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Iran Crisis Ripples Outward June 27, 2009

Posted by Helena Cobban in Uncategorized.
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Analysis by Helena Cobban*

WASHINGTON, Jun 26 (IPS) – As the political crisis that erupted after Iran’s Jun. 12 elections enters its third week, it is becoming evident that this crisis will have repercussions in many parts of the Middle East – and far beyond.

The crisis may have its biggest effects inside neighbouring Iraq, where next Tuesday, Jun. 30, the U.S. occupation forces are due to complete their redeployment out of all the country’s cities.

It will also likely also have strong effects on the course of Israeli-Arab peace negotiations, inside Afghanistan, and of course on the prospect for any imminent war between Iran and the U.S. or Israel.

In all these policy areas, analysts warn it is still very hard to predict the precise way the current crisis in Tehran will reverberate.

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Carter Adds Weight to Shuttle Diplomacy Push June 19, 2009

Posted by Helena Cobban in Uncategorized.
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WASHINGTON, Jun 19 (IPS) – Pres. Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and peace envoy Sen. George Mitchell have been moving steadily ahead with the campaign Obama launched on his first day in the White House, to broker a comprehensive and sustainable Arab-Israeli peace.

They have been supported in this effort by another quiet but very effective envoy, too: former Pres. Jimmy Carter. Carter, like Mitchell, has just returned from an intensive fact-finding tour of the Arab-Israeli region.

IPS has learned that on Thursday, Carter briefed Mitchell on his findings.

Unlike Mitchell, Carter visited Gaza on this trip. While there he decried the extensive damage that he saw, that was inflicted by Israel during the war of last December-January.

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Syrian Foreign Minister Eager to Work with Obama June 10, 2009

Posted by Helena Cobban in Uncategorized.
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WASHINGTON, Jun 10 (IPS) – Former U.S. senator George Mitchell is due to arrive in Syria’s capital, Damascus, Friday on his first visit there since being named Pres. Barack Obama’s special envoy for Arab-Israeli peace.

In an exclusive interview with IPS in Damascus on Jun. 4, Syria’s foreign minister, Walid Moualem, made clear that Mitchell will receive a warm welcome.

“What we’ve heard about Mitchell’s work on Northern Ireland and on the … Palestinian issue is encouraging to us. We are very ready to work with him,” he said.

“We approve of Barack Obama a lot. The man put a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace back on the agenda. He also intends to pull out of Iraq completely. We are ready to help with that – but we need our conditions in the matter addressed, too.”

Syria’s relations with the United States have been fraught with tension for many years now. In the late 1970s the State Department placed Syria on a list of “state sponsors of terrorism”, where it remains until today.

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Hamas Leader to Obama: Deeds, Not Words June 5, 2009

Posted by Helena Cobban in Uncategorized.
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By Helena Cobban*

DAMASCUS, Jun 5 (IPS) – The head of Hamas’s political bureau, Khaled Meshaal, gave a qualified welcome here Thursday to the big speech that Pres. Barack Obama addressed to the Muslim world in Cairo.

“The speech was cleverly written in the way it addressed the Muslim world… and in the way it showed respect to the Muslim heritage,” Meshaal told IPS in an exclusive interview. “But I think it’s not enough. What’s needed are deeds, actions on the ground, and a change of policies.”

His remarks came just hours after the speech, in a wide-ranging interview in one of the Hamas leader’s offices here in the Syrian capital.

In the interview, Meshaal was friendly, quietly self-confident, and thoughtful. He was firm in describing his movement’s positions, including when he restated that he wants Hamas to be treated as “part of the solution and not part of the problem”.

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