What is the truth behind this scarcely publicized announcement?
Are YOU willing to fly to Iran’s Kish Island now? Iran is counting on it.
A brief recap from yesterday’s Part I:
FreeAllThree.com saw this item reported only once in early December. In the ‘euphoria’ of the historic nuclear agreement, this announcement was made: “New U.S. and Iranian business cooperation coming within 30 days.” We waited for more details coming from U.S. outlets, but they never came. An internet search revealed several interesting pieces of information (included at the end of this article), including the prospect of direct flights from NY City to Iran’s Kish Island! Kish is about 11 miles off the southern coast of Iran, near Bandar. It requires no entry visa. Besides its billing as a ‘resort’ location, it is a hotbed of international crime syndicates and smuggling (cigarettes, cars, humans, you name it). But Kish island is also notorious as the last known place that Robert Levinson was seen in March, 2007 before he ‘went missing’ within one day.
If you didn’t see Part 1, we carefully showed that the U.S. Chamber aand several large companies sent a letter to the White House opposing, or wishing to decrease, the impact of sanctions on Iran. That letter somehow found it’s way into Iranian hands.
U.S. ‘Big Business’ opposed Iranian Sanctions for 4 years! Who knew?
FreeAllThree.com has questions:
We can almost believe the reports of secret plans for years that has only recently come out into the open. That’s the way it has been the past few years in Washington. Do you remember how vocal the U.S. Chamber was in 2009 – almost head to head railing against the Obama policies? Then relative silence. Why? A détente of sorts? Did the Chamber learn there might be something in it (an Iran ‘peace deal’) if they cooperate?
We have found no comments on the U.S. Chamber’s website as of yesterday regarding a joint Iran office or any other cooperative efforts. And nothing from U.S. news outlets.
However, an aspect of this ‘plan’ that gives one pause is the Iranian’s confidence in direct flights to/from NYC and Kish Island!
2. From America, who will pay to board an Iranian jumbo jet destined for Kish Island? Are we making it that easy to blow up 400 Americans at once? Certainly there would have to be reciprocal US airliner flights. But which one would do it and can you imagine the extra baggage-check time?
3. The elephant in the room is that Kish Island is where Robert Levinson was last seen. Besides Russian and other mafias, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has a free reign to do whatever it wants to whoever it wants, whenever it wants. You could disappear without a trace during the taxi ride from the airport to your ‘resort.’ Unless you bring your own film crew, there would be no ‘witnesses’ willing to speak out. An international security expert, whose name escapes me, was interviewed on Fox shortly after the AP/WP/NYT revelations that Levinson was contracted by the CIA for a fact-finding mission. He claimed Kish was so dangerous that any USA passport holder would be a target for murder or ransom. It sounds like the Wild Wild East!
4. Regarding increased trade, I understand why BOTH sides’ commercial interests would like to see normalized relations. But there are lingering political, military and human rights issues that should be addressed, not dismissed so American companies can increase profits. They will say, “If we don’t sell widgets (including military equipment and parts) to Iran, then Europe, Asia or South America will step in. We need some White House leadership here. Will it be forthcoming?
5. Did anybody know that the U.S. Chamber in concert with the White House and several of our largest companies provided Iran, indirectly, with a letter that indicates U.S. business was opposed to the Iran sanctions? Back in 2009 National Economic Council chair, Larry Summers (center of photo) said he and his team met daily in the White House to do everything possible to boost the faltering economy. Job, jobs, jobs…remember? And Joe Biden was appointed by Obama as the “Sheriff” of Jobs-ville! Summers also had charge of coordinating support for the President’s foreign trade expansion plans, including with Iran. I’m so old I recall we used to have the Department of Commerce do that, led by a Congressionally approved cabinet minister. That gave way to the days of Washington Czars!
6. There is one compelling reason why we believe there is potential credibility to new joint Iran-U.S. Chamber of Commerce efforts: there is a smoking gun, or smoking letter if you will, from 2010-2011. We know that Obama was always willing to sit down with Iran. He made that claim before his first election for which he was chided. It was about 3 years ago according to several reports that ongoing secret talks with Iran had begun. This led to the eventual official talks in November 2013 and the ‘Interim Nuclear Agreement.’ During the past 3 years, both sides were trying to demonstrate ‘good faith’ to each other. (Gives the word ‘FAITH’ a bad name.)
We learned after the November Agreement was done that four Iranian criminals-spies were released from U.S. prisons, well-fed and healthy I will add, in the dead of night with no publicity. One was a nuclear scientist no less! In exchange, reportedly, three young American hikers who were jailed as spies were to be released. That sounds about right!
The 2010-11 era U.S. Chamber of Commerce letter, bashing sanctions against Iran, and was provided to the White House, apparently made its way to Iran very quickly. This is what the Iranians based their optimism on and one has to believe that was the intended purpose.
Recall too that over the past two years or so President Obama started loosening some sanctions unilaterally – well before the November 24 deal was inked. The new agreement itself calls for the U.S. to release Billions of U.S. dollars and gold bullion that has been frozen.
Oil contracts were loosened so that Iran could trade again with more partners. And corporate and government and leaders from Europe and no doubt other continents are flying into Tehran on a regular basis to line up new deals.
Therefore I do not entirely blame the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its membership for not wanting to miss out. But is this the President’s objective as well? To rush to normalization as though nothing had happened in the past? And his National Economic Council’s objectives?
It seems the historical reasons for the broken relations with Iran have been forgotten. One doesn’t have to go back that far to hear the Ayatollah and other Iranian leaders literally demonizing America and its best friend in the region: Israel. The stated goal to wipe Israel off the map with a single bomb has not been retracted! The U.S. is the Great Satan and Israel the Lesser. No one has ever asked Iran, if that is still their intent, to wipe Israel off the map. And if it is, what would they like to do to Israel’s big brother?
On the eve of the ‘historic agreement’ in November the Grand Ayatollah went out of his way to make a prepared speech before a large audience. In it he called Jews and ‘those who support them’ dogs and less than human that need to be destroyed from the earth like a cancer. I don’t see much evidence of change in Iran! Yet, the U.S. State Department and its negotiators (‘order takers’ would be more accurate) act like only the U.S. needs to make concessions, while Iran makes only promises.
I hope that DC reporters will be present at the Chamber’s January 8th “Annual State of American Business” presentation to ask what the U.S. Chamber is doing today to form closer ties with Iranian interests. And I’d especially like to know, are any of them willing to fly Air Iran to Kish Island before the end of 2014?
As promised above, here are the 2013 news clippings I was able to find….
“Iran-U.S. chamber of commerce established
By Sara Rajabova 16 October 2013 AZERNEWS (Azerbaijan)
Despite the sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States over its nuclear energy program, an Iranian-U.S. joint chamber of commerce has been established as an NGO, Tasnim news agency reported.
“Maybe the NGO could be effective in resolving problems. Maybe the joint chamber of commerce could materialize Iran’s objectives,” Iranian Central Bank Governor Valiollah Seif said.
In September, ISNA quoted deputy director of Iran’s Trade Promotion Organization Kiyumars Fathollah Kermanshahi as saying that Iran is hopeful about an improvement in its trade ties with the U.S.
Thanks to a positive political atmosphere created between the two countries, two-way trade is expected to be enhanced, he said. [Emphasis added]
U.S. President Barack Obama and President Hassan Rouhani had a telephone conversation during the latter’s visit to the United States to attend the UN General Assembly session. It was the first direct communication of the U.S. and Iranian officials since Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979 and was deemed as a thaw in U.S.-Iran relations.
Seif said the two countries may establish a joint chamber of commerce, adding that Iran has no problem in establishing trade ties, except for those with Israel.”
Link to Azernews article: http://www.azernews.az/region/60710.html
And this ….
“Iran and US to open Joint Chamber of Commerce- within 30 days!
Tehran (AFP) November 27, 2013 [Day before Thanksgiving in America]
Iran and the United States are to establish a joint chamber of commerce within a month, with direct flights also planned, an Iranian official said Wednesday in a newspaper report.
“Iran-US chamber of commerce will be launched in less than one month,” Abolfazl Hejazi, a member of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, told the English-language Iran Daily.
In the wake of a historic accord on Sunday [November 24, 2013] between Tehran and major powers on Iran’s controversial nuclear programme, Hejazi also said his country was ready to start direct flights to the United States.
After the 1979 revolution in Iran, Washington severed diplomatic relations with Tehran following the seizure of its embassy in Tehran, during which Islamist students held 52 US diplomats hostage for 444 days.
According to Hejazi, the project which he said had already been registered in the United States would allow the two countries to work towards restoring ties.
Hejazi also said the government has authorised the private sector to launch joint activities and that Iran was ready to establish direct flights to the United States. This is Iran’s Kish Island as viewed from an airplane (photo right).
Flights would connect Kish Island in southwest Iran with New York, he said.
“This is because Kish Island is a free trade zone and Iranian passengers who have US citizenship will not need to obtain visas to enter it,” he said.
Hejazi said direct flights would “enable us to export domestic products to the US and import high-tech products and raw materials from the country.”
On the sidelines of his visit to the UN General Assembly in late September, President Hassan Rouhani pledged to ease travel to Iran for the hundreds of thousands of Iranians living in the United States.” [Emphases above added]
This is the entire article, but the Link is here for proof: http://news.yahoo.com/iran-us-open-joint-chamber-commerce-205325752.html
And finally, on Thanksgiving day, a similar report from “SkyNews” Australia:
“Iran, US ‘to open chamber of commerce’
Thursday, November 28, 2013 SkyNews.com.au
Iran and the US are to establish a joint chamber of commerce within a month, with direct flights also planned, an Iranian official has said in a newspaper report.
‘Iran-US chamber of commerce will be launched in less than one month,’ Abolfazl Hejazi, a member of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, was reported as saying in the English-language Iran Daily on Wednesday.
In the wake of a historic accord on Sunday between Tehran and major powers on Iran’s controversial nuclear programme, Hejazi also said his country was ready to start direct flights to the US.
Hejazi also said the government has authorised the private sector to launch joint activities and that Iran was ready to establish direct flights to the US. Flights would connect Kish Island in southwest Iran with New York, he said.
‘This is because Kish Island is a free trade zone and Iranian passengers who have US citizenship will not need to obtain visas to enter it,’ he said. Hejazi said direct flights would ‘enable us to export domestic products to the US and import high-tech products and raw materials from the country’.”
We wait to hear the U.S. Chamber’s view of the ‘State of American Business’ … and what their position is today on Iran sanctions.