Two big stories might suddenly be leaning pro-Obama after all – before the third and last presidential debate tomorrow on foreign policy:
First, CIA support Susan Rice on Benghazi (WaPo):
The Romney campaign may have misfired with its suggestion that statements by President Obama and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice about the Benghazi attack last month weren’t supported by intelligence, according to documents provided by a senior U.S. intelligence official.
Then, Iran agrees to nuclear talks (NyTimes):
WASHINGTON — The United States and Iran have agreed in principle for the first time to one-on-one negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, according to Obama administration officials, setting the stage for what could be a last-ditch diplomatic effort to avert a military strike on Iran.
25 new jets to the Syrian border – and aggressive war talk from Turkish President Abdullah Gul. Israel and Iran must be watching very closely.
Turkey sends fighter jets to Syrian border:
Turkey has confirmed it is deploying more fighter jets to an airbase close to the border with Syria, amid artillery exchanges along its tense southeastern border with Syria.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, addressed parliament on the issue on Tuesday, saying that his country does not want war, but that Turkey needs to be prepared for anything.
At least 25 additional F-16 fighter jets were deployed at Turkey’s Diyarbakir air base late on Monday.
Meanwhile, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the NATO secretary-general, said that Ankara can rely on the alliance, which has “all necessary plans in place to protect and defend Turkey if necessary”.
Rasmussen warned against the dangers of the conflict in Syria escalating, saying alliance member Turkey had shown commendable restraint in response to the shelling of its border area.
“I would like to commend the Turkish government for the restraint it has shown in its response to the completely unacceptable Syrian attacks,” Rasmussen said as he went into a two-day NATO defence ministers meeting.
“Obviously Turkey has a right to defend herself within international law,” he said, noting that the alliance has “all necessary plans in place to protect and to defend Turkey if necessary”. (…)
(Via Al Jazeera.. Mideast..)
A hedge fund person makes the argument… that the sanctions on Iran used to be toothless…. because they didn’t go for the oil flow..
But now that Iraq has risen their production from 2 to 3.4 million barrels/day… making harsh sanctions on Iran less costly.. the screw is tightened… possibly causing the sudden collapse in their currency… and unrest might quickly follow…
Why is Iran’s Currency Collapsing Now?:
Daniel Cloud is a founding partner of two hedge funds who manages also to find time to teach philosophy at Princeton. He is a shrewd observer of international markets. I asked him why he thought the Iranian currency was collapsing now. His answer is surprising – but highly convincing.
For many years, the sanctions on Iran weren’t effective. They weren’t very serious sanctions, because the outside world was willing to do everything except… actually interrupt the flow of oil, the only thing that would have made a difference. The two sides disliked each other, but were dependent on each other, so they attacked each other in relatively minor ways, while continuing to do business.
This latest round of sanctions, however, which included cutting Iran off from the global payments system, really has been serious, so serious that Turkey has been forced to pay for Iranian oil with gold. But why? What is it that suddenly caused the West to change its behavior? New worries about Iranian nuclear progress? The problem with that explanation is that hawks have been saying a bomb was imminent for decades. Some renewed enthusiasm for an actual war with Iran, on the part of people like Hilary Clinton? Hard to believe. The real reason the West intensified sanctions was that they could, because the potential political costs of removing Iranian oil from the market have fallen dramatically with the recent increase of production in Iraq.
Iraqi production has gone from a low of less than two million barrels of oil a day at the height of the war, to almost 3.4 million barrels a day this September. The Iraqis have a target of 4 million barrels a day by 2014, which – given the way things have gone in the last year – they are quite likely to meet and perhaps exceed. The increase of 1.5 m barrels/day that has already occurred neatly matches the decline of about 1.5 m barrels/a day that has occurred in Iranian exports over the last year. Since the West could always quietly abandon sanctions if things went badly wrong in Iraq, serious sanctions on Iran have gone from being impossible, to being almost costless, as a result of the success of the Iraqi reconstruction program. While the public narrative in American politics casts Iraq as South Vietnam and Iran as North Vietnam, making the Iranians the main beneficiaries of the war, in fact that scary old story has nothing at all to do with Iraq or Iran, and the actual outcome of the war, for the Iranians, has been disaster.
This brings back memories of the green revolution… maybe the time has come again…
Iran’s Economy is Collapsing, Ctd. – The Daily Beast:
Iran’s Economy is Collapsing, Ctd.
Oct 3, 2012 9:00 AM EDT
As the Iranian currency plunges toward worthlessness, angry crowds protest in Tehran.
Seems like the ground is shifting underneath the Iranian economy – with the currency losing 1/3 of its value vs. the dollar… and people are panicking…
Panic Rises In Iran As Currency Plunges To New Lows:
An Iranian man checks the rates of foreign currencies at a currency exchange bureau in central Tehran on Sept. 29. The Iranian currency lost nearly one-third of its value in a day over the weekend.
Large crowds of anxious Iranians gathered in Tehran on Sunday and Monday at foreign exchange offices — some of which had shuttered their doors — as Iran’s currency continues its free fall.
From Sunday to Monday, the rial lost nearly one-third of its value against the dollar — and the decline appears to have continued Tuesday.
Most economists say it’s the very tough economic and banking sanctions against Iran, as well as an embargo on Iranian oil sales, that are responsible for the currency collapse. Iran’s government is blaming currency speculators and what it’s calling “defrauders.”
The currency exchanges closed because traders had run out of dollars, which caused more panic among ordinary Iranians, says Hossein Askari, an expert on the Iranian economy who teaches at George Washington University.
“Cab drivers in Tehran are turning in their rials for dollars, because they say to themselves, it’s better that we do it now than wait until tomorrow,” Askari says. “And if that mentality takes hold, it’s over.”
The panic and blame game are adding to the pressure that weakens the rial even more, says Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, a professor of economics at Virginia Tech.
“When a situation like this happens, people who need dollars now will have to buy at a very high rate, because others are basically hoarding their dollars,” Salehi-Isfahani says.
It’s a self-perpetuating cycle, as well: The more people hoard their dollars — a natural impulse — the weaker the rial becomes, and the more panicked the people become.
Here’s a great travel blog from Iran:
Persepolis - center of the Persian Empire, burned by Alexander in 330 BC.
The RQ-170, allegedly shot down in Iran.
Maybe this is how warfare has become in our times… Tiny operations, small bombs, a little here, a little there – and a lot of cyberattacks and economical battles in the shadows.
And maybe… these enormous defense budgets for military equipment gradually will become a thing of the past.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s armed forces have shot down an unmanned U.S. spy plane that violated Iranian airspace along the country’s eastern border, the official IRNA news agency reported Sunday.
An unidentified military official quoted in the report warned of a strong and crushing response to any violations of the country’s airspace by American drone aircraft.
“An advanced RQ-170 unmanned American spy plane was shot down by Iran’s armed forces. It suffered minor damage and is now in possession of Iran’s armed forces,” IRNA quoted the official as saying.
Ammo depot, Iran.
Two major headlines this week:
- Military base explosion kills 17 outside Tehran. “Relocation of ammunition” the cause of the accident, according to IRGC Public Relations Department Lieutenant General Ramezan Sharif.
- Turkey raps Israel for plans of Iran attack. “We are against this military action. It will create new instability in the region,” [Turkish FM] Davutoglu said, adding that “Everybody must behave with moral principles.” On November 6, Israeli President Shimon Peres threatened that an attack against the Islamic Republic was becoming ‘more and more likely.’
More on the explosion here.