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Offener Brief von deutschen Nahost-Experten zur Gaza-Krise | Open Letter of German Middle East Experts on the Gaza Crisis

 

An:

Bundeskanzlerin Dr. Angela Merkel 

Bundesminister des Auswärtigen Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier 

Bundesminister für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung Dr. Gerd Müller 

Bundesminister für Wirtschaft und Energie Sigmar Gabriel 

Bundesministerin der Verteidigung Dr. Ursula von der Leyen 

Die außenpolitischen Sprecher der Fraktionen und Ausschuss für Auswärtige Angelegenheiten 

Die verteidigungspolitischen Sprecher der Fraktionen und verteidigungspolitischer Ausschuss 

Die entwicklungspolitischen Sprecher der Fraktionen und Ausschuss für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung 

Die wirtschaftspolitischen Sprecher der Fraktionen und Ausschuss für Wirtschaft und Energie 

 

Dauerhaften Waffenstillstand erzielen, Blockade beenden – 

Entwicklungsperspektiven für Gaza, Westjordanland und Ostjerusalem schaffen

 

Wir, deutsche Nahostexpertinnen und -experten, beschäftigen uns professionell mit der Entwicklung in den besetzten palästinensischen Gebieten. Wir setzen uns im Bereich der Wissenschaft, Entwicklungszusammenarbeit, Demokratie-, Friedens- und Menschenrechtsarbeit vor Ort in den besetzten palästinensischen Gebieten und in Deutschland für die Schaffung eines unabhängigen, demokratischen Staates Palästina, der in Frieden mit Israel und seinen Nachbarn leben kann, ein.

Über einem Monat haben wir einem zerstörerischen Krieg zusehen müssen, der alle diese Anstrengungen zunichte macht und auf Monate, möglicherweise auf Jahre hinaus die Entwicklungsperspektive des Gazastreifens beeinträchtigt und Hoffnungen auf einen dauerhaften Frieden in Nahost schmälert. Wir verurteilen die Anwendung von Gewalt zur Durchsetzung politischer Ziele. Gewalt, die sich gegen Zivilisten richtet, ist weder von militanten palästinensischen Gruppen noch von Seiten Israels zulässig.

In diesem Konflikt sind wir vor allem besorgt um Zivilisten in Palästina wie in Israel und in großer Sorge um unsere Partner/innen, Kollegen/innen und Freund/innen im Gazastreifen. Sie erleben wie alle Zivilisten mit ihren Familien einen Albtraum in dem schmalen Küstenstreifen, dem sie nicht entfliehen können. Die militärischen Angriffe, denen 1,8 Millionen Menschen schutzlos ausgesetzt waren, hinterlassen tiefe Wunden und schwere Traumata mit unvorhersehbaren Langzeitfolgen. Nach Angaben der Vereinten Nationen wurde eine halbe Million Menschen während des Krieges intern vertrieben; fast 2.000 Menschen wurden getötet, mehr als 10.000 verletzt, über 15% der Wohnhäuser und 230 Schulen beschädigt, davon 25 vollständig zerstört; die bereits unzureichende Infrastruktur, Wasserversorgung, Kläranlagen, das einzige Elektrizitätswerk bei Luftangriffen teilweise zerstört. Die Kapazitäten für die medizinische und humanitäre Versorgung sind erschöpft, unter anderem weil auch mehrere Krankenhäuser und UN-Einrichtungen bei Angriffen stark beschädigt wurden.

Wir arbeiten und forschen zur Entwicklung in den besetzten palästinensischen Gebieten, die gemäß internationalem Recht die Gebiete Westjordanland, Ostjerusalem und Gaza umfassen. In den letzten Jahren ist der Austausch zwischen diesen Gebieten immer schwieriger geworden, die Reisefreiheit von Palästinenserinnen und Palästinensern wird massiv eingeschränkt bzw. fast völlig verhindert. Das betrifft auch die Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter und die palästinensischen Partnerorganisationen der vor Ort tätigen deutschen und internationalen Organisationen, deren Entwicklungsziele so kaum umgesetzt werden können.

Insbesondere der Gazastreifen steht seit 2007 unter einer völlig kontraproduktiven Blockade, welche die Menschen in eine fatale Hilfsökonomie ohne Entwicklungsperspektiven gedrängt hat. Im Jahr 2012 veröffentlichten die Vereinten Nationen einen Bericht mit dem Titel „Gaza in 2020“, der schlussfolgert, dass bei einer Fortsetzung der Blockadepolitik die Lebensgrundlagen für die rasch wachsende Bevölkerung von 1,8 Millionen Menschen bis dahin völlig zerstört sein werden.

Die destruktive Blockade des Gazastreifens zu See, Land und Luft muss aufgehoben werden. Dies kann unter internationaler Kontrolle geschehen, die gewährleistet, dass keine Waffen in den Gazastreifen gelangen, um so den legitimen Sicherheitsinteressen Israels gerecht zu werden. Die israelische Zivilbevölkerung hat ein Recht auf ein Leben ohne Angst. Das gilt ebenso für alle Palästinenserinnen und Palästinenser. Fast 2.000 Opfer, nach UN-Schätzungen rund 80% Zivilisten, von denen wiederum nach UNICEF-Angaben bis zu 30% Kinder sind, dürfen nicht mit dem Argument des Anti-Terrorkampfes oder des Rechts auf Selbstverteidigung hingenommen werden. Die überwiegend jungen Menschen im Gazastreifen (mehr als die Hälfte der Bevölkerung ist unter 18 Jahre alt) brauchen dringend Perspektiven für ihre Zukunft. Sie benötigen eine bessere Ausbildung, ein Ende der Isolation und eine Normalisierung und Stabilisierung der Wirtschaft im Gazastreifen. Das würde einen entscheidenden Beitrag für die Sicherheit der Bevölkerung auf beiden Seiten leisten, denn eine rein militärische Bekämpfung von bewaffneten Gruppen, die sich von Verzweiflung und Hoffnungslosigkeit nähren, wird aussichtslos bleiben und erreicht erfahrungsgemäß das genaue Gegenteil.

Die Verwirklichung der Zweistaatenlösung als beste Garantie für die Sicherheit Israels sowie Palästinas ist ebenso wie das Selbstbestimmungsrecht der Palästinenser erklärtes Ziel deutscher Außenpolitik. Um diese Perspektive zu erhalten, ist ein Ende der Siedlungspolitik im Westjordanland und in Ostjerusalem, eine Stärkung der palästinensischen Präsenz in Ost-Jerusalem sowie die Aufhebung der Gaza-Blockade notwendig. Die im Juni gebildete parteilose palästinensische Übergangsregierung, die auf einem Versöhnungsabkommen von Fatah und Hamas basiert und die so genannten „Quartettbedingungen“ akzeptiert hat, ist dafür der legitime Ansprechpartner und muss politisch gestärkt werden.

Die Hamas bleibt, ungeachtet der Aktivitäten ihres militärischen Flügels, eine populäre politische Partei. Der Dialog mit den politischen Vertretern der Hamas sollte deshalb nicht länger verweigert werden, die Bilanz der Isolationspolitik seit dem Wahlsieg 2006 ist ernüchternd. Ein solcher Dialog muss eine deutliche, direkte Kritik an der inakzeptablen Haltung der Hamas in Fragen der Menschen- und Frauenrechte sowie die Forderung nach Anerkennung Israels im Rahmen eines Friedensabkommens, das die Festlegung der Grenzen verbindlich regelt, einschließen. Voraussetzung ist, dass die Hamas wie z.B. nach dem letzten Krieg 2012 einen verhandelten, dauerhaften Waffenstillstand einhält und auf terroristische Mittel verzichtet. Nur durch eine politische Einbindung und eine nachhaltige Konfliktregelung wird sich langfristig auch die Demilitarisierung ihrer Milizen durchsetzen lassen.

Ohne Aufhebung der Blockadepolitik gibt es keinerlei Entwicklungsperspektive für die Menschen in Gaza und keine Chance für die Zweistaatenlösung. Die Arbeit der Entwicklungsorganisationen vor Ort, für die einige von uns tätig sind, kann ohne grundlegende Änderung des Status Quo bestenfalls auf eine kurzfristige Nothilfe beschränkt bleiben. Milliarden von Euro, die in Staatsaufbau oder Entwicklung fließen, sind fehlinvestiert, wenn sie in der aktuellen oder der nächsten dann unweigerlich folgenden Welle der Gewalt zerstört werden. Das schadet in erster Linie den Menschen vor Ort. Es ist aber auch ein fahrlässiger Einsatz von deutschen Steuermitteln und ein verfehlter Ansatz für die Entwicklungs- und Demokratiearbeit.

Wir bitten Sie

  • sich für die Erreichung eines nachhaltigen Waffenstillstandes einzusetzen, der das weitere Sterben von Zivilisten auf beiden Seiten verhindert und der massiv bedrohten, überwiegend jungen Zivilbevölkerung in Gaza dauerhaften Schutz bietet;
  • gegenüber Ägypten und Israel die Aufhebung der Blockade des Gazastreifens durchzusetzen, um eine Normalisierung des Güter- und Personenverkehrs zu ermöglichen und dabei israelische Sicherheitsinteressen durch internationale Beobachter und Unterstützung zu gewährleisten;
  • Nothilfe und Wiederaufbaumaßnahmen in Gaza bereitzustellen, aber nicht ohne auch Israels völkerrechtliche Verantwortung als Besatzungsmacht für den Wiederaufbau einzufordern;
  • die bereits anerkannte, im Juni eingeschworene palästinensische Einheitsregierung und ihre Regierungsgewalt über den Gazastreifen sowie Handlungsfähigkeit in den gesamten palästinensischen Gebieten inklusive Ostjerusalems mit Nachdruck zu stärken;
  • die Tötung von Zivilisten vor und während der Angriffe auf den Gazastreifen zu untersuchen, zu einer internationalen Untersuchung aktiv beizutragen und den Beitritt Palästinas zum Internationalen Strafgerichtshof zu unterstützen. Gleichzeitig die Zerstörung ziviler Infrastruktur (so wie die Bombardierung des einzigen Elektrizitätswerkes von Gaza, Kläranlagen, Krankenhäuser etc.), die  seit Jahren mit EU- und bundesdeutschen Geldern finanziert wird, zu untersuchen und Kompensation von Israel einzufordern;
  • die restriktiven deutschen Rüstungsexportbestimmungen auch im Nahen Osten auf alle Konfliktparteien anzuwenden sowie die militärische Zusammenarbeit mit Israel auf den Prüfstand zu stellen;
  • sich mit Nachdruck für ein Ende der israelischen Besatzung der palästinensischen Gebiete einzusetzen und für beide Seiten verbindliche, völkerrechtskonforme Vorschläge für eine Konfliktregelung zu machen.

19. August 2014

Die Liste der Erst- und weiterer UnterzeichnerInnen finden Sie hier: https://sites.google.com/site/nahostexpertengaza/news

Weitere UnterzeichnerInnen melden sich bitte per E-Mail an: gaza_deuexperten@mail.de



OPEN LETTER OF OVER 150 GERMAN MIDDLE EAST EXPERTS ON THE GAZA CRISIS

NOTE: During the recent war on Gaza, over 150 German Middle East experts addressed an open letter to Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and key members of her cabinet. The letter received coverage by prominent German media outlets, such as Spiegel Online and Zeit Online, spurred some debate in the German public on Germany’s foreign relations towards Israel and its policies towards the Middle East in general and Gaza in particular. The letter was further addressed to Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Müller, Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Sigmar Gabriel and Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen. In addition, it was sent to the German Bundestag’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Defence Committee, the Committee for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Committee on Economic Affairs and Energy

Among the signers are Prof. Helga Baumgarten, a German political scientist at Birzeit University; leading members from the Centre for Modern Oriental Studies (ZMO) in Berlin, a leading German research institution on the Middle East; the chairwoman of pax Christi Germany, a Catholic peace organization; former and current employees of German aid and development organizations in Palestine/Israel; leading scholars and journalists specialized in the Middle East; as well as former and current employees of ​various German party-affiliated foundations.

 

Reaching a permanent ceasefire, ending the siege – Creating development perspectives for Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem

 

We, German Middle East experts, are professionally engaged with the development in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In the areas of science, development cooperation, democracy, peace and human rights we are campaigning in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and in Germany for the creation of an independent democratic state of Palestine, which can live in peace with Israel and its neighbours.

For over a month we have had to witness a destructive war, which shattered all these efforts and will for months to come, possibly years, hinder perspectives for development in the Gaza Strip, reducing hopes for a permanent peace in the Middle East. We condemn the use of force for the realization of political goals. The use of force against civilians is not acceptable, neither from militant Palestinian groups nor from Israel.

In this conflict we are particularly concerned about civilians in Palestine and in Israel, as well as for our partners, colleagues and friends in the Gaza Strip. Like all civilians and their families, they are experiencing a nightmare in that narrow coastal strip from which they cannot flee. The military strikes, to which 1.8 million defenceless people were subjected, have left deep scars and severe traumas with unpredictable long-term consequences. According to the United Nations, half a million people were internally displaced during the war; nearly 2,000 people were killed, more than 10,000 injured, over 15% of the residential buildings and 230 schools were damaged, 25 of which were fully destroyed; the already insufficient infrastructure, water supply and sewage plants and the only power generation plant were partly destroyed by air strikes. The capacities for medical and humanitarian supplies are exhausted, among other reasons because several hospitals and UN facilities were severely damaged by the strikes.

We are working and conducting research on the development in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which according to international law comprise the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Over the past years, exchange between these areas has become increasingly difficult, and the freedom of movement for Palestinians has been massively restricted or almost completely obstructed. This also concerns the employees and the Palestinian partner organizations of the German and international organizations active on the ground, making it nearly impossible for them to carry out their development goals.

Particularly the Gaza Strip has since 2007 been subjected to a completely counterproductive siege which has forced the people into a fatal aid economy devoid of perspectives for development. In 2012, the United Nations issued a report entitled “Gaza in 2020” that concluded that with the continuation of the siege the livelihoods of the rapidly increasing population of currently 1.8 million people will be fully destroyed by that time.

The destructive siege of the Gaza Strip by sea, land and air must be lifted. This can be done under international monitoring, which would guarantee that no weapons can reach the Gaza Strip, so as to satisfy Israel’s legitimate security interests. Israel’s civil society has the right to live without fear. This is equally valid for Palestinians. Nearly 2,000 victims, according to UN estimates around 80% of them civilians, from which – according to UNICEF figures – up to 30% were children, must not be accepted through the claim of a fight against terrorism or the right of self-defence. The predominantly young population of the Gaza Strip (more than half of which is under 18 years old) urgently need perspectives for their future. They need better education, an end of the isolation as well as normalization and stabilization of the economy in the Gaza Strip. This would be an essential contribution towards the safety of the populations on both sides, since a purely military fight against armed groups – who are nurtured by desperation and hopelessness – will remain futile and, as experience has shown, brings about the exact opposite of the desired effect.

The realization of the two-state solution as the best guarantee for the safety of Israel and of Palestine as well as the self-determination of the Palestinians are declared aims of Germany’s foreign policy. To preserve this prospect, it is necessary to put an end to settlement policy in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, to boost the Palestinian presence in East Jerusalem and to lift the siege on Gaza. To that end, the Palestinian transitional government of technocrats, formed in July, which is based on a reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas and which has accepted the so-called “Quartet conditions”, constitutes the legitimate interlocutor and ought to be politically empowered.

Hamas remains, regardless of the activities of its military wing, a popular political party. Dialogue with the political representatives of Hamas should therefore no longer be rejected: the balance sheet of the policy of isolation since its electoral victory of 2006 is sobering. Such a dialogue must include an explicit and direct criticism of Hamas’ unacceptable stance on issues of human rights and women’s rights, as well as the demand to recognize Israel in the framework of a peace agreement containing a binding resolution of the border issue. A precondition is that Hamas, for instance as it did after the previous war in 2012, observes a negotiated permanent ceasefire and refrains from using terrorist acts. Only through political integration and an enduring conflict resolution will it be possible to enforce the demilitarization of its militias for the long term.

Without lifting the siege, there can be no prospect for development for the people of Gaza and no chance for a two-state solution. Without a fundamental change to the status quo, the work of development organizations on the ground, in which some of us are active, is at best limited to short-term emergency aid. Billions of euros, which flow into state building or development, are misguided investments, if they are destroyed during the current or the next, inevitably pending waves of violence. This will chiefly harm the people on the ground. This also constitutes a negligent use of German tax money as well as a misguided approach towards development and democracy work.

We ask you:

  • to commit yourselves to a permanent ceasefire, which prevents further killing of civilians on both sides and offers permanent shelter for the massively threatened, overwhelmingly young civil population in Gaza;
  • to force Egypt and Israel to lift the siege of the Gaza Strip, so as to enable a normalization of the movement of goods and people, thereby guaranteeing Israeli security interests through international observers and assistance;
  • to provide for emergency aid and reconstruction work in Gaza, but not without demanding that Israel fulfil her international legal responsibility as occupying power as regards  reconstruction;
  • to vigorously strengthen the already recognized Palestinian unity government, which was sworn into office in June, and its governance over the Gaza Strip and its ability to act in the entire Palestinian territories including East Jerusalem;
  • to investigate the killing of civilians before and during the attacks on the Gaza Strip, to make an active contribution to an international investigation and to support Palestine joining the International Criminal Court; at the same time to investigate the cases of the destruction of civilian infrastructure (such as the bombing of the only power generation plant in Gaza, sewage plants, hospitals etc.) that has been financed for years by the EU and Germany, and to demand compensation from Israel.
  • to apply the restrictive German arms export regulations to all the parties in the Middle East as well as to put under scrutiny the military cooperation with Israel;
  • to vigorously work towards ending the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, and to make suggestions to both sides for a conflict resolution that are binding and in conformity with international law.


LIST OF SIGNERS: 
https://sites.google.com/site/nahostexpertengaza/news

Translated from the German original – entitled »Offener Brief von deutschen Nahost-Experten zur Gaza-Krise« – by Phil Butland, edited by Ali Fathollah-Nejad.

Long Live the Tyrant! The Myth of Benign Sanctions

 

Sacrosanct sanctions: A chimeric construction 

They aim to bring recalcitrant tyrants to their senses, to put an end to their external as well as internal malefaction. With surgical precision, they pull the noose ever closer around the tyrant’s neck, so that in hopeless despair he is compelled to behave reasonably in foreign affairs while, enfeebled, he lifts his bloodied hands from the throat of the oppressed people. It is a morally justified decapitation of evil, the salutary removal of a swelling tumor.

Undoubtedly, in this description sanctions are an extremely attractive option to do twice as well at a single stroke: The culprit is hunted down, right up to the tyrannicide, and the maltreated people are freed and released on to the path of democracy.

When it comes to the issue of Iran, debates revolve around a dual axis of war or peace, of dictatorship or democracy. Sanctions, it is implicitly assumed, are akin to peace and democracy. At a minimum, it is said, they constitute a necessary evil in order to put the tyrant in chains, and prevent him from completely unleashing his brutality, both externally and internally.

This is how the motivation for and the functioning of sanctions are portrayed within the dominant discourse. In short, sanctions are civilization’s magic cure against barbarity. Viewed in this light, they fascinate political circles in the West and even parts of the Iranian diaspora. And not seldom, even the most enlightened intellectuals of the Western world are spellbound by the rosy rhetoric of their political leaders, leading many of them to content themselves with simply calling for a targeted and therefore effective application of sanctions to kill the tyrant and free the people.

Thus lifted onto this sacrosanct level, the rejection of sanctions is branded as complicity with the tyrant – a refusal to “tame” him.

Forming a central part of the debate surrounding Iran, the Western public is afforded the dubious luxury of relying on rhetoric rather than reality when assessing sanctions. In the face of that fantastic image of sanctions, a serious discussion about their extent and impact is flagrantly missing. However, if one takes the trouble to take a look behind the glittery façade of the righteous global policeman whose noble aim is to bring the evildoer down on his knees by way of sanctions, the sheer negative image of this very picture cuts the surface.

The imposers’ mindset

“Unprecedented sanctions” against Iran are imposed, it echoes with an unmistakable sense of pride from the capital cities of the Western world. After all, the self-appointed “leaders of the free world” all have acquired a rather dubious specialization in designing and implementing a plethora of various kinds of economic sanctions, deployed to discipline the unruly tyrants of the Global South.

The automatic recourse to sanctions by Western policy-makers (most recently at the start of the Syrian crisis) is not only an expression of their perplexity and their delusional belief that you can meet a complex problem with a supposedly universal magic cure. Such desperate activism à la “Let’s do something” also unites these policy-makers with some Iranians, yet none of them contemplating the consequences of their sanctions policy or advocacy. At the same time, there is a moral superiority on display: After all, sanctions would represent an almost peace-loving antithesis to the crude use of force, they are at the least a means to avert war – but in any case they aim, in a targeted and intelligent fashion, at the Achilles’ heel of the tyrant.

Also, some policy-makers want us to believe that the never-ending tightening of sanctions reflected their paternal patience with which the democracies dealt with the evil opponent, in their noble aim to prevent the mad mullahs rushing to the bomb. These same politicians have all along displayed the apodictic certainty that Iranians would ultimately blame their own government for their economic malaise – in the improbable case this would not happen, the sanctions policy ought to be better “explained” to the Iranians, they insist. What does such a belief structure reveal about our appreciation of Iranians’ cognitive capability to adequately direct the blame for their increasingly desolate economic situation to either the pillages of a kleptocratic regime or the sanctions of the Western imposers?[1]

Crippling economic coercion

The Western-led sanctions regime against Iran, with its now virtually all-out financial and trade embargo, has since its qualitative leap in the course of the so-called nuclear crisis of the past decade, always been by its very design not aimed at a tyrannicide of any kind. On the contrary, as one of its main proponents has stated, “[Iran] must know that the West will work tirelessly to make Iran poor […]”.[2] These sanctions, routinely called “targeted” but now self-assuredly called “crippling”, have long been rather crippling than targeted when it came to their impact upon the Iranian economy. In this respect, the country’s unparalleled isolation from the international financial system has constituted the eye of storm, which wreaked havoc in even the most indubitable civilian sectors of Iran’s economy. The financial exclusion is precisely the reason why purely non-military items, most dramatically a great deal of life-saving medicine, cannot be purchased any longer. And, by the way, mind you that we can witness a stark case of “double-punishment”, namely when it comes to the tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Iranian victims of Saddam’s chemical warfare of the 1980s who are now deprived of vital medicine due to the sanctions imposed by the very same countries who were back then the providers of those chemical weapons. Imagine, for a second, how each of them and their families might feel in the current situation.

The neutral-sounding technocratic term “sanctions” veils its true significance as a means of economic coercion.[3] Does it likewise concern us in the slightest that international law can hardly be reconciled with the economic strangulation of an entire nation?[4] In an age in which illegal wars of aggression, politically and morally disguised as “humanitarian interventions”, or likewise illegal drone attacks camouflaged as intelligent and clean police operations, have almost become the business of the day for Western democracies, warfare by economic means falls under the radar of public awareness. And when noticed sanctions are even thought of as a benign gesture in comparison to the military prowess that can be unleashed upon a country and the people inhabiting it.

The Trojan Horse carrying the “magic box”

But how come that for too long a time many have accepted the deployment of this economic weapon of mass destruction? What further rhetorical tools are used to justify the imposition of crippling sanctions?

To maintain the moral high-ground, at each and every round of ever-tightening sanctions Western leaders hasten to highlight that the measures adopted are not aimed at the people of Iran who, they never fail to add, deserve a better life than under the present regime. This implies that Iranians in turn somehow deserve the Western sanctions being proffered to them by a caring Uncle Sam to alleviate their misery and desperation, and to revitalize their hopes and aspirations. Many, including some Iranians themselves, have long bought into the rhetoric of the sanctions’ imposers that the economic measures will boost the people’s standing against a handicapped tyrant.

Asked what the sanctions entail, both representatives from the imposing countries and the proponents of sanctions promptly provide us with a glance into the “magic box” that is deployed in the fight against tyranny: the notorious human-rights violators, the tyrant’s accomplices, have been identified and placed on an ever-expanding blacklist that prohibits them from travelling abroad and from accessing their international bank accounts; means of repression and control used by the tyrant against dissent are not sold to him anymore (at least not officially by the West). Finally, to paralyze the tyrant’s external aggression, the provision of so-called dual-use items, i.e. items that also have a military purpose, are banned.

Rarely, someone will ask about the real utility and efficacy of such measures in alleviating the repression dissident Iranians are exposed to: What is the use of prohibiting someone to travel beyond the region who nearly never does so? Has the tyrant been so naïve as not to recognize that he can purchase the same instruments of repression from a panoply of willful sellers on a globalized market? Do we care that the vast majority of items banned under the “dual-use” rubric are in fact used for civilian purposes? As in the cases of the “dual-use” items prohibited from getting into Iraq yesterday and into Gaza today, they constitute the most basic goods needed by various sectors of the civilian economy.

If the usefulness of such measures is next to negligible, so is there no point whatsoever to this “magic box”? While all the above-mentioned restrictions may be morally justified, the key point is that its contents reflect only a very tiny percentage of the entire sanctions package that overwhelmingly has nothing to do with those measures enlisted and proudly enunciated.

However, because of the severity of the situation that has come about as a result of these sanctions, for over a year this Trojan Horse argument can no longer be sold with the ease that it used to be. The reason is that Iranians inside and outside the country have themselves felt the scourge of the sanctions on their everyday life, and begun to comprehend that the measures are by no means targeted but indeed crippling.

Nevertheless, respected figures such as the Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi (whose tireless commitment for human rights needs to be commended) and some Western-based human-rights organizations (such as Justice For Iran whose executive director is human-rights lawyer Shadi Sadr) keep on feeding the Trojan Horse argument by incessantly calling for “intelligent” and “targeted sanctions against the regime”, thus demanding the senseless and utterly useless growth of that “magic box”. After all, is there any evidence to suggest that such demands have in any way benefited the cause of freedom and democracy in Iran? Or, rather, have they provided a cover of legitimacy for the continuation of the sanctions policy in its entirety? Hardly acknowledged by proponents of “smart sanctions” who succumb to the adventurous illusion of having a say in the design and implementation of sanctions is the larger institutional and political structures in which the latter occurs.[5] After all, in the “sanctions industry” – which includes shady figures from liberal “humanitarian imperialists” to pro-bellum neoconservatives – the potential suffering by Iran’s civil society hardly plays a role.[6] For those cheerleaders of “smart sanctions” both this larger picture as well as the domestic social, economic and political fallouts of sanctions is widely ignored in their analytical and political work. Therefore, one must bitterly admit, some freedom fighters have assumed the role of useful stooges for the economic strangulation of Iranians.

But how may Iranians themselves feel about the “free world’s” noble gesture of emphatical goodwill? Did the honorable cavalry of sanctions ever contemplated how it was for those people “who deserved a better life than under the present regime” to actually live in a country that is under a severe sanctions regime? What it felt like, when the cost of rent and basic food stuffs are constantly on the rise; when the country’s currency has lost half of its value; when the specter of unemployment is boundlessly rising due to an economy virtually cut off from the ever so vital international trade; when international banking transactions, be it for personal or commercial purposes, if possible at all, can only be made at much higher fees via an increasingly limited number of third countries; when every boarding of an aircraft resembles a gamble with your life due to the lack of spare parts; when food supplies from abroad cannot unload their cargo because of lack of insurance; and when the stock of life-saving medication and equipment is rapidly depleting, with the specter of a humanitarian crisis clearly emerging on the horizon. This is only a piece of the gigantic dimensions of their “targeted sanctions against the regime”. Similar reports from Iran are reaching us at an accelerated rate, day by day; they are accompanied by voices of desperation, people for whom in a repressive system the air to breathe becomes even thinner by way of sanctions.

The people as hostage: Economic sanctions and democratization

The sanctions narrative is predicated upon the idea that there is a positive relationship between sanctions and democratization, for the tyrant is tamed and the people empowered.

Furthermore, there is a silent but nevertheless clearly heard hope that seems to unite Western politicians and some exiled Iranians alike: The economic hardship thanks to the sanctions would direct the people’s anger towards the regime and ultimately bring it down in an act of extreme popular resentment. After all, there can be no freedom without sacrifice, echoes the loud heckling from parts of the Iranian diaspora from Los Angeles to London. The price is high but the time has come to pay it, Ramin also invokes on Facebook. Almost spitting, Sara replies, “We are paying the price for our freedom: In case you’ve missed it, the Evin prison is overcrowded!” Seen from the comfortable SUV in California, this concept which exhibits a misanthropic dimension hailing the principle “The greater the suffering, the greater the hope!” may have a certain charm. However, the underlying assumption is that it is acceptable to collectively punish Iranian society for the sake of a greater good – however ill-defined the latter may be.

On the ground, however, there is a connection whose logic we would never dare to doubt within the Western hemisphere: a sustainable and socially just democratic change is dependent not only on the energies of the middle class, but also on the intervention of working people and the poor. It is precisely this middle class, the workers, and the poor that are sanctioned to death in Iran. To put it differently, a person struggling for economic survival barely has the luxury of engaging as a citoyen in the struggle for democracy.

Young Iranians, who form the bulk of the population, suffer most extremely at the hands of economic sanctions.[7] These are the same people whom the West otherwise has chosen as torchbearers of a future democracy in Iran. Instead of assuming such a role, these same people are subjected to collective punishment.

Iran sanctions – A prime showpiece: Widening the power gap between state and society

Taking into consideration the academic findings about the impact of sanctions, the Iranian case can potentially qualify as a prime showpiece: authoritarian regimes driven into a corner usually increase their repression against all kinds of opposition and are also able to shift the costs of sanctions onto the population, as a result of which they can prolong their rule.[8] The sanctions-imposing governments can hardly be unaware that entities connected to the ruling system, such as the Revolutionary Guards’ economic empire, profit from the sanctions. With legal trade virtually illegalized, the civilian economic sectors across the board are damned to head-shakingly observe how black-channel operations run by powerful circles of corruption and nepotism flourish. Hence, as a precise negative image of the above narrative, the regime can even extend its power vis-à-vis civil society as a result of sanctions.[9]

Aware of such fatal consequences, civil-society representatives from inside Iran have consistently opposed sanctions. The West, which is always boasting of its support for the cause of democracy in Iran, has simply preferred to ignore these voices.

Sanctions halting centrifuges: A political fairy-tale

The pronouncement by the German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on the occasion of another round of sanctions reflects the prior concern of the West’s political class: “The point is that we cannot accept that Iran rushes towards the nuclear bomb.” Hardly anyone, however, recalls that since the massive tightening of sanctions in 2006, the number of centrifuges spinning in Iran has more than decupled (by mid-2012), before again doubling (by the end of 2013). In other words, in total inversion of Western political expectations, the escalation of the sanctions was accompanied by an escalation of the nuclear program.[10] It is a fair assumption that in fact the nuclear program has much to do with a sense of uncertainty, for after all the country, literally besieged by enemy troops, was ever since threatened with war in the wake of its revolution – a perception that can hardly be extinguished by way of sanctions.[11]

In addition, sanctions aim to force concessions from Iran. Rather than adopting the Western cost–benefit calculation, that is, giving in when the costs of sanctions become unbearable, Iran’s leaders react with defiance and proclaim their will to “resist” as long as it would take.[12] Sanctions also feed the regime’s propaganda machinery about the malicious West who aims at subjugating the Iranian people.

A very common claim about the success of the sanctions policy gains currency every single time the Western media reports that Iran has agreed to “return” to the negotiating table. Only as result of the ever-tightening sanctions regime, it is suggested, the stubborn Iranians have agreed to engage in negotiations. However, the truth is that Iran has shown more willingness to talk to the other side than vice versa – remember the Bush/Cheney administration’s refusal to talk to so-called “rogue states” precisely at a time when Tehran proved to be key in establishing a post-Taliban order after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan? Now, with the Hassan Rohani administration the same Iranian foreign-policy school of thought has resurfaced, which is likewise committed to constructive engagement with the West primarily out of strategic conviction and not the sanctions’ weight.[13]

The almost forgotten Iraqi tragedy – or: A favorite tool of Western policy

It appears as if there has never been the Iraqi tragedy – indeed a historical chapter of utter disgrace for Western civilization. First of all, this does not refer to the criminal invasion and occupation of the country in 2003. It was throughout the 1990s that this erstwhile cradle of civilization was already barbarically destroyed. The sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council and pushed for by Washington and London, were soon thereafter condemned as genocidal by one UN humanitarian coordinator (Denis Halliday) to the next (Hans von Sponeck). Nothing less than the social fabric of Iraq was shattered; food supply, the health and education systems all collapsed, as did the infrastructure.[14] While women and children – the most fragile members of society – suffered the most,[15] the tyrant remained firmly in his seat. It was a “different kind of war” waged against Iraq, as Von Sponeck later chronicled in his book.[16]

Even then, it was said that sanctions would intelligently target the Iraqi leadership while sparing the population; even then, it was about the “credibility” of Western policy facing a danger of utmost proportions. “Sanctions will be there until the end of time, or as long as Saddam lasts”, then U.S. President Bill Clinton explained in November 1997. Confronted with the fact that the sanctions had killed half a million Iraqi children, his Secretary of State Madeleine Albright responded with the legendary statement: “I think it’s a very hard choice, but we think that the price is worth it.” The macabre logic to sacrifice countless lives on the altar of Realpolitik finds a certain resonance today, when Western politicians can hardly hide their joy about ever-stricter sanctions on Iran. Having this in mind, the famous Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji apocalyptically asked: “How many children under five years will have to die in Iran, which has three times as many inhabitants as Iraq?”[17]

Conclusion: Crippling sanctions as an act of barbarism

The fact that the concept of “targeted” or “smart” sanctions, which is an inextricable feature of the dominant political discourse, has been adopted unaltered and uncritically by the public discourse in general and many intellectuals in particular is a testimony of our complacency, our unwavering belief in the benign nature of any actions taken by the democratic West. It seems as if we prefer a convenient lie to an inconvenient truth. This self-deception is in fact a necessary act, if we seek to keep wagging the moralizing finger, both domestically and internationally.

Most importantly, what does this tell us about our moral constitution, if we are ready to sacrifice entire societies for our purported Realpolitik interests? Thus, in the righteous fight against tyranny, we hide our very own barbarity. For our sanctions are a brutal assault on an entire country and its more than century-old struggle for democracy and self-determination, whose survival has now become dependent on the drip of our incessant and crippling sanctions regime. Tumor-like the sanctions have infected all areas of Iranian life, acting like a slow poison injected into society.

In a move of Orwellian proportions, the dominant discourse has unhesitatingly turned sanctions into an act of peace. If we unmask that our sanctions discourse is infested by double standards and hypocrisy, the naked truth will be that we are waging an economic war against the people of Iran; that the sanctions are indeed targeted, but rather at the civilian population; and that the sanctions constitute a form of structural violence directed at Iran’s social fabric.

Therefore, two prospects are currently to be feared , if the election of the centrist Hassan Rohani as Iran’s new president will not be seized by the West to bring about détente and the removal of sanctions: either a suffering populace has to battle for sheer survival within a securitized system that will not cease to be cemented through the external threat of force and sanctions alike; or, in the wake of an officially proclaimed policy failure of “targeted sanctions”, the call for “targeted bombs” comes along swiftly, and needless to say, war will bury any prospect for democracy and decent life for decades to come.

So in the end, the entire image of the sanctions as civilization’s magic wand is nothing but an insidious illusion, the sanctions package merely a poisonous mix wrapped in gift paper, the story of a neat and clean tyrannicide nothing but a PR-spun fairy tale. The Iranian experience of the double burden was not long ago expressed by the famous dissident cartoonist Mana Neyestani on the occasion of the imposition of severe unilateral sanctions by the European Union. In that caricature, the EU’s leather shoe steps on the military boots of the regime underneath of which lies the democracy activist crushed into the ground. While the regime only reacts with a meager “ouch”, the now doubly crushed democracy activist yells in direction to the EU: “To hell with your support!”

All in all, the West has put together a narrative with which both itself and the Iranian regime can live; but the people of Iran cannot. We should pose ourselves two honest questions: Does not everybody enjoy the same human and social rights regardless of the political system they live in? And: If sanctions keep tyrants alive, what would happen if they were removed in toto?


[1] See e.g. Younis, Mohamed (2013) “Iranians Feel Bite of Sanctions, Blame U.S., Not Own Leaders,” Gallup, 7 February.

[2] Ottolenghi, Emanuele (2010) “Setting the Sanctions Agenda,” The Journal of International Security Affairs, Washington, DC: The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, No. 18 (Spring), pp. 19–30, here p. 26.

[3] See e.g. Carter, Barry E. (2008) “Economic Coercion,” in: Wolfrum, Rüdiger (ed.) Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Oxford University Press, last update by September 2009; online version available via www.mpepil.com.

[4] “No State may use or encourage the use of economic, political or any other type of measures to coerce another State in order to obtain from it the subordination of the exercise of its sovereign rights or to secure from it advantages of any kind.” UN General Assembly, Resolution 2131 (XX), 21 December 1965, para. 2. The resolution was decided without any vote against and with only one abstention. See also Carter, op. cit., Section 7. For a discussion, see Fathollah-Nejad, Ali (2012) “Der internationale Konflikt um Iran und das Völkerrecht: Versuch einer Gesamtdarstellung” [The International Iran Conflict and International Law: Towards a Complete Overview], in: Crome, Erhard (ed.) Die UNO und das Völkerrecht in den internationalen Beziehungen der Gegenwart [The UN and International Law in Contemporary International Relations], Potsdam (Germany): WeltTrends (Potsdamer Textbücher, No. 18), pp. 137–206, here pp. 187–196.

[5] See e.g. Fayazmanesh, Sasan (2003) “The Politics of U.S. Economic Sanctions on Iran,” Review of Radical Political Economics, Vol. 35, No. 3 (Summer), pp. 221–240.

[6] See Fathollah-Nejad, Ali (2010) “Collateral Damage of Iran Sanctions,” The ColdType Reader, No. 46 (May), pp. 56–57.

[7] Salehi-Isfahani, Djavad (2010) “Iran’s Youth, The Unintended Victims of Sanctions,” Dubai Initiative – Policy Brief, Cambridge, MA: The Dubai Initiative, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

[8] For a good introduction, see Parsi, Trita & Bahrami, Natasha (2012) “Blunt Instrument: Sanctions Don’t Promote Democratic Change,” Boston Review (online), 6 February. See also Fathollah-Nejad, Ali (2013) Nefarious Fallouts of Iran Sanctions: Time for Abandoning Coercive Diplomacy, Asfar: The Middle Eastern Journal (UK), No. 3 (August).

[9] See Fathollah-Nejad, Ali (2013) “Iran’s Civil Society Grappling with a Triangular Dynamic,” in: Aarts, Paul & Cavatorta, Francesco (eds.) Civil Society in Syria and Iran: Activism in Authoritarian Contexts, Boulder, CO & London: Lynne Rienner, pp. 39–68, esp. pp. 52–62 (“Economic Sanctions and State–Society Relations”).

[10] Khajehpour, Bijan & Marashi, Reza & Parsi, Trita (2013) »Never Give In and Never Give Up«: The Impact of Sanctions on Tehran’s Nuclear Calculations, Washington, DC: National Iranian American Council (NIAC), March, pp. 26–28.

[11] See Parsi, Trita (2012) “How Obama Should Talk to Iran,” Washington Post, 14 January.

[12] See International Crisis Group (2013) Spider Web: The Making and Unmaking of Iran Sanctions, Brussels: International Crisis Group (Middle East Report, No. 138, February); Khajehpour & Marashi & Parsi (2013) op. cit.

[13] See e.g. “Rohanis Agenda: Was will der neue iranische Präsident?” [Rohani’s Agenda: What Does the New Iranian President Want?], Ali Fathollah-Nejad interviewed by Regine Naeckel, Hintergrund: Das Nachrichtenmagazin (Germany), No. 4/2013 (Fall 2013), pp. 52–55.

[14] See Gordon, Joy (2010) Invisible War: The United States and the Iraq Sanctions, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

[15] On women, see Al-Ali, Nadje (2003) “Women, Gender Relations, and Sanctions in Iraq,” in: Inati, Shams C. (ed) Iraq: Its History, People and Politics, Amherst, NY: Humanity Books.

[16] Von Sponeck, Hans-Christof (2006) A Different Kind of War: The UN Sanctions Regime in Iraq, New York: Berghahn Books.

[17] Ganji, Akbar (2011) “Mojâzât-e régime yâ mojâzât-e mardom-e Irân?!” [Penalties for the Regime or the People of Iran?!], Rooz online, 8 December.

[18] See e.g. “The Deal with Iran, and What Comes Next,” Al-Monitor, 24 November 2013.

 

SOURCE

Ali Fathollah-Nejad (2014) “Long Live the Tyrant! The Myth of Benign Sanctions – plus Epilogue on the Geneva Agreement with Iran”, in: Konrad Adenauer Foundation [KAS] (ed.) Iran-Reader 2014, compiled by Oliver Ernst, Sankt Augustin & Berlin (Germany): KAS, pp. 81–96.

Ali Fathollah-Nejad (2013) “Long Live the Tyrant! The Myth of Benign Sanctions“, New Politics (New York), Vol. 14, No. 3 (Summer), pp. 17–24.

 

INFO

The text is a slightly updated version of the same essay that appeared in New Politics (New York), Vol. 14, No. 3 (Summer 2013). A shorter version of this article (that has initially been drafted in late 2011) has been published in the leading intellectual outlet of the German-speaking world, in the “Feuilleton” pages of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 3 January 2013. It was published in an Arabic translation on Jadaliyya (Washington, DC & Beirut: Arab Studies Institute) on 15 February 2013.

A version of the epilogue was first published as “The Geneva Accords and the Return of the »Defensive Realists«,” LobeLog (U.S. foreign affairs blog of the international news wire service Inter Press Service), 5 December 2013. A German version was published as “Das Genfer Abkommen mit Iran: Eine Folge der Sanktionspolitik?” [The Geneva Agreement with Iran: A Result of the Sanctions Policy?], inamo: Berichte und Analysen zu Politik und Gesellschaft des Nahen und Mittleren Ostens, Berlin: Informationsprojekt Naher und Mittlerer Osten (inamo), Vol. 19, No. 76 (Winter), p. 3.

 

CITED IN

Oliver Ernst (2014) “Iranisches Exil und Reformbewegung im Iran: Divergenzen und gemeinsame Transformationsperspektiven“, Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte (APuZ), Vol. 64, No. 42/2014 (13 October), Bonn (Germany): The Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, bpb), pp. 36-41.

Checks on Students Undermine Trust | Universities Being Used as Proxy Border Police, Say Academics

3

British universities have been positioned as central culprits for failing to regulate their intake of foreign students, while rendered dependent on “overseas” student fees because of government funding cuts. A pernicious new turn took place in summer 2012 when London Metropolitan University lost its “highly trusted sponsor” status, to catastrophic effect for students in the middle of their courses. Since then, universities have been preoccupied with managing accountability demanded by UK Visas and Immigration (formerly the UK Border Agency), and, in effect, have become its proxy. Academics at a number of universities in the UK and beyond have now become concerned at this state of affairs, and at the methods used to establish bona fide student status.

We, the undersigned, oppose the acquiescence of Universities UK members in acting as an extension of UKVI, thereby undermining the autonomy and academic freedom of UK universities and trust between academics and their students. We object to the actions of universities which:

• Use mechanisms of pastoral care, such as monitoring of student attendance and meetings with tutors, as mechanisms for monitoring non-EU students, or so-called Tier 4 visa holders, on behalf of UKVI.

• Treat UK/EU and non-EU students differently with regard to determining their ongoing academic standing.

• Construct and deploy systems of monitoring and surveillance such as biometric scanning systems and electronic signing-in mechanisms to single out non-EU students.

• Agree to monitor behaviours that may be unrelated to academic endeavour, and allow this data to be used by UKVI in determining the supposed legitimacy of non-EU students.

We note that UUK released a briefing document on 10 February regarding the House of Lords’ second reading of the immigration bill, in which UUK registers concern that landlords are required to check the immigration status of tenants. We urge UUK to go further and declare its rejection of the practices described above. We call on Universities UK, on behalf of member university vice-chancellors and principals, to oppose the discriminatory treatment of non-EU students in all forms and publicly affirm:

• That the quality of academic work should be the primary criterion for determining academic standing.

• That all students be treated equally regarding their attendance at classes, and that their right to privacy be respected, irrespective of their nationality.

• The right of universities to autonomy in making decisions on progression and retention of non-EU students.

Dr Maha Abdelrahman University of Cambridge
Dr Reem Abou-El-Fadl Durham University
Prof Gilbert Achcar SOAS, University of London
Dr Christine Achinger University of Warwick
Dr Sam Adelman University of Warwick
Prof Nadje Al-Ali SOAS, University of London
Dr Anne Alexander University of Cambridge 
Dr Miranda Alison University of Warwick
Prof Louise Amoore Durham University
Dr Dibyesh Anand University of Westminster
Dr Rainer-Elk Anders Staffordshire University
Dr Walter Armbrust University of Oxford 
Dr Andrew Asibong Birkbeck, University of London
Dr Sara Jane Bailes University of Sussex
Dr Oliver Bakewell University of Oxford
Dr Bahar Baser University of Warwick
Prof Les Back Goldsmiths, University of London
Dr Victoria Basham University of Exeter
Dr Alex Benchimol University of Glasgow
Dr Mette Louise Berg University of Oxford
Prof Gurminder Bhambra University of Warwick
Dr Claire Blencowe University of Warwick
Prof Elleke Boehmer University of Oxford
Dr Maud Bracke University of Glasgow 
Dr Chris Browning University of Warwick 
Dr Lorna Burns University of St Andrews
Prof Ray Bush University of Leeds
Dr Rosie Campbell Birbeck, University of London
Prof Bob S Carter University of Leicester
Prof Nickie Charles University of Warwick
Dr Chris Clarke University of Warwick
Dr Rachel Cohen City University of London
Prof Robin Cohen University of Oxford
Cole Collins University of Glasgow
Prof Christine Cooper University of Strathclyde 
Prof Gordon Crawford University of Leeds
Dr Jonathan Davies University of Warwick 
Dr Ipek Demir University of Leicester 
Prof Thomas Docherty University of Warwick
Prof Toby Dodge LSE
Dr Renske Doorenspleet University of Warwick
Prof Costas Douzinas Birkbeck, University of London
Prof Elizabeth Dowler University of Warwick
Dr Franck Duvell University of Oxford
Jakub Eberle University of Kent
Dr Juanita Elias University of Warwick
Hannah El-Sisi University of Oxford
Safinaz El-Tarouty University of East Anglia
Prof David Epstein FRS University of Warwick
Dr Elizabeth Ewart University of Oxford
Ali Fathollah-Nejad SOAS, University of London
Dr Sara R Farris Goldsmiths, University of London
Prof Robert Fine University of Warwick
Tina Freyburg University of Warwick
Prof Bridget Fowler University of Glasgow
Prof Des Freedman Goldsmiths, University of London
Prof Matthew Fuller Goldsmiths, University of London
Dr Manuela Galetto University of Warwick
Paul Gilroy
Dr Jane Goldman University of Glasgow 
Dr Priyamvada Gopal University of Cambridge 
Dr Toni Haastrup University of Kent
Juliette Harkin University of East Anglia
Dr Sophie Harman Queen Mary, University of London
Dr Oz Hassan University of Warwick
Dr Charlotte Heath-Kelly University of Warwick
Prof John Holloway Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Mexico 
Prof John Holmwood University of Nottingham
Dr Michael Hrebeniak University of Cambridge 
Dr Aggie Hurst City University of London
Marta Iñiguez de Heredia University of Cambridge 
Prof Engin F Isin The Open University
Matt Jenkins University of Newcastle
Rev Dr Stuart B Jennings University of Warwick
Dr Hannah Jones University of Warwick
Dr Lee Jones Queen Mary, University of London 
Salman Karim University of East Anglia
Prof Rebecca Kay University of Glasgow
Dženeta Karabegovic University of Warwick
Salman Karim University of East Anglia
Dr Sossie Kasbarian University of Lancaster
Dr Nitasha Kaul University of Westminster, London
Prof Rebecca Kay University of Glasgow
Dr Alexander Kazamias University of Coventry
Dr. John Keefe London Metropolitan University
Dr Dominic Kelly University of Warwick
Prof Laleh Khalili SOAS, University of London
Dr Paul Kirby University of Sussex
Dr Nicholas Kitchen LSE 
Dr Maria Koinova University of Warwick 
Dr Alexandra Kokoli Middlesex University
Dr Vassiliki Kolocotroni University of Glasgow
Dr Dennis Leech University of Warwick 
Dr Samantha Lyle University of Oxford
Mr Paddy Lyons University of Glasgow 
Dr William McEvoy University of Sussex
Dr Robert McLaughlan University of Newcastle
Prof Martin McQuillan Kingston University London
Dr Graeme MacDonald University of Warwick
Dr Alice Mah University of Warwick
Dr Maria do Mar Pereira University of Warwick
Prof Philip Marfleet University of East London
Dr Vicky Margree University of Brighton
Dr Robert Maslen University of Glasgow
Dr Lucy Mayblin University of Sheffield 
Dr John Miller University of Sheffield
Dr David Mills University of Oxford
Dr Drew Milne University of Cambridge
Latoya Mistral Ferns University of Warwick and Durham University alumna
Sian Mitchell University of Warwick 
Prof David Mond University of Warwick
Dr Liz Morrish Nottingham Trent University 
Dr Pablo Mukherjee University of Warwick
Roberta Mulas University of Warwick 
Dr Simon Murray University of Glasgow
Ghandy Najla University of East Anglia
Dr Michael Niblett University of Warwick 
Dr Marijn Nieuwenhuis University of Warwick
Dr Patrick O’Connor Nottingham Trent University
Prof Martin O’Shaughnessy Nottingham Trent University
Dr Goldie Osuri University of Warwick
Dr Ian Patterson Queens’ College, Cambridge 
Prof Adam Piette University of Sheffield
Prof Alison Phipps University of Glasgow
Dr Loredana Polezzi University of Warwick 
Dr Nicola Pratt University of Warwick
Dr Rupert Read University of East Anglia
Dr John Regan University of Cambridge
Dr James Riley Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
Dr Stephen Ross University of Victoria, Canada
Dr Chris Rossdale City University of London
Prof Paul Routledge University of Leeds
Andrew Rubens University of Glasgow
Ali Saqer University of Warwick
Prof Derek Sayer Lancaster University
Prof Jan Aart Scholte University of Warwick
Dr Jason Scott-Warren University of Cambridge
Dr Robbie Shilliam Queen Mary University of London
Dr Nando Sigona University of Birmingham
Prof Melanie Simms University of Leicester
Dr Andrew Smith University of Glasgow
Dr Vicki Squire University of Warwick
Dr Samuel Solomon University of Sussex
Dr Nick Srnicek University College London
Maurice Stierl University of Warwick
Dr Mariz Tadros Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex
Dr Jacqueline Sanchez Taylor University of Leicester
Nick Taylor University of Warwick
Prof Olga Taxidou University of Edinburgh
Dr Andrea Teti University of Aberdeen
Lisa Tilley University of Warwick
Lauren Tooker University of Warwick 
Prof Charles Tripp SOAS, University of London
Dr Mandy Turner University of Bradford/Kenyon Institute, Jerusalem
Dr Maria Villares Varela University of Oxford
Dr Vron Ware The Open University
Dr Dave Webber University of Warwick
Dr Polly Wilder University of Leeds
Dr Aaron Winter Abertay University
Dr Nicholas Wright University of East Anglia
Prof Patrick Wright King’s College London
Dr Yoke-Sum Wong Lancaster University

SOURCE

Checks on Students Undermine Trust“, The Guardian, 3 March 2014, p. 29.

* * *

Universities being used as proxy border police, say academics

Academics accuse UK Visas and Immigration of undermining trust between universities and students in crackdown

The Guardian | 3 March 2014 | p. 29

More than 160 academics have written to the Guardian to protest at being used as an extension of the UK border police, after universities have come under more pressure to check the immigration details of students.

The academics, from universities including Oxford, Warwick, Durham and Sheffield, accuse the Home Office immigration agency of “undermining the autonomy and academic freedom of UK universities and trust between academics and their students”.

Unrest has been growing for months as universities have come under more pressure to prove that their students are legitimate, according to the signatories, who say matters took a “pernicious new turn” in summer 2012 when London Metropolitan University briefly lost its trusted sponsor status – a requirement for all institutions wishing to recruit overseas students.

“Since then, universities have been preoccupied with managing accountability demanded by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI – formerly the UK Border Agency), and in effect have become its proxy,” says the letter. “Academics at a number of universities in the UK and beyond have now become concerned at this state of affairs, and at the methods used to establish bona fide student status.”

Academics are being asked to monitor attendance and in some cases potentially to share emails with UKVI, said Mette Berg, of the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Oxford University. “We have a duty of care towards our students, and there is an issue about this undermining the trust between tutor and student. We are not there to be proxy border police.”

A Home Office spokesman defended the reforms to the student visa system, saying they had made the application process more rigorous and less open to abuse.

The academics say the changes come at a time when universities are becoming more reliant on the fees of non-EU students. The letter says: “British universities have been positioned as central culprits for failing to regulate their intake of foreign students, while rendered dependent on overseas student fees because of government funding cuts.”

Nicola Pratt of Warwick University said some vice-chancellors were so concerned about losing their ability to take foreign students there was a danger of checks becoming heavy-handed.

“We are a community of scholars and students, and those students should be judged on the basis of academic merit, not on the basis of their visa status,” she said. “It is a major concern that the government is targeting overseas students as a way of meeting immigration targets, especially as these students are investing a huge amount in thehigher education system.”

The letter calls for an end to the monitoring of students via sessions designed for pastoral care, and for UK, EU and non-EU students to be treated and valued equally. It also asks for Universities UK, an advocacy organisation for universities, to speak out against monitoring students.

“We call on Universities UK, on behalf of member university vice-chancellors and principals, to oppose the discriminatory treatment of non-EU students in all forms and publicly affirm that the quality of academic work should be the primary criterion for determining academic standing,” the letter says.

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, said it was not acquiescing to the demands of the Home Office but had worked with it to make immigration compliance measures reasonable.

“We have been clear with the Home Office that attendance monitoring should not impact on students’ experience at university nor detract from the UK as a welcoming destination for international students,” she said.

“It is reasonable to expect universities to take responsibility for ensuring that students are engaged with their studies. This applies to all students, and not just international students.”

The Home Office said: “We continue to welcome the brightest and the best students and the latest statistics show that visa applications from university students has risen by 7% in the year ending December 2013. It is only right that universities adhere to the guidance and immigration rules of sponsorship by taking reasonable steps to ensure that every student has permission to be in the UK.”

* * *

PLEASE SIGN

Petition to be delivered to Universities UK (UUK): http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/to-universitiesuk-re?source=s.fwd&r_by=10132489

The Geneva Accords and the Return of the “Defensive Realists”

After intense negotiations between Iran and world powers (chiefly among them the United States), November 24 saw a historic breakthrough. In a six-month interim agreement, Tehran has committed itself to a substantial freezing of its nuclear program in return for “modest relief” — according to US President Barack Obama — in sanctions. The agreement will be a first step towards achieving a comprehensive solution, with which the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program will be ensured while all sanctions against the country would be lifted. There has been much speculation over the degree in which the decade-long transatlantic Iran strategy of coercive diplomacy was responsible for reaching this diplomatic victory. Was it the permanent threats of war or the increasingly crippling sanctions which, in the eyes of many Western observers, led Iran to “give in”? Arguably, it rather was a shift away from that policy of threats and pressure, and towards serious diplomacy aiming at a reconciliation of interests (especially during the month of November), which rendered the deal possible. But yes, without any doubt the sanctions did have an impact. The sanctions have severely deepened Iran’s economic malaise, considerably harmed a variety of social groups, while part of the power elite quite comfortably adjusted to the situation. Consequently, the power gap separating the state and (civil) society was even boosted. Yet, the immense damage that sanctions have done to society does not bear much relevance for policy-makers. However, what has gone largely unnoticed by supporters of the sanctions policy is the realpolitik fact that, contrary to its stated goal, the escalation of sanctions was accompanied by an escalation in Iran’s nuclear program. When Obama entered the White House, there were not even 1,000 centrifuges spinning in Iran; today, the figure stands at almost 19,000. The reason for this is that the West views sanctions through a cost-benefit lens, according to which it can only be a matter of time until the sanctioned party will give in. In contrast, Tehran sees sanctions as an illegitimate form of coercion, which ought to be resisted, for the alternative would be nothing less than capitulation. Nonetheless, many commentators sardonically insist on praising the sanctions’ alleged effectiveness for aiding diplomacy. This is not only a sign of analytical myopia, but also constitutes the not-so-covert attempt to shed a positive light on the coercive diplomacy that was pursued so far. In reality, Iran’s willingness to offer concessions is rooted within a wider context. Firstly, Iran already demonstrated its readiness to compromise over the last three years, which the Obama administration did not dare to accept due to domestic political pressures (i.e., his re-election). Secondly, and this is likely to have been crucial in achieving the agreement in Geneva, Iran’s current foreign policy is primarily not a result of pressure through sanctions. Instead, it is embedded within a specific foreign-policy school of thought which is characterized by realism and a policy of détente. Notably, with Hassan Rouhani’s election, the “defensive realist” school of thought reasserted power, which had previously been ascendant during Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s and Mohammad Khatami’s administrations. Their prime objective was a policy of détente and rapprochement, especially with the West, but also with neighboring Arab states — specifically, Iran’s geopolitical adversary, Saudi Arabia. In contrast to the “offensive realists” who took the lead under the Ahmadinejad administration, “defensive realists” do not view foreign policy as a zero-sum game but instead as an arena where win-win situations ought to be explored – especially with the United States. Another pivotal difference between these schools of thought is their estimation of US power. While “offensive realists” see the superpower’s power-projection capabilities rapidly declining, the “defensive” camp rightly acknowledges that even a US in relative decline can inflict substantial damage on weaker countries like Iran. The historically unprecedented Iran sanctions regime is a prime illustration of the veracity of the latter view. Ultimately, the nuclear agreement in its core has to be seen as a U.S.-Iranian one, which expresses the will of both sides to secure their interests in a rapidly changing regional landscape. To what extent this will affect Washington’s traditional regional allies in Tel Aviv and Riyadh will be highly interesting to watch

SOURCE

Ali Fathollah-Nejad (2013) “The Geneva Agreement with Iran: A Result of the Sanctions Policy?“, Fair Observer, 04/12; ▪ republished on Global Research, Montreal: Centre for Research on Globalization, 09/12;  ▪ published (slightly edited) as The Geneva Accords and the Return of the »Defensive Realists«, LobeLog (U.S. foreign affairs blog of the international news wire service Inter Press Service), 05/12; ▪ republished on Payvand Iran News, 06/12.

GERMAN VERSION:

Ali Fathollah-Nejad (2013) “Iran-Sanktionen: Wie gut zielt der Westen?” [Iran Sanctions: How Well Does the West Target?], Telepolis, 12/11 ▪ republished as Der lange Schatten der Iran-SanktionenThe Huffington Post Deutschland, 20/11.

 

West, Iran Grapple with Domestic Deal Breakers // Ende von Iran-Sanktionen in Sicht? [DW]

 

West, Iran Grapple with Domestic Deal Breakers

Current talks represent the best chance in years for the West and Iran to reach an agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program. But political hurdles at home remain for all the parties at the negotiating table.

“Over the last 10 years, signs of a rapprochement have not been better,” said Ali Fathollah-Nejad of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Ahead of talks between Iran and the so-called 5+1, the veto-wielding nations of the UN Security Council plus Germany, Tehran sent positive signals to the international community. It showed that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani wanted a solution to the issue as quickly as possible.

“There has also been a shift in thinking on the Western side,” Fathollah-Nejad told DW. “It’s ready to recognize Iran’s right to a nuclear program.”

While Iran sees enriching uranium on its own as a key step towards energy independence, the West sees it as an indicator that the nuclear program does not serve purely civilian purposes.

The right to use nuclear power for civilian purposes and the lifting of sanctions against Iran were the two demands formulated by Tehran ahead of the talks in Geneva. In exchange, Iran could offer transparency and trust-building measures as a form of guarantee that its nuclear program is not being used for military purposes. A suggestion along these lines was made by Hossein Mousavian, former head of the Iranian nuclear negotiation delegation, in an article in the German daily “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.”

A difficult balancing act

From the Western point of view, it is time for Iran to make its next move. The talks in Geneva represent the first test of whether action will follow the positive signals from Tehran in recent weeks. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif presented a three-point plan to settle the dispute. Parties to the negotiations did not comment in detail on Zarif’s plan. Observers in Iran have said Tehran appears to be working toward an agreement within one year with the first stage, likely to include lifting at least some sanctions, to occur within two months.

Pressure to find a quick solution to the Iranian nuclear issue, which has been controversial for years, could come from domestic concerns in Iran. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameneiis said to have called for the lifting of sanctions within six months.

“When the results of negotiations are presented, Rouhani will have to show some kind of success,” Steffen Meier of the German Institute for International Security Affairs told DW. “That is going to be a difficult balancing act.”

“I think the deciding factor will be the offers the West makes now – and sanctions will certainly play a role,” said Jens Peter Steffen of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

What will the West offer?

The West should offer to ease sanctions as a means of supporting Rouhani, Fathollah-Nejad said. But such a stance could be difficult for the West for two reasons.

First, US President Barack Obama would need the support of the Republican-led House of Representatives to lift economic sanctions against Iran. “[The Republicans] do not necessarily share Obama’s position that the negotiating process can be supported by easing sanctions,” Meier said.

Second, China and Russia, both of which hold veto power at the UN Security Council, benefit from the sanctions and may not see an interest in quickly lifting them, Fathollah-Nejad said.

As Iran’s second-largest trading partner, thanks in part to sanctions preventing other nations from trading with Tehran. For its part, Russia fears that if sanctions were lifted, Iran could become an energy supplier to the lucrative European gas and oil markets Moscow currently claims as its own. But getting Iranian gas and oil to Europe would be a difficult undertaking, according to Fathollah-Nejad. “Iranian oil production is throttled mainly because of a lack in major investments,” he said. “The West’s involvement in increasing oil production would be absolutely necessary.”

A web of sanctions

Before the West can invest in Iran, however, the economic – as well as banking and financial – sanctions would have to be lifted. It is, however, not possible to lift sanctions virtually overnight.

“We have an interwoven regime of sanctions that includes many different types of sanctions put in place by the United States as well as the European Union and the UN Security Council,” said Meier. “In this meshwork, taking steps that will have an effect on the Iranian economy is more difficult than one would think.”

On the other hand, any gradual easing of sanctions in return for Iranian cooperation, for, say, just the oil industry, or for the trading of precious metals, would have limited immediate effect on the creaking Iranian economy.

SOURCE
Wulf Wilde (2013) “West, Iran Grapple with Domestic Deal Breakers“, Deutsche Welle, 16 October 2013 ▪ republished on Haberler.com (Turkey).
[GERMAN (original)] Wulf Wilde (2013) “Atomkonflikt: Ende von Iran-Sanktionen in Sicht?“, Deutsche Welle, 16. Oktober.
[SPANISH] Wulf Wilde (2013) “¿Qúe intereses afecta un eventual fin de las sanciones contra Irán?“, Deutsche Welle Español, 16 octubre.
[INDONESIAN] Wulf Wilde (2013) “Harapan Berakhirnya Sanksi atas Iran?“, Deutsche Welle, 16 October.
[CHINESE] Free i News, 16 October 2013.
[ALBANIAN] Wulf Wilde & Amarildo Topi (2013), “Shanse të mira për një marrëveshje mes Iranit dhe Perëndimit, Deutsche Welle, 18 October.
[ALBANIAN] “Bisedimet me Iranin, atmosfera më e mirë në 10 vjet“, Top Channel TV (Tirana, Albania), 18 October 2013.

 

* * *

Ende von Iran-Sanktionen in Sicht?

Die Chancen für eine Lösung im Streit um das iranische Atomprogramm stehen so gut wie lange nicht mehr. Doch nicht alle Verhandlungspartner haben ein wirkliches Interesse an der Aufhebung der Sanktionen.

“Die Zeichen für eine Annäherung waren nie besser in den vergangenen zehn Jahren”, meint Ali Fathollah-Nejad von der School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Der Iran habe vor den Gesprächen mit der sogenannten 5+1-Gruppe aus den UN-Vetomächten und Deutschland deutlich positive Signale gesendet. Diese ließen darauf schließen, dass die iranische Regierung unter dem neuen Präsidenten Hassan Rohani das Problem so schnell wie möglich lösen möchte. “Zudem hat auf der westlichen Seite ein Umdenken stattgefunden. Man ist nun zumindest bereit, das Recht des Iran auf ein Atomprogramm anzuerkennen”, sagt Fathollah-Nejad im Gespräch mit der DW.

Der Westen beobachtet vor allem die Anreichung von Uran in iranischen Atomanlagen mit Misstrauen. Für den Iran ist die Uranreichung jedoch wesentlicher Bestandteil einer unabhängigen Energieversorgung. Folglich formulierte Teheran im Vorfeld der Gespräche das umfassende Recht auf die friedliche Nutzung der Atomenergie. Auch die Aufhebung der Sanktionen ist eine iranische Forderung. Im Gegenzug könnte der Iran Transparenz und vertrauensbildende Maßnahmen anbieten – als eine Art Garantie, dass sein Atomprogramm nie zu militärischen Zwecken genutzt wird. Diesen Vorschlag machte kürzlich Hossein Mousavian, früherer Sprecher der iranischen Verhandlungsdelegation, gegenüber der “Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung”.

Schwieriger Balanceakt

Aus Sicht der westlichen Staatengemeinschaft ist aber zunächst der Iran am Zug. Die Gespräche in Genf gelten als erster Test, ob den positiven Signalen der vergangenen Wochen auch konkrete Taten folgen. Am ersten Verhandlungstag in Genf überraschte Außenminister Mohammed Dschawad Sarif mit einem dreistufigen Zeitplan für eine Beilegung der Krise. Über den genauen Inhalt des Plans war von den Verhandlungsteilnehmern nichts zu erfahren. Aus iranischen Kreisen hieß es, Teheran strebe eine Einigung innerhalb eines Jahres an, wobei eine erste Etappe in ein bis zwei Monaten erreicht werden solle.

Ein ehrgeiziges Ziel, doch Präsident Rohani steht innenpolitisch unter Druck, schnell Ergebnisse zu präsentieren, die zur Aufhebung der Sanktionen führen. Der geistliche Führer Ajatollah Ali Chamenei soll Rohani dafür ein halbes Jahr Zeit gegeben haben. “Rohani muss, wenn er die Verhandlungsergebnisse in Teheran präsentiert, Erfolge vorweisen. Das ist ein schwieriger Balanceakt”, sagt Oliver Meier von der Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik in Berlin im Gespräch mit der DW.

Kampf um Absatzmärkte

“Ich halte es für entscheidend, welche Angebote der Westen jetzt macht, und da werden die Sanktionen sicherlich eine wichtige Rolle spielen”, meint Jens Peter Steffen von der Organisation Internationale Ärzte für die Verhütung des Atomkrieges. Um Rohanis Kurs zu unterstützen, müsse der Westen im Gegenzug für Irans Entgegenkommen eine Lockerung der Sanktionen anbieten, glaubt auch Fathollah-Nejad. Genau das könnte jedoch aus zweierlei Gründen schwierig werden.

Erstens: Die US-amerikanische Regierung von Präsident Barack Obama ist für eine Lockerung der Sanktionen auf die Zustimmung des republikanisch dominierten Repräsentantenhauses angewiesen. “Dieser teilt nicht unbedingt die Position Obamas, dass man über Sanktionslockerungen den Verhandlungsprozess vorantreiben kann”, so Meier. Zweitens: Die beiden UN-Sicherheitsratsmitglieder Russland und China seien als Nutznießer der Sanktionen zudem nicht unbedingt an einer schnellen Annäherung zwischen dem Westen und dem Iran interessiert, so Fathollah-Nejad.

Krise der Ölproduktion

China ist der zweitgrößte Handelspartner des Iran – begünstigt durch die Sanktionen. Und auch Russland hat Fathollah-Nejad zufolge ein Interesse, Irans Rolle auf dem Energiemarkt klein zu halten: Moskau fürchte, dass langfristig seine Stellung als Hauptenergielieferant Europas geschwächt werden könne, wenn der Iran nach Aufhebung der Sanktionen wieder als Wettbewerber auf dem Gas- und Erdölmarkt mitmischen kann. Der Weg zurück auf den Weltmarkt dürfte für den Iran jedoch schwierig werden. “Die iranische Ölproduktion etwa ist sehr stark gedrosselt worden, in erster Linie, weil große Investitionen fehlen”, sagt Fathollah-Nejad. “Für eine Steigerung der Ölproduktion wäre eine Involvierung des Westens unabdingbar.”

Dazu müssten nicht nur Wirtschaftsbeziehungen neu geknüpft werden, sondern in erster Linie auch die Bank- und Finanzsanktionen gelockert werden, die im Iran zu einer schweren wirtschaftlichen Krise geführt haben. Das zeigt: Mit einer schrittweisen Lockerung der Sanktionen in bestimmten Bereichen allein – etwa für die Gas- und Erdölindustrie und den Handel mit Edelmetallen – sind positive Effekte für die iranische Wirtschaft wohl nur schwierig zu erreichen.

“Wir haben mittlerweile ein miteinander verwobenes Sanktionsregime, das ganz verschiedene Arten von Sanktionen umfasst, sowohl von Seiten der USA aber auch durch die Europäische Union und den UN-Sicherheitsrat”, erläutert Meier die Problematik. “In diesem Geflecht Schritte zu unternehmen, die auf iranischer Seite zu einem wirtschaftlichen Effekt führen, ist schwieriger, als man vermutet.”

 

QUELLE

Wulf Wilde (2013) “Atomkonflikt: Ende von Iran-Sanktionen in Sicht?“, Deutsche Welle, 16. Oktober.

Nefarious Fallouts of Iran Sanctions

 

This article is based on a talk the author gave at the first-ever expert conference on Iran sanctions to have taken place in Europe. Organized by the Paris Academy of Geopolitics (PAG) at the French Senate on 3 June 2013, the conference assembled legal and economic experts as well as three former European ambassadors to Iran and former UN Secretary General Boutros-Ghali. The passages on Iran’s new President Hassan Rohani have been added in retrospect.

The article has been originally published by the New York-based World Policy Institute, and republished by the Moscow-based Oriental Review. A version of this article has been published in its French original on Le Huffington Post (France and Canadian Quebec editions), Mondialisation.ca (Canada) and in the current issue of the PAG journal Géostratégiques. A German translation will appear in the upcoming issue of the Vienna-based international-politics journal International: Die Zeitschrift für internationale Politik.

The article demonstrates that on various grounds (socio-economic, politico-diplomatic, geopolitical and geo-economic) that the sanctions regime against Iran has been counterproductive. Crucially for Western policymakers and contrary to officially stated goals, the rapid escalation of economic sanctions during the past few years has been accompanied by the expansion of Iran’s nuclear program. The article concludes by urging the sanctions imposers to prepare the political and institutional grounds for meaningful sanctions relief – a prospect the bulk of Iranians wish for and their new President Hassan Rohani is predestined to deliver if the West reciprocates with goodwill.

Iran’s new president, Hassan Rohani, has promised to ease the tensions surrounding the international relations of his country. In line with the will of the majority of Iranians, the issue of economic sanctions – weighing heavily on the latter’s day-to-day life – will be a key to that end.

In general, the purpose of sanctions is to force a political opponent to do what she would not do otherwise. In the case of the sanctions imposed on Iran – during the course of what is commonly but simplistically referred to as the “nuclear crisis” – the stated goal has been to force a reversal of Tehran’s nuclear calculus toward slowing down or even halting its nuclear program. This goal has clearly not been met. Instead this period has witnessed ever more crippling sanctions – a form of “structural violence” exerted upon an entire country and its people.

On the politico-diplomatic level: Hardening the fronts

Economic sanctions are one of the most preferred instruments of Western foreign policy. The immediate Western reaction to the Syrian crisis is the most recent evidence of this. In the Iranian case, sanctions have been an integral part of the transatlantic strategy pursued against Tehran, code-named “coercive diplomacy” in Diplomatic Studies. There, sanctions are usually presented as a quasi-peaceful means and as such inherently part of a purely diplomatic approach geared towards avoiding a military confrontation. However, as the Iraqi case demonstrates, sanctions are the last step before military action. In other words, “smart sanctions” are likely to be succeeded by “smart bombs.”

Apart from this worst-case scenario, sanctions have not proven to facilitate the resolution of conflicts; on the contrary, they rather tend to harden the opposing fronts. Frequently, opposing sides view sanctions through fundamentally different prisms. In this case, while the West conceives of sanctions in a cost–benefit framework – the heavier the costs imposed on the targeted country by way of sanctions, the more willing the sanctioned state will be to offer concessions. Iran on its part sees them as a means of illegitimate pressure against which she ought to resist. This explains why in the last couple of years the escalation of sanctions was accompanied by that of the nuclear program. For example, in 2006 – before the Iran sanctions were elevated to an undoubtedly crippling dimension by the United States and the European Union – Iran had a thousand centrifuges; the number today is much more than tenfold. This reality of the nuclear dynamics in the wake of sanctions remains largely ignored in Western capitals.

Moreover, it should be stressed that policymakers in the West have so far devoted much more time and energy to identifying which new set of sanctions to impose rather than to committedly and creatively finding a diplomatic solution of the decade-old stalemate.

On the socio-economic level: Widening the power gap between the state and society

The popular rhetoric of sanctions incorrectly characterizes the nature of the socio-economic effects imposed on the target country. Contrary to what is commonly claimed, sanctions actually weaken the lower and middle classes, particularly affecting the most vulnerable in society – workerswomen andthe youth. As a result, the power gap between the state and society widens. All this, as a matter of fact, actually dampens the prospect of popular uprising. A person struggling for economic survival barely has the luxury of engaging as a citoyen in the struggle for democracy. This explains the firm renunciation of sanctions by Iran’s civil society – voices that the West has largely chosen to ignore.

In political-economic terms, sanctions have largely paralyzed Iran’s civilian economy while state and semi-state economic entities – especially those associated with the Revolutionary Guards – have been able to benefit inter alia by monopolizing imports of various goods via “black channels.” State resources have buoyed those companies that have access to them, leaving others to drown in the tide of rising costs. Sanctions have also prompted enormous growth in the volume of bilateral trade between Iran and China (still about $ 40 billion according to the Iran–China Chamber of Commerce and Industries which is closely related to the regime) – to the detriment of producers and jobs in Iran. The reality of sanctions is that they have cemented the politico-economic power configuration in Iran.

On geopolitical and geo-economic levels: Putting a brake on Iran’s development

Sanctions produce far-reaching effects at the geopolitical and geo-economic levels. Corresponding with the implicit geopolitical rationale for sanctions – that if you cannot control or influence a country, you will resort to weakening it – these restrictions have indeed stunted Iran’s  development trajectory. This inflicted damage has not, however, produced the ultimate goal of reversing Iran’s nuclear and regional policies and has in fact damaged Western interests by boosting the clout of countries like China, Russia, and other regional states.

In the wake of the U.S.-pressured withdrawal of the Europeans from the Iranian market, Iran was virtually handed over to China on a silver plate – something Beijing is indeed quite appreciative of. China’s economic presence in Iran can be witnessed all across the board: from the construction of the Tehran Metro to the exploration of Persian Gulf oil and gas fields.

Iran’s technocrats – a prime victim of the sanctions – observe this development with great concern. Among other things, they have seen that a healthy competition between different foreign competitors is sorely missing, and that the lack of high-tech (formerly delivered by the West) has reduced the quality of domestic production. All of this has a negative impact (mid- and long-term) on Iran’s economic and technological development. If the situation remains unchanged, such damage can hardly be compensated. As another case in point, the sale of Iranian oil to large customers such as China or India has turned into barter – a de facto “junk for oil” program has emerged. In addition, during the past couple of years China has been given preferential rates by Iran for its oil imports.

Finally, some of Iran’s neighboring countries also benefit from the sanctions. Most significantly, due to the energy sanctions against Iran, Russia can safeguard its quasi-monopoly on Europe’s energy supply – a strategic interest held by Moscow which is unlikely to be reversed easily. To a much lesser degree but still noteworthy, Turkey – which has turned into the sole land trade corridor reaching Iran from the West – has seen its profits in its dealings with Iran risen sharply. Not surprisingly, its business press has been cheering the Iran sanctions as providing Ankara with a competitive trade advantage. Also off the radar, Qatar which in the Persian Gulf is sharing the world’s largest gas field with Iran, has been able to exploit South Pars much more rapidly than Iran given the latter’s lack of access to advanced technologies. This has resulted in a tremendous gap of revenues between the two countries of many several billion dollars.

Conclusion: Time for Abandoning Coercive Diplomacy

Ultimately, the policy of sanctions is counter-productive on multiple levels, most sensitively on diplomatic and socio-economic grounds. The sanctions – whether called “crippling” or “targeted” – disproportionately affect the civilian population. “Smart sanctions” are very much an oxymoron as “smart bombs” which allegedly function in surgical precision. And like their military counterparts, “targeted sanctions” inflict extensive “collateral damage.”

Despite the political need to seriously reconsider sanctions as a tool for a judicious and solution-oriented foreign policy, there are many political and institutional barriers to overcome before the extremely dense web of Iran sanctions can be dissolved – which remains not only a huge political challenge but also a moral one. The first step in this direction will be the sober realization among policymakers that while sanctions do have effects, these are not the ones officially proclaimed or desired – neither in socio-economic terms nor in the sphere of Realpolitik when it comes to altering Tehran’s nuclear calculation. Leaving the sanctions against Iran in place advances the specter of an Iraqization of Iran – with all its adverse effects internally (destruction of society) as well as externally (war and destabilization of an already too fragile regional balance).

To pave the way for a new chapter in Iran’s relations with the West, Rohani has already proved his wisdom by his choice of foreign minister. Mohammad-Javad Zarif, Iran’s former ambassador to the UN, has already been labeled as “Tehran’s leading connoisseur of the U.S. political elite”. All this undoubtedly presents the most suited prerequisite towards the aim of alleviating the multi-level liability that sanctions constitute. But at the end, it is the responsibility of those who have imposed the sanctions to initiate the process of their removal. The ball is now in the West’s court. It would truly be the “height of irresponsibility” if one missed this opportunity offered by the Iranian people who have already paid dearly for an utterly miscalculated transatlantic “coercive diplomacy.”

 

SOURCE

Ali Fathollah-Nejad (2013) “Fallouts of Iran Sanctions“, World Policy Journal (online), New York: World Policy Institute, 31 July;

▪ republished on Oriental Review (Moscow), 1 August;

published as “Nefarious Fallouts of Iran Sanctions” on:

Global Research, Montreal: Centre for Research on Globalization, 5 August;

Payvand Iran News, 5 August;

Iranian.com, 5 August;

Fair Observer, 9 August.

Asfar: The Middle Eastern Journal, No. 3 (August 2013).

 

MEDIA REPORTS

 

FEEDBACK

“a must-read” — Action Coalition Against Sanctions on Iran.

Iran Willing to Resume Nuclear Talks as Sanctions Bite Hard [Voice of America]

 

Henry Rigewell | Voice of America | 9 January 2013

 

LONDON — Iran says it is prepared to return to talks, possibly later this month, with major world powers over its nuclear program.  As the country’s uranium enrichment program continues, Western countries have tightened economic sanctions against Tehran.

U.S. President Barack Obama last week signed off on a new round of sanctions targeting Iran’s energy and shipping sectors.  They build on a range of unilateral and multilateral sanctions against Iranian industry and banks.

The measures are aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program.  The West claims Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons; Tehran says the program is for civilian purposes.

Iran has indicated it is ready to hold a fresh round talks with international powers – the so-called P5+1 – the United States, Britain, Russia, China, and France, plus Germany.

Jamie Ingram, of IHS Global Insight, says the sanctions are forcing Iran to the negotiating table.

“This is hitting Iranians hard in the pocket,” said Ingram. “Also, with the restrictions on imports, there are growing food shortages.”

EU trade with Iran – even in permitted commodities – has fallen off dramatically in recent months.  That’s because European banks fear the wrath of the U.S., says Nigel Kushner, chief executive of W Legal which advises firms on trading with Iran.

“The Americans will have a quiet word with them, one suspects, and asks them not to do it,” said Kushner. “So they won’t do it even though they are permitted to do it.  I was speaking yesterday with a Swiss bank who have said, ‘We want to accept payments for medical goods, or humanitarian goods that are going to Iran, but we’re too scared to do it.’ ”

Kushner says Iran is looking to countries beyond the jurisdiction of the sanctions to get what it needs.

“It might take longer, it might more cumbersome, and it might cost them more, but they will often look to countries like China, possibly Turkey, who don’t need to comply,” said Kushner.

The banking sanctions are causing the most pain in Iran, says analyst Ali Fathollah-Nejad of the University of London.

“You have huge financial and banking sanctions, which is the eye of the storm from which every other civilian branches of the economy are then crippled,” said Fathollah-Nejad.

He argues the West must put the sanctions up for negotiation at any upcoming talks if a diplomatic solution is to be found.

“In terms of its economic development, in terms of the well-being of its population, in terms of the well-being of its civil society, is something that Iranians inside and outside the country do care a lot about,” said Fathollah-Nejad. “And this is something that has to be put on the table.”

If the talks between Iran and the P5+1 go ahead, analysts expect a focus on short-term confidence-building rather than a solution to the crisis.

The sanctions against Iran, meanwhile, are a hot topic in Washington after President Obama announced his pick of Chuck Hagel to be the new secretary of defense.

Hagel, a former Republican senator, is on record in the past as opposing unilateral sanctions against Iran.  And if international talks with Iran fail, Hagel and the Pentagon would find themselves in the midst of a U.S. decision of whether to strike Iran militarily.

SOURCE

Henry Rigewell (2013) “Iran Willing to Resume Talks as Sanctions Bite Hard“, Voice of America (VOA), 9 January.

▪ republished on The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition) (South Korea), 10 January 2013;

▪ republished on The Cutting Edge, 12 January 2013;

▪ republished on The Jewish Voice (New York), 16 January 2013.

 

TRANSLATIONS

 

Economic Sanctions against Iran – Pargar (BBC Persian TV)

“Pargar” – Weekly roundtable in which our guests try to answer some of the challenging and controversial questions in modern society.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Moderator: Daryoush Karimi

Guests:

Panel 1

  • Dr. Hassan Hakimian (Director, London Middle East Institute, School of Oriental and African Studies [SOAS], University of London & Reader, Economics Department, SOAS)
  • Dr. Djamshid Assadi (Burgundy School of Business, France)

Panel 2

  • Ali Fathollah-Nejad (PhD candidate in International Relations, SOAS)
  • Fariba Shirazi (journalist, London)

 

 

Economic Sanctions against Iran – Pargar (BBC Persian TV) – October 2012 from Ali Fathollah-Nejad on Vimeo.

Download the audio file (26 MB; 56 mins).

 

NOTES BY ALI FATHOLLAH-NEJAD

  • The program has been edited towards the end. What I said at the end were basically two points: (1) I reacted to the debate at the end of the show about the Iran-West stand-off by merely pointing out that the West’s approach towards Iran is called “coercive diplomacy” in Diplomatic Studies not without a reason; (2) I asked whether “smart bombs” would follow in the wake of “smart sanctions.”
  • As to the number of children dying from the effects of the sanctions regime on Iraq (which lasted from 1991 to 2003), here is a collection of sources taken from the Wikipedia article “Sanctions against Iraq: Effects on the Iraqi people during sanctions” (accessed on 17 November 2012), which can provide the basis for both my own indication of 500,000 and the one by Dr. Hakimian’s of 250,000:

‘Researcher Richard Garfield estimated that “a minimum of 100,000 and a more likely estimate of 227,000 excess deaths among young children from August 1991 through March 1998” from all causes including sanctions.[27] Other estimates have put the number at 170,000 children.[14][28][29] UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said that

if the substantial reduction in child mortality throughout Iraq during the 1980s had continued through the 1990s, there would have been half a million fewer deaths of children under-five in the country as a whole during the eight year period 1991 to 1998. As a partial explanation, she pointed to a March statement of the Security Council Panel on Humanitarian Issues which states: “Even if not all suffering in Iraq can be imputed to external factors, especially sanctions, the Iraqi people would not be undergoing such deprivations in the absence of the prolonged measures imposed by the Security Council and the effects of war.” [30]

Estimates of deaths due to sanctions

Estimates of excess deaths during sanctions vary depending on the source. The estimates vary [30][37] due to differences in methodologies, and specific time-frames covered.[38] A short listing of estimates follows:

– Unicef: 500,000 children (including sanctions, collateral effects of war). “[As of 1999] [c]hildren under 5 years of age are dying at more than twice the rate they were ten years ago.”[30][39]
– Former U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq Denis Halliday: “Two hundred thirty-nine thousand children 5 years old and under” as of 1998.[40]
– “probably … 170,000 children”, Project on Defense Alternatives, “The Wages of War”, 20. October 2003[41]
– 350,000 excess deaths among children “even using conservative estimates”, Slate Explainer, “Are 1 Million Children Dying in Iraq?”, 9. October 2001.[42]
– Economist Michael Spagat: “very likely to be [less than] than half a million children” because estimation efforts are unable to isolate the effects of sanctions alone due to the lack of “anything resembling a controlled experiment”[43], and “one potential explanation” for the statistics showing a decline in child mortality was that “they were not real, but rather results of manipulations by the Iraqi government.”[43]
– “Richard Garfield, a Columbia University nursing professor … cited the figures 345,000-530,000 for the entire 1990-2002 period”[8] for sanctions-related excess deaths.[44]
– Zaidi, S. and Fawzi, M. C. S., (1995) The Lancet British medical journal: 567,000 children.[45] A co-author (Zaidi) did a follow-up study in 1996, finding “much lower … mortality rates … for unknown reasons.”[46]
– Iraq expert Amatzia Baram compared the country’s population growth rates over several censuses and found there to be almost no difference in the rate of Iraq’s population growth between 1977 and 1987 (35.8 percent), and between 1987 and 1997 (35.1 percent), suggesting a much lower total.[47]

Iran, Israel and the West | Iran, Israel und der Westen

Das deutsche Original befindet sich weiter unten.


Iran, Israel and the West: Is There a Way Out of the Crisis?

Interview with Ali Fathollah-Nejad & Hillel Schenker

 

Possible alternatives and the perception of the spiral of violence discussed in Berlin by German–Iranian political scientist Ali Fathollah-Nejad and Israeli journalist and peace activist Hillel Schenker at the invitation of German branch of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW Germany) and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES). The debate on which the following text is based upon was held on 23 April 2012 at the FES before an audience of over 150 diplomats, politicians, academics, students, NGO activists and other concerned citizens.

Moderator: Does the Middle-East face an armed, nuclear conflict between Israel and Iran? In the public discussion there are only three options: military action with conventional weapons, a nuclear attack or a continuation of the sanctions policy against Iran.

Ali Fathollah-Nejad: From the beginning, the West has used coercive diplomacy against Iran. This strategy does not aim at reconciliation of interests, but at a de facto capitulation of Iran. From the Iranian perspective, there has been a security deficit, which was enforced by the neoconservative wars of the last decade through the increased military presence of the Americans in the region. Due to the fact that the West didn’t take into account Iran’s legitimate security interests, coercive diplomacy has failed. The lack of any solution to the conflict has led to a continuing escalation.

Moderator: What are the effects of the sanctions policy of the West in Iran?

Ali Fathollah-Nejad: To put it briefly, sanctions have made legal trade illegal. The situation in Iran has dramatically tightened in the last few months. Prices are rising and the currency has lost nearly half of its value. It is the population who has to pay the price of sanctions. The élite owns the resources and has ways to withstand the sanctions. Hence, the sanctions actually widen the power gap between the ruling structures on one side and the civilian economy and society on the other. As a result, civil society finds itself in a state of siege, pressured by both an authoritarian regime and by sanctions and the permanent threat of war. Overall the policy of the West in the region pushed forward a process of securitization in the country. Instead of running towards an armed conflict, the focus should be on the process of balancing interests and perspectives for security and collaboration. It is alarming that there are no clear signals for de-escalation and conflict resolution, and this is true for Germany as well.

Moderator: Which are the reactions of the Israeli population on the debate around a possible attack on Iranian nuclear facilities?

Hillel Schenker: In Israel everyone is frightened of the possibility of Iranian nuclear armament. Public opinion surveys show this. For example the Israeli population was asked how they would react in case of a nuclear armament of Iran. 25% of the questioned answered they would possibly leave the country. Another survey shows that the majority of Israelis would be for giving up the Israeli nuclear weapons and becoming a part of a nuclear-free zone if this would prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

Moderator: Is the statement from Iran that they are only interest in nuclear energy is the civil use convincing?

Ali Fathollah-Nejad: Due to its geography, its demography and its long cultural history, Iran has a particular place in the region. The country has a quasi-natural geopolitical influence. An important component of the strategic thinking in Tehran is that a nuclear bomb is counter-productive to their grand-strategic interests. If Iran went nuclear, it is probable that other states in the region, states which Iran is not friends with, like the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), such as Saudi Arabia, would get nuclear weapons. Such a nuclear stand-off would lead to the loss of the natural geopolitical importance of Iran.

Moderator: Which options about the Iranian nuclear program are discussed in the Israeli public?

Hillel Schenker: In the public discussion there are currently two strategies of how to deal with the Iranian nuclear program. One idea is an Israeli or American or coordinated nuclear attack against the Iranian nuclear facilities. A large amount of military experts expect that this will lead to a spiral of violence in the region with a lot of civilian victims without leading to success. Another option would be a combination of sanctions and negotiations. But there is a third: direct negotiations between the two parties on neutral ground. These negotiations should aim to create a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. In 2010 at a NPT (Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty) review conference, it was decided that an international conference should be held to create such a nuclear weapons-free zone. The conference will be held at the end of this year, 2012, or at the beginning of next year in Finland, with the facilitation of Finnish Under-Secretary of State Jaakko Laajava.

Moderator: How can civil society help lead this conference to success?

Hillel Schenker: From the point of view of the civil society it is essential that Israel and Iran will be attending this conference. If either does not attend, the conference will be a failure. The second point is the conference should not be a one-time event. It has to be the beginning of a process. Thirdly, all the participants have to recognize that a nuclear and mass destruction weapons-free zone and peace in the Middle East are not mutually exclusive; they depend on each other and they have to take place simultaneously.

* * *

A previous version has been posted on the website of the Palestine–Israel Journal of Politics, Economics and Culture on 25 July 2012. Fathollah-Nejad’s statements were originally made in German; the present version presents an edited translation thereof.

 

SOURCE

Ali Fathollah-Nejad & Hillel Schenker (2012) “Iran, Israel, and the West: Is There a Way Out of the Crisis?“, Palestine–Israel Journal of Politics, Economics and Culture (online), 25/07

▪ slightly edited version republished on Fair Observer, 27/08 ▪ Global Research, Montreal: Centre for Research on Globalization, 28/08 ▪ Arab Spring Collective (Cairo), 29/08.

▪ posted on Red Horse Down, 12/09, Alex(ander) Patico (co-founder of the National Iranian American Council [NIAC] and member of the Board of Advisory of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran [CASMII]).

 

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Iran, Israel und der Westen: Auswege aus der Bedrohungsspirale

Ein Interview mit Ali Fathollah-Nejad und Hillel Schenker

 

Droht im Nahen Osten ein militärischer Konflikt mit unabsehbaren Folgen, eine nukleare Auseinandersetzung zwischen Israel und dem Iran? Wenn man die öffentliche Diskussion aufmerksam verfolgt, dann scheint es im Nahen Osten zurzeit nur drei Optionen zu geben. Einen Militärschlag mit konventionellen Waffen, einen Nuklearschlag oder weiterhin eine scharfe Sanktionspolitik gegen den Iran.

Welche Alternativen möglich sind und wie die Spirale der Gewalt in beiden Ländern wahrgenommen wird, darüber diskutierten der israelische Journalist und Friedensaktivist Hillel Schenker und der deutsch-iranische Politologe Ali Fathollah-Nejad in Berlin auf Einladung der IPPNW und der Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.

[Lesen Sie hier weiter.] (pdf)

 

QUELLE

Ali Fathollah-Nejad & Hillel Schenker (2012) “Iran, Israel und der Westen: Auswege aus der Bedrohungsspirale” [Iran, Israel and the West: Exiting the Dangerous Spiral], interview, IPPNWforum, Berlin: International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) Germany, No. 130 (June), pp. 10–11.

 

REAKTIONEN

Friedens- statt Kriegspolitik | A Policy of Peace Instead of War

 

Please scroll down to see the Declaration in English and Persian.

Der Konflikt mit Iran spitzt sich gefährlich zu. Das vom Westen beschlossene Ölembargo und der Boykott der iranischen Zentralbank sind gefährliche Interventionen. Schon einmal verhängten Großbritannien und USA in den 1950er Jahren ein Ölembargo gegen Iran, das zum Sturz der demokratisch gewählten Regierung Mossadegh führte. Die heute eingeleiteten Öl- und Finanzembargos treffen vor allem die Menschen im Iran. Obendrein liefern sie dem gegenwärtigen Regime die Rechtfertigung, sich mit Hinweis auf die historische Parallele als Opfer westlicher Aggression und als legitime Verteidiger und Beschützer der Unabhängigkeit des Iran, eines für alle Iraner vorrangigen politischen Ziels, darzustellen. Die militaristischen Strömungen in der Islamischen Republik fühlen sich so geradezu legitimiert, mit der Schließung der Straße von Hormuz im Persischen Golf zu drohen. Die Sanktionseskalation ist auf dem besten Wege, in einen Krieg einzumünden. Er würde nicht nur für die Menschen im Iran katastrophale Folgen haben, sondern auch die gesamte Region auf weitere Jahrzehnte destabilisieren.

Das iranische Volk will – alle Indizien sprechen dafür – weder einen Krieg noch iranische Atombomben. Es wehrt sich allerdings gegen jede militärische Bedrohung von außen. Israels Atomarsenal und die militärische Einkreisung Irans durch die USA, die inzwischen in nahezu allen seinen Nachbarländern Militärbasen errichtet haben, sind wichtige Ursachen für die Rüstungsanstrengungen Irans. Mit der Tolerierung von Israels Atomwaffenarsenal bei gleichzeitiger Bekämpfung des iranischen Atomprogramms tragen USA und EU die Hauptverantwortung dafür, dass kaum ein Oppositionspolitiker im Iran es wagt, die Atompolitik der Islamischen Republik in Frage zu stellen.

Auch in Deutschland und Europa fühlen wir uns mit der zunehmenden Gefahr eines Krieges konfrontiert, der schwerwiegende Folgen für Europa und die Welt haben würde. Wer das Ziel verfolgt, die Islamische Republik durch Intervention von außen zu beseitigen, wird realistische Lösungen für den Atomkonflikt ignorieren. Wir warnen deshalb davor, dass maßgebliche Kräfte in den USA und ihre exiliranischen Mitläufer den Atomkonflikt für einen Regime Change zu instrumentalisieren suchen. Die Behauptung, die Nuklearmacht Iran könne nur durch Krieg verhindert werden, ist irreführend. Wir lehnen sie daher entschieden ab.

Wir fordern den Präsidenten der Vereinigten Staaten, Barack Obama, auf:

Stoppen Sie die Embargos gegen iranisches Öl und die iranische Zentralbank. Verhindern Sie, dass der bevorstehende Präsidentschaftswahlkampf die US-Regierung und Israel in einen Krieg mit unvorhersehbaren Folgen stürzt. Bieten Sie Iran als Gegenleistung für das kontrollierte Beschränken des Nuklearprogramms entsprechend den Bestimmungen des Atomwaffensperrvertrages einen gegenseitigen Nichtangriffspakt, möglichst gemeinsam mit Israel, an.

Von der deutschen Bundeskanzlerin fordern wir:

Schließen Sie jede Beteiligung Deutschlands an einem Krieg gegen Iran öffentlich aus und stoppen Sie die riskante Sanktionseskalation. Unterstützen Sie möglichst zusammen mit anderen europäischen Regierungen die von der UNO beschlossene Konferenz für eine massenvernichtungswaffenfreie Zone im Mittleren und Nahen Osten, die 2012 beginnen soll und die bisher in der Öffentlichkeit ignoriert wird. Dabei verspricht dieses Vorhaben, das durch eine KSZE-ähnliche Konferenz ergänzt werden könnte, eine völlig neue Perspektive des Friedens und der Kooperation für die gesamte Region. Nur eine Politik, die alle Staaten der Region, Israel eingeschlossen, zur atomaren Abrüstung und Enthaltsamkeit verpflichtet, kann das gegenseitige Misstrauen beseitigen und den Feindbildern zwischen den Religionen, Völkern und Staaten sowie dem Wettrüsten und den Diktaturen den Boden entziehen.

Wir bitten die UNO, die geplante Konferenz möglichst bald einzuberufen, selbst wenn sie zunächst von Israel oder Iran boykottiert werden sollte. Auf Dauer wird sich niemand in der Region dieser Perspektive verschließen können, ohne seine Glaubwürdigkeit und Legitimation zu verlieren. Über den aktuellen Atomkonflikt hinaus wüchse mit einer ständigen Konferenz für Sicherheit und Zusammenarbeit im Mittleren und Nahen Osten (KSZMNO) die Hoffnung, dass ein neuer friedenspolitischer Rahmen zur Lösung anderer aktueller Konflikte, insbesondere des Nahostkonflikts, entstehen könnte.

 

Auf Einladung von Andreas Buro, Christoph Krämer und Mohssen Massarrat unterstützen diese Erklärung:

ErstunterzeichnerInnen: Dr. Franz Alt; Prof. Dr. Elmar Altvater; PD Dr. habil. Johannes M. Becker; Prof. Dr. Hanne-Margret Birckenbach; Reiner Braun; Prof. Dr. Andreas Buro; Daniela Dahn; Prof. Dr. Hans-Peter Dürr; Prof. Dr. Theodor Ebert; Prof. Dr. Dr. hc. Iring Fetscher; Dr. Ute Finckh; Prof. Dr. Drs. hc. Johan Galtung; Prof. Dr. Ulrich Gottstein; Prof. Dr. Peter Grottian; Prof. Dr. Frigga Haug; Evelyn Hecht-Galinski; Prof. Dr. Rudolf Hickel; Matthias Jochheim; Heiko Kauffmann; Prof. Dr. hc. Karlheinz Koppe; Christoph Krämer; Prof. Dr. Ekkehart Krippendorff; Felicia Langer; Prof. Dr. Mohssen Massarrat; Dr. Christine Morgenroth; Prof. Dr. Wolf Dieter Narr; Prof. Dr. Oskar Negt; Dr. Bahman Nirumand; Prof. Dr. Norman Paech; Prof. Dr. Fanny-Michaela Reisin; Bergrun Richter; Wiltrud Rösch-Metzler; Clemens Ronnefeldt; Prof. Dr. Werner Ruf; Dr. Christine Schweitzer; Prof. Dr. Eva Senghaas-Knobloch; Prof. Dr. Gert Sommer; Hans von Sponeck; Eckart Spoo; Prof. Dr. Udo Steinbach; Otmar Steinbicker; Dr. Reiner Steinweg; Mani Stenner; Dr. Peter Strutynski; Helga Tempel; Konrad Tempel; Prof. Dr. Rolf Verleger; Renate Wanie; Dr. Christian Wellmann; Prof. Dr. Herbert Wulf.

Regelmäßig aktualisierte Liste der UnterzeichnerInnen: ca. 90 Organisationen und knapp 2000 Einzelpersonen (Stand: 19.4.2012)

Wir bitten um Unterstützung dieser Erklärung und weitere Verbreitung. Insbesondere für eine Veröffentlichung in Zeitungsanzeigen, bitten wir um finanzielle Beteiligung durch eine Spende an das Sonderkonto der Kooperation für den Frieden:

Förderverein Frieden e.V., Konto-Nr. 404 1860 401 bei der GLS Bank (BLZ 430 609 67), IBAN: DE89430609674041860401 / BIC: GENODEM1GLS mit dem Stichwort “Iranerklärung”.

Rückmeldung zur Unterstützung bitte an: Kooperation für den Frieden, Römerstr. 88, 53111 Bonn per Post, Fax: 0228/692906 oder eMail: iranerklaerung@koop-frieden.de oder oder über das Online-Formular.

 

QUELLEN

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A Policy of Peace Instead of War in the Iran Conflict

An Immediate End to Sanctions and Threats of War

A Declaration from the German Peace Movement and Peace Researchers

The conflict with Iran is dangerously escalating. Both the planned oil embargo and boycott of the Iranian Central Bank by the West are perilous interventions. Once in the past, in the 1950s, Britain and the United States imposed an oil embargo on Iran. This led to the overthrow of the democratically elected Mossadegh government. The impact of today’s oil and financial embargoes will primarily be felt by the ordinary people of Iran. And in light of the historical parallels, these measures will only serve to vindicate the current regime’s claim to be a victim of Western aggression and enable it to present itself as the legitimate defender of Iran’s independence, an uppermost political goal of all Iranians. Militarists in the Islamic Republic now even feel justified in threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. This escalation of sanctions is perfectly suited to lead to war. This would not only have catastrophic consequences for the people of Iran, but also destabilize the entire region for many decades to come.

All evidence suggests that the Iranian people have no desire either for war or an Iranian nuclear bomb. They refuse to accept, however, any foreign military threat. Israel’s nuclear arsenal and the military encirclement of Iran by the U.S. which at present maintains military bases in almost all of the countries neighbouring Iran, are important motives behind Iran’s armament efforts. By tolerating Israel’s nuclear arsenal while simultaneously opposing the Iranian nuclear programme, the U.S and the EU must bear the primary responsibility for the fact that hardly any opposition politician in Iran dares to question the nuclear policies of the Islamic Republic.

We in Germany and in Europe as a whole also feel confronted with the growing danger of war, as it would clearly pose serious consequences for Europe and the world. Those aiming to eliminate the Islamic Republic through foreign intervention simply ignore realistic solutions to resolving the nuclear conflict. We therefore warn influential forces in the U.S. and their exiled-Iranian followers against attempting to instrumentalize the nuclear conflict in order to push for regime change. The claim that a nuclear armed Iran can only be prevented through war is a deceptive one that we firmly reject.

We call upon the President of the United States, Barack Obama:

Stop the embargoes against Iranian oil and the Iranian Central Bank. Do not allow the American presidential campaign to plunge the U.S. administration and Israel into a war with unforeseeable consequences. In return to a controlled curtailment of its nuclear programme in accordance with the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, offer Iran a mutual non-aggression pact, preferably along with Israel.

We demand from the German Chancellor:

Rule out publically any German participation in a war against Iran and put a halt to the risky escalation of sanctions. Support, preferably with other European governments, the United Nations Middle East WMD-Free Zone Conference, which is scheduled to begin in 2012 and which has received next to no public attention. Yet, this undertaking, which could be complemented with a Conference for Security and Cooperation in the Middle East (CSCME), would offer a whole new perspective for peace and cooperation for the entire region. Only a policy that requires all states in the region, including Israel, to pursue nuclear disarmament and the renunciation of nuclear weapons can overcome mutual distrust as well as enemy images between the region’s religions, peoples and states. The arms race and regional dictatorships would lose their raison d’être.

We ask the United Nations to convene the planned conference as soon as possible, even if it is initially boycotted by Israel or Iran. In the long run, no one in the region can afford to close its mind for the perspective offered by the conference without losing its credibility and legitimacy. A permanent Conference for Security and Cooperation in the Middle East (CSCME) would raise hopes that a new framework for peace policies would arise to help solve – in addition to the current nuclear dispute – other existing problems, in particular, the Mideast conflict.

* * *

At the invitation of Andreas Buro, Christoph Krämer, and Mohssen Massarrat, the following individuals as initial signers have expressed their support for this Declaration:

Franz Alt, Elmar Altvater, Johannes M. Becker, Hanne-Margret Birckenbach, Reiner Braun, Daniela Dahn, Hans-Peter Dürr, Theodor Ebert, Iring Fetscher, Ute Finkh, Johan Galtung, Ulrich Gottstein, Peter Grottian, Matthias Jochheim, Heiko Kauffmann, Karlheinz Koppe, Ekkehart Krippendorff, Wiltrud Roesch-Metzler, Christine Morgenroth, Wolf-Dieter Narr, Oskar Negt, Bahman Nirumand, Norman Paech, Bergrun Richter, Clemens Ronnefeldt, Werner Ruf, Christine Schweitzer, Eva Senghaas-Knobloch, Gert Sommer, Hans von Sponeck, Eckart Spoo, Otmar Steinbicker, Mani Stenner, Peter Strutynski, Helga Tempel, Konrad Tempel, Renate Wanie, Herbert Wulf and Christian Wellmann.

For a complete list of the signatories (as of 19 April 2012, about 90 organizations and almost 2000 individuals have signed), see http://www.friedenskooperative.de/themen/iranerkg.htm#marke02.

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The Declaration can be signed, and financially endorsed for further newspaper ads, here: http://www.friedenskooperative.de/cgi-bin/iran.pl

* * *

Note: The text here is a translation from the German original. The declaration appeared as an ad in the weekly Der Freitag on 29 March 2012 and in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the largest German national subscription daily newspaper, on 31 March 2012.

 

SOURCES

READ MORE

Dangerous War Games: Iran on the Brink

23 February 2012 | Quadriga – The International Talk Show (Deutsche Welle’s international talk show)

 

Dangerous War Games: Iran on the Brink | TV debate with Ali Fathollah-Nejad, Prof. em. Michael Stürmer (Chief Correspondent of the German daily Die Welt & former Director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, 1988–98) and Dr. Andrew B. Denison (Director of Transatlantic Networks) | “Quadriga: The International Talk Show” – Deutsche Welle TV English.

A Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons: Iran’s and Israel’s Long-Term Interests | Atomwaffenfreie Zone: Längerfristige Interessen Irans und Israels

Weiter unten finden Sie die deutsche Fassung des Beitrags.

 

A Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons in Western Asia:

Why It Would Be in the Long-Term Interest of Both Iran and Israel

Undoubtedly, urgent action towards de-escalation is needed in order to avoid the outbreak of a military confrontation with Iran. What governs the present crisis is the presumed logic of collision in a conflict around nuclear monopoly versus deterrence. However, when adopting a long-term view, the two current antagonists could find their national interests satisfied in a zone free of nuclear weapons. Pointing to such a hopeful prospect might alleviate any deterministic pessimism looming over the conflict that conceives war as the only possible end-game.

More than before, the endless spectacle surrounding Iran’s nuclear program tends to escalate into war. While most security policy debates incessantly sway between the devil (war) and the deep blue sea (sanctions), it is clear that both options cannot eliminate concerns for nuclear proliferation and the well-being of civilian populations. The only sensible way forward would be to abandon such a policy choice that has proven counterproductive and, not surprisingly, has pushed the conflict to the brink of war. Instead, it would be best to focus efforts towards achieving regional disarmament and ultimately a nuclear weapons-free zone. Contrary to widespread assumptions, it can be argued that both Tel Aviv and Tehran have a long-term strategic interest in such a zone.

The only way forward is that of regional disarmament

For Israel, the danger would lie in the nuclearization of other important countries in the region (such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey). Such a “balance of threats” would then have an unfavourable impact on its security and definitely curtail its military deterrence capability towards its neighbours. Since the “military solution” against the nuclear armament of a larger country – as can be observed in the case of Iran – is hardly considered a sustainable one by Israeli strategists, the only solution would consist in regional disarmament as a way to effectively provide for security.

For its part, Iran as a nuclear weapons state would dramatically lose its natural, geographically determined power position in Western Asia once nuclearization of its geopolitically weaker neighbours (especially those on the Arabian Peninsula) is triggered. Thus, in the medium to long term the possession of nuclear weapons would constitute a great disservice to the grand strategic interests of the country.

Therefore, it seems necessary to appeal to the long-term interests of both states. Far-sighted decision-makers on both sides should come to the conclusion that the future cannot rest on fragile short-term security calculations but in a zone free of nuclear weapons.

The situation necessitates alternative approaches

The above considerations are not meant to hide potential adversities. They are intended to stress the need not to search for solutions in alleged impasses of Realpolitik, all the while a possible resort in fact points to an opposite direction. Just as the German–French arch rivalry could unexpectedly be overcome, history shows us that the Iranian–Israeli rivalry is of geopolitical nature and as such it is by no means immune to a resolution.

The current situation in the region calls for alternative approaches in order to avoid a disastrous war with global ramifications. The spiral of armament and hostility can ultimately only lead into an abyss.

As a report by the EastWest Institute outlined in January, it is high time for a regional security architecture in Western Asia. Both the U.S. and the EU should actively be engaged in assisting such a process, which would require nothing less than a paradigm shift. In order to lay a first foundation stone and at the same time send out de-escalating signals to Tel Aviv and Tehran, active political support from the West will be crucial to make the first UN Middle East WMD-Free Zone Conference a success. If the security dilemmas afflicting the region continue to be ignored, it will only be a matter of time before in Europe’s neighboring region the spectacle will flare up in an inferno.

 

SOURCE

Ali Fathollah-Nejad (2012) “A Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons in Western Asia: Why It Would Be in the Long-Term Interest of Both Iran and Israel”, Payvand Iran News, 9 March;

also published on Iran Review, 10 March 2012;

published as “Let’s Get Even: Nuclear Free Zone Is in the Long-Term Interest of Both Iran and Israel“, Iranian.com, 10 March 2012;

an edited version initially appeared as “A Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East“, guest column, Informed Comment, 1 March 2012. (Listed as “Resource” for the No War On Iran campaign of the Coalition For Peace Action [CFPA], Princeton, NJ.)

 

REACTIONS

  • George Fernee (2012) “The U.S. and Iran: A Pathology of Paternalism“, International Affairs at LSE (the blog of LSE IDEAS), London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), 11 March.
  • Linked by the Information Centre of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), 12 March 2012.

 

 

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Eine atomwaffenfreie Zone in Westasien:

Wieso sie im längerfristigen Interesse Irans und Israels liegt

Das unendliche Spektakel rund ums iranische Atomprogramm tendiert wie kaum zuvor gen Kriegseskalation. Während die meisten sicherheitspolitischen Debatten unablässig zwischen Pest (Krieg) und Cholera (Sanktionen) hin- und herschwanken, ist es klar, dass beide Optionen Bedenken in Bezug auf nukleare Proliferation und dem Wohlergehen der Zivilbevölkerungen nicht beseitigen können. Der einzig sinnvolle Weg nach vorn wäre diese vermeintliche Politik-Alternative, die sich als kontraproduktiv erwiesen hat und den Konflikt keineswegs überraschend an den Rand eines Krieges gebracht hat, aufzugeben und sich anstelle dessen um regionale Abrüstung und letztendlich um eine atomwaffenfreie Zone zu bemühen. Um einen aus der Auseinandersetzung um nukleare Monopole und Abschreckung resultierenden Zusammenstoß zu verhindern, stellt die Einrichtung einer solchen Zone wohl die einzig nachhaltige Lösung dar.

Strategische Weitsicht zum Durchbruch verhelfen

Entgegen weitverbreiteter Auffassungen hätten sowohl Tel Aviv als auch Teheran durchaus ein längerfristiges strategisches Sicherheitsinteresse an einer atomwaffenfreien Zone. Eine schwerlich zu unterbindende nukleare Proliferation in der Region hätte nämlich für beide Seiten negative Folgen.

Für Israel bestünde die Gefahr in einer infolge einer Atomwaffenfähigkeit Irans erfolgende Nuklearisierung anderer gewichtiger Länder der Region (die Türkei, Saudi-Arabien und Ägypten). Solch ein „Gleichgewicht des Schreckens“ würde sich unvorteilhaft auf seine Sicherheit auswirken und seine militärische Abschreckungsfähigkeit gegenüber den Nachbarn empfindlich beschneiden. Da die „militärische Lösung“ gegen die Atombewaffnung eines größeren Landes – wie im Falle Irans zu beobachten – auch von israelischen Strategen als kaum nachhaltig eingestuft wird, bleibt nur der Weg der regionalen Abrüstung, um tatsächlich Sicherheit zu gewährleisten.

Iran seinerseits, als atomwaffenfähiges Land, würde durch die Nuklearsierung seiner geopolitisch schwächeren Nachbarn (v.a. jene auf der arabischen Halbinsel) seine natürliche, geographisch bedingte Machtposition in Westasien dramatisch einbüßen. Somit erwiese sich mittel- und langfristig eine Atombewaffnung als ein Bärendienst gegenüber den großstrategischen Interessen des Landes.

Insofern gilt es an diese längerfristigen Interessen dieser Länder zu appellieren. Es müsste sich bei weitsichtigen Entscheidungsträgern auf beiden Seiten die Einsicht durchsetzen, dass die Zukunft nicht auf fragilen, da kurzfristig angelegten Sicherheitskalkulationen auf der Basis von nuklearer Aufrüstung und gegenseitiger Abschreckung fußen kann, sondern in einer atomwaffen- und massenvernichtungswaffenfreien Zone. Dadurch würde schließlich beiden Sicherheit und friedliche Koexistenz gewährt werden können.

Deeskalierende Signale vonnöten

Die angestellten Überlegungen zu der Realisierbarkeit solch einer Zone sollen nicht über Widrigkeiten hinwegtäuschen, doch aber einen Anstoß dafür bieten, nicht in scheinbar realpolitischen Sackgassen nach Lösungen zu fahnden, während ein Ausweg eher in eine gegensätzliche Richtung weist. Genauso wie die deutsch-französische Erzfeindschaft überraschend überwunden werden konnte, so zeigt uns die Geschichte, dass die iranisch-israelische Rivalität geopolitischer Natur ist und als solche einer Regelung gegenüber keineswegs immun ist.

Die zurzeit dramatische Lage in der Region führt die Dringlichkeit eines alternativen Ansatzes zur Vermeidung von katastrophalen Kriegen vor Augen, deren Auswirkungen nicht nur regional, sondern global zu verzeichnen wären. Denn die Spirale der Aufrüstung in der Region gepaart mit Feindseligkeiten der Parteien kann letztlich nur in den Abgrund führen – all das während man die alles entscheidende Sicherheitsfrage in unverantwortlichem Maße unter den Tisch hat fallen lassen.

Wie das EastWest Institute in einem Bericht letzten Monat darlegte, sei es höchste Zeit für eine regionale Sicherheitsarchitektur in Westasien. Diesem Prozess sollten die USA und die EU aktiv behilflich sein, was nichts weniger als einen Paradigmenwechsel erfordere. Um dafür einen ersten Grundstein zu legen und zugleich deeskalierende Signale nach Tel Aviv und Teheran auszusenden, wäre eine aktive politische Unterstützung des Westens für den Erfolg der ersten UN-Konferenz zur Etablierung einer massenvernichtungswaffenfreien Zone im Nahen und Mittleren Osten unabdingbar. Ignoriert man weiterhin die Sicherheitsdilemmata, die die Region plagen, wird es nur eine Frage der Zeit sein, bis in der europäischen Nachbarregion das Spektakel in einem Inferno aufgeht.

 

SOURCE

Ali Fathollah-Nejad (2012) “Gleichgewicht der Abrüstung: Atomwaffenfreie Zone in Westasien“, The European, 19. Februar;

ebenso veröffentlicht als: “Atomwaffenfreie Zone in Westasien: Wieso sie im längerfristigen Interesse Irans und Israels liegt“, Telepolis, 24. Februar.

 

 

Appeal: Stop the Violence in Syria – Prevent War!


For the German original, please scroll down.

6 February 2012 | German Section of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW)

Appeal to the Syrian government and the armed opposition as well as to their international supporters

For weeks, there have been an increasing number of reports of escalating violence in Syria. According to the UN, thousands of people have already lost their lives. And according to the international media, various plans already exist and are still being forged for a military intervention by the West.

Yesterday at the Munich Security Conference, Tawakkul Karman, the Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize recipient, justifiably demanded that international measures be taken to protect people in Syria from the escalating violence. Her view of the situation overlooks, however, the fact that Russia and China do not by any means reject such measures. On the contrary, Russia has stated that it would support a UN resolution on Syria if it rules out any external military intervention and demands a halt to violence not only on the part of the Syrian government, but also from the opposition. In contrast to the picture painted by the Western media, the responsibility for yesterday’s failure of the resolution in the UN Security Council should in no way be placed solely with Russian and China, but also to a large extent with the West, which for weeks has consistently rejected a peace-oriented formulation of the resolution.

As members of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), also a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, we are deeply concerned about the large and growing number of victims of violence in Syria, including a great many individuals not directly involved in the conflict. Numerous physicians, as well others contributing to the care of the injured, are affected. We, as the German section of the IPPNW, also want to raise the alarm about an additional danger. A Western military intervention could set a process in motion that would involve other countries, such a Iran, and thereby lead to a conflagration in the whole region – and one which borders directly with Europe. If NATO becomes involved, this could even result in an open confrontation between the nuclear superpowers.

There is growing evidence that the domestic Syrian conflict, as well as the struggle for democracy and the rule of law, is being increasingly exploited and exacerbated by external players for their own political aims. Apparently, it is not only the Syrian government that has been supported with weapons, in this case provided by Russia, but Syrian rebels, too, have received both large sums of money from Western allied Gulf states as well as weapons from the Turkish NATO base in Incirlik. They have been supported by foreign mercenaries, including some from Libya. Many people in Syria and, in particular, peaceful opposition groups have complained that these developments have destroyed any prospects for peaceful change that have been advanced for years by the reform movement. The result is an ever-greater bloodbath between the parties in this civil war and an increasing number of civilian victims. Those who hold the view that it is legitimate to exacerbate the domestic conflict in Syria in order to bring about regime change in Damascus, make it easier to forment a war with Iran, or even to deprive Russia of its naval base on the Mediterranean, leave themselves open to the accusation that they are involved in the preparation of a war by proxy and thereby are guilty of a crime against humanity.

As members of the physicians’ peace organization IPPNW, we therefore appeal:

  • to NATO and, in particular, to the German government:
    Undertake measures to immediately halt the secret transfer of Western weapons to Syria! Clearly reject all plans for a Western military intervention in Syria! Embargos are also not a solution. Instead, attempt to bring about an agreement with all parties and especially reach out to Russia!
  • to the Russian government:
    Immediately introduce your own resolution proposal to the UN Security Council based on a thoroughgoing peaceful approach. This includes not only refraining from any further arming of the Syrian opposition, but also of the Syrian government. This requires increased efforts to initiate peaceful alternatives, such as international talks with all interested parties to the conflict!
  • to the Arab League:
    Resume your observer mission. And increase its prospects for success by appealing to all participant countries: Similar to the superpowers, please immediately halt all activities that foster violence in Syria and instead promote all possible approaches towards a peaceful solution!
  • to the Syrian government and opposition:
    Distance yourselves from unachievable maximum demands and accept negotiations. Only in this way can you prevent your country from sinking into the bloodbath of a proxy war fuelled by foreign interests! Stop the destruction of your country’s civilian infrastructure and stop all attacks on hospitals, doctors, and other medical personnel!

Physicians fight for peace.
Because war destroys life and health.
And war destroys human rights.
War does not create peace.

The German Section of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), Nobel Peace Prize recipient for 1985

 

* * *

6. Februar 2012 | Deutsche Sektion der Internationalen Ärzte für die Verhütung des Atomkrieges (IPPNW)

Gewalt in Syrien stoppen – Krieg verhindern!

Appell an die syrische Regierung und die bewaffnete Opposition

Seit Wochen mehren sich die Berichte über eine Eskalation der Gewalt in Syrien. Laut UNO haben dort bereits mehrere tausend Menschen ihr Leben verloren. Und internationalen Medien zufolge werden immer mehr Pläne für eine westliche Militärintervention geschmiedet.

Gestern hat nun die jemenitische Friedensnobelpreisträgerin Tawakkul Karman auf der Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz zu Recht gefordert, internationale Maßnahmen zu ergreifen, um die Menschen in Syrien vor der eskalierenden Gewalt zu schützen. Bei ihrer Sicht auf die Dinge übersieht sie aber, dass Russland und China solche Maßnahmen keineswegs ablehnen. Vielmehr hatte Russland erklärt, es würde der UN-Resolution zu Syrien zustimmen, wenn sie eine Militärintervention von außen ausschließe und nicht nur von der syrischen Regierung, sondern auch von der Opposition Gewaltverzicht fordere. Anders als in den hiesigen Medien dargestellt sind daher für das gestrige Scheitern der Resolution im Weltsicherheitsrat keineswegs nur Russland und China verantwortlich, sondern in hohem Maße der Westen, der seit Wochen einen konsequent friedensorientierten Resolutionswortlaut ablehnt.

Als Mitglieder der internationalen Ärzteorganisation IPPNW (ebenfalls Trägerin des Friedensnobelpreises) sind wir zutiefst besorgt über die immer größere Zahl von Opfern der Gewalt im Lande, darunter eine große Zahl von primär Unbeteiligten. Auch zahlreiche Ärztinnen und Ärzte sowie andere an der Versorgung der vielen Verletzten Beteiligten sind betroffen. Als deutsche Sektion der IPPNW warnen wir aber auch vor einer noch darüber hinaus gehenden Gefahr: Eine westliche Militärintervention kann eine Dynamik in Gang setzen, die weitere Länder wie den Iran erfasst, und schließlich zu einem Flächenbrand der gesamten Region führen – die mit Europa direkt benachbart ist. Wenn die NATO darin verwickelt ist, kann dies letztlich sogar in eine offene Konfrontation zwischen den atombewaffneten Großmächten münden.

Denn es mehren sich die Hinweise, dass die inner-syrischen Konflikte wie der Kampf um Demokratie und Rechtsstaatlichkeit zunehmend von externen Akteuren für eigene Machtinteressen benutzt und hierzu geschürt werden: Offenbar wird nicht nur die syrische Regierung von Russland mit Waffen unterstützt. Sondern die Aufständischen erhalten große Geldbeträge aus mit dem Westen verbündeten Golfstaaten und Waffen über die türkische NATO-Basis Incirlik. Sowie Unterstützung von Söldnern aus dem Ausland, etwa aus Libyen. Viele Menschen in Syrien und insbesondere friedliche Teile der Opposition beklagen, dass so die gewaltfreien Perspektiven der seit Jahren fortschreitenden Reformbewegung zerstört werden. Mit der Konsequenz eines immer größeren Blutbades zwischen den Bürgerkriegsparteien und immer mehr auch zivilen Opfern. Wer meint, es sei legitim, durch Schürung der inner-syrischen Konflikte einen pro-westlichen “Regime Change” in Damaskus herbeizuführen, um einen Krieg gegen den Iran leichter führbar zu machen und zugleich Russland seiner Marinebasis am Mittelmeer zu berauben, muss sich den Vorwurf der Vorbereitung eines Stellvertreterkrieges und damit eines Verbrechens gegen die Menschlichkeit gefallen lassen.

Als Mitglieder der ärztlichen Friedensorganisation IPPNW appellieren wir daher:

– an die NATO und insbesondere an die deutsche Bundesregierung:
Sorgen Sie umgehend für die Unterbindung des heimlichen Transfers westlicher Waffen nach Syrien! Erteilen Sie allen Plänen für eine westliche Militärintervention in Syrien eine klare Absage! Auch Embargos sind keine Lösung. Suchen Sie stattdessen die Verständigung mit allen Beteiligten und gehen Sie hierzu insbe-sondere auch auf Russland zu!

– an die russische Regierung:
Bringen Sie jetzt umgehend Ihrerseits einen Resolutionsentwurf in den Weltsicherheitsrat ein, der konsequent friedensorientiert ist. Dies schließt ein, nicht nur die weitere Bewaffnung der syrischen Opposition abzulehnen, sondern auch die der syrischen Regierung. Und erfordert verstärkte Anstrengungen für die Schaffung friedlicher Alternativen wie internationale Gespräche mit allen Konflikt- und Interessenparteien!

– an die Arabische Liga:
Nehmen Sie Ihre Beobachtermission wieder auf. Und stärken sie deren Erfolgsaussichten durch einen Appell an Ihre Mitgliedsländer: Ebenso wie die Großmächte mögen sie umgehend alle Aktivitäten unterbinden, die die Gewalt in Syrien schüren, und stattdessen alle denkbaren Ansätze für eine friedliche Lösung fördern!

– an die syrische Regierung und Opposition:
Rücken Sie von unerfüllbaren Maximalforderungen ab und akzeptieren Sie Verhandlungen. Verhindern Sie so, dass Ihr Land im Blutbad eines von äußeren Interessen angeheizten Stellvertreterkrieges versinkt! Beenden Sie die Zerstörung der zivilen Infrastruktur Ihres Landes und beenden Sie alle Angriffe auf Krankenhäuser, Ärzte und anderes medizinisches Personal!
Ärzte kämpfen für Frieden.
Denn Krieg zerstört Leben und Gesundheit.
Und Krieg zerstört Menschenrechte.
Krieg schafft keinen Frieden.
Deutsche Sektion der Internationalen Ärzte für die Verhütung des Atomkrieges (IPPNW) Friedensnobelpreis 1985

The appeal is also available in Spanish and Persian.

 

The appeal can be signed here.

 

Statement: Scholars, Academicians, Journalists, and Activists Condemn Murder of Iranian Technical and Scientific Experts

 

On January 12, 2012, a bomb ripped apart a car in Tehran, killing Iranian scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan and his driver, and injuring several others. In the past two years, four other Iranian scientists have been killed in a similar manner. By now, it is clear that this is a systematic campaign with political intentions. Media reports and political pundits attribute Mr. Ahmadi’s killing to targeted assassinations by those opposed to Iran’s nuclear program, both within and outside Iran, or internal factional fighting.

If public reports are true that these assassinations are orchestrated by foreign powers in order to prevent Iran’s ability to go forward with its nuclear capabilities, then we petition those powers to stop these assassinations – a tactic replacing political engagement with covert operations at the expense of innocent civilians. These assassinations provide the Iranian authorities with ample excuse to continue to suppress voices of dissent, even on the Iranian nuclear issue, to arrest and imprison political opposition, and to further curtail the activities of human rights activists.

As academicians, writers, human rights activists, and intellectuals, we condemn these attacks on civilian scientists. Such terrorist actions can only escalate the internal tension and regional conflicts toward a military clash or war. Regardless of where we stand on Iran’s nuclear program, we find these assassinations outrageous because they target technical or scientific elements of a society without due consideration for human rights, due process of international and national laws, and lives of innocent individuals caught in the crossfire.

These types of killings have to stop, not only because they harm a nation’s scientific community and its civilians, but also because they build a deep psychological scar on the nation’s public mind prompting it to ask for revenge in kind. We hope we are living in a better world than that. Killing innocent or even allegedly guilty people without consideration for their human rights and due process, by any force or government anywhere and anytime, is an outrageous act to be protested by all. If covert targeted assassinations of opponents become the order of the day, no one will be safe in this world.

 

01. Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, SOAS, University of London
02. Masih Alinejad, Journalist
03. Asieh Amini, Journalist and Human Rights Activist
04. Fariba Amini, Independent Journalist and Writer
05. Hooshang Amirahmadi, Professor, Rutgers University
06. Richard P. Appelbaum, Professor of Sociology, University of California at Santa Barbara
07. Rahim Bajoghli, Human Rights Activist
08. Darioush Bayandor, historian, author
09. Asef Bayat, Professor, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
10. Iris Bazing, MD, Baltimore, Maryland
11. Maria Bennett, Poet, New Jersey, USA
12. Mohammad Borghei, Strayer University.
13. Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Professor, Syracuse University
14. Juan Cole, Professor, University of Michigan
15. Shirindokht Daghighian, Independent Scholar & Author
16. Mehrdad Darvishpour, Lecturer at the Malardalen University, Sweden
17. Lucia F. Dunn, Professor of Economics, Ohio State University
18. Goudarz Eghtedari, Ph.D., Voices of the Middle East
19. Mohammad Eghtedari, Economist, Washington, DC
20. Nader Entessar, Professor of Political Science, University of South Alabama
21. Amir Fassihi, Nowruz Foundation for Nonviolence, CA
22. John Foran, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara
23. Ali Fathollah-Nejad, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
24. Yoshie Furuhashi, Editor, MRZine
25. Alexandra Gallin-Parisi, Professor, Trinity University
26. Amir Hossein Ganjbakhsh, Senior Investigator, National Institute of Health, Bethesda, MD
27. Reza Goharzad, Journalist, Los Angeles
28. John L Graham, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Irvine
29. Hossein Hamedani, Professor, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
30. Nader Hashemi, Professor, University of Denver
31. Esmail Hejazifar, Professor of Physics, Wilmington College, Ohio
32. Paula Hertel, Professor of Psychology, Trinity University, San Antonio, TX
33. Mohsen Heydareian, Ph. D, Political Science, Sweden
34. Fredun Hojabri, Retired Professor of Sharif (Aryamehr) Univeristy of Technology
35. Angie Hougas, Human Rights Activists, McFarland, WI
36. Noushin Izadifar Hart, M.D., Radiation Oncologist, Reston, Virginia
37. Azadeh Jahanbegloo, Sociologist, Wright State University, Ohio
38. Jahanshah Javid, Editor, Iranian.com
39. Hasan Javadi, Retired Professor of Persian Language, University of California, Berkeley
40. Mark C. Johnson, Executive Director, Fellowship of Reconciliation, NY
41. Yahya Kamalipour, Chair, Global Communication Association, Purdue University
42. Aziz Karamloo, MD, Faculty Member, University of California, Los Angeles
43. Mahmood Karimi-Hakak, Professor of Theatre and Film, Siena College, NY
44. Liam Kennedy, Community Board Member,CCPB, UC, Irvine
45. Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor, Washington University, St. Louis
46. Nanette Le Coat, Associate Professor, Modern Languages and Literatures, Trinity University
47. Arturo Madrid, Professor, Trinity University
48. Ali Akbar Mahdi, Professor Emeritus, Ohio Wesleyan University
49. Azita Mashayekhi, Industrial Hygienist, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
50. Rudi Matthee, Distinguished Professor of Middle Eastern history, University of Delaware
51. Farzaneh Milani, Professor, University of Virginia
52. Yaser Mirdamadi, Independent Scholar
53. Ziba Mir-Hosseini, CMEIL, School of Oriental and African Studies
54. Ida Mirzaie, Ohio State University
55. Valentine M. Moghadam, Professor of Sociology, Northeastern University
56. Mahmood Monshipouri, Professor, San Francisco State University
57. Akbar Montaser, Professor, Department of Chemistry ,George Washington University
58. Reza Mousoli, Canterbury Christ Church University, UK
59. Baquer Namazi, Retired UNICEF Country Representative & Civil Society Activist
60. Arash Naraghi, Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy, Moravian College
61. Mohamad Navab, University of California, Los Angeles
62. Farrokh Negahdar, Political Analyst
63. Mohammad-Reza Nikfar, Independent Scholar and Philosopher
64. Azam Niroomand-Rad, Professor Emeritus, Georgetown University Medical Center
65. Farhad Nomani, Professor of Economics, American University of Paris
66. Mehdi Noorbaksh, Associate Professor, Harrisburg University of Science & Technology
67. Trita Parsi, President, National Iranian American Council, Washington, DC
68. Richard T. Peterson, Professor of Philosophy, Michigan State University
69. Davood Rahni, Professor of Chemistry, Pace University, New York
70. Farhang Rajaee, Professor, Carleton University
71. Asghar rastegar, MD, Professor of Medicine, Yale School of Medicinek
72. Thomas M. Ricks, Ph.D., Independent Scholar
73. Mahmoud Sadri, Professor of Sociology, Texas Woman’s University
74. Muhammad Sahimi, Professor, University of Southern California in Los Angeles
75. Hamid Salek, D.D.S. University of Southern California , Los Angeles
76. Reza Sarhangi, Professor, Department of Mathematics, Towson University
77. Mehrdad F. Samadzadeh, University of Toronto
78. Gabriel Sebastian, Author, Futurist
79. Ali Shakeri, Community Board Member, CCPB, UC, Irvine
80. Evan Siegel, Ph.D., Independent Researcher on Iran & Azerbaijan, Adj. Mathematics Prof., CUNY
81. Arman Shirazi, Senior Scientist, CSM North America
82. Sussan Siavoshi, Professor, Trinity University
83. Mark D. Stansbery, Iran Action Network
84. Sussan Tahmasebi, Women’s Rights Activist
85. Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, Univeristy of Toronto
86. Bahram Tavakolian, Willamette University
87. Farideh Tehrani, Ph.D., Middle Eastern Studies Librarian, Rutgers University, NJ
88. Mary Ann Tetreault, Cox Distinguished Professor of International Affairs, Trinity University
89. Nayereh Tohidi, Professor, California State University, Northridge
90. Patricia Trutty-Coohill, Professor of Art History, Siena College, NY
91. Farzin Vahdat, Research Associate at Vassar College
92. Bill Wolak, Poet, New Jersey, USA
93. Leila Zand, Program Director, Middle East Civilian Diplomacy, Fellowship of Reconciliation
94. Hamid Zangeneh, Professor, Widener University

 

SOURCE

The original English version [pdf]:

Translations in Persian:

  • Akhbare Rooz (Iranian Political Bulletin), 16 January 2012;
  • iran-emrooz.net, 16 January 2012;
  • Shahrgon (“the first and the largest publication for Persian speaking in western Canada”), 16 January 2012.

Translation in French:

 

A Conference for Security and Cooperation in the Middle East

An Obligation Imposed by the »Arab Spring« and the Israel–Iran Conflict

 

With the war drums on Iran sounding again and the Arab Revolts following an arduous path, the question of a sustainable perspective for a conflict-ridden region remains to be dealt with. After all, the lack of both security and cooperation is an enduring malady plaguing the region.

Civil-society effort towards common security and regional cooperation

Some years ago a civil-society initiative for a Conference for Security and Cooperation in the Middle East (CSCME) was spearheaded in Germany by peace and conflict researcher Prof. Mohssen Massarrat in collaboration with the German branches of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA). After decades of violent conflicts in the region, the initiators chose not to sit down and wait anymore, but decided to assemble civil-society actors from all countries concerned in order to promote a perspective for peace, security and cooperation – something state actors have carelessly neglected. One of its key aims is the creation of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

After a first workshop held in Germany in January 2011, a second took place by late October at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London in cooperation with its Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy (CISD). The meeting was linked to an annual CISD conference on a related subject, the 6th SOAS/British Pugwash London Conference on a Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone.

So far civil-society forces from almost all countries of the region have been brought together. Unified in the desire to break out from the vicious cycle of regional militarization, they want to offer a vision for common security and regional cooperation. In addition to security policy, the CSCME process comprises a number of fields for cooperation, among others in the areas of socio-economic development, cross-border resource management, inter-religious and -cultural dialogue, and health. It is hoped that the next expert conference will take place in the region itself. All of that in view of holding a founding conference for the civil-society CSCME process in the near future.

For 2012 (perhaps more realistically for 2013), the first United Nations Middle East WMD-Free Zone Conference is planned, for which Finland has been chosen as host. Ideally, concrete steps towards the realization of that aim would be defined there and civil-society groups involved.

The “Arab Spring”: The necessity of a veritable regional security architecture

An important topic of the last workshop in London was the “Arab Spring” which demonstrated that the pejoratively dismissed “Arab Street” is not a passive object for authoritarian rule, but that societies can offensively fight for their own needs and interests, and eventually bring about change. This development has emboldened the initiative for a CSCME as it showed that civil-society pressure can indeed yield tangible results.

Importantly, if we comprehend the revolutionary process in the Arab world to be motivated by a triad of popular demands, namely the pursuit of socio-economic justice, political freedoms, and independence, what is intimately connected to the latter is the question of security, especially for those countries so far over-dependent on non-regional powers.

The Iran–Israel conundrum: A WMD-free zone as the only sustainable solution

Beyond that implicit demand inherent to the Arab uprisings for security and coexistence, there is another front which propels us to contemplate about new paths and solutions. The seemingly never-ending spectacle around the so-called Iran nuclear conflict, which is more often tilting towards war than a peaceful resolution, has again produced heated debates on its whereabouts. With the bulk of the policy debates endlessly vacillating between a rock (war) and a hard place (sanctions), it is clear that both options will not alleviate concerns for both nuclear proliferation and the Iranian civil society’s well-being. The only meaningful way forward would be to abandon such a bogus policy alternative which has proven counterproductive and will only push the conflict towards the brink of war, and instead striving for regional disarmament and eventually a WMD-free zone. In order to avoid a collision resulting from contentions over nuclear monopoly and deterrence, the creation of such a zone would arguably constitute the only meaningful exit. Hence, the desire to bring both Iran and Israel to the table at the above mentioned UN conference.

While there can be little doubt that civil societies across the region are in need of a prospect for common security and intra-regional cooperation, there can be no less doubt that the so-far preferred policies affecting the region have proven unsuccessful at best. Only in an overall Conference for Security and Cooperation in the Middle East (CSCME) can the concatenation of multi-faceted conflicts in the region be addressed in a sustainable manner. Here, the continuing and increasing insistence from diverse civil society actors will be indispensable to encourage policy-makers to pave the way for bringing sustainable peace and security to the region.

 

SOURCE

Ali Fathollah-Nejad (2011) “A Conference for Security and Cooperation in the Middle East“, Fair Observer, 2 December;

▪ slightly edited version published as “Security and Cooperation in the Middle East: Searching for a Solution“, openDemocracy,  1 December;

▪ published as “WMD Free Zone: Avoiding a Collision Over Nuclear Monopoly and Deterrence“, Iranian.com, 8 December;

▪ published as “A Conference for Security and Cooperation in the Middle East: An Obligation Imposed by the “Arab Spring” and the Israel–Iran Conflict“, Payvand Iran News, 9 December;

▪ published as “A Conference for Security and Cooperation in the Middle East: An Obligation Imposed by the Arab Spring and the Israel–Iran Conflict“, Foreign Policy Journal, 9 December ;

▪ published as “A Conference for Security and Cooperation in the Middle East: An Obligation Imposed by the Arab Spring and the Israel–Iran Conflict“, Iran Review, 9 December;

▪ published as A Conference for Security and Cooperation in the Middle East“, Atlantic Community, Berlin: Atlantische Initiative, 19 January;

▪ republished on Yahanestán: opinión y sociedad sobre Oriente Medio (Mexico), 21 January 2012.