Erdogan to try mediation between US, Iran over nuclear program (ISRAEL HAYOM) Hezi Sternlicht, Yoni Hirsch, Shlomo Cesana, Eli Leon and Israel Hayom Staff 03/19/12)
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Turkish prime minister to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama in
Seoul next week during nuclear summit, will then continue on to
Tehran where he will try to convince Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah
Ali Khamenei to abandon nuclear plans • Finance Minister Yuval
Steinitz says SWIFT cut-off of Iran “is a severe blow to the Iranian
economy that can lead to its collapse.”
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to try to
mediate between the U.S. and Iran on the latter’s contentious nuclear
program when he travels to Seoul next week for a nuclear security
summit, followed by a visit to Tehran.
During the summit, Erdogan is scheduled to meet with U.S. President
Barack Obama, with whom he will discuss Iran’s nuclear developments.
He is then set to travel to Tehran where he will meet with Supreme
Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, considered to be the highest authority
on Iran’s nuclear issues. Reports this week said Erdogan would try to
convince Khamenei, during their meeting, to abandon Iran’s nuclear
program and also to reduce support for Syrian President Bashar al-
Erdogan’s meetings come at a vital time for Iran as it continues to
feel the impact of heavy international sanctions and as speculation
grows over a possible impending Israeli attack on the Islamic
Republic’s nuclear sites.
The Turkish prime minister’s meetings also come just a few weeks
before world powers are expected to start a new round of negotiations
with Iran over its nuclear program. Western countries see Tehran’s
ramped-up enrichment of uranium, a key element of bomb making, as
undercutting its claims that its nuclear program is purely civilian.
The European Union’s decision last week to order Belgium-based SWIFT -
- the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication --
which formally belongs to the EU, to disconnect Iranian banks from
its system, is tough and will be effective, sources in Israel’s
political echelon believe. The consequences could be far-reaching
because the SWIFT network is used by most banks across the globe to
transfer money. “This is a severe blow to the Iranian economy that
can lead to its collapse,” Israel’s Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz
said on Sunday.
However, as SWIFT’s cut-off of Iran began on Saturday afternoon,
economists in the West say it is difficult to determine how dramatic
the consequences will be for Iran.
Opposition websites in Iran reported in recent weeks that the public
has felt the bite of economic sanctions. The Kalameh.com website
recently said that citizens who arrived at markets across Iran to
shop for an upcoming holiday to be celebrated his week, were stunned
by the skyrocketing prices of commodities. Food prices sometimes rise
on a daily basis, evidence of the galloping inflation in the country.
The ayatollah regime in Tehran has not officially responded to the
impact of the SWIFT cut-off, but a former intelligence minister, Ali
Fallahian, warned on Saturday that if Iran’s banks are cut off from
the electronic clearing house, his country will use all possible
means at its disposal to respond in kind. The former minister was
quoted by the FARS news agency as saying that closing SWIFT to Iran
is “like closing international waterways,” in an apparent hint that
Tehran may close the Strait of Hormuz, used for a third of the
world’s seaborne oil trade.
The U.S. has warned that a closure of the Strait of Hormuz would be a
pretext for war.
Meanwhile, following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with
Obama earlier this month, and despite the U.S. president’s speech to
AIPAC in Washington, pro-Israel organizations in the U.S. have
questioned whether the White House indeed “stands behind Israel”
regarding the Iranian threat.
The Emergency Committee for Israel, run by Evangelical Christian
leader Gary Bauer and conservative commentator William Kristol,
recently launched a 30-minute video which mocked Obama’s stated
commitment to Israel.
“I do not trust the president on Israel,” Bauer said in an interview
recently. The Republican Jewish Coalition also released a film which
rejected Obama’s claims that his acts demonstrate his commitment to
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