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Reps. Dent, Price Lead Quarter of House to Bless Talks with New Iran President

If you've been worn down by too much bad news into thinking that nothing good can ever happen in Washington, here's proof that it ain't so: "the biggest ever pro-Iran diplomacy letter from the Hill."

JTA reports:

Days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the incoming Iranian president's plea for engagement with the United States and called for ratcheting up military pressure, a bipartisan letter circulating in the U.S. House of Representatives is urging President Obama to test Hassan Rohani's offer.

The letter, spearheaded by Reps. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) and David Price (D-N.C.), had garnered 118 signatures by Thursday afternoon, more than a quarter of the House. The bulk of the signatories are Democrats, but 15 Republicans have signed on as well.

With 200 Democrats in the House, that means that the majority of House Democrats signed the letter.

Intel Committees Agree with Public: No Arms to Syria Rebels

Seventy percent of Americans oppose sending U.S. weapons to Syrian rebels, including 74% of independents, 71% of Republicans and 66% of Democrats. [1] Key Members of Congress agree: the House and Senate intelligence committees have blocked an Administration plan to arm the Syrian rebels as a “covert action.” [2]

Now, Vermont Democrat Peter Welch and New York Republican Chris Gibson are introducing an amendment on the House defense appropriations bill that would block U.S. military involvement in Syria. Urge your representative to support the Gibson-Welch amendment.

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/block-syria-arms

Reps. Welch and Gibson have submitted the following amendment for consideration on the defense appropriations bill in the House: [3]

None of the funds made available by this Act may be used for the purpose of, or in a manner which would have the effect of, supporting, directly or indirectly, military or paramilitary operations in Syria by any nation, group, organization, movement, or individual or, for United States military operations in Syria without the express authorization of Congress.
We don’t need another U.S. war in the Middle East. Whatever influence the U.S. has in the situation should be used to promote a political settlement that ends the war, not to add more weapons to kill more people. We don’t need more U.S. “covert” military actions that aren’t explicitly approved by Congress after open debate. We don’t need to take sides in a sectarian civil war.

There’s still time to stop this military escalation. Urge your Representative to speak up.

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/block-syria-arms

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Robert Naiman, Chelsea Mozen, Sarah Burns and Megan Iorio
Just Foreign Policy

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Give your Rep a Nudge: Call Today to Support Rare Pro-Iran Diplomacy Initiative

Thank you to everyone who emailed their Representative in Congress concerning the Dent-Price letter supporting US-Iran diplomacy. The next step in pressuring your Representative to sign is to call their office. Could you call your Representative today and ask them to sign the Dent-Price letter supporting US-Iran engagement? Here's what you do:

  1. Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
  2. Ask to be connected to your Representative's office.
  3. Once you are connected to your Rep's office, tell them your name and address.
  4. Tell your Representative's office to please sign the Dent-Price letter promoting a reinvigorated US effort to engage Iran following Hassan Rouhani's election as president. If your Representative is Charlie Dent or David Price, thank them for initiating the letter.
  5. Here are some additional statements you can use to back up your ask:
    1. Rouhani ran on a platform of engaging with the world and has promised to “pursue a policy of reconciliation and peace.”
    2. Rouhani's diplomatic credentials include being Iran's lead nuclear negotiator in 2003-5 when the country made progress in talks with the EU-3, temporarily suspended uranium enrichment, and voluntarily implemented the Additional Protocol.
    3. It would be a mistake not to test Rouhani's offer of engagement. If we ignore it, we send a message that the US will respond the same way no matter what happens in Iran, undermining reformists who want an easing of tensions and emboldening those who want confrontation.
    4. The Dent-Price letter does not take a position on whether sanctions should be ramped up or relaxed, nor does it take a position on the military option.
  6. When you're done with your call, report it here: http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/dent-price-call-report

Thank you for all you do to help bring about a more just foreign policy,

Dent-Price Call-In: Report Your Call Here!

Report your call to your Representative concerning the Dent-Price letter here.

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An Important Opportunity to Support US-Iran Talks

The recent Iranian presidential election marks an important opportunity to promote US-Iran talks. Hassan Rouhani was selected in a decisive first-round vote. Rouhani ran on a platform of engaging with the world and has promised to “pursue a policy of reconciliation and peace,” saying that both the US and Iran “need to think more about the future and try to sit down and find solutions to past issues and rectify things.” [1] [2]

A bipartisan group of representatives led by Republican Charles Dent and Democrat David Price are seizing this opportunity by gathering signatures on a letter urging President Obama to reinvigorate US efforts to engage in diplomacy with Iran. Tell your Representative to sign on today.

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/dent-price

Some in the media and Congress have been saying that Rouhani's election doesn't mean anything and that it shouldn't affect US engagement with Iran. While it remains to be seen whether Rouhani will be a boon to US-Iran relations, there are reasons to be optimistic. For one, President Ahmadinejad's rhetoric was often used as an excuse for US disengagement, so a change of guard deflates many anti-diplomacy arguments. And although the highest authority in Iran remains Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Rouhani's landslide victory over his "hardline" rivals-he garnered 51% of the electorate, compared to 17% for the runner-up, in one of the highest voter turnouts in an Iranian presidential election-is being seen by many as a mandate for a more moderate government perspective, both at home and abroad. [4] Ignoring the pro-diplomacy results of the election would undercut those in Iran who want a diplomatic solution and embolden those who want confrontation.

Dent-Price Letter Promoting US-Iran Talks

Below is a bipartisan congressional sign-on letter being organized by Reps. Charles Dent and David Price urging President Obama to reinvigorate US efforts to engage Iran following the election of Hassan Rouhani as president. Tell your Representative to sign.

July XX, 2013

Dear President Obama:

As Members of Congress who share your unequivocal commitment to preventing a nuclear-armed Iran, we urge you to pursue the potential opportunity presented by Iran's recent presidential election by reinvigorating U.S. efforts to secure a negotiated nuclear agreement.

As you know, on June 14 the Iranian people elected Hassan Rouhani president with over 50 percent of the vote in the first round, overcoming repression and intimidation by the Iranian government to cast their ballots in favor of reform. Dr. Rouhani campaigned on the promise to “pursue a policy of reconciliation and peace” and has since promised “constructive interaction with the outside world.” As Iran’s former lead nuclear negotiator, he has also publicly expressed the view that obtaining a nuclear weapon would run counter to Iran’s strategic interests and has been critical of the nuclear “extremism” of outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

We are mindful of the limitations of the Iranian presidency within the country’s political system, of the fact that previous Iranian presidents elected on platforms of moderation have failed to deliver on promised reforms, and of the mixed signals that Dr. Rouhani himself has sent regarding Iran’s nuclear ambitions. It remains to be seen whether his election will indeed bring significant change with regard to Iran's relations with the outside world. His government’s actions will certainly speak louder than his words.

Obey the Law: U.S. Must Cut Aid to Egypt After Military Coup

Last week, there was a military coup in Egypt that removed the democratically elected president from office. Yesterday, the Egyptian military killed more than 50 people who were protesting the coup. [1]

No matter what one thinks of President Morsi, a coup is a coup. By longstanding U.S. law, U.S. aid to Egypt—which happens to be mostly military aid—must be suspended until a democratically elected government takes office. If the law isn’t followed in this case, it will send a signal to U.S.-supported militaries around the world that they can overthrow elected governments without jeopardizing U.S. military aid.

Demand that President Obama follow the law, and urge your Representative and Senators to insist that he do so.

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/egypt-coup

The law says: [2]

Coups d'Etat

Sec. 7008. None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available pursuant to titles III through VI of this Act shall be obligated or expended to finance directly any assistance to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup d'etat or decree or, after the date of enactment of this Act, a coup d'etat or decree in which the military plays a decisive role: Provided, That assistance may be resumed to such government if the President determines and certifies to the Committees on Appropriations that subsequent to the termination of assistance a democratically elected government has taken office: Provided further, That the provisions of this section shall not apply to assistance to promote democratic elections or public participation in democratic processes: Provided further, That funds made available pursuant to the previous provisos shall be subject to the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations.

Operation Exodus: The Snowden Accompaniment Flytilla to Political Asylum in Venezuela

On Friday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced that Venezuela would offer political asylum to NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

Regardless of what happens next, President Maduro's announcement was world-historical. With his announcement, Maduro has invited Americans to live in a new world: a "multi-polar" world in which the U.S. government's power is limited, not by a single "superpower adversary," but by the actions of many independent countries which are not U.S. "adversaries"; countries which agree with the U.S. on some things and disagree with the U.S. on other things, as is their right; countries which do not always accede to U.S. demands, as is their right. The day after Snowden claims political asylum in Venezuela, the U.S. and Venezuela will continue their robust economic trade; in particular, Venezuela will continue to be one of the top four suppliers of foreign oil to the United States.

It's a general constant in human affairs that no-one likes to be told that they have too much power for the general welfare. Nonetheless, we're all capable, when we want, of seeing things from the other guy's point of view.

And from the point of view of most people in the world, it's not a good thing for the United States to have too much power in world affairs; from the point of view of most people in the world, it's not a good thing for any one country to have too much power in world affairs.

JFP 7/3: If They Can Lie About NSA/Snowden, They Can Lie About Syria & Iran

Just Foreign Policy News, July 3, 2013
If They Can Lie About NSA/Snowden, They Can Lie About Syria & Iran

I) Actions and Featured Articles

If They Can Lie About NSA/Snowden, They Can Lie About Syria and Iran
If DNI Clapper can lie to Congress about the NSA’s data collection on millions of Americans and face no consequences, what’s to stop him from lying to Congress about military escalation in Syria or Iran?
http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/17369-if-they-can-lie-about-nsa-snowden-they-can-lie-about-syria-and-iran

**Action: Tell your Senators and Rep. to Assert Syria War Powers
The Obama Administration has announced that the U.S. would arm Syrian rebels and consider imposing a no-fly zone over Syria, which would mean bombing Syria. Congress has neither authorized arming Syrian rebels nor imposing a no-fly zone. A bipartisan group of Senators (Udall/Paul S. 1201) and Representatives (Gibson/Welch H.R. 2494) have introduced legislation that would prohibit U.S. military intervention in Syria without explicit Congressional authorization. Urge your Senators and Rep. to co-sponsor.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/syria-war-powers

Guardian LiveBlog: Edward Snowden not on Bolivian president's diverted plane
Bolivia furious after president's plane diverts to Austria
Foreign minister: France and Portugal denied airspace permits
Snowden apparently not on board after Vienna landing
Bolivia accuses United States of 'hostile act'
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/03/edward-snowden-asylum-live

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Catholic Priest Killed by Syrian Rebels? Tell Congress to Stand Up

The U.S. Constitution and the War Powers Resolution insist that absent an armed attack on the United States, Congress shall decide when to authorize the use of U.S. military force. But apparently the Obama Administration has different ideas.

The Administration has announced that the U.S. will arm rebels in Syria and is considering a "no fly zone," which would mean bombing Syria. Congress has authorized neither.

A bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives is standing up, led by Sens. Tom Udall and Rand Paul in the Senate, and Reps. Peter Welch and Chris Gibson in the House. They've introduced legislation that would expressly prohibit the Obama Administration intervening militarily in Syria's sectarian civil war without explicit Congressional authorization. Urge your Senators and Representative to stand up and support this legislation.

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/syria-war-powers

Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Rick Nolan (D-MN), and Walter Jones (R-NC) have introduced bipartisan legislation (H.R. 2494) to block U.S. military intervention in Syria without an affirmative vote of Congress. [1] Identical legislation (S. 1201) has been introduced in the Senate by Sens. Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT). [2]

Sending military assistance to Syrian rebels, or any direct military intervention, would lead to Americanization of Syria's sectarian civil war. Congress and the American people should be part of a vigorous debate before any such military escalation takes place.