LATEST: FM Zarif to Obama “Don’t Be Disrespectful and Macho”
SUMMARY: The European Union’s Catherine Ashton, the lead negotiator for the 5+1 Powers, has implicitly asked the US Congress not to pass more sanctions before talks with Iran on October 15-16 in Geneva.
Ashton, responding to a question of whether additional sanctions should be imposed on Tehran, said, “I am not in the business of telling Congress what to do”; however, she continued:
I want to go to Geneva with that best possible atmosphere.
In any thinking about that, those who are making the law here [in Washington] or those in control of the negotiations from the U.S. end — [Us] Secretary of State John] Kerry and his team — will have to think about how to make sure that it’s the best possible atmosphere.
Ashton reinforced the remarks, “In all sorts of ways, we need to show willingness and good faith to sit down and talk and expect the same in return.”
She said, “It may be, at the end of those two days, that we don’t make progress. But it may be…that we do.”
Iranian State media are headlining Ashton’s comments.
FM Zarif to Obama “Don’t Be Disrespectful and Macho”
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has chided Barack Obama via Twitter, telling the Preisdent to avoid claims that Iran is negotiating from weakness in the face of US sanctions:
Pres.Obama’s presumption that Iran is negotiating because of his illegal threats and sanctions is disrespectful of a nation,macho and wrong.
President Obama needs consistency to promote mutual confidence. Flip flop destroys trust and undermines US credibility.
Assessing the Opposition to Obama’s Engagement with Iran
Radio Farda — with contributions from EA’s Scott Lucas — has posted an analysis of the opposition to President Obama’s engagement with Iran, including from the US Congress and from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The assessment is that, so far, the challenge from Congressional opponents of engagement has been limited by the momentum from President Rouhani’s visit to the US and an apparent change of startegy by the Obama Administration.
I downplayed the prospect of opposition from the Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia, with Tehran trying to pursue rapprochement. As for Israel, we will be watching Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech at the United Nations on Tuesday and any follow-up.
Leading MP: Iran is Training Syrian Forces
Esmail Kowsari, a leading member of Parliament’s National Security Commission and a former Revolutionary Guards commander, has reinforced the message put out by Guards head Mohammad Ali Jafari a year ago: Iran is training forces fighting for Syrian President Assad:
Syria’s support in the Sacred Defense era [1980s Iran-Iraq War] was when Iranian soldiers went to Syria in [1983-1984] and received missile training. They provided ammunition and equipment and now it is our turn to help them, and our help is not hidden at all….
We cannot abandon Syria in such circumstances and we must transfer our experiences to the officials and people of Syria.
For two and a half years, we have spiritually supported Syria, but have not provided material support. Spiritual support means that we transfer our experience and tell them, “Because we succeeded, if you do the same, you will succeed.”
We have stated an example, “Train and organize popular forces alongside the army and use them in a way that can aid you.” …Beginning 7-8 months ago [after doing this] ,they successively experienced their best successes.
Jafari said in September 2012 that Iran would help train 50,000 members of People’s Defense Army in Syria. Last month, the Iranian training was shown on film for the first time, after a Guards veteran and a cameraman making a documentary in Syria were killed in an ambush by insurgents.
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