Archives for the month of: March, 2009

g20_tuc_demo_2803091Assemble US Embassy, Grosvenor Square at 2pm

From the Stop the War Coalition:

Saturday’s Put People First demonstration was excellent. Tens of thousands came
out to protest against the whole spectrum of the world leaders’ policies. The
anti-war bloc was very big and very loud and got lots of coverage.

The next big event is the Yes We Can demonstration this Wednesday.

This is the only anti-war demonstration at the G20. It is the main chance we
have to make sure that the G20 leaders can’t avoid the massive opposition to
their war policies.

The demonstration will assemble at the US Embassy, Grosvenor Sq, London W1A
2LQ. Nearest tubes Green Park or Bond Street.

We will hand in a message to Barack Obama and then march through central London
to Trafalgar Square for an alternative summit.

Speakers include Arthur Scargill, Tony benn, Susan George, Lindsey German,
Bruce Kent and Daud Abdullah.


* Barack Obama has just announced a surge of 23,000 extra troops for
Afghanistan. The British government looks set to send another 2,000.

* The murderous siege of Gaza continues. Israel is still bombing the tunnels in
to Gaza.

* No date has been set for the withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq.

* Both US and British projected military spending has risen on last year.

* Britain is still selling arms to Israel.


norouz01tuDear Friends,
The Iranian peoples of diverse ethnicities and languages will be celebrating Noruz or ‘new day’ in Iran and around the world on Friday March 20th this year. This is the beginning of the Spring Equinox and the month of Farvardin in the mellinia old Iranian solar calendar. Noruz marks a new cycle in the solar system and it is a reminder of our shared and common heritage over the past millenia. This  is a time to rejoice no matter where we are, a time for renewal and growth, and a time to observe and reflect on the creation of the universe. We at Campaign Iran wish you a very happy Noruz and peace for the world. We would like to mark it with this poem about the month of Farvardin from the Avesta text, the book of Zarathustra c. 1700 B.C.
Through their brightness and glory,
the waters run and flow forward from the never-failing springs;
through heir brightness and glory,
the plants grow up from the earth by the never-failing springs;
through their brightness and glory,
the winds blow, 
driving down the clouds towads the never-failing springs. 
From Farvardin Yast 14 in the Avesta the book of Zarathushtra

Simon Tisdall, Guardian, 5 Mar 2009


The US secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s quasi-regal progress through the Middle East this week seems to have been too much for Iran’s Supreme Leader to bear. Speaking publicly about the new US administration for the first time since Barack Obama took power, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was by turns angry and dismissive.

“Even the new American president, who came to office with the slogan of bringing change in the policies of the Bush administration, avows unconditional commitment to Israel’s security,” Khamenei said. “This commitment means the defence of state terrorism, injustice, and oppression … of Palestinians.”

Obama was following the same “crooked ways” as his predecessor, he went on, and people such as the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, “who succumbed to surrender and compromise with the usurpers [Israel]” should by now have realised their mistake. Hamas-style resistance was the only way forward.

Khamenei’s rant should not be considered Iran’s final word on Washington’s so far non-specific offers of bilateral dialogue. Rather it reflects an uneasy realisation in Tehran that Obama and Clinton are in the process of launching a multi-pronged strategic offensive across the Middle East that directly challenges recent Iranian gains.

It is a truism that George Bush’s policies, especially the invasion of Iraq, greatly enhanced Iranian influence in the region. Now Obama appears intent on rolling back those advances even as he holds out the prospect of improved relations.

This week, after a phoney war dating from last November, the grand US-Iran battle for strategic control in the Middle East was joined. The visiting Clinton’s underlying message was simple: game on.

Speaking in Egypt at the beginning of the week, Clinton saidWashington’s top priority was achieving “a comprehensive peace between Israel and its Arab neighbours and we will pursue it on many fronts”. But this objective is becoming inextricably intertwined with the more urgent aim of pegging back Iran.

Clinton’s announcement of $900m in aid to the Palestinians was carefully tied up with caveats that none of the money would go to, or be administered by, Iran’s Hamas “clients” in Gaza. Proposed additional US funding for training Palestinian Authority security forces, past and possible future adversaries of Hamas, is another indirect way of pushing back Iran.

By insisting that a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict was “inescapable”, and criticising the latest Israeli land grab in Arab East Jerusalem, Clinton seemed to set herself at odds with Israel’s prime minister-designate, Binyamin Netanyahu. But on the biggest security issue facing Israel – Iran – there is no fundamental difference of opinion, just a (possibly temporary) difference in approach.

According to foreign policy expert Scott Lucas, writing on the Enduring America website, Washington may even be anticipating that, in due course, “Netanyahu will insist on a withdrawal from engagement with Iran if there is to be an [Israeli] engagement with the Palestinian Authority and the two-state process … Indeed, he may already have made that clear to the Americans”.

Washington’s decision to send senior US envoys to Damascus after a four-year rift has opened another anti-Tehran front. This move, apparently orchestrated with Saudi Arabia, may augur resumed Israeli-Syrian peace talks, part of Clinton’s “many front” approach. But equally it affords an opportunity to weaken Syria’s alliance with Iran – and with Iranian-backed Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon.

Speaking of which, Britain’s unexpected volte-face this week in deciding to pursue talks with Hezbollah‘s political wing looks like another concerted attempt to undermine Tehran’s influence. It’s unlikely this hyper-sensitive initiative was undertaken without prior discussion with, and approval from Washington. If it flies, the US may talk, too.

Clinton’s busy week isn’t finished yet. Tomorrow in Geneva, she will seek firmer Russian support for western efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear programme when she meets Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov.

This move follows closely on a letter sent by Obama to Russia’s president, Dmitry Medvedev, reportedly linking a tougher, joint US-Russia approach to Iran to the possible scrapping of US plans to station defensive missiles in eastern Europe (which Russia abhors).

Closer co-operation with Moscow on the Middle East peace process, Afghanistan and strategic arms reductions is also on the Geneva agenda. But vitally important though these issues are, the discussion always seems to come back to Iran.

This was the week when Iran emerged as the central front in Obama’s fast-evolving Middle East policy – and he is beginning to deploy his diplomatic forces with the audacity of hope and not a little cunning. Little wonder Ayatollah Khamenei sounded a bit rattled.