BalkanBlog, crisis management, Middle-East

Minimizing Collateral Damage In Gaza Conflict

During its operation in Gaza, the Israeli Defense Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.”(Richard Kemp in the UN Human Rights Council hearing after Operation Cast Lead)

 

The role of civilians during ongoing operation Pillar of Defence is traditional one: Hamas and other Palestinian terror organizations intentionally target Israeli civilians and use the population of Gaza as human shields, storing and firing rockets from within populated areas. In stark contrast, Israel does not intentionally target Palestinian civilians; in opposite the Israel Defence Force (IDF) takes extraordinary measures to avoid Palestinian civilian deaths. Israel uses early warnings and sophisticated missile defence system to protect its own population while the role of civilian population in Gaza seems again to be that of cannon fodder and their value only propagandist.

Hamas has systematically fired rockets over 12,000 at the Israeli Home Front for the past 12 years. Since November 14, over 350 rockets fired from Gaza hit Israel, many of them directed at densely populated areas. Over the past months Hamas has armed itself with the Fajr-5 missile, an advanced weapon with a range of over 75 kilometers, which places 3.5 million civilians at risk. Out of 824 rockets fired from Gaza at Israel over the past few days, 270 of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system and 100 have landed in Gaza itself, IDF statistics show on18th Nov. So one part of civilian deaths in Gaza might have come from their own rockets.

Strategy of Hamas is fatal for population

The Operations of Hamas are targetted to kill Israeli civilians. Thanks to sophisticated early warning system and Israeli missile defense the casualties of Israeli civilians are small. The oposite is true with civilian population in Gaza due the fatal tactics of Hamas. Hamas (like Hezbollah in Lebanon, like the Taliban in Afghanistan and like al-Qaida and the Shi’a militias in Iraq), use their own people as both tactical and strategic weapons of war.

Hamas has intentionally used the civilian areas of Gaza as staging grounds for their attacks on Israel. Knowing that the IDF wishes to avoid civilian casualties, Hamas places its own civilians in the line of fire in order to hide and protect its own operations. Women and children, victims of the Hamas human shield tactics, usually ignore warning signals to evacuate buildings prior to an IDF strike. The victims remain in the house with Hamas members, knowing ahead of time that the IDF will not target civilians. Many innocent bystanders are killed as a result of Hamas’ abuse of its own civilians. Instead of keeping its citizens out of harm’s way, Hamas encourages and even forces its population to join the violent resistance against Israel, sometimes forcing women and children to remain in the positions that they would use to launch attacks from. Hamas used their people too on the strategic level, luring IDF troops to attack and kill them. People whose deaths would be callously exploited in the media as a means of discrediting the IDF.

There are several reasons for this: Hamas, of course, operates from within a civilian population and conceals its arsenals in built-up areas. The same is true of missile launchers, rockets and more. In addition, most Hamas militants make sure not to remain above ground most of the day. They stay in the network of tunnels built by Hamas beneath the Gaza Strip in recent years and, in effect, are at very low risk compared to the vast majority of the Gaza population. And the process of launching the rockets is extremely quick and is sometimes done by remote control, so that the ability to strike at those militants is very limited.

Israel’s strategy is to limit civilian casualties in Gaza

The following are some ways the IDF uses in order to avoid civilian casualties. While these warnings ruin the element of surprise and can help the enemy escape, the IDF believes that it must take these steps whenever possible in order to avoid harming innocent bystanders.

  1. Phone calls: During the last 24 hours of the operation, thousands of Israeli phone calls were made to residents of the Gaza Strip, warning them of IDF strikes in the area.
  2. Leaflets: The Israel Air Force has dropped leaflets over Gaza that warn civilians to “avoid being present in the vicinity of Hamas operatives.”
  3. Diverting missiles in mid-flight: During Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09, the IDF aborted many missions seconds before they were to be carried out, due to civilians being present at the site of the target.
  4. Roof Knocking: “Roof knocking” is when the IAF targets a building with a loud but non-lethal bomb that warns civilians that they are in the vicinity of a weapons cache or other target. This method is used to allow all residents to leave the area before the IDF targets the site with live ammunition.
  5. Pinpoint Targeting: The IDF, whenever possible, singles out terrorists and targets them in a way that will endanger few or no bystanders. This can often be hard to do, since terrorists prefer to hide in crowded areas. As example IDF video about the pinpoint strike on Hamas leader Ahmed Jabari and an other one (On Nov. 18, 2012, when the Israel Air Force targeted an underground rocket launching site near a mosque in Gaza. The strike was precise, and the mosque was unharmed.)
  6. In previous Cast Lead operation IDF left at least four hours’ notice to civilians to leave areas designated for attack

Israel helps patients in Gaza

One problem which civilians in Gaza have is the long standing shortage of medicines and medical supplies. The main reason is a dysfunctional relationship between the Palestinian Ministries of Health in Gaza and Ramallah. The conflicts between the two offices have resulted not only in a shortage of medicines and supplies, but also in restricted access to medical treatments for patients outside of Gaza. To help situation an Israeli State agency The Coordination and Liaison Administration to Gaza (CLA)works to ensure that patients from Gaza have the access they need to get medical treatments e.g. Following way:

  1. Of the thousands of patients that requested permits to enter Israel for medical treatments, 99.3% were approved. Patients were only denied permits when it was determined that they could receive necessary treatment inside Gaza (Sept 2012). This year (2012)more than 14,500 permits were issued by the Gaza CLA for patients and their chaperones to leave Gaza through the Erez Crossing.
  2. All the requests for medical supplies (equipment and medicine) submitted by the international community to the Gaza CLA have been approved for entry into Gaza.
  3. Since September 2012, international organizations, in coordination with the Gaza CLA, have impoted 32 trucks of drugs and medical supplies through Kerem Shalom Crossing. This has included spare parts for dialysis machines, helium for MRI machines, and three fully equipped ambulances. An additional five loads of medicine were imported into Gaza through the Erez Crossing through special coordination.

According to the World Health Organization, the process of referrals for patients from Gaza to receive treatment in Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan was suspended for nearly 10 days due to disagreements between the Ramallah and Gaza Health Ministries. As a result, a 38% reduction in monthly referrals left several hundred patients without necessary treatment. The WHO reports that due to the failure of the Palestinian Ministry of Health to pay its accruing debts to Jordan, Jordanian hospitals refused to accept government referrals of patients from Gaza. Medical suppliers are often reluctant to sell supplies to Gaza since there are issues with non-payment.

Despite the problematic security situation due ongoing operation Pillar of Defence and the ongoing rocket fire, the help from Israel to Gaza continues. On 18 November 2012, 10 Red Cross trucks with medical supplies and one UNRWA truck entered Gaza via Kerem Shalom Crossing. Two trucks have been designated as being of particular importance as they are carrying much needed anesthetics and bandages.

Media War with Pictures

They [Hamas] are putting these rockets in schools, in mosques, near hospitals, even in homes. We have pictures of rockets in homes because they not only have a military strategy. They have a media strategy. They want pictures of civilian casualties to make the front page of newspapers around the world,” (Michael Oren, Israel Ambassador to the United States)

The grand tradition of Pallywood has succeed again also with some respected medias, such as BBC, in which Palestinians on stretchers suddenly come back to life. It was usual also during earlier conflicts to bring the dead out from the hospitals in front of the cameras as victims of “Israel’s aggression”. Anybody who had died or who had been murdered for reasons of crime during these wars were brought to the CNN cameras as victims of “Israel’s aggression”

Yet another fake “Gaza” photo has used against Israel during the Pillar of Defense operation. An Arab news site called Alarab Net released the photo, which shows a family who was allegedly ‘massacred’ in Gaza on its Facebook page on Sunday, November 18. The caption in Arabic roughly translates into English as “martyred massacred family in Gaza shortly before…”

Thanks to Tazpit News Agency’s investigative work, it was found that the photo had been originally published on a news site based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates called Moheet one month earlier on October 19. On the Moheet website, the photo was titled “Syria killed 122 Friday…Assad Used Cluster Bombs.”

The original massacre, in Syria.

The “recycled” massacre, transplanted to Gaza.

And here another example where the Alqassam Brigades published an image which was taken in during the Syrian civil war weeks ago and attempted to pass it off as a picture taken in Gaza during current conflict.

Bottom line

Whatever the measures the residents of the Gaza Strip will continue to be the ones to pay the price and if ground operation starts, this price will be much higher than so far. As a result of Hamas’ strategy of using civilian areas for military purposes, it is inevitable that there will be civilian casualties in Gaza. Nonetheless, the IDF goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties and to minimize collateral damage.

As a result of Hamas’ strategy of using civilian areas for military purposes, it is inevitable that there will be civilian casualties in Gaza. Nonetheless, the IDF goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties and to minimize collateral damage. IDF however notes that despite all precautions, IDF forces may have mistakenly targeted sites and hurt Palestinian civilians. According IDF it is fully committed to ensuring that every allegation of wrongdoing be fully and fairly investigated, though this will happen after the conclusion of the operation.

The former Commander of the British Armed Forces in Afghanistan, Col. Richard Kemp, gives an insider view to civilian casualties in conflicts:

The UN estimate that there has been an average three-to-one ratio of civilian to combatant deaths in such conflicts worldwide. Three civilians for every combatant killed. That is the estimated ratio in Afghanistan: three to one. In Iraq, and in Kosovo, it was worse: the ratio is believed to be four-to-one. Anecdotal evidence suggests the ratios were very much higher in Chechnya and Serbia. In Gaza, it was less than one-to-one.”

As example Col.Kemp probably has earlier Gaza operation Cast Lead (2008-2009). I think that Hamas has learned some lessons from this and now, if Israel goes to ground maneuvers, the ratio of civilian to combatant deaths will be considerable higher. This makes the threshold to start next phase much higher than before.
More about IDF activities to avoid civilian damages in Gaza e.g. In this IDF video and to balance my story a bit here also a view (video) from Hamas side: 

 

More about Operation Pillar of Defence in my previous article:

Hamas Miscalculated: Israel Started Operation Pillar of Defens

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crisis management, MENA, Middle-East

Secret Talks During Secret War On Iran’s Nukes

While secret war between Israel and Iran has been going on already years with assassinations, Stuxnet and other cyberwar projects, war games, military demonstrations etc its pleasure to find out that secret diplomacy has also been implemented. The delegations from Israel and Iran led by senior officials had secret talks during a nuclear non-proliferation meeting in Brussels this week.

Officials from Israel and Iran had an informal discussion with representatives from about 10 Arab states, US officials and European moderators to explore the possibility of holding a UN-sponsored conference on establishing a WMD-free zone in the Middle East. The secret talks in Brussels, Belgium,two-day event was billed as an academic seminar.

Secret talks

70 buses rode the streets of TelAviv carrying message for peace.

According an article in The Guardian a historic conference bringing Iran and Israel together with Arab states to discuss a ban on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in the Middle East is scheduled to take place in Helsinki in December, it has emerged. The Finnish organisers of the UN-backed bid to establish a zone free of weapons of mass destruction are said to be cautiously optimistic that the conference will go ahead despite high tensions in the Gulf. The Finnish team has held about 70 meetings with officials in the region and made repeated trips to Israel and Iran since the veteran diplomat Jaakko Laajava was appointed “facilitator” of the consensus in October. So far, none of the countries invited to Helsinki has turned the invitation down.

A media blackout was imposed on the discussions but according some leaks in contrast with the saber rattling of both sides’ leaders the event went in a businesslike manner without denunciations and empty rhetoric at the conference.

On 5th November 2012, Israeli daily YNet reported that Barack Obama’s senior advisor, Valerie Bowman Jarrett, is secretly assisting the U.S. administration to communicate with the representatives of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatullah Ali Khamenei. Last month, The New York Times reported that the US government is engaged in secret talks with Iran aimed at establishing a direct line of communication once the US presidential elections are over.

On the brink of war

“Deterrence worked with the Soviets, because every time the Soviets faced a choice between their ideology and their survival, they chose survival, but militant jihadists behave very differently from secular Marxists. There were no Soviet suicide bombers. Yet Iran produces hordes of them.” (Benjamin Netanyahu)

PM Netanyahu and Iran red line in UN

In August 2012, Iran converted some 38 per cent of its uranium enriched to 20 per cent into fuel rods for its civilian research reactor. This move somewhat postponed the critical moment after which Israel would evaluate that Iran has enough uranium to produce a nuclear weapon. Defense Minister Ehud Barak estimates that Israel ‘postpones’ nuclear Iran red line by ‘8 to 10 months’.

While military strike still is a serious thread the secret war has been going on the whole time.  From Israeli side well known actions are assassinations of some key figures in Iran’s nuclear program, Stuxnet and some strange blasts and explosions in Iran’s nuclear facilities.

This secret war has been recently also spreading. According to intelligence officials, Iran’s security services have concluded that Azerbaijan, its Muslim neighbor to the north, has been enlisted by Israel in a campaign of cyber attacks, assassinations and detailed military planning aimed at destabilizing and ultimately destroying Tehran’s nuclear program.This doubt has launched an Iranian counter espionage offensive to destabilize the government of President Ilham Aliev and cast a suspicion also on ethnic Azeris living mostly along the northern border and in Tehran. Azeris are Iran’s largest minority group (some 16 % of population). Iranian officials have publicly blamed these attacks on the Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence agency. But US officials say Iran has recently concluded that the assassinations and other acts of sabotage has been orchestrated with the help of Azerbaijan. Last January, apparently after the debate on the Azeri issue ended among Iran’s regime, Tehran’s own intelligence service authorized attacks against the Israeli ambassador to Azerbaijan and other Jewish targets in Baku, the Azeri capital. reports that Israeli officials have been assessing Azeri airbases as refueling zones for its warplanes should a strike against Iran be ordered. (BTW this kind of cooperation with Saudi Arabia  I earlier reported in my article Saudi-Israeli cooperation for attacking Iran   )

On Aug. 15, a cyber-attack hit Saudi oil giant Aramco with devastating results, 30,000 computer workstations were rendered useless and had to be replaced. A few days later in Qatar, a similar virus attacked the RasGas natural-gas company, a joint venture between Exxon Mobil and the state-owned Qatar Petroleum, which operates the world’s largest natural-gas field. Hizbullah followed up the cyberattack with a drone mission on 6th Oct. 2012. An Iranian-built surveillance drone dubbed Ayoub flew from Lebanon into southern Israel before being shot down by the Israeli air force. Officials from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Force told the Al Arabiya newspaper that the target was the Israeli nuclear reactor at Dimona, the centerpiece of Israel’s nuclear program.

In my earlier article I conclude some aspects related to Israeli strike to Iran Nukes as follows:

  • War games are a puzzle not only with tactical alternatives, timing, more or less accurate intelligence and means available but also with known and un-known risks. There is also some other risks than Iran’s counter strike such as
  • Air strike would not eliminate the knowledge about how to build a nuclear weapon that Iran already has.
  • Bombing would pass those nuclear sites that foreign intelligence services do not know about.
  • Attack could create unneeded tensions between US and China and Russia, who are needed to successfully resolve this issue via non-military means
  • Israel might have best available missile defense. However the capacity can not absorb 40.000 missiles by Hizbollah in short period of time and some % will cause serious damage.

The bottom line

Of course its is unrealistic to wait that there would be a Middle East ban on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in near future.  However from my point of view  even discussing the possibility between Iran and Israel at the anticipated Helsinki event would be giant progress and will give hope that a non military development might be possible.

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crisis management, Iran, MENA

US Giving a “Yellow Light” to an Israeli Strike

Sometimes there are no alternatives to confrontation”

(then – 2008 – candidate Obama)

In my previous article – End Game Approaches on Nuclear Iran – I described how US has changed radically its earlier position so that both the U.S. and Israel say also officially that they have not ruled out military action against Iran. During last weeks Israeli and US officials have been coordinated implementation and timing of air strike, U.N. nuclear agency (IAEA) is more concerned about Iran’s nuclear program than earlier and finally recent elections in Iran are not making other alternatives easier. Previous red light for airstrike has changed to yellow and attack is ready to start anytime when so decided.

During his key-note speech on March 4th 2012 at the pro-Israel campaign group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Conference this approach was again confirmed when President Barack Obama issued a stern warning to Iran if it continues to develop nuclear weapons. “When it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say…That includes all elements of American power,” he added. “A political effort aimed at isolating Iran; a diplomatic effort to sustain our coalition and ensure that the Iranian programme is monitored; an economic effort to impose crippling sanctions; and, yes, a military effort to be prepared for any contingency.”(Source: Bicom )

Earlier Israel has launched numerous preemptive military strikes against its enemies. In 1981 and 2007, it destroyed the nuclear reactors of Iraq and Syria, operations that did not lead to war. But this time there is serious possibility that an attack against Iran might result in a wider conflict. Earlier Israel has made its strikes even without informing US beforehand, now during last months US and Israel have been intensive contacts to coordinate their actions.

Some recent findings

The danger from Iran is grave, it is real, and my goal will be to eliminate this threat.” (candidate Obama 2008)

Pentagon officials disclosed Thursday, March 1, that “military options being prepared start with providing refueling for Israeli planes and include attacking the pillars of the clerical regime. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in Washington’s first public reference to possible joint military action with Israel against Iran.

Iran conducted at least one nuclear warhead test in North Korea in 2010, the German newspaper Die Welt reported on Sunday citing Western intelligence sources. According to the report, the sources said they identified two nuclear weapons tests conducted by Pyongyang in 2010, and that at least one of them was done for Iran. If true, the report, written by Hans Ruhle, a well-known German analyst and a former official in Germany’s Defense Ministry, would affirm Western suspicions that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, and with North Korea’s help. Evidence of the nuclear tests was first published early last month in Nature magazine, citing the work of Swedish nuclear physicist Lars-Erik de Geer. (Source: Israel Hayom )


The head of the U.N. nuclear agency – Yukiya Amano – expressed (on March 5th 2012) growing concern about investigating an Iranian site suspected of links to nuclear weapons development, saying there are indications of new activity there. Referring to his most recent report on Iran circulated late last month, Amano noted that Tehran had tripled higher monthly enrichment to 20 percent at Fordo over the past four months, as well as significantly expanding lower-level enrichment at another facility. Both lower enriched uranium below 5 percent and 20 percent enriched material can be processed further to 90 percent — the level used to arm nuclear warheads. But 20-percent enrichment is of particular concern because it can be turned into weapons-grade material much more quickly and easily that lower-enriched uranium.

Economical aspect?

WikiLeaks has started publishing more than five million emails hacked by Anonymous from the servers of Stratfor, a US intelligence gathering company.

An email sent by Chris Farnham, senior officer for Stratfor, to an internal unnamed source inside the company titled “Israel/Iran Barak Hails Munitions Blast in Iran” provides details about who would benefit from an Israeli attack on Iran, and say such a plan would be motivated by economic factors. According to the email, sent on November 13, 2011, supporters of an Israeli-led attack are Russia, India and Saudi Arabia, while the EU and China stand against such plans, mainly for economic reasons. “Not many people know that Russia is one of Israel’s largest military partners and India is Israel’s largest client. If a direct conflict between Iran and Israel erupts, Russia and Saudi Arabia will gain the advantages on oil increasing prices. On the other hand, China and Europe are expected to lose from an oil crisis as a result of a conflict,” the email says. Farnham said an attack would be motivated by economic factors rather than Iran’s nuclear programme. “If a massive attack on Iran happens soon, then the attack will have political and oil reasons and not nuclear. It is also very hard to believe that the Israelis will initiate an attack unless they act as a contractor for other nations or if Iran or its proxies attack first,”the email concludes. (Source: Transcend Media Service )

According Meir Javedanfar, a leading independent expert on Iran it’s very important for sanctions to continue because the Islamic Republic can’t live without its economy. It can live without its nuclear programme… Sanctions could make the regime bankrupt and sanctions are an existential threat to the regime. If you bomb the Iranian nuclear installations that’s not going to be a threat to the regime. But if the regime runs out of money it’s going to lose loyalty. The reason why the Revolutionary Guard are loyal to the regime is because they get contracts. It’s because they see Ayatollah Khamenei as a cash machine. The second that cash machine stops giving out cash the loyalty s going to disappear.“ (Source: Bicom ) In my opinion the question then is if the sanctions have time to push Iran’s theocratic regime out before it has a nuclear weapon ready.

The Iranian elections

It could be fair estimation that the elections were not democratic nor the results represent the will of population – the choice was merely between different hard-liners, conservatives or ultra-conservatives so the contest was waged solely between the current ruling elite. The Interior Ministry announced a national turnout of 64 percent, however opposition has questioned this figure. Opposition noted in particular that many reformist supporters had stayed home, protesting the continued house arrest of leaders of the pro-democracy Green movement.

Anyway loyalists of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei got a landslide victory with some 75 percent of seats in parliamentary elections at the expense of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This of course in the absence of major reformist parties, which have been prevented from organizing since the 2009 post-election unrest. Probably this outcome of Friday’s vote will have no impact on Iranian foreign policy and its nuclear program, more effect it will have to next year’s presidential election, then the supreme leader Khamenei will get more cooperative President. It is also possible that there will not be next presidential election at all, but instead president the Parliament will chose only a prime minister. Whatever Khamenei decides the defeat of Ahmadinejad will hamper his power over the next one and half years that he has left before next scheduled elections.

The outcome reflects well the ”Islamist Winter” after the ”Arab Spring” in MENA region. In case of Iran the rise of political Islam represents conservative values and this might make a compromise solution with West more challenging if possible.

An appendix: A view from Iranian opposition

One should remember that possible military attack on Iran is mostly against Iranian regime and as last elections have showed this regime represents only one part of population; indeed it is estimated that the real support for Iranian hard-liners is only some 20 percent. One of the opposition groups is The Organization of Iranian People’s Fadaian (Majority) – Persian: سازمان فدائیان خلق ایران اکثریتSāzmān-e fedaiyān-e khalq-e Irān (aksariat) – which is the largest socialist party in Iran and advocates the overthrow of the Islamic regime there. The group is banned from open activity inside the Islamic Republic, and works clandestinely inside Iran and openly abroad. This group send a letter to President Obama and as their wise words in my opinion are reflecting good the grass-root attitude in Iranian opposition I publish the copy as such here below:

سازمان فدائیان خلق ایران(اکثریت)

Organization of Iranian People’s Fadaian (Majority)

international-relations@fadai.org

To the President of the United States of America

Mr. Barack Obama

Mr. President,

As a part of the Iranian opposition, we address you in the hope that decisions of your administration in relations with our country will be made taking the voice of the Iranian community into account.

We belong to those freedom-loving Iranians who fight for the implementation of human rights and democracy in our country, for friendly and tension-free relationships with all nations and who are, while being in favour of all countries’ right to utilise nuclear science and to use it peacefully within the framework of international regulations, in disapproval of the policies of the current Iranian regime in the fields of the nuclear programme, in favour of a solution for the Middle East conflict and in opposition to some other issues in which the current Iranian leadership disagrees with the majority of the international community. Among other freedom-loving citizens of Iran, we struggle for human rights and democracy in our country. We argue that criticising the policies of any state, including the United States of America, should not preclude peaceful relations with that country. We oppose the construction of hatred against other nations, including the United States and Israel. We are advocates of recognising Israel’s and an independent Palestinian state’s right to live within secure borders, advocates of the peaceful settlement of the Middle East conflict, involving all countries in the region and based on mutual respect and adherence to the national interests of every country.

We mention these positions of our organisation with the aim of attracting your attention to the voice of another Iran, a nation in desire to live in peace, freedom and prosperity, a people who, despite more than a century of efforts, has still not achieved these demands.

And still, let us express some of our concerns about your administration’s policies on Iran.

In a great moment of history, the American people elected a president who promised change and the turning away from the principle that anybody who disagreed with American policies was an enemy of the United States. Your presidency began with the splendid gesture of reaching out for the hands of the Iranian leaders, a move not understood and appreciated by the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He argued that within your velvet glove, an iron fist was hidden.

Unfortunately, with the historical background of a chain of two-way actions and reactions, again anxiety is arising that a jargon of threat will replace the hopeful signs of the first years of your presidency. Repeated statements by your administration’s officials that “all options are on the table”, thereby implicitly or even clearly saying that these would also include the military option, have not been helpful in moving away from a war of words. History tells us that nearly all wars begin with a war of words. An escalation of language can produce a situation sliding out of control, a situation in which responsible politicians, even if they are determined to do so and even if they are powerful in times of peace, cannot prevent a catastrophe.

Mr. President,

As Iranians familiar with our country, the world region in which Iran lies and our history, we strongly believe that a military conflict between the United States and Iran would have a devastating impact on the international stability. A military action against Iran will fail to reach the objectives some proponents of the military solution claim to be achievable through the use of force. Even if some military and nuclear facilities in Iran can be destroyed in raids, there is absolutely no guarantee that such raids would terminate the nuclear programme of the Islamic Republic of Iran. For a most probably temporary delay in this programme, the United States would risk decades of acute instability and military tension in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, decades in which America may be forced to continue a military engagement with high costs. The use of force against Iran would certainly harm the perspectives of Iran’s transition to democracy. In the long term, only a democratic government responsible to the Iranian people would guarantee that our country gets a factor of peace and stability in the Middle East. There is no doubt that the Iranian civil society’s standing will take damage from the proliferation of a jargon of war.

Your administration condemned the assassinations of Iranian citizens who are described by the Iranian authorities as contributors to the Iranian nuclear programme, and clearly denied American involvement in such crimes. We appreciate this principal and humanitarian position. But you are certainly aware that repeating the statement about “all options on the table” have incited doubts, even among some U.S. citizens, about the seriousness in the rejection of the use of force. This is also the case for some Iranian citizens. Our conclusion is that accentuating “all options on the table” cannot be the formulation for a responsible and humanitarian policy.

Mr. President,

We believe that your recent statement in the U.S. Congress in which you underlined that peaceful solutions for the Iranian-American issues continue to exist, is realistic, responsible and indicating a policy not giving in to the difficulties on the way to a settlement. We are sure that such an attitude will always find ways to avoid a war of words and open or covert use of force.

Without any compromise in the struggle against the Iranian regime and without recommending a policy of appeasement towards it, we will continue to criticise the nuclear programme of the Islamic Republic. Among others, we struggle for responsible policies towards the international community and have no doubts that the Iranian people’s strive for peace and cooperation with the international community will be strengthened by its resonance in the international community, not by a martial language.

It is the desire of the Iranian people that the nuclear conflict will find a peaceful settlement, and in atmosphere far from the danger of war, the Iranian’s voice for their rights, for democracy and good governance, will be heard by the world. Iranians do not expect anything else from the international community than moral and political support for their fight for freedom. Use of military action and war is not the kind of support the majority of the Iranian people will embrace.

Yours respectfully,

Organisation of Iranian People’s Fadaian (Majority)

Political and Executive Committee

March 3, 2012

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