The machinations behind an imminent Iran ‘deal’

What a paradoxical finale, were Netanyahu’s devious machinations on Iran to contribute to Trump’s conviction and theoretically, even to his imprisonment!

What’s going on? On the one hand, “Israel” is blaring out the news that major progress has been made in JCPOA talks between the US and Iran – and that a new agreement is in prospect within weeks – including the release of some $20 billion of frozen Iranian assets. Goodness me! “Israel” is totally unprepared to stop it — all hands to action stations, the headlines scream!

Veteran Israeli correspondent, Ben Caspit, raised Western blood pressures by quoting US General Mark Milley saying that Iran was just two weeks away from enriching enough military-grade uranium for four or five nukes — and just a few months from an actual weapon.

Yet, both the US and Iran say it is untrue that an agreement is in gestation. The IAEA says that it and Iran successfully have resolved two of the IAEA’s ‘outstanding issues’; that the aberrant 84% enrichment claim was ‘accidental’; that Iran has re-installed all IAEA surveillance cameras; and Iran is not enriching above 60% (well below weapons grade at 90+ %). So why the discrepancy? Why the hullabaloo?

Even a casual glance at geo-politics shows Iran deeply preoccupied with the new tilt in the Region: Iran is entrenching into the fast evolving Eurasian Project; it is building-out its Entente with Saudi Arabia and Gulf States — by establishing a new joint Naval Force together with its Gulf partners to ensure maritime security in the Persian Gulf; and is establishing extensive defence and security understandings with Russia.

Put bluntly, Iran is busy elsewhere. It has not been ‘rattling swords’ towards “Israel” — though like all the Muslim world, Iran is watching closely for any provocations by Netanyahu’s Ministers aimed against the Al-Aqsa mosque which could set the Islamic world alight.

Well, Laura Rosen, an ‘old hand’ on US JCPOA politics, writes:

“To read some recent Israeli media reports, one might come to suspect that the U.S. and Iran are on the verge of some sort of new nuclear deal, or mini deal. But there are reasons to think that the reports are misleading, and on the Israeli side, are meant to try to scuttle any far more limited understanding … in the absence of conditions for a major new diplomatic resolution on Iran.”  [Emphasis added]

“For Biden administration officials, the leaking, and spinning, by Israeli officials, has got to be a source of extreme irritation. All the more so because they distort and weaponize information the US has briefed to the Israelis, to keep them in the  loop – and to try to reassure them of the seemingly quite limited nature of the effort  being pursued.”

“[Netanyahu in a call to Secretary Blinken] seems to misleadingly imply that the US is considering a return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which Trump quit in 2018 with Netanyahu’s encouragement – when that does not appear to remotely be the case.”

Rosen surely is ‘on the money’ when she adds:

“As another Washington hand conveyed to me this week, the Israelis don’t like any diplomacy or diplomatic efforts that they believe could lessen pressure on the Iranian regime – Even when the presumed ‘ask’ of Iran – is refraining from further nuclear advances that would escalate the situation.”

The reality here is that whilst US contacts with Iran continue (via Oman), they have been mostly focussed on prisoner swaps and releases, which as such is always highly prized during a US election cycle. But to the extent that ‘Americans returning home’ is a no-brainer campaign ‘plus’, releasing large sums of frozen assets to Iran is a ‘no brainer’ error during an election cycle.

The second objective — again a Biden campaign imperative — is that no war in the region should break out in the run-up to the 2024 Election. The Team wants ‘industrial quiet’.

Notwithstanding Washington’s concerns, Netanyahu too is ‘campaigning’ against collapsing approval ratings.

And “Netanyahu’s most dangerous long-term failure, his most glaring and excruciating fumble”, Alon Pinkas observes, is Iran:

“The latter is, for Netanyahu, his entire raison d’être, his historic calling. In his mind and interpretation of history, it is he, that is uniquely positioned to save Jewish – and indeed Western – civilization from extinction”.

“His most conspicuous and striking failure however is “Israelizing” the Iran nuclear issue. After successfully attracting world attention to the threat Iran poses – Netanyahu was intransigent and insistent that no diplomatic solution was sustainable, implying that the United States should credibly threaten and consider using military force” – as the only ‘solution’.

Netanyahu duly succeeded in persuading Trump to ditch the JCPOA in 2018, and, in the run-up to 2020, Netanyahu seemed close to achieving his ultimate objective of achieving US military action against Iran. At one White House meeting, one of Trump’s advisers raised the prospect of taking military action to stop Iran — were Trump to lose the election. At another meeting, at which Trump was not present, some of the President’s foreign-policy advisers again pushed military action against Iran. Milley later said that when he asked why they were so intent on attacking Iran, Vice-President Mike Pence had replied, “Because they [the Iranians] are evil.”

In the months after the election, the subject of Iran was repeatedly raised in White House meetings with President Trump and Milley arguing against a strike. Trump did not want a war, the Defence Chair believed. But Trump kept pushing for a missile strike (rather than outright war) in response to various provocations against US interests in the region.

So, here you have it: Elections are coming in “Israel”, and Netanyahu cannot accept that his ‘historic calling’ to save Western civilisation was not a glaring, excruciating ‘fumble’.  He needs to polish his strongman image before the Israeli elections.

It is Netanyahu therefore, who is crying ‘wolf’ about an imminent ‘deal’, not because he believes Team Biden will bend to military action, but to re-affirm his domestic status as “Israel’s” ‘Churchill’ standing alone, standing firm, in warning of Civilisation’s existential danger; and to provoke the White House into finally inviting Bibi to the Oval Office to quell the storm that he is igniting — one that might escalate to threaten the Regional calm that Biden so evidently craves ahead of elections.

The final extraordinary quirk is that, in the recent indictment of Trump — for the mishandling and exposure to unauthorised persons of defence and security documentation — counts 6,33 and 34 of the indictment refer to General Milley’s plans for military action against Iran (which Trump rejected). In counts 33 and 34, Trump is described and quoted in a conversation with four people, none equipped with the essential top-security credentials to see and hear such secrets. Trump showed them “an attack plan on Country A” drawn up by “a Senior Military Official”.

What a paradoxical finale, were Netanyahu’s devious machinations on Iran to contribute to Trump’s conviction and theoretically, even to his imprisonment!

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