Monday, September 10, 2012
Canada / Iran - Why Now?
Yes, Why Now?
First, few Canadians, let alone others have understood that for the past century,
Canada’s foreign policy has been
remarkably prescient. Yes they did
manage to sometimes cherry pick the risks accepted. Yet there is a level of actual wisdom and
effectiveness rarely noted with say the USA and many others. Thus I respect particularly unexplainable
moves when made. This is one of those.
The suddenness of this particular action without any attempt to use the threat for applying diplomatic pressure is seriously troubling. Besides which while the
USA has opened a
gap in its relationship with Israel,
has stepped in and strongly closed the gap.
They are now at the top of any list of trusted friends and allies of the
State of Israel. Canada is today the most likely country to have
an inside track on Israeli intentions regarding Iran.
In short, this is Red Flag!
At present we have zero evidence of prepositioning of Israeli Assets of any kind, so in fact nothing way well be happening. Yet smashing up
industry is ultimately the only viable option outside a real diplomatic
solution. We are already at war as the
Stuxnet Virus showed and the string of assassinations of nuclear scientists
In the meantime,
Iran is hugely
isolated and cannot call on meaningful support from anyone let alone its neighbors. Thus a successful surgical strike, if it can
be achieved is a plausible option although it is certain to be multi targeted and
fraught with huge risk. Most
importantly, such a strike would postpone an actual confrontation for at least
a decade if not forever and that was good enough to deal with Saddam.
It is again time to be nervous. There is simply too many opportunities for the calculations war to be played out.
cuts ties with ,
closes embassy, orders diplomats home Iran
Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press Sep 08, 2012 00:25:00 AM
OTTAWA - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird delivered a diplomatic bolt from the blue Friday, abruptly and unexpectedly severing ties with Iran, shuttering
there and giving Iranian diplomats in
five days to get out of the country. Ottawa
Baird rattled off a litany of long-standing grievances with Iran during a news conference in the Russian city of Vladivostok, where he and Prime Minister Stephen Harper are participating in this weekend's meeting of Asia Pacific Co-operation leaders.
"The Iranian regime has shown blatant disregard for the
Vienna Convention and its guarantee of protection for
diplomatic personnel," said Baird, adding that the government on Friday
as a state sponsor of terrorism. Iran
"Under the circumstances,
can no longer maintain a diplomatic presence in . Our diplomats serve Iran
as civilians, and their safety is our No. 1 priority." Canada
Diplomatic relations between Canada and Iran have been growing ever more strained in recent years, but there was no immediately apparent catalyst for the decision to cut off all ties.
Officials at the Iranian embassy in
did not return calls Friday. People
showed up outside the imposing red brick building seeking passport-related
services, only to learn from a note on the door that the embassy had closed up
"Because of the hostile decision by the government of Canada, the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Ottawa is closed and has no choice but to stop providing any consular services for its dear citizens," said the note, written in Persian.
Ordinary Canadians were also being warned Friday to avoid any travel to
In his news conference, Baird justified the move by reciting familiar complaints that
and others around the world have been making for months, if not years. Canada
He cited an eight-month-old attack on
embassy in Tehran as evidence that 's own
diplomats there are in danger. Canada
He also accused
of providing military assistance to the Assad regime in war-riven ,
failing to comply with UN resolutions regarding its nuclear program, and
"materially" supporting terrorist groups. Syria
And, for good measure, he accused
of "routinely" threatening the existence of , engaging in racist
anti-Semitic rhetoric and incitement to genocide, and called the country
"among the world’s worst violators of human rights." Israel
he said, "views the government of as the most significant threat
to global peace and security in the world today." Iran
A spokesman for
foreign ministry, Ramin Mehmanparast, called Canada's
decision "hasty and extreme" and said that Iran
would soon respond, the semi-official Fars
news agency reported.
The Opposition New Democrats called the move irresponsible and bizarre.
The NDP Foreign Affairs' critic Paul Dewar noted that Baird and Harper should be using their trip to
to pressure that government to exert its influence over . Iran
But instead, Dewar said,
has removed itself as a potential player in soothing tensions over the issue. Ottawa
"What this is showing the world is that when it comes to engagement and trying to work on these difficult problems that require robust diplomacy, we're just walking away," Dewar said.
"I don't see how this is going to help. It might be good rhetoric but it's not good diplomacy."
The timing of the move also left experts puzzled.
"There are many issues involved here — human rights abuses, the nuclear ambitions, the support for Syria — but in terms of why now, and why not six months ago, why not a year ago, there's no answer to that," said Paul Sedra, a history professor at Simon Fraser University.
"So I can't really see the rationale behind taking the move and this point and I think that really reduces the effectiveness of the step."
Houchang Hassan-Yari, a Middle East expert from Queen’s University and Royal Military College, said Baird was using inflamed rhetoric that could have negative consequences.
"Certainly, the Islamic regime is a regime that is difficult to deal with," Hassan-Yari said.
"This is a regime that treats its people very, very wrong. This is a regime that, in the past, has shown its ability to disregard international law. But to conclude that it is the greatest threat, the more imminent, peace and security, in my opinion, it's a bit far to go."
The decision to sever ties came amid revelations of a sharp argument last month between the Israeli prime minister and a senior
U.S. official over . Iran
Reports in the
and Israeli media suggest that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lost
his temper with a senior U.S.
congressman during a meeting last month over what Israel
sees as a lack of serious American action against 's nuclear program. Iran
The West believes
is pursuing a nuclear weapons program, but denies the charge. It says it only
wants to develop peaceful nuclear energy. Tehran
Media reports quoted Netanyahu applauding a bold move by
"The determination shown by
is of great importance in
order for the Iranians to understand that they cannot go on with their race
toward nuclear arms," the prime minister said in a statement. Canada
"This practical step must set an example of international morality and responsibility to the international community."
Mehr, a semi-official news agency in Iran, said the Canadian decision was "in accord with the
hostile policy" against
and that it "served Zionists." Iran
There has been speculation for months that
could move unilaterally to attack 's nuclear capabilities;
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently referred to the Jewish state as
a tumour that would soon be excised. Iran
Baird was careful to make clear
wasn't aware of a pending military action — "Unequivocally, we have no
information about a military strike on ," he said — but Sedra
mused nonetheless about what exactly the Canadian government knows. Iran
has heard something from the Israelis that something is imminent, I think
that's a very, very significant cause for concern." Ottawa
The two countries slowly moved back to normal diplomatic relations with an exchange of ambassadors in 1996.
But the relationship chilled in 2003 after Zahra Kazemi, a freelance photographer with dual Canadian-Iranian citizenship, was killed in custody in
Iran in what described as a
state-sanctioned murder. Canada
recalled its ambassador. Canada
— with files from Mike Blanchfield in
and The Associated Press Vladivostok