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.

    Leave a Reply