Saturday, August 9, 2014

Obama Discusses Iraqi Crisis, Iran Talks with Tom Friedman

President Barack Obama on Friday discussed Iraqi crisis and his decision to order airstrikes against Islamic State positions near Erbil with the New York Times columnist Tom Friedman. Obama also spoke of difficulties to strike a deal with Iran over its nuclear program and foreign policy issues, saying some “Islamic Leaders” may fear a pact would loosen their grip on power, clearly referring to Iran’s supreme leader and his close associates. 

Below are excerpts from a New York Times article on Friedman's interview with Obama. To read the article, please click here.
  • “(President Obama) was open to supporting a sustained effort to drive Sunni militants out of Iraq if Iraqi leaders form a more inclusive government, even as he vowed that the United States had no intention of ‘being the Iraqi air force.’”
  • “He ordered American fighter pilots back into the skies over Iraq, a decision that he said he reached after concluding that the United States needed to protect the Kurdish regions in the north and ‘bolster’ an Iraqi leadership that was panicked in the face of advances by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.”
  • ‘‘We’re not going to let them create some caliphate through Syria and Iraq,’ the president said… ‘But we can only do that if we know that we have got partners on the ground who are capable of filling the void.’”
  • “On Iran, the president said the chance that American efforts to strike a deal nuclear weapons is ‘a little less than 50-50,’ in part because some Islamic leaders may fear such a pact would loosen their grip on power.’”
  • “‘That may prevent us from getting a deal done… ‘It is there to be had. Whether ultimately Iran can seize that opportunity — we will have to wait and see, but it is not for lack of trying on our part.’”

 File photo: Jacqelyn Nartin/AP/NYTimes      


Anonymous said...

no idustrial level uran enrichment, no deal

Nader Uskowi said...

Industrial-scale uranium enrichment has become code words for the hard right in Iran to prevent a nuclear accord with P5+1 at this time, fearing such deal under Rouhani’s leadership will give the moderates victories in the next rounds of election for the Assembly of Experts and Majlis; their real concern is not the establishment of a new industry in the country, but losing their grip on power.

Mark Pyruz said...

With respect, Nader, I do not think industrial-scale nuclear power industry is merely a "code word."The Iranians have been forthright in their seeking of this capacity for many years now.

The Rouhani administration has been pursuing a diplomatic strategy where greater inspection on its a nuclear industry and various other compromises are offered as a means of allaying weaponization concerns, while continuing with the country's civilian, industrial-scale ambitions.

Elections will come and go, but the Islamic Repiblic is not going to give up its independence and sovereignty, which the indusrtial-scale nuclear industry is very much placed within said context.

Nader Uskowi said...

Mark, I beg to disagree. Building a new enrichment industry through an agreement with the West will not be a manifestation of the country's independence. The current nuclear talks for Iran were always about lifting sanctions and in turn Iran seemed willing, and sent strong signals of its readiness, to make compromise on the number of operational centrifuges to allay concerns about its breakout capabilities. This agreement was always to have an end date, after which Iran could have elected, on its own, and without a need to get Western approval, to build its enrichment industry, if indeed it made any economic sense.

At the eleventh hour, when signing a comprehensive agreement was in sight, Khamenei made a speech, and using technical language, demanded to keep 190,000 SWU enrichment capability, nearly 200,000 IR-1 centrifuges, a number that was never floated by the Iranian negotiating team during eight months of negotiations.

Khamenei's late and public intervention was to torpedo any chances the negotiating team had to reach an agreement with P5+1 by 20 July deadline. If Khamenei's main concern is building a uranium enrichment industry in Iran, which by the way might not be the most brilliant idea for economic and business reasons, he could start building it the day after the expiration of the comprehensive agreement, without any need to ask for P5+1 approval. I personally believe that Khamenei's main concern is to deny Rouhani and the moderates taking credit for lifting sanctions and consequently win the Assembly of Experts and Majlis elections next year, which would force sharing his immense powers with the moderates.