tacit alliance with Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front in Syria, with which the Israelis have what amounts to a non-aggression pact, even caring for Nusra fighters in Israeli hospitals and mounting lethal air attacks against Lebanese and Iranian advisers to the Syrian military fighting Nusra forces.

Netanyahu himself has played down the danger from the Islamic State (or ISIS) when compared to what he claims is the greater Iranian threat. In his March 3 address to a cheering and hooting U.S. Congress, Netanyahu depicted ISIS as a minor annoyance with “butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube” when compared to Iran, which he accused of “gobbling up the nations” of the Middle East.

He claimed “Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. And if Iran’s aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow. We must all stand together to stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation and terror.”

But Netanyahu was engaging in hyperbole at best. Of those four capitals cited, Iran took none by force; no invasions had occurred. In the case of Syria and Iraq, Iran has been helping the established governments withstand assaults from the Islamic State and, in Syria, Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front as well.

In Iraq, the only reason there is a Shiite-dominated government is because President George W. Bush invaded in 2003 and deposed the Sunni-dominated government of Saddam Hussein. In Lebanon, Iran is merely allied with one element of the government, Hezbollah.

The Yemeni Civil War

Regarding Yemen, Netanyahu and the Saudis have sought to portray the conflict as a case of Iranian “aggression,” but those claims border on the ludicrous. The Houthi rebels, who have gained control of several large Yemeni cities including the capital Sanaa, follow an offshoot of Shiite Islam known as Zaydism, but it is relatively close to Sunni Islam and has peacefully co-existed with Sunni Islam for centuries.

The Houthis also deny that they are agents for Iran, and Western intelligence services believe that Iranian support has consisted mostly of some funding. Former CIA official Graham E. Fuller has called the notion “that the Houthis represent the cutting edge of Iranian imperialism in Arabia as trumpeted by the Saudis” a “myth.” He added:

“The Zaydi Shia, including the Houthis, over history have never had a lot to do with Iran. But as internal struggles within Yemen have gone on, some of the Houthis have more recently been happy to take Iranian coin and perhaps some weapons — just as so many others, both Sunni and Shia, are on the Saudi payroll. The Houthis furthermore hate al-Qaeda and hate the Islamic State.”

In other words, the alarmist rhetoric from Netanyahu and the Saudis about the Houthis is hyped. And the Obama administration’s decision to assist the Saudi air strikes inside Yemen, including some attacks that have inflicted heavy civilian casualties, would seem to be undermining the U.S. goal of combating Islamic terrorism by strengthening Al-Qaeda.

Helping the Saudis kill Yemenis also contradicts the high-blown U.S. rhetoric denouncing Russia for intervening in a civil war in Ukraine, on Russia’s border. One can only imagine the fiery U.S. rhetoric if Russia launched air strikes against the neo-Nazi militias and other Ukrainian forces fighting on behalf of the U.S.-backed Kiev regime.

In Ukraine, when elected President Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia to escape a violent coup on Feb. 22, 2014, the Obama administration cited Yanukovych’s departure as proof that he had vacated his office, thus justifying the appointment of a new president without the bother of following Ukraine’s constitution. Ukrainians who resisted Yanukovych’s ouster were deemed “terrorists” and any subsequent intervention by the Russians to protect the ethnic Russians under assault was decried as “aggression.”

Yet, when ousted Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia, the Obama administration took the opposite position: Hadi’s departure was not proof that he had vacated his office but rather justification to bomb the Yemenis who had replaced him even if that helped actual terrorists in Al-Qaeda another case of what’s good for the goose is not good for the gander.

Hope for the Republic

However, more significant for Americans is that the diplomatic agreement between world powers and Iran to tightly restrict its nuclear program to ensure that it’s for peaceful purposes only is that the deal repudiates the calls for war from Netanyahu and leading American neoconservatives. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “NYT Publishes Call to Bomb Iran.”]

Bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities could cause a massive human and environmental catastrophe, unleashing radiation on civilian populations and possibly making large swaths of Iran uninhabitable. That might serve the Saudi-Israeli interests by forcing Iran to focus exclusively on a domestic crisis of the first order.

Thus, Iran might be unable to assist the Iraqis and the Syrians in their desperate struggles against Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Prime Minister Netanyahu and former Ambassador Oren might get their preference and see Sunni jihadists hoisting the black flag of Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State over Damascus, if not Baghdad.

But such a victory, with its attendant slaughter of innocents and the prospects of new terrorist attacks on the West, would almost surely force whoever is the U.S. president to recommit hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops to remove Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State from power. It would be a war of vast expense in money and blood with little prospect of American success.

Beyond the death of many U.S. soldiers, there would be an equally certain death of the American Republic, since the United States would have to become a fully militarized state dedicated to perpetual war. That might please — and profit — the neocons but it would be a tragedy for those Americans who believe in constitutional principles and democratic ideals. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “A Family Business of Perpetual War.”]

That is why the framework agreement with Iran offers a hope, albeit perhaps a thin one, that the United States can now separate itself from the endless war demands of Israel and Saudi Arabia and chart a course home to a more peaceful harbor where our constitutional system might have a chance to repair.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

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13 comments for “Iran Deal: A Possible Crossroads to Peace

  1. Dongi
    April 10, 2015 at 09:19

    Fine article, Mr. Parry.

  2. Jomper
    April 6, 2015 at 04:49

    As it has long been common knowledge that the evidence used by the 9/11 Commission to link Al Qaeda to the September 11 attacks was almost entirely based on torture testimony, and the FBI has acknowledged it does not have any evidence connecting Bin Laden to that outrage (and Bin Laden denied it), I am confused as to why a credible journalist like Mr Parry would feel the need to repeat the discredited myth that AQ were responsible. Very peculiar indeed, Mr Parry.

    http://www.newsweek.com/911-commissions-blind-spot-76531
    http://www.twf.org/News/Y2006/0608-BinLaden.html
    http://edition.cnn.com/2001/US/09/16/inv.binladen.denial/index.html?iref=storysearch

  3. Peter Loeb
    April 4, 2015 at 05:44

    A “PRELIMINARY FRAMEWORK”, NOT AN HISTORIC “DEAL”

    What has not been mentioned in the West has been the specifics of the lifting of sanctions
    on Iran. I would imagine that this is precisely where and how opponents of this FRAMEWORK will put their influence. (Netanyahu has already lead the way in his comments on giving money to Iran to support terrorists etc. In fact, it is Israel which is responsible for massive “state terrorism” according to Richard Falk.)

    Obama will bend under the banner of “working together” and “compromise” as well as his
    basic conservatism.

    When additional US sanctions are added to this “preliminary framework” it will fall to pieces
    and Netanyahu will prevail over US foreign policy.

    It is not reasonable to attempt to predict any Iranian response at this time. The meeting between Terhan, Moscow and Beijing now scheduled for spring in Terahn would have greater significance should Iran choose to increase its alliances with the East (“SCO”) and withdraw from the PRN and its UAEA inspections and rules. This does not mean that Iran will “build a bomb” to use the prevalent US-Israeli scare mongering phrase. It simply means
    that it will withdraw from further restrictions from a western-dominated agency especially
    when no similar concern, inspections and regulations are being considered for Israel itself,
    obviously the nuclear powerhouse of the Middle East.(The UN General Assembly did recommend such monitoring overwhelmingly and this was opposed by the US and Israel.)

    If the result in the US is simply anti-Iranian rhetoric it is more than matched by anti-Zionist
    rhetoric in Iran.

    What role did Russia and China play in the negotiations? Of this nothing has been said at
    all in the west specifically by the US government.

    In my opinion, the Iranians are not stupid. (Netanyahu says not to be “trusted”!!) The negatiator for Iran graduated from the same university as the Prime Minister of Israel,
    Benjamin Netanyahu: MIT. Iran must certainly be aware of opposition to the “preliminary
    framework” in the US as well as political motives on all sides. I am sure they also have
    a “Plan B” should sanctions NOT be reduced. After all, they are politicians as well and have
    their own constituencies.

    Much of the information in today’s article by Robert Parry while not “new” was “news” as it has been eliminated from all US reports. Much of this background such as the origins of the Houthi’s in Yemen and their previous positions were a welcome addition. I doubt that many will pay any serious attention as it is not in line with US-Israeli PR.

    —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  4. Nexus789
    April 3, 2015 at 22:55

    There will be no peace. Washington is perfidious to the core. The Neocons and Nutteryahoo will conspire to create a conflict.

    • Dr. Frans B. Roos, Ph,D,
      April 4, 2015 at 05:10

      Now to my great surprise, after second thought really not, the mainstay was Khomeini same as in Vietnam Ho Chi Minh another country that has buckled to the chaos Empire that Iran has buckled which one is going to be next Russia or China, handwriting on the wall; Russia. Not because that is what the Russian people want, it are Russian oligarch that push the Russian people in the street into the abyss. China ditto. Beijing plutocrats will be a pushover with their “socialism with Chinese characters” and misattributed or apocryphal
      • 致富光荣 (zhìfù guāngróng: To get rich is glorious!)
      o Deng is commonly quoted with this phrase in western media but there is no proof that he actually said it.
      o However, this phrase in Chinese is more accurately translated as “wealth is glorious,” where in China wealth can have a very general meaning, including knowledge, personal relationships, and family: anything of value. Understood this way, the quote is not as directly controversial as an ideological/political statement, and so it is not hard to believe that he really did say this.
      Glad I have not much longer before the Grim reaper comes by on his round because now 21st century whichever way one turns everything is turning to shit.

  5. Alec
    April 3, 2015 at 21:24

    Everything I read convinces me that the Israeli objective is an empire and to achieve this they need the destruction of those who might offer potential miliary resistance …. Iran is the penultimate domino and the Israel lobby will find a way of circumventing the ‘deal’ …. but … IMO after that will come Saudi Arabia and their hatred of Iran is blinding them to the fact that they are merely pawns in the Israeli ‘game’.

  6. Pablo Diablo
    April 3, 2015 at 21:16

    The United states and our “allies” Israel and Saudi Arabia don’t give a damn which side they are on as long as they can keep selling weapons and MAKE MONEY.

  7. April 3, 2015 at 19:37

    One sentence of this article make this author an unknown follower of the MSM and destroys his research

    “that al-Quaeda was behind the 9/11 act where over 3000 Americans were killed,

    There is so much evidence available, that the Us themselves, plus some helpers, did it to have a reason to invade…

    Makes he whole article useless!

    • bfearn
      April 4, 2015 at 13:16

      One ‘mistake’ does not make a whole article “useless”.

      If that criteria was logical nothing would have ever been invented or accomplished.

      Give your head a shake!!

    • Trippin
      April 6, 2015 at 17:25

      And some people have mountains of evidence that angels, spooks, haints, demons, and gods are real. Have you ever considered what demonstrating faith in their evidence would do to one’s own credibility?

  8. alexander horatio
    April 3, 2015 at 18:58

    Excellent article Mr Parry,
    This was truly an historic achievement of the Obama administration ! It amounts to the first real victory over the “bomb first, find out the facts later “folks that have done so much unconscionable destruction to the world as we know it ! It makes a gargantuan step in restoring our reputation throughout the world as a country willing and able to use diplomacy to resolve issues intelligently ,morally and peacefully !
    Like all nations and all of civilization should !…
    .Maybe…. just maybe….. it is the first small step we are taking , as a nation, out of the dark age of “Neo -con ” terror” that has gripped us for over a decade, and forced us into a downward spiral of fraud , hate, fear, murder, extortion and perpetual war !
    What an awful , awful place to be !
    Just imagine where we would be today had the “Neo-cons” not have been able to hijack the narrative of civilization and twist it into its own self serving engine of greed and terror !
    The countless innocent lives spared , the trillions upon trillions of dollars wasted !

    Maybe we can begin, with this “framework” ,to imagine a future where” facts” matter again, where peoples LIVES matter again……
    Where basic good will and decency ,( NOT hate , fraud and terror) form the “framework” of our interactions and buttress our world and our children’s future …..with hope!

  9. Bighead1883
    April 3, 2015 at 17:49

    Robert Parry so many readers of articles become totally unbelieving of the author once they write this or similar [ to Al-Qaeda, which carried out the 9/11 attacks ]
    Documented in thousands of videos/articles this lie is debunked and the 9/11 perpetrators are all Israelis according to evidence.
    Israeli owners
    Israeli Insurance Co`s
    Israeli Security
    Israeli controlled demolition resulting in mass murder and a crime against humanity
    So to is the continued genocide in Gaza and the Israeli occupation of Palestine
    Like the Nazis were,the Zionists will be held to account

    • Trippin
      April 6, 2015 at 17:22

      So how much did Sheldon Adelson pay you for that ridiculous post?

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