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Where Iran Fits in the Mideast Peace Puzzle May 29, 2009

Posted by Helena Cobban in Uncategorized.
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ANKARA, Turkey, May 29 (IPS) – What is the relationship between the United States’ policy towards Iran and its performance on Arab-Israeli peacemaking, including the crucial quest for peace between Israel and the Palestinians?

This quest took on new urgency after Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas had his first visit with Pres. Barack Obama in Washington on Thursday. After the meeting, Obama told reporters that “time is of the essence” regarding ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The question of the linkage between the Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy and Washington’s Iran policy assumed new importance this week after Israeli reporter Yossi Melman reported that Dennis Ross, the State Department’s special adviser on Iran, has co-authored a book, due out next month, that scoffs at “the idea that if only the Palestinian conflict were solved, all other Middle East conflicts would melt away” – which was how the two writers defined the ‘linkage’ argument.

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At East-West Crossroads, Turkey Presses Ambitious Agenda May 22, 2009

Posted by Helena Cobban in Uncategorized.
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ISTANBUL, May 21 (IPS) – Two soaring bridges link Asia and Europe in this historic city, which straddles the two continents.

For the past few years Turkey has likewise acted as a crucial bridge between the western and Muslim worlds. Turkey is a member of both the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC). The current secretary-general of the OIC is a Turkish historian.

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U.S.-Israel Balance Echoes Tensions of 1991 May 15, 2009

Posted by Helena Cobban in Uncategorized.
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LONDON, May 15 (IPS) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with Pres. Barack Obama in Washington next Monday, amid speculation that their two administrations may be heading for a confrontation worse than any they have known since 1991-92.

In 1991, as today, the U.S. president was determined to bring Israel into peace talks with the Arabs on the basis of “land for peace” deals in the West Bank and the other Israeli-occupied lands. Then, as now, Israel was ruled by a Likud prime minister deeply opposed to ceding any power in the occupied West Bank to the Palestinians.

Then as now, officials in both Washington and Israel were also concerned with another big threat from elsewhere in the region, whose presence strongly coloured their Arab-Israeli diplomacy. In 1991, it was Iraq; today, it is Iran.

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May 8, ’09: Obama Aide Puts Israel’s Nukes in the Diplomatic Mix May 9, 2009

Posted by Helena Cobban in Uncategorized.
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LONDON, May 8 (IPS) – Last month in Prague, President Barack Obama vowed that he would seek a world without nuclear weapons. On Tuesday, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller spelled out that this policy would apply to Israel, as well.

Speaking at a conference on the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Gottemoeller said that “Universal adherence to the NPT itself, including by India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea … remains a fundamental objective of the United States.”

Israel is judged to have between 100 and 200 advanced nuclear weapons either ready to deploy, or only a few minutes away from being so.

Gottemoeller’s words sparked speculation that this arsenal might re-emerge as an issue in Israel’s relations with Washington. That would end a 40-year period in which Washington colluded with Israel in maintaining the fiction that Israel’s nuclear weapons capabilities were unknown, and anyway should never be openly discussed.

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