The current Iranian revolt.

Iran was once an ally of the US and Israel. That ended in 1979 with the revolution led by the Ayatollah Khomeini. Since then, the Iranians have declared that we are at war. In 1979, during the revolution, they took members of the US embassy staff and the Marine Guards hostage.

The immediate cause of this action was President Jimmy Carter’s decision to allow Iran’s deposed Shah, a pro-Western autocrat who had been expelled from his country some months before, to come to the United States for cancer treatment. However, the hostage-taking was about more than the Shah’s medical care: it was a dramatic way for the student revolutionaries to declare a break with Iran’s past and an end to American interference in its affairs.

That article is typical leftist revisionism. The hostage takers were “students” only as an expression of their age. They were typical “student radicals” seen in most countries undergoing such violent upheavals.

Carter attempted a hostage rescue which was botched although the military people did their best. The US had no joint forces history and the mission was spread between Army, Air Force and Navy, none of which had worked together before.

The hostage crisis ended the day Reagan was inaugurated as president and was probably a sign that the Mullahs saw that he would not be played as they had played Carter.

Now, we have another uprising but this is directed at the regime.

A wave of spontaneous protests over Iran’s weak economy swept into Tehran on Saturday, with college students and others chanting against the government just hours after hard-liners held their own rally in support of the Islamic Republic’s clerical establishment.

The demonstrations appear to be the largest to strike the Islamic Republic since the protests that followed the country’s disputed 2009 presidential election.

Thousands already have taken to the streets of cities across Iran, beginning at first on Thursday in Mashhad, the country’s second-largest city and a holy site for Shiite pilgrims.

The protests in the Iranian capital, as well as U.S. President Donald Trump tweeting about them, raised the stakes. It also apparently forced state television to break its silence, acknowledging it hadn’t reported on them on orders from security officials.

The 2009 protests became violent but Obama offered no support.

CNN tries to spin it but Obama was silent as Iranians were brutalized and killed.

What is different now ? One, Trump is president. Recently he has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and decided to move the embassy there.

There have been many complaints and protests, mostly in the US but he has persisted. This is in stark contrast to prior presidents who were all talk, or no talk, and no action.

In addition, Obama’s shameful deal with the Iranian mullahs may have destabilized the regime as the rulers greedily gathered in the billions sent by Obama and did nothing for the people. Obama might have, totally inadvertently, destabilized the regime he was trying to support.

Maybe this is the opening round in regime change.

David Goldman has discussed Iran’s Syrian quagmire.

The Iranian regime is ready to sacrifice the most urgent needs of its internal economy in favor of its ambitions in Syria. Iran cut development spending to just one-third of the intended level as state income lagged forecasts during the three quarters ending last December, according to the country’s central bank. Iran sold US$29 billion of crude during the period, up from $25 billion the comparable period last year. The government revenues from oil of US$11 billion (655 trillion rials) were just 70% of official forecasts, and tax revenues of US$17.2 billion came in 15% below expectations.

Chaos in Iran’s financial system prevents the Iranian government from carrying a larger budget deficit.

It appears that the Obama payoff with billions of cash has been quickly absorbed by the corrupt regime and its mullahs, which may explain the revolt currently underway. We await developments.

President Trump

I never thought, except in a few moments of fantasy, that I would be able to say that.

I have been interested in Trump as a phenomenon all year.

In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Wilson conceded that “Trump is still a very powerful force right now” because he appeals to part of the of the conservative base that Wilson said was activated by his “nativist” message. Wilson insisted that the donor class “can’t just sit back on the sidelines and say, ‘oh well, don’t worry, this will all work itself out.’”
“They’re still going to have to go out and put a bullet in Donald Trump,” Wilson said. “And that’s a fact.”

Wilson is an alleged GOP consultant. Trump may be fatal to many GOP consultants as they were not only mistaken but disloyal to the team they were supposed to belong to.

What happened? Richard Fernandez has a theory.

Hillary’s real enemy was Obama’s real record of failure added to her own. Low-wage growth, a disastrous foreign policy, a catastrophic Obamacare, and numerous scandals to name a few weighed down on her like an anvil heavier than any insult that Donald Trump could lay upon her.

It’s important for progressives to realize this, for they are even now casting about for something to blame. Paul Krugman tweeted: “I truly thought I knew my country better than it turns out I did. I have warned that we could become a failed state, but didn’t realize …” Realize what? That the electorate wouldn’t notice the last administration’s debacles?

A lot of this can be laid on Obama. He has been a disastrous president. I thought he would be all along.

In February 2008, I posted this.

Jones had served in the Illinois Legislature for three decades. He represented a district on the Chicago South Side not far from Obama’s. He became Obama’s ­kingmaker.

Several months before Obama announced his U.S. Senate bid, Jones called his old friend Cliff Kelley, a former Chicago alderman who now hosts the city’s most popular black call-in radio ­program.

I called Kelley last week and he recollected the private conversation as follows:

“He said, ‘Cliff, I’m gonna make me a U.S. Senator.’”

“Oh, you are? Who might that be?”

“Barack Obama.”

Obama had no record of accomplishment. Jones put his name on bills he had had nothing to do with.

Read more

The Coup Attempt in Turkey.

The attempted coup d’etat in Turkey has failed and the repercussions will follow.

Edward Luttwak has an important column on why it happened and why it failed.

The failure was so sudden and the coup was so poorly organized that some have questioned whether it was a false flag operation.

A US-based Turkish cleric accused of plotting a coup to overthrow the Ankara government has claimed President Recep Erdogan staged the rebellion himself to justify a major clampdown on opposition forces.
Fethullah Gulen, who was a former key ally of Erdogan has been blamed by the politician of using his contacts to develop a ‘parallel structure’ to overthrow the state.
Erdogan has called on US President Barack Obama to extradite Gulen, who is based in Pennsylvania.

Erdogan has requested the US turn over the imam who has been living in Pennsylvania. Why ?

Luttwak has a pretty good explanation.

The country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was left free to call out his followers to resist the attempted military coup, first by iPhone and then in something resembling a televised press conference at Istanbul’s airport. It was richly ironic that he was speaking under the official portrait of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of Turkey’s modern secular state, because Erdogan’s overriding aim since entering politics has been to replace it with an Islamic republic by measures across the board: from closing secular high schools so as to drive pupils into Islamic schools to creeping alcohol prohibitions to a frenzied program of mosque-building everywhere — including major ex-church museums and university campuses, where, until recently, headscarves were prohibited.

When we were in Istanbul ten years ago, Hagia Sophia, the original Christian church that has been converted to a mosque after Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453, was being converted to a museum.

INSIDEHAGIASOPHIA2

The huge panels of calligraphy were being removed and, beneath the panels, the workmen were finding that the previous workmen in 1453 had carefully preserved the mosaics being covered, possibly anticipating the city would be retaken by the Byzantines.

Mosaic at entrance

Few of the mosaics survived but a few could be seen. That one is above a door into the church.

Will the restoration continue under Erdogan ? I wonder. I also wonder how many tourists there will be to see it if it continues.

More from Luttwak.

Erdogan has been doing everything possible to dismantle Turkey’s fragile democracy: from ordering the arrest of journalists who criticized him, including the outright seizure and closure of the country’s largest newspaper, Zaman, to the very exercise of presidential power, since Turkey is not a presidential republic like the United States or France, but rather a parliamentary republic like Germany or Italy, with a mostly ceremonial president and the real power left to the prime minister. Unable to change the constitution because his Justice and Development Party (AKP) does not have enough votes in parliament, Erdogan instead installed the slavishly obedient (and mustachioed) Binali Yildirim as prime minister — his predecessor, Ahmet Davutoglu, had been very loyal, but not quite a slave — and further subverted the constitutional order by convening cabinet meetings under his own chairmanship in his new 1,000-room palace: a multibillion-dollar, 3.2 million-square-foot monstrosity (the White House is approximately 55,000 square feet), which was built without authorized funding or legal permits in a nature reserve.

I think Turkey is lost to the West and modern civilization. I saw those angry young men when we were entering mosques, like the Blue Mosque, where they kept angry and careful watch to see that we took off shoes and women wore head scarves. Now, they are running the country,

What is going on in Syria ?

Rhodes

Our feckless president has been lecturing the US public about various topics he considers important but what has actually been going on ? We do know that a Navy SEAL named Charles Keating was killed in Iraq.

(CNN)When a team of less than a dozen U.S. military advisers came under attack in Iraq Tuesday from more than 100 ISIS fighters, Navy SEAL Charles Keating IV was part of the force sent in to rescue them.

All the advisers made it back. Keating, a decorated combat veteran and star athlete who decided to enlist after the 9/11 attacks, did not.
Providing new details Wednesday about the operation that took the life of the grandson of prominent financier and World War II pilot Charles Keating Jr., Coalition spokesman Col. Steve Warren said that the clash between ISIS and the Kurdish Peshmerga forces the advisers were assisting was “a big fight, one of the largest we’ve seen recently.”

That’s Iraq, where Obama pulled out all US forces but is now sneaking a few back in, hoping no one notices.

In Iran, Obama’s foreign policy “advisor” named Ben Rhodes, admits it was all a lie.

“I immediately developed this idea that, you know, maybe I want to try to write about international affairs,” he explained. “In retrospect, I had no idea what that meant.” His mother’s closest friend growing up ran the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which then published Foreign Policy. He sent her a letter and included what would wind up being his only piece of published fiction, a short story that appeared in The Beloit Fiction Journal. It was titled “The Goldfish Smiles, You Smile Back.” The story still haunts him, he says, because “it foreshadowed my entire life.”

From writing short stories, Rhodes now writes fiction as national policy.

Rhodes strategized and ran the successful Iran-deal messaging campaign, helped negotiate the opening of American relations with Cuba after a hiatus of more than 50 years and has been a co-writer of all of Obama’s major foreign-policy speeches. “Every day he does 12 jobs, and he does them better than the other people who have those jobs,” Terry Szuplat, the longest-tenured member of the National Security Council speechwriting corps, told me. On the largest and smallest questions alike, the voice in which America speaks to the world is that of Ben Rhodes.

Is the policy that Rhodes writes working ? Better not to know.

Iran has been supporting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. They have spent a lot of money and lives defending him against his people and the Russians. How is that working out ?

The Russians are back in Palmyra, which the ISIS types tried to destroy.

The orchestra played pieces by Johan Sebastian Bach and two Russian composers, Sergei Prokofiev and Rodion Shchedrin, in a second-century Roman amphitheater, the set for a 2015 film produced by the Islamic State that featured the execution of 25 people.

The contrast was intended to underscore what Russia sees as its underappreciated role in helping Syrian forces liberate Palmyra from zealots and fighting on the side of civilization against barbarism.

The Russians were so eager to make that point that they flew a group of reporters from Moscow to Syria and then bused them to Palmyra to see the performance. The production, attended by a heavily guarded V.I.P. guest list, was broadcast live on Russian state television.

Does Obama know about this ? Probably not. Ash Carter seems to be running foreign policy these days.

Rhodes’s opinions were helpful in shaping the group’s [Iraq Study Group] conclusions — a scathing indictment of the policy makers responsible for invading Iraq. For Rhodes, who wrote much of the I.S.G. report, the Iraq war was proof, in black and white, not of the complexity of international affairs or the many perils attendant on political decision-making but of the fact that the decision-makers were morons.

One result of this experience was that when Rhodes joined the Obama campaign in 2007, he arguably knew more about the Iraq war than the candidate himself, or any of his advisers. He had also developed a healthy contempt for the American foreign-policy establishment, including editors and reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker and elsewhere, who at first applauded the Iraq war and then sought to pin all the blame on Bush and his merry band of neocons when it quickly turned sour. If anything, that anger has grown fiercer during Rhodes’s time in the White House. He referred to the American foreign-policy establishment as the Blob.

How is Iran, Obama and Rhodes ally, doing ?

They seem to be having trouble as they are recruiting child soldiers, as they did in the Iraq-Iran War.

Iran’s regime has done this before. During the Iran-Iraq War, which killed around a million people between 1980 and 1988, the Basij recruited thousands of children to clear minefields.

After lengthy cult-like brainwashing sessions, the poor kids placed plastic keys around their necks, symbolizing martyrs’ permission to enter paradise, and ran ahead of Iranian ground troops and tanks to remove Iraqi mines by detonating them with their feet and blowing their small bodies to pieces.

Children have been fighting in wars as long as there have been wars, but shoving them into the meat grinder in the 21st century is a war crime expressly prohibited and sometimes even punished by all civilized governments. The International Criminal Court in The Hague, for instance, convicted Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga Dyilo of war crimes in 2012 for “conscripting and enlisting children under the age of fifteen years and using them to participate actively in hostilities.”

The Basij is a paramilitary branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, or Pasdaran, and it’s commanded by the iron-fisted head of state, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. It’s mostly used for internal repression and provided many of the shock troops who brutally suppressed non-violent demonstrations during the Green Revolution in 2009.

Why are they now going back to the tactics of 1988?

“Second,” he continued, “the war in Syria and keeping the dictator Bashar Assad in power is so crucial for the Iranian regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei that he is willing to pay any price for this objective. In February in a meeting with the families of the regime’s forces who were killed in Syria, Khamenei said that if we did not fight in Syria, we would have had to fight with our opposition in major Iranian cities. Resorting to the tactic of mobilizing teenagers only leads to one conclusion, the mullahs are facing a deadly impasse in Syria.

So, the Russians seem to be winning and the Iranians are losing and who does Obama ally with ?

Rhodes’s innovative campaign to sell the Iran deal is likely to be a model for how future administrations explain foreign policy to Congress and the public. The way in which most Americans have heard the story of the Iran deal presented — that the Obama administration began seriously engaging with Iranian officials in 2013 in order to take advantage of a new political reality in Iran, which came about because of elections that brought moderates to power in that country — was largely manufactured for the purpose for selling the deal. Even where the particulars of that story are true, the implications that readers and viewers are encouraged to take away from those particulars are often misleading or false. Obama’s closest advisers always understood him to be eager to do a deal with Iran as far back as 2012, and even since the beginning of his presidency. “It’s the center of the arc,” Rhodes explained to me two days after the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was implemented.

And some people think Trump will be a foreign policy disaster.

New Developments between Israel and the Saudis.

Saudi Egypt

Obama has pretty much abandoned the Sunni Arabs in the Middle East in favor of Iran. This has been noticed, of course, and some new alliances may be forming.

Egypt’s April 9 announcement of the transfer of two islands, Tiran and Sanafir, to Saudi Arabian sovereignty came as a complete surprise to many in the Middle East. The only country that was not surprised was Israel. A top-level official in Jerusalem told Al-Monitor on April 12 that Israel had been privy to the secret negotiations.

The islands have a history that is interesting.

These islands originally belonged to Saudi Arabia, which transferred them to Egypt in 1950 as part of the effort to strangle Israel from the south, and prevent the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from taking control of them. Israel embarked on two wars (the Sinai War in 1956 and the Six Day War in 1967) for navigation rights in the Red Sea. It took over these islands twice, but then returned them to Egypt both times. Now events have come full circle, and the Egyptians are returning the islands to their original owner, Saudi Arabia.

And Israel is privy to the negotiations and approves.

In the past, several proposals were raised regarding regional land swaps, with the goal of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The framework is, in principle, simple: Egypt would enlarge Gaza southward and allow the Gaza Strip’s Palestinians more open space and breathing room. In exchange for this territory, Egypt would receive from Israel a narrow strip the length of the borderline between the two countries, the Israeli Negev desert region from Egyptian Sinai. The Palestinians, in contrast, would transfer the West Bank settlement blocs to Israel. Jordan could also join such an initiative; it could contribute territories of its own and receive others in exchange. To date, this approach was categorically disqualified by the Egyptians in the Hosni Mubarak era. Now that it seems that territorial transfer has become a viable possibility under the new conditions of the Middle East, the idea of Israeli-Egyptian territorial swaps are also reopened; in the past, these land swap possibilities fired the imaginations of many in the region. In his day, former head of Israel’s National Security Council Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland led a regional initiative on the subject. But he was stymied by Egypt.

Moving Gaza away from Israel would solve the rocket problem and the terrorist problem.

In light of America distancing itself from the region and the cold shoulder that Egypt has received from Washington in recent years, Saudi assistance and Israeli support to Egypt are viewed as critical to Sisi’s continued grip on the regime. And to complicate the situation even more, we can add the reconciliation attempts between Israel and Turkey; these have continued for many long months in marathon negotiations between the sides.

A highly placed Israeli official told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that the Egyptians don’t want to see the Turks in the Gaza Strip, and are strongly opposed to a rapprochement between Jerusalem and Ankara.

The Turks may have enough trouble with Syria and the Kurds to keep them busy. Meanwhile, a new alliance may be appearing as Obama arms Iran.

Another factor may be the new Israeli natural gas supplies.

There are even more interesting possibilities.

On this background, a revolutionary concept has been floated recently regarding the establishment of artificial islands opposite Israel’s coast; these would host the state’s main infrastructure facilities. The idea was proposed by two close Netanyahu associates. One is Shaul Chorev, who until recently headed Israel’s Atomic Energy Committee and was a former brigadier general in the navy, and the other is Zvi Marom, founder and chief executive of the Israeli technology firm BATM Advanced Communications. Netanyahu worked under Marom after Netanyahu lost the 1999 elections; since then, the two are considered to be close associates.

The artificial-island proposal contains an additional, even touchier idea: the option for civil nuclear energy in Israel.

Interesting times in the Middle East now that Obama has abandoned the Sunnis and Israel.