The story behind the deal: Israel kept out of the loop as secret US/Iran meetings took place in Oman

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 54 Comments

It’s a brand new day. As shares in Gulf markets climb, people are celebrating the historic deal around the world with a collective sigh of relief. U.S. mainstream media reports a “3-decade gridlock broken” and “game-changing rapprochement” it’s lots of doom and gloom over in Israel, they’re not taking any part in “the international celebration“.

 Iranian  President Hasan Rouhani, right, shakes hands with Omani Sultan Qaboos during an official arrival ceremony, in Tehran, Iran. Aug. 25, 2013 Photo: Hojjat Sepahvand, AP

Iranian President Hasan Rouhani, right, shakes hands with Omani Sultan Qaboos during an official arrival ceremony, Tehran, Iran. Aug. 25, 2013 (Photo: Hojjat Sepahvand, AP)

Details have emerged the U.S. had been holding secret meetings with Iranian officials in the Omani capital of Muscat since last March, facilitated by Sultan Qaboos of Oman. Qaboos offered himself as a mediator for U.S.-Iran rapprochement after playing a key role in the release of American hikers who were imprisoned by Iran after allegedly crossing the Iran-Iraq border in 2009. Qaboos was also the first foreign leader to visit Iranian President Rouhani after he was elected and has good relations with both Washington and Tehran.

The Associated Press reports only a tight circle of people knew about the meetings,  Secret US-Iran talks set stage for nuke deal:

The talks were held in the Middle Eastern nation of Oman and elsewhere with only a tight circle of people in the know, the AP learned. Since March, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Jake Sullivan, Vice President Joe Biden’s top foreign policy adviser, have met at least five times with Iranian officials.

The last four clandestine meetings…. produced much of the agreement later formally hammered out in negotiations in Geneva … said three senior administration officials…….

The AP was tipped to the first U.S.-Iranian meeting in March shortly after it occurred, but the White House and State Department disputed elements of the account and the AP could not confirm the meeting. The AP learned of further indications of secret diplomacy in the fall and pressed the White House and other officials further. As the Geneva talks appeared to be reaching their conclusion, senior administration officials confirmed to the AP the details of the extensive outreach.

2008-Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns heads to Geneva to discuss Iran's nuclear program. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images )

2008-Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns heads to Geneva to discuss Iran’s nuclear program. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images )

Deputy Secretary of State William Joseph Burns is the highest ranked foreign service officer in United States history. Previously, in 2008, as Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs during the Bush Administration, Burns met with Iranian diplomats in Geneva for nuclear talks. Reportedly, it was the first time in 30 years that a high ranking U.S. official had met with Iranian government officials.

 

"a rising star of U.S. foreign policy."

“a rising star of U.S. foreign policy.”

Co-leading the Oman mission was Obama’s deputy assistant Jake Sullivan, also Biden’s national security advisor. Sullivan was tapped by TIME mag as an under 40 “rising star“.

More from AP:

At this month’s larger formal nuclear negotiations between world powers and Iran in Geneva, Burns and Sullivan showed up as well, but the State Department went to great lengths to conceal their involvement, leaving their names off of the official delegation list.

They were housed at a different hotel than the rest of the team, used back entrances to come and go from meeting venues and were whisked into negotiating sessions from service elevators or unused corridors only after photographers left.

Isabel Kershner speculated in the New York Times Israeli “outrage may have been fueled” by revelations they were kept out of the loop on the extent of the secret high-level engagement taking place in Oman.

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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54 Responses

  1. just
    November 24, 2013, 3:05 pm

    All I can say is thank you to Burns and Sullivan. (the new duo)

    Thank you to Sultan Qaboos of Oman, thanks to Mr. Kerry, Mr. Biden, and Mr. Obama.

    A special thanks to Mr.Rouhani and Mr. Zarif and to the Iranian people.

    This is how it’s supposed to be done– this is how peace looks. So many on the boards of the NYT, Wapo, Haaretz can’t grasp it. As for Netanyahu and his pity party– it just shrunk.

    This is the best thing to save Israel from itself– the Israelis should be celebrating!

    • seafoid
      November 24, 2013, 3:25 pm

      As David Gruen would have asked , is this deal “good for the Jews”?

      Akid, ya habibi. But they just don’t get it.

    • Justpassingby
      November 24, 2013, 4:08 pm

      Thank you? Peace?

      Please we havent seen nothing yet. I will remember your post when US starts threatening Iran again.

    • thetruthhurts
      November 25, 2013, 8:20 am

      as apparently great as this appears to be, once i read where an assisstant to biden was involved i became very suspicious. i’ve never ever in my life heard an american politician so puplicly, and obnoxiously, announce to the world their subservience and loyalty to the foreign counrty, israel, like biden did. he sounded like a rabid fanatical maniac.

  2. Tuyzentfloot
    November 24, 2013, 3:30 pm

    Here is the document called ‘Joint Plan of Action’
    link to theguardian.com

    And all the way at the end is the money quote:

    Following successful implementation of the final step of the comprehensive solution for its full
    duration, the Iranian nuclear programme will be treated in the same manner as that of any non-nuclear
    weapon state party to the NPT.

    I think this is why the Iranians signed off on this. In the common interpretation of the NPT this acknowledges their right to
    have nuclear energy and to be in control of fuel production for it.
    Now the US has not conceded that right yet. They’re saying ‘if the NPT allows control over the fuel cycle then you’re allowed the same’.
    At the same time they’re saying the NPT does not allow control over the fuel cycle, which is a tenuous point of view. The thing is, it now has become much harder to enforce that view upon Iran , especially now that they’ve treated Iran as a legitimate state in these negotiations.

    • Tuyzentfloot
      November 24, 2013, 4:15 pm

      My feeling is that since the US is allowing Iranian enrichment as part of the agreement, that they know they can’t revoke that right anymore with their interpretation of the NPT. But they still want to stick to that public posture.

      • Shingo
        November 25, 2013, 12:06 am

        The US were never in a position to bestow or revoke that right.

        The funny thing is that those that insist the right to enrich is not implicit in the NPT haven’t pointed to what article or treaty determines who is allowed. Clearly if the right to nuclear energy and peaceful nuclear technology is protected under the NPT, then someone has to enrich to produce the necessary fuel

      • Tuyzentfloot
        November 25, 2013, 6:34 pm

        The US were never in a position to bestow or revoke that right.

        Do you mean that as a legal statement or as an assessment of the effective power of the US? I think if the US objects they can make things pretty hard.

    • LeaNder
      November 25, 2013, 5:07 am

      Tuyzentfloot, the quote sounds to me as if it could be the typical standard in such a treaty for a period in which everything they do can be controlled to a far larger extend than in normal. Or in other words, it substitutes a specific oversight treaty for the usual regulations. That is in the time frame agreed on in the final treaty they will accept to not yet have the same rights as the usual NPT member states.

      Information out of Israel does not sound good. Now it would be good to know a lot more about the precise process in Iraq. There was some type of very informed dissenter at the time. What was his name: Scott Ritter? or something similar. Yes, may well be the one.

      Seems we have to be prepared for misinformation. How much mischief do we have to expect from Israel.

      • Bumblebye
        November 25, 2013, 6:07 pm

        LeaNder
        “How much mischief do we have to expect from Israel.”

        Well, since the US had to go to extraordinary lengths to keep them out of the loop, and they obviously had no ears in the other P5+1 teams, so apart from suborning Congress, they’ll be trying to find at least one of the weak points in at least one of the other teams to get in!

  3. Shingo
    November 24, 2013, 3:51 pm

    This report must come as a stinging rebuke to Netenyahu, and Israel’s moles in Washington, given that they were kept out of the loop and seemingly unaware this was taking place.

  4. bilal a
    November 24, 2013, 3:57 pm

    HOW were the Israelis kept in the dark?

    The State dept. private channel had an Apartheid Wall protecting it from any infil- traitors.

    • bilal a
      November 24, 2013, 4:21 pm

      Correction

      Jeffrey Goldberg ‏@JeffreyGoldberg 1h
      Interesting. Saudi Arabia told Israel the U.S. was going behind their backs to talk to Iran:
      link to buzzfeed.com

      But Saudi Arabia wasnt in the talks, and Oman didnt share it with them.

      Or, attn: FBI counterintelligence please,
      Is Israel claiming a Saudi source when the source was in State or DOD ?


      WASHINGTON – An FBI probe into the handling of highly classified material by Pentagon civilians is broader than previously reported, and goes well beyond allegations that a single midlevel analyst gave a top-secret Iran policy document to Israel, three sources familiar with the investigation said Saturday. [2004]
      link to sltrib.com

      an Israeli mole(s)?

      • Annie Robbins
        November 24, 2013, 9:37 pm

        here’s the end of buzzfeed:

        An aide in the prime minister’s office told BuzzFeed that Netanyahu’s comments that day sent a careful message to Obama, and that he was already concerned that a deal was in the works that Israel would object to.

        what careful message? it was the same ol same ol demanding same ol.. the article explains obama informed him 2 months ago in the WH. and it also quotes

        Senior Israeli cabinet minister Silvan Shalom was asked about the secret talks on Israel’s national radio Sunday, and appeared to confirm that Israel had found out about the talks through its own means. When asked what Israel knew and when, Shalom answered: “It is not important whether or not we were informed. What is important is if we knew, and we did know.”

        no, it does not ‘appeared to confirm’ Israel had found out about the talks through its own means. i for one do happen to think it matters ‘what Israel knew and when’. because you can bet your bottom dollar once israel found out about the secret talks (which could have been 9/30 for all we know) they very much tried to find out what was discussed.

      • Annie Robbins
        November 25, 2013, 12:07 am

        link to haaretz.com is reporting “Israeli intel revealed secret U.S.-Iran talks, months before Obama briefed Netanyahu”.

        Senior Israeli cabinet ministers said in media briefings over the past few months that the United States had a secret and direct channel to the regime in Iran, but they did not provide any details of who was involved in these talks. The ministers said the contacts between Iran and the P5 + 1 powers of Germany, the United States, France, Russia, China and Britain, were only a cover for the real talks going on between the United States and Iran. The White House repeatedly denied reports of a secret channel when probed by Israeli reporters.

        interestingly, they don’t provide any supporting links. i don’t recall reading any earlier reports from these media briefings from israel alleging the US was holding secret talks with Iran. but then, the official didn’t claim that, only that the US had a secret channel to Iran. and that’s not very surprising.

      • Shingo
        November 25, 2013, 12:12 am

        I think the thing that Israeli leaders fear more than being kept out of the loop Annie, is being kept out of the loop and not knowing about it.

        While I find it difficult to believe the Israelis were not aware these back channel negotiations were taking place, this could well be a case of bravado on their part to avoid looking like they were outsmarted and asleep at the wheel.

      • W.Jones
        November 25, 2013, 1:45 am

        I’m sure their government knew about it. The US had been working at Geneva for a very long time and it was due to Faubius the French official that it was interrupted. In other words, were it not for Faubius, the trajectory was for an agreement, and they were aware of this. It was certainly not a huge surprise out of nowhere considering all their “intel”, etc.

      • Annie Robbins
        November 25, 2013, 1:55 am

        shingo, there just seems to be a theme/talking pt i’ve heard repeatedly which makes my ears perk up. first from kershner (link/embed in main article). oh, interesting because now all reference to peres has been scrubbed. it was shimon peres saying ‘we knew’ (paraphrasing from memory, what we knew is not important but we knew). and if you google the name of the article and ‘shimon peres’ this comes up:

        News for President Shimon Peres of Israel issued a …
        Israeli Leaders Denounce Geneva Accord
        New York Times ‎- 11 hours ago
        President Shimon Peres of Israel issued a statement saying that “the success or failure of the deal will be judged by results, not by words,” and …

        anyway now it is gone and (replaced?) other emphasis on intel:

        With its ability to influence the deal through diplomatic channels accordingly limited, Israel will now deploy its intelligence resources to monitor the process.…….. how the Obama administration enforces the remaining sanctions; and the seriousness of the promised increased inspections.

        Israeli intelligence will be required to make a double effort,” Ron Ben-Yishai, an analyst for the Israeli news site Ynet, wrote Sunday. “Ensure that Iran is not deceiving,” he explained, “and that the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors are not cutting corners.”

        Jonathan Spyer, a senior research fellow at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, predicted a “carefully timed injection of intelligence-derived information into the public space” to put pressure on the talks.

        then i read it in a few other articles, that they knew.

        iow, they lost face. and they have an image to keep up, if not externally then definitely internally/domestically. and i know when i first read the nyt article peres said ‘we knew’ and it stood out a little because i thought , hmm, why bother mentioning that? to save face that’s why. so i’m not surprised now to see this article on haaretz front page as if it was a big deal. they were kept out of the loop and while they may have been tipped off talks were taking place they knew nothing, their intel had not penetrated the talks.

      • Shingo
        November 25, 2013, 2:02 am

        I heard reports that the French only found out about the secret negotiations , which is why they got pissed off and sabotaged the deal.

        It might explain why Kerry was trying to cover up France’s rejectionism .

        I noticed that yesterday, it was Fabius who was first to tell the press. Maybe Kerry and the rest pandered to France’s ego.

      • LeaNder
        November 25, 2013, 6:01 am

        One Israeli lawmaker from Netanyahu’s party said that Israel’s leadership was “furious … we felt like we were being stabbed in the back.”

        I wonder who this lawmaker was.

        This is ridiculous, he was informed officially by the American president. Does he have to inform Netanyahu of every step?

        The question is how much Israeli mischief except for misinformation in media we have to expect?

  5. MRW
    November 24, 2013, 4:36 pm

    Kershner:

    One Israeli minister even warned that the pact could result in a nuclear attack against the West. “If five years from now a nuclear suitcase explodes in New York or Madrid, it will be because of the deal that was signed this morning,” the economic minister, Naftali Bennett, said in a statement.

    So what do you think they’ll plan?

    • dbroncos
      November 25, 2013, 1:34 am

      @MRW

      Yea, sounds more like a threat than a warning.

    • Annie Robbins
      November 25, 2013, 2:01 am

      kershner or some editor has scrubbed her original and replaced it with other quotes MRW. image image image.

      hey, i just realized nyt also scrubbed the part w/the official saying israel wouldn’t be joining the “international celebration”. i can probably find the whole quote in my draft notes/revisions of the article. it was in my original headline too.

      kershner had some great quotes in the original. someone didn’t like them. preserved by google:

      News for Israeli Leaders Denounce Geneva Accord …
      Israeli Leaders Denounce Geneva Accord
      New York Times ‎- 11 hours ago
      JERUSALEM — Israeli leaders denounced the agreement reached Sunday … “Israel cannot take part in the international celebration, which is …

  6. Ellen
    November 24, 2013, 4:40 pm

    In the NYT article link, Avigdor Lieberman is quoted saying, “Responsibility for the fate of the Jewish people and for the state of Israel lies with the Israeli government alone.”

    Is this really the sentiment of most all around the world? Can it be that European and American Jews believe their fate lies with the Israeli government?

    I cannot believe this as it seems so bizarre. Is this true?

    • American
      November 24, 2013, 4:52 pm

      ‘Is this really the sentiment of most all around the world? Can it be that European and American Jews believe their fate lies with the Israeli government?:..Ellen

      lol…no it’s not true. It’s zio bullsh@t. ……”see Jewsof the world, how they hate us and are gonna let us be holocausted …again! But this time we have nukes and we will save you..Support Israel!”
      More propaganda.

    • seafoid
      November 24, 2013, 5:39 pm

      Responsibility for the Jews in New Jersey lies with the fruitcakes in the Knesset? Really ?

      link to theguardian.com

      “Viewed from the heartlands of the Middle East, the most striking conclusion of the Geneva drama is that the US is now prepared to act more independently of its traditional allies – the Israelis and Saudis – than ever before. That appears to confirm the dawning realisation that Obama is simultaneously pivoting away from the region – while helping craft its new realities.”

      • just
        November 24, 2013, 6:16 pm

        One can only hope.

        Thanks, seafoid.

    • James Canning
      November 24, 2013, 7:22 pm

      Utter rubbish, Ellen. That Israel is the protector of Jews worldwide.

    • Dutch
      November 24, 2013, 7:28 pm

      @ Ellen

      Basically this has been the red line all along. The raison d’etre of the state. The excuse to rage and colonize Palestine. The Magic Bullit.

      Is it true? No, it’s rediculous. Lieberman is responsible for the Israeli people, including a large chunk of non-Jews. Besides, the fact that Israel brands its crimes as ‘Jewish’, means a clear danger to Jews in general.

    • RoHa
      November 24, 2013, 8:02 pm

      “Responsibility for the fate of the Jewish people and for the state of Israel lies with the Israeli government alone.”

      Great. The Australian taxpayer will not have to pay for the education, medical care, government salaries, unemployment benefits, pensions, etc. of Australian Jews. The Israeli government will pay all that.

      • Shingo
        November 24, 2013, 9:34 pm

        Brilliant comment Roha.

        Now all we have to do is wait for Lieberman to send those emails to the offices of AIPAC, Emergency Commitee for Israel, JINSA et all, telling them to terminate their leases, issue those redundancies and close their offices, seeing as their services are no longer required.

      • MRW
        November 24, 2013, 10:12 pm

        I agree with Shingo, RoHa. Brilliant observation. ;-)

  7. bilal a
    November 24, 2013, 6:43 pm

    Netanyahu is like the lonely Sara Silverman of The Tablet’s celebration of Jewish culture:

    She covers plenty of less personal ground here, too, from the evils of vaginal deodorant to “the billions of teeny-tiny Republicans that die every single year in hookers’ assholes.” But what comes through most forcefully is the extraordinary sureness of her delivery. A Jew raised among Christians, she projects a sweet shamelessness that derives from always having been surrounded by a small group of people who most definitely love you, amidst a much larger population of people who probably don’t.

    link to tabletmag.com

    • Citizen
      November 25, 2013, 10:36 am

      @ bilal a
      Instead of crooning the c-word she should joke about Bibi, the Dick. She joked that her people killed JC and thus gave the world Christianity; she could have followed up with how Hitler killed the Jews and thus gave them their dream, Israel. Her show was disappointing, and too juvenile.

  8. James Canning
    November 24, 2013, 7:21 pm

    Israeli leaders obviously can comprehend why they needed to be kept “out of the loop”. Soem of them may even quietly be glad to have been kept out of the loop.

  9. RoHa
    November 24, 2013, 8:07 pm

    Oman? Sultan Qaboos?

    But weren’t we being assured that each and every Arab hated and feared Iran more than Israel?

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius
      November 25, 2013, 7:15 am

      Excelleng point. One of the most intriguing aspects of this deal, imho, is the involvement of Oman. As you say, we’re always being told that Sunni Arabs detest Iran. Yet Oman is not only a mostly Sunni Arab nation, but a member of the GCC, an organisation dominated by Saudi Arabia.

      This suggests that the Saudis, who must surely have considerable intelligence networks across the Gulf region, were aware of the back channel talks. More than that, given that the GCC countries, especially a relatively poor one like Oman, are very careful not to incur the wrath of KSA, might it suggest that the Saudis are perhaps not as hostile to a deal as is generally presumed?

      • James Canning
        November 25, 2013, 7:04 pm

        For years now, the Sultan of Oman has tried to bridge differences in the Persian Gulf. And improve relations with Iran.

  10. ToivoS
    November 24, 2013, 9:44 pm

    It does sound like the Obama admin has finally wised up. In 2009 when it was announced that Dennis Ross was given the Iranian portfolio at State, it was clear that nothing would happen there without Israel knowing about it before Obama did. Then when Ross was removed from that position it did occur to me that it would now be possible for State to have some back channel discussions with the Iranians without the Israelis being fully informed. Getting Hillary out of there was also important.

    In any case, it does look like Kerry has managed to assemble a team that could operate without Israeli interference.

    This reminds me of the big lobby of its day — the China Lobby — that succeeded in infiltrating State and CIA in the 1950s under the Dulles brothers. In 1972 when Kissinger arranged the deal with Red China there were only 5 people in the Nixon admin that knew what was going on — they were all in the NSC and State and the CIA were kept in the dark. When Nixon visited China the entire China Lobby was taken by surprise. They had no opportunity to politically undermine the deal and by the time they knew what was happening the American people were enthusiastically supporting Nixon. It was then too late and the rest is history.

    Give kudos to Kerry and Obama for a job well done. The important lesson is to assemble a team whose goal are the interests of the United States and are not compromised by some other foreign power.

    • bilal a
      November 24, 2013, 10:00 pm

      excellent analogy. exactly right, except the anti-Red China crowd didnt have a bribery /extortion domestic espionage function, and the multinationals were drooling over potential outsourcing profits. Here the multinationals are divided, big oil and weapons want eternal war.

  11. redrooster
    November 25, 2013, 12:32 am

    CORRECTION: The American hikers DID not cross the border, they were taken to the Iranian side by force.

    • Annie Robbins
      November 25, 2013, 2:24 am

      pt taken redrooster. i added ‘allegedly’. i think it is a bone of contention. where the exact border along this ridge may not be clearly marked at all points. anyway, why is it so important now, it’s in the past? i noticed you mentioned before you were iranian and “the policies of the regime has resulted in many Iranians to develop pro Israeli views and resentment against the Palestinian cause. ” link to mondoweiss.net

      what do you think of the recent deal?

      • Shingo
        November 25, 2013, 2:45 am

        Yes Redrooster do tell.

        I also read that the border location was disputed and frankly, anyone who thought it a good idea to hike in that region during that volatile period needs their heads read.

        I thinks it’s plausible that the policies of the regime has resulted in many Iranians to develop pro Israeli views and resentment against the Palestinian cause. ” The rabidly pro Israeli views of the US government have certainly resulted in many Americans to develop pro Palestinian views and resentment against the Israelis.

        Does anyone also remember the British Navy guys who were captured and returned so healthy and well rested that it became an embarrassment for the British?

  12. dbroncos
    November 25, 2013, 1:33 am

    Separate hotels, separate entrances, names left off the delegation list??? Do people like Jeffrey Goldberg still think they can get away with calling people anti-Semitic for shining a spotlight on the power of the Israel lobby?

  13. Citizen
    November 25, 2013, 6:29 am

    Fox & MSNBC, usually rendering politically opposite POV on domestic politics, have been trotting out panels and pundits that have not praised the interim deal; all are sympathetic to Netanyahu’s theme that US betrayed its true friend to an enemy.

  14. pabelmont
    November 25, 2013, 9:01 am

    A “neat” part is that Biden’s own security advisor (or whatever) was part of all this while Biden was assuring AIPAC that there was no distance between USA’s and Israel’s F/P interests.

    Sure.

    Be interesting to see how the assurances of “no distance” are phrased now, after this diplomacy with Iran.

    It would be a fine opportunity for some serious people not merely to SAY that there are differences, but to elaborate on what some of those differences are.

    For instance, Israel finds value in its settlement program and the USA finds danger there. Time to SAY that and to elaborate the danger, make it “real”. And then time to explain to the American “street” why we fail to oppose an Israeli practice that is a danger to us.

    • Citizen
      November 25, 2013, 10:42 am

      Right now MSNBC headlines that the GOP, Israel, and the (SUNI) Arabs all say it’s a bad deal.

      • Walid
        November 25, 2013, 3:31 pm

        “Right now MSNBC headlines that the GOP, Israel, and the (SUNI) Arabs all say it’s a bad deal.”

        Not really Citizen, at least the part about the Sunni allies. Ritzl mentioned the betrayals on the western side but no one is saying much about the betrayals on the Arab side. Following these last 2 days of congratulatory messages coming from the heads of Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE, all of them having stood firmly in the camp of Saudi Arabia in its opposition to any deal of any kind with Iran, what MSNBC is saying about the Sunni is totally false. If any party has to feel betrayed by this agreement, it’s Saudi Arabia. Support for the agreement from Lebanon is coming piecemeal but only from those factions that were not opposed to Iran. The others, who are really in minority, are keeping a low profile to show their solidarity with Saudi Arabia. You could conclude that for the bulk of the Arab world, excluding Saudi Arabia, everyone is happy about the Iran agreement.

      • James Canning
        November 25, 2013, 6:17 pm

        Jordan has spoken out in favor of the deal.

    • ritzl
      November 25, 2013, 11:28 am

      Agree. It will be interesting to see if Sullivan(?) remains working for Biden.

      As you say, it will be equally interesting how Biden now approaches his public speaking on matters Israel. Either he was playing the complete fall guy/fake sycophant in order to get this deal done (and kiss his Pres hopes goodbye), or Obama completely blindsided him because he was a true sycophant.

      The backstory on this interim deal is going to be fascinating for us observers/beneficiaries. The domestic political betrayals (there had to be betrayals somewhere to get this done) will impact Obama/Kerry’s ability to successfully work through these interim six months. It may take the Lobby that long to quietly re-establish who they can “trust” and/or reliably coerce. That may create some space to navigate what needs to be done to continue to normalize global relations with Iran.

      If Lobby/media types go all “openly bitter political war” on Obama to recapture their influence, then they lose not only their influence on this specific issue, but influence generally and long-term.

      Win-win for we little people. Hopefully.

      Great observation. Cheers.

      • Ellen
        November 25, 2013, 11:46 am

        Sullivan will do what most behind-scenes-aids and functionaries do: He will go for the payoff in the private sector and cash in a major way in on advising on deals between the US and Iran as relations normalize.

      • ritzl
        November 25, 2013, 2:50 pm

        Agree, Ellen. Eventually he’ll use his contacts in Iran from this effort to front for some company (given the “aircraft parts” wording, maybe even, now, for say Boeing). There’s going to be big money in that, if there isn’t already.

        I’m just curious whether he gets the boot, or leaves in his own time.

    • Walid
      November 25, 2013, 3:41 pm

      The UAE’s National reported that negotiations started a year ago with letters written to Obama by the Supreme Leader and that the hinderance at first was coming from Ahmadi that was still President at the time. Releasing the alleged American spies on bail that were imprisoned in Iran helped kick off the secret talks.

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