World View: Cyprus Begs Russia for a Bailout

This morning's key headlines from

  • Obama and Netanyahu appear to agree on military action in Iran
  • Debate over Iraq war continues on tenth anniversary
  • Cyprus begs Russia for a bailout
  • Turkey's Erdogan says that his comments on Zionism were misinterpreted

Obama and Netanyahu appear to agree on military action in Iran

Obama and Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Wednesday
Obama and Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Wednesday

In their joint press conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday, President Barack Obama and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to agree that military action must be used to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon. However, they appeared to differ on the timing. Obama said:

"A nuclear armed Iran would be a threat to the region, a threat to the world and potentially an existential threat to Israel,” Obama said. “Our policy is to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon."

This would imply that military action would be taken only at the last minute, just in time to prevent final development. However, Netanyahu is demanding that Iran be stopped much earlier, before it can produce the enriched uranium needed in a nuclear weapon.

As I've said many times in the past, my expectation is that we'll never make a military attack on Iran. This is my personal view based on a generational analysis: Iran is ruled by hardliner survivors of the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution, but most people under 30 are pro-Western and have no particular desire to see Israel pushed into the sea. Even if Iran develops a nuclear weapon, I can't see a scenario where it would be used against Israel. And to repeat what I've said before, in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, Iran will be allied with the West, including Israel, against China, Pakistan and the Sunni countries. It's certainly possible that, in the interim, Israeli leaders will panic and attack Iran, but my expectation is that such an attack is unlikely. VOA and Ynet

Debate over Iraq war continues on tenth anniversary

With American forces gone from Iraq, Sunni militants in al-Qaeda in Iraq are stepping up terrorist attacks on the Shia-led government, and promised to go further.

At the same time, there's a lot of nonsense in the media about whether we should have launched the 2003 ground invasion. The best response to the nonsense is this quote from Tony Blair in 2010:

"Sometimes what is important is not to ask the March 2003 question but to ask the 2010 question. Supposing we had backed off this military action, supposing we had left Saddam and his sons who were going to follow him in charge of Iraq, people who had used chemical weapons, caused the death of over a million people? What we now know is that he retained absolutely the intent and the intellectual know-how to restart a nuclear and a chemical weapons program when the inspectors were out and the sanctions changed."

The only reason that we know that Saddam didn't have WMDs is because of the ground invasion. Blair said that Saddam had "the intent" to develop a nuclear and chemical weapons program. If it weren't for the invasion, we still wouldn't know to this day, whether Saddam had or was developing WMDs. Just as important, neither would Iran. So Iran would have its own chemical weapons program to counter Iraq's, and Wednesday's press conference with Obama and Netanyahu would have been discussing a chemical weapons arms race between Iran and Iraq, in addition to nuclear weapons development in Iran. (See "The Iraq war may be related to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki." from 2008.) Guardian (London)

Cyprus begs Russia for a bailout

Cyprus pleaded for help from Russia on Wednesday, the day after its Parliament rejected the European bailout terms, without a single supporter. However, the crisis appeared to deepen on Wednesday for several reasons:

  • Cyprus announced that banks will be closed until Tuesday, to avoid an immediate bank run and crash, and to buy time.
  • European officials repeated that their bailout terms will not be softened.
  • The European threatened to cut off liquidity to Cyprus's banks, which would force them into bankruptcy.
  • The Russians say that no deal has been reached.
Moscow has its own interests in ensuring the survival of Cyprus's banks, which have served as an offshore financial haven for Russian businesses and individuals. Talk of Cyprus leaving the euro currency continues. Cyprus Mail

Turkey's Erdogan says that his comments on Zionism were misinterpreted

Turkey's prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that his remarks on Zionism were being misinterpreted. Earlier this month, he said in an interview:

"As is the case for Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it is inevitable that Islamophobia be considered a crime against humanity."

Erdogan has received harsh criticism for his remark, but on Wednesday he said the following:

"I know that my remarks created controversy, but no one should misunderstand my statements. Everyone knows that my criticism targeted certain critical issues, particularly Israeli policies in Gaza,” Erdogan said in what is his first response to criticism by the US, Israel and the European Union following his earlier remarks. The prime minister added that he will continue to make such criticisms until Israel recognizes the state of Palestine.

On the other hand, we recognized and still recognize Israel as a state within the 1967 boundaries. It should not be forgotten that we have hosted in our country a number of Israeli presidents and prime ministers as part of our peace efforts.

Turkey, like it did in the past, supports all international and regional efforts for a just, lasting and comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within the perspective of a two-state solution. My several speeches openly condemning anti-Semitism demonstrate my stance. In this regard, I stand behind my speech in Vienna."

It's not clear to me that this statement will quell the criticism. Zaman (Istanbul)

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