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The inner circle of Trump’s government

Giancarlo Elia Valori

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] A [/yt_dropcap] s by its fruit you will recognize the tree – as the Gospel reads, by his/her collaborators you will recognize the political leader. The government formed by the President-elect, Donald Trump, include few representatives from the Republican Party, yet another confirmation of the decline and fall of the parties in the West – a structure which, however, will be reborn under other forms. It also includes many military, particularly those most tacitly irritated with Obama’s policies, and many super-rich people.

The only strange presence in Trump’s Cabinet is the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, as Chief of Staff.

Hence if the government is in elites’ hands, hence political elites still count.

However, with a view to better understanding the structure and the future decision-making of Donald Trump’s Presidency, we need to delve into the personality of those appointed before January 20, 2017, the date on which he will be sworn in as President.

Michael Flynn who, by no mere coincidence, has been the first of his collaborators to be appointed, will be the Head of National Security.

Flynn has a complex personality: born in 1958, at the end of his career in the military, he was Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency until August 2014.

It is the primary military foreign intelligence Agency, which supposedly has approximately 17,000 people operating abroad, of whom over 65% are civilians.

In 2010 he published a polemical report on operational intelligence in Afghanistan, “A Blueprint for Making Intelligence relevant in Afghanistan” – a clear sign that the US intelligence services operating in that country were not efficient.

Flynn was also assistant Director of the National Intelligence, as well as senior officer of the Joint Special Operations Command.

Nevertheless he had to retire when he stated, also within the Administrations, that America was less safe than before 9/11 and that President Obama’s narrative of an Al Qaeda virtually reduced to nothing was false and dangerous.

However the real break with Obama’s Presidency took place when Flynn criticized the slow pace with which Obama wanted to support the anti-jihadist opposition in Syria, thus de facto favouring the growth of Al Nusra Front and of many other jihad small groups – in fact, they just had to fight against the “tyrant” Bashar al-Assad.

Exactly the same crazy policy line as Hillary Clinton’s.

After retiring Flynn created a small company, Flynn Intel Group.

Again in the field of intelligence, which rightly ranks first in Trump’s thoughts, unlike our funny rulers who use it for their internal struggles, the President-elect Trump has appointed the Republican Congressman, Mike Pompeo, as CIA Director.

Having clear Italian origins, he is still a member of the Tea Party Movement within the Republican Party and he is also Kansas representative.

He is the usual lawyer, just to reaffirm the witty remark by Alexis De Tocqueville according to which America is a country dominated by lawyers.

He graduated from Harvard Law School where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review, but he had previously enrolled at the West Point US Military Academy, where he graduated first in his class. While serving as cavalry officer, he patrolled the Iron Curtain before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

His last military assignment was during the Gulf War.

He also founded Thayer Aerospace and Private Security, later renamed Nex-Tech Aerospace, before becoming President of Sentry International, an oilfield equipment company.

He has promised to the President-elect of “rolling back” the nuclear agreement with Iran.

Trump rightly knows that nuclear control is essential for any country’s power projection, while we made our excellent nuclear system be taken away through a miserable referendum in the hysterical wake of the Chernobyl events, which had nothing to do with nuclear power but much with the self-destruction of the Soviet system.

The fraud lay in the way and, above all, in the timing.

Furthermore, however, referendums on complex issues having great national relevance must never be held. This applies also to the next reform of the Constitution.

Along with Mike Pompeo, another politician, Jeff Sessions, has been appointed as Attorney General.

He served as Attorney for his home State, namely Alabama.

Certainly Trump has selected him because he was the leading Congressional opponent of illegal immigration.

Supporter of the war in Iraq, he introduced legislation to increase the death gratuity benefit for families of servicemembers to 100,000 US dollars. He is advocate of the most restrictive laws on drug use and believes that sanctity of life begins at conception – which would be obvious, but for many people it is no longer so.

He does not believe – and rightly so – in the rhetoric of climate change, which is the wrong extension, over time, of the particular trends of a climate phase. A mathematical error, over and above an ecological one.

Reince Priebus, the Head of the Republican Party, has been appointed as Chief of Staff.

Let us see why the Chairman of the Republican National Committee who abhorred Trump’s candidacy from the beginning was appointed to such an important position by the first victim of the Party, namely the new President.

Reince is an attorney and an American politician, the Chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Son of a father of German origin and of a mother of Greek descent, he did not graduate in Law directly, but he previously majored in English and Political Science.

In politics, he tried to reconcile the Tea Party Movement with the majority line of the “old” Republican Party and, before this policy being used by Trump as a winning strategy, he had set the goal of transforming the Party to be a force “from coast to coast” and no longer considering the losing logic of approaching electoral politics from a Red Democratic and Blue Republican State perspective.

A party united even with the Tea Party movement and the traditionally conservative fringes, in line with the current Republicans’ policy.

Stephen Bannon has been appointed as Chief Strategist and Senior Advisor to Trump’s Cabinet. He was executive Chairman of an important website in the American political debate, www.breitbart.com, which has offices in California, London, Jerusalem and Texas.

It is a usually well-informed website, which often deals with issues such as national security and “big government”.

Stephen Bannon is a businessman who has always worked as media executive and became chief executive officer (CEO) of Donald Trump’s election campaign.

In the United States Breitbart has always been considered a “far-right magazine online”, but in fact it appears as a well-informed conservative website.

His current post as Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor for Trump’s Cabinet has a very wide scope which, however, can guide and direct also the other members of the inner Cabinet.

Bannon had started his career in the Navy, by becoming special assistant to the Head of operations in the Pacific region.

Subsequently Bannon worked at Goldman Sachs as investment banker and, later, he and his colleagues left Goldman Sachs to found Bannon & Co. – a “boutique investment bank” specializing in the media sector.

In particular, he negotiated the sale of Castle Rock Entertainment to Ted Turner.

In 1998, Bannon and Co. was purchased by Société Générale.

Later he produced as many as 18 movies in Hollywood, including a documentary film about Ronald Reagan and he adhered to the Tea Party – yet another member of this movement in Trump’s team.

It is worth recalling that the Tea Party is a movement born in 2009 to defend free market and traditional American freedoms. It harshly criticizes excessive taxation in the country.

Bannon also founded the Government Accountability Institute, which monitors and checks the US governments’ efficacy in implementing the programs announced during the election campaigns.

Later he embarked on the adventure of the website Breitbart.

Trump has appointed him because he wants an integrated communication of his policies, which will be very different from the current US ones, especially as regards the relationship with NATO, which shall be balanced between Europe and the United States, as well as communication about and against the Islamic world.

But the true leader of Trump’s White House team is his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the owner of Kushner Companies, who publishes the weekly New York Observer.

Like Trump, Jared Kushner has continued his father’s profession as real estate developer.

He is an orthodox Jew grown up in New Jersey. In 2003 he graduated cum laude from Harvard College in sociology, and then in Law from New York University.

During the election campaign of his father-in-law, Donald Trump, he was the architect of his digital, online and social media campaigns. He is believed to be responsible for the choice of Governor Mike Pence as Vice-President – in short, he was a perfect advisor for Donald Trump in all the phases of his election campaign.

He will probably be the real insider of his father-in-law’s government. Meanwhile, the White House rooms and kitchens have already been equipped for the kasherut.

The 45th President of the United States has two primary foreign policy goals: to gradually leave Europe to its fate and mend the relationship with Putin’s Russian Federation.

The new Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, the CEO and Chairman of ExxonMobil is a personal friend of Vladimir Putin and Suchin, the Head of the former KGB members who have had a career in the Kremlin.

He has signed an agreement to explore and develop oil fields in Kurdistan, even against the Iraqi law, and he is a friend of the Iraqi Kurdistan’s leaders.

He has openly spoke against sanctions on Russia and has strongly supported the trade agreement with the Pacific region (TPP). He is also a prominent member of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

He is the man of the great thawing of relations with Russia, the axis of Trump’s next foreign policy, which is counterbalanced by rigidity vis-à-vis China that will probably lead to new agreements on monetary and financial exchange between the United States and China.

The other people appointed are technocrats (with similar political ideas): Tom Price, an orthopedic surgeon from Georgia, responsible for Health and Human Services; the millionaire Wilbur Ross, who advocates customs duties for China, as Secretary for Commerce; Betsy DeVos, education activist known for her advocacy of school free choice, as Secretary for Education; Nikki Haley, the Governor of South Carolina, of Indian origin, as Ambassador to the United Nations; Ben Carson, a black surgeon coming from a poor family, as Secretary for Housing and Urban Development. Probably other technocrats will be later appointed.

A government created to last, which really represents the professionals of the best “civil society”, as we call it – unlike “I Moribondi del Palazzo Carignano”, just to use the beautiful title of the memoirs of one of the first members of Parliament of the Kingdom of Italy, Petruccelli della Gattina.

It should be a model also for Italy.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs "La Centrale Finanziaria Generale Spa", he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group and member of the Ayan-Holding Board. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d'Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: "A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title of "Honorable" of the Académie des Sciences de l'Institut de France

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‘Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People’: Time to retire

Mohammad Ghaderi

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Again, another mass shooting, again a school, again a troubled teen, a racist, a white supremacist, a Bloods or Crips gangster, a refugee, a war veteran, a mad policeman, a terrorist from al-Qaeda, al-Nusra Front or from the ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Daesh) terrorist outfits … what difference does it make and again dead bodies lying on the ground in their blood. Who believes they were alive seconds ago. The story goes on and to my surprise it is having less effect than it used to have years ago. Why?

We are getting bad. We are not hurt anymore. Too much violence has made us numb.

What does the motto on the entrance of the United Nations building says? A poem by the Iranian influential poet Sa’adi, from the 13th century, the medieval period. The poem has many translations however one is this:

The sons of Adam are limbs of each other,
Having been created of one essence.
When the calamity of time affects one limb
The other limbs cannot remain at rest.
If you have no sympathy for the troubles of others,
You are unworthy to be called by the name of a Human.

Give it a thought, try to put it in practice, politician and statesmen in the United Nations, New York, United States. It is ludicrous that almost all of them call for end of wars, urge foe peace and tranquil but at the same time produce and sell arms.

War, violence and killing is simply unacceptable, nasty and painful in any kind and form, whether it occurs in a house, street, city, countries like Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Palestine or the United States of America.

U.S. teen confesses to mass shooting at Florida Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

A troubled teen with alleged ties to a white supremacist group confessed on Thursday to murdering 17 people at his former high school in Florida, as the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) admitted it had received a tip-off about the 19-year-old gunman yet failed to stop him.

As Americans reeled from the country’s worst school massacre since the horror at Sandy Hook six years ago, the U.S. President Donald Trump suggested the root cause of the violence was a crisis of mental health — and defied calls to address gun control.

Terrified students hid in closets and under desks on Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, texting for help as the gunman, Nikolas Cruz, stalked the school with a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle.

Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, appearing on Thursday afternoon before a judge who ordered him held without bond.

After being read his legal rights, “Cruz stated that he was the gunman who entered the school campus armed with a AR-15 and began shooting students that he saw in the hallways and on the school grounds,” court documents showed.

Cruz also admitted he discarded his rifle — which he bought legally in Florida — and tactical gear in order to blend in with the crowd to flee the campus, the documents showed.

The recent mass shooting at a school in Florida is the latest reminder that the United States is a “very violent country,” a journalist in Detroit says.

After the shooting, he stopped at a Wal-Mart store and then McDonald’s, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told reporters. He was detained 40 minutes later, after police identified him using school security camera footage.

Expelled from school for disciplinary reasons, Cruz was known to be fixated on firearms — and had reportedly been identified as a potential threat to his classmates.

In a somber televised address to the nation in response to the 18th school shooting so far this year, Trump vowed to make mental health a priority — after tweeting about the “many signs” the gunman was “mentally disturbed” — while avoiding any talk of gun curbs.

Earlier in the day, Trump had asserted that “neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!”

But U.S. authorities themselves were under scrutiny, after the FBI confirmed it was alerted last September to a message posted on YouTube, in which a user named Nikolas Cruz vowed: “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.”

In a statement, the FBI said it had carried out “database reviews and other checks” but was unable to identify the person who made the post.

Trump cites mental health, not guns, in speech on shooting

Declaring the nation united and grieving with “one heavy heart,” Trump promised on Thursday to tackle school safety and “the difficult issue of mental health” in response to the deadly shooting in Florida. He made no mention of the scourge of gun violence.

Not always a natural in the role of national comforter, Trump spoke deliberately, at one point directly addressing children who may feel “lost, alone, confused or even scared.”

“I want you to know that you are never alone and you never will be,” Trump said. “You have people who care about you, who love you, and who will do anything at all to protect you.”

However, the ones killed were alone when they were shot in cold blood in fear and hope. The ones who lost their precious lives had many hopes and ambitions.

Now they are dead, and it could be every and each one of us, at a school, stadium, concert hall, cinema, home, Middle East, Americas… anywhere, it could be.

Such incidents are cause of sorrow and pain, I cannot explain how I felt when I saw the horrible pictures of the Florida High School shooting, just like how I felt when I saw the massacre committed by the ISIL terrorists killing cadets in Camp Speicher in Tikrit, Iraq. At the time of the attack there were between 4,000 and 11,000 unarmed cadets in the camp. ISIL terrorists singled out Shia and non-Muslim cadets from Sunni ones and murdered them.

Who arms and supports terrorist groups like ISIL? No one can be so naeive to believe that they have just popped out. I recall the U.S. President Trump as saying on his election campaign to Hillary Clinton that the U.S. created ISIL. Well done!

While Trump stressed the importance of mental health and school safety improvements, his latest budget request would slash Medicaid, the major source of federal funding for treating mental health problems, and cut school safety programs by more than a third. Last year, he signed a resolution blocking an Obama-era rule designed to keep guns out of the hands of certain mentally disabled people.

Trump’s silence on guns was noted with displeasure by many who are seeking tougher firearm restrictions. But the White House said the president wanted to keep his remarks focused on the victims.

Before he was a candidate, Trump at one point favored some tighter gun regulations. But he embraced gun rights as a candidate, and the National Rifle Association spent $30 million in support of his campaign.

During his brief, televised statement, Trump said he wanted to work to “create a culture in our country that embraces the dignity of life,” a phrase likely to resonate with his conservative base.

In contrast, former President Barack Obama tweeted out a call for “long overdue, common-sense gun safety laws.” Obama wrote: “We are grieving with Parkland. But we are not powerless. Caring for our kids is our first job.”

In reacting to previous mass shootings, Trump has largely focused on mental health as a cause, dismissing questions about gun control. After a shooting at a Texas church in November left more than two dozen dead, the president said, “This isn’t a guns situation.”
The US has averaged one school shooting every 60 hours since the beginning of 2018, data shows.

Trump was criticized in early August for saying that both white nationalists and counter-protesters were responsible for the violent clashes at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

While Trump has offered somber responses to some tragedies, he has also drawn criticism for other reactions.

After the Orlando shootings at a gay nightclub that left 49 dead in June 2016, then-candidate Trump tweeted, “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism.” In the wake of a deadly terror attack in London last June, he went after Mayor Sadiq Khan on Twitter.

Sadiq Khan compares the US president’s rhetoric against Islam to tactics used by ISIL to inspire terror attacks in Western cities.

First published in our partner Tehran Times

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On Jettisoning Failed Leaders and Mass Shootings in the U.S.

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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The scene is the House of Commons; the date May 7, 1940.  A simple motion to adjourn for the ten-day Whitsun recess is of little concern to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain who has a comfortable 213 seat majority.  Then things take a turn.  A plan approved by the first Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill to land troops in Norway and engage the Germans directly has been a disaster with huge losses, and the eventual naval evacuation of the expeditionary force — an Arctic Dardanelles planned by the same man.

Chamberlain rises to defend Churchill and the conduct of the war in what has now come to be known as the “Norway Debate”.  In the most unlikely of scenarios and with no evidence of Winston trying to put his name forward — in fact the opposite — when the tide turns against Chamberlain, within three days as more favored candidates are shed, he has become prime minister.  Such is the parliamentary system.  Margaret Thatcher is another example, toppled shortly after success at the polls.

The American system, however, puts the president beyond such reach other than through a laborious impeachment.  Analogous to the third Roman Emperor Caligula, Donald Trump, too, has no military or political experience.  Caligula made his horse a senator or some say consul; Trump has the equivalent running government departments and agencies.  Caligula declared himself a god; Trump tweeted he is a ‘stable genius.’  If Caligula’s reign ended with assassination, Trump’s will be more prosaic — just disaffected voters.

Another mass shooting this time at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  Seventeen are dead and  many more injured.  The gunman, identified as Nikolas Cruz, used an AR-15 assault type rifle, a weapon far deadlier than a pistol — perhaps he watched the coverage of the Las Vegas shooting.  He was a former pupil who had been suspended from the school, and who students recalled as disturbed and scary.

President Trump in his remarks following the incident did not bring up the obvious question of why an AR-15 was so easily available for purchase.  Gun owners and the gun lobby are part of his constituency.

Following a mass shooting in April 1996 when a man armed with two semi-automatic rifles killed 35 people in Port Arthur, Tasmania, the Australian government put together strict gun laws.  They were supplemented with a mandatory gun-buyback program through which 650,000 firearms were destroyed.  Did the program work?  The data tells the story more vividly:  From 1979 to 1996, Australia suffered 13 mass shootings; since 1997 it has had none.

Under his usual theme of ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’, President Trump continues to talk about finding ways to deal better with disturbed people.  The sure Australian way is to stop them acquiring guns.

Lost in the Florida school story was another shooting the same day when trigger-happy guards let loose at a National Security Agency entrance.  The forested area is a confused mass of entries and exits.  It has happened before that somebody inadvertently makes a wrong turn and panics when faced with shouting armed guards.  In this incident, bullet holes can be seen in the windshield and the three men in the car were injured.

Introducing the Gates Foundation’s annual philanthropic letter a few days ago, Bill and Melinda Gates appealed to Donald Trump to not cut foreign aid — “even a 10 percent cut could lead to 5 million deaths in the next decade”, Bill Gates warned.  Will President Trump listen?

Despite the many wonderful aspects the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, when it comes to jettisoning incompetent leaders, it is difficult to best the parliamentary system for immediacy.

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Trump’s new nuclear doctrine just rhetoric

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Recently the US President Donald Trump unveiled his new nuclear doctrine which had remained unchanged since 2010. Many experts consider Trump’s new doctrine which enjoys many ambiguities as just campaign rhetoric. To shed more light on the issue we reached out to Prof. Filip Kovacevic, University of San Francisco geopolitics.

The US new nuclear doctrine was published several days ago. This document had remained unchanged since 2010. What are the reasons for new changes?

According to the US military establishment, the most important reason for changes is that the world has been a more dangerous and geopolitically unstable place. What the generals are not saying, though, is that it was their own actions which are responsible for this state of affairs. The hegemonic US foreign policy, the attempt to force a neo-liberal Pax Americana on the diversity and richness of the world’s cultures and traditions, is the cause of the present world problems.

Of course, you won’t find this stated openly in the doctrine. What you will find there, in a typical manipulative fashion, are the accusations of others for the problems that the US foreign policy has caused itself. In fact, this hypocritical pattern of behavior, where you take the legitimate reactions of others to your own provocations and aggressive moves as the main cause of tensions and conflicts, goes back many decades into the past.

What is the most significant difference between the new doctrine and the previous one?

In my opinion, the most significant difference is that a lot more money will be poured into the development of nuclear weapons. This will inevitably lead to a nuclear arms race with other states and to the proliferation of nuclear weapons as more and more countries will want to acquire them. But it will bring tremendous profits to the US military-industrial complex. In fact, the Trump administration is completely under the control of this section of the US corporate oligarchy. Trump is essentially breaking down all the institutional checks and balances in the US political system and paving a way for a military dictatorship. I have no doubt that the next US president will be a military officer. This means that we are about to see more wars and more deaths around the world, including in the Middle East. Many old, frozen conflicts will be re-opened across Asia and, apparently, the US is also setting a stage for the first-time use of a low yield nuclear weapon. Let’s not forget, though, that the bombs with depleted uranium have already been extensively used in the US /NATO conflicts, starting with the attack on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999, causing horrific public health and environmental problems for generations to come.

In new doctrine, the use of nuclear weapons is allowed in extraordinary situation. There are some ambiguities around this. What are those extraordinary situations exactly?

The fact that the US reserves the right to respond with a nuclear weapon to a non-nuclear attack is nothing new. In fact, the US dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki even though there was no nuclear threat from the Imperial Japan. However, what is new in this doctrine is that now the US considers the potential use of a nuclear weapon against a large-scale cyber-attack. This is extremely worrying, because, as is well known, it is very difficult to correctly attribute the source of a cyber-attack. This could make a false-flag attack by some rogue terrorist faction or by the inside provocateurs misinterpreted as an attack by another nuclear power and lead to the nuclear annihilation of all life on Earth.

As the US considers the first strike on Russia acceptable, it means the spirit of the cold war is governing this new doctrine. Why has the US taken this approach?

Provoked by the rapid and aggressive expansion of the US political, economic, and cultural influence in Central and Eastern Europe under the umbrella of NATO, Russia has embarked on the campaign of re-arming and strengthening its defense and security apparatus in recent years. It appears that the US thought that Russia would cave in under its demands and accept to be a third-rate power in Eurasia. However, this was a serious misunderstanding of the Russian history and tradition. Now that Russia pushes back, the US establishment does not know what else to do but to make threats. However, these are empty threats because any kind of use of nuclear weapons against Russia or against its allies within the Collective Security Treaty Organization would quickly lead to mutual destruction. The spirit of the old Cold War has returned, and it will be with us for a long time to come. Accordingly, we will see the flare-up of proxy conflicts and covert actions across the world.

How do you assess the US new doctrine toward Iran? What are the new points?

Iran is one of only four states separately mentioned in the doctrine. The others are Russia, China, and North Korea. Iran is given the least coverage because it is not seen as an immediate nuclear danger to the US .The main emphasis is on what will happen after the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) ends in 2031. It is stated that after this period, Iran will be able to produce a nuclear weapon within a year. Interestingly, there is no mention of the US getting out of the JCPOA before that time, which is in contradiction to what the US president Donald Trump has been saying recently. It appears that Trump’s statements are just campaign rhetoric intended to please some important and wealthy interest groups, but that, in reality, it will be difficult for the US to get out of the JCPOA, considering that all other signatories are still backing it. However, this is not to say that the US will not use all other means at its disposal, including its vast media and intelligence resources, to sow discord within the Iranian political elite and create an economic and political crisis in the country.

First published in our partner Mehr News Agency

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