Foreign Policy

U.S. cancels 1950s treaty with Iran after international court rules against sanctions

The U.S. is pulling out of a 63-year-old friendship treaty with Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Wednesday, just hours after an international tribunal ruled the Trump administration must roll back some of the sanctions it has imposed on Tehran over its nuclear and missile programs. Mr. Pompeo appeared in the State Department briefing room to personally deliver the news, calling the termination of the 1955 agreement “overdue” and accusing Iran of abusing the International Court of Justice* in The Hague to undercut U.S. policy. Iran cited the 1955 agreement as the basis for arguing at the ICJ that curbs on humanitarian trade announced by the Trump administration after President Trump pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal this spring were illegal under international law. In a preliminary ruling, the court said that Washington must “remove, by means of its choosing, any impediments arising from” the re-imposition of sanctions to the export to Iran of medicine and medical devices, food and agricultural commodities and spare parts and equipment necessary to ensure the safety of civil aviation. Mr. Pompeo noted that the court refused to grant Iran much more sweeping relief from U.S. sanctions that Tehran had demanded. He also said the U.S. sanctions policy already took into account exceptions for humanitarian transactions with Iran, and accused the regime in Tehran of spending money on military adventures abroad rather than on the needs of its own citizens. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif praised the court ruling on Twitter, calling it “another failure for sanctions-addicted” U.S. and a “victory for rule of law,” The Associated Press reported. Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council, accused the Trump administration of acting “impetuously” in abrogating the treaty. “That treaty has proven immensely valuable to the United States historically, including in the judgment against Iran over the 1979 hostage crisis,” Mr. Abdi said in a statement. Mr. Pompeo said it remained to be seen what the practical effect of abrogating the 1955 “Amity Treaty” would be. He said Iran has been “ignoring” the agreement for a long time, and the ICJ ruling provided just one more reason for ending the accord.

New York Times: Trump’s Iran Sanctions ‘Working’; Foreign Policy ‘Success’

The New York Times gave President Donald Trump credit for oil sanctions on Iran, which it said had been successful in pressuring the regime without raising oil prices. In an article by Cliffor Krauss titled, “Trump Hit Iran With Oil Sanctions. So Far, They’re Working,” the Times reported that Trump had defied foreign policy experts and achieved what few of them would have thought possible. The Times noted: “When President Trump announced in May that he was going to withdraw the United States from the nuclear agreement that the Obama administration and five other countries negotiated with Iran in 2015 and reimpose sanctions on the country, the decision was fraught with potential disaster. If Mr. Trump’s approach worked too well, oil prices would spike and hurt the American economy. If it failed, international companies would continue trading with Iran, leaving the Islamic Republic unscathed, defiant and free to restart its nuclear program. But the policy has been effective without either of those nasty consequences, at least so far.” “The president is doing the opposite of what the experts said, and it seems to be working out,” said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy and Economic Research, a research and consulting firm. Initial signs of a foreign-policy success could benefit Mr. Trump politically as Republicans try to hold on to control of Congress. The president and lawmakers allied with him could point to the administration’s aggressive stand toward Iran as evidence that his unconventional approach to diplomacy has been much more fruitful and far less costly than Democrats have been willing to acknowledge. The article also noted that while European governments have criticized Trump for pulling the U.S. out of the nuclear deal with Iran, European companies have been supporting Trump’s policy by pulling out of Iran.

Even “the failing New York Times” had to admit that Trump’s pressure on Iran IS working.  I bet that was a painful admission.      🙂

John Kerry Meeting With Iran to Salvage Nuke Deal With Rogue Diplomacy

Former Secretary of State John Kerry disclosed that he has been conducting rogue diplomacy with top Iranian officials to salvage the landmark nuclear deal and push the Islamic Republic to negotiate its contested missile program, according to recent remarks. Kerry, in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt to promote his new book, said that he has met with Iranian Former Minister Javad Zarif—the former secretary’s onetime negotiating partner—three or four times in recent months behind the Trump administration’s back. “I think I’ve seen him three or four times,” Kerry said, adding that he has been conducting sensitive diplomacy without the current administration’s authorization. Kerry said he has criticized the current administration in these discussions, chiding it for not pursuing negotiations from Iran, despite the country’s fevered rhetoric about the U.S. president. Kerry’s comments are in line with previous reporting on his behind-the-scenes attempts to save the nuclear deal and ensure that Iran continues receiving billions in cash windfalls. These payments were brought to a halt by the Trump administration when it abandoned the nuclear agreement and reimposed harsh sanctions on Iran that have nearly toppled its economy and sparked a popular revolution. Kerry said he met Zarif in Norway, Munich, and other international forums. As Iran continues to plot terror attacks across the globe and transport weapons to regional hotspots in Syria and Yemen, Kerry has tried to help Zarif preserve the nuclear agreement with European nations. “What I have done is try to elicit from him [Zarif] what Iran might be willing to do to change the dynamic of the Middle East for the better,” Kerry said. “How does one resolve Yemen, what do you do to try and get peace in Syria? Those are the things that really are preoccupying him because those are the impediments to Iran’s ability to convince people its ready to embrace something different.” Kerry said he has offered blunt talk to Zarif in order to push the regime to accept restrictions on its foreign interventionism. “I’ve been very blunt to Foreign Minister Zarif. I told him, ‘Look, you guys need to recognize the world does not appreciate what’s happening with missiles, what’s happening with Hezbollah, what’s happening with Yemen,'” Kerry recounted. “You’re supporting an ongoing struggle there.” Iran has said “they’re prepared to negotiate and resolve these issues, but the [Trump] administration’s taken a very different tact.” Criticizing the current White House, Kerry lamented that “it appears right now, as if the administration is hell-bent … to pursue a regime change strategy” in Iran that would “bring the economy down and try to isolate further.” The former secretary of state cautioned the current administration, saying “the United States historically has not had a great record in regime change strategies, number one, and number two that makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for any Iranian leader to sit down and negotiate anything because they’re not going to do it in a capitulatory situation.” Iranian leaders have said multiple times in recent months that they will not take any meetings with Trump or his administration.

Just who the hell does FORMER Sec. of State John Kerry thinks he is?!?!  He has NO authority to be “negotiating” anything on behalf of the U.S.  So, don’t know what he hopes to achieve.  But, he’s doing it without the blessing of the ACTUAL (Trump) administration.  President Trump tore up the Iran nuke deal, as it was a complete disaster…which Obama never got the (Dem-controlled, no less) Senate to ratify anyway.  Either Kerry is trying to act as a shadow entity, or he’s simply an ivy-leage educated hippy who has gone crazy..

Trump rejects Marshall Plan nation-building, opts for ‘tough love’ foreign policy

President Trump is disrupting a foreign policy establishment truism dating to the days of the Marshall Plan. For places such as Syria, North Korea, Pakistan and the Palestinian territories, the White House is making clear that the U.S. has no interest in embarking on the expensive nation-building missions that have characterized American conflicts of the postwar era. Mr. Trump’s skepticism of U.S. aid programs is no surprise given his long pre-White House record and his comments on the campaign trail in 2016, but he has taken that opposition a step further in office by pre-emptively announcing that U.S. taxpayers won’t be on the hook even in ongoing crises such as the Syrian civil war and North Korean nuclear activity. “We won’t have to help them,” Mr. Trump told reporters in Singapore after his landmark summit in June with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un when asked about U.S. aid to build up the North’s primitive economy. “The United States has been paying a big price at a lot of different places, but South Korea, which obviously is right next door, and Japan, which essentially is next door, they’re going to be helping them. … So they will be helping them,” Mr. Trump said at the time. In the past week, the Trump administration has announced that it was ending funding to the U.N. agency that provides services to Palestinian refugees — reportedly over the objections of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — and confirmed the cancellation of $300 million in military aid to Pakistan to express displeasure over Islamabad’s record on fighting terrorist groups. In many of the hot spots where American forces are or have been engaged, the Trump administration has reined in U.S.-led reconstruction efforts and demanded that other countries step up. Case in point: the administration’s decision late last month to cancel $230 million earmarked for rebuilding Syria as the country’s devastating 7-year-old civil war appears to be winding to a conclusion. Mr. Trump last month considered but decided against rescinding some $3 billion that Congress had allocated to the U.S. Agency for International Development and State Department. The plan was to return the money to the Treasury. State Department officials, at the direction of the White House, have shifted the roughly $200 million set aside for Syrian reconstruction toward other department priorities. The bulk of the funds to aid in Syria’s recovery will be derived from a $300 million allocation from allies in the U.S.-led coalition, including $100 million from Saudi Arabia, to fight Islamic State and other jihadi groups. “Many coalition partners have made pledges and contributions in recent months, and the United States appreciates all partners who have stepped up to support this critical effort,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters Friday while announcing the plan to shift funding. Rex W. Tillerson, as Mr. Trump’s first secretary of state, spearheaded the effort to dedicate U.S. funds toward Syrian reconstruction. The reconstruction and aid effort in Syria, as well as other areas of the world, have flamed out since his departure in March.

For more, click on the text above…

Donald Trump Signs Executive Order Restoring Sanctions on Iran

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Monday, reimposing a series of economic sanctions on Iran. In a statement sent to reporters, Trump said the Iran nuclear deal gave Iran the economic resources necessary to both continue funding terrorism around the world and searching for a path for a nuclear weapon. “The JCPOA, a horrible, one-sided deal, failed to achieve the fundamental objective of blocking all paths to an Iranian nuclear bomb, and it threw a lifeline of cash to a murderous dictatorship that has continued to spread bloodshed, violence, and chaos,” he wrote. The reimposed sanctions will hit Iran’s gold and precious metals trade and its automotive industry. The measures will take effect on August 7, 2018. Other sanctions on the country’s oil industry are expected to resume on November 5, 2018. Trump said he supported a new deal with Iran that actually addressed its long-standing financial backing for terrorists as well as its missile program. He also signed support for the Iranian people. “The United States continues to stand with the long-suffering Iranian people, who are the rightful heirs to Iran’s rich heritage and the real victims of the regime’s policies,” he wrote. “We look forward to the day when the people of Iran, and all people across the region, can prosper together in safety and peace.” The president signed his executive order at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey, an event that was closed to the press. The White House released Trump’s statement and a photo of him signing the document.

Excellent!!   🙂

Analysis: Al-Qaeda Group Funded by Obama Admin Supported Bin Laden, Hamas, Afghan Terrorists

The bombshell revelation on Wednesday that the Obama administration funded an al-Qaeda group in Sudan ten years after it was designated a foreign terrorist organization merely scratched the surface of what the Islamic Relief Agency (ISRA) stands accused of. For a full account of the group that received $325,000 in U.S. taxpayer money in 2014 and 2015, we must turn to the U.S. Treasury Department documents Team Obama apparently did not bother to read. The ISRA was designated a financial supporter of terrorism by the Treasury Department in October 2004, under the authority of an executive order issued by President George W. Bush shortly after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. President Bush declared a national emergency to deal with the “unusual and extraordinary threat” of terrorism, with special attention paid to the networks that funneled money to operations such as Osama bin Laden’s murderous al-Qaeda crew. Attacking terrorist financial networks was a key element of U.S. strategy after the atrocity of September 11. The ISRA was part of bin Laden’s financial network, as the Treasury Department made clear ten years before the Obama administration decided to provide the group with U.S. taxpayer money: Information available to the U.S. indicates that international offices of IARA provided direct financial support for UBL. IARA, MK and UBL commingled funds and cooperated closely in the raising and expenditure of funds. IARA engaged in a joint program with an institute controlled by UBL that was involved in providing assistance to Taliban fighters. In 2000, one of IARA’s Afghanistan leaders accompanied the Afghanistan MK leader on a fundraising trip to Sudan and other locations in the Middle East during which $5 million was raised for MK activities.

Holy crap!!  For more on this shocking story, click on the text above.  Unreal…

Opinion/Analysis: Indictment arguments aside, Trump is right to meet with Putin

Calls by some Democrats in Congress for President Trump to cancel his Monday summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin – in response to the indictment Friday of 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of hacking emails of the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton – make no sense. President Trump is wise to stick with his plans to meet with the Russian leader in Finland. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed Friday night that the summit will take place despite the indictments. President Trump agreed to the meeting with Putin not as a reward or endorsement for Russian interference in our 2016 presidential election, but because the meeting is in America’s national interest. Like it or not, Russia is a major nuclear power and the U.S. needs to maintain a relationship that will minimize conflicts between our two countries and advance U.S. foreign policy goals around the world. Similarly, when President Nixon began the process of normalization of relations with China that led to diplomatic recognition and trade with the communist nation he was under no illusions that China was a peace-loving democracy that posed no threat to U.S. interests. But President Nixon – like other presidents throughout our history – concluded that America must deal with nations with which we have adversarial relationships. Does anyone seriously think that President Franklin Roosevelt believed Soviet dictator Josef Stalin was a true friend bearing no ill will toward the U.S. when Roosevelt and Stalin formed an alliance to fight the Nazis in World War II? No one is talking now about Trump and Putin forming a military alliance – the two leaders just want to discuss issues of importance to both of our countries. The grand jury indictments Friday grew out of the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Muller of Russian election meddling and allegations that some people in the Trump campaign may have colluded with the Russians. Deputy White House Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said that the indictment did not make any allegations that the Trump campaign worked with the Russians to interfere with the U.S. election or that Russian interference influenced the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The 11-count indictment of the 12 Russians includes charges of conspiracy against the U.S., money laundering and attempts to hack into the computers of government agencies including state election boards. President Trump said earlier in the day Friday in England that he would again bring up the issue of Russian interference in the American election when he meets with Putin Monday, but said he expects Putin will stick with Russia’s position denying such interference ever took place. Our president is right – it’s unrealistic to expect he can force Putin to admit something Putin has long denied. It’s about time the two leaders met one-on-one. President Trump has sat down with Chinese president Xi Jinping twice for lengthy meetings, once in Florida and once in Beijing. And Trump just concluded a meeting with leaders of the other 28 NATO nations in Belgium and with British Prime Minister Theresa May in England. In fact, Trump has met with many leaders from around the world, both friendly and unfriendly since taking office, including North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in June. The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement Friday saying there is no evidence that the 12 people indicted by Mueller are linked to Russian military intelligence and calling the indictments a “shameful farce” designed to “spoil the atmosphere before the Russian-American summit.” The Russians earlier blamed the U.S. political climate for holding up a summit, and they are right about that. Reporters and Democrats have whipped themselves into a frenzy with the false claim that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to swing the presidential election, and are ready to pounce on President Trump for even the hint of a “tilt” toward Putin. Presidents Putin and Trump certainly have plenty of issues to discuss on Monday besides Russia’s meddling in our 2016 election, even though that’s unquestionably an important and serious issue.

For more on this excellent op/ed by best-selling author Kenneth R. Timmerman, click on the text above.  Mr. Timmerman, who got his M.A. from Brown University,  is a former lecturer at the Joint Counter-Terrorism Training Academy.  If you haven’t read it yet, pick up a copy of his book “Preachers of Hate:  Islam and the War Against America.”  It is a must read.