الرئيسية » English Articles » Kurds-DTP-PKK-Turkey


1. Ankara Considering PKK’s Proposals on Dialog
2. Possible PKK meetings President and Journalist
3. Village guards a great source of crime for 17 years
4. Operation against DTP-5,000 People on 2-Day Hunger Strike in Protest of DTP Arrests
5. Turkey has no plans to abolish rural militia
6. Dialogue the answer, says PKK
7. KHRP Conducts Fact-Finding Mission in Kurdish Regions of Turkey
8. Ekmen: JITEM was behind Güçlükonak massacre
9. Arab-Kurd Conflict Deepens In Mosul
10. Syrian law forbids the use of Kurdish language
11. US renews sanctions against Syria
12. Israel would not ask U.S. before hitting Iran
13. EU lawmakers to Obama: Lift ban on Iranian group
14. Time running out to stop Iran nuclear pursuit, investigator says
1. Ankara Considering PKK’s Proposals on Dialog

By: Emrullah Uslu
Eurasia Daily Monitor
Volume: 6 Issue: 88

Turkey, the United States and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have long worked toward ending the conflict between the PKK and Turkey. On the one hand, the Kurdish leaders in Iraq tried to set up a national conference in May, to declare a memorandum calling on the PKK to lay down its arms. However, Turkey has increased its cooperation with the U.S. and Iraqi Kurds in order to end the conflict militarily if the PKK refuses to end its armed struggle (EDM, April 16).
Against this background the PKK declared a unilateral ceasefire in March and extended it until June 1. Despite that ceasefire, however, the PKK targeted Turkish military units several times within the last two weeks killing at least 11 soldiers (Hurriyet, Milliyet, April 30, Zaman, May, 6).
While these developments surrounding the PKK were taking place, the Turkish and Kurdish communities were uncertain as to the thinking within the PKK concerning these recent events. The PKK released several press statements about various issues, including the Kurdish national conference, the election process, and the rapprochement between the KRG and Turkey (Radikal, March 19).
The PKK’s acting leader Murat Karayilan gave an interview to the Turkish press sharing the organization’s view of these issues. In February 2008, the Chief editor of the liberal daily Taraf, a widely read newspaper among Kurds, went to Kandil mountain to interview Karayilan, though he refused to speak to the Turkish press at that time (Febuary 3, 2008). It now seems that Karayilan decided that it was an appropriate moment for the PKK to hold such an interview. Consequently, the well known journalist Hasan Cemal, was invited to Kandil mountain for an exclusive interview to discover the PKK’s thinking on the possibility of peace between Turkey and the Kurds (Milliyet, May 5).
In the interview Karayilan stated, “We do not have any intention to propagate the PKK’s views. We are optimistic and have hopes for peace. That is why we decided to talk to you” (Milliyet, May 5). Karayilan on behalf of the PKK, outlined that the parties have reached a historic moment in their quest for peace: “After 1993 this is the second opportunity that we have gained, bringing peace closer. As a first step toward peace, what needs to be done is to stop the clashes between the two sides. No-one should fire on the other side” (Milliyet, May 5).
Karayilan argued that no-one could defeat the PKK by military means, and the struggle during the last 25 years had proven this point. After ensuring that no-one targets the other side, the next step is to negotiate with Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned PKK leader. If Turkey does not want to negotiate with him, the alternative is to negotiate directly with the PKK leadership. Failing that, either the [pro-PKK] Democratic Society Party (DTP) or a “wise man committee,” composed of respected people, such as Ilter Turkmen, the former minister of foreign affairs, could establish dialog with the state (Milliyet, May 5).
It is the first time that the PKK has accepted at this level the idea of dialog between a “wise man committee” and Turkey. However, neither the PKK nor the Turkish government has the political culture to establish such a dialog. That process could only be possible if the EU pressures the Turkish government and the PKK to accept such steps toward finding a solution for the
2. Possible PKK meetings President and Journalist

May 9, 2009

by Wladimir van Wilgenburg
Transitional Middle East Observer

Turkish newspapers report that President Abdullah Gul and Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek will speak with Hasan Cemal who recently visited PKK in Qandil mountains. According to Taha Akyol both the president, deputy prime minister, and the chairman of the anti-terror council want to discuss the PKK issue with Hasan Cemal.

Cemal will go to Ankara next week and will also speak with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutolgu. According to Hurriyet columnist Ergutul Ozkok this shows the importance of Cemal’s visit. Some Turkish newspapers reported there is a new stimulus for a peace process in Turkey. But it seems the chances on peace between the state and the Kurdistan Workers Party are unlikely.

Saturday three village guards and two civilians died during a bomb attack in Sirnak. It’s isn’t clear who was behind it. The PKK didn’t claim the bomb attack. During the meeting of Hasan Cemal with PKK general Murat Karayilan, Karayilan called for an end of the war.
3. Village guards a great source of crime for 17 years

08 May.2009

The village guards system is a great source of crime in the Region according to the Human Rights Association or IHD’s report which contents the total data of 17 years about guards’ crimes between 1992 and 2009. The village guards have a wide range of crime from emptying villages to harassment and rape which are stated by the IHD’s report.
The village guards system has been already on the agenda since mass massacre had been occurred in the Bilge Village in where 44 people had been killed by the village guards.

Öztürk Türkdoğan, chair of IHD and Sevim Salihoğlu, general secretary of IHD organized a press release to share data of IHD’s report about the village guards’ crime files.

According to data of the report village guards have been involved in lot of crimes along 17 years between 1992 and 2009 such as burning 38 villages, emptying 14 villages, 14 harassing and raping cases, 22 kidnapping, killing of 234 people and injuring 236 others by 294 armed attack, 50 executions, 70 seizures by violence, 562 torture and mal treatment, 2 missing.
What is the relation between temporary village guards and JİTEM.

Saying the village guard system is the one which needs to be abolished Öztürk Türkdoğan went on; last case proved us that we were right when we shared our worries about this system. Government was also not sure about this system because of this it was begun as a temporarily system. Now it is very clear that this diseased system should be abandoned as soon as possible. There is also one more point needs to be clear that the relation between temporary village guards and JİTEM.

4. Operation against DTP-5,000 People on 2-Day Hunger Strike in Protest of DTP Arrests

On Sunday, DTP politicians, members and supporters began a two-day hunger strike in Diyarbakır.
Emine ÖZCAN – emine@bianet.org – Diyarbakır – BİA News Center – 04 May 2009
The pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) has begun a mass hunger strike as part of its protest against the detentions and arrests of DTP party members. Party co-chairs, MPs, mayors and thousands of others gathered in Koşuyolu Park, the largest park in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır yesterday (3 May) and began a two-day hunger strike. DTP party chair Ahmet Türk, deputy chair Emine Ayna, and Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipal Mayor Osman Baydemir were among the strikers.
DTP Diyarbakır MP Akın Birdal spoke with bianet about the protest.
“People need to be listened to”
“I interpret what has been done to the DTP as a misreading of the local election results, as a misunderstanding of what the people feel.”
He added, “People have to understand the message of peace of the crowd that includes children, mothers, and young people, a message for a democratic solution of the Kurdish question. I hope that after this two-day protest people will be listened to.”
Party co-chair Ahmet Türk had said “This attack on our party practically encourages people to go to the mountains (i.e. join the PKK).”
Birdal commented, “Türk criticised the fact that political channels were being obstructed by the state, he did not say that people would go to the mountains. He emphasised a democratic solution to the problem. Recognition of the issue is not enough anymore, there needs to be acceptance and constitutional change.”
In operations in 12 provinces, over 200 people had been detained and 52 were arrested, among them leading party members.
The protesters have gathered for the hunger strike in tents put up in the park. The protest started at 10 am. The strikers will only drink water, tea and coffee, but not eat anything until 4 pm today (4 May). The DTP has further announced a rally in Van, eastern Turkey, on 23 May, and one in Istanbul the following day. (EZÖ/AG)
5. Turkey has no plans to abolish rural militia

Sat May 9, 2009

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey’s interior minister said on Saturday Ankara had no plans to abolish the village militia system after its members were implicated in a wedding massacre, despite growing calls to rein in the heavily armed force.
Forty-four people were killed in Monday’s attack near the southeastern town of Mardin which ranked as the worst mass killing in modern Turkish history. Eleven people are under arrest after the violence, blamed on a family feud.
Officials have said the perpetrators were members of state-sponsored “village guards” set up to help combat Kurdish separatists.
“We are not working on abolishing the militia,” Interior Minister Besir Atalay told reporters.
“I find these statements a little exaggerated. It is not fair to blame the militia for the tragedy in Mardin. The militia system was built based on needs Turkey has and they have played an important role in the protection of villages.”
His comments came two days after Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek said the village guard system could be reformed or abolished.
The military, which is fighting Kurdish guerrillas in a 25-year separatist conflict in the southeast, has defended the militia, saying it is wrong to establish a link between the massacre in the village of Bilge and the guard system.
Human rights groups have accused village guards of illegal killings and drug trafficking, but experts have warned it will be difficult to abolish the militia overnight, given the guards’ importance as a source of income in the impoverished region.
There are around 60,000 village guards in the southeast.
The militias were established in 1985 during the height of the separatist conflict to protect villages against attacks from Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) guerrillas seeking an independent Kurdish homeland in southeast Turkey.
The Mardin wedding killings, blamed on a feud over property and who should marry the bride, have highlighted the social and economic underdevelopment plaguing the European Union-candidate’s southeast.
(Writing by Ibon Villelabeitia; Editing by Sophie Hares)
6. Dialogue the answer, says PKK

6 May 2009
by Hasan Cemal
Hurriyet Daily News

KANDİL, N. Iraq -The opportunity to end the violence should not be missed and dialogue should replace the sound of guns, said the acting leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.

First the weapons have to fall silent. No attacks should be launched, and then we should talk to each other. Not with guns but through dialogue,” said Murat Karayılan from the PKK’s base in northern Iraq’s Kandil mountain range.
It is believed that Karayılan has run the PKK from Kandil since the arrest and jailing of Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the PKK, in 1999. Öcalan is serving a life sentence. Karayılan said the opportunity for peace was missed in 1993 due to a lack of political will at the time. “We want the bloodshed to stop because years pass and we keep returning to the same point. The PKK won’t be finished by military means,” said Karayılan.
He said the way to peace is by first silencing the weapons before talking about laying down arms and then starting a dialogue. He said a joint commission could be established somewhere to bring together a group of wise men to discuss matters, said Karayılan. In response to the deaths of 10 soldiers in the Southeast last week despite the PKK announcing a unilateral cease-fire until June, Karayılan said: “We are sorry about that, too. It wasn’t planned from the center.
It was a local-level initiative. Such actions are taken in self-defense.” The PKK took up arms in 1984. Turkey, the United States and the European Union list the PKK as a terrorist organization.

Meanwhile, one more soldier was killed in southeastern Turkey yesterday after stepping on a landmine, the Doğan news agency reported.
7. KHRP Conducts Fact-Finding Mission in Kurdish Regions of Turkey

Kurdish Human Rights Project

8 May 2009 – Press Release
KHRP Conducts Fact-Finding Mission in Kurdish Regions of Turkey

KHRP representatives travelled to the Kurdish regions of Turkey this week to investigate the human rights situation there, with a particular focus on women’s access to justice, impunity for state agents, issues affecting the work of human rights defenders and the human rights impact of ‘high security zones’.
Beginning on 2 May, the fact-finding mission travelled to the provinces of Diyarbakır, Mardin, Siirt and Şırnak to interview local mayors, human rights activists, lawyers and journalists.
Questions of impunity and access to justice have been pushed to the fore recently by the ongoing trial in Turkey of alleged members of the ultra-nationalist ‘Ergenekon’ network, which has been linked to crimes including extra-judicial killings and bombings. Those on trial include retired military officers and politicians, and evidence that has emerged from the case has led to fresh excavations in the Kurdish regions in a search for the remains of individuals who disappeared during the conflict there. Concerns about the human rights situation in southeast Turkey has also been underlined recently by a wave of arrests of pro-Kurdish politicians and activists following local elections in March.
‘Unfortunately this latest fact-finding mission confirmed that the human rights situation in the Kurdish regions remains deeply alarming,’ said KHRP Deputy Director Rachel Bernu, who took part in the mission. ‘There are systematic obstacles to filing complaints against officials accused of abuses and women in particular face serious difficulties in accessing justice. Missions such as this serve a vital purpose in highlighting such problems and developing recommendations for how to address them.’
A full report of the mission’s findings and recommendations will be available in the coming weeks.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Michael Farquhar/Rachel Bernu – khrp@khrp.org www.khrp.org
8. Ekmen: JITEM was behind Güçlükonak massacre

May 7, 2009
Today’s Zaman

Adnan Ekmen, former human rights minister, says that the attack in Şırnak’s Güçlükonak district that killed 11 village guards in 1996 wasn’t the work of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), but of the counterrorist unit JITEM. Today’s Zaman reported on 11 April that an Ergenekon colonel could be behind it.
The massacre was initially blamed on the PKK which had proclaimed a unilateral ceasefire and strongly denied any responsibility. According to the PKK it was a false flag operation by the Turkish deep state to disrupt the ceasefire. Amnesty International in 1998 already questioned the allegations that the militant PKK was behind it. In the hight of the struggle between the PKK and the Turkish state in the nineties the PKK killed women, children and old people in korucu villages (village guard) according to expert Martin van Bruinessen. During this civil war both sides destroyed villages.
The DTP, Pro-PKK media and the pro-PKK blog Rastibini claim the recent massacre in Mardin also had the goal to disrupt the PKK ceasefire (From 29 March till 1 June). The Turkish newspaper Milliyet reported that a survivor said the murderers tried to blame the PKK and therefore wanted to kill all witnesses. Another story is that the village guards tried to kill all of the wedding participants, in an effort to prevent retaliation by the survivors. In general the massacre is seen as a blood feud.
But despite these allegations, the AKP Interior Minister Besir Atalay immediately pointed out after massacre that evidence ruled out involvement of terrorist organizations. It could also be a possibility that the murderers wanted to escape prosecution by blaiming it on the PKK.
Next to this the PKK itself broke it’s ceasefire on 13 April when the PKK it says they killed 17 soldiers (unconfirmed) and again on 29 April, when they killed 10 soldiers (which was confirmed by Turkish newpapers). According to PKK general Murat Karayilan the 29 April attack wasn’t planned in the headquarters and was ‘self-defence’ by local PKK members. Despite that the attack was claimed by the HPG military wing. Also the attack of 13 April was reported as a ‘revenge’ attack for the death of Kurdish demonstrators.
It’s likely the Mardin massacre could push the government to reform the village guard system, although it’s seen as necessary to combat the PKK and gives an economic perspective for village guard families who are dependent on state money. Yesterday dozens of village guards laid down their weapons in to protest against the massacre. A lot of families are also leaving the area where it happened.
9. Arab-Kurd Conflict Deepens In Mosul

by Quil Lawrence

All Things Considered, May 8, 2009 · American troops are scheduled to withdraw from Iraqi cities by the end of June. But U.S. commanders have expressed concern about security in Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, where ethnic tensions between Arabs and Kurds run high. Shootings and bombings still occur almost daily.
Elections in Mosul in January did not calm the situation. The new Arab-dominated provincial government in Mosul declined to give Kurdish representatives seats on the cabinet, increasing rancor between the rival groups that threatens to spread across the north of Iraq.
Arabs Assert Control
Many of Iraq’s military commanders during Saddam Hussein’s regime came from Mosul. After the American invasion, al-Qaida and Sunni Arab insurgents made Mosul their haven, and Sunni Arabs shunned elections there in 2005.
But in January, an Arab nationalist coalition called al-Hadba won elections in the province of 2.6 million people. The previous ruling coalition, dominated by Kurds, came in second. Despite the split, al-Hadba announced that it would not give the Kurds any cabinet positions in the new government.
Sheik Abdullah Ajil al-Yawar, leader of al-Hadba’s largest faction, says the Kurds need to respect Iraqi law and respect that voters gave al-Hadba the majority. He lives outside Mosul in a palatial estate, guarded by tribal fighters in bulletproof cars.
The Kurdish party won only one-third of the votes, and al-Yawar defends the decision to shut Kurds out of the government.
“How many states in the United States did not vote for Obama?” he asks. Can people who voted for John McCain say, “We will not listen to Obama because we did not elect him?”
Kurds Pull Out Of Provincial Government
But winner-takes-all politics have not gone over well. The 12 elected members of the Kurdish coalition walked out of the 37-member council. When al-Hadba still didn’t budge, they went further.
The mayors from several Kurdish-majority districts around Mosul gathered April 20 to announce that they will no longer participate in the provincial government — effectively, they seceded.
Anti-Kurdish violence also has prompted most of those mayors to stay away from Mosul. The mayors have a stronger relationship with the neighboring Kurdistan autonomous region in northern Iraq, which would like to annex their territory. The Iraqi constitution provides for a referendum on such disputed territories, but politics in the Mosul region would make such a referendum difficult, if not impossible.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki recently appealed for inclusion of Kurds alongside Arabs in the provincial government. The new al-Hadba governor says talks with the Kurds have been postponed indefinitely.
Kurds’ Painful Memories Of Mosul
A group of Kurdish teenagers plays soccer every afternoon in Shaykhan, one of the towns north of Mosul whose leaders decided to withdraw from the provincial government.
The young men here say they feel free and safe in Kurdistan. They may have been swayed by the newly built, fenced-in soccer field with artificial turf, which, along with all the other services in town, came from the Kurdistan regional government.
For people in these towns, Mosul brings back painful memories of life in the Saddam era, says Khasro Goran, leader of the Kurdish parties in Mosul.
“We have very bad history with the former governors. They always excluded Kurds from everything. It was unable for Kurds to own a house in this city. They kicked out Kurds from a lot of districts and brought others, especially Arabs, to these areas. They don’t want these things [to] be repeated again,” he says.
Goran himself is not relaxed in Mosul; his own guards are visibly nervous as they move around the city, passing Arab-controlled police checkpoints. When Goran’s Kurdish party list won the elections here last time, they put Arabs in top positions, he says, because they knew Arabs were the real majority.
Now, the Arab-led provincial government must include some Kurds, Goran says.
“When we are not there, who will solve the problem? By force? This is the only way that they can solve the problems,” he says.
Kurd-Arab Conflict Continues
But Goran doubts the two sides will find peace in Mosul. He says tens of thousands of Kurds have already fled the city. Goran thinks the only solution is the referendum stipulated in the Iraqi constitution that will allow the disputed towns to join the Kurdish region.
Al-Yawar, al-Hadba’s leader, disagrees. He says none of the people on the Kurdish list are fit for the government in Mosul. He says their true allegiance is to the Kurdish region.
“There is no future if they keep pushing, ‘This land for me, this land for me.’ It is not a piece of cake. All Iraq for all the Iraqis, not for the Arab or Shiite or Sunni or Kurd or Turkoman,” he says, referring to Iraq’s major ethnic and sectarian groups.
10. Syrian law forbids the use of Kurdish language

Translated by Abram ŞAHÎN
The translation of the document

Province of Hasaka – City Council of Maalikia (1)
No. /1118/ – Date 23/11/2008
Final Warning

To book stors, offices, publishing houses and printing establishments owners and calligraph-ers in Maalikia city;
Excuting to the instructions of Strengthening Arabic Language Committee that concern with protecting and taking care of Arabic language, we order the following:
1.It is strictly prohibited to Print any card, posting card, ads paper or bulletin board in any language except Arabic. And if the name of a shop or office is not in Arabic it must be written with Arabic characters as its pronunciation and the Roman characters may be written but in small size under the Arabic letters like: Maria.
2.It is strictly prohibited and liable to punishment and limited advertising or billboard in the romanization only, whatever the name is.
Appreciating your cooperation
President of City Council of Maalikia
Engineer Jan Al-Qess Yosef
(stamp and signature)
(1) Maalikia is a Kurdish city eastern Qamishlo city near Turkish and Iraqi boundari
11. US renews sanctions against Syria

May 8, 2009
Financial Times

The Obama administration has renewed its sanctions against Syria for another year, citing a continuing “national emergency” facing the US from Syria’s support for terrorist organisations and weapons trade.
The sanctions were extended after Jeffrey Feltman, a senior state department official, held “constructive” talks on Thursday during his second visit to Syria in as many months, as part of a drive to improve relations with Damascus.
The sanctions, which were introduced by the Bush administration in 2004, will remain in place for another year, a state department official told the Financial Times.
The order mainly affects weapons trade, Syrian Air, and the property of people with links to anti-Israeli groups including Hamas, Hizbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
It was introduced to crack down on Syria’s suspected support for terrorism and terrorist leaders, and alleged support for insurgent groups in Iraq.
“The national emergency with respect to Syria remains in effect because Syria continued to not meet its international obligations. We continue to have serious concerns about Syria’s actions,” the US official said.
Amid tentative steps towards détente with Syria, some members of Congress had been lobbying President Barack Obama to renew the order.
“Unfortunately, it remains Syrian policy to continue a destabilising agenda in the region,” representatives Mark Kirk (Republican-Illinois) and Eliot Engel (Democrat-New York) wrote in a letter to the president.
“Weakening sanctions now, just before the Lebanese parliamentary election in June, would embolden Syria’s attitude toward Lebanon and potentially cause certain factions to question the new administration’s resolve regarding Lebanon’s independence,” they said.
However, Washington stressed that the extension of the order should not impinge on the two countries’ recent efforts to improve relations.
“The president has noted we will continue to use dialogue with Syria to clearly communicate our differences, advance US interests and fund ways to make progress on a number of issues,” the official said. “Going forward, we will be looking for Syria to play a constructive role through actions that demonstrate its commitment to regional stability and security.”
Mr Feltman met Walid Moallem, the Syrian foreign minister, in Damascus on Thursday and said they had “constructive” talks. Mr Moallem, however, stressed it was still early days. “This is a time when US intentions towards Syria will be put to the test,” he said.
The Obama administration’s efforts to improve ties with Syria are still at a “fact finding” stage, diplomats say, but are picking up speed.
Underscoring Washington’s difficult relationship with Syria, Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, the Iranian president, was feted during a visit to Damascus on Tuesday. Iran is Syria’s closest ally in the region and the two have been working on a number of industrial projects, many of which appear to amount to little but are an attempt to present a united front to the west.
12. Israel would not ask U.S. before hitting Iran

Wednesday, 06 May 2009
By Dan Williams

TEL AVIV (Reuters) – When he first got word of Israel’s sneak attack on the Iraqi atomic reactor in 1981, U.S. President Ronald Reagan privately shrugged it off, telling his national security adviser: “Boys will be boys!”
Would Barack Obama be so sanguine if today’s Israelis made good on years of threats and bombed Iran’s nuclear facilities, yanking the United States into an unprecedented Middle East eruption that could dash his goal of easing regional tensions through revived and redoubled U.S. outreach?
For that matter, would Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu readily take on Iran alone, given his country’s limited firepower and the risk of stirring up a backlash against the Jewish state among war-weary, budget-strapped Americans?
Obama is no Reagan. And many experts believe the two allies are now so enmeshed in strategic ties — with dialogue at the highest level of government and military — that complete Israeli autonomy on a major issue like Iran is notional only.
So while no one questions Israel’s willingness to attack should it deem U.S.-led talks on curbing Iranian uranium enrichment a dead end, such strikes would almost certainly entail at least last-minute coordination with Washington.
Israel would want to ensure that its jets would not be shot down by accident if overflying U.S.-occupied Iraq, and to give Americans in the Gulf forewarning of possible Iranian reprisals.
“Whether or not Israel got the green light from Washington to attack Iran is almost immaterial, as everybody in the region would believe that the U.S. was complicit,” said Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
One U.S. diplomat envisaged Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak telephoning Pentagon chief Robert Gates, unannounced, “to give a heads-up and explain” once the mission were under way.
Gates and the U.S. military brass have voiced distaste for pre-emptive strikes on Iran, which says its uranium enrichment is for legitimate electricity production, not weapons. But their public comments have acknowledged that Israel could break rank.
“I do not doubt that Israel will do what it thinks it needs to do, regardless of whether the U.S. approves,” said Mark Fitzpatrick, non-profileration expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.
“Israel would seek forgiveness, not permission.”
A retired Israeli general who advises the government on strategic issues suggested there was a tacit synchronicity in recent messages about Iran from Israel and the United States:
“The Israeli threat adds urgency to Obama’s calls for diplomatic engagement, and should Israel take things into its hands, the Americans retain wriggle room, some deniability.”
Israel’s bombing in 2007 of what the CIA described as a North Korean-built reactor in Syria may provide a precedent.
According to a source familiar with the operation, Israel carried out the sortie alone, but only after “letting the Americans know that something like this could happen. It’s the difference between informing, and seeking consent.”
It was the United States which, a year later, published the allegations about the bombed site, pitting its clout as a superpower against Syrian denials. Israel, which has never discussed the attack, was spared the burden of proving its case.
As both Obama and Netanyahu head new governments, the Israeli former general said any joint strategy would go unformed at least until the leaders held their first summit on May 18.
“There’s a sense that no decision has been made on either side,” he said. “My impression is that the current American statements are for the record, to convince the international community about the seriousness of the Obama administration’s efforts to talk Tehran into a solution.”
Regardless of Obama’s eventual stance, it would be severely tested should U.S. interests be threatened — say, with Iran answering an Israeli bombing by goading Shi’ites in Iraq to stoke the embers of their insurgency, or by choking off oil exports.
“Whatever temporary sense of solidarity with Israel that ensued would be through gritted teeth,” said Fitzpatrick, a former U.S. State Department official.
Then again, drawing in the United States, with its superior air power, could serve Israel’s endgame of putting paid to Iran’s nuclear facilities. Most analysts think Israel’s warplanes might set back Iran’s plans by a few years at best and could never erase the knowledge of Iran’s atomic scientists.
After reacting to the 1981 Iraq strike by saying — according to then-National Security Adviser Richard Allen — “You know what, Dick? Boys will be boys!,” Reagan rapped Israel by holding up a shipment of F-16 jets.
Future U.S. administrations would thank the Israelis for denting the might of Saddam Hussein — whom the Reagan White House backed against Iran at the time.
Fitzpatrick said U.S. public opinion would swing in Israel’s favour “if Iran is stopped from achieving a nuclear weapons capability, and the price is not too great in terms of attacks on American citizens and facilities.”
Obama’s punitive options could, in theory, include cutting the billions in U.S. defence aid and loan guarantees to Israel, though he would face opposition in an Israel-friendly Congress.
Washington could also call for a nuclear-free Middle East as part of a regional peace drive, arguing that, with Iran neutralised and the Arab world mollified, Israel’s own assumed atomic arsenal should no longer go unchecked.
13. EU lawmakers to Obama: Lift ban on Iranian group

Thursday, 07 May 2009
The Associated Press
BRUSSELS (AP) — More than 100 members of the European Parliament are urging President Barack Obama to remove an Iranian opposition group from the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations.
The lawmakers say in a letter that the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran “has clearly demonstrated” it is a friend of the West and an enemy of religious fundamentalism.
The Mujahedeen were placed on Washington’s [list] of banned organizations in 1997 in an apparent effort by Washington to appease Tehran’s theocratic government.
The European Union also banned the group, but removed it from the terrorist list in January after a string of court decisions in the group’s favor.
The European Parliament, elected by the EU’s 375 million eligible voters, has 785 members.
14. Time running out to stop Iran nuclear pursuit, investigator says


WASHINGTON — A man who spearheaded financial investigations of Iran said Wednesday the Islamic republic is “deadly serious” about developing nuclear weapons and long-range missiles — and there’s not much time to stop it before it does.
New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that although he’s not an expert on proliferation, many such experts were consulted in the financial probes “and it comes out loud and clear: It is late in this game and we don’t have a lot of time to stop Iran from developing long-range missiles and nuclear weapons.”
Morgenthau helped uncover a multibillion-dollar scam that Iran used to move money through U.S. financial institutions to help buy materials for its nuclear and missile programs. In January, a large British bank agreed to pay $350 million in fines after it was accused of helping Iran hide the transactions.
The investigation provided what Morgenthau called “Iran’s shopping list” for weapons of mass destruction.
“The Iranians are deadly serious about proceeding with this program and … it is later than a lot of people think. And frankly some of the people we have consulted are shocked by the sophistication of the equipment they are buying. So we don’t have a lot of time to waste,” he told committee members in a hearing entitled, “Engaging Iran: Obstacles and Opportunities.”
The United States, some European nations and Israel contend Iran’s nuclear development is aimed at developing nuclear weapons. Tehran has denied pursuing nuclear weapons and insists the country’s nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, said he wanted to explore how to engage with Iran and prevent it from becoming a nuclear-armed nation.
“This is the time to reaffirm our commitment to giving meaningful negotiations with Iran’s leaders a chance — not simply fall back on the stale rhetoric and failed strategies of the previous years,” he said in his opening statement.
Kerry called sanctions a blunt instrument with an imperfect track record. He said such measures may have slowed, but did not prevent, Iran’s nuclear program as the country moved forward with enrichment of uranium on an industrial scale.
“Our preference is engagement. Our preference is not to have confrontation of any kind, through sanctions or otherwise. But that will depend on choices that Iran itself makes,” Kerry said.
The committee is poised to release a new report on Iran’s nuclear program this week, said Kerry.
Nicholas Burns, former undersecretary of state for political affairs, also testified at the hearing. He said he feared the United States and Iran were on a collision course. The countries have had no diplomatic relationship since the Carter administration.
“I do see the Iranians as a real threat to our country. There is no question they are seeking a nuclear weapons capability. No one doubts that,” Burns told senators. “They are the principal funder of most of the Middle East terrorist groups that are shooting at us, shooting at the Israelis and the moderate Palestinians. And they are influential in Iraq and Afghanistan and sometimes in ways that are very negative to U.S. interests.”
Burns, who is now a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School, said past policies toward Iran failed and he favored an approach of engagement backed by threats of sanctions and military force.
“We’ve got to negotiate from a position of strength. We can’t go hat in hand to these negotiations and think by just talking we are going to make progress,” Burns said.
Any negotiations with Tehran must have a strict timetable and include a previous agreement with both Russia and China for harsh sanctions if the talks fail, Burns said. And they should be backed up by the possibility of military action, he added.
“I do think it makes sense to keep the threat of force on the table. I do not see Iran negotiating seriously if there is not a marriage between diplomacy and the threat of force. It is a language they understand,” Burns said.
“Since 9/11 we often have led with the military. At least in the case of Afghanistan that was appropriate. Sometimes it is better to lead with diplomacy, with the military in reserve. I think this is one of those times.”