Thursday, May 17, 2018

‘Europe does not need enemies with friends like US’

‘Europe does not need enemies with friends like US’

European Council President Donald Tusk has lashed out at US President Donald Trump for his recent “capricious” decisions, including on the Iran nuclear deal, saying with friends like Washington, Europe does not need enemies.    
Tusk told a news conference in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Wednesday that “Europe should be grateful” to Trump since he has “rid Europe of all illusions” with the trade dispute and withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Tusk said the EU had to be united to face “a new phenomenon – the capricious assertiveness of the American administration.”
“Looking at the latest decisions of President Trump, someone could even think that with friends like this, who needs enemies?” Tusk said.
He said the EU needed a united front on the Iran nuclear deal, noting, “We must maintain it.”
Tusk said that the EU needed to protect European companies against US decisions, but also sought ways to address Iran’s ballistic program and regional role.
Trump announced on May 8 that Washington was walking away from the JCPOA, which was reached between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the US, Britain, France, Russia and China — plus Germany in 2015.
Trump also said he would reinstate US sanctions on Iran lifted by the accord and impose “the highest level” of economic bans on the Islamic Republic.
The deal lifted sanctions in 2016 in return for Tehran limiting its nuclear program.
The remarks come as in their first meeting since the US withdrawal from the JCPOA, EU leaders were expected to meet to explore options on Wednesday for keeping the Iran nuclear deal alive and protecting their reviving economic cooperation with Tehran.
The head of the European Commission, the bloc’s executive, Jean-Claude Juncker, will also present options to shield European investments in Iran and the reviving economic cooperation.
The options include protecting European companies dealing with Iran from US sanctions, allowing the European Investment Bank to invest in Iran and coordinating euro-denominated credit lines from EU states.
“It’s the leaders’ first face-to-face meeting since Trump’s announcement. It’s too early for specific decisions, they have to see where they are,” said a senior EU diplomat. “We want to do this, that’s for sure. But it’s still in the making, we don’t have all the answers yet. It will take a bit of time.”
Iran has reiterated it would remain in the JCPOA for now, pending negotiations with the other signatories in the coming weeks before making a final decision on its future role in the agreement.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and his counterparts from Britain, France and Germany in Brussels on Tuesday and tasked their experts to come up with measures for a meeting of their deputies in Vienna next week.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Wednesday that Moscow supported a European Union proposal to hold a meeting on the Iran nuclear deal in Vienna next week, Interfax news agency said.
Before visiting Europe, Zarif first traveled to China and later Russia, the two other signatory nations that have supported the JCPOA, on the first leg of his diplomatic mission.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will also host Merkel on Friday to discuss, among other issues, the Iran deal.
Juncker hopes EU will find joint response to US exit from Iran deal
Separately on Wednesday, Juncker said he hoped that EU leaders would agree over diner later in the day on a joint response to the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

Speaking after a meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Juncker admitted, however, that the EU’s means to keep the deal alive were limited.
Guterres, for his part, said he did not expect the Security Council to re-impose sanctions that were lifted when the deal was implemented.
Earlier on Tuesday, Guterres met with Tusk at the European Council.

Trump’s Plan for Iran: Put MEK Terrorists in Charge

Back in the 2008 presidential race, I explained to then-candidate Rudy Giuliani the concept of “blowback.” Years of US meddling and military occupation of parts of the Middle East motivated a group of terrorists to carry out attacks against the United States on 9/11. They didn’t do it because we are so rich and so free, as the neocons would have us believe. They came over here because we had been killing Muslims “over there” for decades.
How do we know this? Well, they told us. Osama bin Laden made it clear why al-Qaeda sought to attack the US. They didn’t like the US taking sides in the Israel-Palestine conflict and they didn’t like US troops on their holy land.
Why believe a terrorist, some responded. As I explained to Giuliani ten years ago, the concept of “blowback” is well-known in the US intelligence community and particularly by the CIA.
Unfortunately, it is clear that Giuliani never really understood what I was trying to tell him. Like the rest of the neocons, he either doesn’t get it or doesn’t want to get it. In a recent speech to the MeK – a violent Islamist-Marxist cult that spent two decades on the US terror watch list – Giuliani promised that the Trump Administration had made “regime change” a priority for Iran. He even told the members of that organization – an organization that has killed dozens of Americans – that Trump would put them in charge of Iran!
Giuliani shares with numerous other neocons like John Bolton a strong relationship with this group. In fact, both Giuliani and Bolton have been on the payroll of the MeKand have received tens of thousands of dollars to speak to their followers. This is another example of how foreign lobbies and special interest groups maintain an iron grip on our foreign policy.
Does anyone really think Iran will be better off if Trump puts a bunch of “former” terrorists in charge of the country? How did that work in Libya?
It’s easy to dismiss the bombastic Giuliani as he speaks to his financial benefactors in the MeK. Unfortunately, however, Giuliani’s claims were confirmed late last week, when the Washington Free Beacon published a three-page policy paper being circulated among National Security Council officials containing plans to spark regime change in Iran.
The paper suggests that the US focus on Iran’s many ethnic minority groups to spark unrest and an eventual overthrow of the government. This is virtually the same road map that the US has followed in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and so on. The results have been unmitigated disaster after disaster.
Unleashing terrorists on Iran to overthrow its government is not only illegal and immoral: it’s also incredibly stupid. We know from 9/11 that blowback is real, even if Giuliani and the neocons refuse to understand it. Iran does not threaten the United States. Unlike Washington’s Arab allies in the region, Iran actually holds reasonably democratic elections and has a Western-oriented, educated, and very young population.
Why not open up to Iran with massive amounts of trade and other contacts? Does anyone (except for the neocons) really believe it is better to unleash terrorists on a population than to engage them in trade and travel? We need to worry about blowback from President Trump’s fully-neoconized Middle East policy! That’s the real threat!