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High Noon in the Middle East. The Danger of a major Middle East confligration if the Vienna Talks on the JCPOA (Iran Nuclear Deal) Fail. KGNU Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues. April 27, 2021. Transcript. Part 4

May 4, 2021

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There is something that I’ve said ad nauseum on this program and over the past fifty years to be quite frank, there are no military solutions to the crises, the issues in the Middle East. What both the United States and Israel have run into is this reality: the limits of their military power. Their choices are stark today: negotiate, make peace, to deal with the multitude of issues in the region along with Iran, Syria, along with the other regional players, whether it concerns the occupation of the Palestinian Territories.

Rob Prince

I think to conclude – in a nutshell – there are not many options open to the United States at all. The new dynamic has literally removed options for the United States and the situation has become “either-or.” “Either” the United States will have to come and join the negotiation, and since the Iranians are speaking from a position of strength, Washington must drop all the sanctions, which means accepting Iran as a new emerging political entity. “Or” if the United States is not prepared to do that – in our conversation we have both agreed that the Biden Administration is not prepared to do so – then the other alternative is more somber, since the situation – the region – is so tense, only one spark is necessary to set off a major conflagration, with the whole region going up in flames.

The situation is serious. The United States has no other options.

Ibrahim Kazerooni.

(Continued from Part Three…)

Jim Nelson: I want to jump in here. How many elections has Israel had in the past few years, four? Five? It looks like it will have to have another one here soon. That must be adding to uncertainty in Israel – not having a clear political direction for the country.

Rob Prince: There is an interesting dynamic I have been following in terms of Israel and the Iran Nuclear Deal, the JCPOA

Needless to say Netanyahu has been on the warpath in his efforts to sabotage the Biden Administration from re-entering the deal. Talk about interfering in the American electoral process – no country does it more, and more aggressively than Israel. He’s made it know unambiguously that he wants to see the agreement killed.

But what has happened in the last month?

Voices coming out of Israeli intelligence, the Israeli military – what are they saying? Quite interesting. In terms of what is going on throughout the region, the Intelligence and Military communities in Israel have always had a more sober view of the situation than some of the political players like the present prime minister.

Ibrahim, what’s your thinking here? Am I off base… again?

Ibrahim Kazerooni: It’s an accurate and apt representation of the crisis.

Concerning this issue of missiles that you talked about, the Defense Minister Benny Gantz tried to present the Syrian missile as some kind of stray missile, that the missiles that Israel has are much more sophisticated in stopping any ballistic missiles that might be targeting Israel.

This (Syrian) missile was simply “a stray” that fell within Israeli territory.

He was laughed at in a meeting where he spoke about this in a meeting of ex-Israeli military commanders. One of those in the room made it clear that if one missile comes out of Syria and lands within thirty kilometers of the Dimona Nuclear Facility, is Israel really ready to go war with the Axis of Resistance where they possess somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 missiles raining down on us daily?

No sane individual in their right mind would say yes.

So the option is quite clear.

The Israelis have no other option but to accept the current realities, in the same way that India has to accept that the Pakistanis have nuclear missiles – there is no option other than diplomacy.

The Iranians do not intend to go that far (making nuclear weapons) but Israel must accept that Iran is a serious nuclear research and development center.

Rob Prince: There is another comparison, Ibrahim, that deserves out attention.

We can compare the Syrian missile strike on Israel with the Iranian missile strike on al Asad Air Base in retaliation for the U.S. assassination of Iran General Qassem Suliemani.

Before landing in Israel, this Syrian missile flew several hundred kilometers over Israeli Occupied Territory (the West Bank) without being detected.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: That is correct. And another thing that the Israelis said which is hugely false…

Since the 1967 War and particularly after 1973 the Syrians have changed what are referred to as fixed missile bases into mobile once. The idea that the United States (and/or Israel) attacked these fixed bases is a fiction. There are no fixed missile bases in the region anymore

It’s similar to what transpired in the 2006 war in Lebanon. (Hezbollah) mobile missile launchers traveled around the country and fired at Northern Israel from different places.

So the idea that a single missile can travel 200 km with all the sophisticated radar that exists and still go undetected – as was the case with the Syrian missile that landed in Israel and then land some thirty kilometers from the Dimona Nuclear Facility – this is taken by the same politicians and military leaders as a clear warning that “an adjustment” is required.

Jim Nelson: I just want to jump in and put on my hawk hat here and play Tom Cotton or Lindsay Graham. Their response to this might be that if Iran wants to go to war, then the United States with its predominance of military power will respond with overwhelming force and unmatched military power, and would devastate any challenge – regardless if it came from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen.

Rob Prince: Look where all this is coming to – and your question, Jim ties into this.

What we are really seeing in the Middle East, are the limits of military power without a socio-economic vision to decide political issues in the region.

Militarily, what can be said about Israel? It has decisive if not overwhelming military power within the region. Yes, the United States and/or Israel can militarily hurt, if not maul, whomever, given the overwhelming fire power and technical advantages that they have.

And yet their hands are tied militarily and it knows it.

For sometime ago, the balance of power in the region has shifted and the Iranians (and Hezbollah, Syria, the Yemenis revolutionaries) can hurt both the U.S. (its interests in the Middle East) and Israel too for they have learned how to engage in asymmetrical warfare – where one side of a conflict has the military edge but the weaker party has learned all the same how to effectively counter the military imbalance.

They (the U.S. and Israel) have taken the military card and played as far as they can and now they are stuck because their regional adversaries have learned the lessons of asymmetrical warfare The weaker side learns how to effectively utilize the tools it has its disposal – that is how the Vietnamese did to defeat the United States.

There is something that I’ve said ad nauseum on this program and over the past fifty years to be quite frank, there are no military solutions to the crises, the issues in the Middle East. What both the United States and Israel have run into is this reality: the limits of their military power. Their choices are stark today: negotiate, make peace, to deal with the multitude of issues in the region along with Iran, Syria, along with the other regional players, whether it concerns the occupation of the Palestinian Territories.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: I’m glad, Rob, you have brought the Vietnamese model into it.

When Ahmed Ahmadinejad was Iran’s president he was interviewed at the United Nations in New York by one of the American hawk newspaper journalists at the time. They posed a similar question to him. The journalist involved noted that the United States has the power to trigger a war with Iran. Ahmadinejad agreed and said something along the lines of “Yes, Washington does have the power to start a war with us (Iran) – we don’t deny that. True you may start the war, but we will finish it because time is on our side.”

Jim Nelson: Or we could look at Afghanistan too.

Rob Prince: Yes, Afghanistan, another classic example. Look at the uselessness of all that American fire power and yet after twenty years, the United States lost that war in Afghanistan. Not billions but trillions of dollars lost, wasted.

OK. We don’t have much time, left. Ibrahim we need to conclude, to sum up what where our discussion is leading to this past hour. What’s the kicker, what are the conclusions are there that we draw from this analysis that we’ve tried to make in terms of U.S.-Iranian relations, the JCPOA, – what’s the last pearl we’d like to leave for the listeners?

Ibrahim Kazerooni: I think to conclude – in a nutshell – there are not many options open to the United States at all. The new dynamic has literally removed options for the United States and the situation has become “either-or.” “Either” the United States will have to come and join the negotiation, and since the Iranians are speaking from a position of strength, Washington must drop all the sanctions, which means accepting Iran as a new emerging political entity. “Or” if the United States is not prepared to do that – in our conversation we have both agreed that the Biden Administration is not prepared to do so – then the other alternative is more somber, since the situation – the region – is so tense, only one spark is necessary to set off a major conflagration, with the whole region going up in flames.

The situation is serious. The United States has no other options.

Either 2015 (the U.S. going back to the JCPOA) return to the full agreement with the full implementation of the conditions or accepting the consequences of not doing so – the Middle East going up in flames.

Rob you want to say something.

Rob Prince: The whole question of the United States returning to the JCPOA…

I’m thinking of this wonderful coalition that has come together here in Colorado calling on the U.S. government ot return to the JCPOA – it has had national echoes – .

Many people think that if the technical issue can be resolved – what should be the Iranian limit of enriching uranium, etc., to my thinking these technical issues are not as central as publicly suggested.

Then what is the more central issue here?

Will after 42 years of the United States attempting to pressure, to overthrow the Iranian Islamic Republic, be prepared to recognize and normalize its legitimacy and accept it in “the family of nations” and then together with Iran, and the other players in the region, began to address and overcome the many regional tensions.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: It’s not just a question of normalization, but the need for the United States to accept Iran as a defacto reality.

Rob Prince: Yes, that is what “this whole thing” is about.

Think about the alternative. I realize that the threat of regional war might sound somewhat exaggerated to some of you.

But take warning. If this agreement, the JCPOA, is not re-energized, the danger of an explosion is real and immediate.
Jim Nelson: Does Iran want changes in the 2015 agreement?

Ibrahim Kazerooni: No.

Remember Jim that Iran went into the agreement in the first place seeking economic development, trade and investment with Europe and the United States especially, so that Iran could become more economically stable.

If Iran doesn’t get the sanctions removed and essence of the 2015 economic benefit for them is not there, Iran is not prepared to negotiate anything else.

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