Pissing on the Peace Process(es)


I hope to get around to saying more about the latest assassinated Iranian scientist, but in the meantime, I wanted to point out a coincidence of timing.

Jim Lobe argues convincingly that the assassination of Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan was likely designed to scuttle any efforts to dial down the rhetoric between Iran and the US.

My sense of the last week or so was that the mostly verbal confrontation between Iran and the U.S., particularly regarding the Strait of Hormuz, was spinning out of control much more rapidly than anyone had expected and that the possibility of a conflict had suddenly become very real in ways the Obama administration certainly never intended. (See Anne-Marie Slaughter’s CNN column, “Saving Face and Peace in the Gulf,” as an example of “this is getting really dangerous all of a sudden”. Until last fall, of course, she was Clinton’s director of policy planning and a very influential figure in the administration.) So there seemed to be a real effort to dial things back, expressed not only in repeated statements by senior administration officials, including Clinton, emphasizing Washington’s readiness to negotiate, but also, if the always well-informed Laura Rozen is to be believed, a lot of diplomatic — some of it, I’m sure, behind the scenes — manoeuvring to get the P5+1 process back into gear, with Turkey serving as the convenor/mediator.

Under these circumstances, the timing of today’s assassination was particularly remarkable. Among other things, it makes me believe that the U.S., which condemned the attack and categorically denied any role in it (See Clinton’s statement in her press conference with the Qatari Prime Minister here), was not in fact involved.* That leaves two obvious suspects: 1) Israel and 2) a faction within the Iranian regime. If there was indeed an Israeli hand behind it, the assassination was not just an effort to set back the Iran’s nuclear program and induce fear among other scientists working on it. I think it was also a provocation designed to 1) blow up prospects for progress in any p5+1 negotiations that might convene over the next month or so; 2) strengthen hard-line factions in Tehran that oppose negotiations; and 3) possibly provoke retaliation that will further escalate tensions, if not armed conflict. Of course, all three of these overlap and reinforce each other. If it was an internal Iranian faction, which, frankly, I find more difficult to believe, both 1) and 2) above also apply.

It makes sense. Everyone with a brain believes this was an Israeli op, and it’s safe to conclude that Israel wants to press us towards actual conflict.

Now consider DDay’s take on the video, apparently of Marines pissing on Taliban corpses, posted anonymously to YouTube.

Taliban negotiators approaching discussions on a peace deal with the United States claim that the talks will not be derailed by the emergence of a new video showing Marines urinating on dead Taliban soldiers.

The video, released near the 10th anniversary of the opening of the terrorist prison at Guantanamo, was released anonymously on YouTube. The poster claims that US Marines with the elite combat unit Scout Sniper Team 4 engaged in this practice. International law may have been violated:

According to the Geneva Conventions, which the US military observes, combatants must “at all times, and particularly after an engagement…search for the dead and prevent their being despoiled.” They are also required to “ensure that the dead are honourably interred, if possible according to the rites of the religion to which they belonged, that their graves are respected, grouped if possible according to the nationality of the deceased, properly maintained and marked so that they may always be found.” (The UK’s rules for its military members are even more explicit, threatening court-martial for any soldier for “maltreatment” of a dead enemy.)

The Pentagon is currently investigating. But the biggest fallout from the video may be to nip in the bud a new round of peace talks with the Taliban, which await a go-ahead from Afghan President Hamid Karzai (not a certainty; Karzai refused to go along with an earlier deal in December). So far, Taliban officials have said that this will not derail the talks:

As Jim pointed out earlier this week, this comes just after the Truth Vigilante Times drummed up more drone strikes which led to … more drone strikes.

It sure looks like someone is trying to make sure peace doesn’t break out in Afghanistan as well.

But who?

I’ll just float that question for now–I expect Jim or I will return to in it the coming days. For the moment, though, I just wanted to note that someone is pissing on the peace process in at least two different fronts.

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12 replies
  1. MadDog says:

    Adding to those suspicions regarding the assassination of Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan is this report yesterday via the AP that “best buddies – not!” Obama and Netanyahu spoke on the subject yesterday:

    “President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke Thursday about Iran amid tensions over the killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist, but the White House refused to comment on any role by Israel even as it continued to deny U.S. involvement…”

    As regards the Israeli tail wagging the US dog, it is rumored that said dog told tail to cool it!

  2. MadDog says:

    @MadDog: And in keeping with the “Pissing on the Peace Process(es)” regional theme, another one of our “best buddies – not!” appears ready to be pushed jump fall off that cliff. First, via the AP:

    Officials: Pakistani PM called UK, fearing coup

    Pakistan’s prime minister telephoned the top British diplomat in the country this week expressing fears that the Pakistani army might be about to stage a coup, a British official and an official in Islamabad said Friday.

    The call, which one official said was “panicky”, suggests there was – or perhaps still is – a genuine fear at the highest level of the Pakistani government that army might carry out a coup or support possible moves by the Supreme Court to topple the civilian leadership…”

    Second, via the BBC:

    Pakistan PM Gilani seeks parliament’s support in crisis

    “Pakistan’s PM Yousuf Raza Gilani has said parliament must choose between “democracy and dictatorship”, in a critical vote of confidence.

    Parliament is to vote on a resolution of confidence in its political leadership and democracy on Monday.

    The vote comes amid a deepening political crisis between the government, the military and judiciary.

    It will be held as a Supreme Court deadline expires for the government to reopen political corruption cases…”

  3. GKJames says:

    With respect to Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, what value could US denials still possibly have, no matter how straight the face with which they’re uttered? And even if the US weren’t directly involved in this particular case, US policy — including active financial and “technical” support for Iranian opposition groups to carry out what, if perpetrated by someone the US and Israel DIDN’T like, would qualify as acts of “terror” — and rhetoric over the years have communicated all too clearly American approval. To suggest, as Clinton does, that it wasn’t our guy on the motorcycle hence we had nothing to do with it, simply reaffirms the country’s (and the world’s) desperate need for statesmen rather than juveniles.

    As for which party in the dance has the greatest interest in escalation, the most direct explanation is the more likely one. Meaning that it isn’t Iran. With additional sanctions, with bellicose rhetoric from Washington and Jerusalem as salon-chair warriors muse about when and how best to assault Iran, and with Navy assets off the Iranian coast, the most conservative elements of the Iranian regime hardly need more ammunition against any accommodationist faction that might exist.

  4. ApacheTrout says:

    I’d like to add into the mix Panetta’s statement last weekend that Iran is not building a nuclear weapon. So it would seem that he’s making an effort to ratchet down tensions. But then he also stated:

    “But the responsible thing to do right now is to keep putting diplomatic and economic pressure on them to force them to do the right thing,” he said. “And to make sure that they do not make the decision to proceed with the development of a nuclear weapon.

    (my emphasis)

    The U.S. may condemn the attack and deny involvement, but I suspect each killing is met with a behind the scenes nod to Israel. Which makes me wonder if the U.S. and/or Israel has a developed a deck of cards identifying the nuclear scientists critical for the development of a nuclear weapon?

    In addition to asking who benefits from actual conflict, I think we should also ask the question: who benefits from keeping tensions high?

  5. William Ockham says:

    The timing on this article can’t be coincidental:

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/01/13/false_flag

    Mossad officers posing as CIA to hire Jundallah to assassinate Iranian officials (in 2008).

    This bit is interesting:

    The debate over Jundallah was resolved only after Bush left office when, within his first weeks as president, Barack Obama drastically scaled back joint U.S-Israel intelligence programs targeting Iran, according to multiple serving and retired officers.

    Since Obama’s initial order, U.S. intelligence services have received clearance to cooperate with Israel in a number of classified intelligence-gathering operations focused on Iran’s nuclear program, according to a currently serving officer. These operations are highly technical in nature, and do not involve covert actions targeting Iran’s infrastructure or political or military leadership.

    {Cough, Cough, Stuxnet/Duqu, Cough, Cough}

  6. klynn says:

    Thank you for noting the timing between these two events. When I stated to friends I saw them as related, I was told I was full of it.

    Thank you for making the point of their close timing quite clear in terms of motive.

  7. GKJames says:

    @emptywheel: Maybe, but — to the extent that Iran concurs in linking the two cases — what are the chances that the Iranians find US denials credible?

  8. rugger9 says:

    @GKJames: #9
    Zero, and they may have developed their own inside information.

    The trouble with hydra-headed operations being run right now by the USA, especially secret ones, is that mission discipline is dependent upon the unaccountable person in a position to do something. I cannot believe that every one of them, especially a REMF, would give one whit about the overall policy if they can score a short-term gain.

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