DEBKAfile October 3, 2012, 1:43 PM (GMT+02:00)
DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources report jitters in Tehran’s business sector since Wednesday morning amid fears of a continuous outbreak of strikes. Many shops shut their doors. The authorities claim the rumors are spread to undermine morale and stir up trouble. Both supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have been holding urgent consultations with their aides over the plunging economy. Money changers selling dollars at illegal rates were earlier rounded up. First clashes erupted between protesters and police in some parts of Tehran.
By The Christian Science Monitor
Friday, September 28, 2012 21:56 EDT
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stole the spotlight at the United Nations General Assembly yesterday when he pulled out a comic book-like diagram of a bomb midway through his podium address, figuratively drawing the red line on the Iranian nuclear program that he has demanded from the US.
For months, Mr. Netanyahu has been calling on the US to specify a point in Iran‘s nuclear development that, if crossed, would trigger military intervention. The US has steadfastly refused to commit itself to a specific point, prompting the Israeli leader to take his case to the international community.
While his presentation certainly got attention, some experts say that Netanyahu’s prop missed the mark, confusing where his red line lies rather than simplifying the issue. The problem, they said, is that his presentation conflated two different types of numbers.
The bomb chart showed percentage progress toward acquiring enough fissile material to make a bomb. Netanyahu said the Iranians were 70 percent of the way there and drew his now famous red line at the 90-percent threshold, a milestone he predicted would be reached sometimes next spring or summer.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 3, 2012, 6:41 PM (GMT+02:00)
The Iranian government Wednesday, Oct. 3, invoked the emergency measures drawn up for the 2009 protests to deploy large-scale Bassij militia forces in the capital and put down the first angry protests against mounting economic hardship and the plummeting rial.
debkafile’s Iranian sources report two waves of riots swept through Tehran’s trading centers Wednesday:
the stores trading gold coins and foreign currency on Fereowsi, Estanbol and Manoucheri Streets, and the celebrated gold jewelry market in the Tehran Bazaar.
Money changers and gold traders attacked police forces and torched their vehicles, playing cat and mouse with the officers after they arrested some of the money changers and accused them of black market dealings.
This was part of the regime’s effort to curtail the steep plunge of the Iranian currency against the dollar. Wednesday, a dollar went for 40,000 rials compared with 37,500 rials Tuesday and 24,000 only a week ago.
Fearing that the troubles Wednesday presaged a general strike shutting down the bazaar for an indefinite period, the authorities decided to draw the line before the unrest spread to the rest of the capital and other cities.
Two teams are now at work to deal with the crisis before it gets out of hand: One is meeting at the office of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei; the second, including Interior Minister Mostafa Mohamnmad-Najjar and Revolutionary commander of the Tehran district, is working on ways to rein in the crisis in the presidential bureau of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Both have received intelligence briefings, according to which there was a real risk of the Tehran merchants’ revolt igniting a popular uprising in Tehran that may well encompass the entire country.
The brutal Bassij militia were accordingly sent into Tehran. They were told to spread out early Thursday and force the merchants to open their shops. They were directed to act firmly but cautiously and avoid loss of life. Iran’s rulers are fully aware the any blood spilt at this stage would quickly inflame the masses.
By Nasser Karimi on October 02, 2012
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s president on Tuesday blamed the steep drop in Iran’s currency on “psychological pressures” linked to Western sanctions over Tehran’s nuclear program and Iran’s increasing bitter political battles.
The remarks were part of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s attempt to deflect criticism from political rivals that his government’s policies also have contributed to the nosedive of the Iranian rial, which has lost more than half its value against the U.S. dollar this year and has sharply pushed up costs for many imported goods.
The price hikes have added to the burdens on Iran’s economy as it struggles with tougher sanctions targeting its crucial oil exports and measures blocking it from key international banking networks. The U.S. and its allies have imposed the punishing measures in attempts to force Iranian concessions over its nuclear program, which the West says is aimed at developing atomic weapons. Tehran insists the program is for peaceful purposes.
An Iranian parliament member, Mohammad Bayatian, was quoted on the chamber’s website, icana.ir, as saying that enough signatures have been collected to force Ahmadinejad to face questioning before lawmakers over the currency’s tumble.
Ahmadinejad directly criticized parliament speaker Ali Larijani for his claims, reported by the semiofficial Fars news agency, that “80 percent” of economic problems were linked to government mismanagement and the rest to sanctions.
The rial’s sharp decline is attributed to a combination of Western sanctions and government policies, such as fueling inflation by increasing the money supply while also holding down bank interest rates, which prompted many people to withdraw their rials to exchange for foreign currency.
By Amir Paivar BBC Persian business reporter
As international sanctions against Iran have tightened, the value of the Iranian currency has plummeted.
Ferdowsi Street in central Tehran is named after Ferdowsi, a poet who millennia ago compiled the Epic of Persian Kings and their eternal, mythical battle with evil.
The road is home to a long row of small shops where three types of money traders operate: “illegal” street money-changers, licensed exchange bureaux and, last but by no means least, big traders who move and shake the market with a phone call from their drab offices in the back alleys.
Street money-changers walk up and down the pavement shouting or whispering (depending on how much the government likes them at the time) the words “dollar, pound, euro”. They offer good deals for small transactions, turning a few notes into rial for tourists or locals.
The exchange bureaux are licensed and monitored by Iran’s central bank and handle bigger transactions. They are normally caught between a central bank that sometimes dictates exchange rates, and a market that works on more acceptable, basic rules of supply and demand.
The kingmakers, though, are the big traders of the back alleys, “the invisible mafia” as the government prefers to brand them, those who are blamed for everything that goes wrong with Iran’s currency market.
In the recent crisis this so-called mafia is accused of scooping dollars out of the market in a move challenging government measures to contain the crisis.
DEBKAfile October 2, 2012, 8:14 AM (GMT+02:00)
Israel’s Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon responded to the Iranian currency’s record slump against the dollar by saying that although sanctions were biting hard into the Iranian economy, the centrifuges (enriching uranium) continued to spin without pause. Only a combination of three elements had any chance of stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program, said the minister: tough sanctions, isolation and a credible threat of military force.
In Tehran’s street market on Saturday, one American dollar traded for 28,800 Iranian rials, a record six percent drop from the previous day. Yaalon noted that Iran was still investing vast sums in military and intelligence coin for propping up the Assad regime in Syria.
Oct 2 2012, 10:17 AM ET
One of the prime missed opportunities of the Obama Administration came during the Iranian “Green Revolution” uprisings of 2009. The President could have advanced American moral and strategic interests by standing up more boldly for the young demonstrators protesting totalitarianism. But he was too passive in his approach. And passivity, it would turn out, is a theme of the Obama Administration’s approach to the Middle East. On the most important and urgent issue, the Iranian nuclear program, Obama is an activist president, but on a range of other issues, passivity — or “aggressive hedging,” in the words of Shadi Hamid, the director of research at the Brookings Institution’s center in Qatar — is the rule. From my Bloomberg View column this week:
“…Obama’s record in the Middle East suggests that missed opportunities are becoming a White House specialty.
Syria is the most obvious example. Assad is a prime supporter of terrorism (as opposed to Qaddafi, who had retired from terrorism sponsorship by the time his people rose up against him), and his regime represents Iran’s only meaningful Arab ally. The overriding concern of the Obama administration in the Middle East is the defanging of Iran. Nothing would isolate Iran — and its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah — more than the removal of the Assad regime and its replacement by a government drawn from Syria’s Sunni majority. Ensuring that Muslim extremists don’t dominate the next Syrian government is another compelling reason to increase U.S. involvement…
“There’s a widespread perception in the region that Obama is a weak, somewhat feckless president,” (Shadi) Hamid… told me. “Bush may have been hated, but he was also feared, and what we’ve learned in the Middle East is that fear, sometimes at least, can be a good thing. Obama’s aggressive hedging has alienated both sides of the Arab divide. Autocrats, particularly in the Gulf, think Obama naively supports Arab revolutionaries, while Arab protesters and revolutionaries seem to think the opposite.”
Leaders across the Middle East don’t take Obama’s threats seriously. Neither Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor the Arab leaders of the Gulf countries believe he’ll act militarily against Iran’s nuclear program in his second term.
Obama’s handling of Middle East peace negotiations couldn’t be characterized as passive; they could, however, be described as thoughtless. Obama publicly demanded that Netanyahu freeze settlement growth on the West Bank. When Netanyahu only partially and temporarily complied, Obama, in reaction, did nothing. Obama was wrong to draw a line in the sand over settlements, which are a derivative issue (if the Israelis and Palestinians settle their borders, the settlement issue will also be solved). But because he made it an issue without a thought to follow-up, he managed to freeze the peace process.
By Stephen Lendman, Contributor
October 2, 2012
In January 2009, Obama succeeded Bush. Neocons stuck around. They infest Washington. War gets their juices flowing. They urge it on Syria and Iran.
Potential catastrophic consequences don’t matter. Uber-hawks don’t worry about them. It’s someone else’s problem.
Romney is America’s Netanyahu. Both talks about red lines, deadlines, and timelines. Claims about an existential Iranian threat don’t wash. Both know it. They’ll say anything further their imperial aims. More on Romney below.
Previous articles discussed Netanyahu in detail. Haaretz presents both sides. Ari Shavit plays resident hawk. He’s both senior correspondent and editorial board member. On September 29, he called Iran’s nuclear threat “as daunting as ever.”
“It’s clear: one way or another, Iran is going to change our lives,” he claimed. “If Iran becomes a nuclear power….(t)here will be no chance for peace and no prospect of normality….The far-reaching implications of the challenge posed by Iran’s nuclear project were known a decade ago.”
“Instead of curbing Iran, the United States became entangled in Iraq and Afghanistan. Israel was preoccupied with settlements instead of being preoccupied with centrifuges. Europe froze as though crippled.”
Netanyahu rose to the challenge, said Shavit. Bibi understands Iran, he added. From day one as prime minister, his mission “was to thwart Iranian nuclearization.” He established a “military option.”
His strategy produced “impressive results.” Why Haaretz puts up with this rubbish it’ll have to explain. It knows, or should, that Iran poses no threat whatever. Its nuclear program is peaceful. Current and former Israeli officials say so. US intelligence says it annually.
Counterparts in America and elsewhere concur. So do other Haaretz contributors. Thankfully they show up often. Many times they don’t tell all, but at least discuss things that matter. They include truths excluded from Western media.
So do Haaretz editorials. On September 30, “Red lines, black portrait” was headlined. Netanyahu was taken to task. Under his leadership, “ultranationalism and the medieval forces of radical Judaism paint a black portrait of Israel.”
His “childish” bomb stunt fell flat. He became a caricature of himself using it. At the same time, he ignored calls for peace with Palestine and normalizing relations with all regional states.
He bragged about Israel’s achievements. He’s allied with extremists in his government and like-minded rabbis. They “deny children the right to a basic education and women (get) relegated to the back of public buses.”
“His modern government denies liberty to another nation.” He “deports refugees, sending them to their deaths.”
He “persecutes human rights organizations and violates academic freedom.” While unjustifiably setting red lines, “one out of three Israeli children goes to sleep under the poverty line, and one out of four Israeli scientists seeks” employment opportunities elsewhere.
His preoccupation with nonexistent threats leaves vital domestic issues unaddressed. His rage for war makes peace unattainable.
Romney is his American counterpart. Both represent real existential threats. Failure to denounce their irresponsibility increases the chance for war. Preventing it is before it starts matters most. Afterwards it’s too late.
Romney got Wall Street Journal space to rant. “A New Course for the Middle East” was headlined. Committed opposition is needed against what he has in mind. So far, he’s an unelected menace.
His ideas exceed what’s sensible, safe, and lawful. Claiming Iran heads “full tilt toward nuclear weapons capability, all the while promising to annihilate Israel” is pure garbage he knows holds no water, but he says it anyway.
He claimed America is “at the mercy of events rather than shaping them. We’re not moving them in a direction that protects our people or our allies.”
America and Israel have no threats except ones they create. Together they menace humanity. So do Romney and Netanyahu. Saying Obama “heightened the prospect of conflict and instability” is true.
Omitted is that he and other neocon uber-hawks elevate risks to a higher level. What’s unthinkable they make more likely. He wants no daylight between US and Israeli policy.
He wants America marching recklessly into the same breach. He stopped short of urging war but did so through Elliott Abrams. He’s Paul Ryan’s foreign policy advisor. He headlined his Weekly Standard article “Time to Authorize Use of Force Against Iran.”
Both favor mass slaughter and destruction. So does Romney. He’s comfortable with Abrams saying:
“At the moment, no one is persuaded that the United States will use force to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. That situation worries Israelis and emboldens Iranians, not the outcome we want.”
“A clear statement now that is backed by the nominees of both parties and elicits widespread support in Congress would demonstrate that, whatever the election results, American policy is set.”
He, Romney and Ryan want congressional war authorization similar to the blank check Bush got post-9/11. Likeminded neocons concur. So does Obama but on his timetable.
Imagine what’s coming under either leader. Imagine the unimaginable but expect it. Last December, Romney told Fox News he’ll have military options prepared on Iran.
He barely stopped short of saying he’ll attack. His implication was clear. He and likeminded neocons represent real threats. They’re mindless about a new Chicago Council on Global Affairs poll.
It shows 70% of Americans oppose attacking Iran unilaterally, and 59% said if Israel goes it alone, Washington shouldn’t defend its action.
On September 15, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd railed against neocons her way. Her column headlined “Neocons Slither Back,” saying:
“(N)eocon puppet master Dan Señor” represents Paul Ryan, and by implication Romney. Along with Abrams and perhaps others, he was hired to “graft a Manichaean worldview….”
He supports a “muscular foreign policy.” He disdains “weakness and diplomacy.” He considers it “a duty to invade and bomb Israel’s neighbors.” He endorses “a divine right to preemption.”
Haven’t we already been there and done that disastrously? It’s “all ominously familiar,” said Dowd. Señor and likeminded uber-hawks blundered America into endless unwinnable wars.
Trillions of dollars were wasted. Billions more go down the drain daily. Millions of lives were lost. Many more die daily. “We’re still stumbling in the dark.”
“We not only don’t know who our allies and enemies are, we don’t know who our allies’ and enemies’ allies and enemies are.”
Dowd omitted the obvious Pogo analogy that “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
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