Thursday, April 11, 2013

Mideast Media Sampler 4/11/2013: Iran Takes Netanyahu's Bomb Cartoon Seriously

by David Gerstman, contributing blogger at Legal Insurrection

1) The Cartoonish Mr. Netanyahu

In the space of two days the New York Times featured four articles last September mocking PM Netanyahu's bomb cartoon.

Netanyahu and his bomb cartoon
Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Nod to Obama by Netanyahu in Warning to Iran on Bomb - Rick Gladstone and David Sanger - September 27, 2012
In his speech at the annual General Assembly, Mr. Netanyahu dramatically illustrated his intention to shut down Iran’s nuclear program by drawing a red line through a cartoonish diagram of a bomb. But the substance of his speech suggested a softening of what had been a difficult dispute with the Obama administration on how to confront Iran over its nuclear program.
Talking at Cross Purposes - Editorial - September 27, 2012
In dueling speeches, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel focused on drawing a red line for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities while the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, cataloged his community’s many grievances against Israel and tried to revive the fading dream of a two-state solution. Mr. Netanyahu even had on hand a visual aid — a primitive cartoon drawing of a bomb, which quickly went viral on the Internet.
Netanyahu’s Bomb Explodes on the Internet - Harvey Morris - September 28, 2012
With the aid of a Wile E. Coyote-style cartoon bomb and a red marker pen, Mr. Netanyahu sought to underline the threat posed by Iran in a speech on Thursday to members of the United Nations General Assembly.
Netanyahu’s Bomb Diagram During U.N. Speech Stirs Confusion in Israel - Rick Gladstone and Isabel Kershner - September 28, 2012
Instead, the attention-grabbing performance seems to have created confusion in, of all places, Israel.
But a perceptive Washinton Post editorial, Iran heeds Israel’s warning of uranium ‘red line’ noted this week (h/t Elder of ZiyonThe Algemeiner):
For that, proponents of diplomacy over war with Iran can thank a man they have often ridiculed or reviled: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 
Mr. Netanyahu’s government is not a participant in the talks with Iran, of course; Iran won’t parley with a nation it aspires to “wipe off the map.” But the Israeli leader’s explicit setting of a “red line” for the Iranian nuclear program in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly in September appears to have accomplished what neither negotiations nor sanctions have yielded: concrete Iranian action to limit its enrichment. 
A host of commentators both in the United States and Israel scoffed at what they called Mr. Netanyahu’s “cartoonish” picture of a bomb and the line he drew across it. The prime minister said Iran could not be allowed to accumulate enough 20 percent enriched uranium to produce a bomb with further processing, adding that at the rate its centrifuges were spinning, Tehran would cross that line by the middle of 2013.
Just last month a New York Times editorial, Congress gets in the way, began:
If there is any hope for a peaceful resolution of the nuclear dispute with Iran, President Obama needs Congress to support negotiations. But negotiations and compromise are largely anathema in Washington, with many lawmakers insisting that any deal with Iran would be unacceptable — a stance that would make military action by Israel and the United States far more likely.
The New York Times is still getting it backwards. Diplomacy is not preventing war but making it more likely, as it is unlikely to deter Iran. What apparently has deterred Iran is a credible threat of force by a man that the New York Times has been portraying as a reckless warmonger.

2) Minor pressure on Turkey

Surprisingly, the United States exerted some limited pressure on Turkey.
Asked about his Gaza trip by a journalist flying with him to Kyrgyzstan, Erdogan said: “It will probably take place after my visit to America." 
The statement comes days after the Turkish premier met with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Istanbul. Kerry advised the Turks to consider the timing of the Gaza visit and urged local leaders to fully restore diplomatic ties with Israel. 
Immediately after Israel apologized to Turkey over the IDF raid on the Mavi Marmara, Erdogan announced his plans to visit Gaza in April. However it appears Kerry's visit affected the his plans.
The administration should have prevailed more strongly on Erdogan and pressured him to cancel the trip.
Barry Rubin discovered one more reason why Turkey sought rapprochement with Israel.
“Turkish export routes to the east used to go through Syria, to the East and to the Gulf. That’s not possible anymore. Turkish exports are shipped to the port of Haifa, where they’re loaded onto trucks, which cross Israel and then go to Jordan, and then from Jordan, they are shipped to the Gulf and to the East. Israel has now become a [pivotal] point for Turkish exports. It’s good, but no one wants to talk about it publicly."

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