View Full Version : The Iran Plan

February 11th, 2005, 01:48 PM
Here's a prediction....


February 11th, 2005, 02:43 PM
What's also crazy is that North Korea is widely believed to be even more of a threat.

November 13th, 2005, 06:55 PM
Iran's transexual revolution

An unlikely religious ruling has made Tehran the sex-change capital of the world

Caroline Mangez went to meet the brave souls who have swapped gender in this rigidly conservative city, where women wear the chador and homosexuality is punishable by death

The Independent
November 13, 2005


I know because I've experienced both worlds: as a man in Iran I have more freedom and choice than as a woman," muses 30 year-old estate agent Milad Kajouhinejad, 30, loosening his tie and unbuttoning his shirt to reveal a hirsute chest. It gives him pleasure, this manly gesture, just as it gives him pleasure to carry an attaché case and sport the full beard of a practising Muslim. Until three years ago, he could do none of these things. "I never used to go to the mosque, either," he adds. "I did not want to have to wear a chador. Now I can pray in boxer shorts if I feel like it, and I never miss prayers," he says.

Milad gives thanks to Allah five times a day and, while doing so, always offers a special prayer to the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, "without whom," he says, "every transexual would have had to leave Iran. He was the first to issue a fatwa authorising a man or woman to change their sex."

More than 15 years after Khomeini's death, the cleric's unlikely religious judgement means that Iran now has one of the world's largest populations of transexuals, and the fatwa itself has become the stuff of legend. "A theology student told me that he delivered his verdict after he was contacted by a couple who no longer experienced any physical pleasure. He advised them to change sex and, once the woman had become a man and the man a woman, then to remarry," says Mahnaz Javaheri, 42, the mother of Athena, a 20-year-old who, as she puts it, "needed to be freed of her man's body". A devout Muslim, Mahnaz says that if the three imams she consulted hadn't given their permission, she would never have let her son Hadi become Athena, "even if it meant him committing suicide. These three great ayatollahs all said that he should have the operation as soon as possible."

The real story behind Khomeini's fatwa is scarcely less dramatic than the apocryphal version. He issued it in 1983, after a man named Fereydoon, who had made several unsuccessful attempts to gain an audience with the Iranian leader, eventually forced his way into Khomeini's private rooms. Fereydoon persuaded the cleric that he was a woman trapped in as man's body by revealing the breasts he had grown thanks to a course of hormone treatment.

Before this extraordinary moment, Khomeini's administration had routinely harassed and arrested transexuals, lumping them together with Iran's gay community. According to Iranian law, homosexuality is punished by lashings, prison and even, in the case of persistent offenders, the death penalty.

"Before Khomeini delivered his verdict, there was a lot of corruption.

Hundreds of gays and lesbians used to meet in Laleh Park, right in the heart of Tehran. By authorising transexuals to change sex, the imam separated the wheat from the chaff," Milad says pragmatically, delighted to be the man he always felt he was back in the days when he was a she called Mahboubeh, "the beloved". The only traces of this other life are two minuscule pinkish piercings in his ears, where his mother Fatima used to try and get him to wear earrings, and the black-and-white photograph in their family album which shows Mahboubeh, aged three, crying because her hair has been put in bunches.

"All the restrictions that women in Iran are subject to applied to me," says Milad. "I wasn't allowed to go out, let alone consult a doctor about my problems, and of course I had to wear the veil in public. I used to hide boy's clothes in my satchel to play with the kids in the street after school."

He sees the past as a procession of bad memories - with one or two compensations. "I was a big hit with the girls in my class. They came from strict families, so it was a chance for them to have a boyfriend without seeming to be up to anything."

"Yes, they knew we couldn't take what was most precious to them, their virginity," concurs Amin, 28, formerly Milad's best friend at school, who has also undergone a sex-change operation. "So they were very relaxed. No one ever made fun of us. In Iran, a man who behaves like a woman is despised, looked down on. But a girl who behaves and dresses like a man is respected for her strong character."

Mahboubeh was nine when her father, a long-distance lorry driver, caught her in a clinch with one of her girlfriends. He didn't say anything but was convinced that his daughter was turning into a homosexual. In 1986, to "awaken" Mahboubeh's femininity, her parents forcibly married her to a 30-year-old cousin. She was only 12 but, on the eve of her wedding, a state doctor confirmed that she was an "adult woman" by establishing that she had breasts and was menstruating. After being raped, she ran away.

"After the police took me back to my father, he agreed to let me get a divorce when I told him that otherwise I would commit suicide," he says.

Some years later, at university, Mahboubeh discovered a book on transexuals in the library - and with it the existence of Milad within her. Since Iran's clergy prides itself on its ability to pronounce on every aspect of the faithful's lives, it was to them that she turned. "First I saw a state doctor and then, for a year and a half, I was passed between experts and psychiatrists. I was given hundreds of tests, a brain scan. In the end, a clerical judge gave permission for my operation."

"On grounds of sexual identity disorder," the accompanying medical certificate reads.

At this point, the young woman, who was by then 26, was rejected by her parents. "We needed someone to prepare us," her father says now, "to explain that afterwards we wouldn't be able to see any difference between him and other men."

"We didn't like it at first," explains Fatima, the mother who Milad still helps in her kitchen - unlike the other three sons in her now-reconciled family. "My family threw me out," recalls Milad. "I had to find money... I drove a taxi from six in the morning to midnight. The rest of the time I slept in my car."

The procedure took years and cost thousands of pounds, between two and three times as much as the £2,000 an Iranian surgeon charges for turning a man into a woman. "I applied to the committee of imam Khomeini's charity for financial assistance which they give to people, well, to people like me. They give us interest-free loans up to £700."

Milad had read on the internet that four operations would be enough. Skin grafts, nerve grafts, muscle grafts - he has had 23 operations in three years and will have the last one before the end of the year. "My surgeon, Dr Khatir, has done such a good job that soon a woman won't notice a thing," he says.

"He is a pioneer. He was doing this before the revolution. I am the only person in Iran, and perhaps in the world, to have gone as far, medically speaking. The last operation was the hardest..." Two bouts of four hours at a time on the operating table; his friends crying in the corridor, him thinking he was dying, saying his final prayers, a scarf clamped between his teeth to stop him screaming, and which he only took out to tell Dr Khatir, "Go on, I'd rather die than stay a woman."

Milad still saves all his money to spend on removing his unwanted femininity. "My birth certificate, my identity card and my driving licence were changed when I stopped being a woman, in 2001. For the deep voice, the build, the beard, there are the hormones... I'll be taking them all my life." Milad, who claims to have as much success with women now as before, wears a wedding ring "so they don't hassle me. When I've finished all the operations and I have enough money, I'll think about marriage."

Amin, who is still Milad's best friend, is already engaged. He is a respected member of the Guardians of the Revolution, a very strict military organisation; no one there knows about his operation. "No one in my wife-to-be's family knows my former identity either," he says. "All trace of it has been erased. I would be too afraid that they would object to our marriage. Everyone in my family was fine about it until my father died. But since my two sisters learnt that, under sharia law, as the only male heir of the family I was entitled to twice their share of the inheritance, they have refused to see me."

In male-dominated Iran, girls who have the misfortune to be born in a boy's body are a laughing stock. Setareh, now a 24-year-old woman, has first-hand experience of this from the two years' military service she had to do when still called Saeed. "Life in barracks was agony. While I felt more and more like a woman, I was being ordered to speak in a deeper voice, to be more masculine. To stop people making fun of me, I ended up wanting to look like a Hizbollah fighter, growing my beard long and trying twice as hard in training. It was in the army that I fell in love with Ali, the day he fought with three soldiers who were trying to rape me at knifepoint. I was 19, he was nearly 21. It was Ali who encouraged me to set about changing sex so that I could marry him."

They have persuaded Ali's parents that Setareh is the sister of the Saeed they used to know. "Every time my parents-in-law ask me about Saaed, I blush and say he has gone on a long trip," says Setareh, who never takes off her chador. "Ali insists I wear one, just as he likes me to devote myself to housework." Giving pleasure without being able to feel it - "I was warned" - Setareh is perfectly reconciled to her lot.

With one eye glued to a religious chat show, Magnaz, the mother of 20-year-old transexual Athena Javaheri recalls: "At first we thought this odd idea of dressing as a woman came from his grandmother who loved dressing him up as a girl and getting him to dance."

Now, she says her main concern is whether her former son will be able to give her any grandchildren.

Athena has torn all the pictures of her as a little boy out of the family album. In the photographs from the 1960s, her father Hussein, who is 52 now, looks like Jim Morrison. Twenty five years of revolution, however, have made him a conventional man who doesn't let Athena go out without a chador.

"I couldn't accept it," he says, "my only son! I beat him until he tried to commit suicide. Then the doctors had to explain to me that he wasn't homosexual before I would agree to the operation."

According to some transexuals, their legal status in Iranian society has prompted hundreds of gay Iranians to apply for permission for sex-changes, which, if granted, would allow them to continue their relationship without fear of arrest. "The best psychiatrists don't make any distinction between a transexual and a homosexual," claims Amin.
"So, if you're a woman, you just have to go the chemist and inject yourself with testosterone to obtain a permit to be operated on. Many women then have a bit of breast reduction to be able to indulge their deviancy. When they get arrested, the permit is a big help."

But legal recognition is not the same as social acceptance. Transexuals in Iran continue to suffer not just ostracism, but physical attacks. For every happily assimilated Milad and Athena, there are newly made men and women on the streets of Tehran who can never reveal the truth that lies behind their chador or business suit.

November 22nd, 2005, 05:39 PM
More Gay Executions in Iran

Nov. 22, 2005

Two more men have reportedly been publicly executed in Iran this week, accused under religious “Sharia” law of homosexual acts. This is the second set of gay executions this year in the Islamic nation, and international human rights groups are outraged.

According to the Sharia-based penal code used in a number of Islamic nations, all penetrative sex acts between men are punished with the death penalty, with non-penetrative sex acts between men punishable with lashes, until the fourth offence which is punished with death. Sex acts between women are punished with lashings until the fourth offence as well, when they are also sentenced to death.

Human Rights Watch LGBT spokesperson claims “the Iranian government’s persecution of gay men flouts international human rights standards,” calling Iran to recognise people’s right to privacy and freedom from discrimination under international human rights laws.

Earlier this year the international media was alerted of the public execution of two young men in Iran, also for engaging in gay sex acts. This launched a series of global protests, and many countries officially condemned the Iranian government’s alleged actions.

December 8th, 2005, 01:53 PM
Iran's president questions Holocaust

Thu Dec 8, 2005
By Paul Hughes


TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday expressed doubt that the Holocaust occurred and suggested Israel be moved to Europe.

His comments, reported by Iran's official IRNA news agency from a news conference he gave in the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca, follow his call in October for Israel to be "wiped off the map", which sparked widespread international condemnation.

"Some European countries insist on saying that Hitler killed millions of innocent Jews in furnaces and they insist on it to the extent that if anyone proves something contrary to that they condemn that person and throw them in jail," IRNA quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.

"Although we don't accept this claim, if we suppose it is true, our question for the Europeans is: is the killing of innocent Jewish people by Hitler the reason for their support to the occupiers of Jerusalem?" he said.

"If the Europeans are honest they should give some of their provinces in Europe -- like in Germany, Austria or other countries -- to the Zionists and the Zionists can establish their state in Europe. You offer part of Europe and we will support it."

Historians say six million Jews were killed in the Nazi Holocaust.
Ahmadinejad's remarks drew swift rebukes from Israel and Washington.

Raanan Gissin, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said in Tel Aviv that Ahmadinejad was voicing "the consensus that exists in many circles in the Arab world that the Jewish people ... do not have the right to establish a Jewish, democratic state in their ancestral homeland".

"Just to remind Mr. Ahmadinejad, we've been here long before his ancestors were here," Gissin said. "Therefore, we have a birthright to be here in the land of our forefathers and to live here. Thank God we have the capability to deter and to prevent such a statement from becoming a reality."

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said: "It just further underscores our concerns about the regime in Iran and it's all the more reason why it's so important that the regime not have the ability to develop nuclear weapons."


Religious hardliners in Iran do not publicly deny the Holocaust occurred but say its scale has been exaggerated to justify the creation of Israel and continued Western support for it.

Close allies when Iran was ruled by the U.S.-backed Shah, Iran and Israel have become implacable foes since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.

Israel accuses Iran of giving arms and funding to militant Palestinian groups such as Islamic Jihad and of building nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charges.

Tehran calls Israel a "terrorist state" and has developed missiles which can reach it. It says it would use them if Israel, itself believed to be nuclear-armed, tried to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities.

Earlier in his remarks, the Iranian president, a former Revolutionary Guardsman who won a surprise election victory in June, said:

"The question is, where do those who rule in Palestine as occupiers come from? Where were they born? Where did their fathers live? They have no roots in Palestine but they have taken the fate of Palestine in their hands.

"Isn't the right to national self-determination one of the principles of the United Nations charter? Why do they deprive Palestinians of this right?"

Jews trace their roots in Israel back to Biblical times.

Ahmadinejad concluded his remarks by reiterating Iran's proposal that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be resolved via a referendum of all the inhabitants of Israel, Gaza and the West Bank as well as Palestinian refugees in neighboring countries.

"Whatever they decide will be accepted by all humanity. This is a clear democratic solution which is based on international principles," he said.

(Additional reporting by Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem)

© Reuters 2005.

December 12th, 2005, 10:31 AM
Threaten to violate the world's peace and security. I won't be surprise to see Israel or the US act against the Iranians' nuke targets.

December 12th, 2005, 05:54 PM
Russia and China have cozied up and provided Iran with enough defense systems to ensure that any attack is answered in kind. All parties will think twice.

December 12th, 2005, 06:17 PM
Another shithole stuck in the Middle Ages.

TLOZ Link5
December 12th, 2005, 07:40 PM
Another shithole stuck in the Middle Ages.

And a favorite cross of the neocons to nail the Democrats to. The GOP's knowledge of Iranian history doesn't extend far beyond 1979 and the Teheran hostage situation; if they looked 26 years in the past they'd know that under Eisenhower, a Republican, the U.S. and British organized a coup which ousted the fairly-elected Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadeq, because he was planning to nationalize the Iranian oil industry. The coup returned the hated Shah Pahlavi to the throne nine years after his abdication. The Islamic Republic's hostility towards us now is a direct result of our support of the Shah, which began under the Republicans.

December 12th, 2005, 08:02 PM
knowledge of Iranian history ... under Eisenhower, a Republican, the U.S. and British organized a coup which ousted the fairly-elected Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadeq, because he was planning to nationalize the Iranian oil industry.
Shades of SYRIANA (very disturbing) :




December 12th, 2005, 08:12 PM
Oil Change http://www.participate.net/files/oilchange-square.jpg


A campaign to reduce our dependence on oil
Inspired by the film Syriana

Oil addiction.
It saps America's economic strength, pollutes our environment, and jeopardizes national security.
Breaking that addiction begins with the choices we make as individuals.

Instead of oil dependence, let’s choose Oil Change!

Learn more... (http://www.participate.net/oilchange/issue)

About the film (http://syrianamovie.warnerbros.com/)
http://www.participate.net/files/nrdc-onblack_2.gif (http://www.participate.net/partners/28#n433)
http://www.participate.net/files/sierraclub-onblack_0.gif (http://www.participate.net/partners/28#n441)

December 20th, 2005, 01:36 AM
Iran's president bans Western music

BY NASSER KARIMI - Associated Press

December 19, 2005
URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/24680

TEHRAN, Iran - Hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has banned Western music from Iran's radio and TV stations, reviving one of the harshest cultural decrees from the early days of 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Songs such as George Michael's "Careless Whisper," Eric Clapton's "Rush" and the Eagles' "Hotel California" have regularly accompanied Iranian broadcasts, as do tunes by saxophonist Kenny G.

But the official IRAN Persian daily reported Monday that Ahmadinejad, as head of Iran's Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council, ordered the enactment of an October ruling by the council to ban Western music.

"Blocking indecent and Western music from the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting is required," according to a statement on the council's official Web site.

Ahmadinejad's order means the IRIB must execute the decree and prepare a report on its implementation within six months, according to the newspaper.

"This is terrible," said Iranian guitarist Babak Riahipour, whose music was played occasionally on state radio and TV. "The decision shows a lack of knowledge and experience."

Music was outlawed as un-Islamic by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini soon after the revolution. But as the fervor of the revolution started to fade, light classical music was allowed on radio and television. Some public concerts reappeared in the late 1980s.

Western music, films and clothing are widely available in Iran, and hip-hop can be heard on Tehran's streets, blaring from car speakers or from music shops. Bootleg videos and DVDs of films banned by the state are widely available in the black market.

Following eight years of reformist-led rule in Iran, Ahmadinejad won office in August on a platform of reverting to ultraconservative principles promoted by the revolution.

Since then, Ahmadinejad has jettisoned Iran's moderation in foreign policy and pursued a purge in the government, replacing pragmatic veterans with former military commanders and inexperienced religious hard-liners.

He also has issued stinging criticisms of Israel, called for the Jewish state to be "wiped off the map" and described the Nazi Holocaust as a "myth."

International concerns are high over Iran's nuclear program, with the United States accusing Tehran of pursuing an atomic weapons program. Iran denies the claims.

During his presidential campaign, Ahmadinejad also promised to confront what he called the Western cultural invasion and promote Islamic values.

The latest media ban also includes censorship of content of films.

"Supervision of content from films, TV series and their voice-overs is emphasized in order to support spiritual cinema and to eliminate trite and violence," the council said in a statement on its Web site explaining its October ruling.

The council has also issued a ban on foreign movies that promote "arrogant powers," an apparent reference to the United States.

Hotel California?

December 20th, 2005, 08:46 AM
December 20, 2005

Iranian's Oratory Reflects Devotion to '79 Revolution


TEHRAN, Dec. 19 - The morning after the ultra-conservative mayor of Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was elected president in June, he made a pilgrimage to the tomb of the father of the Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, an act that appears to have foreshadowed exactly how the president-elect planned to lead his country.

"The path of the imam is the absolute path of the Islamic republic," Mr. Ahmadinejad said then. "He was the founder of the revolution. He is the reference of the revolution."

And so, it should not have been a surprise when he quoted Ayatollah Khomeini and called for Israel "to be wiped off the map," then labeled the Holocaust a legend that was the fault of Europeans, and said Israel should therefore be moved to Europe.

Since taking office, Mr. Ahmadinejad has had numerous problems, failing to deliver on his message of economic populism and to solidify the support of the conservatives who elected him, and of the clerics who supported him.

But he has worked aggressively to roll the clock back to the early days of the revolution. He has moved to erase the changes, especially in foreign policy, which evolved over eight years of rule by President Mohammad Khatami, seeking national unity through international isolation.

It is in this context, political analysts said, that the new president's comments about Israel should be viewed. The remarks coincided with the firing of 40 ambassadors and diplomats, most of whom supported some degree of improved ties with the West; with the removal of reform-minded provincial governors, and with the replacement of pragmatists on Iran's nuclear negotiating team with members who hewed to the president's thinking.

But it was the comments on Israel that set off the greatest outcry abroad, in part because they came as American and European suspicions deepened that Iran was trying to build nuclear weapons. While the Iranians have insisted that their nuclear program is geared toward energy, not weapons, there have been some signals that Iran feels it would be easier to move ahead if it were an international pariah, like North Korea. And what better way to achieve pariah status in the West than to call for the obliteration of Israel?

Ali Larijani, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, implicitly supported the North Korean model at a news conference in September when he said the international community should learn a lesson from its approach in that conflict. "What was the result of such tough policies?" he asked. "After two years they ended up accepting its program, so you should accept ours right now."

The anti-Israeli oratory also has roots in the president's domestic standing.

Again, it is useful to examine Ayatollah Khomeini's approach. When he took over after the shah fell in 1979, the nation did not unify right away behind clerical rule. It was only after Iraq, led by Saddam Hussein, attacked in 1980 that real unity occurred.

Some Iranian analysts say that by increasing the world's hostility, Mr. Ahmadinejad is hoping to reproduce that sense of internal unity.

Iranian analysts say he is also trying to satisfy, and perhaps distract, supporters who have begun to feel disappointed that he has not provided financial relief. Throughout his campaign, Mr. Ahmadinejad promised to try to redistribute the nation's vast oil wealth.

"His comments are more for domestic consumption," said Saeed Laylaz, an Iranian political analyst. "He wants to control the domestic situation through isolating Iran. Then he can suppress the voices inside the country and control the situation."

The harsh oratory has emerged as a bit of a surprise because Iranians have grown accustomed to more diplomatic language.

"The issue of Palestine and Israel has been one of the pillars of the revolution," said Mohammad Atrianfar, director of the daily newspaper Shargh and a close supporter of a former president, Ali Akhbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who lost the election to Mr. Ahmadinejad. "If anyone criticizes what he has said, it will sound like questioning one of the major issues of the early days of the revolution. However, Iran has been able to adopt a political language after 25 years which is acceptable to the international community's diplomatic language, without quitting those values."

Mr. Ahmadinejad was elected primarily because he was viewed as anti-establishment, a layman and a successful administrator who helped improve the workings of sprawling Tehran, home to some 20 million people. But it was also his call for justice - primarily economic justice - that resonated with a population angered by a perception that it had been denied the benefit of the oil wealth.

But even among his supporters, there was concern that the new president had no foreign policy background or experience navigating the larger political shoals of Iran. Since taking office, he has failed to win the support - or admiration - of those who opposed him.

With Iran facing a raft of problems - widespread unemployment, collapse of rural life as more people head to the cities, and a general sense of drift among the young - Mr. Ahmadinejad's comments on Israel have drawn little domestic attention.

"Inside the country we see two different reactions," said Mahmoud Shamsolvaezin, a journalist and political analyst. "Society and those who voted for him do not care much about his political beliefs and are waiting for his economic promises to be delivered. On the other hand, we see a clear indifference among the political elite. It seems that they do not care about what he says unless he is jeopardizing our national security."

There has been little discussion in Iran of the new president's actions, in part because he appears to retain the support of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. But many people - including supporters of the president - have tried to soften the edges of what he has said.

"I don't think there is anything new in what Ahmadinejad said," said Mosayeb Naimi, editor of Al Vefagh/Al Wefaq, an Arabic daily published by the official Islamic Republic News Agency. "He expressed his view on historical events. The Holocaust is a historical event; either it took place or it didn't. If it didn't take place, then it is a fabrication. If it did, it wasn't the Arabs who did it; it was the Europeans. Why then should the Palestinians pay the price of what the Europeans did against the Jews?"

Western Music Is Banned

TEHRAN, Dec. 19 (AP) - President Ahmadinejad has banned Western music from Iran's radio and television stations, reviving a cultural decree from the early days of the 1979 revolution.

Songs like George Michael's "Careless Whisper," Eric Clapton's "Rush" and the Eagles' "Hotel California" have regularly accompanied Iranian broadcasts, as do tunes by the saxophonist Kenny G.

But the official daily Iran reported Monday that Mr. Ahmadinejad, as the leader of the Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council, ordered the enforcement of a ruling by the council in October to ban Western music.

Music was outlawed as un-Islamic by Ayatollah Khomeini soon after the revolution. But as the fervor of the revolution started to fade, light classical music was allowed on radio and television. Some public concerts reappeared in the late 1980's.

Nazila Fathi reportedfrom Tehran for this article, and Michael Slackman from Cairo. Mona el-Naggar contributed reporting from Cairo.

* Copyright 2005The New York Times Company

January 11th, 2006, 08:52 AM
January 11, 2006

Iranians Reopen Nuclear Centers


WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 - Iran broke open internationally monitored seals on at least three of its nuclear facilities on Tuesday, clearing the way for uranium enrichment activities that Europeans and Americans say are a crucial step toward making a nuclear weapon.

The Iranians said the step was only for research on enriching uranium, and outside experts said Iran was still years away from producing enough fuel for a bomb.

But the United States and its European allies condemned the action and stepped up a campaign to persuade the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency to refer Iran to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions, perhaps by the end of the month.

It was unclear whether Russia and China would support a move toward sanctions, even though both called on Iran as recently as this weekend not to resume enrichment. A European diplomat acknowledged that there was still an "obvious reluctance" by the two countries to "gang up on the Iranians."

A senior administration official noted, however, that a Foreign Ministry statement in Moscow declared Tuesday that Russia was "deeply disappointed by Iran's declared decision" and recalled that a Russian envoy had "insistently advised them not to take this step" in a visit to Tehran last weekend.

"For the Russians, this is an angry statement," said the administration official, who did not want to be identified while discussing tactics or strategy, as opposed to settled policy. The official added that American officials would confer with the other Europeans and the Russians in the next few days before deciding what action to take against Iran.

"We view this as a serious escalation on the part of Iran on the nuclear issue," said Sean McCormack, a State Department spokesman. "What you see here is the international community coming out and sending a very clear message to Iran that their behavior is unacceptable."

German, French and British officials joined in assailing the Iranian action. Over the last year, the three nations persuaded the Bush administration to go along with their effort to negotiate with Iran to keep a freeze on activities that Iran says are peaceful but that many Western experts believe are part of a covert weapons program.

The negotiations involved European offers of economic incentives, including the sale of aircraft parts and talks leading to trade preferences. But Iran's action appears to have derailed any such discussions for now.

"The Iranians have behaved so remarkably badly, it's hard to believe that the international community will do anything other than put them in front of the ultimate court of international public opinion," a European diplomat said, referring to the Security Council. "That is where the Iranians are heading." The official did not want to be identified by name or country to preserve a united front with his European colleagues.

President Jacques Chirac of France criticized Iran's action as a grave error, and the new German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said Iran was sending "very, very disastrous signals."

In Tehran, Iranian officials were quoted as saying the actions they were taking involved research activities permitted by the Nonproliferation Treaty, which allows signers to have peaceful nuclear programs as long as they agree to monitoring and do not do anything that could make weapons.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has not charged that Iran is making a bomb, but Iran has concealed its activities from inspectors in a way that has aroused suspicions.

Iran voluntarily suspended some of those activities more than a year ago in an agreement with the three European nations in Paris. Last year, however, it proceeded with the conversion of raw uranium, or yellow cake, into a gas known as uranium hexafluoride, also called UF6.

On Tuesday, the seals placed by the International Atomic Energy Agency were removed at Natanz, Iran, where centrifuges for enrichment of uranium to a higher grade are stored. Iranian officials also removed seals at two related storage and testing locations known as Pars Trash, near Isfahan, and Farayand Technique. The international agency said the seals had covered centrifuge components, manufacturing equipment and two cylinders containing uranium hexafluoride.

Western diplomats said Iran appeared ready to enrich uranium with 164 or more centrifuges, the minimum amount they said was needed for combined use in a "cascade" that could produce highly enriched fuel. The centrifuges spin the gas into a concentrated form that can be used for fuel or weapons.

But other nuclear experts say enriching uranium in centrifuges is an extremely complex undertaking requiring thousands of centrifuges to make enough material for a nuclear bomb. A small "cascade" could help teach the Iranians how to get to that larger goal, some experts say.

While proclaiming its right to enrich uranium as part of its nuclear energy program, Iran has maintained that all its actions are intended for research and not for producing nuclear fuel, even for its energy-related reactors.

"We make a difference between research on nuclear fuel technology and production of nuclear fuel," Muhammad Saeedi, deputy head of Iran's atomic energy organization, was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency.

Last year, the West warned Iran not to convert raw uranium into uranium hexafluoride gas. But when Iran proceeded to do so, the West took no punitive action, instead drawing a new "red line" saying it would invite retaliation if it took the gas and enriched it in centrifuges.

"There's no question that Iran has miscalculated here," the administration official said. "They may have thought that since there have been long and protracted negotiation for two years, there would not be any credible reaction. But this is a big step across a big, bright red line."

American officials also said Iran had insulted Mohamed ElBaradei, the chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency, by removing the seals itself and not waiting for the agency to do it.

Dr. ElBaradei, who has cautiously said there was no evidence of an Iranian weapons program, has also continually called for Iran to disclose all its activities. On Tuesday, he expressed "serious concern" about Iran's action, which he said added to the problem of its "less than full and prompt transparency" in nuclear areas, an agency statement said.

Dr. ElBaradei called on Iran to return to its suspension of activities and to resume its dialogue "with all concerned parties," the agency said.

Two years ago, when the European nations sought to avert a confrontation between Iran and the West by offering incentives for Iran to abandon its nuclear program, many Bush administration officials were openly disdainful of the European effort.

Earlier this year, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice changed course and with President Bush in Europe enthusiastically endorsed the diplomatic efforts. This fall, Mr. Bush also endorsed a separate Russian offer to join with Iran in a Russian-Iranian uranium enrichment facility on Russian soil as an alternative to an Iranian program.

A top Russian envoy, Sergei Kisliak, went to Tehran last weekend to try to promote that offer. But Iran's actions have now served as an apparent rebuff to Russia.

A recurrent concern of the Bush administration relates to North Korea, which was referred to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions because of its nuclear weapons program. The Security Council has not acted, however. American diplomats say they believe that this time, with Russian and Chinese help, there can be a different result.

Steven R. Weisman reported from Washington for this article, and Nazila Fathi from Tehran.

* Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

January 13th, 2006, 02:03 AM
January 13, 2006

Europe Joins U.S. in Urging Action by U.N. on Iran


BERLIN, Jan. 12 - The leading nations of Europe joined with the United States on Thursday to declare an end, for now, to negotiations with Iran over dismantling its suspected nuclear weapons program and to demand that Iran be referred to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions.

The Europeans' announcement was made at a news conference in Berlin two days after the Iranian authorities removed internationally monitored seals on nuclear facilities involved in the enrichment of uranium that Western nations say could be used in a bomb.

"Our talks with Iran have reached a dead end," the German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said at the news conference after meeting here with his French and British counterparts and the European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana. "From our point of view, the time has come for the U.N. Security Council to become involved." Shortly afterward, in an apparently orchestrated response, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declared in Washington that the United States fully supported the European action. Iran's actions, she said, "have shattered the basis for negotiation."

But despite the new resolve by the Americans and Europeans, and very probably by Russia and China, on getting Iran to reverse course in the nuclear area, many experts and diplomats say the process of actually coercing that step could take a long time and may never work.

Iran is believed to be years away from making bombs but only a year or two from having the expertise to do so. For its part, the Iranian government has insisted that its nuclear program is only for peaceful commercial purposes.

Many Western experts say that its government appears determined to press ahead even if sanctions are imposed and the country becomes isolated diplomatically. There is no sign that leading nations are ready to cut off oil purchases, because such a step would send oil prices rocketing, possibly damaging the world economy.

American and European diplomats said, however, that several days of intense diplomacy had convinced them that Russia and China would join in a growing consensus that the International Atomic Energy Agency board, comprising 35 countries, should refer the matter of Iran to the Security Council, if only to register a nearly worldwide condemnation of the Tehran government.

A senior State Department official in Washington said that Russia had indicated that it would not oppose a referral at the board but that the West was trying to get Russia to go further and vote yes. On Thursday, Ms. Rice spoke about this matter to the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, as she had done earlier in the week. Mr. Lavrov said in Moscow that Russia was putting a heavy premium on Iran's compliance with international regulations on nuclear development.

"Iran has removed the seals from a uranium enrichment plant and therefore urgent consultations are needed," Mr. Lavrov said, according to the Interfax news agency.

The senior State Department official said, "I'm not saying that Russia is in the yes column, but they're moving in that direction." If Russia abstains on a referral or even votes yes, American and European diplomats say, China will probably go along and there will be a greater chance for approval of an anti-Iran measure by India, Brazil and other so-called nonaligned members of the atomic energy agency board.

The move toward referral to the Security Council did not necessarily mean that the Council itself would impose penalties without giving negotiations still another chance to resolve the matter, several diplomats said. An initial action simply condemning Iran and calling on it to change its behavior, with the threat of punishment in the background, appeared the most probable step once the matter gets to the Council.

"We've always said that going to the Security Council is not an end in itself and did not signal an end to negotiations," said Robert Joseph, under secretary of state for arms control and international security. "Going to the Council provides a menu of options that can be used to try to get Iran to reverse course."

The campaign to raise pressure on Iran involved telephone calls from Ms. Rice and her top aides and plans for an extraordinary meeting on Monday in London of senior envoys from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia.

American officials said this meeting would be focused on a strategy for a resolution aimed at referring the matter to the Security Council, to be adopted at an emergency meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency board as early as later this month. American and European officials said they were prepared to be flexible on both the timing of the resolution and its wording, to get a maximum number of countries on board.

There remained concern among some Western diplomats that while Russia and China seemed willing to abstain in a resolution of referral to the Security Council, they could demand delays or watered-down wording changes that would undercut the effort.

The possibility of more negotiations with Iran, perhaps soon, was raised again, however, by the United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, who said Thursday evening that he had spoken earlier in the day to Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, to head off a looming confrontation.

Iran was still interested in "serious and constructive negotiations," Mr. Annan said, adding that the only viable solution to the dispute with Iran was "a negotiated one."

But American and European diplomats saw little prospect of any talks with Iran soon, at least not unless Iran took major steps to back away from a confrontation, like returning to its suspension of the conversion of raw uranium into a gas, and the enrichment of that gas into a concentrated form that could eventually be used for nuclear fuel or a bomb.

For two years, the United States has repeatedly declared that after many instances of Iran failing to disclose its nuclear activities to international inspectors, its conduct should be subject to condemnation or sanctions at the Security Council. But until this week, the United States' major European allies have declined to endorse that step.

Only after allowing the Europeans to negotiate with Iran and to offer possible incentives for suspending its activities, and encouraging Russia to make a separate offer to operate a joint uranium enrichment program on Russian soil, has the United States brought these partners around to more overt pressure.

In Tehran, officials expressed anger at the Europeans even before they announced their plans to turn to the Security Council. "Colonial taboos" will not keep Iran from developing its nuclear abilities, the former president, Hashemi Rafsanjani, told the state-run radio. Mr. Rafsanjani, who now heads the powerful Expediency Council, also said that the standoff with the West "has reached its climax," according to an Associated Press report from Tehran.

Iran has repeatedly maintained that it has the right to develop nuclear fuel on its own soil, but the West argues that it has forfeited that right by its habit of concealing its activities.

Richard Bernstein reported from Berlin for this article, and Steven R. Weismanfrom Washington.

* Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

January 13th, 2006, 11:47 AM
All of the Nuclear powers sanctioning a non-nuclear power for wanting to pursue nuclear power (both as an energy source and a military deterrent). Isn't that rather hypocritical.

January 13th, 2006, 12:17 PM
I suppose it has to do with the specifics of the Iranian government. They weren't nearly so hypocritical with India for instance.

January 13th, 2006, 02:37 PM
I suppose it has to do with the specifics of the Iranian government. They weren't nearly so hypocritical with India for instance.

That was more like:

US: "INDIA! You are NOT allowed to do anything with Nuclear Materials, you re forbid....what? You already have nuclear materials?

Well then, you can't.....excuse me? You have nuclear weapons too? Well.....DON'T USE THEM!!!!!!'

Pakistan: "Excuse me..."

US: "What do you..... Oh crap...."

January 13th, 2006, 04:17 PM
lol !! so true.

January 15th, 2006, 01:22 AM
Ahmadinejad should talk this over with Pat: http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=68434&postcount=16

'Divine mission' driving Iran's new leader

By Anton La Guardia
The Telegraph
(Filed: 14/01/2006)


As Iran rushes towards confrontation with the world over its nuclear programme, the question uppermost in the mind of western leaders is "What is moving its President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to such recklessness?"

Political analysts point to the fact that Iran feels strong because of high oil prices, while America has been weakened by the insurgency in Iraq.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

But listen carefully to the utterances of Mr Ahmadinejad - recently described by President George W Bush as an "odd man" - and there is another dimension, a religious messianism that, some suspect, is giving the Iranian leader a dangerous sense of divine mission.

In November, the country was startled by a video showing Mr Ahmadinejad telling a cleric that he had felt the hand of God entrancing world leaders as he delivered a speech to the UN General Assembly last September.

When an aircraft crashed in Teheran last month, killing 108 people, Mr Ahmadinejad promised an investigation. But he also thanked the dead, saying: "What is important is that they have shown the way to martyrdom which we must follow."

The most remarkable aspect of Mr Ahmadinejad's piety is his devotion to the Hidden Imam, the Messiah-like figure of Shia Islam, and the president's belief that his government must prepare the country for his return.

One of the first acts of Mr Ahmadinejad's government was to donate about £10 million to the Jamkaran mosque, a popular pilgrimage site where the pious come to drop messages to the Hidden Imam into a holy well.

All streams of Islam believe in a divine saviour, known as the Mahdi, who will appear at the End of Days. A common rumour - denied by the government but widely believed - is that Mr Ahmadinejad and his cabinet have signed a "contract" pledging themselves to work for the return of the Mahdi and sent it to Jamkaran.

Iran's dominant "Twelver" sect believes this will be Mohammed ibn Hasan, regarded as the 12th Imam, or righteous descendant of the Prophet Mohammad.

He is said to have gone into "occlusion" in the ninth century, at the age of five. His return will be preceded by cosmic chaos, war and bloodshed. After a cataclysmic confrontation with evil and darkness, the Mahdi will lead the world to an era of universal peace.

This is similar to the Christian vision of the Apocalypse. Indeed, the Hidden Imam is expected to return in the company of Jesus.

Mr Ahmadinejad appears to believe that these events are close at hand and that ordinary mortals can influence the divine timetable.

The prospect of such a man obtaining nuclear weapons is worrying. The unspoken question is this: is Mr Ahmadinejad now tempting a clash with the West because he feels safe in the belief of the imminent return of the Hidden Imam?

Worse, might he be trying to provoke chaos in the hope of hastening his reappearance?

The 49-year-old Mr Ahmadinejad, a former top engineering student, member of the Revolutionary Guards and mayor of Teheran, overturned Iranian politics after unexpectedly winning last June's presidential elections.

The main rift is no longer between "reformists" and "hardliners", but between the clerical establishment and Mr Ahmadinejad's brand of revolutionary populism and superstition.

Its most remarkable manifestation came with Mr Ahmadinejad's international debut, his speech to the United Nations.

World leaders had expected a conciliatory proposal to defuse the nuclear crisis after Teheran had restarted another part of its nuclear programme in August.

Instead, they heard the president speak in apocalyptic terms of Iran struggling against an evil West that sought to promote "state terrorism", impose "the logic of the dark ages" and divide the world into "light and dark countries".

The speech ended with the messianic appeal to God to "hasten the emergence of your last repository, the Promised One, that perfect and pure human being, the one that will fill this world with justice and peace".

In a video distributed by an Iranian web site in November, Mr Ahmadinejad described how one of his Iranian colleagues had claimed to have seen a glow of light around the president as he began his speech to the UN.

"I felt it myself too," Mr Ahmadinejad recounts. "I felt that all of a sudden the atmosphere changed there. And for 27-28 minutes all the leaders did not blink…It's not an exaggeration, because I was looking.

"They were astonished, as if a hand held them there and made them sit. It had opened their eyes and ears for the message of the Islamic Republic."

Western officials said the real reason for any open-eyed stares from delegates was that "they couldn't believe what they were hearing from Ahmadinejad".

Their sneaking suspicion is that Iran's president actually relishes a clash with the West in the conviction that it would rekindle the spirit of the Islamic revolution and - who knows - speed up the arrival of the Hidden Imam.

© Copyright (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/portal/main.jhtml;jsessionid=J1EEVJA54M3ZDQFIQMFSFFOAVCBQ 0IV0?view=COPYRIGHT&grid=P9) of Telegraph Group Limited (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/pressoffice/index.jhtml;jsessionid=J1EEVJA54M3ZDQFIQMFSFFOAVCB Q0IV0) 2006.

January 15th, 2006, 01:36 AM
Fill in the blanks with the leader / country / religion / ideas of your choice -- you might find that his type of thinking is more prevalent among various world leaders than we've previously considered ...

'Divine mission' driving ___'s new leader

As ____ rushes towards confrontation with the world over its nuclear programme, the question uppermost in the mind of ___ is "What is moving its President ___ to such recklessness?"

Political analysts point to the fact that ___ feels strong because of high oil prices, while ___ has been weakened by ___ .

But listen carefully to the utterances of Mr ___ - recently described by ___ as an "odd man" - and there is another dimension, a religious messianism that, some suspect, is giving the ___ leader a dangerous sense of divine mission.

In November, the country was startled by a video showing Mr ___ telling ___ that he had felt the hand of God ....

When an aircraft crashed in ___ last month, killing 108 people, Mr ___ ... thanked the dead, saying: "What is important is that they have shown the way to ___ which we must follow."

The most remarkable aspect of Mr ___ 's piety is his devotion to the ___ , the ___ -like figure of ___ , and the president's belief that his government must prepare the country for his return.

One of the first acts of Mr ___ 's government was to donate about £10 million to the ___ , a popular pilgrimage site where the pious come to ___ .

All ___ believe in ___ , known as ___, who will appear at the End of Days. A common rumour - denied by the government but widely believed - is that Mr ___ and his cabinet have signed a "contract" pledging themselves to work for the return of the ___ .

___ 's dominant ___ sect believes this will be ___ , regarded as the ___ , or righteous descendant of the ___ .

This is similar to the ___ vision of the ___ ... Indeed, ___ is expected to return in the company of ___ .

Mr ___ appears to believe that these events are close at hand and that ordinary mortals can influence the divine timetable.

The prospect of such a man obtaining nuclear weapons is worrying. The unspoken question is this: is Mr ___ now tempting a clash with ___ because he feels safe in the belief of the imminent return of ___ ?

Worse, might he be trying to provoke chaos in the hope of hastening his reappearance?

January 16th, 2006, 03:29 PM
CNN banned from Iran for nuclear translation gaffe

January 16, 2006

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060116/en_nm/media_iran_cnn_dc&printer=1;_ylt=AnDT_h4DyHP.f0nmQR8oA4vK.nQA;_ylu=X 3oDMTA3MXN1bHE0BHNlYwN0bWE

Iran on Monday banned CNN journalists from working there after the broadcaster misquoted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying Tehran wanted nuclear weapons.

CNN's simultaneous translation of Ahmadinejad's lengthy news conference on Saturday included the phrase "the use of nuclear weapons is Iran's right."

In fact, what the Iranian president said was that "Iran has the right to nuclear energy," the official IRNA news agency reported. CNN later clarified in an apology on Sunday night.

Iran denies any intention of seeking nuclear weapons, saying it wants atomic technology merely for the generation of electricity.

Mohammad Hossein Khoshvaght, director of foreign media at Iran's Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry, welcomed CNN's apology.

"But so far it's not clear whether it was something pre-planned or a mistake," he told state television. "Therefore, we will ban its activities (in Iran) for the timebeing."

He said a restoration of CNN's right to work in Iran would depend on an assessment of the broadcaster's future coverage of the Islamic state.

CNN does not have a permanent bureau in Iran but a local journalist is a contributor to the network and visiting correspondents are occasionally given permission to enter the country on short assignments.

The ban came as CNN's Iranian-born chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour was in Iran to report on the nuclear issue.

Copyright © 2006 Reuters

January 18th, 2006, 08:37 PM
Deal on Iran?

Russia has suggested a deal involving the ‘semi-referral’ of Tehran’s nuke program to the U.N. The question now is whether the proposal is a delaying tactic or a genuine compromise.

By Michael Hirsh

Updated: 5:22 p.m. ET Jan. 18, 2006

Jan. 18, 2006 - Until now, Russia has resisted efforts by the Europeans and Americans to bring the Iranian nuclear issue before the United Nations Security Council. But in recent days Moscow has proposed a compromise that would allow the escalating confrontation to be referred to the Security Council in a two-stage process, Javier Solana, the foreign policy chief for the European Union, told NEWSWEEK in an interview today.

In contrast to the unified European-American position, which demands a swift referral and possible vote on sanctions against Iran, the Russian proposal calls for two separate Security Council meetings to be scheduled. The Russians are asking that the International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors, at a planned Feb. 2 emergency meeting, hold a vote on referring the Iran nuclear issue to the U.N. Security Council, but initially only for debate and consultation with IAEA Director Mohamed ElBaradei.

Moscow then wants the issue referred back to the IAEA Board of Governors for a second vote. If the Iranians are still refusing to comply with an agreement to suspend their nuclear program, the matter would be sent it back to the Security Council, presumably for sanctions.

Solana—who spoke to NEWSWEEK shortly before meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington—called the Russian proposal a “semi-referral to the United Nations.” He added that that the Americans and Europeans were still united in pushing for a single Security Council session but that Moscow's plan might be acceptable. “We have to have a guarantee that the matter would be referred back to the Security Council” a second time, he said. Meanwhile Britain, Germany and France, the so-called EU-3, circulated a separate draft resolution Wednesday calling for the board of governors to bring the nuclear issue immediately to the Security Council.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, asked about the Russian proposal, would not comment directly. "We know we have the votes to go to the Security Council and other questions are a matter for ongoing diplomacy and discussion," he said.

The Russians are seeking two separate Security Council sessions in an apparent bid to gain more time to persuade the Iranians to agree on a compromise proposal to conduct uranium enrichment in Russia, under Moscow’s supervision. Even the Americans have expressed conditional approval of the Russian enrichment plan, which might provide a way to ensure that Iranian enriched uranium is not used for nuclear bombs.

The plan for double Security Council sessions was proposed in Moscow by Russian President Vladimir Putin to visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday. It was repeated in a meeting of the permanent, veto-bearing members of the Security Council—the United States, Russia, France, Britain and China—in London that same day.

The meeting came after Tehran broke the seals on its Natanz uranium research facility last week in defiance of a two-and-a-half-year-old freeze negotiated with the EU-3. “The Russians and Chinese agree with us that a red line has been crossed” said a European diplomat who is involved in the talks. “But we don’t agree on anything else.”

Russia has an extensive trade relationship with Iran and is the main supplier of its civilian nuclear program, which Tehran insists is only for energy purposes. Moscow is also selling air-defense missiles to Tehran. Some Western officials expressed a concern that Russia, seeking to protect those commercial and strategic interests, is simply trying to string out the nuclear talks so that no sanctions can be applied.

One Western diplomat who is leery of the Russian proposal said that Iran shares the same goal of endlessly drawing out the talks. That’s one reason Tehran again proposed new talks with the EU-3 this week, he believes. “It’s two steps forward, one step back,” said the Western diplomat, who declined to be further identified. “They want the negotiation option to remain. They want to split the coalition here so it’s the P2 versus the P3”—in other words, two of the permanent Security Council members, Russia and China, versus the three other permanent members, the United States, France and Britain.

Even so, Moscow may have reason to think that its plans both for a two-stage U.N. referral and a Russian-based enrichment program could become an acceptable middle ground. Two senior-level Iranian officials, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, and chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, have both indicated in recent days that the enrichment plan was worth discussing, even as other Iranian hardliners have insisted on the nation’s right to enrichment on its own soil. In a phone call Friday, Larijani also told ElBaradei that Iran is determined to realize its nuclear goals "in the framework of international regulations and under the supervision of the IAEA."

What this means is that, with talks over Iran’s nuclear ambitions moving into what Rice calls a “new diplomatic phase,” the key players may no longer be the Europeans and the Americans. They are now the Russians and the Chinese, which have the power to put real teeth into the isolation policy that the Europeans and Americans seek to impose on Tehran.

To a certain degree, the threat of long-term diplomatic isolation of Iran has now become the West’s central strategy, and the threat of sanctions has become secondary. In part that is because of Russian and Chinese resistance to sanctions. But it is also because the Europeans and Americans can’t decide on what kind of sanctions might be applied. Some Western officials fear that if the West and Japan withhold oil and gas technology—a possible sanction that could affect Iran’s still-second-rate energy sector—China would end up reaping the benefit.

The Russian proposal for a first round of debate and consultation at the Security Council, if accepted by all sides, could also be a way of tempering Iran’s threat to end all voluntary cooperation with the IAEA if the nuclear issue is referred to the U.N.

Iran, meanwhile, has not gone further than breaking the seals at Natanz, intelligence and IAEA officials say. It has not begun even small-scale enrichment. ElBaradei, in an interview with NEWSWEEK last week, indicated that the final deadline for Iranian compliance is March 6. On that date, at a regularly scheduled IAEA Board of Governors meeting, he will deliver a report on whether he believes Iran’s program is peaceful or not.

In some ways, the Russian proposal echoes the late stages of negotiation over the Iraq war, when France and Germany—who were then on the same side as the Russians—sought to have a second Security Council vote on Saddam Hussein’s noncompliance, while the Bush administration insisted that one vote was enough. This time, France and Germany are standing firm with Washington, and the Russians and Chinese are pushing for a more prolonged process.

Until now, the Americans have resisted any delays in sending the Iran matter to the Security Council. Washington had originally wanted an emergency IAEA meeting this week, and immediate referral to the Security Council, but was forced by the EU-3 to wait for Feb. 2. Even so, the harder-line Americans still have some wiggle room, because both Russia and China have indicated they are unlikely to veto sanctions if and when the issue does come before the Security Council.
© 2006 Newsweek, Inc.

© 2006 MSNBC.com

URL: http://msnbc.msn.com/id/10912518/site/newsweek/

January 22nd, 2006, 10:51 AM
Israeli Hints at Preparation to Stop Iran

Associated Press Writer
Sun Jan 22, 1:22 AM ET

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060122/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iran_nuclear;_ylt=Ass.AE9a.KUxNM4mW6OCaqhI2ocA;_yl u=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl

Israel's defense minister hinted Saturday that the Jewish state is preparing for military action to stop Iran's nuclear program, but said international diplomacy must be the first course of action.

"Israel will not be able to accept an Iranian nuclear capability and it must have the capability to defend itself, with all that that implies, and this we are preparing," Shaul Mofaz said.

His comments at an academic conference stopped short of overtly threatening a military strike but were likely to add to growing tensions with Iran.

Germany's defense minister said in an interview published Saturday that he is hopeful of a diplomatic solution to the impasse over Iran's nuclear program, but argued that "all options" should remain open.

Asked by the Bild am Sonntag weekly whether the threat of a military solution should remain in place, Franz Josef Jung was quoted as responding: "Yes, we need all options."

French President Jacques Chirac said Thursday that France could respond with nuclear weapons against any state-sponsored terrorist attack.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said Saturday that Chirac's threats reflect the true intentions of nuclear nations, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

"The French president uncovered the covert intentions of nuclear powers in using this lever (nuclear weapons) to determine political games," IRNA quoted Asefi as saying.

Israel long has identified Iran as its biggest threat and accuses Tehran of pursuing nuclear weapons. Iran says its atomic program is peaceful.

Iran broke U.N. seals at a uranium enrichment plant Jan. 10 and said it was resuming nuclear research after a 2 1/2-year freeze. Germany, France and Britain said two days later that talks aimed at halting Iran's nuclear progress were at a dead end and called for Iran's referral to the U.N. Security Council.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, will meet Feb. 2 to discuss possible referral.

Israel's Mofaz said sanctions and international oversight of Iran's nuclear program stood as the "correct policy at this time."

In Germany, Jung called himself "confident that there will be a diplomatic solution in the case of Iran."

Israeli leaders have also repeatedly said they hope the crisis can be resolved through diplomacy, and they said any military action would have to be part of an international effort. They have denied having plans for a unilateral preventive strike.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Tehran might still agree to Moscow's offer to move its uranium enrichment program to Russia, a step backed by the United States and Europeans as a way to resolve the deadlock.

Israel's concerns about Iran have grown since the election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who said last year that Israel should be "wiped off the map."

On Friday, Iran's Students News Agency reported Friday that Central Bank governor Ebrahim Sheibani said Iran had begun moving its foreign currency reserves from European banks and transferring them to an undisclosed location as protection against possible U.N. sanctions.

Sheibani backed away Saturday from his statement that the transfers were already underway, and Iran's Central Bank said there had been no change in its currency policy.

Estimates put Iranian funds in Europe at as much as $50 billion.
Associated Press writers Nasser Karimi and Ali Akbar Dareini in Tehran and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press.

January 22nd, 2006, 08:08 PM
I've noticed how much my personal view of Israel has evolved over the years. They have gone, in my eyes, from a nation under imminent threat to a nation of aggression, acting on the knowledge and precedent that the U.S. will not block them or criticize them in the U.N. or on the world stage, whatever their course of action.

I look at countrie like Venezuala and Iran and, of course, I hear the implied challenge U.S. supremacy and threats against US intervention. However, when considering the populations of those countries and the world we live in, those leaders are saying and doing exactly what I would want them to do if I were a citizen of either of those countries.

January 22nd, 2006, 11:27 PM
Hypothetically accepting the premise that the behavior of the Iranian government has evolved to its present condition due to the constant pressure from external forces...

I find it odd that the Israeli government is not afforded the same consideration, that somehow they alone must remain true to their founding principles, and not react to external forces.

Only two countries, Egypt and Jordan, have diplomatic relations with Israel. If any of the other governments made a statement that they would like to pursue diplomatic ties, I'm sure the answer would be, "Where would you like to meet?"

Is there any chance the reverse would be true?

To my knowledge, Israel has never advocated that any nationality in the Middle East be sent to Europe.

February 12th, 2006, 02:54 PM
US prepares military blitz against Iran's nuclear sites

By Philip Sherwell in Washington
Feb. 12, 2006


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/graphics/2006/02/12/wiran12abig.jpg;jsessionid=N1Q0CV20JYDIFQFIQMFCFFW AVCBQYIV0

Strategists at the Pentagon are drawing up plans for devastating bombing raids backed by submarine-launched ballistic missile attacks against Iran's nuclear sites as a "last resort" to block Teheran's efforts to develop an atomic bomb.

Central Command and Strategic Command planners are identifying targets, assessing weapon-loads and working on logistics for an operation, the Sunday Telegraph has learnt.

They are reporting to the office of Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, as America updates plans for action if the diplomatic offensive fails to thwart the Islamic republic's nuclear bomb ambitions. Teheran claims that it is developing only a civilian energy programme.

"This is more than just the standard military contingency assessment," said a senior Pentagon adviser. "This has taken on much greater urgency in recent months."

The prospect of military action could put Washington at odds with Britain which fears that an attack would spark violence across the Middle East, reprisals in the West and may not cripple Teheran's nuclear programme. But the steady flow of disclosures about Iran's secret nuclear operations and the virulent anti-Israeli threats of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has prompted the fresh assessment of military options by Washington. The most likely strategy would involve aerial bombardment by long-distance B2 bombers, each armed with up to 40,000lb of precision weapons, including the latest bunker-busting devices. They would fly from bases in Missouri with mid-air refuelling.

The Bush administration has recently announced plans to add conventional ballistic missiles to the armoury of its nuclear Trident submarines within the next two years. If ready in time, they would also form part of the plan of attack.

Teheran has dispersed its nuclear plants, burying some deep underground, and has recently increased its air defences, but Pentagon planners believe that the raids could seriously set back Iran's nuclear programme.

Iran was last weekend reported to the United Nations Security Council by the International Atomic Energy Agency for its banned nuclear activities. Teheran reacted by announcing that it would resume full-scale uranium enrichment (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=N1Q0CV20JYDIFQFIQMFCFFWAVCBQ YIV0?xml=/news/2006/02/11/wiran11.xml)- producing material that could arm nuclear devices.

The White House says that it wants a diplomatic solution to the stand-off, but President George W Bush has refused to rule out military action and reaffirmed last weekend that Iran's nuclear ambitions "will not be tolerated".

Sen John McCain, the Republican front-runner to succeed Mr Bush in 2008, has advocated military strikes as a last resort. He said recently: "There is only only one thing worse than the United States exercising a military option and that is a nuclear-armed Iran."

Senator Joe Lieberman, a Democrat, has made the same case and Mr Bush is expected to be faced by the decision within two years.

By then, Iran will be close to acquiring the knowledge to make an atomic bomb, although the construction will take longer. The President will not want to be seen as leaving the White House having allowed Iran's ayatollahs to go atomic.

In Teheran yesterday, crowds celebrating the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution chanted "Nuclear technology is our inalienable right" and cheered Mr Ahmadinejad when he said that Iran may reconsider membership of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

He was defiant over possible economic sanctions.

© Copyright (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/portal/main.jhtml;jsessionid=N1Q0CV20JYDIFQFIQMFCFFWAVCBQ YIV0?view=COPYRIGHT&grid=P9) of Telegraph Group Limited (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/pressoffice/index.jhtml;jsessionid=N1Q0CV20JYDIFQFIQMFCFFWAVCB QYIV0) 2006

February 12th, 2006, 04:05 PM
Iran is prepared to retaliate, experts warn

By Bryan Bender, Globe Staff
Boston Globe
February 12, 2006


WASHINGTON -- Iran is prepared to launch attacks using long-range missiles, secret commando units, and terrorist allies planted around the globe in retaliation for any strike on the country's nuclear facilities, according to new US intelligence assessments and military specialists.

US and Israeli officials have not ruled out military action against Iran if diplomacy fails to thwart its nuclear ambitions. Among the options are airstrikes on suspected nuclear installations or covert action to sabotage the Iranian program.

But military and intelligence analysts warn that Iran -- which a recent US intelligence report described as ''more confident and assertive" than it has been since the early days of the 1979 Islamic revolution -- could unleash reprisals across the region, and perhaps even inside the United States, if the hard-line regime came under attack.

''When the Americans or Israelis are thinking about [military force], I hope they will sit down and think about everything the ayatollahs could do to make our lives miserable and what we will do to discourage them," said John Pike, director of the think tank GlobalSecurity.org (http://globalsecurity.org/), referring to Iran's religious leaders.

''There could be a cycle of escalation."

President Bush has said military force should be the last resort in international efforts to deter Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb. Yet Bush has stated unequivocally that the United States would not tolerate an Iranian nuclear arsenal, which the CIA estimates could be in place in three to 10 years. Iran maintains its nuclear program is solely aimed at producing electricity, not weapons.

Israel, which Iran's new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has threatened to annihilate, asserts that Tehran is much closer to going nuclear and has been far more direct with its counter-threats.

The Israel Defense Forces, which destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981, has said it is perfecting ways to launch a preventative strike against Iranian nuclear sites, including outfitting its Air Force with American-made, bunker-busting munitions.

US intelligence officials have said that Iran, which fought a war with Iraq from 1980-1988 that cost one million lives, still has the most threatening armed forces in the immediate region. Its combined ground forces are estimated at about 800,000 personnel. The CIA has concluded that Iran is steadily enhancing its ability to project its military power, including by threatening international shipping.

But it is Iran's unconventional weapons and tactics -- rather than its conventional military -- that would pose the greatest threat, according to the intelligence officials.

Bush's new intelligence chief, John D. Negroponte, outlining the conclusions reached by a variety of US spy agencies, warned in his first overall annual threat assessment this month to Congress that Iran is capable of sparking a much wider conflict it comes under threat.

A major worry: newly acquired long-range missiles. Obtained with the assistance of North Korea, the Shahab 3 could strike Israel and perhaps even hit the periphery of Europe, according to a recent report by the Pentagon's National Air and Space Intelligence Center.

The missiles could also be tipped with chemical warheads and threaten US military bases in the region.

Iran is believed to have at least 20 launchers that are frequently moved around the country to avoid detection.

''Iran has an extensive missile-development program and has received support from entities in Russia, China, and North Korea," the Pentagon report said, estimating their range to be at least 800 miles.

New missile designs under development could travel 400 miles farther, it said, while Iran purchased at least a dozen X-55 cruise missiles from Ukraine in 2001 that are capable of carrying a nuclear warhead as far as Italy.

Meanwhile, Iranian agents and members of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, widely believed to have a large presence in Iraq, could attempt to foment an uprising by the their fellow Shi'ite majority in Iraq or join insurgents in directly attacking US troops there, Negroponte warned.

He reported that Tehran has ''constrained" itself in Iraq because it is generally satisfied with the political trends in favor of the Shi'ite majority and to avoid giving the United States another excuse to attack Iran. But that could change if Iran were targeted militarily.

A leading Shi'ite cleric in Iraq, Moqtada al-Sadr, whose militia has clashed with US troops and rival Shi'ite groups, vowed in a visit to Tehran last month to defend Iran if it were attacked.

The assessment presented by Negroponte said the Iranian regime already provides ''guidance and training" to militant groups in Iraq and ''has been responsible for at least some of the increasing lethality of anticoalition attacks by providing Shia militants with the capability to build" improvised explosive devices.

Government and private analysts assert that Iran's intelligence apparatus and Revolutionary Guard Corps could cause serious damage to US efforts to pacify Iraq.

''The Iranian ayatollahs may deploy an 'asymmetric' answer and incite a Shi'ite rebellion in Iraq," the respected Russian military publication ''Defense and Security," warned last month, referring to a military strategy that employs such tactics as guerrilla warfare. ''That would be disastrous for the United States."

Iran, believed to be responsible for the bombing of a US Air Force barracks in Saudi Arabia in 1996, also would be expected to enlist its terrorist allies around the world to come to its aid if attacked, US officials and private specialists contend.

''Tehran continues to support a number of terrorist groups, viewing this capability as a critical regime safeguard by deterring US and Israeli attacks, distracting and weakening Israel, and enhancing Iran's regional influence through intimidation," according to Negroponte's assessment to Congress.

Primary among them is Hezbollah, the Lebanese terrorist group that killed 241 US Marines when it bombed a Beirut barracks in 1983.

''Lebanese Hezbollah is Iran's main terrorist ally, which . . . has a worldwide support network and is capable of attacks against US interests if it feels its Iranian patron is threatened," according to the report.

''They have all kinds of people that would like to embrace martyrdom," Pike said of Iran, raising the specter that a terrorist group allied with Iran would be capable of launching attacks inside the United States to avenge a strike against Iran.

Intelligence officials also point out that Iran controls a small island at the mouth the Strait of Hormuz and could use missiles and gunboats to temporarily shut off access to the economically vital Persian Gulf, sparking an oil crisis.

''Military attack is not the solution to this problem," Mohammad Mohaddessin, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the leading dissident group, said in a telephone interview from Paris. ''The regime is absolutely focusing on nonconventional responses. Missiles and terrorist operations are the strong points."

© Copyright (http://www.boston.com/help/bostoncom_info/copyright) 2005 The New York Times Company

February 12th, 2006, 11:07 PM
It's incredible that we may see "Armageddon" in our time. It's seems we are marching right into it.

February 13th, 2006, 10:11 PM
Outed CIA officer was working on Iran, intelligence sources say

Larisa Alexandrovna
Raw Story
February 13, 2006


The unmasking of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson by White House officials in 2003 caused significant damage to U.S. national security and its ability to counter nuclear proliferation abroad, RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) has learned.

According to current and former intelligence officials, Plame Wilson, who worked on the clandestine side of the CIA in the Directorate of Operations as a non-official cover (NOC) officer, was part of an operation tracking distribution and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction technology to and from Iran.

Speaking under strict confidentiality, intelligence officials revealed heretofore unreported elements of Plame's work. Their accounts suggest that Plame's outing was more serious than has previously been reported and carries grave implications for U.S. national security and its ability to monitor Iran's burgeoning nuclear program.

While many have speculated that Plame was involved in monitoring the nuclear proliferation black market, specifically the proliferation activities of Pakistan's nuclear "father," A.Q. Khan, intelligence sources say that her team provided only minimal support in that area, focusing almost entirely on Iran.

Plame declined to comment through her husband, Joseph Wilson.

Valerie Plame first became a household name when her identity was disclosed by conservative columnist Robert Novak on July 14, 2003. The column came only a week after her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, had written an op-ed for the New York Times asserting that White House officials twisted pre-war intelligence on Iraq. Her outing was seen as political retaliation for Wilson's criticism of the Administration's claim that Iraq sought uranium from Niger for a nuclear weapons program.

Her case has drawn international attention and resulted in the indictment of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, on five counts of perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements. Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald, who is leading the probe, is still pursuing Deputy Chief of Staff and Special Advisor to President Bush, Karl Rove. His investigation remains open.

The damages

Intelligence sources would not identify the specifics of Plame's work. They did, however, tell RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) that her outing resulted in "severe" damage to her team and significantly hampered the CIA's ability to monitor nuclear proliferation.

Plame's team, they added, would have come in contact with A.Q. Khan's network in the course of her work on Iran.

While Director of Central Intelligence Porter Goss has not submitted a formal damage assessment to Congressional oversight committees, the CIA's Directorate of Operations did conduct a serious and aggressive investigation, sources say.

Intelligence sources familiar with the damage assessment say that what is called a "counter intelligence assessment to agency operations" was conducted on the orders of the CIA's then-Deputy Director of the Directorate of Operations, James Pavitt.

Former CIA counterintelligence officer Larry Johnson believes that such an assessment would have had to be done for the CIA to have referred the case to the Justice Department.

"An exposure like that required an immediate operational and counter intelligence damage assessment," Johnson said. "That was done. The results were written up but not in a form for submission to anyone outside of CIA."

One former counterintelligence official described the CIA's reasons for not seeking Congressional assistance on the matter as follows: "[The CIA Leadership] made a conscious decision not to do a formal inquiry because they knew it might become public," the source said. "They referred it [to the Justice Department] instead because they believed a criminal investigation was needed."

The source described the findings of the assessment as showing "significant damage to operational equities."

Another counterintelligence official, also wishing to remain anonymous due to the nature of the subject matter, described "operational equities" as including both people and agency operations that involve the "cover mechanism," "front companies," and other CIA officers and assets.

Three intelligence officers confirmed that other CIA non-official cover officers were compromised, but did not indicate the number of people operating under non-official cover that were affected or the way in which these individuals were impaired. None of the sources would say whether there were American or foreign casualties as a result of the leak.

Several intelligence officials described the damage in terms of how long it would take for the agency to recover. According to their own assessment, the CIA would be impaired for up to "ten years" in its capacity to adequately monitor nuclear proliferation on the level of efficiency and accuracy it had prior to the White House leak of Plame Wilson's identity.

A.Q. Khan

While Plame's work did not specifically focus on the A.Q. Khan ring, named after Pakistani scientist Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the network and its impact on nuclear proliferation and the region should not be minimized, primarily because the Khan network was the major supplier of WMD technology for Iran.

Dr. Khan instituted the proliferation market (http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/iran/khan-iran.htm) during the 1980s and supplied many countries in the Middle East and elsewhere with uranium enrichment technology, including Libya, Iran and North Korea. Enriched uranium is used to make weaponized nuclear devices.

The United States forced the Pakistan government to dismiss Khan for his proliferation activities in March of 2001, but he remains largely free and acts as an adviser to the Pakistani government.

According to intelligence expert John Pike of GlobalSecurity.org, U.S. officials were not aware of the extent of the proliferation until around the time of Khan's dismissal.

"It slowly dawned on them that the collaboration between Pakistan, North Korea and Iran was an ongoing and serious problem," Pike said. "It was starting to sink in on them that it was one program doing business in three locations and that anything one of these countries had they all had."
After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Pakistan became the United States' chief regional ally in the war on terror.

The revelation that Iran was the focal point of Plame's work raises new questions as to possible other motivating factors in the White House's decision to reveal the identity of a CIA officer working on tracking a WMD supply network to Iran, particularly when the very topic of Iran's possible WMD capability is of such concern to the Administration.

February 22nd, 2006, 10:04 PM
The view from Tehran of the Goldem Dome bombing ...


A new plot to divide Muslims

Tehran Times Political Desk
Feb. 23, 2006


TEHRAN – The serious crime of the terrorists who bombed the holy shrines of the tenth and eleventh Shia Imams, Imam Hadi (AS) and Imam Hassan Askari (AS), on Wednesday in Iraq was an insult to the sanctities of all Muslims.

Undoubtedly, it is a new plot which first of all can be considered as the continuation of the disrespectful move of the European newspapers’ that published cartoons of the Prophet of Islam.

Secondly, the offensive act was meant to create division between Iraqi Shias and Sunnis and ignite a civil war, following the failure of the plans of the occupiers of the country.

This is a critical juncture for the vigilant Islamic world. Shias certainly know that such moves are not the work of their Sunni brothers but are directed by the hands of the enemies of Islam.

Meanwhile, the Sunni brothers should also be aware that the same terrorists who carried out the criminal act in Samarra yesterday will probably attack their holy sites in the future.

In a message on Wednesday, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution noted that any emotional act carried out due to ignorance about the real enemy of Islam, including any attack against sites that are respected by Sunnis, is “haram” (forbidden in Islam) and called on Muslims to foil the enemies’ plots through awareness.

Another issue that should also not be ignored is the fact that the occupier U.S. regime, which has turned Iraq’s security to insecurity with its 150,000 troops and military equipment, is the main element responsible for these criminal acts.

Supreme Leader expresses condolences over bombings of Iraqi Shia shrines

In his message, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei expressed his condolences to Shias and all brave and aware Muslims throughout the world over the bombings earlier in the day of the holy shrines of the tenth and eleventh Shia Imams, Imam Hadi (AS) and Imam Hassan Askari (AS), in Samarra, Iraq.

The Supreme Leader pronounced a week of mourning in Iran over the catastrophic incident. Following are excerpts of his message:

“Evil and criminal hands created a great catastrophe today, committing yet another sin by attacking Islamic religious beliefs.

“The holy shrines of Imam Hadi (AS) and Imam Hassan Askari (AS) were insulted and destroyed, delivering a heavy blow to the Shias and all other Muslims who respect the household of the Prophet Muhammad (S). This criminal act, which was probably carried out by bigoted and ignorant mercenaries, had undoubtedly been planned by conspirators with wicked and diabolical intentions.

“This is a political crime and its roots have to be traced in the intelligence organizations of the Iraqi occupiers and the Zionists. The aggressive powers that perceive the political and social conditions in Iraq as contrary to their objectives devise ominous plans in their heads, some of which to intensify insecurity and create sectarian strife.

“The holy shrines in Samarra will once again rise with even greater magnificence than before through the efforts of those who respect the holy Imams, but this criminal act has left a dark stain on the foreheads of the enemies of Islam and Muslims which will not be wiped off for a long time.

“I hereby call on mourners in Iran, Iraq, and other parts of the world to seriously avoid any measure that would lead to animosity and aggression among Muslim brothers. “Undoubtedly hidden hands are at work to provoke Shias to attack mosques and sites respected by the Sunnis. Any kind of measure to this end is equivalent to supporting the objectives of the enemies of Islam and is haram.”

Ayatollah Sistani appeals for calm

Tens of thousands of people have staged protests across Iraq after the bomb attack heavily damaged one of the holiest sites in Shia Islam, BBC reported.

Dozens of Sunni mosques are reported to have been targeted and six Sunnis killed after the blasts.

Iraq's top Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has appealed for calm and called for a week of mourning.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said the country must work to avoid a civil war.
In a television broadcast, Mr. Talabani, a Sunni Kurd, accused the attackers of trying to sabotage attempts to form a coalition government.

"We must… work together against… the danger of civil war," he said.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack on the shrine, although Iraqi television said several people had been arrested in connection with the bombing.

Following the attack, thousands of demonstrators gathered near the shrine, waving Iraqi flags and calling for justice.

"We demand an investigation so that the criminals who did this will be punished.

"If the government fails to do so, then we will take up arms and chase the people behind this attack," one of the protesters, 28-year-old Mahmoud al-Samarie, was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying.

Western and Muslim leaders alike urged Iraqis to stand back from the precipice of civil war.

"We urge all Iraqis to show restraint in the wake of this tragedy and to pursue justice in accordance with the laws and constitution of Iraq. Violence can only contribute to what the terrorists sought to achieve by this act," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw condemned the bombing as an attempt to spark sectarian violence and sabotage efforts to form a broad-based governing coalition two months after general elections.

"This criminal and sacrilegious act follows a series of recent attacks on innocent Iraqis," Straw said in London.

"It is a blatant and despicable attempt by terrorists to try to ignite civil strife and disrupt the process of forming a new Iraqi government," Straw said. "All of us have to appreciate the scale of the anguish caused by the destruction of the golden dome of this most important and historic Shiite site."

France also denounced the bombing of the shrine where Shias believe their beloved 12th Imam, a messianic figure, disappeared in the 9th century CE.

"France steadfastly condemns the attack this morning in Iraq on the mausoleum of the Imams in Samarra," foreign ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei told reporters.

In Jordan, King Abdullah II warned that the destruction of the mosque "is aimed at sowing and fanning sectarian strife among the Iraqi people".

"What happened is an attempt to disrupt the efforts being made to enhance national unity… rebuild the nation and achieve a prosperous future for Iraq," the king said in a message to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, who is himself a Sunni but rules over a country with a large Shia community, warned the bombing was "meant to divide Muslims between Sunni and Shia with the goal of breaking Iraq's unity and unity among Muslims."

Leading Lebanese Shia cleric Seyyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah accused the United States of deliberately stoking communal tensions in Iraq in a bid to maintain its "occupation".

"The American occupation is trying to keep its grip on Iraq by benefiting from these crimes that she encourages directly or indirectly," Fadlallah said.

Iraqi Shia radical leader Moqtada Sadr, who had been in Beirut on a visit when news of the bombing broke, rushed back to Baghdad, cutting short a regional tour. Sadr has thousands of militiamen under his command in Shia areas of central and southern Iraq.

February 22nd, 2006, 11:10 PM
Another American crime.

March 15th, 2006, 01:24 AM
March 15, 2006

Powerful Voices Within Tehran Criticize Iran's Nuclear Policy


TEHRAN, March 14 — Just weeks ago, the Iranian government's combative approach toward building a nuclear program produced rare public displays of unity here. Now, while the top leaders remain resolute in their course, cracks are opening both inside and outside the circles of power over the issue.

Some people in powerful positions have begun to insist that the confrontational tactics of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have been backfiring, making it harder instead of easier for Iran to develop a nuclear program.

This week, the United Nations Security Council is meeting to take up the Iranian nuclear program. That referral and, perhaps more important, Iran's inability so far to win Russia's unequivocal support for its plans have empowered critics of Mr. Ahmadinejad, according to political analysts with close ties to the government.

One senior Iranian official, who asked to remain anonymous because of the delicate nature of the issue, said: "I tell you, if what they were doing was working, we would say, 'Good.' " But, he added: "For 27 years after the revolution, America wanted to get Iran to the Security Council and America failed. In less than six months, Ahmadinejad did that."

One month ago, the same official had said with a laugh that those who thought the hard-line approach was a bad choice were staying silent because it appeared to be succeeding.

As usual in Iran, there are mixed signals, and the government does not always speak with the same voice.

On Tuesday, both Mr. Ahmadinejad and the nation's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, insisted in public speeches that their country would never back down. At the same time, Iranian negotiators arrived in Moscow to resume talks — at Iran's request — just days after Iran had rejected a Russian proposal to resolve the standoff.

Average Iranians do not seem uniformly confident at the prospect of being hit with United Nations sanctions.

From the streets of Tehran to the ski slopes outside the city, some people have begun to joke about the catch phrase of the government — flippantly saying, "Nuclear energy is our irrefutable right."

Reformers, whose political clout as a movement vanished after the last election, have also begun to speak out. And people with close ties to the government said high-ranking clerics had begun to give criticism of Iran's position to Ayatollah Khamenei, which the political elite sees as a seismic jolt.

"There has been no sign that they will back down," said Ahmad Zeidabady, a political analyst and journalist. "At least Mr. Khamenei has said nothing that we can interpret that there will be change in the policies."

But, he said, "There is more criticism as it is becoming more clear that this policy is not working, especially by those who were in the previous negotiating team."

There are also signs that negotiators are starting to back away, however slightly, from a bare-knuckle strategy and that those who had initially opposed the president's style — but remained silent — are beginning to feel vindicated and are starting to speak up.

A former president, Mohammad Khatami, recently publicly criticized the aggressive approach and called a return to his government's strategy of confidence-building with the west.

"The previous team now feels they were vindicated," said Nasser Hadian, a political science professor at Tehran University who is close to many members of the government. "The new team feels they have to justify their actions."

Ayatollah Khamenei, who has the final say, issued a strong defense of Iran's position on Tuesday.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran considers retreat over the nuclear issue, which is the demand of the Iranian people, as breaking the country's independence that will impose huge costs on the Iranian nation," he said.

"Peaceful use of nuclear technology is a must and is necessary for scientific growth in all fields," Ayatollah Khamenei said. "Any kind of retreat will bring a series of pressures and retreats. So, this is an irreversible path and our foreign diplomacy should defend this right courageously."

In a speech in northern Iran, Mr. Ahmadinejad called on the people to "be angry" at the pressure being put on Iran.

"Listen well," the president said to a crowd chanting "die" as they punched the air with their fists. "A nuclear program is our irrefutable right."

When Mr. Ahmadinejad took office, he embraced a decision already made by the top leadership to move toward confrontation with the West about the nuclear program. From the sidelines, Mr. Ahmadinejad's opponents remained largely silent as his political capital grew.

Iran's ability to begin uranium enrichment, and to remove the seals in January at least three nuclear facilities without any immediate consequences, was initially seen as a validation of the get-tough approach.

But one political scientist who speaks regularly with members of the Foreign Ministry said that Iran had hinged much of its strategy on winning Russia's support. The political scientist asked not to be identified so as not to compromise his relationship with people in the government.

The political scientist said some negotiators believed that by being hostile to the West they would be able to entice Moscow into making Tehran its stronghold in the Middle East. "They thought the turn east was the way forward," the person said. "That was a belief and a vision."

The person added, "They thought, 99 percent, Russia would seize the opportunity and back the Iranian leaders."

The route forward remains unclear as Iran tries to regain a sense of momentum.

There is a consensus here that Iran has many cards to play — from its influence with the Shiites in Iraq to its closer ties to Hezbollah in Lebanon, to the prospect of using oil as a weapon. But the uncertainty of appearing before the Security Council, and the prospect of sanctions, has led some here to begin to rethink the wisdom of fighting the West head-on, analysts said.

Professor Hadian said he believed that for Iran to fundamentally change course the situation for Iran would have to first grow much worse.

"There are concerns to keep the situation calm," said Mr. Zeidabady, the journalist. "We have received orders not even to have headlines saying the case has been sent to the Security Council. Although the situation is very critical, they want to pretend that everything is normal. They do not want to show the country is coming under pressure and lose their supporters."

Nazila Fathi contributed reporting for this article.

* Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

March 17th, 2006, 08:47 AM
March 17, 2006

U.S. and Iranians Agree to Discuss Violence in Iraq


TEHRAN, March 16 — Iran and the United States agreed Thursday to hold direct talks on how to halt sectarian violence and restore calm in Iraq, offering the first face-to-face conversation between the sides after months of confrontation over Iran's nuclear program.

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, announced in Iran's Parliament on Thursday that he would send a team of negotiators to Iraq to meet with American representatives there. But he also suggested in an interview that there would be stiff preconditions.

"I think Iraq is a good testing ground for America to take a harder look at the way it acts," Mr. Larijani said in his office shortly after making the announcement. "If there's a determination in America to take that hard look, then we're prepared to help."

In Washington, the White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, said that American officials would have a "very narrow mandate" in talking to the Iranians, and that direct talks on the nuclear issue would occur only with the major European powers and Russia and China.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in Sydney, Australia, that talks with Iranian envoys in Baghdad could be "useful" but would be limited to discussions on Iraqi security. "This isn't a negotiation of some kind," she said. President Bush's national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, said he regarded Iran's initiative as a sign that Tehran's leaders "are finally beginning to listen" to the nations that have referred Iran's nuclear activity to the United Nations Security Council.

But he suggested that there had been plenty of dialogue — most of it conducted in public — and that the problem was not one of discussion but of action by Iran to give up all production of nuclear fuel.

As both sides maneuver for leverage on the nuclear issue, Iran has continued to indicate that it could be a help — or hindrance — in Iraq, where a majority of the population are Shiite Muslims, as in Iran.

It is not clear exactly what steps Iran could take to help stabilize Iraq. But it has long supported Iraqi Shiite political parties and maintained personal ties with their leaders.

The United States has been putting pressure on Shiite leaders to make concessions to Sunni parties and to rein in militias implicated in death squads and sectarian reprisals.

Mr. Larijani, general secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, announced that he would send negotiators to Iraq to meet with the American ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad. He said he was acting at the request of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shiite religious party with links to Iran. Mr. Larijani also said Mr. Khalilzad had reached out to Iran on several occasions asking for help.

"Hakim urged the Iranian government to do this because he said it was necessary for security in Iraq," said Mr. Larijani's spokesman, Hossein Entezami, who was present during the interview.

A senior administration official, who would not speak on the record because he is not authorized to talk about Iran, said Mr. Khalilzad had asked the Iranians months ago to talk about Iraq, chiefly to warn Tehran to stop sending in weapons.

Earlier this week, Mr. Bush accused Tehran of producing sophisticated roadside bombs that are being used against both Iraqi and American troops.

Mr. Hadley appeared to try to dampen expectations that the talks would produce any breakthroughs, saying: "We're talking to Iran all the time: We make statements; they make statements."

So far, most of those statements have amounted to a public exchange of accusations and vague threats, from Iran's periodic claim that it would consider an oil cutoff if the Security Council censured it, to the Bush administration's warning, in a revised national security strategy released on Thursday, that diplomacy "must succeed if confrontation is to be avoided."

Nonetheless, the decision by Tehran to open talks amounts to the first tangible sign that Iran has taken a step back, however slight, from its full-bore confrontational approach with the United States and Europe over its nuclear program. Since early last summer, Iran has moved aggressively in defiance of the West, opening its nuclear facilities and moving ahead with small-scale uranium enrichment.

The Iranian leadership's combative approach had won wide support in Iran when it was seen to be working. But with Iran unable to win the unequivocal support of Russia and with the board of International Atomic Energy Agency referring the case to the Security Council, there has been growing concern in Iran and a desire among some to move away from all-out confrontation.

While Iran reopened its nuclear facilities and canceled its voluntary cooperation with Europe over inspections, it did not resume industrial-level enrichment when it was referred to the Security Council, as it had threatened. Mr. Entezami said Iran "did not want to provoke."

Mr. Larijani, who ran for president in the last election, sat for more than an hour in his office defending Iran's right to develop nuclear energy, while berating the United States as arrogant, evil and disrespectful of other countries.

In between the invective, he held out the prospect that Iran might be able to help America in calming Iraq. He did not mention that Iran would also stand to gain from stability next door and from the presence of a strong Shiite- dominated government receptive to Iranian influence.

"We have repeatedly said that we are willing to help bring stability in Iraq and bring to power a democratic government," Mr. Larijani said. "We are prepared to give our hand. But the condition is that the United States should respect the vote of the people. Their army must not provoke from behind the scenes."

"We do not have much trust," Mr. Larijani said. "We have certain doubts about the way Americans act. We do not hear one voice. We hear distorted voices from the U.S."

The feeling is mutual in Washington, where R. Nicholas Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, told reporters on Thursday that "we see an Iranian government, particularly since Ahmadinejad came to office, that seems bound and determined to create a nuclear weapons capability." He said Washington had calculated that facing that kind of leader, "it is better to try to isolate the Iranian government."

Mr. Hadley also took care to say the repetition of the American doctrine of pre-emptive military action to face down nuclear threats had not been made "with Iran in mind."

In Tehran, European diplomats said there did not appear to be room for common ground on the nuclear issue for now. One European diplomat said the West would never accept Iran's bottom line, that it must enrich uranium on Iranian soil to bolster its scientific and economic development.

One diplomat said Iranian feelers about direct talks with the United States were a local political calculation. Despite public invective against America, many Iranians are eager to see an improvement in relations.

"Is there a deal out there that gives them enrichment? No," said the diplomat who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussion.

Another European diplomat said the West had little trust left in Iran.

"The leadership here has managed to sell us the same carpet four times, and each time, it's a bit more expensive," said the diplomat, who also spoke anonymously to preserve his ability to work in Tehran.

But several European diplomats said that only direct talks between the United States and Iran could produce a diplomatic agreement to head off a crisis.

"They want a security guarantee that only the United States can give," a European diplomat said. "They want a guarantee to at least be left alone."

There is something else Iran wants from America, and the nuclear issue is only the latest flashpoint in a grievance that has existed since the Islamic revolution nearly three decades ago. As Mr. Larijani spelled out grievances and slights, it was clear that he was saying, among other things, that Iran wants respect.

"If America wants to be a superpower, it should learn its manners," Mr. Larijani said. "One should not humiliate others."

Michael Slackman reported from Tehran for this article, and David E. Sanger from Washington. Nazila Fathi contributed reporting from Tehran, and Steven R. Weisman from Sydney, Australia.

* Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

March 22nd, 2006, 09:42 PM
Yahoo News

Russia digs in against UN Council action on Iran
Wed Mar 22, 2006 4:10 PM ET
By Irwin Arieff

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Russia's foreign minister on Wednesday firmly rejected a draft U.N. Security Council statement aimed at pressuring Iran to stop enriching uranium, despite a new offer of amendments by Western powers.

The next step is likely to be bilateral contacts among ministers of the council's five veto-wielding permanent members, the United States, France, Britain, China and Russia, diplomats close to the talks said.

The five powers' U.N. ambassadors met again on Wednesday but failed to reach agreement on a draft council statement proposed by France and Britain, participants said.

Still, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in the Bahamas to meet with Caribbean community foreign ministers, said she was confident agreement would be reached on a plan for pressuring Iran into ending its enrichment activities that could produce fuel for a nuclear weapon.

"Sometimes diplomacy takes a little bit of time but we're working very hard on it," Rice told reporters. "We will come up with a vehicle, I am quite certain of that."

b]Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Beijing, "The draft includes points that effectively lay the groundwork for sanctions against Iran."

"We will hardly be able to support this version of the draft," he added, according to Moscow's Interfax news agency.

Lavrov said the draft text was "effectively aimed at removing the Iranian nuclear issue from the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) agenda and referring it to the U.N. Security Council. It is wrong."

British U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said earlier that amendments would be offered but only if there were a chance of success.

Russia, backed by China, wants to delete large sections of the draft statement the Security Council has been studying for nearly two weeks as a first reaction to Iran's nuclear research, which the West believes is a cover for bomb-making. Iran insists it wants only to produce electric power.

Both nations fear that involvement by the 15-member council, which can impose sanctions, could escalate and lead to punitive measures including possibly military action.

[color=blue]Moscow, diplomats said, opposes even the draft's request for a report to the council on Iran's compliance with the demands of the IAEA in Vienna, the U.N. nuclear watchdog. Russia wants the request to come from the IAEA board of governors, not the council, they said.


In New York, Moscow's U.N. ambassador, Andrei Denisov, said after the five met in New York that talks were continuing but "we still need some time to consult."

"There is still a lot of work to do," French U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere told reporters.

French and British diplomats say that if the impasse continues on the draft statement, which would require the unanimous approval of the 15-nation Security Council, they could switch to a resolution, which would need only a majority vote but could be vetoed by any permanent member.

A council resolution would carry more weight than a statement and such a switch in strategy would dare Russia and China to use their veto.

But a veto or an abstention from Moscow or Beijing would gravely undermine the council's message to Tehran that it must end activities that could lead to nuclear arms.

It could also obstruct, if not doom, future council efforts to ratchet up the pressure on Iran if it fails to heed the initial warning..

The United States, Britain and France have already started private talks on a follow-up resolution that would declare Iran's nuclear program to be a threat to international peace and security and warn of unspecified "measures" if it failed to shut the program down.

March 23rd, 2006, 11:12 AM
Iran says US pressure 'irrational'
Thursday 23 March 2006

The Iranian foreign minister held talks with Qatar's amir

The Iranian foreign minister has said US pressure on the UN Security Council to penalise Iran for its nuclear policy is "irrational" and will not succeed.

On a visit to Qatar, Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters: "I predict that the irrational American view will not prevail in the security council."

Mottaki said: "There are two views in the Security Council - the first is based on confrontation and is advocated by a few countries and the second presses for a peaceful resolution.

"The European members of the Security Council do not share the same opinion, and some of the permanent and non-permanent members of the council are saying that dialogue must be given a chance," he added without specifying any of the 15 council members.

Expressing a contrary sentiment, Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, said on Wednesday she was confident Washington and its allies would reach agreement on a resolution to pressure Iran to give up its suspected nuclear weapons ambitions.

Nuclear row

The council is debating a response to Tehran's defiance to demands that it halt uranium enrichment, which the Islamic republic insists is for peaceful purposes.

But the council hit a stalemate on Tuesday postponing a scheduled meeting to allow more time to narrow differences on a Franco-British statement on the Iranian nuclear crisis, diplomats said. No new date had been set.

Western powers see adoption of the non-binding statement as the first step in a graduated response that could ultimately lead to sanctions against Tehran.

But Russia and China, which have close economic and energy ties with Tehran, oppose sanctions and insist on the International Atomic Energy Agency retaining the lead role in the issue.

Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States are the council's five veto-wielding permanent members.

Commenting on the expected talks between Tehran and Washington over Iraq, which were endorsed on Tuesday by Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Mottaki said violence in the war-shattered country would ease with a US timetable to pull its troops out.

"Iraq will be stable if the security file was handed over to the Iraqi government and people and America set a timetable to pull out its troops," he said calling on Iraqis to form a new government "as soon as possible".

April 20th, 2006, 10:33 PM
Police in Tehran ordered to arrest women in 'un-Islamic' dress

· Taxi drivers responsible for clothes of passengers
· Purge allied with effort to cut viewing of western TV

Robert Tait in Tehran
The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/)
April 20, 2006


Iran's Islamic authorities are preparing a crackdown on women flouting the stringent dress code in the clearest sign yet of social and political repression under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

From today police in Tehran will be under orders to arrest women failing to conform to the regime's definition of Islamic morals by wearing loose-fitting hijab, or headscarves, tight jackets and shortened trousers exposing skin.

Offenders could be punished with £30 fines or two months in jail. Officers will also be authorised to confront men with outlandish hairstyles and people walking pet dogs, an activity long denounced as un-Islamic by the religious rulers.

The clampdown coincides with a bill before Iran's conservative-dominated parliament proposing that fines for people with TV satellite dishes rise from £60 to more than £3,000. Millions of Iranians have illegal dishes, enabling them to watch western films and news channels.

The dress purge is led by a Tehran city councillor, Nader Shariatmaderi, a close ally of Mr Ahmadinejad who helped to plot last year's election victory.

Loosely arranged headscarves - exposing glamourous hairstyles - and shorter, tight-fitting overcoats (manteaus) became a symbol of the social freedoms that flourished under the reformist presidency of Mohammed Khatami.

During his election campaign, Mr Ahmadinejad dismissed fears that his presidency might herald a forced reversal, saying Iran had more urgent problems.

However, Mr Shariatmaderi denounced the trends as "damaging to revolutionary and Islamic principles". "We are looking for a social utopia to live in but in the last couple of months, our attention has wavered," he told fellow councillors. "In the present international situation, people must unite under known principles."

The clampdown recalls the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic revolution, when women wearing lipstick were often confronted by female vigilantes wiping their faces clean with handkerchiefs, which were said to often conceal razor blades.

The new campaign will hold taxi agencies accountable for their passengers' attire, police will be able to impound cabs carrying women dressed "inappropriately". Agencies guilty of repeat offences will be closed. Police have reportedly been stopping women motorists recently whose hijab was judged inadequate. Police have also raided fashion stores and seized brightly coloured manteaus.

Tehran's police chief, Morteza Talai, said the campaign would try to clamp down on people making "the social environment insecure".

Young women shopping in north Tehran's fashionable Tajrish neighbourhood yesterday, however, were uncowed. Matin, 24, a nurse, was wearing a gaudily patterned light-blue head scarf pushed back to reveal sunglasses and bleached blond hair. Her tight, short black manteau with intricate gold patterns seemed designed to provoke the ire of the authorities. But she was unrepentant. "I'm a married woman and it should be my husband who tells me what and what not to wear. He likes the way I dress," she said.

Surprisingly, Narges Asgari, 20, a dressmaker wearing an all-encompassing black chador, was also critical. "I don't think people will listen because they want to take decisions themselves," she said. "Clothes depend on the culture of their families. I wear the chador because, in my family, it's something we accept."

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006

April 30th, 2006, 10:38 PM
Turkey Refuses U.S. Request To Allow Attack On Iran From Turkish Base

Report: Turkey won’t let U.S. attack Iran from its land

By YNetNews

04/30/06 "YNetNews" -- -- Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said Sunday that his country refused a request from the United States to attack Iran from its Air Force base in Incirlik, despite the U.S. offer of a nuclear reactor, according to a report in Al Biyan.

In an interview for the United Arab Emirates newspaper, Gul noted that America’s efforts to attack Iran are “imaginary” and that Turkey’s stance is “strategic” and refuses the use of its land for any belligerent activity against neighboring countries. (Roee Nahmias)

Copyright © Yedioth Internet. All rights reserved.

May 10th, 2006, 10:31 AM
Putin's sideswipe at US
Wednesday 10 May 2006,

Putin said force rarely achieved the desired result

Vladimir Putin has issued a veiled warning to the United States not to take any military action against Iran over its nuclear programme.

In his address to the nation on Wednesday, the Russian president said Moscow stood "unambiguously" for preventing the spread of nuclear weapons in the world.

But, in an apparent reference to mounting tension between the US and Iran, though without mentioning either directly, Putin said: "Methods of force rarely give the desired result and often their consequences are even more terrible than the original threat."

Russia agrees with the West that Iran should not have nuclear weapons.

However it disagrees on two main points: whether Iran is actively seeking a bomb and whether sanctions would be effective in persuading Tehran to curb its nuclear work.

Russia holds a veto in the United Nations Security Council, which would vote on any international action against Iran.

A draft resolution urging Iran to stop enriching uranium was submitted last week. Moscow said it needed changes.


Media had expected Putin to focus on foreign policy in his hour-long Kremlin speech to the people that followed criticism from the White House over his record on democracy.

Cheney has accused Moscow of going backwards on democracy

In the end he took only a mild swipe at Washington, obliquely accusing it of hanging on to outdated prejudices.

"Not everyone in the world has been able to move on from the stereotypes of bloc-thinking and prejudices which are a carry-over from the epoch of global confrontation, though there have been fundamental changes in the world," he said.

US-Russian relations hit their coldest moment last week when Dick Cheney, the US vice-president, accused Moscow of retreating on democracy and using its vast energy resources as a tool for "intimidation and blackmail" against its neighbours.

President Bush, who will meet Putin in St Petersburg in July at a G8 summit of leaders of the industrialised world, has now stepped in saying in a German newspaper that Russia is giving out "mixed signals" on democracy.

Population decline

Putin, unchallenged at home and due to step down in 2008 after two terms in office, zeroed in on Russia's catastrophic demographic situation, saying the population of the country was falling by 700,000 people every year.

"The problem of low birth rates cannot be resolved without a change in the attitude of our society towards the issue of family and family values"

Vladimir Putin

To said a programme would be set up in next year's state budget that would make 1,500 roubles ($55.39) monthly payouts to families for their first baby and double that for a second.

"The problem of low birth rates cannot be resolved without a change in the attitude of our society towards the issue of family and family values," he said.

Armed forces

Putin also said Russia needed armed forces that were capable of responding to modern threats.

"We must not repeat the mistakes of the Soviet Union, and of the Cold War," he said. "We must not sacrifice the interests of socio-economic development to develop our military complex. That is a dead end.

"Our military and foreign policy doctrines should answer the most topical question: How can we fight not just against terror but against nuclear, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction?"


June 7th, 2006, 02:51 PM
The Nuclear Carrot

The Bull Moose (http://bullmooseblogger.blogspot.com/2006/06/nuclear-carrot.html)
June 7, 2006

The Moose concedes that the right was right.

The Moose was warned by his conservative friends that if he voted for Kerry we would capitulate to our enemies. If the reports on the latest Iranian deal are to believed, the right wing buddies of the Moose were right. The Moose voted for Kerry and we have just offered the store to the mullahs.

The Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/06/AR2006060600685_pf.html),

"The confidential diplomatic package backed by Washington and formally presented to Iran on Tuesday leaves open the possibility that Tehran will be able to enrich uranium on its own soil, U.S. and European officials said.

"That concession, along with a promise of U.S. assistance for an Iranian civilian nuclear energy program, is conditioned on Tehran suspending its current nuclear work until the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency determines with confidence that the program is peaceful. U.S. officials said Iran would also need to satisfy the U.N. Security Council that it is not seeking a nuclear weapon, a benchmark that White House officials believe could take years, if not decades, to achieve."

"We are basically now saying that over the long haul, if they restore confidence, that this Iranian regime can have enrichment at home," said one U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "But they have to answer every concern given all that points to a secret weapons program."

Well, there you have it. After years of conservative claims that the Clinton Administration sold out to the North Koreans with the deal that gave them a nuclear reactor, the Bushies have largely replicated that bargain for the Iranians. Peace in our time!

Let us put this in perspective. If a Kerry Administration had offered this deal, there would be the equivalent of conservative rioting in the streets. An impeachment resolution would be offered. The theme of the day on talk radio would be the betrayal of America.

Of course, the right is too preoccupied with the war with Mexico to care much about the potential appeasement of the mullahs. And it is quite unlikely that the Democrats will offer much opposition to this proposal - after all this is the approach many of them wanted all along.

But in Teheran, the Hitler acolyte who rules the country and his buddies can only interpret this proposal as a sign of weakness. And the Bushies just appear hapless.

That's what the Moose gets for voting for Kerry!

June 13th, 2006, 01:18 AM
Opinionist: In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer

gothamist (http://www.gothamist.com/archives/2006/06/11/opinionist_in_t.php)
June 11, 2006

On Sundays Gothamist runs opinion pieces relevant to life in New York and reviews of recent books and performances. The judgments expressed below are entirely those of the author.


It’s hard to imagine the Iranian leadership, or many non-exile Iranians, being riveted by or even comprehending of pretty much any show on or off-Broadway, as a general rule. Egads, the sexy dancing in The Pajama Game, the AIDS in Rent, the audience’s unabashed collective fun (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/10/world/middleeast/10iran.html) in Spamalot! But watching the Keen Company’s (http://www.keencompany.org/) powerful production of Heinar Kipphardt’s In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer, I could imagine sitting by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Ayatollah Khameini and hearing them murmur in understanding at the dynamic onstage.

Kipphardt’s 1966 play, which is essentially a reenactment of a trial held in 1954 for the titular “father” of the atomic bomb about whether his security clearance should be reinstated, brings up issues of nationalism and loyalty that can’t fail to call to mind Iran’s current race to become a nuclear power, and makes one muse that Americans once understood the importance of that power in pretty much the same way that Iranians do these days.

The actors do a crackling job in getting this to work, and if the audience can’t help but be a little incredulous at the views their characters espouse, it’s just reflective of the inability Americans are now having at understanding Iran’s motives. Maybe by contemplating the reenacted events at least a few will be induced to think a little more flexibly about the current situation; at the very least, they will be forced, à la Good Night, and Good Luck. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0433383/) to reconsider a dicey, too quickly buried part of this country’s past, and that is always a good thing.

Quick synopsis/history lesson: Oppenheimer’s security clearance was taken away for a third time because he was suspected of Communist leanings and protecting dangerous Communist friends. A “Personnel Security Board” of three (including a chemistry professor whose goofy naiveté is captured perfectly by Dan Daily) held hearings in which the Atomic Energy Commission’s counsel (led by Roger Robb, played in splendidly sinister, intense fashion by Rocco Sisto) dukes out the ideology with witnesses and Oppenheimer and his counsel – and that’s it, no more and no less. The topics at hand – whether personal allegiances and patriotic commitments that seem contradictory can hold up side by side, whether dissent is disloyal or true loyalty, and more than anything the role of scientific advancement: whether it should be used to enhance national stature, who should direct its use, how it can be controlled – are batted back and forth to create a charged atmosphere of mistrust and frustration.

The hearings went on for almost a month in ’54; this play is close to three hours long, but that’s only time enough for four of the most prominent witnesses to take the off-off-Broadway stage as convincingly as they do: Col. Boris Pash, John Lansdale, Edward Teller, and Hans Bethe. Two for Oppenheimer, and two against: even if your prejudices are with one side, the actors all make persuasive cases. It certainly helps that they seem like they just stepped out of that very courtroom in the fifties: D. J. Mendel gives the polished Pash a creepy earnestness, Jonathan Hogan makes John Lansdale warm the heart with his intelligent sincerity, and Keith Reddin and Matt Fischer’s matching thick German accents as Teller and Bethe underscore their fierce, heartfelt performances. Then, of course, there’s Thomas Jay Ryan’s forceful turn as Oppenheimer himself; from the mannerisms and brief motions he displays as testimony proceeds, to Oppenheimer’s eloquent response to the counsels’ and board’s questions, to his stirring final speech, Ryan makes the man both instantly sympathetic and quietly demanding of our respect.


But what allows these performances to shine is Carl Forsman’s ingenious minimalist staging. Such trials are by their nature dramatic, but capturing that drama onstage isn’t necessarily easy. Rather than having the actors actually face to face, the show has a multilevel set in which the actors’ subtle shifts of position and gaze make them seem to be addressing each other, with perhaps even more gripping results than if they really were making eye contact. It’s astounding how well they do this, and it makes you feel as though you’re right there. Portions of the play do drag a bit, as is only natural with something based on court proceedings (even those as heated as these), and Kipphardt’s way of giving backstory – having members of the board ask stupid questions – becomes slightly tiresome. But the play is overall deeply intellectually provocative, engaging us in a lively discussion of the clashes at the intersection of science and national security, patriotism and personal ethics – precisely the vital questions we should be confronting (and dealing with, rather than leaving them on professional political discussion's road to nowhere) as the situation with Iran escalates.

No American leaders are likely to see the play, much less Ahmedinejad and Khamenei (maybe if they all did it would break the ice for talks!) but at least regular New Yorkers can go to remind ourselves of the mindset we’re up against and to see how our own nation’s has and hasn’t morphed since the days of the hearings.

keen company (http://www.keencompany.org/upcoming.html)

Connelly Theater // 220 E. 4th St. // Through June 27, Tues.-Sat. 8pm, Sun. 7pm // Tickets via Smarttix (http://www.smarttix.com/show.aspx?showCode=INT10) // Photos by Theresa Squires

July 13th, 2006, 11:53 AM
War on Iran Has Begun

NY SUN (http://www.nysun.com/article/35990)
July 13, 2006

TEL AVIV, Israel — The war with Iran has begun.

Just last Friday, Iranian President Ahmadinejad warned that Israel's return to Gaza could lead to an "explosion" in the Islamic world that would target Israel and its supporters in the West. "They should not let things reach a point where an explosion occurs in the Islamic world," he said.

"If an explosion occurs, then it won't be limited to geographical boundaries. It will also burn all those who created over the past 60 years," he said, implicitly referring to America and other Western nations who support Israel.

Years from now, the kidnapping of Corporal Gilad Shalit will be regarded like the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. Against the backdrop of Kassam rocket fire on Israelis living within range of the Gaza Strip, it was the fate of Corporal Shalit that triggered the Israeli return to Gaza, which in turn brought the Hezbollah forces into the game.

Israel is fighting two Iranian proxies on two fronts. It may, or may not, open a third front against a third Iranian proxy, Syria. It is from the Syrian capital that Khaled Meshaal, the exiled leader of Hamas, has been laying down Palestinian Arab negotiating conditions. Why listen to Mr. Meshaal? Because the Hamas troops are loyal to him, rather than to their erstwhile leader, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah, let alone the increasingly (as if that were possible) hapless Palestinian Arab leader, Mahmoud Abbas.

As one senior Palestinian Arab close to Mr. Abbas told me Mr. Meshaal believes that any resolution of this crisis, and of the wider crisis brought on by the surprising Hamas election win last January and the ensuing isolation of the Palestinian Authority from its European and American funding sources, must await the outcome of the discussions between Iran and the West over its nuclear enrichment program.

Perhaps a grand bargain is in the works, in which Tehran will forgo its nuclear weapons ambitions in exchange for Washington's recognition of its emergence as the new regional power. Every day, Iran grows more powerful; any deal should reflect Iran's growing importance. For example: forcing Israel to bargain for prisoner swaps, cutting the Israeli military advantage down to size, and scuttling both the possibility of unilateral disengagement in the West Bank (the preferred Israeli option) and renewed negotiations with weakened Palestinian Arab moderates (the option preferred by the Europeans).

Even more loyal to Tehran is the Hezbollah leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, whose forces yesterday kidnapped two more Israeli soldiers, opening up the second front. Sheik Nasrallah is warning Israelis that they must not think Lebanon is unprotected as it was in 1981 and 1982 when Israeli forces came pouring across the border to silence Palestinian Arab guns. Sheik Nasrallah's men are the recipients of tens of thousands of rockets — longer range and presumably more deadly than their roughly engineered younger Kassam cousins — that put central Israel in their range.

Each one of these players — Hamas inside Gaza and in Damascus, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Assad dictatorship in Syria — are chess pieces on the Iranian board. The pawn moves, drawing in the Israeli bishop; the Lebanese rook challenges; the Syrian queen is in reserve.

Just listen: A few weeks ago, the Swedish government announced that it would label Golan Heights wine as a product from "Israeli Occupied Syria."

The Swedes were oblivious to the little dance played out around a request by the United Nations that Syria demarcate its view of the 1967 border. Turtle Bay was aiming to push Syria to claim the Sheeba farms, a small tract held by Israel and claimed by Hezbollah for Lebanon. The United Nations recognizes Sheeba Farms as belonging to Syria; should Israel and Syria ever negotiate a peace treaty, it is clear the Security Council would expect Sheeba Farms to be returned to Syrian control.

The United Nations wanted Syria to assert its claim, in order to deny Hezbollah its basic raison d'etre — "liberating" all Lebanese soil from "the Israeli occupation forces."

Passed in 2004, Security Council resolution 1559 requires the dismantling of all Lebanese militias and their replacement by a Lebanese state army. Thus far, this has been as successful as the requirement by the Quartet (America, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations) that all independent Palestinian Arab terrorist groups and militias be disarmed.

Guess what? The Syrians refused. Just turned the United Nations down flat.
Apparently Sweden is more passionate about asserting Syrian territorial rights than Syria itself.

The reason is simple: Iran does not want to deny Hezbollah the justification for maintaining its armed presence in southern Lebanon, along northern Israel, and Syria does Iran's bidding.

Ephraim Sneh, a former general and Labor Party leader who is the Israeli longest drawing attention to the approaching conflict with Iran, is saying that the current moment reminds him of the Spanish Civil War. The broader global forces are aligned; local actors are committed. It is a bloody test, a macabre dress rehearsal, for what lies over the horizon.

The war with Iran has begun.

[I]© 2006 The New York Sun, One SL, LLC.

July 16th, 2006, 01:04 AM
I say, S**T is about the hit the fan in the Middle East....

July 16th, 2006, 02:06 AM
If you ask me Milleniemcab, I say s**t all ready hit the fan. I wonder what Bush is going to do about this. ~_~

July 16th, 2006, 02:42 AM
It seems that Israel is taking all steps it deems necessary to assure that no further weapons are transported into Lebanon, thereby forcing the hand of Hezbollah -- if Hezbollah wants to continue missile attacks it may have to go to longer range missiles, possibly from Syria. This could galvanize opposition agaiinst Syria. If this plays out it could move to Iran.

Not a pretty scenario for the Mid-East -- or the rest of the world.

July 16th, 2006, 10:02 AM
Nuke 'em now or nuke 'em later??

Grim indeed.

July 16th, 2006, 10:23 PM
If you ask me Milleniemcab, I say s**t all ready hit the fan. I wonder what Bush is going to do about this. ~_~

Isn't that what Bush wants anyway.. He will soon have an excuse to go after
Syria and Iran as they will look like the instigators, not Bush..

July 16th, 2006, 10:25 PM
The right wing Christian fundamental sh*theads must be rejoicing. Finally, their Armageddon is in sight. Poor them, no rapture first, so they all get to be a part of it.

July 17th, 2006, 12:14 AM
Isn't that what Bush wants anyway.. He will soon have an excuse to go after
Syria and Iran as they will look like the instigators, not Bush..

Yeah, good point. With all this fighting breaking out in the Mid-East, I'm sure Neo-Cons are looking for any links to Syria and Iran.

July 17th, 2006, 09:26 AM
The right wing Christian fundamental sh*theads must be rejoicing. Finally, their Armageddon is in sight.

ANDREW SULLIVAN (http://time.blogs.com/daily_dish/2006/07/world_war_iii.html)
16 Jul 2006 12:30 pm

http://time.blogs.com/photos/uncategorized/israelkevinfrayerap.jpg (http://time.blogs.com/photos/uncategorized/israelkevinfrayerap.jpg)

It has entered a more intense phase (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1214520,00.html) in the Middle East. Worried? Terrified? Fear not. Just drop by "Rapture Ready (http://www.rr-bb.com/)" website and you'll feel cheered up.

The Christianists can't wait for the bombs to go off. Money quote ( in+my+Christian+walk,+I+have+no+doubts+that+the+da y+of+the+Lords+appearing+is+upon+us.%22&hl=en&gl=uk&ct=clnk&cd=1&client=firefox-a):
"Is it time to get excited? I can't help the way I feel. For the first time in my Christian walk, I have no doubts that the day of the Lords appearing is upon us. I have never felt this way before, I have a joy that bubbles up every-time I think of him, for I know this is truly the time I have waited for so long. Am I alone in feeling guilty about the human suffering like my joy at his appearing somehow fuels the evil I see everywhere. If it were not for the souls that hang in the balance and the horror that stalks man daily on this earth, my joy would be complete. For those of us who await his arrival know, somehow we just know it won't be long now, the Bridegroom cometh rather man is ready are not."

That poster's name is "ohappyday". Tom Lehrer, alas, is retired.

Blogger Jonathan Swift comments here (http://jonswift.blogspot.com/2006/07/looking-at-bright-side-of-world-war.html).

July 17th, 2006, 12:09 PM
These extreme terrorist groups and two countries both need a serious ass kicking. Im so f'ing sick about discussing peace with these animals. Lets say in a peaceful world Israel pulled out of Gaza and returned palestinian authorities, and Hazbollah and Hamas returned the Israeli soldiers; im willing to bet that no more then a month would have to go by until these very terrorist and/or countries that harbor terrorists, would attack again. So really discussing peace is a moot point that shouldnt really be discussed anymore. Personally Israel has every right to take a ground and air offensive and do whatever it takes to wipe out Hazbolah. And to be totally honest (i never thought israel should have given back Gaza) I believe Israel should take Gaza back. Clearly giving them back land to resolve some peace in the area will only give you a few months of peace, and that WAS A SERIOUS MISTAKE. I dont think a few months is worth didlly squat. Hence I support Israel and I dont think Israel needs to listen to what the rest of the world has to say because in truth we are 'NOT' in their shoes. And its NOT an Israeli issue but a much more global issue!

July 17th, 2006, 12:15 PM
I support Israel and I dont think Israel needs to listen to what the rest of the world has to say because in truth we are 'NOT' in their shoes. And its NOT an Israeli issue but a much more global issue!

You're confusing me --

How do these two statements jibe?

July 17th, 2006, 01:06 PM
He's ranting loft.

Don't hold him to it or it will just confuse everyone. ;)

July 17th, 2006, 01:17 PM
Sometimes fun to watch someone dig themselves out of their own hole ;)

July 17th, 2006, 02:55 PM
Sometimes fun to watch someone dig themselves out of their own hole ;)


July 17th, 2006, 06:29 PM


not so fun:


July 18th, 2006, 12:58 AM
I didn't know Born again Christians curse!:D

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (CNN) -- U.S. President George W. Bush expressed frustration Monday at attempts to get U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to do more to end the conflict in Lebanon.
In the conversation, Bush also says he plans to send U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the Middle East.
During a photo opportunity where there was an open microphone, Bush was heard expressing his frustration to British Prime Minister Tony Blair using an expletive.
Bush and Blair were aware that the event was a photo opportunity and that the media was present. Blair later turned off the microphone.
Earlier in the day, Blair and Annan called for the deployment of an international force in southern Lebanon, in order to end the spiraling conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.
The text of their conversation is as follows:

Bush: What about Kofi Annan? I don't like the sequence of it. His attitude is basically cease-fire and everything else happens.

Blair: I think the thing that is really difficult is you can't stop this unless you get this international presence agreed.

Bush: She's going. I think Condi's (U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice) going to go pretty soon.

Blair: Well that's all that matters. If you see, it will take some time to get out of there. But at least it gives people....

Bush: It's a process I agree. I told her your offer too.

Blair: Well it's only or if she's gonna or if she needs the ground prepared as it were. See, if she goes out she's got to succeed as it were, where as I can just go out and talk.

Bush: See the irony is what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over.

Blair: Cause I think this is all part of the same thing. What does he think? He thinks if Lebanon turns out fine, if he gets a solution in Israel and Palestine, Iraq goes in the right way, he's done it. That's what this whole things about. It's the same with Iran.

Bush: I feel like telling Kofi to get on the phone with Assad and make something happen. We're not blaming Israel and we're not blaming the Lebanese government.

July 18th, 2006, 02:47 AM
These extreme terrorist groups and two countries both need a serious ass kicking. Im so f'ing sick about discussing peace with these animals.

Israel made the biggest mistake of her existence when she started dealing with the most ruthless terrorist in the world's history, YASSER ARAFAT..

BY doing so, unfortunately, legitimized terrorism in the eyes of her enemies..

July 19th, 2006, 09:02 AM
United States to Israel:
You have one more week to blast Hizbullah

Bush 'gave green light' for limited attack, say Israeli and UK sources

Photograph: Sebastian Scheiner/AP
An Israeli gunner rests on top of a artillery piece near Kiryat Shmona,
northern Israel, next to the Lebanese border.

The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/)
Ewen MacAskill, Simon Tisdall and Patrick Wintour
Wednesday July 19, 2006

The US is giving Israel a window of a week to inflict maximum damage on Hizbullah before weighing in behind international calls for a ceasefire in Lebanon, according to British, European and Israeli sources.

The Bush administration, backed by Britain, has blocked efforts for an immediate halt to the fighting initiated at the UN security council, the G8 summit in St Petersburg and the European foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels.

"It's clear the Americans have given the Israelis the green light. They [the Israeli attacks] will be allowed to go on longer, perhaps for another week," a senior European official said yesterday. Diplomatic sources said there was a clear time limit, partly dictated by fears that a prolonged conflict could spin out of control.

US strategy in allowing Israel this freedom for a limited period has several objectives, one of which is delivering a slap to Iran and Syria, who Washington claims are directing Hizbullah and Hamas militants from behind the scenes.

George Bush last night said that he suspected Syria was trying to reassert its influence in Lebanon. Speaking in Washington, he said: "It's in our interest for Syria to stay out of Lebanon and for this government in Lebanon to succeed and survive. The root cause of the problem is Hizbullah and that problem needs to be addressed."

Tony Blair yesterday swung behind the US position that Israel need not end the bombing until Hizbullah hands over captured prisoners and ends its rocket attacks. During a Commons statement, he resisted backbench demands that he call for a ceasefire.

Echoing the US position, he told MPs: "Of course we all want violence to stop and stop immediately, but we recognise the only realistic way to achieve such a ceasefire is to address the underlying reasons why this violence has broken out."

He also indicated it might take many months to agree the terms of a UN stabilisation force on the Lebanese border.

After Mr Blair spoke, British officials privately acknowledged the US had given Israel a green light to continue bombing Lebanon until it believes Hizbullah's infrastructure has been destroyed.

Washington's hands-off approach was underlined yesterday when it was confirmed that Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, is delaying a visit to the region until she has met a special UN team. She is expected in the region on Friday, according to Dan Gillerman, Israel's ambassador to the UN.

The US is publicly denying any role in setting a timeframe for Israeli strikes.

When asked whether the US was holding back diplomatically, Tony Snow, the White House's press spokesman, said yesterday: "No, no; the insinuation there is that there is active military planning, collaboration or collusion, between the United States and Israel - and there isn't ... the US has been in the lead of the diplomatic efforts, issuing repeated calls for restrain,t but at the same time putting together an international consensus. You've got to remember who was responsible for this: Hizbullah ... It would be misleading to say the United States hasn't been engaged. We've been deeply engaged."

Steven Cook, a specialist in US-Middle East policy at the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations, said: "It's abundantly clear [that US policy is] to give the Israelis the opportunity to strike a blow at Hizbullah ...

"They have global reach, and prior to 9/11 they killed more Americans than any other group. But the Israelis are overplaying their hand."

Israel is already laying the ground for negotiations. "We are beginning a diplomatic process alongside the military operation that will continue," said Tzipi Livni, Israel's foreign minister, yesterday. "The diplomatic process is not meant to shorten the window of time of the army's operation, but rather is meant to be an extension of it and to prevent a need for future military operations," she added.

Moshe Kaplinsky, Israel's deputy army chief, said the offensive could end within a few weeks, adding that Israel needed time to complete "clear goals".

Israeli officials said fighting could begin to wind down after the weekend, if Hizbullah stops firing rockets.

A peace formula is also beginning to emerge: it includes an understanding on a future prisoner exchange, a deployment of the Lebanese army up to the Israeli border, a Hizbullah pullback, and the beefing up of an international monitoring force. For the first time, Ms Livni suggested Israel might accept such a force on a temporary basis.

There were signs of differences of emphasis between the Foreign Office and Downing Street over the conflict.

Kim Howells, a Foreign Office minister, explicitly called for the US to rein in Israel. "I very much hope the Americans will be putting pressure on the Israelis to stop as quickly as possible." he told the BBC. "We understand the pressure the Israeli government is under, but we call on them to look very carefully at the pressure ordinary people are under in southern Lebanon and other parts of Lebanon too ... We want to stop this as quickly as possible".

Israeli airstrikes killed 31 yesterday, including a family of nine in Aitaroun. More than 230 civilians in Lebanon have been killed in the past week.

An Israeli man was killed by a Hizbullah rocket in Nahariya in northern Israel, bringing the total of Israeli civilian deaths to 13. The army said 50 missiles were fired yesterday at northern Israel, injuring at least 14 people.


· 31 Lebanese killed in Israeli air raids. Nine members of one family were killed and four wounded in a strike on their house in the village of Aitaroun. Five were killed in other strikes in the south and two in the Bekaa Valley. An attack on a Lebanese army barracks east of Beirut killed 11 soldiers and wounded 30. A truck carrying medical supplies was hit and its driver killed on the Beirut-Damascus highway. Hizbullah says one of its fighters was killed.

· One man killed as he was walking to a bomb shelter in Nahariya, northern Israel. The army said Hizbullah fired 50 missiles, hitting the port and railway depot at Haifa, as well as the towns of Safed, Acre and Kiryat Shmona.

· Hundreds evacuated from Beirut in helicopters and boats. HMS Gloucester arrives to start evacuation of Britons. The Orient Queen, a cruise ship capable of carrying 750, sets out from Cyprus, escorted by a US destroyer.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006

July 19th, 2006, 08:41 PM
An Embodiment of Iran’s Long Shadow:
Missiles for Hezbollah

Reza Moattarian for The New York Times
Another day, another anti-Israel demonstration in Tehran. Iran’s support for
attacks on Israel is being widely promoted by political leaders.

NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/19/world/middleeast/19iran.html?_r=1&oref=slogin)
News Analysis: The Militias
July 19, 2006

PARIS, July 18 — Iran’s support for Hezbollah’s actions against Israel seems to have a twofold purpose: to deflect attention from Tehran’s impasse with the United States and five other nations over its nuclear program, and to further position itself as a powerful regional player.

“The Iranians are gambling that there won’t be a military attack against them,” said one senior European official who spoke on condition of anonymity, under diplomatic rules. “Iran is trying to say, ‘Nothing is possible without me.’ And for the moment, the nuclear issue is forgotten.”

Indeed, action on a resolution at the United Nations Security Council critical of Iran for failing to suspend its uranium enrichment activities is essentially is on hold because of the crisis in the Middle East.

Iran’s language is no harsher than past statements by its leaders against Israel, and the approach may fail miserably if Israel crushes Hezbollah. But Iran’s unconditional defense of the militia has convinced the United States and many European and Arab governments that Iran is fueling the crisis to project power — whether or not Iran directly inspired or approved Hezbollah’s actions against Israel in the first place.

On Tuesday, Iran made new threats against Israel. At a government-sanctioned demonstration in Tehran, Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, the speaker of Parliament, warned, “Israel’s northern cities are within the range of Hezbollah’s missiles, and no part of Israel will be safe.”

The crowd of nearly 2,000 demonstrators replied with chants of “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!”

As part of the drama of the day, demonstrators read a statement asking the government to help them join Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon, Iran’s state-run television reported.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s spiritual leader and the country’s most powerful figure, said in a speech on Sunday that Israeli strikes in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories proved how “the presence of Zionists in the region is a satanic and cancerous presence and an infected tumor for the entire world of Islam.”

As President Bush and other world leaders struggled at a summit meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, to devise a plan to stop Hezbollah, Ayatollah Khamenei predicted it would fail. “The American president says Hezbollah should be disarmed,” he said in remarks carried on television, “but it will not happen.”

Even Iran’s former president, Mohammad Khatami, who used his eight-year presidency to try to moderate Iran’s foreign policy, likened Hezbollah to “a shining sun that illuminates and warms the hearts of all Muslims and supporters of freedom in the world.”

In a letter to Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, on Sunday, Mr. Khatami, who heads the Institute for Dialogue among Civilizations and Cultures here, called the “Zionists’ shocking atrocities in Palestine and Lebanon” a sign of “their violent nature.”

Still, it was noteworthy that Mr. Khatami also implicitly urged restraint, warning of “the spread of catastrophe and scale of destruction in Palestine and Lebanon.”

Underscoring the heightened sense of Iran as a dangerous regional player, Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain accused Iran on Tuesday of supporting Hezbollah with weapons that are “very similar if not identical to those used against British troops in Basra,” in Iraq. Mr. Blair also accused Syria of supporting Iran “in many different ways” and both countries of providing financial support.

Israel, the United States, the Europeans and many Arab states have long claimed that Hezbollah receives its weaponry from Iran, an assertion that many Iranian officials admit in private is true. The most significant recent change in Iranian support for Hezbollah is its transfer of longer-range rockets that can be fired into major Israeli cities, according to an analysis by Anthony H. Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

But officially, Iran denies providing Hezbollah with weaponry — denials that contribute to distrust of Iran by the outside world.

Asked Sunday about Israel’s claim that Iran supplied Hezbollah with missiles, Hamid-Reza Asefi, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said Iran offers Lebanon and Syria “spiritual and humanitarian support.” He added: “It is not true that we have sent missiles. Hezbollah is capable enough.”

Even so, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has ratcheted up the threats by pledging to support Syria if it comes under attack by Israel.

“If Israel commits another act of idiocy and attacks Syria, this will be the same as an aggression against the entire Islamic world and it will receive a stinging response,” Mr. Ahmadinejad was quoted by state-run television as telling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a telephone conversation last Thursday.

Both Iran and Syria have praised Hezbollah’s crossover into northern Israel and its capture of two Israeli soldiers, the event that set off the Israeli offensive in Lebanon.

Despite its heated oratory, Iran seems to be trying to position itself for a potential role in resolving the crisis over Lebanon. In Damascus on Monday, Iran’s foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, said a cease-fire and an exchange of prisoners would be a possible way forward in the Israeli-Lebanese conflict.

Speaking after a meeting with Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa, Mr. Mottaki said there should be an “acceptable and fair” resolution, adding, “In fact, there can be a cease-fire followed by a prisoner swap.”

Even some of the most seasoned analysts of Iran’s backing for Hezbollah are restrained in their conclusions of Iran’s role in the recent crisis. “Iran will certainly benefit from Hezbollah strikes,” Mr. Cordesman wrote in his analysis.

But, he added, “Until there are hard facts, Iran’s role in all this is a matter of speculation, and conspiracy theories are not facts or news.”

Nazila Fathi contributed reporting from Tehran for this article.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

July 20th, 2006, 12:43 AM
This whole world is going to hell in a handbasket.... :(

July 20th, 2006, 10:41 AM
Strange Bedfellows

What's behind the enduring alliance between Syria and Iran?

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and President Bashar Assad (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/)

SLATE (http://www.slate.com/id/2146139/)
By Daniel Byman
July 19, 2006

The Middle East is home to many unusual alliances, but one of the oddest is the enduring partnership between Syria and Iran. Syria portrays itself as a champion of secular Arab nationalism, although in practice it is a minority-dominated military dictatorship. Iran, in contrast, rides under the banner of revolutionary Islam, although as a Persian country, it is often at odds with the Arab world, particularly since the vast majority of Iranians are Shiites, while most Arabs are Sunnis. Syrian President Bashar Assad's father and predecessor, Hafez Assad, gunned down thousands of revolutionary Islamists in the 1970s and early '80s to prevent an Islamic revolution in Syria. Iran's religious elite has often criticized Arab leaders as despots who have turned away from true Islam—a description that could easily apply to Assad's Syria.

But geopolitics has brought Iran and Syria together despite these many differences. In a strategic partnership that would have made Metternich proud, the two nations banded together against Saddam's Iraq, which both saw as an immediate threat to their security. Israel, too, provided a common foe. Iran's revolutionary ideology saw Israel as anathema; Syria also opposed the Jewish state, especially after its humiliating defeat in the 1967 war, since when it has strived to regain the Golan Heights. The United States is hostile to both regimes, producing further incentive to cooperate. Both countries worry that the chaos in Iraq will creep across their borders, but they're also keen for the United States to suffer a bloody nose to dampen its enthusiasm for regime change. Finally, both nations have few allies, making the other's support especially valuable.

Iran provides a strange sort of legitimacy for the Baathist regime in Damascus. Syria is dominated by Alawites (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alawi), a minority sect of Islam that is even more hated and even less accepted by militant Sunnis than is Shiism. Some Shiite religious leaders have bolstered the Damascus regime by claiming that the Alawites are simply part of the larger Shiite family—a claim that does little to appease highly chauvinistic Sunnis but appeals to those with a wider view of Islam.

These many common interests have come together in Lebanon. Initially, Syria was wary of revolutionary Islam. However, after Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, Damascus welcomed Iranian help. Iranian officials nurtured Hezbollah, helping to unite various Shiite factions and providing the movement with training, money, and ideological support. Syria also backed the new movement, and with their help, Hezbollah became the edge of the sword against the Israeli invaders. In 1985, Hezbollah attacks led Israel to withdraw from all but a sliver of Lebanon. Fifteen years later, Israel left completely.

During this time, Iran used Hezbollah to keep its hand in the Israeli-Arab struggle. For Tehran, being a player in this game was vital to maintaining its self-image as the world's defender of Muslims. Iran wanted to undermine the peace process by supporting terrorism—Tehran opposed peace on ideological grounds and also believed, correctly, that a comprehensive Israeli-Arab peace would further isolate the clerical regime. Hezbollah became a key proxy, conducting attacks and training Palestinian groups to make them more effective. Tehran also worked with Hezbollah operatives around the world to attack dissidents, supporters of Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, and Israeli targets. Even today, Tehran and Hezbollah work together to maintain a deterrent capability to dissuade the United States from attacking targets in Iran. So, for example, if the United States were to conduct a major attack on Iran, Hezbollah might respond by attacking U.S. targets abroad on Tehran's behalf.

Syria's goals are more local. Like Iran, Syria wanted Hezbollah to pose a threat to Israel that Damascus could calibrate according to its needs. This served as an inducement for Israel to agree to Syrian demands at the bargaining table. As Middle East expert Michael Doran has noted, "Syria has played this game of being both the arsonist and the fire department." This double role has had mixed results. Although continued attacks did contribute to Israel's decision to negotiate with Syria during the 1990s, they also led to lasting Israeli hostility toward Damascus, which in turn doomed hopes for peace.

Hezbollah's importance to Syria has, if anything, grown in recent years. Bashar Assad, Syria's callow ruler, is said to admire Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Even more important, when the "cedar revolution" forced the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon in 2005, Hezbollah became the most important champion of Syrian interests in the country.

Hezbollah is increasingly growing out of its role as a proxy and becoming more of a partner with both Tehran and Damascus. The organization has a strong Lebanese base, and Iran's and Syria's influence are waning there. Hezbollah still looks to Iran for ideological and strategic guidance, and it would not cross Damascus on important issues such as attacking Israel, but it is increasingly capable of asserting its independence.

Hezbollah's foreign backers may be the key to ending the current crisis. President Bush's private aside to British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the G8 summit captured an essential truth. Not realizing a microphone was turned on, Bush remarked (http://www.slate.com/id/2145971/entry/0/), "See the irony is what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over." As Bush noted, Hezbollah is often more responsive to the needs of its foreign patrons than to those of its Lebanese supporters. Western pressure on Damascus and Tehran, while difficult to assert, may eventually lead to a settlement.

Driving Damascus and Tehran apart in a more fundamental way, however, will be extremely difficult. Syria and Iran continue to share strategic concerns regarding Israel, Iraq, and the United States. Moreover, Washington has little leverage with either regime. Both have proved resilient against internal foes, and the United States is militarily and diplomatically stretched in Iraq and elsewhere. The friendship between Iran and Syria is not akin to the United States' relationship with close allies such as the United Kingdom, but their common interests are more than enough to keep these strange bedfellows close and cuddly.

Daniel Byman is the director of the Center for Peace and Security Studies in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a nonresident senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.

Copyright 2006 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC

July 20th, 2006, 05:32 PM
That picture above has not ONE but TWO ( just for fun, I repeat TWO) Adolph Hitlers!1

July 28th, 2006, 12:51 PM
Another Teen Hanging (http://time.blogs.com/daily_dish/2006/07/the_evil_in_teh.html)

Atefah Sahaaleh:
Wrongly described as being 22 years old

Andrew_Sullivan (http://time.blogs.com/daily_dish/2006/07/the_evil_in_teh.html)
28 Jul 2006 06:44 am

This is another chilling story (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/5217424.stm) from Iran.

This time, a 16-year-old girl is hanged for "sexual immorality" which, so far as we can tell, was a function of being raped continuously by a man three times her age. Money quote:
Being stopped or arrested by the moral police is a fact of life for many Iranian teenagers. Previously arrested for attending a party and being alone in a car with a boy, Atefah received her first sentence for "crimes against chastity" when she was just 13.

Although the exact nature of the crime is unknown, she spent a short time in prison and received 100 lashes... [Subsequently], the moral police said the locals had submitted a petition, describing her as a "source of immorality" and a "terrible influence on local schoolgirls".

So she was arrested again. Then there's this moment in her "trial":
When Atefah realised her case was hopeless, she shouted back at the judge and threw off her veil in protest.

That earned her the noose.

This is the enemy we face. And they do this in God's name.

July 29th, 2006, 11:41 AM
It's worth mentioning that the United States voted WITH Iran (one of the very few countries - very, VERY few countries) to deny LGBT Human Rghts Groups observer status at the UN. Apparantly the Bush administration and the Iranian government share the same views of gay people. Sullivan as a self-hating gay man can continually refer to Iran's persecution of gays in Iran, but there is no disparity between Iran and the U.S. when the option is goven to vote of the issue.

July 29th, 2006, 01:38 PM
BR, slightly off topic there, and it is an easy thread to get lost on.

Bottom line is, these people are promoting sexual and moral subjagation through extreme measures.

You kiss a boy, you die. That is one way to control women and turn them into chattle.

The HS issue is a difficult one in that a nation has to gain some sort of social "security" in themselves and their sexuality before they can accept homosexuality. Even though HS is "natural" it still is a minority in the sexual existance of humankind, and it will take longer o accept than something that is present in 50% (namely, BEING A WOMAN) of the people of the world.

We are stumbling along with it as it is, and we do not kill women for being raped. Lets try to get them to abandon one level of middle aged mediocracy before we go for something we cannot even cure ourselves of.

July 29th, 2006, 04:41 PM
^ That's right: first the beam, then the splinter.

July 30th, 2006, 01:57 PM
Iranian Leader Bans Usage of Foreign Words

(AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/29/AR2006072900199.html)
The Associated Press
July 29, 2006

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has ordered government and cultural bodies to use modified Persian words to replace foreign words that have crept into the language, such as "pizzas" which will now be known as "elastic loaves," state media reported Saturday.

The presidential decree, issued earlier this week, orders all governmental agencies, newspapers and publications to use words deemed more appropriate by the official language watchdog, the Farhangestan Zaban e Farsi, or Persian Academy, the Irna official news agency reported.

The academy has introduced more than 2,000 words as alternatives for some of the foreign words that have become commonly used in Iran, mostly from Western languages. The government is less sensitive about Arabic words, because the Quran is written in Arabic.

Among other changes, a "chat" will become a "short talk" and a "cabin" will be renamed a "small room," according to official Web site of the academy.

© Copyright 1996-2006 The Washington Post Company

July 30th, 2006, 02:12 PM
Hmm ... perhaps we should do the same and ban those danged "foreign" Arabic-based words in the US -- especially seeing as how our legislators seem bent upon "purifying" our national discourse.

Some Arabic-derived words we'd have to re-consider:

English Words from Arabic


As with the list of Amerindian words (http://www.zompist.com/indianwd.html), this list isn't exhaustive -- the OED has over 900 words; but the others are obscure (words like enam, sulham, zibib). I've omitted speculative and less likely derivations, and also words borrowed in ancient times from some unspecified Semitic language (e.g. cumin, myrrh, sesame). I've also omitted Arabic place names, but included a few astronomical names.

(Partial list -- go to the link above for more)

admiral - ami:r-al-bahr 'ruler of the seas' (and other similar expressions) - amara command
adobe - al-toba 'the brick'
albacore - al-bukr 'the young camel'
arsenal - dar as,s,ina`ah 'house of making', i.e. 'factory' - s,ana`a make
artichoke - al-kharshu:f

Betelgeuse - bi:t al-jauza:' 'shoulder of the Giant'
borax - bu:raq - from Persian
burka - burqa`
burnouse - burnus

carafe - gharra:f - gharafa 'dip'
carmine - qirmazi: 'crimson'
carob - kharrubah
cassock - kaza:ghand 'padded jacket' - from Persian
check - sha:h 'king' - from Persian
checkmate - sha:h ma:t 'the king is dead'
cork - qu:rq
cotton - qutn
couscous - kuskus - kaskasa pound, bruise

fatwa - fetwa - fata: instruct by a legal decision
fedayeen - fida:'iyi:n 'commandos' - fida:` redemption
felafel - fala:fil

gazelle - ghaza:l
genie - jinni: 'spirit'
gerbil - yarbu:`
ghoul - ghu:l 'demon' - gha:la take suddenly
giraffe - zara:fa

hashish - h'ashi:sh 'dried herbs, hemp'
hazard - yásara 'play at dice'
Hezbollah - H'izbulla:h 'party of God'
hookah - h'uqqah 'water bottle (through which smoke is drawn)'

jar - jarrah 'large earthen vase'
jasmine - ya:smi:n - from Persian
julep - jula:b 'rose water' - from Persian

kismet - qisma 'portion, lot' - qasama divide
Koran - qura:n 'recitation' - qara`a read

lilac - li:la:k - from Persian
lemon - laymu:n - from Persian
lime- li:mah 'citrus fruit'
loofah - lu:fah a plant whose pods were used as sponges
lute - al-`u:d

macramé - miqramah 'striped cloth'
magazine - makha:zin 'storehouses' - khazana store
marzipan - mawthaba:n 'coin featuring a seated figure'
mask - perhaps maskhara 'buffoon' - sakhira ridicule
mattress - matrah 'place where something is thrown, mat, cushion' - tarah'a throw
minaret - mana:rah - na:r fire
monsoon - mausim 'season' - wasama mark
mosque - masgid - sagada worship
mummy - mu:miya: 'embalmed body' - mu:m '(embalming) wax'
Muslim - muslim 'submitter' - aslama submit oneself

orange - na:ranj - from Sanskrit
ottoman - `uthma:n, a proper name

sash - sha:sh 'muslin'
satin - probably zaytu:ni: 'of Zaytu:n' (a city in China)
sequin - sikkah 'die for coinmaking'
sheikh - shaikh 'old man' - sha:kha grow old
sherbet - sharbah - shariba drink
sofa - s,uffah 'raised dais with cushions'
spinach - isfa:na:kh
sugar - sukkar - from Sanskrit

tambourine - a small tambour, from tanbu:r - from Persian
tandoori - tannu:r 'oven'
tariff - ta`ri:f 'notification' - `arafa notify
tarragon - tarkhu:n - possibly from Greek

zenith - samt 'path'
zero - s,ifr 'empty'

August 10th, 2006, 12:06 AM
Was Israel's Aim to Clear Path for US War on Iran?

by Gareth Porter
Israel has argued that the war against Hezbollah's rocket arsenal was a defensive response to the Shi'ite organization's threat to Israeli security, but the evidence points to a much more ambitious objective – the weakening of Iran's deterrent to an attack on its nuclear sites.

In planning for the destruction of most of Hezbollah's arsenal and prevention of any resupply from Iran, Israel appears to have hoped to eliminate a major reason the George W. Bush administration had shelved the military option for dealing with Iran's nuclear program – the fear that Israel would suffer massive casualties from Hezbollah's rockets in retaliation for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

One leading expert on Israeli national defense policy issues believes the aim of the Israeli campaign against Hezbollah was to change the Bush administration's mind about attacking Iran. Edward Luttwak, senior adviser to the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, says Bush administration officials have privately dismissed the option of air strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities in the past, citing estimates that a Hezbollah rocket attack in retaliation would kill thousands of people in northern Israel.

But Israeli officials saw a war in Lebanon to destroy Hezbollah's arsenal and prevent further resupply in the future as a way to eliminate that objection to the military option, says Luttwak.

The risk to Israel of launching such an offensive was that it would unleash the very rain of Hezbollah rockets on Israel that it sought to avert. But Luttwak believes the Israelis calculated that they could degrade Hezbollah's rocket forces without too many casualties by striking preemptively.

"They knew that a carefully prepared and coordinated rocket attack by Hezbollah would be much more catastrophic than one carried out under attack by Israel," he says.

Gerald M. Steinberg, an Israeli specialist on security affairs at Bar Ilon University who reflects Israeli government thinking, did not allude to the link between destruction of Hezbollah's rocket arsenal and a possible attack on Iran in an interview with Bernard Gwertzman of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York last week. But he did say there is "some expectation" in Israel that after the U.S. congressional elections, Bush "will decide that he has to do what he has to do."

Steinberg said Israel wanted to "get an assessment" of whether the United States would "present a military attack against the Iranian nuclear sites as the only option." If not, he suggested that Israel was still considering its own options.

Specialists on Iran and Hezbollah have long believed that the missiles Iran has supplied to Hezbollah were explicitly intended to deter an Israeli attack on Iran. Ephraim Kam, a specialist on Iran at Israel's Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies, wrote in December 2004 that Hezbollah's threat against northern Israel was a key element of Iran's deterrent to a U.S. attack.

Ali Ansari, an associate professor at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and author of a new book on the U.S. confrontation with Iran, was quoted in the Toronto Star July 30 as saying, "Hezbollah was always Iran's deterrent force against Israel."

Iran has also threatened direct retaliation against Israel with the Shahab-3 missile from Iranian territory. However, Iran may be concerned about the possibility that Israel's Arrow system could intercept most of them, as the Jaffe Center's Kam observed in 2004. That elevates the importance to Iran of Hezbollah's ability to threaten retaliation.

Hezbollah received some Soviet-era Katyusha rockets, with a range of only five miles, and a hundreds of longer-range missiles after Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000. But Israel's daily Ha'aretz, citing a report by Israeli military intelligence at the time, has reported that the number of missiles and rockets in Hezbollah hands grew to more 12,000 in 2004.

That was when Iranian officials felt that the Bush administration might seriously consider an attack on their nuclear sites, because it knew Iran was poised to begin enrichment of uranium. It was also when Iranian officials began to imply that Hezbollah could retaliate against any attack on Iran, although they have never stated that explicitly.

The first hint of Iranian concern about the possible strategic implications of the Israeli campaign to degrade the Hezbollah missile force in southern Lebanon came in a report by Michael Slackman in the New York Times July 25. Slackman quoted an Iranian official with "close ties to the highest levels of government" as saying, "They want to cut off one of Iran's arms."

The same story quoted Mohsen Rezai, the former head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, as saying, "Israel and the U.S. knew that as long as Hamas and Hezbollah were there, confronting Iran would be costly" – an obvious reference to the deterrent value of the missiles in Lebanon. "So, to deal with Iran, they first want to eliminate forces close to Iran that are in Lebanon and Palestine."

Israel has been planning its campaign against Hezbollah's missile arsenal for many months. As Matthew Kalman reported from Tel Aviv in the San Francisco Chronicle on July 21, "More than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer began giving PowerPoint presentations, on an off-the-record basis, to U.S. and other diplomats, journalists, and think tanks, setting out the plan for the current operation in revealing detail."

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's main purpose in meeting with Bush on May 25 was clearly to push the United States to agree to use force, if necessary, to stop Iran's uranium enrichment program. Four days before the meeting, Olmert told CNN that Iran's "technological threshold" is "very close." In response to a question about U.S. and European diplomacy on the issue, Olmert replied: "I prefer to take the necessary measures to stop it, rather than find out later that my indifference was so dangerous."

At his meeting with Bush, according to Yitzhak Benhorin of Israel's YnetNews, Olmert pressed Bush on Israel's intelligence assessment that Iran would gain the technology necessary to build a bomb within a year and expressed fears that diplomatic efforts were not going to work.

It seems likely that Olmert discussed Israel's plans for degrading Hezbollah's missile capabilities as a means of dramatically reducing the risk of an air campaign against Iran's nuclear sites, and that Bush gave his approval. That would account for Olmert's comment to Israeli reporters after the meeting, reported by the Israel's YnetNews, but not by U.S. news media: "I am very, very, very satisfied."

Bush's refusal to do anything to curb Israel's freedom to wreak havoc on Lebanon further suggests that he encouraged the Israelis to take advantage of any pretext to launch the offensive. The Israeli plan may have given Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld new ammunition for advocating a strike on Iran's nuclear sites.

Rumsfeld was the voice of administration policy toward Iran from 2002 to 2004, and he often appeared to be laying the political groundwork for an eventual military attack on Iran. But he has been silenced on the subject of Iran since Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice took over Iran policy in January 2005.

(Inter Press Service)


August 10th, 2006, 09:47 AM
Hezbollah denies Iranian fighter report

Thursday 10 August 2006

Hezbollah has denied that Iranian fighters were among its forces battling Israeli troops who have begun to advance deeper into southern Lebanon.

Israel's Channel 10 television reported on Wednesday that members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard force had been found among dead Hezbollah members killed by Israeli forces in the south of Lebanon.

Citing diplomatic sources, the report said the Iranians were identified by documents found on their bodies, but gave no further details on how many were discovered or when.

Hezbollah said in a statement: "Hezbollah categorically denies the lies and claims that the enemy is promoting that Iranian fighters are present in the confrontations with the occupation forces."

Iran, like Syria, insists it gives only moral support to the Shia group.

Israeli push

Witnesses said that Israeli forces were pushing around 10km (6miles) into southern Lebanon, further forward than they have been in the four-week conflict.

They said Israeli troops, supported by heavy artillery shelling, were at the outskirts of the village of Dibeen.

Lebanese police said that an Israeli armoured column was also heading for Khiam, a town in the east of south Lebanon where Hezbollah fighters are positioned.

According to the Israeli military, the advance did not mark the major extension of ground operations agreed at a security cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

Fifteen Israeli soldiers were killed in clashes with Hezbollah in south Lebanon on Wednesday.

Another 38 soldiers were wounded in the fierce fighting, the Israeli military said.

August 10th, 2006, 11:06 AM
How else, aside from probable financial support from Syria / Iran, does Hezbollah finance all those missiles?

What is the cash source for Hezbollah?

Does Hezbollah have various commercial activities that generate revenue?

Weapons don't come cheap ...

August 13th, 2006, 02:24 PM
'US, Israel planned ME war'

news24.com (http://www.news24.com/News24/World/Middle_East/0,,2-10-2075_1981865,00.html)

New York - The US government was closely involved in the planning of Israel's military operations against Islamic militant group Hezbollah even before the July 12 kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers, The New Yorker magazine reported in its latest issue.

The kidnapping triggered a month-long Israeli operation in South Lebanon that is expected to come to an end on Monday.

But Pulitzer Prize-winning US journalist Seymour Hersh writes that President George W Bush and vice president Dick Cheney were convinced that a successful Israeli bombing campaign against Hezbollah could ease Israel's security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential US pre-emptive attack to destroy Iran's nuclear installations.

Citing an unnamed Middle East expert with knowledge of the current thinking of the Israeli and US governments, Israel had devised a plan for attacking Hezbollah - and shared it with Bush administration officials - well before the July 12 kidnappings.

The expert added that the White House had several reasons for supporting a bombing campaign, the report said.

If there was to be a military option against Iran, it had to get rid of the weapons Hezbollah could use in a potential retaliation against Israel, Hersh writes.

Citing a US government consultant with close ties to Israel, Hersh also reports that earlier this summer, before the Hezbollah kidnappings, several Israeli officials visited Washington "to get a green light" for a bombing operation following a Hezbollah provocation, and "to find out how much the United States would bear".

"The Israelis told us it would be a cheap war with many benefits," the magazine quotes the consultant as saying. "Why oppose it? We'll be able to hunt down and bomb missiles, tunnels, and bunkers from the air. It would be a demo for Iran."

US government officials have denied the charges.

Nonetheless, Hersh writes, a former senior intelligence official says some officers serving with the Joint Chiefs of Staff remain deeply concerned that the administration will have a far more positive assessment of the air campaign than they should.

"There is no way that (defence secretary Donald) Rumsfeld and Cheney will draw the right conclusion about this," the report quotes the former official as saying. "When the smoke clears, they'll say it was a success, and they'll draw reinforcement for their plan to attack Iran."

August 13th, 2006, 10:15 PM

Washington’s interests in Israel’s war

http://www.newyorker.com/images/main/060821mast_z_hersh_p198.jpg (http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/060821fa_fact)
Illustration / GUY BILLOUT

The New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/060821fa_fact)
Issue of 2006-08-21
Posted 2006-08-14

In the days after Hezbollah crossed from Lebanon into Israel, on July 12th, to kidnap two soldiers, triggering an Israeli air attack on Lebanon and a full-scale war, the Bush Administration seemed strangely passive. “It’s a moment of clarification,” President George W. Bush said at the G-8 summit, in St. Petersburg, on July 16th. “It’s now become clear why we don’t have peace in the Middle East.” He described the relationship between Hezbollah and its supporters in Iran and Syria as one of the “root causes of instability,” and subsequently said that it was up to those countries to end the crisis. Two days later, despite calls from several governments for the United States to take the lead in negotiations to end the fighting, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that a ceasefire should be put off until “the conditions are conducive.”

The Bush Administration, however, was closely involved in the planning of Israel’s retaliatory attacks. President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney were convinced, current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials told me, that a successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign against Hezbollah’s heavily fortified underground-missile and command-and-control complexes in Lebanon could ease Israel’s security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American preëmptive attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations, some of which are also buried deep underground.

Israeli military and intelligence experts I spoke to emphasized that the country’s immediate security issues were reason enough to confront Hezbollah, regardless of what the Bush Administration wanted. Shabtai Shavit, a national-security adviser to the Knesset who headed the Mossad, Israel’s foreign-intelligence service, from 1989 to 1996, told me, “We do what we think is best for us, and if it happens to meet America’s requirements, that’s just part of a relationship between two friends. Hezbollah is armed to the teeth and trained in the most advanced technology of guerrilla warfare. It was just a matter of time. We had to address it.”

Hezbollah is seen by Israelis as a profound threat—a terrorist organization, operating on their border, with a military arsenal that, with help from Iran and Syria, has grown stronger since the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon ended, in 2000. Hezbollah’s leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, has said he does not believe that Israel is a “legal state.” Israeli intelligence estimated at the outset of the air war that Hezbollah had roughly five hundred medium-range Fajr-3 and Fajr-5 rockets and a few dozen long-range Zelzal rockets; the Zelzals, with a range of about two hundred kilometres, could reach Tel Aviv. (One rocket hit Haifa the day after the kidnappings.) It also has more than twelve thousand shorter-range rockets. Since the conflict began, more than three thousand of these have been fired at Israel.

According to a Middle East expert with knowledge of the current thinking of both the Israeli and the U.S. governments, Israel had devised a plan for attacking Hezbollah—and shared it with Bush Administration officials—well before the July 12th kidnappings. “It’s not that the Israelis had a trap that Hezbollah walked into,” he said, “but there was a strong feeling in the White House that sooner or later the Israelis were going to do it.”

Link to full article (http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/060821fa_fact)

Copyright © CondéNet 2006

August 30th, 2006, 01:06 AM
Gathering nuclear storm

Just days before the United Nations Security Council deadline for Iran to cease and desist enriching uranium, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave the West the Iranian bird. By inaugurating a "heavy-water" reactor, Iran instantly doubled its chances of acquiring nuclear weapons ...

Commentary continues at this >>> THREAD (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=117461&postcount=4)

August 30th, 2006, 02:33 AM
Gawd, not to much more to say....loonies....absolute loonies....

September 7th, 2006, 01:42 AM

Ahmadinejad to Cuba, New York
Wed Sep 06 2006 20:23:38 ET

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is to attend the summit of Non-Aligned Movement countries in the Cuban capital Havana in mid-September, an official said Wednesday.

"The president will take part in the summit of Non-Aligned countries in Havana," said the official from the president's office, who asked not to be named.

The summit of the 116-nation grouping is to take place between September 11-16, and Ahmadinejad is also expected to attend the UN General Assembly in New York that starts on September 12, the official said.


Ahmadinejad said in Tehran Wednesday that his attendance of the UN General Assembly would be a "suitable opportunity" to challenge Bush in a television debate.

"My forthcoming visit to New York for the UN General Assembly would be a suitable opportunity to hold the debate and all world people, especially the Americans, could hear and watch it without censorship," the news agency ISNA quoted the Iranian president as saying in a cabinet session.


September 7th, 2006, 01:47 AM
Ahmadinejad says he is ready for debate
with Bush at UN General Assembly

Islamic Republic News Agency (http://www.irna.ir/en/news/view/line-24/0609078913005904.htm)
Tehran (http://www.irna.ir/en/news/line-17/key-79/), Sept 7, IRNA

http://server32.irna.com/filesystem/06/09/07/211601-11-37_n.jpg (http://javascript<b></b>:popupImages('http://www.irna.ir/index2.php?option=com_news&task=popup&code=0609072116011137&pindex=&pfrom=0&no_html=1&lang=en');)

Iran (http://www.irna.ir/en/news/line-17/key-5808/)-US (http://www.irna.ir/en/news/line-17/key-12199/)-Ahmadinejad (http://www.irna.ir/en/news/line-17/key-29154/)

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeating his previous remark that "those who reject debate fear their nation's intellect and rationalism", emphasized here on Wednesday, "We are ready for a debate with the Americans at UN General Assembly." According to the Presidential Office Media Department, Ahmadinejad made the comments at Wednesday session of his cabinet, further reiterating, "The American side can even take part in the debate side by side with his advisors, and as a full team, if they wish so."
Referring to his upcoming US visit to take part at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, The IRI President considered that occasion as a good opportunity for holding a debate, with his US counterpart, so that "the entire world nations, particularly the Americans would, directly and without any censorship watch it."

He stressed, "The reputable news media of the world -- those of them that respect truthfulness and abide by the rule of objectivity in heir profession -- can take advantage of that opportunity to provide chance for world nations to hear the viewpoints and to choose the best."

Elsewhere in his remarks, Ahmadinejad said, "We have clear and transparent stands and are committed to abiding by certain fundamentals that are not alterable with the passage of time. Such fundamentals have been respected before the victory of the Islamic Revolution, during the years of holy defense (of the eight-year Iraqi-imposed war), during the years of being under US economic sanctions, etc."

He added, "It is based on such fundamentals that we choose our friends and know our enemies, and we can always justify the reasons why we do so."

The President said, "Let those who claim to be committed to certain fundamentals that are the most exalted achievements of the entire mankind step forward and present them to the world nations clearly and permit the nations to choose among them free from threats of being bombed or sanctioned."

I hope, said Ahmadinejad, "They would not refrain from yielding to this proposal, that is the best way towards embracing peace, and I wish to assure them that there are enough learned and knowledgeable individuals about the fundamentals and viewpoints of the Islamic Revolution in Iran that they can talk to anyone they choose, to hold a debate with."

Arguing that the level of mankind's general wisdom is improving day after day and the world nations can understand the prevailing international relations relatively well, he said, "Those that reject the proposals for debates despite their claims for leading the international community and being the leaders of the world are in fact scared of the general wisdom of the nations, and the aftermath of such debates."

Ahmadinejad stressed, "The Islamic Republic of Iran has clearly declared its opposition against the approaches, norms, and viewpoints of certain Western powers, particularly those adopted by the United States and Britain."

He added, "We have proposals and are ready to present models for better governance of the world, establishment of global justice, well being of world nations, better understanding of one another, all-encompassing love and friendship, and elimination of the atmosphere of enmity, harshness, threats, and insults."

The IRI President reiterated, "It is possible to prove in a debate which of the two political systems is a better choice for the world nations: the one that is established based on the norms of liberalism and has caused so much dilemmas and plight for the mankind, or the one that is established based on monotheism and justice?"

September 19th, 2006, 11:34 PM
Iranian president labels US a lawbreaker

&#183; Britain and America are accused of aggression
&#183; Bush urges 'ordinary people' to shun extremism

Photograph: Julie Jacobson/AP
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addresses the UN general assembly.

The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/)
Ed Pilkington in New York
September 20, 2006

The intensifying war of words between Iran and the United States reached the floor of the United Nations last night when the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, accused America and Britain of violating international law.

Mr Ahmadinejad's speech only once directly referred to the United States, but was infused throughout with criticism of the "exclusionist policies" of what he called the "hegemonic power" and its grip over the UN through its membership of the security council.

"The question needs to be asked: if the governments of the United States or the United Kingdom who are permanent members of the security council, commit aggression, occupation and violation of international law, which of the organs of the UN can take them to account?" he said.

Hours earlier, at the same lectern, President George Bush accused the Tehran regime of supporting terrorism. He told the Iranian people that the greatest obstacle to a free future came from their own rulers, who had "chosen to deny you liberty and to use your nation's resources to fund terrorism, and fuel extremism, and pursue nuclear weapons".

Mr Bush has refused to meet the Iranian president this week. The criticism levelled at each other by the two leaders at the general assembly, separated by only seven hours, highlighted the increasingly tense stand-off between the two countries over Iran's nuclear weapons programme.

Mr Ahmadinejad made no reference to Iran's nuclear activities, instead reminding delegates that America had itself used the bomb.

He accused the US of using terrorism as a "pretext for the continued presence of foreign forces in Iraq". He also criticised Washington's support for Israel, and accused the UN security council of sitting "idly by for many days" while atrocities were committed in Lebanon this summer.

In his 15-minute address, President Bush chose to speak over the heads of several world leaders seated before him in the general assembly chamber in New York and address their people directly. He challenged the delegations not just from Iran, but also Syria and Sudan.

He invoked the interests of "ordinary men and women free to determine their own destiny" and expressed his desire for a world in which "the extremists are marginalised by the peaceful majority".

Mr Bush's speech was the last in a series he has given around the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. The addresses were conceived by the White House as an attempt to regain control of the political agenda and steer it away from the troubles in Iraq towards the need to stand firm in the so-called war on terror.

But Mr Bush spoke against a troubled backdrop. Earlier Kofi Annan, making his last speech to the general assembly as UN secretary general before he steps down at the end of this year, painted a grim picture, saying the past 10 years had "not resolved, but sharpened" the problems of an unjust global economy, disorder, and contempt for human rights. "We face a world whose divisions threaten the very notion of an international community upon which this institution stands," he said.

Mr Bush denied that his administration was anti-Muslim and dismissed criticism that US efforts to spread democracy in the region were backfiring. "The reality is that the stability we thought we saw in the Middle East was a mirage. For decades, millions of men and women in the region had been trapped in oppression and hopelessness. And these conditions left a generation disillusioned and made this region a breeding ground for extremism."

Addressing himself "to the people of Iran", he said he admired their rich history and vibrant culture, and said they deserved an opportunity to determine their own future.

Mr Ahmadinejad's aggressive speech adds further heat to the dispute over Iran's nuclear programme that is dominating discussions at the UN. The French president, Jacques Chirac, told the general assembly that "dialogue must prevail. Our goal is not to call regimes into question."

Mr Chirac met Mr Bush yesterday morning in a bridge-building meeting after cracks in their strategy towards Iran appeared to open up. On Monday Mr Chirac, speaking on French radio, took a notably softer stance on the need for Iran to suspend enrichment before talks could begin - a key demand of Washington. The US and British governments have so far been unbending on this condition.

Following their meeting, the US and French leaders insisted their position was united.

&#169; Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006

September 20th, 2006, 08:32 AM
Iran’s president says Bush pushing for war

In NBC interview, Ahmadinejad claims U.S. still stuck in Cold War mindset

msnbc (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14911603/) and NBC News
Sept 19, 2006

President Bush’s policies in the Middle East are “moving the world toward war,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday, maintaining that Iran was a peaceful nation that merely wanted to be left alone to “stand on its [own] feet.”

“The U.S. government thinks that it’s still the period after World War II,” Ahmadinejad said in an interview with Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor of “NBC Nightly News,” a mindset that led Bush to believe that he “can rule, therefore, over the rest of the world.”

But “the world has changed,” he said. “Nations are awakened now. They want their rights — equal rights, and fair ones. The time for world empires has ended.”

By MSNBC.com’s Alex Johnson with NBC News’ Brian Williams in New York.

© 2006 MSNBC Interactive


President Ahmadinejad: The transcript

Brian Williams sits down with Iran's president for an exclusive interview

NEW YORK - On Sept. 19 in New York, Brian Williams sat down with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for an exclusive interview. The conversation was conducted via a translator. This transcript has been cleaned up for readability.

Brian Williams: Mr. President, thank you so much. I was interested. You wanted to be able to gesture with your hands while you spoke. What else should Americans know about you as a person, sir?

Ahmadinejad: About me? I'm an individual amongst the many of the Iranian people.

Williams: You are traveling with your wife on this trip.

Ahmadinejad: Yes.

Williams: May we know anything about her?

Ahmadinejad: She is an Iranian woman. And just as I am an Iranian too.

Williams: All right.

Ahmadinejad: And she is my friend and my companion. And I am her companion.

Williams: Mr. President, you're here as a guest of the United Nations. Under the protection of the United States. What is your message to the American people?

Ahmadinejad: I have talked about this in the past. In the letter I sent to Mr. Bush, I also addressed the American people. We think that the American people are like our people. They're good people. They support peace, equality and brotherhood. They like to see the world in peace. We think that, together, nations can uphold the peace and justice around the world.

Williams: On that point, sir, you've expressed a desire to perhaps tour and see more of the United States. Do you think that day could ever come?

Ahmadinejad: It might.

Williams: Where would you like to go?

Ahmadinejad: I don't really know that if I am here it's possible to see different parts of America. Right now the time pressures are immense, and I, there's really no time.

Williams: Is there any city or attraction you've...

Ahmadinejad: No. It's the entire country... American people are good people.

Williams: The president of the United States, speaking to the United Nations today, said to the people of Iran, "The United States respects you." But he said, "Your government is using resources to fund terrorists. And pursue nuclear weapons." He said he looks forward to the day when America and Iran can be good friends. And close partners in the cause of peace. How do you react to the statement of the American president today?

Ahmadinejad: We have the same desire, to be together for the cause of world peace. But we have to — see what the impediments are. Is it Iranian forces that have occupied countries neighboring the United States, or is it American forces that are occupying countries neighboring Iran? If Mr. Bush is saying that he can (unintelligible) the distance between the Iranian nation and the Iranian government, he is wrong. I am a normal person. A very average, regular person in Iran. The nation decided that I become the head of the state. The nation and the government are one and single. And together, we share everything. But we too like to rise at a point where we can pursue the cause of world peace. But we have to remove the barrier. That's where the question lies.

Williams: And that is where the United States president would say, "Halt this uranium enrichment."

Ahmadinejad: I question the world peace. Is it peace by those who produce a third generation of nuclear bombs? Or those who seek peaceful nuclear technology for their power plants? We think that people who produce bombs can — the atomic bomb cannot, in fact, speak of supporting world peace. We all know that Iran's nuclear issue is an excuse. It's been 27 years now that we've faced the hostility of the U.S. administration in various forms.

Let me tell you something: Before the revolution, the government in Iran was dependent on the United States. The U.S. administration (unintelligible) to say. We, the individual, was a dictator in the complete sense of the word. He suppressed people. He used guns to put down people's demonstrations. I was a student at the time. Many of my friends were imprisoned. Because of reading books. Because of expressing their opinions about social affairs. We produced 6 million barrels of oil then. Only 600,000 of which was used domestically. The rest was exported. But our country was poor. The urban areas as well as villages were in ruin. There was really no help. The cities were in poor condition. But the prisons were growing. And that's when our nation rose. To speak freedom. To seek free elections. And to have the right over its own fate.

It expected that the U.S. administration, who claims to support freedom and democracy, to support it. To support it. Or at least to remain silent. But from the day one, the U.S. government has been against our nation. Only one case, if I were to decide, was the support it gave to Saddam Hussein during the eight year war against Iran. Do you know what happened during that war? Over 200,000 Iranian people, young men, died. Hundreds of thousands more were injured. At the same time, we were able to protect our country. But the US government supported Saddam. Nonetheless, our nation was interested in having friendly relations with everyone. We were never an aggressor on any other nation's rights. And we never repressed the rights of anyone. There was a terrorist group inside Iran that, in fact, assassinated many of our authorities and officials. The president, the prime minister, the ministers. The head of the supreme court. Many members of parliament. Regular people. And America supported this group. The question is, why? We thought we might be able to have friendly relations with the United States. But the American government chose the wrong path. And a path which is still continuing.

Williams: You say you have never repressed the rights of anyone-- and you speak of the days when people were jailed for expressing opinions. Yet, during your authority, 100 newspapers have been closed --web loggers have been shut down. Western culture and music have been stopped from entering Iran. Arguably that is not freedom of expression.

Ahmadinejad: You need to separate work that is taken legally and one that is taken illegally. You must also see that thousands of newspapers have been opened. Thousands of new opportunities are created. In our country, the law matters and will — a law approved by a representative of the people. About three months ago, a newspaper associated with the government violated the law and was shut down. Although, it was the only really podium for our government, for the government's position. But it violated the law. So everybody is treated equally before the law. Do you truly believe that using American music is a sign of freedom?

Williams: I don't like all American music. But why not allow your people the same choice?

Ahmadinejad: But the problem of our people is not what you think it is. And this is the same mistake that the American government makes about Iran. I prefer really not going after the kind of things that you think may matter. Our people are very free. They have a direct — contact with the president. Regular people, everyone. They talk. And-they debate. And the president is among them. Everybody is together. And they decide together. Of course there are, you know, differences of taste and everywhere. We don't want people to be robots. Or to have a (UNINTEL) with beyond which they can't move.

Williams: But I think even our president expressed today America's quarrel is not with the Iranian people. It's with you.

Ahmadinejad: The war, who was it against? The Iranian government or the Iranian people? Against the Iranian nation. When (UNINTEL) son was occupied was it an act against the Iranian government or the Iranian nation? The bombardment of our cities by Saddam, was that an act against the government or the people? Who supported Saddam? Were these truly acts against the Iranian government? Iran has been under sanctions for 27 years. Even spare parts for aircrafts are denied to us. Is this against the government or an act against the people? Again, I'm saying, in Iran, the government and the nation are one. And I am the representative of the Iranian people. Certainly not as a judge, but as an elected official.

Williams: If your goal is dialogue with America, and the American president says, "It's OK, keep your nuclear programs and keep your homes warm. Stop enriching uranium toward weapons." How do you react?

Ahmadinejad: Who is the right judge for that? Any entity except the IAEA? Reports indicate that Iran has had no deviation. We have said on numerous occasions that our activities are for peaceful purposes. The agency's cameras videotape all the activities that we have. So I ask, did Iran build the atomic bomb and use it? Who are the ones who are testing the third generation of nuclear bombs? All bombs with micro-agents or chemical agents. You must know that, because of our beliefs and our religion, we're against such acts. We are against the atomic bomb. We believe bombs are used only to kill people. And we are against killing people.

Williams: You have large missiles with a long range. Why keep them in your arsenal if you don't someday hope to tip them with a nuclear weapon?

Ahmadinejad: So are you thinking of the possibility of a danger? Is that what you're speaking of?

Williams: I'm asking about your arsenal.

Ahmadinejad: Yes, we are powerful and strong in defending ourselves. But, again, I ask, who has the nuclear bomb and has used it before? Which one is a bigger danger? One that's trying to develop a fuel for peaceful purposes? Or the one that made a nuclear weapon? That's where my main point is. We think that the world should run with justice. Some governments cannot pursue an arsenal of nuclear weapons, but then prevent others from developing fuel for peaceful purposes thinking that there might be a future threat. And that's preventing them from developing the facilities that they need for peaceful nuclear development. We think that the nuclear issue is an excuse, just like previous excuses. We think that the American government is against development of Iran. Not a nuclear weapon, per se. Because, after all, there are other governments in our region that have nuclear weapons. But they're supported by the American government. So how do you respond to this contradiction?

Williams: I am not an employee of the state, of course.

Ahmadinejad: I'm not speaking of you, sir. I understand. For Bush.

Williams: Perhaps because we will not, in this conversation, reach a nuclear agreement. Let me ask you about the pope.What was your reaction to the pope's speech? And do you accept his apology?

Ahmadinejad: I talked about this yesterday. I think that the people who give political advice to the pope were not well informed. Because when we look at history, just look at the 20th century, for example. And the wars waged in that country. Over 100 million people were killed. Hundreds of million more were displaced. Who created those wars? Those who were killed exceed the number than than the individuals who were killed in previous centuries combined. Where does the first and second world wars occur? Who started it? Where did the Muslims start a war? Of course, we certainly believe that those who wage war are neither Muslim or Christian. Nor Jew. They really don't believe in any religion. Because all religion report peace and brotherhood. All support justice. I think if the pope had had a little more thorough historical examination of events, he would not have made those remarks. History is before our eyes. A hundred million dead just in the 20th century alone. By whom? Right now the wars that are around us in the world, who's behind them? Did you know, by any chance, that over 100 -- over a period of 110 years — the U.S. government went into 111 wars? Who were these people? Muslims? Christians? Jews? No, certainly not. I believe that these people don't believe in religion at all. Those who want to solve problems with war do not believe in the sayings of the prophet. Because the prophet, were to speak, for peace and justice.

Williams: Do you believe the pope is a decent man? And do you accept his words of apology?

Ahmadinejad: I think that he actually takes back his statement. And there is no problem. He should be careful that those who want war do not take advantage of his statements and use it for their own causes People in important positions should be careful about what they say. What he said may give an excuse to another group to start a war. Where the religion should support peace and brotherhood. Christ was a prophet for peace, as was Moses. And as was the prophet Muhammad.

Williams: Mr. President, this is not a matter of great concern, this next question, but we have gotten used to seeing you in the tan jacket with the zipper. Today, you are dressed differently. Is that jacket a symbol of your standing or upbringing in Iran?

Ahmadinejad: No. It depends on which one I'm more comfortable wearing. And it of course depends on my colleagues and friends, too. I knew that you were going to wear a suit, so I decided to wear this jacket.

Williams: Excellent. You are on the cover of Time magazine here in the United States and around the world. Inside, it says, "A Date with a Dangerous Mind." Why do you think they think you have a dangerous mind? Do you?

Ahmadinejad: You should hear what I have to say, and then be the judge of that. I think that if people have a hard time accepting the logic and fact, they should not actually accuse others. The picture is an attempt to darken my face a lot. I think it actually shows me much younger than what I am. The first page, the cover.

Williams: Oh, the cover?

Ahmadinejad: This one? The cover page. Oh, it's really…

Williams: You approve?

Ahmadinejad: …questionable. It's darkened me. And also much — it looks much younger than what I am.

Williams: The question on the cover is what war with Iran would look like. How do you think the discussion has been allowed to get that far, that we're discussing possible war between the U.S. and Iran?

Ahmadinejad: I think we need to ask this question from American — U.S. — politician. But please, let's accept that these questions are raised by only a group of politicians here. But do you really think that the document, the passage shows on this select group of 60 and their goal? I think they're very wrong in what they're doing. They're not moving forward with the developments around the world. The world has changed. Nations have — are awakened now. They want their rights. Equal rights. And fair one. The time for world empires has ended. The U.S. government thinks that it's still the period after World War II. That when they came out as a victor. And enjoyed special rights. And can rule therefore, over the rest of the world. I explicitly say that I am against the policies chosen by the U.S. government to run the world. Because these policies are moving the world towards war. I think that we need to resort to logic, not war. Why should we speak of war? What has happened? What's happened is that the Iranian nation wants to stand on it's feet. It doesn't want to be dependent. It wants to have it's own technology. It wants to develop. Why the U.S. government so against our people? They speak of war so easily, as if it's on their daily agenda. We never speak of war.

Williams: Because…

Ahmadinejad: We speak of peace, equality, rationality.

Williams: The fear of our President is that a nuclear weapon is on Iran's agenda.

Ahmadinejad: I've said before, he's not afraid of a nuclear weapon. There already is nuclear weapon in our region, held by groups, supported by the U.S. government. Is there discrimination here? Are we having a selective approach? We don't need weapons at all. We're strong enough to defend ourselves. And we support peace. And we support equality. We do not want to rule over other people's land. When repeated IAA reports indicate that there has been no deviation in Iran's pursuit of nuclear technology, then why should the U.S. government be so fearful? We think that the world is afraid of the policies being pursued by the U.S. government. Because they won't accept any at all. They're not a party to the MPT either. Why not? Well, why don't they sign the MPT? Why don't they destroy the nuclear arsenal they have? And then the world will be free. We abide by the regulations of the MPT. And we must remain transparent with our people and honest with our people.

Williams: There is something you said that upset and scared a lot of people. It upset a lot of Jews in the United States and around the world when you called the Holocaust a myth. There are people, some people I know who escaped Hitler's reign. There is research. There are scholars who can teach you about it. And yet, you've expressed doubt about the Holocaust. Why?

Ahmadinejad: I've answered three of your questions on this. You know that I belong to the university. I'm an academician by nature. I'm interested in having a scientific approach to all events. But we've chosen three questions. The first question was: In the first World War, over 60 — In the second World War, over 60 million people lost their lives. They were all human beings. Why is it that only a select group of those who were killed have become so prominent and important?

Williams: Because of the difference humankind draws between warfare and genocide.

Ahmadinejad: Do you think that the 60 million who lost their lives were all at the result of warfare alone? There were two million that were part of the military at the time, perhaps altogether, 50 million civilians with no roles in the war — Christians, Muslims. They were all killed. The second and more important question that I raised was, if this event happened, and if it is a historical event, then we should allow everyone to research it and study it. The more research and studies are done, the more we can become aware of the realities that happened. We still leave open to further studies absolute knowledge of science or math. Historical events are always subject to revisions, and reviews and studies. We're still revising our thoughts about what happened over thousands of years ago. Why is it that those who ask questions are persecuted? Why is every word so sensitivity or such prohibition on further studies on the subject? Where as we can openly question God, the prophet, concepts such as freedom and democracy? And the third question that I raised in this regard: if this happened, where did it happen? Did the Palestinian people have anything to do with it? Why should the Palestinians pay for it now? Five million displaced Palestinian people is what I'm talking about. Over 60 years of living under threat. Losing the lives of thousands of dear ones. And homes that are destroyed on a daily basis over people's heads. You might argue that the Jews have the right to have a government. We're not against that. But where? At a place where their people were — several people will vote for them, and where they can govern.

Williams: Yes, but…

Ahmadinejad: Not at the cost of displacing a whole nation. And occupying the whole territory.

Williams: Is that a change in your position that Israel should be wiped away? And second, would you ever be willing to sit down with Jews, with scholars, with survivors of Hitler's camps where six million died? Our American film director Stephen Spielberg is one of many collecting the stories of those still alive, who will tell you of the dead, and the program to kill the Jews in Germany and elsewhere.

Ahmadinejad: I feel as there is a feeling a feeling of a need to get the truth here. Among American politicians as well as some media here. The main question is if this happened in Europe, what is the fault of the Palestinian people? This is a problem we have today, the root cause of many of our problems, not what happened 60 years ago. The Palestinian people are — their lives are being destroyed today. There's a pretext of the Holocaust. Lands have been occupied, usurped. What is their fault? What are they to be blamed for? Are they not human beings? Do they have no rights? What role did they play in the Holocaust? Some attempt to sort of change the subject. From the first day I said, "Well, assuming that the Holocausthappened..." Then again, what does it have to do with the Palestinian people? Not at all. Nothing. Believe me, Palestinian people are human beings. They have feelings. They like to live in their own land, to have the right to self determination, to feel secure in their homes. So that small kids are not killed. So that women are not taken from their own homes, taken from their own home. What is the future of such measures?

Williams: If I was President Bush, sitting here across from you, what would you say to him? President to President, but more important, man to man?

Ahmadinejad: It would be really good if you were, actually here, instead of, I mean, replacing Mr. Bush. I think that the situation would have been better here, if you were Mr. Bush. I sent him a letter.

Williams: I'm aware of it.

Ahmadinejad: I raised some very serious issues. I really expressed my thoughts and beliefs. You know that I am teacher. I am interested in talks and in dialogue. I like to understand the truth. Facts. And in that letter, I raised very important subject. I invited him to peace, brotherhood and friendship. But we did not receive an answer. Do you think that I should say anything besides the things that I mentioned there? I, as man to another man, I would say, "We can truly love people. Human beings, all of them. Not a particular party, group or faction alone. Not a special investor or shareholder alone. Everyone. Believe me, children in Africa are human beings, too. They like to have peace, live in peace and live in comfort. They love their parents. And their parents love their children, wherever they live. But they see their children's lives being destroyed in front of their eyes. Because of poverty. While they live on wealth — their lands are very wealthy and resourceful.

Williams: And you talk about children. You and I are both fathers. Recently in your country, thousands of people have signed up to be part of suicide brigades. How would you feel if your own children chose to do such a thing?

Ahmadinejad: Well, what is your feeling about that? Think if America is attacked. What would you like your son to do? Do you want him to defend America or not? I think you would like your son to defend America. It's the same with our son. When you don't have arms, when you don't have power, what can you do? You will sacrifice yourself for your country. It's not a bad thing. Although we are against war. We hate it. The war was imposed on the Middle East. Just look at the scene. About 10,000 kilometers, you look around us. There are hundreds of forces and troops, hundreds of thousands of troops around us. Under the pretext of freedom and democracy. They don't value the people of the region. The people of the region know how to run their own affairs. It's regretful. This coming from a group that supported Saddam for eight years. Saddam was the biggest dictator in our region. Even today, they support countries that have had no elections whatsoever. But still they speak of creating democracy through war. Especially coming from outside. It's impossible to achieve.

Williams: Isn't the world a safer place without Saddam?

Ahmadinejad: It could have been. If you look at Iraq today, everybody was happy was Saddam was overthrown. People thought that the occupying forces would hand over the affairs of the country immediately to the people — at least as soon as possible. Not only did they not leave, but they also said that they plan to stay. They are building huge military bases, to stay. Since the overthrow of Saddam to this day, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed there. We think that this goes against the very rules of security. You know, we're very close with the people in Iraq. Many of our people are families and extended relatives. There have been a lot of inter-marriages. There's the deep relationship on an emotional level between our people and theirs. Even Saddam's war against Iran did nothing to damage these old ties. Because we've lived together for thousands of years. The entire Iranian nation sympathizes with every Iraqi individual that suffers as a result of the occupation. Whereas we know that according to international law, creating safety and security is the responsibility of the occupying force. Iraqi authorities say that many of the tensions and the insecurity in the country is as a result of the occupation and occupying forces. Why should this be the case? It could have been much better. Saddam's removal could have been a very good beginning for the American government. To strengthen it's friendship ties with the nations of the region. Everybody was happy in the beginning. But today, the conditions in the region have changed. Anti-American sentiment, hatred towards the American government has increased on a daily basis. Why is this the case?

Williams: Hence...

Ahmadinejad: It could have been different.

Williams: Hence...

Ahmadinejad: We are not happy with what we see there.

Williams: Some of the fighters are trained and funded by your country, shooting at the American soldiers.

Ahmadinejad: This is the claim the U.S. government makes. But there's no evidence. Security in Iraq has the worst impact on Iran. Because we're neighbors. We have very close ties with Iraqi government and Iraqi people. We like to see a powerful Iraqi government. A powerful and secure government in Iraq will benefit Iran. And will benefit the entire region. Because the government, the parliament, the people of Iraq all have close relations with our nation. They're our friends.

Williams: And yet, I have stood on the helmets of Iranian soldiers, which are now used as pavement on Saddam's old parade grounds. I think that also speaks to the bitterness on and off, over the years between the two nations.

Ahmadinejad: Undoubtedly, Saddam hated us. But not the Iraqi people. Millions of people from Iran travel to Iraq on a yearly basis. Kurd, Sunni and Shias were all friends. The Iraqi president is an old friend of mine. The head of the state, the prime minister, is a very close friend of mine, too. And the head of their parliament, the parliament speaker, is a good friend of mine, too. So, we're friends.

Williams: Thank you.

© 2006 MSNBC.com
© 2006 Microsoft

September 20th, 2006, 08:47 AM
Leaders Spar Over Iran’s Aims and U.S. Power

Richard Perry/The New York Times
'The greatest obstacle to this future is that your rulers have chosen to deny you liberty
and to use your nation's resources to fund terrorism, and fuel extremism, and pursue nuclear weapons.'
- President Bush

NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/20/world/middleeast/20prexy.html?hp&ex=1158811200&en=1072805ce8df3071&ei=5094&partner=homepage)
September 20, 2006

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 19 — President Bush and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, separated by several hours and oceans of perspective, clashed at the United Nations on Tuesday over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and each other’s place in the world.

The two leaders bookended a long day of speeches at the opening of the General Assembly, but seemed to speak past each other as European and American diplomats continued the delicate work of setting terms for talks with Iran over its uranium enrichment program.

Speaking near the prime time of television viewing, Mr. Ahmadinejad, tieless in his trademark off-white sport jacket, accused the United States — while for the most part avoiding naming it directly — of hegemony and hypocrisy, and said it did not seem to have the political will or ability to halt violence in Iraq.

He said that his nation was pursuing only a peaceful nuclear program, and that it was the United States that was using its nuclear weapons to intimidate the world. He said repeatedly that the United Nations Security Council was too beholden to the United States to control it.

“Excellencies, the question needs to be asked, if the governments of the United States or the United Kingdom, who are permanent members of the Security Council, commit aggression, occupation and violation of international law, which of the organs of the U.N. can take them to account?” Mr. Ahmadinejad said.


Speaking in the morning, Mr. Bush made a direct appeal to the Iranian people from the United Nations, telling them their leaders were misleading them about the United States’ intentions while using their national treasury to sponsor terrorists and build nuclear weapons.

“You deserve an opportunity to determine your own future,” Mr. Bush said during a roughly 20-minute address during the opening session of the General Assembly. “The greatest obstacle to this future is that your rulers have chosen to deny you liberty and to use your nation’s resources to fund terrorism and fuel extremism and pursue nuclear weapons.”

It was a rare moment of diplomatic theater between Mr. Bush and his leading Middle Eastern nemesis, a man whose nation is increasingly asserting itself in the region that lies at the heart of Mr. Bush’s foreign policy, and whose nuclear program is a subject of deep concern to the American, European, Chinese and Russian officials trying to rein it in.

Mr. Ahmadinejad had kept a low profile throughout the day, lending a sense of anticipation and buildup to an address that placed him, at least for a night, on an equal platform with President Bush.

Mr. Ahmadinejad, who saw his speech last year as a defining moment on the world stage, has called the Holocaust a myth and regularly inveighs against Israel and Jews. His country is in violation of a United Nations deadline to halt its uranium enrichment program.

His repeated references to what he called a lack of “legitimacy” at the Security Council appeared to set the stage for Iran to argue that the Security Council has no authority to impose sanctions against Tehran.
He referred to the United States as “the occupiers” when speaking of Iraq, “the big powers” when referring to the Security Council and “masters and rulers of the entire world” when referring to what he said was an imbalance between world powers and other countries.

He criticized America for not calling for a cease-fire during the Israel-Hezbollah war in Lebanon this summer. “Apparently the Security Council can only be used to ensure the rights of the big powers,” the Iranian president said. “When the oppressed” are targeted, he said, “the Security Council must remain aloof and not even call for a cease-fire.”

Despite anticipation that Mr. Ahmadinejad and Mr. Bush would perhaps have a chance encounter inside the United Nations complex, Mr. Ahmadinejad was not in the building for Mr. Bush’s address and did not attend a luncheon given by the secretary general, Kofi Annan.

Mr. Bush made his remarks hours before Mr. Ahmadinejad addressed the General Assembly himself, creating an expectation of a robust war of words by day’s end.

In an address tailored for both international and domestic consumption, Mr. Bush reiterated his demand that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment but added, “Despite what the regime tells you, we have no objection to Iran’s pursuit of a truly peaceful nuclear power program.”

It was unclear how many of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s constituents were in a position to hear Mr. Bush’s message, given tight state controls on media in Iran. Many residents have satellite dishes, but the government recently began a campaign to confiscate them; many also have access to the Persian-language broadcasts of Voice of America.

Mr. Bush also defended his foreign policy, exhorting the world leaders in attendance to join with him in his goal of transforming the Middle East by pushing for democracy there.

“From Beirut to Baghdad, people are making the choice for freedom,” Mr. Bush said. “And the nations gathered in this chamber must make a choice, as well: will we support the moderates and reformers who are working for change across the Middle East, or will we yield the future to the terrorists and extremists?

Aides said the speech was in essence a capstone to the series of addresses Mr. Bush has given over the last two weeks intended to refocus the nation’s attention on the threats of terrorism and the administration’s efforts to fight it.

Speaking to what he called “the broader Middle East,” Mr. Bush said, “Extremists in your midst spread propaganda claiming that the West is engaged in a war against Islam. This propaganda is false, and its purpose is to confuse you and justify acts of terror.”

Mr. Bush also met with President Jacques Chirac of France, and they pledged to continue working together on Iran. Mr. Chirac played down comments he made Monday that were interpreted as a sharp break with Mr. Bush, when he indicated that talks with Iran could begin at the same time as the suspension of uranium enrichment, an action the United States demands as a precondition for talks.

Still, in a sign of the uphill battle that is facing the United States as it tries to hold together its coalition seeking to curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions, there was little talk of sanctions. Senior Bush officials had initially predicted a breakthrough on a sanctions resolution this week.

Mr. Chirac did not utter the word sanctions during his speech to the General Assembly, repeatedly emphasizing the need for continued talk as Iran continues to resist calls to suspend its program.

Richard Perry/The New York Times
President Jacques Chirac, listening to President Bush’s speech, downplayed talked of division with Mr. Bush.

United States officials said they were willing to agree to a compromise in which a drive for sanctions at the Security Council would end at the same time the Iranians would end their enrichment program. But a senior Bush official cautioned Tuesday that it is far from certain whether Iran would agree.

“We believe there’s a debate going on within Iran,” the official said, requesting anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, was supposed to arrive in New York for talks with the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, on Sunday, and had still not arrived late Tuesday night.

In his remarks, Mr. Bush did not mention Mr. Ahmadinejad by name, directing his criticism at Iran’s “leaders” in general. White House officials disputed any suggestion that Mr. Bush had avoided using the Iranian president’s name so as not to inflame the situation.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

September 20th, 2006, 03:07 PM
Rice says US will pursue sanctions against Iran

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

NEW YORK - Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Tuesday the international community faced a "credibility issue" if it did not impose U.N. sanctions against Iran for refusing to abandon nuclear activities.
Rice, who is in New York for the U.N. General Assembly, said Washington would continue to push the world body to impose sanctions against Iran after it failed to heed an Aug. 31 U.N. deadline to give up enrichment activities. "The international community also has a credibility issue. We said as of Aug. 31 suspend (enrichment) or we will pursue sanctions. We are talking to our partners about that course," Rice said in an interview with CBS.
Rice is set to have dinner on Tuesday with foreign ministers from the permanent five members of the U.N. Security Council as well as Germany and Italy to discuss how to deal with Iran. China and Russia, who both have veto powers on the Council, are wary of punitive measures against Iran and some of Washington's allies such as France have argued against a rush toward sanctions.
European foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who has been negotiating with Iran, has also said it would be wrong to push for a sanctions resolution while he was making progress in talks with Tehran. U.S. President George W. Bush will address the U.N. General Assembly later on Tuesday on Iran and other issues when he is expected to push the U.S. case for strong action against Tehran.
Asked whether the United States might be prepared to speak to Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is also in New York, Rice reiterated the U.S. position that this would happen only if Tehran abandoned its nuclear ambitions. Iran argues its nuclear work is to generate power while the United States and its allies say Tehran is trying to build a bomb. "If Iran is prepared to suspend that, we will be prepared for the first time in decades to sit down across the table from the Iranians and talk," Rice told ABC's "Good Morning America" show. "I would meet anywhere with my counterpart, at any time, once they have suspended enrichment and reprocessing," she added.

www.tdn.com.tr (http://www.tdn.com.tr)

September 20th, 2006, 03:14 PM
Gathering nuclear storm

Just days before the United Nations Security Council deadline for Iran to cease and desist enriching uranium, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave the West the Iranian bird. By inaugurating a "heavy-water" reactor, Iran instantly doubled its chances of acquiring nuclear weapons ...

Commentary continues at this >>> THREAD (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=117461&postcount=4)

I also thought the same way and sold all my portfolio (some firms' securities) off to be able to buy with cheap prices again before the end of August, hoping that Bush reacts to this situation hard and the tension goes high again. However Bush spoke mildly. and USA and EU have given a bonus time to Iran such that Iran can reconsider its decesion on nuclear activities again.... That meant that Mr. Bush has disappointed me... God!:(

September 21st, 2006, 02:57 PM
If you're looking to cash in on war-related stocks then you might still have some good opportunities ...

Senior intel official: Pentagon moves to
second-stage planning for Iran strike option

Raw Story (http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/Pentagon_moves_to_secondstage_planning_for_0921.ht ml)
Larisa Alexandrovna
September 21, 2006

The Pentagon's top brass has moved into second-stage contingency planning for a potential military strike on Iran, one senior intelligence official familiar with the plans tells RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/).

The official, who is close to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest ranking officials of each branch of the US military, says the Chiefs have started what is called "branches and sequels" contingency planning.

"The JCS has accepted the inevitable," the intelligence official said, "and is engaged in serious contingency planning to deal with the worst case scenarios that the intelligence community has been painting."

A second military official, although unfamiliar with these latest scenarios, said there is a difference between contingency planning -- which he described as "what if, then what" planning -- and "branches and sequels," which takes place after an initial plan has been decided upon.

Adding to the concern of both military and intelligence officials alike is the nuclear option, the possibility of pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons targeting alleged WMD facilities in Iran.

An April New Yorker report (http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/060417fa_fact) by Sy Hersh alleged that the nuclear option was on the table, and that some officers of the Joint Chiefs had threatened resignation.

"The attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings inside the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he added, and some officers have talked about resigning," Hersh wrote. "Late this winter, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sought to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans for Iran�without success, the former intelligence official said."

The senior intelligence official who spoke to RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/), along with several military intelligence sources, confirmed that the nuclear option remains on the table. In addition, the senior official added that the Joint Chiefs have "come around on to the administration's thinking."

"The Joint Chiefs have no longer imposed roadblocks on a possible bombing campaign against Iran's nuclear production facilities," the intelligence official said. "In the past, only the Air Force had endorsed the contingency, saying that it could carry out the mission of destroying, or at least significantly delaying, Iran's ability to develop a nuclear weapon."

Preparation for such a strike would require contingency plans for securing oil transport lines and dealing with possible riots, as well as assessment of issues that arose during the Iran-Iraq war.

"Bahrain will be a battleground as it is majority Shi'a and has had Shi'a riots stimulated by Iran in the past," the official said. "The US Fifth Fleet is also based there. A system for [protection of] oil transport in the Gulf will have to be devised by the US Navy to protect against attacks."

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to repeated emails requesting comment.

Deployment orders

With allegations of a plan in place and contingency scenarios in play, several military and intelligence experts see this as proof of a secret White House order to proceed with military action.

Last week, a military intelligence official described to this reporter the movement of Naval submarines and a deployment order sent out to Naval assets of strategic import, such as minesweepers, that could indicate contingency planning is already under way to secure oil transport routes and supplies.

On Sunday, Time Magazine confirmed (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1535817,00.html) much of what the military intelligence source had described.

"The first message was routine enough: a 'Prepare to Deploy Order' sent through Naval communications channels to a submarine, an Aegis-class cruiser, two minesweepers and two mine hunters," Time's Michael Duffy wrote. "The orders didn't actually command the ships out of port; they just said be ready to move by October 1. A deployment of minesweepers to the east coast of Iran would seem to suggest that a much discussed, but until now largely theoretical, prospect has become real."

Retired Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner also expressed concern about the deployment orders, but cautioned that these particular ships are slow-moving and would take "a month or so" to arrive in position.

"Minecountermeasures, the four ships mentioned, are generally not self-deploying," Gardiner said Wednesday. "When previously sent to the Gulf, they were transported on the decks of heavy lift ships. The earliest they would arrive would be around the first of November."

Although some claim the Defense Department has denied (http://www.marinetimes.com/story.php?f=1-292925-2116488.php) the deployment order, no official denial has been made. The Pentagon does not comment on operational plans, not even to issue a denial.

Lawmakers in the dark?

Attempts to contact members of the Senate Armed Services Committee provided little help in confirming allegations of the deployment order made to this reporter and Time. Senate offices that were available for comment would not do so on the record.

From all appearances, however, it would seem that at least some members of the Senate Armed Services Committee have not been briefed on deployment orders or on any strike plans, even contingency plans. The Senate Intelligence Committee is attempting to get a grasp on what is and has been going on.

A source close to the Committee, who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the information, explained that a series of briefings will be going on this week and into next.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has "embarked on a much more aggressive review of what the intelligence community knows and is doing regarding Iran," the source said.

"In fact [the Committee has] a number of Iran related briefings this week and next before the senators leave town," the source added. They "will cover the full spectrum including various aspects of their nuclear program and all U.S. collection efforts."

October 4th, 2006, 10:48 AM
Take this one with a grain of salt (or ten) as thisTurner guy apparently is one real whack-job ...



www.halturnershow.com (http://www.halturnershow.com/index.html)
September 30, 2006

The existence of a hideous plan to sacrifice a U.S. Aircraft Carrier as a pretext for war with Iran is presently being uncovered!

The Hal Turner Show has been told that within the next five (5) weeks, the United States will "suffer" a missile attack upon the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, presently on patrol near the Persian Gulf. This attack will appear to be from numerous "Silkworm" and/or "Sunburn" missiles which will sink the vessel and kill most of the 5,000 crew onboard.

The "attack" will be blamed on Iran and thus provide the Bush Administration with an excuse to go to war with that nation.

The Hal Turner Show has learned that the missiles used to attack the USS Enterprise will not be fired from or by Iran, but rather will be a "false flag operation" made to LOOK as though Iran carried out the attack!

The USS Enterprise is the worlds first nuclear powered aircraft carrier. It was Commissioned in 1961 and is due to be decommissioned in 2014 or 2015. The ship was selected to be the "victim" of this "attack" due to its age.

THOSE PLANNING THE ATTACK ARE INSIDE THE U.S. AND ISRAELI GOVERNMENTS and view the loss of the Enterprise crew as a necessary sacrifice to induce Americans to support war against Iran. Put bluntly, the ship and crew are to be cannon fodder.

I am being fed more information and expect to be able to name names as to who is behind this plan. Check back often. . . . . . .

Gregory Tenenbaum
October 4th, 2006, 11:21 AM
The Enterprise you say....

Hmm...Not with my ship...

November 24th, 2006, 11:49 AM
Russian rocket deliveries to Iran started (http://search.breitbart.com/q?s=%22Russian+rocket+deliveries+to+Iran+started%2 2&sid=breitbart.com)

breitbart.com (http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/11/24/061124134543.qth288nm.html)
November 24, 2006

Russia has begun deliveries of the Tor-M1 air defence rocket system to Iran (http://search.breitbart.com/q?s=iran&sid=breitbart.com), Russian news agencies quoted military industry sources as saying, in the latest sign of a Russian-US rift over Iran.

"Deliveries of the Tor-M1 have begun. The first systems have already been delivered to Tehran (http://search.breitbart.com/q?s=tehran&sid=breitbart.com)," ITAR-TASS quoted an unnamed, high-ranking source as saying Friday.


The United States has pressed Russia to halt military sales to Iran, which Washington accuses of harbouring secret plans to build a nuclear weapon (http://search.breitbart.com/q?s=%22nuclear+weapon%22&sid=breitbart.com).

Moscow has consistently defended its weapons trade with Iran. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said the contract for 29 rocket systems, signed in December last year, was legitimate because the Tor-M1 has a purely defensive role.

ITAR-TASS reported that the rockets were to be deployed around Iran's nuclear sites, including the still incomplete, Russian-built atomic power station at Bushehr.

In August, Washington announced sanctions against several companies, including Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport, for supplying technology to Iran (http://search.breitbart.com/q?s=%22technology+to+Iran%22&sid=breitbart.com) that could allegedly be used to develop missile technology and weapons of mass destruction (http://search.breitbart.com/q?s=%22weapons+of+mass+destruction%22&sid=breitbart.com).

Under the sanctions no US company can deal with foreign companies on the sanctions list for two years.

A spokesman for Rosoboronexport contacted by AFP would not confirm or deny the reports about the Tor-M1 delivery, which were also issued by the Interfax news agency.

The Tor-M1 is a low to medium-altitude missile fired from a tracked vehicle against airplanes, helicopters and other airborne targets.

The news came as the UN Security Council (http://search.breitbart.com/q?s=%22UN+Security+Council%22&sid=breitbart.com) continued to consider possible sanctions against Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile activity in response to the Islamic republic's suspect nuclear programme.

The major powers have been debating a draft resolution drawn up by Britain, France and Germany that would impose limited sanctions (http://search.breitbart.com/q?s=%22limited+sanctions%22&sid=breitbart.com) on Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile sectors for Tehran's failure to comply with an earlier UN resolution on halting enrichment.

China and Russia, both close economic partners with Iran, argue the measures are too extensive, while Washington has pressed for tougher action.

Copyright AFP 2005,

November 24th, 2006, 11:57 AM

Is a damaged Administration less likely to attack Iran, or more?

thenewyorker.com (http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/061127fa_fact)
Issue of 2006-11-27

A month before the November elections, Vice-President Dick Cheney was sitting in on a national-security discussion at the Executive Office Building. The talk took a political turn: what if the Democrats won both the Senate and the House? How would that affect policy toward Iran, which is believed to be on the verge of becoming a nuclear power? At that point, according to someone familiar with the discussion, Cheney began reminiscing about his job as a lineman, in the early nineteen-sixties, for a power company in Wyoming. Copper wire was expensive, and the linemen were instructed to return all unused pieces three feet or longer. No one wanted to deal with the paperwork that resulted, Cheney said, so he and his colleagues found a solution: putting “shorteners” on the wire—that is, cutting it into short pieces and tossing the leftovers at the end of the workday. If the Democrats won on November 7th, the Vice-President said, that victory would not stop the Administration from pursuing a military option with Iran. The White House would put “shorteners” on any legislative restrictions, Cheney said, and thus stop Congress from getting in its way.

The White House’s concern was not that the Democrats would cut off funds for the war in Iraq but that future legislation would prohibit it from financing operations targeted at overthrowing or destabilizing the Iranian government, to keep it from getting the bomb. “They’re afraid that Congress is going to vote a binding resolution to stop a hit on Iran, à la Nicaragua in the Contra war,” a former senior intelligence official told me.

In late 1982, Edward P. Boland, a Democratic representative, introduced the first in a series of “Boland amendments,” which limited the Reagan Administration’s ability to support the Contras, who were working to overthrow Nicaragua’s left-wing Sandinista government. The Boland restrictions led White House officials to orchestrate illegal fund-raising activities for the Contras, including the sale of American weapons, via Israel, to Iran. The result was the Iran-Contra scandal of the mid-eighties. Cheney’s story, according to the source, was his way of saying that, whatever a Democratic Congress might do next year to limit the President’s authority, the Administration would find a way to work around it. (In response to a request for comment, the Vice-President’s office said that it had no record of the discussion.)

In interviews, current and former Administration officials returned to one question: whether Cheney would be as influential in the last two years of George W. Bush’s Presidency as he was in its first six. Cheney is emphatic about Iraq. In late October, he told Time, “I know what the President thinks,” about Iraq. “I know what I think. And we’re not looking for an exit strategy. We’re looking for victory.” He is equally clear that the Administration would, if necessary, use force against Iran. “The United States is keeping all options on the table in addressing the irresponsible conduct of the regime,” he told an Israeli lobbying group early this year. “And we join other nations in sending that regime a clear message: we will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”

On November 8th, the day after the Republicans lost both the House and the Senate, Bush announced the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and the nomination of his successor, Robert Gates, a former director of Central Intelligence. The move was widely seen as an acknowledgment that the Administration was paying a political price for the debacle in Iraq. Gates was a member of the Iraq Study Group—headed by former Secretary of State James Baker and Lee Hamilton, a former Democratic congressman—which has been charged with examining new approaches to Iraq, and he has publicly urged for more than a year that the U.S. begin direct talks with Iran. President Bush’s decision to turn to Gates was a sign of the White House’s “desperation,” a former high-level C.I.A. official, who worked with the White House after September 11th, told me.

Cheney’s relationship with Rumsfeld was among the closest inside the Administration, and Gates’s nomination was seen by some Republicans as a clear signal that the Vice-President’s influence in the White House could be challenged. The only reason Gates would take the job, after turning down an earlier offer to serve as the new Director of National Intelligence, the former high-level C.I.A. official said, was that “the President’s father, Brent Scowcroft, and James Baker”—former aides of the first President Bush—“piled on, and the President finally had to accept adult supervision.”

Critical decisions will be made in the next few months, the former C.I.A. official said. “Bush has followed Cheney’s advice for six years, and the story line will be: ‘Will he continue to choose Cheney over his father?’ We’ll know soon.” (The White House and the Pentagon declined to respond to detailed requests for comment about this article, other than to say that there were unspecified inaccuracies.)

A retired four-star general who worked closely with the first Bush Administration told me that the Gates nomination means that Scowcroft, Baker, the elder Bush, and his son “are saying that winning the election in 2008 is more important than the individual. The issue for them is how to preserve the Republican agenda. The Old Guard wants to isolate Cheney and give their girl, Condoleezza Rice” — the Secretary of State — “a chance to perform.” The combination of Scowcroft, Baker, and the senior Bush working together is, the general added, “tough enough to take on Cheney. One guy can’t do it.”

Richard Armitage, the Deputy Secretary of State in Bush’s first term, told me that he believed the Democratic election victory, followed by Rumsfeld’s dismissal, meant that the Administration “has backed off,” in terms of the pace of its planning for a military campaign against Iran. Gates and other decision-makers would now have more time to push for a diplomatic solution in Iran and deal with other, arguably more immediate issues. “Iraq is as bad as it looks, and Afghanistan is worse than it looks,” Armitage said. “A year ago, the Taliban were fighting us in units of eight to twelve, and now they’re sometimes in company-size, and even larger.” Bombing Iran and expecting the Iranian public “to rise up” and overthrow the government, as some in the White House believe, Armitage added, “is a fool’s errand.”

“Iraq is the disaster we have to get rid of, and Iran is the disaster we have to avoid,” Joseph Cirincione, the vice-president for national security at the liberal Center for American Progress, said. “Gates will be in favor of talking to Iran and listening to the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but the neoconservatives are still there”—in the White House—“and still believe that chaos would be a small price for getting rid of the threat. The danger is that Gates could be the new Colin Powell—the one who opposes the policy but ends up briefing the Congress and publicly supporting it.” ...

Copyright © CondéNet 2006.

January 7th, 2007, 10:16 PM
Israel denies planning for Iran nuclear attack

U.K. newspaper reports Israel intends to strike up to three targets in Iran

Updated: 5:59 p.m. ET Jan 7, 2007
LONDON - A British newspaper reported Sunday that Israeli pilots were training to strike targets in Iran with low-yield nuclear weapons, but Israel swiftly denied the report and analysts expressed doubts about its reliability.

Citing unidentified Israeli military sources, The Sunday Times said the proposals drawn up in Israel involved using so-called “bunker-buster” nuclear weapons to attack nuclear facilities at three sites south of the Iranian capital.

Israel has never confirmed it has nuclear weapons, although the Jewish state is widely believed to possess a significant stockpile.

Iran says its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes like generating electricity.

The Sunday Times reported that Israeli military officials believed Iran could produce enough enriched uranium to build nuclear weapons within two years, and the newspaper said Israeli pilots had made flights to the British colony of Gibraltar to train for the 2,000-mile round trip to the Iranian targets.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office declined to comment on the report. “We don’t respond to publications in The Sunday Times,” said spokeswoman Miri Eisin.

However Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev denied the report, saying: “if diplomacy succeeds, the problem can be solved peaceably.”

The United States and its allies suspect Tehran of secretly trying to produce atomic weapons there.

Some view Israeli officials’ occasional implied threats as a means of pressuring the world community to take action, building on the recent United Nations Security Council decision to impose some economic sanctions on Tehran for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment.

Some analysts viewed Sunday’s report as another element of delicate diplomacy.

“I refuse to believe that anyone here would consider using nuclear weapons against Iran,” Reuven Pedatzur, a prominent defense analyst and columnist for the Israeli daily Haaretz, told the AP. “It is possible that this was a leak done on purpose, as deterrence, to say: ’Someone better hold us back, before we do something crazy.”’

Ephraim Kam — a former senior intelligence official now at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Strategic Studies — also suggested the report should not be taken literally. “No reliable source would ever speak about this, certainly not to the Sunday Times,” he said.

© 2006 The Associated Press.

January 9th, 2007, 06:05 AM
let's combine together one other part with Iran story!

Azeri officials have appointed a Turk general (from Turkey) to the ministery of Defense in Azerbaijan(another turkic land). I saw this news in turkish press.

Although Israil denies an attack to Iran, this movement in Azerbaijan can be a precaution for a potential coming danger in the region caused by Iran.

Turkey said many times to Iran that Iran uses it's last chances to turn from the mind back that Iran will have nuclear weapons. nuclear activities for producing weapons will not be allowed... acc. to my knowledge not only USA but also EU and Russia, Israil and Turkey do not want Iran to have nuc. weapons

January 11th, 2007, 11:23 AM
US takes action against Iranian bank

Thursday, January 11, 2007


The U.S. Treasury Department named Iran's state-owned Bank Sepah as a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction and said on Tuesday it was urging other countries to help block Iran's nuclear program.
The action against Bank Sepah means no U.S. companies or citizens can do business with it, and any of its assets that come under U.S. jurisdiction will be blocked.
“Bank Sepah is the financial linchpin of Iran's missile procurement network and has actively assisted Iran's pursuit of missiles capable of carrying weapons of mass destruction,” said Stuart Levey, Treasury's under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.
Levey said the United States was urging other nations to join the bid “to deny financial assistance to Iran's nuclear and missile programs,” as supported by a United Nations Security Council resolution passed last month.
In addition to Bank Sepah, the Treasury order names Sepah International Plc, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank Sepah in Britain and the bank's chairman and director, Ahmad Derakhshandeh, as weapons proliferators.

Iran's response:
In Tehran, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, told Iran's Student News Agency ISNA, “This is not the first time that such measures of America take place and the bank harassments of America have happened in some cases, however these are not issues that can affect Iran's will.”
The U.S. action was taken under an executive order by President George W. Bush signed in June 2005 and reflects the administration's determination to use U.S. legal authority to pressure Iran to abandon its nuclear program.
Iran denies that it is seeking nuclear weapons and says its program is for peaceful energy uses only.

‘Proliferation and terrorism':
Iran was “facilitating its proliferation and terrorism activities through the world's financial system, using its state-owned banks and an array of front companies and other deceptive techniques” to evade controls that responsible financial institutions put in place, Levey said.
There was a growing movement by global financial institutions to scale back their dealings with Iran, he said. They were doing it because “they did not wish to be the banker for a regime that funds terrorism, defies the U.N. Security Council in pursuing a nuclear program and deliberately conceals the nature of its business.” In September, Levey announced measures to cut off one of Iran's main state-owned banks, Saderat, from dealings with the U.S. financial system, accusing the Iranian government of using the bank to transfer money to terrorist organizations. The U.N. Security Council in December imposed sanctions that target 10 Iranian organizations or companies and 12 individuals associated with Tehran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

January 11th, 2007, 11:29 AM
Squadron of 24 F-16 fighters lands at US base in Incirlik

http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/_newsimages/2698377.jpgA certain silence which had reigned over the US Incirlik Air Force base in the Turkish city of Adana for the past 3 years came to a close today.

After an absence of 3 years, a squadron of 24 US F-16 fighter jets landed at Incirlik yesterday, reinforced also by an early warning system AWACS airplane, as well as tanker airplanes meant for mid-air fuel replenishing. The F-16s which landed at Incirlik yesterday began flight training runs in Adana this morning, although authorities did not comment on whether the jets will be staying at Adana for a long duration or only temporarily.

January 11th, 2007, 06:24 PM
Iranian Consulate in Erbil raided by US forces as Bush gives speech

http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/_newsimages/2702912.jpgJust as US President George W. Bush was explaining his new strategies on Iraq to the American nation yesterday evening, a raid was being carried out on the official Iranian Consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil at 3 in the morning local time. During the raid, 5 Iranians were arrested, and their computers and documents were consficated.

US authorities have not yet commented on the early morning raid on the Erbil Iranian Consulate, though it was noted that in his speech, President Bush had underlined that "Military precautions will be taken in Iraq against enemy activities by Iranian and Syrian forces based in Iraq against the coalition troops." Some sources speculated that the raid on the Iranian Consulate in Erbil signalled a start to the implementation of this new tactic.

The first news of the Erbil raid came this morning on Iraqi state and Kurdish television channels. During the last week of December 2006, US troops arrested 4 Iranians who had come to Iraq as the guests of Talabani. Two of the 4 were military authorities, while the other 2 were diplomats. Following negative reaction from both Iran and Talabani himself, the US troops let the group of 4 Iranians go free.

January 11th, 2007, 06:41 PM
U.S. Newswire
January 11, 2007

Veterans for America Calls for Full Congressional Debate Regarding US-IRAN Policy


Contact: Aric Caplan for Veterans for America, +1-301-770-0550

ROCKVILLE, Md., Jan. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Following is a statement by Bobby Muller, president of Veterans for America (formerly the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation), and a co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize:

In the past twenty-four hours, considerable attention has been focused on U.S.- Iran (http://search.news.yahoo.com/search/news/?p=Iran) relations. As a veteran of the Vietnam War, this discussion reminds me of U.S. actions during the Vietnam War. Specifically, after the United States encountered difficulties in Vietnam, the war was secretly expanded into Laos and Cambodia by the Nixon administration.

It is clear that Iran poses a major challenge to U.S. policymakers. That said, out of this set of considerable challenges, the administration should not short-circuit the debate in this country regarding how to deal with Iran.

Veterans for America (VFA) applauds those members of Congress for stating that Congress should fully debate all elements of U.S. policy toward Iran before actions such a preemptive attack are contemplated. A similar debate did not occur before the United States invaded Iraq (http://search.news.yahoo.com/search/news/?p=Iraq), nor before the United States invaded Laos and Cambodia. This must not happen again.

As veterans, we know firsthand the incredible sacrifices demanded by war. We are especially aware that engaging in such an action against Iran or other states would place incredible stress on our already overburdened military. The social contract between our service members, our government, and the American people has been broken. By engaging in a full debate -- allowing the voices of all affected by war to be heard -- Congress can begin to repair this breach.

SOURCE: Veterans for America

http://news.yahoo.com/s/usnw/20070111/pl_usnw/veterans_for_america_calls_for_full_congressional_ debate_regarding_us_iran_policy

January 17th, 2007, 12:24 AM
Special report: Iran Nuclear Crisis (http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/ylhwq/index.htm)
by Liang Youchang

TEHRAN, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- Iranian troops have shot down a U.S. pilotless spy plane recently, an Iranian lawmaker announced on Tuesday as the Islamic Republic was facing increasing military pressure from its arch rival -- the United States.
The aircraft was brought down when it was trying to cross the borders "during the last few days," Seyed Nezam Mola Hoveizeh, a member of the parliament, was quoted by the local Fars News Agency as saying.
The lawmaker gave no exact date of the shooting-down or any other details about the incident, but he said that "the United States sent such spy drones to the region every now and then."

The announcement came amid reports that the United States is increasingly flexing its muscles to counter Iran's growing regional assertiveness and put more pressure on Tehran over its controversial nuclear programs.
It was reported Tuesday that a second U.S. aircraft carrier, the USS John C. Stennis, will arrive in the Middle East in about one month, the first time since the U.S.-led Iraq war in 2003 that the United States will have two carrier battle groups in the region.
The USS John C. Stennis, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered carrier that has a capacity for 5,000 sailors, is scheduled to sail Tuesday from its home port of Bremerton, Washington, said Commander Kevin Aandahl of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain.
In about one month, the USS John C. Stennis, including an air wing of more than 80 tactical aircraft, will join Fifth Fleet forces that includes aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.
"This demonstrates our resolve to do what we can to bring security and stability to the region ... (and) dissuade others from acting counter to our national interest," Aandahl said.
U.S. President George W. Bush announced earlier this month that the United States was taking other steps to beef up security of Iraq and protect U.S. interests in the Middle East, such as sending an additional aircraft carrier to the Gulf and deploying Patriot air defense systems to the region.

The latest move comes just one day after new U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates made harsh remarks against Iran, indicating that Iran's perception of U.S. vulnerability in the region was part of the reason the Pentagon sent the aircraft carrier and the Patriot missiles.
"The Iranians are acting in a very negative way in many respects," Gates told reporters on Monday after a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in Brussels.
"The Iranians clearly believe that we are tied down in Iraq, that they have the initiative, that they are in a position to press us in many ways," Gates said.
Gates also said that the deployment of Patriot air defense systems and the second aircraft carrier in the Gulf region indicated the Bush administration's "reaffirmation" of the importance of the region, adding that stability in the region is in "long-term, strategic, vital interests" of the United States.
The United States accuses Iran of using its influence to meddle in the region, especially in Lebanon and Shiite-majority Iraq, besides seeking a nuclear weapon, which has been rejected by Iran.
In an interview with Fox News earlier the month, Vice President Dick Cheney said that Iran was "fishing in troubled waters" in Iraq, adding "we think it's very important that they keep their folks at home."
Meanwhile, U.S. forces are still holding five Iranians arrested in northern Iraq last week, who the United States says have been connected to an Iranian Revolutionary Guard faction that arms insurgents but Tehran says are merely consular staff.
In a show of defiance, an Iranian government spokesman said on Monday that the country was pushing ahead with its plan to install at least 3,000 centrifuges for nuclear fuel production.

January 17th, 2007, 01:00 PM

The Iranian army has shot down an American spy drone, according to a member of Iran’s parliament.

The drone, said to belong to the United States army, was downed while crossing the border into the country, MP Seyed Nezam Mola Hoveizeh told the Iranian Fars News Agency.

It was downed “during the last few days,” he said.

He pointed out this was not the first time the Americans had sent a spy drone to the region.

The report comes amid heightened tension between Iran and the U.S. over Tehran’s controversial nuclear program.

The United States Navy is denying the claim. "There has been no loss of any of our drones or UAVs and as a result, the claim that the Iranian government is making is false," said the Dubai-based U.S. Central Command spokesman, Capt. Frank Pascual.

Members of Iran’s parliamentary National Security and Foreign Policy Committee said more regional diplomatic efforts should be exerted to force American warships out of the Persian Gulf, according to the Iranian daily Siyasat-e Ruz.

Iran is concerned that the U.S. is beefing up forces in the region for a possible military attack.

Their unease was increased after the U.S. sent a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf this week.

The USS John C. Stennis, with its 3,200 sailors, left the U.S. on Tuesday and is expected to arrive in the Middle East in a matter of weeks.

This is the first time two U.S. aircraft carriers will be stationed in the Persian Gulf since the war on Iraq began in 2003. The carrier will significantly boost the U.S.’s airpower in the region.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan has said it will not allow the U.S. to wage military attacks on Iran. Afghani Foreign Minister Rengin Dadavar Sabanta said there was a “friendly and historical relationship” between Iran and Afghanistan.

Iran is helping rebuild Afghanistan and there are no disagreements between the two countries, he told the London-based A-Sharq Al-Awsat.

Washington is concerned that Iran intends to manufacture a nuclear weapon, while Tehran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Tehran is denying reports that the head of its Supreme National Security Council ‘Ali Larijani has requested Saudi Arabia’s help to defuse tension between Iran and the U.S.

By Rachelle Kliger on Wednesday, January 17, 2007

http://www.rawstory.com/showarticle.php?src=http%3A%2F%2Fthemedialine.org% 2Fnews%2Fnews_detail.asp%3FNewsID%3D16427

January 17th, 2007, 05:44 PM
Russia acknowledges sale of missiles to Iran

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


ISTANBUL - TDN with wire dispatches

Russia's defense minister said yesterday that Russia has sold Tor-M1 air defense missile systems to Iran. It was the first high-level confirmation that such a sale took place.
"We sent Tor-M1 missiles to Iran in accordance with the contract," Sergei Ivanov told reporters. Ivanov did not specify how many missile systems had been delivered, but a ministry official speaking on condition of anonymity said not all the systems contracted for had been delivered.
Ministry officials have previously said Moscow would supply 29 of the sophisticated missile systems to Iran under a US$700 million contract signed in December, according to Russian media reports.
"If the Iranian leadership has a desire to purchase more defense weapons, we would do that," Ivanov said, reported The Associated Press.
US call unheeded:The United States called on all countries last year to stop all arms exports to Iran, as well as ending all nuclear cooperation with it to put pressure on Tehran to halt uranium enrichment activities. Israel, too, has severely criticized arms deals with Iran.
The Tor-M1 deal, involving conventional weapons, does not violate any international agreements.
Russian officials say that the missiles are purely defensive weapons with a limited range.
The Tor-M1 system can identify up to 48 targets and fire at two targets simultaneously at a height of up to 6,000 meters (20,000 feet).
Russian media have reported previously that Moscow had conducted talks on selling even more powerful long-range S-300 air defense missiles, but Russian officials have denied that.
Moscow already has a lucrative, US$800 million contract to build Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, which is nearly complete.
Russia strongly supports Iran's right to nuclear energy but has joined the United States and Europe in demanding it halt enrichment to ease concerns.
Iran denies urging Saudi to mediate:
Meanwhile, Iran has denied it asked Saudi Arabia to ease tension with Washington over its disputed nuclear programme and Iraq but analysts said yesterday Tehran may be trying to prevent U.S.-allied Arab states lining up against it.
A Saudi official said on Monday that Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, had delivered a message from Iranian leaders to the Saudi king, urging him to convey a message of goodwill from Tehran to Washington.
"(The report about) Iran asking Saudi Arabia to mediate between Iran and America is baseless," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini was quoted as saying by the state-owned Iran newspaper.
State media has only said Larijani's visit was to improve relations, reported Reuters. "Iran and Saudi Arabia's cooperation helps to create a better climate for bringing Shi'ites and Sunnis together," Larijani told Iran's state radio on Tuesday. Analysts told Reuters that Larijani's visit to Riyadh may be part of efforts to prevent Sunni Muslim Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, which fret about Tehran's atomic ambitions, from lining up against Shiite Muslim Iran, a worry expressed by Iran's leadership.Larijani's visit came shortly before U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday, as part of a Middle East tour. Rice and other U.S. leaders have put a fresh emphasis on checking Iran's influence in Iraq and elsewhere.
Larijani's visit, said Iranian political scientist Nasser Hadian-Jazy, "is a counter move to what Secretary Rice is going to do to unite the Arabs against Iran." But he said it also shows the renewed influence of moderate conservatives, such as Larijani, amid growing public criticism of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his anti-U.S. speeches that are seen to have exacerbated tensions, particularly over the nuclear issue.

Syrian revamping:
In another development, a website claimed to be close to Israeli intelligence circles wrote that Syria is also revamping its armed forces.
According to the website DebkaFile, two new mechanized divisions of the armed forces are under construction and when they are completed next spring, the armed forces will consist of 12 divisions.
Noting that the government has bought “a huge fleet of tanks” from Russia, DebkaFile claimed that Syria also procured advanced missile technology from Iran. The website also claimed that “anti-tank rockets have been introduced as standard equipment in all units down to company level” after Hezbollah's successful guerilla warfare tactics in Israel's assault on Lebanon.

January 21st, 2007, 02:52 AM
And why was it located in "News In Brief" -- deep into most of the newspapers that printed it?

Musicial, thank you for the wake up call.

January 21st, 2007, 02:59 AM
Leading Senator Assails Bush Over Iran Stance

Doug Mills/The New York Times
Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the new chairman of the Intelligence Committee, questioned the administration’s understanding of Iran.

By MARK MAZZETTI (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/mark_mazzetti/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
The New York Times
January 20, 2007

WASHINGTON, Jan. 19 — The new chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Friday sharply criticized the Bush administration’s increasingly combative stance toward Iran (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/iran/index.html?inline=nyt-geo), saying that White House efforts to portray it as a growing threat are uncomfortably reminiscent of rhetoric about Iraq before the American invasion of 2003.

Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat who took control of the committee this month, said that the administration was building a case against Tehran even as American intelligence agencies still know little about either Iran’s internal dynamics or its intentions in the Middle East.

“To be quite honest, I’m a little concerned that it’s Iraq again,” Senator Rockefeller said during an interview in his office. “This whole concept of moving against Iran is bizarre.”

Mr. Rockefeller did not say which aspects of the Bush administration’s case against Iran he thought were not supported by solid intelligence. He did say he agreed with the White House that Iranian operatives inside Iraq were supporting Shiite militias and working against American troops.

Mr. Rockefeller said he believed President Bush was getting poor advice from advisers who argue that an uncompromising stance toward the government in Tehran will serve American interests.

“I don’t think that policy makers in this administration particularly understand Iran,” he said.

The comments of Mr. Rockefeller reflect the mounting concerns being voiced by other influential Democrats, including the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r/harry_reid/index.html?inline=nyt-per) of Nevada, and Senator Joseph R. Biden (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/joseph_r_jr_biden/index.html?inline=nyt-per) Jr. of Delaware, about the Bush administration’s approach to Iran. The Democrats have warned that the administration is moving toward a confrontation with Iran when the United States has neither the military resources nor the support among American allies and members of Congress to carry out such a move.

Because Mr. Rockefeller is one of a handful of lawmakers with access to the most classified intelligence about the threat from Iran, his views carry particular weight. He has also historically been more tempered in his criticism of the White House on national security issues than some of his Democratic colleagues.

Mr. Rockefeller was biting in his criticism of how President Bush has dealt with the threat of Islamic radicalism since the Sept. 11 attacks, saying he believed that the campaign against international terrorism was “still a mystery” to the president.

“I don’t think he understands the world,” Mr. Rockefeller said. “I don’t think he’s particularly curious about the world. I don’t think he reads like he says he does.”

He added, “Every time he’s read something he tells you about it, I think.”
Last week, the Intelligence Committee heard testimony from John D. Negroponte (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/n/john_d_negroponte/index.html?inline=nyt-per), the director of national intelligence, that an emboldened Iran was casting a shadow across the Middle East and could decide to send Hezbollah (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/h/hezbollah/index.html?inline=nyt-org) operatives on missions to hit American targets.

Mr. Negroponte testified the morning after President Bush had, in a televised address to the nation, said he was determined to confront what he called worrying activities by Iranian operatives in Iraq, and announced that the Pentagon was building up the American naval presence in the Persian Gulf and sending a battery of Patriot missiles to deter Iranian aggression.

Some Democrats have suggested that Mr. Bush’s speech was the beginning of a meticulously choreographed campaign to demonize Iran, much the way the administration built its public case against Iraq.

In a speech on Friday, Mr. Reid warned the White House not to take military action against Iran without seeking approval from Congress.

Gordon D. Johndroe, a White House spokesman, said in response to Senator Rockefeller’s comments that Iran was taking provocative actions both inside Iraq and elsewhere, and that American allies were united in efforts to end what intelligence officials believe is a covert nuclear weapons program inside the country.

“It has been clear for some time that Iran has been meddling in Iraq, and the Iraqis have made the concerns known to the Iranians,” Mr. Johndroe said. He noted that the administration has said it would be willing to begin direct talks with Iran — which have not occurred since 1979 — if Iran agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities.

Gen. Michael V. Hayden (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/h/michael_v_hayden/index.html?inline=nyt-per), director of the Central Intelligence Agency (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/c/central_intelligence_agency/index.html?inline=nyt-org), told lawmakers on Thursday that over the past year and a half he had come to a “much darker interpretation” of Iran’s activities inside Iraq.

“I think there’s a clear line of evidence that points out the Iranians want to punish the United States, hurt the United States in Iraq, tie down the United States in Iraq, so that our other options in the region, against other activities the Iranians might have, would be limited,” he said.

Mr. Rockefeller’s committee is working to complete a long-delayed investigation into the misuse of intelligence about Iraq in the months before the American-led invasion.

He said that the committee was nearing completion on one part of that investigation, concerning whether the White House ignored prewar C.I.A. assessments that Iraq could disintegrate into chaos.

That report, Mr. Rockefeller said, could be released within months and was “not going to make for pleasant reading at the White House.”

Mr. Rockefeller said that with Democrats now in charge of the Intelligence Committee, he expected the panel to be much more aggressive, both in investigating the use of intelligence to fashion White House policy and in subjecting secret intelligence programs to new scrutiny. He mentioned the C.I.A’s network of secret prisons and the National Security Agency (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/n/national_security_agency/index.html?inline=nyt-org)’s domestic wiretapping program as likely subjects of investigations.

“We weren’t able to drill down on a lot of stuff” during the years in which the Intelligence Committee was under Republican control, Mr. Rockefeller said. “Now, there’s a very different attitude.”


January 21st, 2007, 09:27 AM
January 21, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist


Lying Like It’s 2003


THOSE who forget history may be doomed to repeat it, but who could imagine we’d already be in danger of replaying that rotten year 2003?
Scooter Libby, the mastermind behind the White House’s bogus scenarios for ginning up the war in Iraq, is back at Washington’s center stage, proudly defending the indefensible in a perjury trial. Ahmad Chalabi, the peddler of flawed prewar intelligence hyped by Mr. Libby, is back in clover in Baghdad, where he purports to lead the government’s Shiite-Baathist reconciliation efforts in between visits to his pal Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran.

Last but never least is Mr. Libby’s former boss and Mr. Chalabi’s former patron, Dick Cheney, who is back on Sunday-morning television floating fictions about Iraq and accusing administration critics of aiding Al Qaeda. When the vice president went on a tear like this in 2003, hawking Iraq’s nonexistent W.M.D. and nonexistent connections to Mohamed Atta, he set the stage for a war that now kills Iraqi civilians in rising numbers (34,000-plus last year) that are heading into the genocidal realms of Saddam. Mr. Cheney’s latest sales pitch is for a new plan for “victory” promising an even bigger bloodbath.

Mr. Cheney was honest, at least, when he said that the White House’s Iraq policy would remain “full speed ahead!” no matter what happened on Nov. 7. Now it is our patriotic duty — politicians, the press and the public alike — to apply the brakes. Our failure to check the administration when it rushed into Iraq in 2003 will look even more shameful to history if we roll over again for a reboot in 2007. For all the belated Washington scrutiny of the war since the election, and for all the heralded (if so far symbolic) Congressional efforts to challenge it, too much lip service is still being paid to the deceptive P.R. strategies used by the administration to sell its reckless policies. This time we must do what too few did the first time: call the White House on its lies. Lies should not be confused with euphemisms like “incompetence” and “denial.”

Mr. Cheney’s performance last week on “Fox News Sunday” illustrates the problem; his lying is nowhere near its last throes. Asked by Chris Wallace about the White House’s decision to overrule commanders who recommended against a troop escalation, the vice president said, “I don’t think we’ve overruled the commanders.” He claimed we’ve made “enormous progress” in Iraq. He said the administration is not “embattled.” (Well, maybe that one is denial.)

This White House gang is so practiced in lying with a straight face that it never thinks twice about recycling its greatest hits. Hours after Mr. Cheney’s Fox interview, President Bush was on “60 Minutes,” claiming that before the war “everybody was wrong on weapons of mass destruction” and that “the minute we found out” the W.M.D. didn’t exist he “was the first to say so.” Everybody, of course, was not wrong on W.M.D., starting with the United Nations weapons inspection team in Iraq. Nor was Mr. Bush the first to come clean once the truth became apparent after the invasion. On May 29, 2003 — two days after a secret Defense Intelligence Agency-sponsored mission found no biological weapons in trailers captured by American forces — Mr. Bush declared: “We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories.”

But that’s all W.M.D under the bridge. The most important lies to watch for now are the new ones being reiterated daily by the administration’s top brass, from Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney on down. You know fiasco awaits America when everyone in the White House is reading in unison from the same fictional script, as they did back in the day when “mushroom clouds” and “uranium from Africa” were the daily drumbeat.

The latest lies are custom-made to prop up the new “way forward” that is anything but. Among the emerging examples is a rewriting of the history of Iraq’s sectarian violence. The fictional version was initially laid out by Mr. Bush in his Jan. 10 prime-time speech and has since been repeated on television by both Mr. Cheney and the national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, last Sunday and by Mr. Bush again on PBS’s “NewsHour” on Tuesday. It goes like this: sectarian violence didn’t start spiraling out of control until the summer of 2006, after Sunni terrorists bombed the Golden Mosque in Samarra and forced the Shiites to take revenge.

But as Mark Seibel of McClatchy Newspapers noted last week, “the president’s account understates by at least 15 months when Shiite death squads began targeting Sunni politicians and clerics.” They were visible in embryo long before that; The Times, among others, reported as far back as September 2003 that Shiite militias were becoming more radical, dangerous and anti-American. The reasons Mr. Bush pretends that Shiite killing started only last year are obvious enough. He wants to duck culpability for failing to recognize the sectarian violence from the outset — much as he failed to recognize the Sunni insurgency before it — and to underplay the intractability of the civil war to which he will now sacrifice fresh American flesh.

An equally big lie is the administration’s constant claim that it is on the same page as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki as we go full speed ahead. Only last month Mr. Maliki told The Wall Street Journal that he wished he “could be done with” his role as Iraq’s leader “before the end of this term.” Now we are asked to believe not merely that he is a strongman capable of vanquishing the death squads of the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr, his political ally, but also that he can be trusted to produce the troops he failed to supply in last year’s failed Baghdad crackdown. Yet as recently as November, there still wasn’t a single Iraqi battalion capable of fighting on its own.
Hardly a day passes without Mr. Maliki mocking the White House’s professed faith in him. In the past week or so alone, he has presided over a second botched hanging (despite delaying it for more than two weeks to put in place new guidelines), charged Condi Rice with giving a “morale boost to the terrorists” because she criticized him, and overruled American objections to appoint an obscure commander from deep in Shiite territory to run the Baghdad “surge.” His government doesn’t even try to hide its greater allegiance to Iran. Mr. Maliki’s foreign minister has asked for the release of the five Iranians detained in an American raid on an Iranian office in northern Iraq this month and, on Monday, called for setting up more Iranian “consulates” in Iraq.

The president’s pretense that Mr. Maliki and his inept, ill-equipped, militia-infiltrated security forces can advance American interests in this war is Neville Chamberlain-like in its naiveté and disingenuousness. An American military official in Baghdad read the writing on the wall to The Times last week: “We are implementing a strategy to embolden a government that is actually part of the problem. We are being played like a pawn.” That’s why the most destructive lie of all may be the White House’s constant refrain that its doomed strategy is the only one anyone has proposed. Administration critics, Mr. Cheney said last Sunday, “have absolutely nothing to offer in its place,” as if the Iraq Study Group, John Murtha and Joseph Biden-Leslie Gelb plans, among others, didn’t predate the White House’s own.

In reality we’re learning piece by piece that it is the White House that has no plan. Ms. Rice has now downsized the surge/escalation into an “augmentation,” inadvertently divulging how the Pentagon is improvising, juggling small deployments in fits and starts. No one can plausibly explain how a parallel chain of command sending American and Iraqi troops into urban street combat side by side will work with Iraqis in the lead (it will report to a “committee” led by Mr. Maliki!). Or how $1 billion in new American reconstruction spending will accomplish what the $30 billion thrown down the drain in previous reconstruction spending did not.

All of this replays 2003, when the White House refused to consider any plan, including existing ones in the Pentagon and State Department bureaucracies, for coping with a broken post-Saddam Iraq. Then, as at every stage of the war since, the only administration plan was for a propaganda campaign to bamboozle American voters into believing “victory” was just around the corner.

The next push on the “way forward” propaganda campaign arrives Tuesday night, with the State of the Union address. The good news is that the Democrats have chosen Jim Webb, the new Virginia senator, to give their official response. Mr. Webb, a Reagan administration Navy secretary and the father of a son serving in Iraq, has already provoked a testy exchange about the war with the president at a White House reception for freshmen in Congress. He’s the kind of guy likely to keep a scorecard of the lies on Tuesday night. But whether he does or not, it’s incumbent on all those talking heads who fell for “shock and awe” and “Mission Accomplished” in 2003 to not let history repeat itself in 2007. Facing the truth is the only way forward in Iraq.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

February 12th, 2007, 09:50 AM
February 12, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

Scary Movie 2


Attacking Iran would be a catastrophic mistake, even if all the allegations now being made about Iranian actions in Iraq are true.

But it wouldn’t be the first catastrophic mistake this administration has made, and there are indications that, at the very least, a powerful faction in the administration is spoiling for a fight.

Before we get to the apparent war-mongering, let’s talk about the basics. Are there people in Iran providing aid to factions in Iraq, factions that sometimes kill Americans as well as other Iraqis? Yes, probably. But you can say the same about Saudi Arabia, which is believed to be a major source of financial support for Sunni insurgents — and Sunnis, not Iranian-backed Shiites, are still responsible for most American combat deaths.

The Bush administration, however, with its close personal and financial ties to the Saudis, has always downplayed Saudi connections to America’s enemies. Iran, on the other hand, which had no connection to 9/11, and was actually quite helpful to the United States in the months after the terrorist attack, somehow found itself linked with its bitter enemy Saddam Hussein as part of the “axis of evil.”

So the administration has always had it in for the Iranian regime. Now, let’s do an O. J. Simpson: if you were determined to start a war with Iran, how would you do it?

First, you’d set up a special intelligence unit to cook up rationales for war. A good model would be the Pentagon’s now-infamous Office of Special Plans, led by Abram Shulsky, that helped sell the Iraq war with false claims about links to Al Qaeda.

Sure enough, last year Donald Rumsfeld set up a new “Iranian directorate” inside the Pentagon’s policy shop. And last September Warren Strobel and John Walcott of McClatchy Newspapers — who were among the few journalists to warn that the administration was hyping evidence on Iraqi W.M.D. — reported that “current and former officials said the Pentagon’s Iranian directorate has been headed by Abram Shulsky.”

Next, you’d go for a repeat of the highly successful strategy by which scare stories about the Iraqi threat were disseminated to the public.

This time, however, the assertions wouldn’t be about W.M.D.; they’d be that Iranian actions are endangering U.S. forces in Iraq. Why? Because there’s no way Congress will approve another war resolution. But if you can claim that Iran is doing evil in Iraq, you can assert that you don’t need authorization to attack — that Congress has already empowered the administration to do whatever is necessary to stabilize Iraq. And by the time the lawyers are finished arguing — well, the war would be in full swing.

Finally, you’d build up forces in the area, both to prepare for the strike and, if necessary, to provoke a casus belli. There’s precedent for the idea of provocation: in a January 2003 meeting with Prime Minster Tony Blair, The New York Times reported last year, President Bush “talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire.”

In the end, Mr. Bush decided that he didn’t need a confrontation to start that particular war. But war with Iran is a harder sell, so sending several aircraft carrier groups into the narrow waters of the Persian Gulf, where a Gulf of Tonkin-type incident could all too easily happen, might be just the thing.

O.K., I hope I’m worrying too much. Those carrier groups could be going to the Persian Gulf just as a warning.

But you have to wonder about the other stuff. Why would the Pentagon put someone who got everything wrong on Iraq in charge of intelligence on Iran? Why wasn’t any official willing to take personal responsibility for the reliability of alleged evidence of Iranian mischief, as opposed to being an anonymous source? If the evidence is solid enough to bear close scrutiny, why were all cameras and recording devices, including cellphones, banned from yesterday’s Baghdad briefing?

It’s still hard to believe that they’re really planning to attack Iran, when it’s so obvious that another war would be a recipe for even bigger disaster. But remember who’s calling the shots: Dick Cheney thinks we’ve had “enormous successes” in Iraq.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

March 15th, 2007, 10:31 AM
Iranian grievances stretch back millenia. :rolleyes:

‘300’ angers Iranians

By WIRE REPORTS - March 13, 2007

The hit movie “300” has angered Iranians who say the Greeks-vs-Persians action flick insults their ancient culture and provokes animosity against Iran.

“Hollywood declares war on Iranians,” blared a headline in yesterday’s edition of the independent Ayende-No newspaper.

The movie, which raked in $70 million in its opening weekend, is based on a comic-book fantasy version of the battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C., in which a force of 300 Spartans held off a massive Persian army at a mountain pass in Greece for three days.

Even some American reviewers noted the political overtones of the West-against-Iran story line — and the way Persians are depicted as decadent, sexually flamboyant and evil in contrast to the noble Greeks.

March 5, 2007

That Film's Real Message? It Could Be: 'Buy a Ticket'


Three weeks ago a handful of reporters at an international press junket here for the Warner Brothers movie ''300,'' about the battle of Thermopylae some 2,500 years ago, cornered the director Zack Snyder with an unanticipated question.

''Is George Bush Leonidas or Xerxes?'' one of them asked.

The questioner, by Mr. Snyder's recollection, insisted that Mr. Bush was Xerxes, the Persian emperor who led his force against Greek's city states in 480 B.C., unleashing an army on a small country guarded by fanatical guerilla fighters so he could finish a job his father had left undone. More likely, another reporter chimed in, Mr. Bush was Leonidas, the Spartan king who would defend freedom at any cost.

Mr. Snyder, who said he intended neither analogy when he set out to adapt the graphic novel created by Frank Miller with Lynn Varley in 1998, suddenly knew he had the contemporary version of a water-cooler movie on his hands. And it has turned out to be one that could be construed as a thinly veiled polemic against the Bush administration, or be seen by others as slyly supporting it.

In the era of media clutter, film marketers increasingly welcome controversy as a way to get attention for their more provocative fare. The companies behind the Dixie Chicks documentary ''Shut Up & Sing'' and ''Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,'' for example, positively reveled in it.

But the dance can be more delicate when viewers find a potentially divisive message in big studio movies that were meant more to entertain than enlighten. The danger is that an accidental political overtone will alienate part of the potential audience for a film that needs broad appeal to succeed.

Spontaneous debate on the Internet and around the office can be a film's best friend when, as with a picture like ''The Passion of the Christ,'' even potential negatives, like accusations of anti-Semitic undertones, feed curiosity.

''Whatever the question is, it's wonderful for the movie,'' said Peter Sealey, a former Columbia Pictures executive who is now an adjunct professor of marketing at Claremont Graduate University's Drucker School of Management.

Yet studios can be wary of seeming to foster it. Walt Disney largely sidestepped arguments about whether its Pixar-created animated film ''The Incredibles'' was quietly channeling Ayn Rand. ''We feel that the longer we either refute or debate a subject like that, the more the story will live,'' said Dennis Rice, senior vice president of marketing for Disney's Buena Vista Pictures unit. ''So we chose to do nothing.''

Executives at Warner, which is releasing ''300'' in the United States on Friday declined to discuss the studio's approach in marketing the film. Billboards and trailers, seeming to mirror Disney's tack with ''The Incredibles,'' have focused heavily on the picture's battle action and visual flamboyance -- ''Prepare for Glory!'' runs the most oft-repeated advertising line -- while avoiding some deeper story elements that are stirring unexpectedly heated reactions, especially abroad.

Shortly after his press-junket grilling Mr. Snyder -- an established commercials director, whose best-known previous credit was a remake of George Romero's ''Dawn of the Dead'' -- ran into some surprising reactions at the Berlinale film festival in Germany. Some attendees walked out of a screening there, while others insisted on seeing its presentation of the Spartans' defense of Western civilization in the face of a Persian horde as propaganda for America's position vis-à-vis Iraq and Iran. (By contrast it drew applause at a Los Angeles screening last month.)

''Don't you think it's interesting that your movie was funded at this point?'' Mr. Snyder recalled being asked in Berlin. ''The implication was that funding came from the U.S. government.''

When a Feb. 22 report on Wired.com carried a brief mention of the question about Mr. Bush's proper parallel in the film, Web commentators in the United States began to lock on its supposed political vibe. Yet attempts by both the left and the right to appropriate the lessons of Thermopylae clearly predated the movie.

Mr. Bush has been compared to Xerxes at least since his ''axis of evil'' speech in the wake of 9/11, for instance, while the Spartan cry ''Molon labe,'' or ''Come and take them,'' has long been a rallying call for supporters of the right to bear arms.

According to Deborah Snyder, Mr. Snyder's wife and an executive producer of ''300'' (which has more than a dozen credited producers of various levels, including Mark Canton and Gianni Nunnari), some changes to Mr. Miller's original story may have inadvertently amplified its political resonance.

In a key twist Mr. Snyder and his collaborators expanded the presence of Gorgo, the Spartan queen and Leonidas's wife, including, among other things, a sequence in which she inspires a wavering populace and weak-willed council to resist the Eastern armies even at the cost of battle deaths. ''Her story is that she is trying to rally the troops,'' said Ms. Snyder, who dismissed as irrelevant a question about her and her husband's personal political philosophies.

Mr. Snyder acknowledged that Mr. Miller -- who declined to be interviewed for this article -- had opened the door for contemporary comparisons with his passionate, if not entirely accurate, portrayal of the ancient Spartans as saviors of Western civilization. ''He'd be on their side regardless of who they were fighting, because he just loves them,'' Mr. Snyder said.

Thanks to computer-generated effects that contribute to ''300's'' highly stylized look, the film's cost, according to its makers, was considerably less than the outsized production budgets of ''Troy,'' which did relatively well for Warner, and ''Alexander,'' which did not. But Warner could use a hit after finishing last year behind several competitors at the domestic box office. (A success in the second half of 2006, like ''Happy Feet,'' could only do so much to make up for duds like ''Poseidon.'')

And the enormous expense of making and marketing any major studio picture -- the combined costs appear likely to exceed $100 million in the case of ''300'' -- sharpens the risk in alienating a portion of the hoped-for audience.

In any case Mr. Snyder said he was pleased about the debate, though he never meant the movie to provoke it. ''If that's a by-product, that's good,'' he said.

* Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Opinion Daily

Don't tell the Spartans

Future Weapons and 300 show that make-believe war is still popular even as the real thing loses market share.

By Sonni Efron

March 13, 2007

So, we went and invaded the wrong country and things are not going well there, and so our president has ordered in another 4700 troops on top of the 21,500 troop increase he ordered in January. But they're only going there in a supporting role, so the story didn't make Page One. Anyway, the real news over the weekend was that a comic book-turned-war movie just grossed $70 million, a record for March.

Huh? You haven't heard about the Spartan bloodbath 300? It's billed as one of the most violent war movies ever made—competition for that category grows ever-fiercer—but brutal is beautiful according to director Zack Snyder.

In case you are not male and under the age of 25, or for some other reason you still associate images of unspeakable violence and human carnage with feelings of shock, horror, extreme nausea or even empathy, you might want to steer clear of 300. Suffice it to say that 300 Spartans fight to the death in 480 AD holding off an onslaught of effete and evil Persians. (We know they are evil because their king, Xerxes, is into heavy piercing.)

It's probably hopeless to demand redeeming social importance from a film that makes mega-millions from beautifying violence. But it's fair to talk the politics of avoidance. So let me note that the timing is fortuitous for a film about a battle to save Western civilization in 480 BC from the ... Iranians.

It wasn't meant to be; Snyder started work on the film seven years ago and says the politics caught up with him. "I've had people ask me if Xerxes or Leonidas is George W. Bush," Snyder told the Times recently. "I say, 'Great. Awesome. If it inspires you to think about the current geopolitical situation, cool.'"

The problem is that our popular culture doesn't want to talk about the consequences of war. We have reality TV but it doesn't serve up in-depth coverage of the three struggles that are going very badly for the United States: the raging war in Iraq, the chronic war in Afghanistan and the still-diplomatic war with Iran over that state's nuclear ambitions.

War in the abstract is entertaining, though. It's the ultimate thrillah for a video-game culture craving a reality fix. Perhaps that explains the success of Future Weapons: The Next Generation of Firepower, a hot show on Discovery Channel. It features Mack the friendly former navy SEAL showing off all the Pentagon's latest whiz-bangery. The bangs are big enough to attract 1.5 million viewers, even though it's up against 24 at 9 p.m. on Mondays, according to Discovery spokesman Joshua Weinberg. The Pentagon is not funding the show, Weinberg said, but since it's doing terrifically well among 18-24-year-old males, you can bet it's a potent recruiting tool.

It's also reassuringly divorced from reality, as was acknowledged last week by none other that the top commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, who noted that there is no military solution to that conflict.

Kirk Johnson, back from a frustrating stint at nation-building in Iraq with the US Agency for International Development, has been checking out Future Weapons with amusement and dismay.

"Nothing I saw would do any good on the streets of Falloujah, but it's a comfort thing," Johnson says. "It's reassuring, it's like we still pay all this money for our defense budget, we have all these awesome toys that other countries can't even dream of, but it has no relevance to the fact that we're losing in Iraq."

Still, war has been a moneymaker from time immemorial, so what am I whingeing about? It's true, I'm inconsistent: I object both to the explicit carnage in films like 300 and to the antiseptic military-industrial boosterism of Future Weapons, where they don't show the bodily damage done to people as a result of all the high-tech weaponry. This would be a good time to confess that I'm notoriously squeamish. I covered several wars as a foreign correspondent for the LA Times and saw too many dead bodies—soldiers, civilians, children, torture victims—ever to be able to stomach violence packaged as "entertainment." Half of Hollywood's fare these days leaves me struggling not to throw up into my popcorn.

I would feel better if this great fascination with war and violence made us try harder to prevent the next war from occurring. But the trailers of upcoming releases are not reassuring.

Sonni Efron is a member of The Times' editorial board.

Copyright 2007 Los Angeles Times

March 15th, 2007, 08:51 PM
I could care less about the Iranians. These are the scum who held Americans hostage in 1979 for at least a full year, and have -- to this day -- refused to apologize for it. The whole lot of them could disappear off the face of the Earth, and I wouldn't care one bit.

March 16th, 2007, 10:07 AM
I could care less about the Iranians. These are the scum who held Americans hostage in 1979 for at least a full year, and have -- to this day -- refused to apologize for it. The whole lot of them could disappear off the face of the Earth, and I wouldn't care one bit.

And you are the epitome of the reason that man is at war.

I may not agree with their political process or what they do in the world or locally, but holding that kind of bitter ire over 30 years to an entire nation you know very little about sounds rather...well....Iranian. ;)

(I would also say Turkish, but that might offend some here!!!.... oops;))

March 16th, 2007, 03:36 PM
Yep, and I also find it offensive that the lovely Peoples Republic of China thought it was A-OK to mow down unarmed students with tanks. And oh yes, that was more than a week ago, so I guess everything is peachy-keen with them eh? I have an elephant's memory because it serves my interests.

March 19th, 2007, 10:42 AM
Yep, and I also find it offensive that the lovely Peoples Republic of China thought it was A-OK to mow down unarmed students with tanks. And oh yes, that was more than a week ago, so I guess everything is peachy-keen with them eh? I have an elephant's memory because it serves my interests.

You are throwing everyone in the same barrel Bob.

What the hell does China have to do with Iran?

Please do not mix your blind hates up, it makes it harder to follow your rants.

March 30th, 2007, 09:19 AM
I'd be interested to know what you all think should be done about the 15 captured British soldiers in Iran?

March 30th, 2007, 10:13 AM
I'd be interested to know what you all think should be done about the 15 captured British soldiers in Iran?

They were'nt captured, they were just "delayed withdrawal". :P

May 18th, 2007, 01:37 AM
In Rare Turn, U.S. and Iran Schedule High-Level Security Talks in Baghdad

By DAVID S. CLOUD (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/david_s_cloud/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
The New York Times
May 18, 2007

BAGHDAD, May 17 — The United States and Iran (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/iran/index.html?inline=nyt-geo) on Thursday announced plans to hold rare face-to-face talks this month about Iraqi security, and the police in Mosul made mass arrests after a wave of bombings.

Formal announcement of the talks was made by a State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, in Washington and by Iran’s foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, during his visit to Islamabad, Pakistan. The talks are scheduled to be held in Baghdad on May 27.

In Baghdad, Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker told reporters at an embassy briefing that Iraq (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/iraq/index.html?inline=nyt-geo) would be the sole subject of the talks. He reiterated American assertions that Iran was backing sectarian militias and smuggling in components for bombs that have killed American troops.

“They have an extensive relationship with Iraq, but pretty clearly from our perspective not all aspects of it are helpful and some of it is positively dangerous,” said Mr. Crocker, who added that he would be the highest-ranking American official at the meeting.

The United States and Iran have not had formal diplomatic relations since 1980, and the Bush administration has insisted that Tehran must abandon its plans to enrich uranium before direct, high-level negotiations can take place. But the administration has recently been easing its opposition to diplomatic contact, particularly over Iraq.

Mr. Mottaki also said the discussion would be confined to Iraq, according to The Associated Press, and he reiterated Tehran’s objection to the presence of foreign troops in Iraq. “We do believe that a correct approach to Iraq should look to both points, or both areas of the difficulty,” he said. “Terrorists say that ‘We are doing this because of the foreign forces,’ and the foreign forces saying that ‘We are here because of the terrorist groups,’ ” he said.

In the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, the police arrested about 300 people in response to large attacks carried out there on Wednesday by Sunni Arab insurgents, according to Brig. Saeed al-Juburi, a spokesman for the Mosul police.

Four police officers died in the fighting on Wednesday, and 14 were wounded, as were 16 civilians.

Maj. Gen. Watheq al-Hamdani, the top police commander in Mosul, blamed the Sunni insurgents for collaborating with Syrians and other foreign fighters, who he said had participated in the attacks, Mr. Juburi said.

In Nasiriya , where police officers clashed with militiamen loyal to the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/moktada_al_sadr/index.html?inline=nyt-per) on Wednesday, a delegation from Mr. Sadr’s organization opened talks with local officials on halting the violence, according to Sheik Abu Ibrahim, the imam of a local mosque. The fighting there on Wednesday left 14 dead and 70 wounded, according to a hospital official.

Three American soldiers were killed and another was wounded by a roadside bomb attack on Thursday, according to a military statement that gave no other details.

In the largely Shiite city of Diwaniya, at least three civilians were killed, including a woman and a child, and four others were wounded in clashes between militiamen and security forces, according to an Interior Ministry official and employee at the city morgue.

Also in Diwaniya, a government employee was killed by unidentified gunmen, the Interior Ministry official said.

In Hilla, a bomb that exploded near the house of a policeman killed two women and wounded three children, the authorities said.

In Iskandariya, a roadside bomb killed one civilian and wounded three others, The Associated Press reported.

In Baghdad, gunmen opened fire on a police patrol, killing two policemen and wounding another, according to an Interior Ministry official. Mortar attacks across the city killed two residents and wounded 11 others. Three civilians were wounded in clashes between the Iraqi Army and gunmen. The police reported finding 30 bodies around the city.

In his remarks to reporters, Mr. Crocker said Thursday that Iraqi officials were showing “a sense of urgency” about addressing Washington’s demands for progress on political measures.

“We’re seeing some high-level effort to thrash out issues around the table,” he said, and “a seriousness of purpose” in drafting legislation on the distribution of oil revenue and on easing restrictions that keep former Baath Party members from holding government jobs.

But he warned against expecting significant gains by September, when the Bush administration has said it plans to evaluate the strategy of sending additional American troops to give Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/nuri_kamal_al-maliki/index.html?inline=nyt-per) time to undertake reconciliation measures.

He said that continuing violence by insurgents would not necessarily be a sign that the new tactics should be abandoned.

“If this were September I think it would be a terrible mistake to conclude that, because they’ve been able to mount these attacks, that therefore it isn’t working, it isn’t going to work and we just all need to pull stakes,” Ambassador Crocker said.

Khalid al-Ansary and Qais Mizher contributed reporting from Baghdad, and Iraqi employees of The New York Times from Diwaniya, Hilla and Mosul.


August 5th, 2007, 01:01 PM
Too bad about Saddam Hussein - he would have loved to have helped us in our latest anti-Iranian alliance.
And Iraq was certainly better off under him than it is now. Bush is a bozo.

August 5th, 2007, 08:16 PM
And Iraq was certainly better off under him than it is now. Bush is a bozo.

Not only Iraq, whole world would have been better off...Calling Bush a bozo is actually complementing him..:rolleyes:

August 15th, 2007, 10:39 AM
Iranian Unit to Be Labeled 'Terrorist'
U.S. Moving Against Revolutionary Guard

By Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 15, 2007; A01 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/14/AR2007081401662_pf.html)

The United States has decided to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country's 125,000-strong elite military branch, as a "specially designated global terrorist," according to U.S. officials, a move that allows Washington to target the group's business operations and finances.

The Bush administration has chosen to move against the Revolutionary Guard Corps because of what U.S. officials have described as its growing involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as its support for extremists throughout the Middle East, the sources said. The decision follows congressional pressure on the administration to toughen its stance against Tehran, as well as U.S. frustration with the ineffectiveness of U.N. resolutions against Iran's nuclear program, officials said.

The designation of the Revolutionary Guard will be made under Executive Order 13224, which President Bush signed two weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to obstruct terrorist funding. It authorizes the United States to identify individuals, businesses, charities and extremist groups engaged in terrorist activities. The Revolutionary Guard would be the first national military branch included on the list, U.S. officials said -- a highly unusual move because it is part of a government, rather than a typical non-state terrorist organization.

The order allows the United States to block the assets of terrorists and to disrupt operations by foreign businesses that "provide support, services or assistance to, or otherwise associate with, terrorists."

The move reflects escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran over issues including Iraq and Iran's nuclear ambitions. Iran has been on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism since 1984, but in May the two countries began their first formal one-on-one dialogue in 28 years with a meeting of diplomats in Baghdad.

The main goal of the new designation is to clamp down on the Revolutionary Guard's vast business network, as well as on foreign companies conducting business linked to the military unit and its personnel. The administration plans to list many of the Revolutionary Guard's financial operations.

"Anyone doing business with these people will have to reevaluate their actions immediately," said a U.S. official familiar with the plan who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the decision has not been announced. "It increases the risks of people who have until now ignored the growing list of sanctions against the Iranians. It makes clear to everyone who the IRGC and their related businesses really are. It removes the excuses for doing business with these people."

For weeks, the Bush administration has been debating whether to target the Revolutionary Guard Corps in full, or only its Quds Force wing, which U.S. officials have linked to the growing flow of explosives, roadside bombs, rockets and other arms to Shiite militias in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Quds Force also lends support to Shiite allies such as Lebanon's Hezbollah and to Sunni movements such as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Although administration discussions continue, the initial decision is to target the entire Guard Corps, U.S. officials said. The administration has not yet decided when to announce the new measure, but officials said they would prefer to do so before the meeting of the U.N. General Assembly next month, when the United States intends to increase international pressure against Iran.

Formed in 1979 and originally tasked with protecting the world's only modern theocracy, the Revolutionary Guard took the lead in battling Iraq during the bloody Iran-Iraq war waged from 1980 to 1988. The Guard, also known as the Pasdaran, has since become a powerful political and economic force in Iran. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rose through the ranks of the Revolutionary Guard and came to power with support from its network of veterans. Its leaders are linked to many mainstream businesses in Iran.

"They are heavily involved in everything from pharmaceuticals to telecommunications and pipelines -- even the new Imam Khomeini Airport and a great deal of smuggling," said Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations. "Many of the front companies engaged in procuring nuclear technology are owned and run by the Revolutionary Guards. They're developing along the lines of the Chinese military, which is involved in many business enterprises. It's a huge business conglomeration."

The Revolutionary Guard Corps -- with its own navy, air force, ground forces and special forces units -- is a rival to Iran's conventional troops. Its naval forces abducted 15 British sailors and marines this spring, sparking an international crisis, and its special forces armed Lebanon's Hezbollah with missiles used against Israel in the 2006 war. The corps also plays a key role in Iran's military industries, including the attempted acquisition of nuclear weapons and surface-to-surface missiles, according to Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The United States took punitive action against Iran after the November 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, including the breaking of diplomatic ties and the freezing of Iranian assets in the United States. More recently, dozens of international banks and financial institutions reduced or eliminated their business with Iran after a quiet campaign by the Treasury Department and State Department aimed at limiting Tehran's access to the international financial system. Over the past year, two U.N. resolutions have targeted the assets and movements of 28 people -- including some Revolutionary Guard members -- linked to Iran's nuclear program.

The key obstacle to stronger international pressure against Tehran has been China, Iran's largest trading partner. After the Iranian government refused to comply with two U.N. Security Council resolutions dealing with its nuclear program, Beijing balked at a U.S. proposal for a resolution that would have sanctioned the Revolutionary Guard, U.S. officials said.

China's actions reverse a cycle during which Russia was the most reluctant among the veto-wielding members of the Security Council. "China used to hide behind Russia, but Russia is now hiding behind China," said a U.S. official familiar with negotiations.

The administration's move comes amid growing support in Congress for the Iran Counter-Proliferation Act, which was introduced in the Senate by Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) and in the House by Tom Lantos (D-Calif.). The bill already has the support of 323 House members.

The administration's move could hurt diplomatic efforts, some analysts said. "It would greatly complicate our efforts to solve the nuclear issue," said Joseph Cirincione, a nuclear proliferation expert at the Center for American Progress. "It would tie an end to Iran's nuclear program to an end to its support of allies in Hezbollah and Hamas. The only way you could get a nuclear deal is as part of a grand bargain, which at this point is completely out of reach."

Such sanctions can work only alongside diplomatic efforts, Cirincione added.

"Sanctions can serve as a prod, but they have very rarely forced a country to capitulate or collapse," he said. "All of us want to back Iran into a corner, but we want to give them a way out, too. [The designation] will convince many in Iran's elite that there's no point in talking with us and that the only thing that will satisfy us is regime change."

Staff researcher Madonna Lebling contributed to this report.

August 23rd, 2007, 02:36 AM
IN A TRUE and REAL DEMOCRACY, WE CAN NOT and SHOULD NOT FORCE OUR WAY OF LIFE UPON OTHERS... It did not work in the past, it does not work in the present and it will never work in the future ...

May I also say this: it is extremely difficult to make true friends but is very easy to make real enemies....Then again, what the F do I know anything about making friends?....

September 5th, 2007, 06:19 PM
August 31, 2007
George Packer (http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/georgepacker/2007/08/if-there-were-a.html)

Test Marketing

If there were a threat level on the possibility of war with Iran, it might have just gone up to orange. Barnett Rubin, the highly respected Afghanistan expert at New York University, has written an account (http://icga.blogspot.com/2007/08/post-labor-day-product-rollout-war-with.html) of a conversation with a friend who has connections to someone at a neoconservative institution in Washington. Rubin can’t confirm his friend’s story; neither can I. But it’s worth a heads-up:

They [the source’s institution] have “instructions” (yes, that was the word used) from the Office of the Vice-President to roll out a campaign for war with Iran in the week after Labor Day; it will be coordinated with the American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, Fox, and the usual suspects. It will be heavy sustained assault on the airwaves, designed to knock public sentiment into a position from which a war can be maintained. Evidently they don’t think they’ll ever get majority support for this—they want something like 35-40 percent support, which in their book is “plenty.”
True? I don’t know. Plausible? Absolutely. It follows the pattern of the P.R. campaign that started around this time in 2002 and led to the Iraq war. The President’s rhetoric on Iran has been nothing short of bellicose (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/08/20070828-2.html) lately, warning of “the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.” And the Iranian government’s behavior—detaining British servicemen and arresting American passport holders, pushing ahead with uranium enrichment, and, by many reliable accounts, increasing its funding and training for anti-American militias in Iraq—seems intentionally provocative. Perhaps President Ahmedinejad and the mullahs feel that they win either way: they humiliate the superpower if it doesn’t take the bait, and they shore up their deeply unpopular regime at home if it does. Preëmptive war requires calculations (and, often, miscalculations) on two sides, not just one, as Saddam learned in 2003. When tensions are this high between two countries and powerful factions in both act as if hostilities are in their interest, war is likely to follow.

It’s one thing for the American Enterprise Institute, the Weekly Standard, et al to champion a war they support. It’s another to jump like circus animals at the crack of the White House whip. If the propaganda campaign predicted by Rubin’s friend is launched, less subservient news organizations should ask certain questions, and keep asking them: Does the Administration expect the Iranian regime to fall in the event of an attack? If yes, what will replace it? If no (and it will not), why would the Administration deliberately set about to strengthen the regime’s hold on power? What will the Administration do to protect highly vulnerable American lives and interests in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world against the Iranian reprisals that will follow? What if Iran strikes against Israel? What will be the strategy when the Iranian nuclear program, damaged but not destroyed, resumes? How will the Administration handle the international alarm and opprobrium that would be an attack’s inevitable fallout?

If this really is a return to the early fall of 2002 all over again, then I’m fairly sure that no one at the top of the Administration is worrying about the answers.

Postscript: Barnett Rubin just called me. His source spoke with a neocon think-tanker who corroborated the story of the propaganda campaign and had this to say about it: “I am a Republican. I am a conservative. But I’m not a raging lunatic. This is lunatic.”

Hannity & FOX get the memo (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEa3BSc233U)

September 6th, 2007, 02:52 AM
^^^ VERY INTERESTING... I hope it is not true but I can picture why they (neo-cons) would feel the need to equalize the powers in the region..All I would like to know is this; Did they know they had to hit Iran after taking Saddam out before they went into Iraq?...

September 11th, 2007, 08:46 PM
Iran seeks end to sanctions threat

By Roula Khalaf, Middle East Editor
Published: September 9 2007 17:48 | Last updated: September 9 2007 17:48 (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2e3e236c-5eef-11dc-837c-0000779fd2ac.html)

Iran is trying to persuade European governments to give up the pursuit of a third round of United Nations sanctions and allow it the opportunity to prove that its nuclear programme is not designed for weapons production.

Saeid Jalili, deputy foreign minister, toured European capitals last week to market the Islamic Republic’s recent agreement with the UN’s nuclear watchdog, in which Tehran pledged new transparency to clear up nuclear suspicions.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Jalili insisted that the agreement last month with the International Atomic Energy Agency was “another step to indicate Iran’s goodwill”. He said Iran was not seeking to buy time, nor did it intend to draw out implementation.

The “work plan” signed with the IAEA has complicated the pursuit by the US and the European Union of a new UN resolution to tighten sanctions on Iran. The plan will be closely scrutinised this week at a meeting of the IAEA’s board of governors in Vienna.

To the frustration of the US and EU, the agreement does not address the UN Security Council’s main demand – that Iran suspend uranium enrichment, the most sensitive part of its nuclear programme. But the plan marks a fresh attempt by Iran to co-operate with the IAEA and answer – over a three-month period – a list of questions about shadowy aspects of the programme.

Iran agreed to give a larger number of UN inspectors access to facilities and to provide information about the acquisition of advanced centrifuge technology. It also pledged to explain the highly enriched uranium contamination found at a technical university in Tehran.

US and EU officials have criticised the IAEA deal as ambiguous and insist they will pursue a new UN sanctions resolution. Diplomats from the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany will meet next week to consider a third round of sanctions.

Earlier UN decisions have targeted Iran’s arms exports, a leading bank and the elite Revolutionary Guards force. The US, meanwhile, has stepped up its unilateral financial sanctions, complicating dealings for international banks with Iran.

But Russia and China, two permanent Security Council members with veto power, are likely to be more sympathetic to the Iranian argument that the agreement with the IAEA should be tested before more sanctions are imposed. Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the IAEA, is also of that view. The case for patience at the UN was bolstered by the latest IAEA assessment, which says that Iran appears to be making slower than expected progress in uranium enrichment.

Mr Jalili said Iran had suspended its uranium enrichment programme for two years in 2004 and 2005, under an agreement with European governments, but that all it got out of this was a demand that it shut down the programme permanently.

If the main problem between Iran and the world community was that Tehran has not been transparent over nuclear experiments, then the IAEA agreement should address that non-transparency, he said. “The only solution is to take it (the issue) from the Security Council and back to the IAEA,” he said.

When asked if another round of sanctions would threaten the IAEA agreement, he would only say that Tehran would halt “voluntary” measures that it was now undertaking.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007

September 11th, 2007, 08:46 PM
Analysis: Iran moves to ditch U.S. dollar

Published: Sept. 10, 2007 at 6:07 PM (http://www.upi.com/International_Security/Energy/Analysis/2007/09/10/analysis_iran_moves_to_ditch_us_dollar/6990/print_view/)
UPI Correspondent

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- Faced with U.S. economic sanctions and a weak dollar, Tehran is demanding foreign energy companies do business in yen and euros, despite increasingly desperate need for investment.

In a deal announced last week, Japan’s Nippon Oil agreed to buy oil from Iran using yen instead of the traditional U.S. dollars. The agreement comes after years of Iranian efforts to shift its petroleum exports away from dollars and toward yen and euros.

With refineries in need of investment and vast natural gas deposits in need of foreign companies for development, Iran is trying every avenue to extricate itself from U.S. sanctions.

“In general, a key motivation is the U.S. informal sanctions pressure that the Treasury, and Undersecretary Levey in particular, put on banks not to do financial transactions with Iran. And increasingly designating banks with ties to certain Iranian entities as unable to perform the U-turn transactions for dollar-denominated transactions,” according to David Kirsch, the manager for market intelligence at the international energy consultancy PFC Energy.

U.S. Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey has been in charge of coordinating U.S. sanctions against Iran since 2004. In recent months the U.S. Treasury has increased pressure on foreign banks not to deal with Iran, including so-called U-turn transactions, which “allow U.S. banks to process payments involving Iran that begin and end with a non-Iranian foreign bank,” according to the U.S. Treasury.

Shifting to euros and yen allows Iran some relief.

“Overall it does lower some of their exposure to this successful yet informal pressure from the U.S.,” Kirsch said.

Iran has the world’s second-largest reserves of crude oil, is the world’s fourth-largest exporter of oil, at 2.5 million barrels per day, and depends on export revenue for almost half of its government revenue, estimated at about $46.9 billion in 2006. Japan is Iran’s largest customer for oil.

Iran’s turn to the yen or euro may help in some ways, but U.S. sanctions are still a danger.

“For them, I think it will make it easier, simply because the banks that it deals with won’t be under the threat of the U.S. prohibiting turn-around transactions. They may still be under threats. Of course, the U.S. has successfully put some pressure on some European-based banks to stop transactions with Iran. That still remains a threat,” Kirsch said.

The United States began sanctions against Iran after U.S. diplomats were held hostage during the 1979 revolution and has ratcheted up sanctions in recent years due to Tehran’s alleged support of terrorism, as well as its efforts to enrich uranium -- efforts that the United States sees as a covert attempt to develop nuclear weapons.

Under U.S. sanctions, American gas and oil companies are severely limited in how much they can invest in Iran, and most other companies are banned from doing business in Iran. However, the United States has little control over foreign companies, and until very recently the U.S. government has chosen not to sanction foreign companies that deal with Iran.

But this has changed. The U.S. Treasury has stepped up pressure on European banks and the State Department has taken a harder line, warning foreign companies that operate in the United States to avoid business with Iran.

The economic consequences of sanctions are not Iran’s only motivation. The declining value of the dollar has also made the euro and yen attractive, if not for sales, than at least for saving.

“There is also another key issue that you are seeing, not just in Iran, but in other oil producers, especially Gulf oil producers, is given the depreciation of the dollar, it is better to hold their reserves at least in euros, it is a better store of wealth. Some of the other Gulf producers will accept payment in euros. They won’t price their oil in euros or yen, and even if they are receiving payments in dollars, most likely they are converting a substantial share of that every month into other currency,” Kirsch said.

Holding cash reserves in euros and yen may be a trend for the region, according to Kirsch, but a large-scale market conversion away from dollars in unlikely.

“I think the producing states are becoming increasingly sophisticated in how they hold their foreign currency. But in terms of whether, is oil formally going to be priced in yen, renminbi, or the euro, I don’t think that is going to happen. Simply because you would have to establish a whole new contract and an exchange for that, and that can be quite costly. It is also, you have to find a contract that the investment community is willing to embrace, and until you need to do that, I think they will be satisfied sticking with the contracts from the NYMEX and the International Petroleum Exchange,” Kirsch said.

Much of the world’s oil is sold through the New York Mercantile Exchange, NYMEX, or the International Petroleum Exchange in London, both of which trade in U.S. dollars. Tehran has for years planned an oil exchange that would operate in euros but has yet to realize the scheme.

A strengthened European economy has impacted trade in other Persian Gulf countries as well.

“Throughout the Gulf, they are also seeing an increasing amount of their trade conducted with the European Union, so with increasing amounts of their imports coming from the euro zone, why not hold larger stakes in their reserves in that currency,” Kirsch said.

Whether Iran’s oil is sold in euros, yen or dollars, the United States will likely not be affected by Tehran’s decision.

“I think it is going to have minimal impact on the dollar and minimal impact on the U.S. energy situation,” Kirsch said.

September 11th, 2007, 08:50 PM
U.S. Officials Begin Crafting Iran Bombing Plan

Tuesday , September 11, 2007
By James Rosen (http://www.foxnews.com/printer_friendly_story/0,3566,296450,00.html)

WASHINGTON —A recent decision by German officials to withhold support for any new sanctions against Iran has pushed a broad spectrum of officials in Washington to develop potential scenarios for a military attack on the Islamic regime, FOX News confirmed Tuesday.

Germany — a pivotal player among three European nations to rein in Iran's nuclear program over the last two-and-a-half years through a mixture of diplomacy and sanctions supported by the United States — notified its allies last week that the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel refuses to support the imposition of any further sanctions against Iran that could be imposed by the U.N. Security Council.

The announcement was made at a meeting in Berlin that brought German officials together with Iran desk officers from the five member states of the Security Council. It stunned the room, according to one of several Bush administration and foreign government sources who spoke to FOX News, and left most Bush administration principals concluding that sanctions are dead.

The Germans voiced concern about the damaging effects any further sanctions on Iran would have on the German economy — and also, according to diplomats from other countries, gave the distinct impression that they would privately welcome, while publicly protesting, an American bombing campaign against Iran's nuclear facilities.

Germany's withdrawal from the allied diplomatic offensive is the latest consensus across relevant U.S. agencies and offices, including the State Department, the National Security Council and the offices of the president and vice president. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns, the most ardent proponent of a diplomatic resolution to the problem of Iran's nuclear ambitions, has had his chance on the Iranian account and come up empty.

Political and military officers, as well as weapons of mass destruction specialists at the State Department, are now advising Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the diplomatic approach favored by Burns has failed and the administration must actively prepare for military intervention of some kind. Among those advising Rice along these lines are John Rood, the assistant secretary for the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation; and a number of Mideast experts, including Ambassador James Jeffrey, deputy White House national security adviser under Stephen Hadley and formerly the principal deputy assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs.

Consequently, according to a well-placed Bush administration source, "everyone in town" is now participating in a broad discussion about the costs and benefits of military action against Iran, with the likely timeframe for any such course of action being over the next eight to 10 months, after the presidential primaries have probably been decided, but well before the November 2008 elections.

The discussions are now focused on two basic options: less invasive scenarios under which the U.S. might blockade Iranian imports of gasoline or exports of oil, actions generally thought to exact too high a cost on the Iranian people but not enough on the regime in Tehran; and full-scale aerial bombardment.

On the latter course, active consideration is being given as to how long it would take to degrade Iranian air defenses before American air superiority could be established and U.S. fighter jets could then begin a systematic attack on Iran's known nuclear targets.

Most relevant parties have concluded such a comprehensive attack plan would require at least a week of sustained bombing runs, and would at best set the Iranian nuclear program back a number of years — but not destroy it forever. Other considerations include the likelihood of Iranian reprisals against Tel Aviv and other Israeli population centers; and the effects on American troops in Iraq. There, officials have concluded that the Iranians are unlikely to do much more damage than they already have been able to inflict through their supply of explosives and training of insurgents in Iraq.

The Bush administration "has just about had it with Iran," said one foreign diplomat. "They tried the diplomatic process. China is now obstructing them at the U.N. Security Council and the Russians are tucking themselves behind them.

"The Germans are wobbling …There are a number of people in the administration who do not want their legacy to be leaving behind an Iran that is nuclear armed, so they are looking at what are the alternatives? They are looking at other options," the diplomat said.

Vice President Cheney and his aides are said to be enjoying a bit of "schadenfreude" at the expense of Burns. A source described Cheney's office as effectively gloating to Burns and Rice, "We told you so. (The Iranians) are not containable diplomatically."

The next shoe to drop will be when Rice and President Bush make a final decision about whether to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and/or its lethal subset, the Quds Force, as a terrorist entity or entities. FOX News reported in June that such a move is under consideration.

Sources say news leaks about the prospective designation greatly worried European governments and private sector firms, which could theoretically face prosecution in American courts if such measures became law and these entities continued to do business with IRGC and its multiple financial subsidiaries.

If the Bush administration moves forward with such a designation, sources said, it would be an indication that Rice agrees that Burns' approach has failed. Designation of such a large Iranian military institution as a terrorist entity would also be seen, sources said, as laying the groundwork for a public justification of American military action.

September 15th, 2007, 11:06 PM
Stopping the Next War

September 15, 2007
by Patrick J. Buchanan

President Bush has won the Battle of September.

When he turns over the presidency on Jan. 20, 2009, there will likely be as many U.S. troops in Iraq as there were when Congress was elected to bring them home in November 2006.

That is the meaning of Gen. Petraeus' recommendation, adopted by President Bush, that 6,000 U.S. troops be home by Christmas and the surge of 30,000 ended by April. Come November 2008, there will likely still be 130,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

Will this make America safer, Sen. John Warner, R-Va., asked. "I don't know," answered the general. An honest answer. None of us know.

The general did know, however, that "a premature drawdown of our forces would likely have devastating consequences."

So we are trapped, fighting a war in which "victory" is not assured and perhaps not attainable – to avert a strategic disaster and humanitarian catastrophe should we walk away.

While the posturing of the Democrats, using Petraeus as a foil for their frustration and rage, was appalling, it is understandable. For, as this writer warned the day Baghdad fell, this time, we really "hit the tar baby."

What has the war cost? Going on 3,800 U.S. dead and 28,000 wounded. More than 100,000 Iraqis are dead; 2 million, including most Christians and much of the professional class, have fled. Millions have been ethnically cleansed from neighborhoods where their families had lived for generations.

Once the most advanced country in the Arab world, Iraq has been devastated and is coming apart. Sectarian, civil and tribal war has broken out. Al-Qaida has a presence. And it is a fair prediction that when the Americans depart, they will have fought the longest war in their history, only to have replaced the Sunni dictatorship of Saddam Hussein with a Shia dictatorship aligned with Iran.

Across the region, the situation appears bleak. In Pakistan, al-Qaida has reconstituted itself. Bin Laden is sending out tapes. Gen. Musharraf, who rules a nation of 170 million with atom bombs, is floundering. The Taliban have made a comeback. As our allies have left or are leaving Iraq, including the Brits, so, too, the NATO allies in Afghanistan are wearying of the struggle.

In the United States, the war has taken its toll, as do all no-win wars. With the cost of the two wars closing in on $1 trillion, we are as divided as we were during Korea and Vietnam.

As Truman fell to 23 percent after firing Gen. MacArthur, and was drubbed in New Hampshire, and LBJ broken after Tet and dropped out, Bush has seen his support fall from near 90 percent at "Mission Accomplished" to near 30 percent. Approval of his war leadership is virtually nonexistent.

Gen. Petraeus is trusted; his commander-in-chief is not.

To the cost of our dead and wounded must be added the near-breaking of the U.S. Army, the estrangement of our allies and the pandemic hatred of America across the Arab world.

As for the "cakewalk" crowd that accused opponents of the war of lacking in patriotism, they never repented their demagoguery. Despite the pre-invasion propaganda they pumped out about Saddam's awesome weapons and ties to 9-11, or their assurances that U.S. troops would be welcomed with candy and flowers, like Paris in '44, and their prediction that a democracy would arise in Iraq to which Islamic nations would look as a model, they have never been called to account.

Now they are back with a new enemy for America to attack.

This time the target is Tehran – and once again, they have the ear of this most ideological and unreflective of presidents.

Speaking to the American Legion, Bush used rhetoric against Iran equal in bellicosity to anything he used on Iraq before invading.

Iran "is the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism." Iran "funds terrorist groups like Hamas. ... Iran is sending arms to the Taliban." Iran's pursuit of nuclear technology threatens to put the Middle East and Gulf "under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust."

As Bush ratchets up the rhetoric, Russia, China and, reportedly, Germany are balking at new U.N. sanctions. That leaves Bush only the military option if he wishes to effect the nuclear castration of Iran. And Gen. Petraeus just provided him the rationale.

"It is increasingly apparent," said Petraeus, "that Iran, through the use of the Quds Force, seeks to turn the Iraqi Special Groups into a Hezbollah-like force to serve its interests and fight a proxy war against the Iraqi state and coalition forces in Iraq."

Petraeus' charge that Iran is fighting a "proxy war" against America comports with the new War Party propaganda line that we have been at war with Iran since 1979 and Bush needs no authorization from Congress to fight it more aggressively.

Congress gave Bush a blank check for the Iraq war. Any chance Congress will at least insist the administration come to Capitol Hill to make the case for the next war, on Iran, before Bush launches it? Probably not.

October 1st, 2007, 12:46 PM
One of the founding fathers of neo-conservatism has privately urged George W to bomb Iran rather than allow it to acquire nuclear weapons.

Norman Podhoretz, an intellectual guru of the neo-conservative movement who has joined Rudolph Giuliani's 2008 presidential campaign as a senior foreign policy adviser, held a meeting with Bush late last spring at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in NYC.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Podhoretz, 77, said, "I urged Bush to take action against the Iranian nuclear facilities and explained why I thought there was no alternative."

"I laid out the worst case scenario - bombing Iran - versus the worst case consequences of allowing the Iranians to get the bomb."

He told Bush, "You have the awesome responsibility to prevent another holocaust. You're the only one with the guts to do it."

The President looked very solemn Podhoretz said.

"The President has said several times that he will be in the historical dock if he allows Iran to get the bomb. He believes that if we wait for threats to fully materialise, we'll have waited too long - something I agree with 100%," Podhoretz said.

In London recently Giuliani said he would not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran. Influence of Podhoretz?

October 1st, 2007, 03:51 PM
Israel bombed an Iraqi nuclear facility back in June 1981 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/june/7/newsid_3014000/3014623.stm).

If it is decided that there is a need to go after Iran's purported nuclear stockpile then why shouldn't Israel again be the one to go on the offensive?

October 7th, 2007, 11:09 PM
^ Our pit bull?

(May have lost its teeth.)

October 8th, 2007, 01:05 AM
Israel bombed an Iraqi nuclear facility back in June 1981 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/june/7/newsid_3014000/3014623.stm).

If it is decided that there is a need to go after Iran's purported nuclear stockpile then why shouldn't Israel again be the one to go on the offensive?

Which country's air space did they use to strike Iraq in 1981. I can only guess that it was either Jordanian or Turkish airspace. I don't know about Jordan but Turkish government will have a pretty hard time allowing Israel or even US to strike Iran these days. They are in pursuit of a better relationship with their neighbors, including Iran.. Also, Turkish public opinion of US, consequently of Israel have suffered greatly in the last decade or two... I would also think the same has happened in Jordan as well but they will have a better chance trying to get permission from Jordan since it's a kingdom, not a democracy..

October 8th, 2007, 02:31 PM
For air access to Irna Israel has a number of options:

1) Syria > Iraq > Iran

2) Jordan > Iraq > Iran

3) Saudi Arabia > Iraq > Iran

4) Over open sea via Red Sea > Gulf of Aden > Arabian Sea > Gulf of Oman > Iran


October 8th, 2007, 03:40 PM
For air access to Irna Israel has a number of options:

1) Syria > Iraq > Iran

2) Jordan > Iraq > Iran

3) Saudi Arabia > Iraq > Iran

4) Over open sea via Red Sea > Gulf of Aden > Arabian Sea > Gulf of Oman > Iran

It will take a lot to gain access to airspaces above.Open sea is a possible but the last alternative.

October 8th, 2007, 03:59 PM
Israel would never attack Iran unless the US were backing it up, (or trying to withdraw support from Israel and they were trying to re-enlist our help, (but that's a different concern)).

Iraq wouldn't want to anger their neighbor Iran by allowing Israel to operate in their airspace, (provided Iraqis spoke for themselves and weren't puppets of US occupation).

In the end if it will be done, the US must do it, (before India and China get any more influence in the Caspian region, (the nuclear threat is a red herring)).

Do you know that as oil rich as Iran is, - IT DOESN'T HAVE ENOUGH REFINERIES FOR ITS OWN GASOLINE CONSUMPTION? (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/31/AR2006053101464_pf.html)

This is a result of UN prohibitions on foreign investment, the presence of which would open her up to foreign investment and price out the US, (as most countries have state subsidized petroleum industries, while we have a military subsidized one).

The way our dollar is listing, we can't offer much in the way of influence except brute military coersion and UN strongarming.

Three choices:

-Leave Iran alone and pay through the nose for oil, (whose prices would be liable to start indexing in euros, (further weakening the dollar)).

-Invade Iran and enlist generations of soldiers to occupy and anger the persians, (as we have most other peoples of the region).

-Leave Iran alone. Open it to foreign investment and change our monetary policy to one that is sound, i.e. backed by gold or other timelessly valuable commodity,- and buy as much oil as we like, (because who would turn away such a currency)?

Or innumerable other ill concieved half measures that will cost eveyone money, cost everyone lives and piss eveyone off.

October 16th, 2007, 04:57 PM
Iran, the Inflatable Bogey

Friday, 12 October 2007 (http://www.atlanticfreepress.com/content/view/2606/81/)
by Dr. Trita Parsi (http://www.atlanticfreepress.com/component/option,com_comprofiler/task,userProfile/Itemid,2/user,248/)

Benjamin Netanyahu would like Americans and Israelis to believe that it’s 1938 all over again: Iran, he tells us, is Nazi Germany; President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is Hitler. And, of course, that means that anyone who advocates diplomacy and engagement with Tehran is simply reprising the tragic appeasement politics of Neville Chamberlain, even as the clock ticks towards catastrophe.

The 1938 analogy is entirely fallacious, but no less powerful because of it – by at once terrifying people and negating the alternatives to confrontation, it paints war as a necessary evil forced on the West by a foe as deranged and implacable as Hitler was.

If Iran is, as Netanyahu and his allies in the U.S. suggest, irrationally aggressive, prone to a suicidal desire for apocalyptic confrontation, then both diplomacy and deterrence and containment are ruled out as policy options for Washington. The “Mad Mullahs,” as the neocons call them, are not capable of traditional balance of power realism. In the arguments of Netanyahu and such fellow travelers as Norman Podhortez and Newt Gingrich, to imagine that war against the regime in Tehran is avoidable is to be as naïve as Chamberlain was in 1938.

However, as I discovered in the course of researching my book Treacherous Alliance – the Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the United States (http://www.treacherousalliance.com/), not only does Netanyahu’s characterization of Iran have little relationship to reality; Netanyahu himself knows this better than most. Outside of the realm of cynical posturing by politicians, most Israeli strategists recognize that Iran represents a strategic challenge to the favorable balance of power enjoyed by Israel and the U.S. in the Middle East over the past 15 years, but it is no existential threat to the Israel, the U.S. or the Arab regimes.

And that was the view embraced by the Likud leader himself during his last term as prime minister of Israel. In the course of dozens of interviews with key players in the Israeli strategic establishment, a fascinating picture emerged of Netanyahu strongly pushing back against the orthodoxy of his Labor Party predecessors, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, which treated Iran as one of Israel’s primary enemies. Not only that, he initiated an extensive discreet program of reaching out to the Islamic Republic.

When he took office in June of 1996, the U.S.-educated Likud leader sought not only to undo the peace process with the PLO and the land-for-peace formula; he also sought a return to Israel’s longstanding strategic doctrine of the periphery – the idea that the Jewish State’s security was best achieved by forming secret or not-so-secret alliances with the non-Arab states in the periphery of the Middle East – primarily Turkey and Iran – in order to balance the Arabs in Israel’s vicinity.

Such a shift required efforts to undo Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin’s rhetoric on Iran – deemed “exaggerated and self-defeating” by many in Israel at the time - as well as attempts to quietly reach out to Tehran. [1] Unlike his Labor predecessors, Netanyahu chose to follow the recommendations of an internal Israeli government report on how to address the Iranian challenge, which had concluded that Labor’s inflammatory rhetoric had only attracted Iran’s attention and strengthened Iran’s perception of an Israeli threat, which in turn had made Israel less rather than more secure. [2] (Even though Israeli intelligence discovered the existence of an Iranian missile program in late 1994, there was widespread recognition in Israel that Iran’s rearming, its missile program and even its potential nuclear program were not aimed at Israel.[3] )

One of Netanyahu’s first orders of business as Prime Minister was to request an intelligence assessment of Israel’s security environment from both the Mossad and the military intelligence. The debate between these agencies was the same as in the 1980s – did Iran or Iraq constitute the greatest threat to Israel? And could Iran be relied upon to balance Iraq?

The assessments were presented at a full cabinet meeting. Major General Amos Gilad represented the military and Uzi Arad, the Director of Intelligence of the Mossad, argued on behalf of the intelligence services. While the debate was heated and passionate – as all cabinet discussions were in the Netanyahu government – the outcome was unprecedented.

Gilad argued that Iran had replaced Iraq as an existential threat to Israel. First, the Iranian regime was hostile to Israel and determined to destroy the Jewish State. Gilad dismissed the notion that moderates would get the upper hand in Iran and argued for the opposite scenario. “I presented a tough line that claimed that Iran would be dominated by the conservatives.… This was at the level of strategic intentions,” the Major General explained to me.

Second, the Iranian capabilities had grown, particularly through Tehran’s missile program. Gilad asserted that the Iranians would have Israel within reach of their missiles by 1999. The third component was Iran’s nuclear development program. “Even one primitive device is enough to destroy Israel,” Gilad maintained. “Altogether, it seemed that ideologically and strategically, Iran [was] determined to destroy Israel,” Gilad concluded. [4]

Arad presented a radically different perspective. He argued that Iran’s rearmament was defensive and primarily aimed at deterring Saddam Hussein. Iran needed to rearm due to the natural continuation of its enmity with the Arab states; after all, Iran and Iraq had yet to sign a conclusive peace treaty.

Furthermore, Iran was in debt, the internal political situation was unstable, and oil prices were low. All of this reduced Iran’s ability to pose a threat, Arad argued, whereas Iraq – with its existing Scud missiles, of which 39 had been fired at Israel during the Persian Gulf War – was a proven danger. [5]

In fact, the Arabs’ perception of Iran as a threat could give life to the periphery doctrine again, leading to an Israeli-Iranian re-alignment to counter the common Arab threat.

The heart of Arad’s argument was that Israel had a choice: it could either make itself Iran’s prime enemy by continuing Peres and Rabin’s belligerent rhetoric, or it could ease off the pressure and allow the Iranians to feel a greater threat from other regional actors. (At the time, Iran had the hated Saddam regime to the West and a mortal enemy in the Taliban to the East, the latter together with Pakistan both being clients of the Saudi regime that had backed Saddam in his war against Iran.)

“There are enough bad guys around them; we don’t have to single out ourselves as the enemy,” went Arad’s argument.[6] Israel should remain cautious and pursue a policy of wait and see whether Iran’s ambitions went beyond its legitimate defense needs. [7]

Most importantly, Israel should avoid continuing the pattern of rhetorical escalation with Iran that had characterized the stance of the previous two Labor governments. “We needed to tone down,” said Shlomo Brom, who was a member of the original Iran committee. [8]

Netanyahu listened carefully as the two sides fought it out. Gilad spoke with great confidence, knowing very well that no Prime Minister had ever dismissed the findings of the military’s National Intelligence Assessment. And with the Israeli tendency to embrace doomsday scenarios and treat nuanced and slightly optimistic assessments with great suspicion, the odds were on his side.

But Netanyahu’s response left Gilad baffled. In an unprecedented move, the Prime Minister rejected the National Intelligence Assessment and instead adopted Arad’s recommendation of reducing tensions with Iran. [9] Much to Gilad’s frustration, Netanyahu focused on Arafat and the Palestinian threat instead of Iran and put a complete end to Israel’s confrontational rhetoric against Tehran. It was a major policy shift that affected all levels of Israel’s planning vis-à-vis Iran. “Until the Netanyahu government, there was a proliferation of Israeli statements trying to deter Iran, warning Iran, the long arm of the Israeli air force etc. That was stopped, to his credit, by Netanyahu,” Ehud Yaari of Israel’s Channel 2 explains. [10]

Israeli media sympathetic to the Likud government’s shift on Iran argued that the previous Labor government was to blame for the escalation with Iran, citing the efforts of Uri Lubrani, Israel’s former head of mission to Iran during the 1970s, to convince the Clinton Administration to finance a coup d’état in Iran in the early 1990s. The publication of the Labor initiative had “caused huge damage to Israel,” unnamed Israeli intelligence officials told Israel’s Channel 2.

The Netanyahu government viewed these statements as counterproductive and sought to avoid such entanglement with the Iranians. “He [Netanyahu] didn’t want to use rhetoric that would just antagonize them [the Iranians] for no reason,” Dore Gold, foreign policy advisor to Netanyahu and Israel’s UN Ambassador explains. [11]

But Netanyahu went beyond just lowering the rhetoric. He tried to reach an understanding with Iran though the help of prominent Iranian Jews[12], he stopped Israeli attacks on Iran within international organizations[13], he arranged for meetings between Iranian and Israeli representatives at European think tanks[14], and he encouraged Israeli parliamentarians to reach out to their Iranian counterparts at meetings of the Inter-Parliamentarian Union. At one point, he even sought Kazakh and Russian mediation between Iran and Israel. In December 1996, Kazakhstan’soil minister, Nurlen Balgimbaev, who enjoyed excellent ties with Tehran, visited Israel for medical treatment and was approached about arranging a dialogue with Iran to discuss ways to reduce tensions between the two countries. [15]

None of his efforts bore any fruit, though. Iran’s dismissal of Israel’s conciliatory signals convinced the Netanyahu government that just like in the Iran Contra affair, Tehran only wanted to mend fences with the U.S. and had no real interest in rebuilding its ties with Israel.

Therein, of course, lay the real threat from Iran.

The Israelis saw danger in a rapprochement between Tehran and Washington, believing this would inevitably see the U.S. sacrifice some of its support for Israel in order to find a larger accommodation with Iran, in pursuit of U.S. strategic interests in the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea. Iran would become emboldened and the U.S. would no longer seek to contain its growth. The balance of power would shift from Israel towards Iran and the Jewish State would no longer be able rely on Washington to control Tehran. “The Great Satan will make up with Iran and forget about Israel,” Gerald Steinberg of Bar Ilan University in Israel noted. [16]
Israel’s relative regional importance to the U.S. would decline with a warming of ties between Washington and Tehran.

So, after nine months of courting Tehran, Netanyahu gave up and reverted back to the Peres-Rabin policy of vilifying Iran and seeking its international isolation.

Today, Israel is facing a similar situation, but with one big difference. Iran is far more powerful than it was in 1996, while the power of the U.S. to impose its will in the Middle East has diminished considerably. The difficulties confronting the U.S. in Iraq and technological progress in Iran’s nuclear program may compel Washington to recognize that its best interests lie in a grand bargain with Tehran. But the general view in Israel today is the notion that such negotiations must be prevented, because all potential outcomes of a U.S.-Iran negotiation are perceived to be less optimal for Israel than the status quo of intense U.S.-Iran enmity that threatens to boil over into a military clash.

It’s precisely to prevent such engagement between Washington and Tehran that Netanyahu and company are pressing the 1938 analogy.

(In Treacherous Alliance (http://www.treacherousalliance.com/), I explain how Israel’s fear of a U.S.-Iran dialogue is misplaced and that it actually is through a U.S.-Iran rapprochement that the Jewish state best can secure its interest and change Iran’s aggressive behavior towards Israel.)

[1] Interview with Ehud Yaari, Jerusalem, October 24, 2004.
[2] Interview with Ehud Yaari, Jerusalem, October 24, 2004.
[3] Interview with Shmuel Limone, Ministry of Defense, Secretary of Israel’s Iran committee, Tel Aviv, October 18, 2004.
[4] Interview with General Amos Gilad, Tel Aviv, October 31, 2004.
[5] Interview with Dr. Shmuel Bar, Tel Aviv, October 18, 2004.
[6] Interview with Dr. Efraim Inbar, the Begin-Sadat Center, Jerusalem, October 19, 2004.
[7] Uzi Arad, “Russia and Iran’s Nuclear Program,” Jerusalem Issue Brief, Vol. 2, No. 26, April 28, 2003.
[7] Interview with Dr. Shlomo Brom, Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, Tel Aviv, October 26, 2004.
[9] Interview with Zeev Schiff, military correspondent, Haaretz, Tel Aviv, October 17, 2004.
[10] Interview with Ehud Yaari, Jerusalem, October 24, 2004.
[11] Interview with Dore Gold, Jerusalem, October 28, 2004.
[12] Likud said to seek understanding with Iran, IRNA, July 24, 1996.
[13] IDF Radio, November 10, 1996.
[14] Xinhua, September 13, 1996.
[15] Jerusalem Post, September 9, 1997.
[16] Interview with Prof. Gerald Steinberg, Jerusalem, October 28, 2004

October 24th, 2007, 10:26 AM
Oh, my... it's true!..:(

You will never understand lessons of the past? War again? Blood?! Deaths?!! For what??? For oil?! ... :confused:

Lifes of your soldiers, your people, your brothers, your husbands, your sons, is bigger price than oil of whole world!!! It is biggest price!!!
Why they need to die for one more oil source be under your control?!

I will never understand you! Why again?!

October 24th, 2007, 10:44 AM
Why they need to die for one more oil source be under your control?!

I will never understand you! Why again?!
OIL - the fuel of Capitalism, the cause of wars, and the wasteful deaths & suffering of so many. Oh what fools we are!

October 26th, 2007, 03:29 PM
Bush has asked Congress for $44m to modify radar-evading, long-range B-2 bombers with devastating bunker-busting bombs to destroy targets deep underground. Military experts say the 15-ton Massive Ordnance Penetrators, or MOP's, are not designed for the sort of counter-insurgency wars the US & Britain are fighting in Iraq & Afghanistan.

But the bombs - which are still in development - would be invaluable in attacking hardened underground targets such as Iran's uranium enrichment facility at Natanz.

"It'll go through it like a hot knife through butter," said John Pike, a defence & intelligence expert with Global-Security.org.

The White House said the funding request - a little noticed item in a $100 Billion "supplemental war spending" proposal that Bush submitted to Congress on Monday - was in response to "an urgent operational need from theatre commanders."

The request comes just as the Bush administration has stepped up a gear in its bellicose rhetoric against Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last night said that Iran was "perhaps the single greatest challenge" to America's security.

Bush last week warned that a nuclear-armed Iran could lead to "World War 111" while VP Dick Cheney spoke of "serious consequences" if Iran continued to enrich uranium.

Now the US has slapped the harshest sanctions on Iran since the American Embassy crisis of 1978. Under the sanctions, Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corp was described as a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction and its elite Qods force a supporter of terrorism.

Britain & Isreal were the US's first allies to welcome the measures.

It is the first time the US has directly sanctioned another country's military. In total, the sanctions blacklisted 22 Iranian government agencies, 3 state-owned banks, and a number of individuals.

Don't you get the feeling we've been here before? The build-up, the threats, etc etc -
Great versions of "We'll Meet Again"

October 29th, 2007, 06:04 AM
Do you really believe in Russia allow to Iran make nuclear bomb and create far flying missiles? ;)

It will never happens.

But Bush can find a reason to occupy this country too... for example Iran and Iraq have similar names... it is easy to make mistake and send forces to the new deahts.

Actually Iran much stronger than Iraq and have support of China. It will be too big piece to eat that.

October 29th, 2007, 06:58 AM
I'm sure Russia, whilst an ally of Iran, doesn't want her to have nuclear weapons or long range delivery systems, and would secretly "support" a US take-out of the facilities if it happened. Yes, there would be a lot of huffing & puffing but ultimately Russia would probably do very little.

When you look at the map, Iran is neatly sandwiched between Iraq & Afghanistan, so probably the ignorant but dangerous neo-cons think its just a case of joining up the war into one big theatre of operations!

Heaven forbid! Please God save us from these crazies.

October 29th, 2007, 11:10 PM
When you look at the map, Iran is neatly sandwiched between Iraq & Afghanistan, so probably the ignorant but dangerous neo-cons think its just a case of joining up the war into one big theatre of operations!

Heaven forbid! Please God save us from these crazies.

It looks like they are trying hard to have Turkey join in too.It is pretty tense on the Northern border of Iraq ( or should I say Kurdistan ) these days... There must be a lot of old and need to be repalced arsenal of all kinds of ammunition in our stockpiles..

October 31st, 2007, 04:49 AM
Bush's policies on Iran have been foolhardy to put it mildly. But my guess is diplomacy is winning out here and in Tehran - we probably would have attacked them by now if we were planning to do it. Israel is a wild card - they may conclude their existence remains threatened and act unilaterally unless the next president can reassure them, but my guess is that a warming of relations will lead to Iranian recognition of Israel.

October 31st, 2007, 06:30 AM
but my guess is that a warming of relations will lead to Iranian recognition of Israel.
I would love to believe it but ....


January 7th, 2008, 10:56 AM
U.S. says Iranian gunboats harassed warships
Officials describe incident as a 'significant provocative act'

By Jim Miklaszewski
NBC News

WASHINGTON - Iranian Revolutionary Guard gunboats harassed three U.S. Navy warships in the Strait of Hormuz Sunday, in what the U.S. military considers a "significant provocative act."

Military officials told NBC News that two U.S. Navy destroyers and one frigate were heading into the Persian Gulf through the international waters of the Strait of Hormuz when five armed "fast boats" of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard approached a high speed, darting in and out of the formation.

At one point a radio message from one of the Iranian boats warned, "You are going to blow up within minutes."

The Navy warships went into defensive mode, radioed the usual warnings to steer clear, and in the end no shots were fired. U.S. military warships believe the Revolutionary Guard boats were "testing our defenses," the officials said.

The United States expressed concern when the Revolutionary Guard forces took over Iranian naval operations in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz from the regular navy more than five months ago.

However, Sunday’s incident was the first significant act of provocation since then.

Revolutionary Guard forces also briefly took a number of British sailors into custody even though the British claim they were operating in international waters off the coast of Iraq.

Jim Miklaszewski is the NBC News Chief Pentagon Correspondent.

January 10th, 2008, 06:49 PM
U.S.: Voices on Recording May Not Have Been From Iranian Speedboats
Chilling Threat Could Have Come From the Shore or Another Ship, Navy Says


Jan. 10, 2008—

Just two days after the U.S. Navy released the eerie video of Iranian speedboats swarming around American warships, which featured a chilling threat in English, the Navy is saying that the voice on the tape could have come from the shore or from another ship.

The near-clash occurred over the weekend in the Strait of Hormuz. On the U.S.-released recording, a voice can be heard saying to the Americans, "I am coming to you. You will explode after a few minutes."

The Navy never said specifically where the voices came from, but many were left with the impression they had come from the speedboats because of the way the Navy footage was edited.

Video (http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=4104881)

Today, the spokesperson for the U.S. admiral in charge of the Fifth Fleet clarified to ABC News that the threat may have come from the Iranian boats, or it may have come from somewhere else.

We're saying that we cannot make a direct connection to the boats there," said the spokesperson. "It could have come from the shore, from another ship passing by. However, it happened in the middle of all the very unusual activity, so as we assess the information and situation, we still put it in the total aggregate of what happened Sunday morning. I guess we're not saying that it absolutely came from the boats, but we're not saying it absolutely didn't."

The Iranians have denied using the threatening language and are saying U.S.-released video is fabricated. Today, the Iranian government aired its own video of the event on state-run TV there. On the audio, the voice that the Iranians say is the communication from their vessel can be heard identifying itself to the American ship, "Coalition warship No. 73 this is an Iranian navy patrol boat."

The incident ended without shots being fired, but senior defense officials told ABC News that the USS Hopper's gunners were within seconds of firing on the Iranians.

Copyright © 2008 ABC News Internet Ventures (http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=4115702&page=1)


I am unable to discern the "chilling threat" from the video. If anyone can, what is the minute mark on the video?

January 10th, 2008, 06:55 PM
"I guess we're not saying that it absolutely came from the boats, but we're not saying it absolutely didn't."


January 10th, 2008, 06:57 PM
I, myself, love to water ski in International Waters ...

January 11th, 2008, 01:23 AM
As hardliners lose out in Iran I think you'll see attempts like this to drag the US into something so that they can retain power or mess up what I actually think are thawing official relations with us after the NIE. It could have been someone on shore who broadcast the message but still - there was some sort of incident obviously, probably the Iraqi guards trying to gain leverage in domestic politics.

I think we should downplay it at this point aside from reiterating our right to freedom of the seas.

April 30th, 2008, 06:30 PM
April 30, 2008 -- Updated 1019 GMT (http://edition.cnn.com/2008/BUSINESS/04/30/iran.oil.ap/index.html?iref=mpstoryview)

Iran dumps U.S. dollar for oil trade

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran, OPEC's second-largest producer, has stopped conducting oil transactions in U.S. dollars, a top Oil Ministry official said Wednesday, in a concerted attempt to reduce reliance on Washington at a time of tension over Tehran's nuclear program and suspected involvement in Iraq.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's President, has called the dollar a 'worthless piece of paper.'

Iran has dramatically reduced dependence on the dollar over the past year in the face of increasing U.S. pressure on its financial system and the fall in the value of the American currency.

Oil is priced in dollars on the world market, and the currency's depreciation has concerned producers because it has contributed to rising crude prices and eroded the value of their dollar reserves.

"The dollar has totally been removed from Iran's oil transactions," Oil Ministry official Hojjatollah Ghanimifard told state-run television Wednesday. "We have agreed with all of our crude oil customers to do our transactions in non-dollar currencies."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the depreciating dollar a "worthless piece of paper" at a rare summit last year in Saudi Arabia attended by state leaders from OPEC countries.

Iran put pressure on other OPEC countries at the meeting to price oil in a basket of currencies, but it has not been able to generate support from fellow members -- many of whom, including Saudi Arabia, are staunch U.S. allies.

Iran has a tense relationship with the U.S., which has accused Tehran of using its nuclear program as a cover for weapons development and providing support to Shiite militants in Iraq that are killing American troops. Iran has denied the allegations.

Iranian oil officials have said previously that they were shifting oil sales out of the dollar into other currencies, but Ghanimifard indicated Wednesday that all of Iran's oil transactions were now conducted in either the euro or yen.

"In Europe, Iran's oil is sold in euros, but both euros and yen are paid for Iranian crude in Asia," said Ghanimifard.

Iran's central bank has also been reducing its foreign reserves denominated in dollars, motivated by the falling value of the greenback and U.S. attempts to make it difficult for Iran to conduct dollar transactions.

U.S. banks are prohibited from conducting business directly with Iran, and many European banks have curbed their dealings with the country over the past year under pressure from Washington.

However, the U.S. has been wary of targeting Iran's oil industry directly, apparently worried that such a move could drive up crude prices that are already at record levels.

Iranian analysts say Tehran can withstand U.S. pressure as long as it can continue its oil and gas sales, which constitute most of the country's $80 billion in exports.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

May 3rd, 2008, 02:38 PM
May 2, 2008
A CounterPunch Exclusive (http://www.counterpunch.org/andrew05022008.html)

Democrats Okay Funds for Covert Ops

Secret Bush "Finding" Widens War on Iran


Six weeks ago, President Bush signed a secret finding authorizing a covert offensive against the Iranian regime that, according to those familiar with its contents, "unprecedented in its scope."

Bush’s secret directive covers actions across a huge geographic area – from Lebanon to Afghanistan – but is also far more sweeping in the type of actions permitted under its guidelines – up to and including the assassination of targeted officials. This widened scope clears the way, for example, for full support for the military arm of Mujahedin-e Khalq, the cultish Iranian opposition group, despite its enduring position on the State Department's list of terrorist groups.

Similarly, covert funds can now flow without restriction to Jundullah, or "army of god," the militant Sunni group in Iranian Baluchistan – just across the Afghan border -- whose leader was featured not long ago on Dan Rather Reports cutting his brother in law's throat.

Other elements that will benefit from U.S. largesse and advice include Iranian Kurdish nationalists, as well the Ahwazi arabs of south west Iran. Further afield, operations against Iran's Hezbollah allies in Lebanon will be stepped up, along with efforts to destabilize the Syrian regime.

All this costs money, which in turn must be authorized by Congress, or at least a by few witting members of the intelligence committees. That has not proved a problem. An initial outlay of $300 million to finance implementation of the finding has been swiftly approved with bipartisan support, apparently regardless of the unpopularity of the current war and the perilous condition of the U.S. economy.

Until recently, the administration faced a serious obstacle to action against Iran in the form of Centcom commander Admiral William Fallon, who made no secret of his contempt for official determination to take us to war. In a widely publicized incident last January, Iranian patrol boats approached a U.S. ship in what the Pentagon described as a "taunting" manner. According to Centcom staff officers, the American commander on the spot was about to open fire. At that point, the U.S. was close to war. He desisted only when Fallon personally and explicitly ordered him not to shoot. The White House, according to the staff officers, was "absolutely furious" with Fallon for defusing the incident.

Fallon has since departed. His abrupt resignation in early March followed the publication of his unvarnished views on our policy of confrontation with Iran, something that is unlikely to happen to his replacement, George Bush's favorite general, David Petraeus.

Though Petraeus is not due to take formal command at Centcom until late summer, there are abundant signs that something may happen before then. A Marine amphibious force, originally due to leave San Diego for the Persian Gulf in mid June, has had its sailing date abruptly moved up to May 4. A scheduled meeting in Europe between French diplomats acting as intermediaries for the U.S. and Iranian representatives has been abruptly cancelled in the last two weeks. Petraeus is said to be at work on a master briefing for congress to demonstrate conclusively that the Iranians are the source of our current troubles in Iraq, thanks to their support for the Shia militia currently under attack by U.S. forces in Baghdad.

Interestingly, despite the bellicose complaints, Petraeus has made little effort to seal the Iran-Iraq border, and in any case two thirds of U.S. casualties still come from Sunni insurgents. "The Shia account for less than one third," a recently returned member of the command staff in Baghdad familiar with the relevant intelligence told me, "but if you want a war you have to sell it."

Even without the covert initiatives described above, the huge and growing armada currently on station in the Gulf is an impressive symbol of American power.

Armed Might of US Marred By Begging Bowl to Arabs

Sometime in the next two weeks, fleet radar operator may notice a blip on their screens that represents something rather more profound: America's growing financial weakness. The blip will be former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin's plane commencing its descent into Abu Dhabi. Rubin's responsibility these days is to help keep Citigroup afloat despite a balance sheet still waterlogged, despite frantic bail out efforts by the Federal Reserve and others, by staggering losses in mortgage bonds. The Abu Dhabi Sovereign Wealth Fund injected $7.5 billion last November (albeit at a sub-prime interest rate of eleven percent,) but the bank's urgent need for fresh capital persists, and Abu Dhabi is where the money is.

Even if those radar operators pay no attention to Mr. Rubin's flight, and the ironic contrast it illustrates between American military power and financial weakness, others will, and not just in Tehran. There's not much a finding can do about that.

Andrew Cockburn is a regular CounterPunch contributor. He lives in Washington DC. His most recent book is Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall and Catastrophic Legacy (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1416535748/counterpunchmaga).

June 21st, 2008, 01:39 PM
Israelis 'rehearse Iran attack'

From BBC


More than 100 Israeli F16 and F15 jets were involved in the exercise

Israel has carried out an exercise that appears to have been a rehearsal for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, US officials have told the New York Times.

More than 100 Israeli fighter jets took part in manoeuvres over the eastern Mediterranean and over Greece in the first week of June, US officials said.

Iran insists its programme is peaceful, but Israel sees Iran's development of the technology as a serious threat.

Tehran is defying a demand from the UN that it stop the enrichment of uranium.

The UN Security Council approved a third round of sanctions against Iran over the issue in March 2008.

The Israeli exercise, it seems, was designed to send a message to Tehran that Israel has the power and will to attack if it thought Iran was close to getting a nuclear weapon, the BBC's Jeremy Bowen reports.

None of what has been said and done so far means an attack on Iran is coming and talk of one faded out after US intelligence reported at the end of 2007 that Iran had given up its nuclear weapons programme, he notes.

But now it is back and that is significant, our Middle East Editor says.

Mohammed ElBaradei, head of the UN's nuclear watchdog, said an attack would put Iran on a "crash course" to building nuclear weapons.

"A military strike, in my opinion, would be worse than anything possible - it would turn the region into a fireball," he told Al Arabiya television in an interview.

"It would make me unable to continue my work," he said.


Several US officials briefing the New York Times said the exercise was intended to demonstrate the seriousness of Israel's concern over Iran's nuclear activities, and its willingness to act unilaterally.

"They wanted us to know, they wanted the Europeans to know, and they wanted the Iranians to know," a Pentagon official is quoted as saying by the newspaper.

"There's a lot of signalling going on at different levels."

The exercise involved Israeli helicopters that could be used to rescue downed pilots, the newspaper reported.

The helicopters and refuelling tankers flew more than 1,400km (870 miles), roughly the distance between Israel and Iran's main uranium enrichment plant at Natanz.

The New York Times reported that Israeli officials declined to discuss the details of the exercise.

A spokesman for the Israeli military said the air force "regularly trains for various missions in order to confront and meet the challenges posed by the threats facing Israel".

The US state department would not comment on the Israeli exercise.

Osirak 25 years on

A spokesperson said the US was focused on making diplomacy work with Iran but insisted that all options were still on the table, echoing remarks made recently by President George W Bush.

Diplomats in Washington described the exercise as muscle-flexing, a message that Israel would be ready to take unilateral action against Iran if needed.

But they add that if Israel ever decides to strike, there will be little advance warning - just like when it targeted a suspected nuclear reactor in Syria last September and Iraq's nuclear plant in Osirak in 1981.

Our Middle East editor adds that, at the UN, Russia and others believe attacking Iran would only make matters worse, and talking about it undercuts the diplomacy.


Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned on 4 June that drastic measures were needed to stop Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.

He said Iran must be shown there will be devastating consequences if it did develop such weapons.

Israeli deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz - a former defence minister - said earlier this month that military strikes to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons looked "unavoidable".

In 1981, Israeli jets bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak, 30km (18 miles) outside Baghdad.

Israel said it believed the French-built plant was designed to make nuclear weapons that could be used against Israel.

June 21st, 2008, 01:41 PM
Iran discounts 'attack by Israel'

From BBC


More than 100 Israeli F16 and F15 jets were involved in the exercise

Iran has said it considers a military attack on its nuclear facilities by Israel as "impossible".

"Such audacity to embark on an assault against the interests and territorial integrity of our country is impossible, said spokesman Gholam Hoseyn Elham.

The statement follows reports in the US media that Israeli aerial manoeuvres over the eastern Mediterranean were a possible test-run for a strike on Iran.

Iran insists that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.

It has repeatedly rejected demands to halt enriching uranium, which can be used as fuel for power plants or material for weapons if refined to a greater degree.

The head of the UN's nuclear watchdog, Mohammed ElBaradei, meanwhile said an attack would put Iran on a "crash course" to building nuclear weapons and would turn the region "into a fireball".

He said he did not believe there was any "imminent risk" of proliferation by Iran given the current status of its nuclear programme.

In an interview with Al Arabiya television, Mr ElBaradei said that if any military action was taken against Iran he would find it impossible to continue as the head of the IAEA.

Israeli 'rehearsal'

Iran's defiant message follows a report in the New York Times on Friday.

The newspaper cited US Pentagon officials as saying that the Israeli exercise - involving more than 100 Israeli fighter jets - was intended to demonstrate the seriousness of Israel's concern over Iran's nuclear activities, and its willingness to act unilaterally.

It said helicopters and refuelling tankers flew more than 1,400km (870 miles), roughly the distance between Israel and Iran's main uranium enrichment plant at Natanz.

The New York Times reported that Israeli officials declined to discuss the details of the exercise. The US state department would not comment on the Israeli exercise.

Offer on table

Iran is said to be considering an offer from six world powers of preliminary talks, which would be used to agree a framework for formal negotiations and incentives.

Osirak 25 years on
The talks are on the condition that Iran freeze its current levels of enrichment for six weeks in exchange for the powers putting a halt on their push for new sanctions.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana put forward the proposal - made by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council the US, China, Russia, France, Britain plus Germany - during talks in Tehran last week.

He said the six powers were ready to fully recognise Iran's right to have a civilian nuclear energy programme.

July 8th, 2008, 12:03 PM
The Bush "PLAN (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=239243&postcount=31)" moves on, with very questionable results and possible dire consequences :mad:

Copyright © 2008 CondéNet.
Operations outside the knowledge and
control of commanders have eroded
“the coherence of military strategy,”
one general says (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/07/07/080707fa_fact_hersh/?yrail).

August 7th, 2008, 02:13 PM
Regarding the Sy Hersh article above (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/07/07/080707fa_fact_hersh?currentPage=all); a notable excerpt and related video.

A Gallup poll taken last November, before the N.I.E. was made public, found that seventy-three per cent of those surveyed thought that the United States should use economic action and diplomacy to stop Iran’s nuclear program, while only eighteen per cent favored direct military action. Republicans were twice as likely as Democrats to endorse a military strike. Weariness with the war in Iraq has undoubtedly affected the public’s tolerance for an attack on Iran. This mood could change quickly, however. The potential for escalation became clear in early January, when five Iranian patrol boats, believed to be under the command of the Revolutionary Guard, made a series of aggressive moves toward three Navy warships sailing through the Strait of Hormuz. Initial reports of the incident made public by the Pentagon press office said that the Iranians had transmitted threats, over ship-to-ship radio, to “explode” the American ships. At a White House news conference, the President, on the day he left for an eight-day trip to the Middle East, called the incident “provocative” and “dangerous,” and there was, very briefly, a sense of crisis and of outrage at Iran. “TWO MINUTES FROM WAR” was the headline in one British newspaper.

The crisis was quickly defused by Vice-Admiral Kevin Cosgriff, the commander of U.S. naval forces in the region. No warning shots were fired, the Admiral told the Pentagon press corps on January 7th, via teleconference from his headquarters, in Bahrain. “Yes, it’s more serious than we have seen, but, to put it in context, we do interact with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and their Navy regularly,” Cosgriff said. “I didn’t get the sense from the reports I was receiving that there was a sense of being afraid of these five boats.”

Admiral Cosgriff’s caution was well founded: within a week, the Pentagon acknowledged that it could not positively identify the Iranian boats as the source of the ominous radio transmission, and press reports suggested that it had instead come from a prankster long known for sending fake messages in the region. Nonetheless, Cosgriff’s demeanor angered Cheney, according to the former senior intelligence official. But a lesson was learned in the incident: The public had supported the idea of retaliation, and was even asking why the U.S. didn’t do more. The former official said that, a few weeks later, a meeting took place in the Vice-President’s office. “The subject was how to create a casus belli between Tehran and Washington,” he said.

Hersh relates in a videotaped interview one of the options (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slgBrbNXrbs) proposed and rejected during the meeting. :eek:

Transcript here (http://thinkprogress.org/2008/07/31/cheney-proposal-for-iran-war/).

August 9th, 2008, 03:16 PM
There is presently a massive US/EU naval armada buildup (http://europebusines.blogspot.com/2008/08/massive-us-naval-armada-heads-for-iran.html) for Persian Gulf action and a blockade of Iran.

The large and very advanced nature of the US Naval warships is not only directed at Iran. There is a great fear that Russia and China may oppose the naval and air/land blockade of Iran. If Russian and perhaps Chinese naval warships escort commercial tankers to Iran in violation of the blockade it could be the most dangerous at-sea confrontation since the Cuban Missile Crisis. The US and allied Navies, by front loading a Naval blockade force with very powerful guided missile warships and strike carriers is attempting to have a force so powerful that Russia and China will not be tempted to mess with. This is a most serious game of military brinkmanship with major nuclear armed powers that have profound objections to the neo-con grand strategy and to western control of all of the Middle East's oil supply.

A strategic diversion has been created for Russia. The Republic of Georgia...
Where, at "Vaziani military base near the Georgian capital" under the auspices of assisting "the third-largest contributor to coalition forces" in Iraq, "more than 1,000 US Marines and soldiers were at the base last month to teach combat skills to Georgian troops." [source (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russia-strikes-as-georgia-moves-against-rebels-888487.html)]

Meanwhile, "at the Pentagon, a senior defense official said Georgia has asked the U.S. for help getting its approximately 2,000 troops out of Iraq. The request is apparently related to the fighting in South Ossetia (http://americanfootprints.com/drupal/node/4128)." [source (http://www.inrich.com/cva/ric/news/politics.apx.-content-articles-RTD-2008-08-09-0053.html)]


(AGI) - Beijing, 8 August (http://www.agi.it/world/news/200808082043-cro-ren0125-art.html)- For Vladimir Putin, "in South Ossetia, a real war has broken out" after Georgia attacked Russian interposition forces. This was said by the Russian Premier to US President George W. Bush after the opening ceremonies to the Olympics in Beijing, reported by spokesperson Dmitry Peskov. Bush, according to the same source replied: "no one wants war". Earlier news of a meeting between the two world leaders in Beijing was filtered through the White House, which did not report any details on the meeting. Putin explained to Bush that "in Russia many volunteers intend to go there (in South Ossetia to fight) and undoubtedly, it is very difficult to maintain peace in the region".

James Traub writes (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/10/weekinreview/10traub.html?hp=&pagewanted=all) in today's NYTimes:

Diplomats are now laboring mightily to prevent the [Georgian] war from spreading, though hostilities may serve too many different interests to be easily contained.

The squeeze is on Iran. Russia can't come to the rescue (which it probably prefers). China is loath to disturb their limelight pageantry (and would prefer to play the role of peaceful power-broker, diplomatically forcing Iran to acquiesce to US demands). China is on the hot-seat as they know the US can cook up some Strait of Hormuz provocation with Iran to disrupt the Olympics (blamed on Iran of course, see previous post).

Time Magazine (http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1830634,00.html):

...Bush's message to both Hu and Putin this weekend will be that having[sic] Iran is refusing to play ball despite American efforts. And there are signs that Beijing is beginning to share Bush's frustration. "Iran," a senior Chinese official acknowledged to a western visitor before Bush's arrival, "is on thin ice."

The Chinese get more than half of their surging oil imports from the Middle East and are deathly afraid of turmoil in the Persian Gulf. "They lose sleep at night thinking that they [rely] on the Middle East," says Jon Alterman, a senior fellow at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies and author of a new study called "The Vital Triangle: China, the United States, and the Middle East."

It's that triangle — not human rights or the 100 meter dash — that is at the core of Bush's business in Beijing this weekend. But even if the Chinese may be sidling up to the idea of one last sanctions push, it's not at all clear that Bush's fellow sports nut, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, is. ...so far Moscow has shown no public inclination to support tougher sanctions than those that already exist on Iran. A Russian government spokesman confirmed that Iran would be on the agenda when Bush sees Putin in Beijing — but would say no more.

I can't find any video (http://video.google.com/videosearch?client=safari&rls=en&q=iran%20censors&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&um=1&sa=N&tab=wv#q=%22Iranian%20Athletes%20%5BBeijing%202008 %5D%22&emb=0) or a transcript of the statements made by Matt Lauer and Bob Costas during the Olympic opening ceremony when Iran entered the parade of nations; "Another example of politics and sports colliding." I'm sure the Chinese censors saw it, though the Iranians' seemed a bit slow (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abe63NANL_g). :D

On the other hand, perhaps the EU sanctions and capital withdrawal are just a pretext for allowing Russia and China to buy up most of Iran (http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2008/08/09/chinese_russian_stall_tactics_on_iran/). In the end, that's how you exert control...

September 3rd, 2008, 10:13 AM
September Surprise
Get ready for it…

Justin Raimondo | September 3, 2008 (http://antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=13401)

While the rest (http://www.google.com/news?q=palin&sourceid=navclient-ff&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1B3GGGL_enUS176US231) of the pundits opine about the meaning and implications of Sarah Palin's ascension from small town mayor to prospective vice president – and whether or not her daughter's private life is fair game for any media outlet other than the National Enquirer – those of us whose job it is to stand watch on the ramparts and report the real news are wondering when – not if – the War Party will pull a rabbit out of the proverbial hat. For months (http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=12755), I've been warning (http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=13156) in this space that an American attack on Iran is imminent, and now I see that the Dutch have reason to agree with my assessment. Their intelligence service reportedly has pulled out of a covert operation inside Iran on the grounds that a U.S. strike is right around the corner – in "a matter of weeks (http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1220186494776&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull)," according to De Telegraaf, a Dutch newspaper.

As the story goes, the Dutch had infiltrated the purported Iranian weapons project and were firmly ensconced when they got word that the Americans are about to launch a missile attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. They wisely decided to close down the operation and pull out.

Remember, the Israelis have been threatening (http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=4288831n) to strike on their own for months (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jun/07/israelandthepalestinians.iran): what's changed is that now, apparently, the U.S. has caved in to what is a blatant case of blackmail and has agreed to do the job for them.

We haven't heard much about Iran lately, at least compared to the scare headlines of a few months ago, when rumors of war were swirling fast and furious. The Russian "threat" seems to have replaced (http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&rlz=1B3GGGL_enUS176US231&um=1&tab=wn&nolr=1&q=%22russian%2Bthreat%22&btnG=Search%2BNews) the Iranian "threat" as the War Party's bogeyman of choice. What we didn't know, however, is that the two focal points are intimately related.

According to this report (http://www.metimes.com/Security/2008/09/02/commentary_israel_of_the_caucasus/f5e1/) by veteran Washington Times correspondent Arnaud de Borchgrave (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnaud_de_Borchgrave), the close cooperation of the Israelis with the Georgian military in the run-up to President Saakashvili's blitz of South Ossetia was predicated on a Georgian promise to let the Israelis use Georgia's airfields to mount a strike against Iran.

The main problem for Tel Aviv, in making its threats against Iran at all credible, has been the distance to be covered by Israeli fighter jets, which would have a hard time reaching and returning from their targets without refueling. With access to the airfields of "the Israel of the Caucasus," as de Borchgrave – citing Saakashvili – puts it, the likelihood of an Israeli attack entered the world of real possibilities. De Borchgrave avers:

"In a secret agreement between Israel and Georgia, two military airfields in southern Georgia had been earmarked for the use of Israeli fighter-bombers in the event of pre-emptive attacks against Iranian nuclear installations. This would sharply reduce the distance Israeli fighter-bombers would have to fly to hit targets in Iran. And to reach Georgian airstrips, the Israeli air force would fly over Turkey.

"The attack ordered by Saakashvili against South Ossetia the night of Aug. 7 provided the Russians the pretext for Moscow to order Special Forces to raid these Israeli facilities where some Israeli drones were reported captured."
Reports of anywhere from 100 to 1,000 Israeli "advisers (http://www.ynet.co.il/english/articles/0,7340,L-3580136,00.html)" in Georgia do not bode well for the situation on the ground. With the Israelis already installed in that country, the logistics of carrying out such a sneak attack are greatly simplified. Israeli pilots would only have to fly over Azerbaijan (http://images.nationmaster.com/images/motw/commonwealth/azerbaijan_pol_2004.jpg), and they'd be in Iranian airspace – and within striking distance of Tehran.

Faced with this fait accompli – if the Dutch are to be believed – the Americans seem to have capitulated. In which case, we don't have much time. Although de Borchgrave writes "whether the IAF can still count on those air bases to launch bombing missions against Iran's nuke facilities is now in doubt," I don't see why the defeat of the Georgians in Saakashvili's war (http://antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=13304) on the Ossetians has to mean the plan to strike Iran via Georgia has been canceled. Indeed, reading de Borchgrave's riveting account of the extent of the Tel Aviv-Tbilisi collaboration, one finds additional reasons for all concerned to go ahead with it:

"Saakashvili was convinced that by sending 2,000 of his soldiers to serve in Iraq (who were immediately flown home by the United States when Russia launched a massive counterattack into Georgia), he would be rewarded for his loyalty. He could not believe President Bush, a personal friend, would leave him in the lurch. Georgia, as Saakashvili saw his country's role, was the 'Israel of the Caucasus.'"
Saakashvili, a vain (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWlQ_fzECl4) and reckless (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rj-Qdk2UvoM) man, now has even more reason to go behind Uncle Sam's back and give the Israelis a clear shot at Tehran. With this sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of the Americans, the rationale for a more limited, shot-across-the-bow strike by the U.S. becomes all too clear.

After all, if the Israelis attacked, the entire Muslim world would unite behind the Iranians. If, on the other had, the U.S. did Israel's dirty work, with Tel Aviv lurking in the background, it would conceivably be far less provocative, and might (http://www.cfr.org/publication/10491/) even generate sub rosa support among the Sunni rulers of America's Arab allies. It's going to happen anyway, goes the rationale, and so we might as well do it the right way, rather than leave it to the Israelis, who have threatened (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/18/opinion/18morris.html) – via "independent (http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=13168)" commentators like Israeli historian and super hawk Benny Morris – to use nuclear weapons on Iran's population centers.

In terms of American domestic politics, the road to war with Tehran was paved long ago: both (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/rosnerBlog.jhtml?itemNo=992908&contrassID=25&subContrassID=0&sbSubContrassID=1&listSrc=Y&art=1) major parties and their presidential candidates have given the War Party a green light to strike Tehran, McCain explicitly (http://jeffreygoldberg.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/05/mccain_on_israel_iran_and_the_1.php) and Obama tacitly (http://elections.foxnews.com/2008/06/04/prepared-remarks-obama-at-aipac-policy-conference/), albeit no less firmly.

The stage is set, rehearsals are over, and the actors know their lines: as the curtain goes up on the first act of "World War III," take a deep breath and pray to the gods that this deadly drama is aborted.

November 11th, 2008, 11:50 AM
Documents linking Iran to nuclear weapons push may have been fabricated

Gareth Porter
Published: Monday November 10, 2008 (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/IAEA_suspects_fraud_in_evidence_for_1109.html)

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has obtained evidence suggesting that documents which have been described as technical studies for a secret Iranian nuclear weapons-related research program may have been fabricated.

The documents in question were acquired by U.S. intelligence in 2004 from a still unknown source -- most of them in the form of electronic files allegedly stolen from a laptop computer belonging to an Iranian researcher. The US has based much of its push for sanctions against Iran on these documents.

The new evidence of possible fraud has increased pressure within the IAEA secretariat to distance the agency from the laptop documents, according to a Vienna-based diplomatic source close to the IAEA, who spoke to RAW STORY on condition of anonymity.

The laptop documents include what the IAEA has described (http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Board/2008/gov2008-15.pdf) in a published report as technical drawings of efforts to redesign the nosecone of the Iranian Shahab-3 ballistic missile “to accommodate a nuclear warhead.” The documents are also said to include studies on the use of a high explosive detonation system, drawings of a shaft apparently to be used for nuclear tests, and studies on a bench-scale uranium conversion facility.

These technical papers, along with some correspondence related to the alleged secret Iranian program -- referred to by the IAEA as “alleged studies” -- have been the primary basis during 2008 for the insistence by the US-led international coalition pushing for sanctions against Iran that the Iranian case must be kept going in the United Nations Security Council.

Handwritten Notes

At the center of the internal IAEA struggle is an Iranian firm named Kimia Maadan, which is portrayed in the documents as responsible for studies on a uranium conversion facility, called the “green salt” project, as part of the alleged nuclear weapons program under the Iranian Ministry of Defense.

According to a February 2006 Washington Post article (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/07/AR2006020702126_3.html), the United States and its allies believe that Kimia Maadan is a front for the Iranian military.

One of the communications included in the laptop documents – a letter allegedly sent to Kimia Maadan from an unnamed Iranian engineering firm in May 2003 – is at the center of the authenticity argument.

This letter is described in the May 26, 2008 IAEA report (http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Board/2008/gov2008-15.pdf) as “a one page annotated letter of May 2003 in Farsi.” According to a US source who has been briefed on the matter, the letter has handwritten notes on it which refer to studies on the redesign of a missile reentry vehicle.

Last January, however, Iran turned over to the IAEA a copy of the same May 2003 letter with no handwritten notes on it. This was confirmed by the director of the IAEA Safeguards Department, Olli Heinonen, during a February briefing for member states. Heinonen referred to “correspondence” related to Kimia Maadan that is “identical to that provided by Iran, with the addition of handwritten notes.”

Notes on the Heinonen briefing (http://www.isis-online.org/publications/iran/IAEA_Briefing_Weaponization.pdf), compiled by unnamed diplomats who attended it, were posted on the website of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security.

The copy of the letter without the handwritten notes was part of a larger collection of documentation concerning Kimia Maadan provided to IAEA by Iran in response to a request for an explanation of that firm’s role in the management of the Iranian Gchine uranium mine.

After the IAEA received the copy of the letter without notes from Iran, some officials began pushing for an acknowledgment by the Agency that there were serious questions about the whether the laptop documents were fabricated, according to the Vienna-based source close to the IAEA.

“There was an effort to point out that the Agency isn’t in a position to authenticate the documents,” said the source.

Heinonen and other IAEA Safeguards Department officials have continued, however, to defend the credibility of the document in question.

According to an American source briefed on the dispute, the defenders of the authenticity of the version of the letter with the handwritten notes say that the appearance of the clean copy can be attributed to Kimia Maadan making multiple copies of the original which have been circulated to various staff members.

Only an Ore-processing Plant

Further evidence damaging to the credibility of the letter and the handwritten notes was provided to the atomic energy watchdog last January by the Iranian government. According to Iran, Kimia Maadan was not working for the Defense Ministry but for the civilian Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI).

The new Iranian documentation, described in the February 22, 2008 IAEA report (http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Board/2008/gov2008-4.pdf), proved to IAEA’s satisfaction that the Kimia Maadan Company had been created in May 2000 solely to carry out a project to design, procure and install equipment for an ore processing plant.

The documents also showed that the core staff of Kimia Maadan was able to undertake the work on ore processing only because the nuclear agency had provided it with the technical drawings and reports as the basis for the contract.

“Information and explanations provided by Iran were supported by the documentation, the content of which is consistent with the information already available to the agency,” the IAEA concluded.

Marie Harff, a spokesperson for the CIA, declined to comment.

Additional Doubts About the Letter

Other questions surround the letter with the handwritten notes. The subject of the letter was Kimia Maadan's inquiry to the engineering firm about procurement of a programmable logic control (PLC) system, according to the IAEA's May 26 report (http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Board/2008/gov2008-15.pdf).

A PLC system is one of many types of technology that the United States has long sought to deny to the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. Iran had informed (http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Board/2006/gov2006-15.pdf) the IAEA even before 2006 that Kimia Maadan had assisted the AEOI in getting around that denial strategy by procuring various technologies for the planned uranium conversion facility at Esfahan.

Given that Kimia Maadan’s role in procurement for the conversion facility was both unrelated to its technical work for the AEOI and part of a covert effort to get around U.S. restrictions, it seems unlikely that they would have made multiple copies of the letter. Even if multiple copies were made, the firm would certainly have taken normal security precautions for a document of that type, marking each copy with a number or name.

A security procedure of that kind would have identified any missing copies. However, this was not the case with the 2003 letter. The United States, as its reason for refusing to provide a copy of the document to Iran, has argued that it would allow Iranian security personnel to identify the person who wrote the notes from their handwriting, according to the US source who has been briefed on the matter.

Another problem with the handwritten letter is the absence of any logical link between the subject of the letter and the alleged work on redesign of the missile. PLC systems, which are used for automation of industrial processes, such as control of machinery on factory assembly lines, would have been irrelevant to the technical studies on redesigning the Shahab-3 missile.

Other Documents Also Under Suspicion

Other documents from the laptop collection, allegedly showing that Kimia Maadan was working closely with the team trying to redesigning the Shahab-3 missile, have also come under suspicion of fraud.

The IAEA’s May 2008 report describes a flowsheet under Kimia Maadan’s name, showing a “process for bench scale conversion of uranium oxide” to UF4 (uranium tetraflouride), also known as “green salt.” The project number shown in the disputed documents for the “green salt” subproject is 5.13.

However, Heinonen stated that the number given to the Gchine subproject was 5.15. According to the documents obtained by the IAEA from Iran last January, this was the number of the uranium ore processing project that was assigned in 1999 by the civilian AEOI, not by the Iranian Defense Ministry. This would mean that the author of the document used the project number 5.13 for the “green salt” subproject based on their knowledge of the AEOI numbering system and not on a military designation.

In his February 25 briefing, Heinonen additionally referred to an alleged letter sent by Kimia Maadan – as manager of three subprojects – to the “missile re-entry vehicle” project, asking for a “technical opinion” on the plans for equipment for a proposed “green salt” conversion facility.

However, it is difficult to understand why the team working on redesigning the missile would be asked for a “technical opinion” on equipment for a uranium conversion facility.

A spokesperson for the State Department’s Office of Arms Control and International Security, which is responsible for IAEA affairs, said in an e-mail that specialists in the office “aren’t able to comment” on the subject of the intelligence documents now being considered by the IAEA.

The IAEA also declined to comment.

Toward a Showdown on the Contradictions

As the contradictions between the new Iranian evidence and the laptop documents relating to Kimia Maadan became apparent, some IAEA officials argued that the Agency should distance itself from what they now suspect are forgeries. Despite that argument, the May 2008 report contained no reference to the issue.

The next IAEA report, due out in mid-November, will include the first response by the Agency to a confidential 117-page Iranian critique of the laptop documents, according to the Vienna-based source.

In the past, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei has shown an ability to face off with the United States when evidence has been called into doubt. The infamous “Niger forgeries” – documents that purported to show an agreement between Niger and Iraq for the purchase of uranium oxide – were used by the White House as part of its case for war against Iraq.

In response, ElBaradei sent a letter to the White House and the National Security Council in December 2002, over three months before the US launched the Iraq War, warning that he believed the documents were forgeries and should not be cited as evidence of Iraqi intention to obtain nuclear weapons.

When ElBaradei received no response from the Bush administration, he went public to debunk the Niger forgeries. In a speech at the United Nations in March 2003, he declared that the IAEA, after “thorough analysis,” had concluded that the documents alleging the purchase of uranium by Iraqi from Niger “are in fact not authentic.”

The anomalies that have been revealed by the Iranian documents obtained from Iran last January may not be as obvious as the ones that made it clear the Niger documents were fabrications. Nevertheless, they appear to be red flags for IAEA analysts concerned with the issue.

Suspicion has surrounded the “alleged studies” documents from the beginning, because the United States has refused (http://www.antiwar.com/porter/?articleid=12443) to say who brought the collection to US intelligence four years ago.

Gareth Porter is an investigative journalist and historian who has authored numerous foreign policy analyses and is the author of the book, Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam. In a 2006 article in the American Prospect (http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?articleId=11539), he revealed Iran's spurned diplomatic outreach to the Bush Administration in 2003.

November 12th, 2008, 11:53 AM
Antiwar Radio interview [39:42] (http://antiwar.com/radio/2008/11/11/gareth-porter-44/) with Gareth Porter regarding the above article .

November 16th, 2008, 04:37 PM
Iran switches reserves to gold - report

TEHRAN, Nov 15 (Reuters) (http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/feedarticle/8025778) - Iran has converted financial reserves into gold to avoid future problems, an adviser to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in comments published on Saturday, after the price of oil fell more than 60 percent from a peak in July.

Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil producer, is under U.N. and U.S. sanctions over its disputed nuclear programme and is now also facing declining revenue from its oil exports after crude prices tumbled.
"With the plans of the presidency...the country's money reserves were changed into gold so that we wouldn't be faced with many problems in the future," presidential adviser Mojtaba Samareh-Hashemi was quoted as saying by business daily Poul.

He gave no figures or other details.

Before oil prices plunged by more than 60 percent from a peak of $147 per barrel in July, Iran made windfall gains from its crude exports and in April estimated its foreign exchange reserves at about $80 billion.

Iranian officials in July denied reports Iranian banks were moving funds from Europe, with one report suggesting as much as $75 billion had been withdrawn and converted into gold or placed in Asian banks, because of a threat of tightening sanctions.

The International Monetary Fund said in August that if the price of Iranian crude fell to $75 a barrel, Iran would face a current account deficit in the medium term that would be tough to sustain due to Tehran's financial isolation.

On Friday, U.S. crude fell $1.20 at $57.04.

Gold futures ended more than 5 percent higher on Friday and bullion ended the week about $10 higher compared with its last Friday's close of $735.95 as investors covered short positions.

(Reporting by Zahra Hosseinian; Writing Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Jan Dahinten)


Why does this matter? (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?p=181674#post181674)

December 11th, 2008, 05:11 PM
Obama will nuke Iran if Israel nuked, official says

John Byrne
Published: Thursday December 11, 2008 (http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Obama_will_nuke_Iran_if_Israel_1211.html)

Clinton also seen backing 'nuclear umbrella'

President-elect Barack Obama intends to offer Israel a "nuclear umbrella" in the event of a nuclear strike by Iran, according to a defense source close to the administration quoted by an Israeli newspaper.

Under such an agreement, the United States would promise to use nuclear weapons against Iran should Israel be atomically attacked. Obama's secretary of State, Sen. Hillary Clinton, promised a similar "massive response" should Israel come under attack during the Democratic presidential debates.

"The source, who is close to the new administration, said the US will declare that an attack on Israel by Tehran would result in a devastating U.S. nuclear response against Iran," the paper Ha'aretz said Thursday (http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1045687.html).

The source quoted also said that the nuclear guarantee would be backed by a new and improved Israeli anti-ballistic missile defense system, which comes in addition to one the Bush administration helped deploy in the Negev.

Both the ballistic defense system and the comments may suggest that the incoming Administration believes that a nuclear Iran is inevitable.

Soon-to-be Secretary of State Clinton has also proposed that the nuclear shield be extended to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states if they drop their nuclear ambitions. The United States is a massive supplier of weapons and defense technology to Saudi Arabia; the Bush administration recently signed a $20 billion, 10-year deal.

The US is also a supplier of covert arms (http://rawstory.com/news/2007/US_has_been_covertly_arming_Gulf_0801.html) to Gulf Cooperation Council states, which include Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

A National Security Council official told Raw Story last year that the $20 billion Saudi deal -- along with the covert arms programs -- was aimed at propping up the monarchy and to isolate Iran.

"The Saudis see Maliki as the cat's paw of Iran and they think we are actively supporting Maliki," the NSC official said. "What the monarchy is actively worried about is that guys who got bloodied in Iraq will return home and overthrow them, and that would be very bad for us."

Obama has said he'd negotiate with Iran and offered economic aid if they agreed to drop their nuclear program. Such a move is unlikely, as Iran sees nuclear weapons as a key element in protecting their country against foreign attack and increasing their presence on the world stage.

The paper quoted a "senior Bush administration official" as rebuking the nuclear guarantee.

"Who will convince the citizen in Kansas that the U.S. needs to get mixed up in a nuclear war because Haifa was bombed? And what is the point of an American response, after Israel's cities are destroyed in an Iranian nuclear strike?"

Even so, Israel may no longer be able to expect "blank cheques" from Washington once president-elect Obama's administration takes over in January, according to a former US ambassador to the Jewish state.

"The era of the blank cheque is over," Martin Indyk, director of the Centre for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute, who is considered close to incoming secretary of state Hillary Clinton, said Sunday.

December 11th, 2008, 05:34 PM
That's what Nukes are for.

God wouldn't have made 'em if he didn't want us to use 'em.

Duck and Cover! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0K_LZDXp0I)


Everything Old is New Again (http://images.google.com/images?q=%22duck+and+cover%22&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-SearchBox&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7RNWE&um=1&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&resnum=5&ct=title)

January 13th, 2009, 06:41 PM
Iran arrests four over 'CIA-backed plot'

updated 5:24 a.m. EST, Tue January 13, 2009 (http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/01/13/iran.arrests/index.html?eref=ib_topstories)

TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Iranian authorities said Tuesday they arrested four citizens who were paid by the U.S. government to bring about a regime change.

Alireza Jamshidi, a spokesman for Iran's judiciary, told reporters that the four were trying to recruit others in their plot, but he did not disclose any additional details of what the suspects were conspiring to do.

"The group was trying to recruit more people by setting up a network and training new agents," the semi-official Iranian Labor News Agency quoted Jamshidi as saying.

"The network was funded and guided by the Bush administration, the State Department and the CIA, with the objective of bringing about a regime change in Iran," Jamshidi said, according to another semi-official news agency, Mehr.

It was not clear if the arrests were connected to several detentions throughout Iran in recent weeks. All those arrested are accused of similar crimes.

January 16th, 2009, 10:17 AM

Rick Steves' travels have taught him the power of people-to-people diplomacy. Now as tensions rise between the United States and Iran, he's taking action. “Rick Steves’ Iran: Yesterday and Today” will be a one-hour public television special on Iran's people and culture. It is slated to premiere nationwide in January, 2009.

Images, Journal and interviews here (http://www.ricksteves.com/about/pressroom/activism/iran.htm).

June 12th, 2009, 06:26 PM
June 13, 2009

Conflicting Claims of Victory in Iran’s Election


TEHRAN — Iran’s state-run news agency declared Iran’s hard-line incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the winner of Iran’s tumultuous presidential election just two hours after the polls closed, but his main rival, Mir Hussein Moussavi, announced defiantly that he had won.

“I am the absolute winner of the election by a very large margin,” Mr. Moussavi said, adding: “It is our duty to defend people’s votes. There is no turning back.”

The conflicting claims came as Iranian officials were counting ballots from a vote with so heavy a turnout that polls were kept open for several extra hours to accommodate the extraordinary crowds.

Mr. Moussavi, a former prime minister, said at the news conference that there had been voting “irregularities,” including a shortage of ballots.

He accused the government of shutting down Web sites and text messaging services throughout the country, crippling the opposition’s ability to communicate during the voting. He also called on the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to help the country reach a “favorable conclusion.”

While casting his ballot earlier in the day, Ayatollah Khamenei had said that people were using texting to spread rumors, but it is unclear if that is why the services were shut down.

In making the announcement that Mr. Ahmadinejad had won, Iran’s election chief said the president had gotten 69 percent of the vote , but that figure was based on only 19 percent of the votes counted.

The vote counting was likely to drag on through Saturday morning, if not later.

Tens of millions of Iranians had crowded voting stations throughout the day to take part in what is widely seen here as a referendum on Mr. Ahmadinejad’s policies. Long lines had formed outside some polling stations well before they opened at 8 a.m.

Polls were originally due to close at 6 p.m. (9:30 a.m. in New York), but voting was extended by four hours.

The strong showing appeared to be driven in part by a broad movement against Mr. Ahmadinejad that has spurred vast opposition rallies in Iran’s major cities over the past few weeks. Many reform-oriented voters stayed away from the polls in 2005, and now say they are determined not to repeat the mistake. Most say they support Mr. Moussavi, a moderate and former prime minister who is the leading opposition candidate.

There are four candidates in the race, and if none wins more than 50 percent of the vote on Friday, the top two finishers will compete in a runoff a week later. Most analysts have assumed that the election will go to a second round, but in recent days, the extraordinary public support for Mr. Moussavi has led to predictions that he could win the presidency in the first round on Friday. The other contenders are Mehdi Karroubi, a reformist cleric; and Mohsen Rezai, a conservative and the former commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. All other presidential aspirants were weeded out months ago by Iran’s clerical elite.

Iran’s president is less powerful than Ayatollah Khamenei, who has final authority over affairs of state. But the president wields great power over domestic affairs, and Mr. Ahmadinejad has skillfully used the office as a bully pulpit both at home and abroad.

As voting began on Friday morning, journalists gathered to watch Ayatollah Khamenei cast his vote in a mosque near his home in southern Tehran. Just after 8 a.m., a set of brown curtains opened and the leader emerged, a gaunt 69-year-old with clunky glasses and a long white beard, with a black turban on his head and a black clerical gown draped around him. The journalists, mostly Iranians, gasped and then chanted a religious blessing.

Mr. Khamenei presented his identity papers to an official standing nearby, and cast two ballots: one for president, and one for the Assembly of Experts, the 86-member body of senior clerics that appoints — and can remove — the supreme leader. He then stepped to a microphone and gave a brief speech in which he praised the vigor of the election campaign.

“I am hearing about a vast participation of people, and I hear there are even gatherings at night,” Mr. Khamenei said. “This shows the people’s awareness.”

He also warned about election-day rumors, saying text messages were being sent around claiming to represent his view on the election, and said they were lies spread by “unhealthy individuals with bad intentions.”

Ayatollah Khamenei’s position on the presidential elections has been a matter of intense speculation. He has not endorsed anyone, but offered a description of the ideal candidate that sounded very much like Mr. Ahmadinejad.

However, Mr. Khamenei met for three hours on Thursday with Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a powerful cleric and former president who heads the Assembly of Experts. He opposes Mr. Ahmadinejad and has accused him of threatening the stability of the state.

Some analysts say Mr. Rafsanjani’s lobbying efforts could reduce Mr. Ahmadinejad’s freedom to bring out voters or even intimidate them using the levers of state — the military, the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij militia.

A number of voters interviewed at the polls Friday seemed anxious about the possibility of vote-tampering.

“I put one name in, but maybe it will change when it comes out of the box,” said Adel Shoghi, 29, who works as a clerk at a car manufacturing company and voted at a mosque in southern Tehran.

Like some other supporters of Mr. Moussavi, Mr. Shoghi seemed uneasy about making his position too explicit in public. But he said he favored Mr. Moussavi because Iran needed more civic freedoms and because Mr. Ahmadinejad worsened Iran’s pariah status internationally, making life hard for Iranians who travel.

His brother Mansoor, 27, standing next to Mr. Shoghi and smiling shyly, said he had just voted for Mr. Ahmadinejad.

“He is more with the people, and he has a plain way of living,” he said, echoing comments made by many supporters of the populist president.

Half an hour later, Mr. Moussavi arrived at the mosque to cast his vote, surrounded by a thick, shouting crowd of aides and photographers. He delivered a brief speech.

“This is a golden opportunity for us,” he said, as photographers jostled for position and voters struggled to hear. “All this unity and solidarity is the achievement of the revolution and the Islamic republic.”

He left soon after, with his admirers in the courtyard still chanting, “Hail to Muhammad, the perfume of honesty and sincerity is coming.”

Mr. Ahmadinejad voted at another mosque, in southeast Tehran.

There are families, like the Shoghis, that are divided over the candidates. But often the two main political camps seem almost to hail from different countries. Mr. Moussavi’s supporters tend to be wealthier, more educated and more socially liberal than Mr. Ahmadinejad’s.

Outside a polling station in an affluent area of north Tehran, women stood in line wearing colorful headscarves, designer jeans and sunglasses. It was a far cry from the mosque where Mr. Moussavi had voted.

“In the last elections, most people like us didn’t vote,” said Ava Bab, a 24-year-old dressed in an elegant gray headscarf. “But we saw our situation is getting worse, so we decided to put our hands together. The view other countries have of us is different from the way we really are.”

Nazila Fathi contributed reporting.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

June 12th, 2009, 09:29 PM
This mess is easier to fix than anyone is thinking. Simply absorb Israel into the United States. We talk about the "State of Israel" all the time. How about we act on that and go through with it? Put the 51st star on the flag, and while we are at it, how about finally making Puerto Rico #52? Our tent is big enough.

June 12th, 2009, 11:18 PM
Would you include Gaza & the West Bank in Number 51?

June 13th, 2009, 01:46 AM
Probably not. Once the U.S. flag flies over our new state, it changes the game in a big way. I would cede the nonsense parts and focus on the main event.

June 13th, 2009, 06:43 AM
This is a joke, right?

If not, how does it fix "the mess"?

June 14th, 2009, 02:41 PM
Iran blog with up-to-date post-election News / Vids

IRAN NEWS (http://www.iran101.blogspot.com/)

June 14th, 2009, 02:54 PM
The Real Results?

Andrew Sullivan
The Daily Dish (http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/06/the-real-results.html)
June 14, 2009

This is hearsay - but under conditions of a police state coup, we are best advised to glean what information we can, hold it provisionally, and test it as time passes. Here's what Kos Diarist Electronic Maji (http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/6/14/742253/-Early-Report-Day-Two:-Media-Police-Run,-Protestors-Trapped-by-Police,-Ayatollahs-Daughter-Arrested.) is hearing from Iranian journalist friends under lockdown:

Unofficial news - reports leaked results from Interior Ministry:

Eligible voters: 49,322,412
Votes cast: 42,026,078
Spoilt votes: 38,716
Mir Hossein Mousavi: 19,075,623
Mehdi Karoubi: 13,387,104
Mahmoud Ahmadi-nejad (incumbent): 5,698,417
Mohsen Rezaei (conservative candidate): 3,754,218

If this is true, it would explain the comically lop-sided total in reverse - a lovely gesture from the regime taken direct from Machiavelli - and the panicked reaction by Khamenei.

June 14th, 2009, 08:46 PM
THEHRAN a political coup

roozonline.com (http://www.roozonline.com/english/news/newsitem/article/2009/june/14//thehran-a-political-coup.html)
June 14, 2009


(TEHRAN 11P.M) In an interview, Mr. Mohsen Makhbalbaf, the distinguish movie director and spokesman for Mr. Mir Hossein Mousavi, has declared that there has been a coup in Iran whereby the elections have been rigged, and people’s vote have been altered on a vast scale, in order to declare President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the “victor.”

According to Mr. Makhbalbaf, in the early hours after voting had ended, the Interior Ministry had called Mr. Mousavi’s campaign headquarters to inform them that Mr. Mousavi would be the winner and, therefore, Mr. Mousavi must prepare a victory statement. Mr. Mousavi was, however, asked by the Ministry not to boast too much, in order not to upset Mr. Ahmadinejad’s supporters. Many of the president’s supporters are among the ranks of the Basij militia, and thus armed.

According to Mr. Makhbalbaf, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was also informed of the developments. He also recommended a “good management” of the victory statement, meaning not boasting greatly about the victory, because that would be in Iran’s national interests and stability.

At the same time, the reformist newspapers were also informed that they can prepare their Saturday edition to declare Mr. Mousavi the winner, but were not allowed to use the word pirouzi (victory) in their articles, in order not to upset Mr. Ahmadinejad’s supporters. One reformist newspaper prepared its front page with the title, “People took back the flag of their country [from Mr. Ahmadinejad].”

But, just a few hours later, a center that had been set up by Mr. Mousavi in Gheytarieh (in northern Tehran) for monitoring the election and vote counting, was attacked by armed security agents. They ransacked the center, destroyed computers, and attacked the staff. Supporters of Mr. Mousavi intervened and arrested 8 security agents. The police was called to take them to prison, but the police released the attackers.

According to Mr. Makhbalbaf, the central headquaters of Mr. Mousavi’s campaign was also surrounded by security forces, as was the Interior Ministry building. Then, new data began to be released by the Ministry, indicating that Mr. Ahmadinejad had won the elections decisively.

Mr. Makhbalbaf then declared that, “I have been authorized by Mr. Mousavi’s campaign to officially declare that a political coup has taken place, in order to declare Mr. Ahmadinejad the victor.”

In other developments, in an attempt to put an end to the scandal, the Supreme Leader issued a statement, congratulating Mr. Ahmadinejad for his “victory.” He also warned that he would punish anybody who disputed the results. The official site of Mr. Mousavi, ghalamnews.ir has been filtered and is inaccessible in Iran. There are also reports that the homes of Mr. Karroubi and former president and powerful politician, Mr. Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who had written a letter to the Supreme Leader on Wednesday to warn him against irregularities, have been surrounded by security forces.

In its first official reaction to the election results, the United States declared that it has serious doubt about the accuracy of the election data. Fox News reported that a spokesman said that, “Our analysts find the declared votes for Mr. Karroubi hard to believe, or that Mr. Mousavi received less votes in his hometown than Mr. Ahmadinejad.”

© Rooz online


About us

Rooz is published on the Internet every morning, Iranian time. The first issue appeared on May 10, 2005. Rooz is not published on Fridays and Saturdays.

This daily is published by independent and reformist journalist and advocates of human rights and freedom inside and outside Iran. Its policies are determined by an editorial board.

Publisher: Iran Gooya media group, registered in France on January 21, 2005.

June 14th, 2009, 10:11 PM
did they actually think that the ayatollahs would allow a real free vote? they are scared shitless after bush invaded Iraq and need ahmadinejad to keep control of the populace and threaten US and Israel..

If there's WW3 it will be started by Iran or North Korea

June 15th, 2009, 01:13 AM
If there's WW3 it will be started by Iran or North KoreaBe careful what you wish for...

June 15th, 2009, 02:56 PM
Militia fires on protesters in Iran, killing at least one, says photographer

BY Brian Kates (http://www.nydailynews.com/authors/Brian%20Kates) AND Michael Saul (http://www.nydailynews.com/authors/Michael%20Saul)
Updated Monday, June 15th 2009, 12:35 PM

Iranian plain clothes policemen beat a demonstrator with batons during a protest against the election results in Tehran.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei casts his ballot for the presidential elections.

Gunmen opened fire on protesters claiming election fraud at a massive march in Tehran (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Tehran), killing at least one person Monday as Iran (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Iran)'s Supreme Leader ordered a probe of the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Mahmoud+Ahmadinejad).

An Associated Press (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/The+Associated+Press) photographer saw one person shot dead and several others who appear seriously wounded in Tehran's Azadi Square, the Associated Press reported.
The gunfire came from a compound for volunteer militia linked to Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Iranian+Revolutionary+Guard+Corps), according to the AP.
More than 100,000 protesters marched through the streets of Tehran to protest last week's election, which they say was rigged. The protesters were apparently not challenged by government security forces, despite a ban on rallies for reformist leader Mir Hossein Mousavi (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Mir+Hossein+Mousavi).
Mousavi himself addressed the crowd in the square They roared back: "Long live Mousavi."

On Monday, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Ayatollah+Ali+Khamenei) ordered a probe into the disputed results, state television said. The official figures showed Ahmadinejad won 63% of the vote.
Prior to Monday, Khamenei called the elections fair and urged the country to unite behind Ahmadinejad.
But after meeting with Mousavi, Khamenei ordered the 12-member Guardians Council to examine election-fraud allegations.
Khamenei urged Mousavi to pursue his complaints through legal means and to settle the issue calmly, state television said.

On Sunday, Vice President Biden (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Joseph+Biden) reiterated President Obama (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Barack+Obama)'s determination to open talks with Iran despite "an awful lot of doubt" over the election.
Meanwhile, Mousavi's campaign website said he would attend a nationwide protest march despite authorities attempt to ban it.
Mousavi also threatened to hold a sit-in at the mausoleum of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Ayatollah+Ruhollah+Khomeini), leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, daring officials to risk clashes at the hallowed site.

Police arrested 170 activists over the weekend, including the brother of former president Mohammad Khatami (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Mohammed+Khatami) and a number of reform leaders.
Opposition activists said that a student protester was killed early Monday during clashes in Shiraz (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Shiraz), in southern Iran. If confirmed, it would be the first fatality since the demonstrations began.
Ahmadenijad defended the election results.

"Elections in Iran are the cleanest," Ahmadinejad said at a victory rally in Tehran Sunday. "We should appreciate the great triumph of the people of Iran against the united front of all the world arrogance and the psychological war launched by the enemy," i.e., the United States (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/United+States) and the west.

He added that the election was like a football match and the loser should just "let it go".
If upheld, the election would keep Ahmadinejad in office for four more years.
His first term put Iran at loggerheads with the west over its nuclear program, his rants against Israel (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Israel) and use of police to impose strict religious restrictions on society.

June 15th, 2009, 03:21 PM
I don't think comparing the election to soccer was a smart idea.

We all know how "peaceful" those "protests" can be! :rolleyes:

June 15th, 2009, 03:43 PM
Are we on the verge of another <color> revolution? All these pro-democratic changeovers are making me nostalgic about the eastern bloc collapse 20 years ago...

For anyone trying to keep abreast of events in Iran, The Lede on the NY Times is highly recommended for regular updates:

June 17th, 2009, 08:10 AM
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/misc/nytlogo153x23.gif (http://www.nytimes.com/)

June 17, 2009

Op-Ed Columnist

The Virtual Mosque


Watching events unfolding in Tehran raises three intriguing questions for me: Is Facebook to Iran’s Moderate Revolution what the mosque was to Iran’s Islamic Revolution? Is Twitter to Iranian moderates what muezzins were to Iranian mullahs? And, finally, is any of this good for the Jews — particularly Israel’s prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu?

Here is why I ask. During the past eight years, in Iraq, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, and, to a lesser extent, Egypt, spaces were opened for more democratic elections. Good news. Unfortunately, the groups that had the most grass-roots support and mobilization capabilities — and the most energized supporters — to take advantage of this new space were the Islamists. That is, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank, the various Sunni and Shiite Islamist parties in Iraq and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The centrist mainstream was nowhere.

One of the most important reasons that the Islamists were able to covertly organize and mobilize, and be prepared when the lids in their societies were loosened a bit, was because they had the mosque — a place to gather, educate and inspire their followers — outside the total control of the state.

In almost every one of these cases, the Islamists overplayed their hands. In Lebanon, Hezbollah took the country into a disastrous and unpopular war. Ditto Hamas in Gaza. The Sunni and Shiite Islamists in Iraq tried to impose a religious lifestyle on their communities, and the mullahs in Iran quashed the reformists. In the last year, though, the hard-liners in all these countries have faced a backlash by the centrist majorities, who detest these Islamist groups.

Hezbollah was defeated in the Lebanese elections. Hamas is facing an energized Fatah in the West Bank and is increasingly unpopular in Gaza. Iraqi Sunnis have ousted the jihadists thanks to the tribal Awakening movement, while the biggest pro-Iranian party in Iraq got trounced in the recent provincial runoff. And in Iran, millions of Iranians starving for more freedom rallied to the presidential candidate Mir Hussein Moussavi, forcing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to steal the election. (If he really won the Iranian election, as Ahmadinejad claims, by a 2-to-1 margin, wouldn’t he invite the whole world in to recount the votes? Why hasn’t he?)

What is fascinating to me is the degree to which in Iran today — and in Lebanon — the more secular forces of moderation have used technologies like Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, blogging and text-messaging as their virtual mosque, as the place they can now gather, mobilize, plan, inform and energize their supporters, outside the grip of the state.

For the first time, the moderates, who were always stranded between authoritarian regimes that had all the powers of the state and Islamists who had all the powers of the mosque, now have their own place to come together and project power: the network. The Times reported that Moussavi’s fan group on Facebook alone has grown to more than 50,000 members. That’s surely more than any mosque could hold — which is why the government is now trying to block these sites.

But while that puts the moderate mainstream on par with the Islamists in communications terms, we should not get carried away. First, “moderates” is a relative term. Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, while more secular and nationalist than the extreme Iraqi Islamists, nonetheless wants to centralize power and solidify his Dawa group as the ruling party.

Second, even if defeated electorally, the Islamists and their regimes have a trump card: guns. Guns trump cellphones. Bang-bang beats tweet-tweet. The Sunni Awakening in Iraq succeeded because the moderates there were armed. I doubt Ahmadinejad will go peacefully.

And that brings me to Netanyahu. Israel was taken by surprise by events in Lebanon and Iran. And Israeli officials have been saying they would much prefer that Ahmadinejad still wins in Iran — not because Israelis really prefer him but because they believe his thuggish, anti-Semitic behavior reflects the true and immutable character of the Iranian regime. And Israelis fear that if a moderate were to take over, it would not herald any real change in Iran, or its nuclear ambitions, but simply disguise it better.

But there are signals — still weak — that another trend may be stirring in the region. The Iranian regime appears to be splitting at the top. This could challenge Netanyahu’s security framework. Israel needs to be neither seduced by these signals nor indifferent to them. It has to be open to them and must understand that how it relates to Palestinians and settlements can help these trends — at the margins. But a lot starts at the margins.

“The rise of these moderate forces, if it is real and sustained, would be the most significant long-term contribution to Israeli national security,” argued Gidi Grinstein, the president of the Reut Institute, a think tank. “If some of these moderate forces started to converge, then the overall status of Israeli security would improve radically.” It is still way too early to know, he said, “but Israel needs to be alive to this process and not simply rely on its old framework.”

June 17, 2009

Reporter's Notebook

Innocent Googling? No Such Thing in Tehran


TEHRAN — Back before the election and the ensuing pandemonium, some journalists stopped for lunch at a cafe in north-central Tehran, a place with pictures of Shakespeare and Samuel Beckett where the stern visage of the late Ayatollah Khomeini is more customary, and where the background music was American jazz.

What’s that record? a newcomer to town asked the proprietor. He held up a CD case of the great bluesman John Lee Hooker. Really? The singer known as the Boogie Man played jazz? “Hooooker!” he insisted.

Well, you never know. Worth a check. But back at the hotel, a Google search produced a yellow triangle with an exclamation point and a warning: Access to this site is denied.

What? Oh. Of course. “Hooker.”

Welcome to the Islamic Republic, where we protect you from yourself. You have much to learn.

Pick a Theory

Iranians are generally united in viewing the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to another four-year term as a miracle.

Some believe it in the literal sense that the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, seemed to intend when he said “the miraculous hand of God” was at work. Others believe it in the sense that they see no earthly explanation why an incumbent who presided over worsening inflation, unemployment and isolation would draw more than seven million more votes than in his first victory.

Cosmopolitan Iranians are full of theories to explain why so many of their compatriots put up with — indeed, welcome — the paternalism of their quasi theocracy.

From an electrical engineer: “Iranians are monarchists.” The 1979 Islamic Revolution did not expel the shah, this man contends. It replaced him with a supreme leader — an ayatollah whose word is quite literally law and is rarely questioned in public. Even the protesters in the streets chanting “Death to the dictator” chant nothing about the man who has been cleric in chief for the past 20 years, Ayatollah Khamenei.

From a writer: “We are like sexually abused children.” Violated by the ones they look to for protection, she said, they think that it is their own fault, that they are abused because they deserve it. They don’t talk about it, because they are ashamed.

An outsider might be tempted by a more mundane theory, that Iranians exhaust their need for freedom on the road.

Iranians drive fast and close. They run lights, play chicken, zoom motorbikes down sidewalks, make extraordinary use of reverse gear.

Two friends who had lived in the United States were chatting recently. “I miss the freedom,” said one. “Yes,” replied his friend, “but in the U.S., can you back up on the freeway?”

Is it relevant, then, that Mr. Ahmadinejad — “Dr. Ahmadinejad,” as he is addressed by his followers — has a Ph.D. in traffic engineering?

Blaming the Messengers

Conspiracy theories seem to flourish in secretive authoritarian governments, perhaps because such systems are essentially conspiracies themselves. In Iran, this is true of the general public; witness the number of people who took their own pens to the voting booths on Friday for fear the government-supplied pens would contain disappearing ink.

And it is true in spades of their rulers. Mr. Ahmadinejad’s list of those out to get Iran includes most of the post-World War II order, but at the moment it is focused on the Western news media, without whose meddling, he suggests, the Iranian people would be happily united and compliant.

Not to worry. On Sunday, Iran’s acting police chief, Ahmadreza Radan, gave the state press service an update on the arrests of protesters, and assured the public that “in the interrogation of related rebels, we intend to find the link between the plotters and foreign media.”

Already, text-messaging, Web sites, mobile phones, social networking services and other possible avenues of outside agitation have been rendered sporadic by government interference.

Today the aptly named Ministry of Guidance announced that the work credentials of nonresident journalists had been revoked, and that authorities “would not be responsible” for anything that befell reporters who continued to cover the daily resistance. Visas are rapidly expiring and are not being renewed.

Out of Camera Range

For a sense of what may await Iran’s discontented when there is no one around to report on it, consider Monday night in Isfahan, Iran’s third largest city and a five-hour drive from the nearest foreign TV camera.

As in Tehran, large parts of the city — the squares and boulevards — were scenes of smoke and flames, tear gas, stones crashing into windows, bloodied heads.

The uprising seemed more organic than organized — groups of a few dozen merging into groups of a few hundred, converging on lines of helmeted riot police officers, chanting “Death to the dictator!”

But in Isfahan the police response seemed far tougher.

At one point, a white S.U.V. with a red ambulance-style light raced up behind a knot of protesters and smashed into them, running one over before racing a few blocks to the protection of the riot police.

Bands of Basiji, the authorized plainclothes vigilantes riding motorbikes and wielding long truncheons, were let loose by the hundreds to sow fear far afield from the actual unrest. Many wore the green headbands of the opposition — possibly to camouflage, or to confuse.

At one point some bystanders (including one journalist with a gift for being in the wrong place) were cornered on the ancient Si-o-Seh Bridge and faced a choice between getting their heads broken or tumbling 20 feet to the dry Zayandeh River bed. At the last minute, the thugs were distracted by other prey to beat on.

At 10 p.m., as in Tehran, a more lyrical form of protest broke out: protesters chanting in waves from the rooftops of their homes, “God is great! Death to the dictator!” In some parts of Isfahan, residents said, plainclothes thugs went door to door, smashing windows and sometimes shooting canisters of tear gas into homes.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

June 17th, 2009, 05:21 PM
2010 World Cup qualifying match between
Iran and the Republic of Korea, in Seoul

Players wearing green wristbands in support of Mousavi.



June 18th, 2009, 12:42 AM
http://www.latimes.com/images/standard/lat_logo_inner.gif (http://www.latimes.com/)


Iran's diverse opposition united
by rejection of Ahmadinejad

The government appears to recognize that it cannot quell the
protests over Friday's disputed presidential election, but authorities
may not understand the depth of the problem they face.

By Borzou Daragahi and Ramin Mostaghim

June 18, 2009

Reporting from Tehran — Neither side can drown out the other. Both so far are exercising a measure of restraint. But as authorities try to rein in Iran's most serious unrest since the Islamic Revolution, they face a diverse opposition united in its rejection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his policies.

After days of ignoring or dismissing the criticism, authorities appear to have recognized that they're unable to use their hold over electronic communications networks and state-controlled broadcasting to quell the protests over Friday's election. They have started implementing a softer approach in public. But they may not understand the depth of the problem they face.

The result Wednesday was the third mass protest rally in as many days, which witnesses said drew tens of thousands, and perhaps hundreds of thousands, of people onto the streets of Tehran.

And new protests are planned for today. Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who lost to Ahmadinejad in an election his green-clad supporters regard as fraudulent, has asked them to come to local mosques to pay tribute to the victims. Within a culture steeped in the Shiite Muslim mystique of martyrdom, each death may motivate rather than discourage activists.

Whether or not he won a majority of votes in last week's election, a large segment of the population rejects Ahmadinejad's vision and leadership. Critics complain that he is popular only among a limited swath of Iranians of a certain religious and social background, the pious lower-middle class who continue to treasure their rural roots.

His modest lifestyle appeals to many who are fed up with official corruption, and he has used the country's oil wealth to finance payments to the poor. But Iran is also suffering from high unemployment and inflation, and the president's opponents fear his foreign policy will lead to isolation, if not open conflict, with the West.

It's not just that Ahmadinejad is unpopular among middle-class urbanites, minorities, women and youth who have united against him. Unlike his reformist predecessor Mohammad Khatami, who advocated an "Iran for all Iranians," Ahmadinejad's critics believe he rules as if only his segment of the country's diverse tapestry counts.

After Ahmadinejad dismissed the protesters on Sunday as dirt, Iranian authorities have acknowledged the discontent but are seeking to keep it within the framework of the Islamic Republic's politics.

A smiling Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the nation's supreme leader, met Tuesday night with the representatives of all four presidential candidates, assuring them that fraud allegations would be thoroughly investigated.

On Wednesday, a newscaster on state-controlled television slyly updated Ahmadinejad's comparison of Mousavi supporters to sore losers leaving a soccer game with a reference to a widely watched international match Wednesday between Iran and South Korea.

The game itself helped illustrate how widespread Mousavi's support has become. A number of players wore green ribbons around their wrists.

However, the newscaster cited a different lesson from the game, which ended in a 1-1 draw. "During the game today between Iran and South Korea it doesn't matter which player scores a goal, so long as Iran wins," he said.

The website of Iran's English-language Press TV satellite channel acknowledged Wednesday that "hundreds of thousands" have joined in rallies in the capital and other cities, among the first cracks in a wall of media silence and derision.

Officials and media argue that the West has exploited a minor domestic political squabble to foment Iranians against the state. Iranian officials summoned the Czech, French, German and British ambassadors on Tuesday to complain. On Wednesday, they summoned the Swiss ambassador, who represents U.S. interests.

Authorities have been unable to quell the protests the way they suppressed student uprisings in 1999 and 2003, using more blunt instruments of power. They've arrested a number of prominent reformist figures, including the outspoken former deputy interior minister, Saeed Leylaz, and sociology professor Hamid-Reza Jalaeipour on Wednesday.

Details also emerged about an attack by pro-government vigilantes on dormitories of Tehran University early Monday in which at least five and as many as seven people were shot or stabbed to death. According to sources in Tehran, doctors at a hospital refused to work as a sign of protest over the killings. Former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, a confidant of Khamenei, summoned chancellors of medical universities for a meeting in which he urged them to crack down on campus protests.

The Revolutionary Guard, which launched a cyber-crimes unit earlier this year, warned that any Iranian posting provocative material regarding the unrest on blogs or websites would be punished.

Cellphone service was shut down much of the day, and authorities are keeping an eye on websites.

Ali, a 21-year-old engineering student, said he has never even heard of Twitter. But he learned about Wednesday's silent demonstration at Seventh of Tir Square by attending the previous day's march along Vali Asr Street. So he told friends and relatives by using pay phones, and spread the word to his friends at the dormitories.

"All the websites are shut down," he said, asking that his last name and his school not be published. "The phones never work. We find out through word of mouth."

On the street, a loose network of organizers appears to guide the demonstrators, cordoning off the marchers from traffic and urging them not to chant slogans or engage in provocative talk with the bearded Basiji militiamen who sometimes stand glaring at the protesters.

The impromptu leaders, mostly students and women's rights activists, hide their faces with green bandannas or surgical masks to prevent security officials from identifying them.

Protesters have tailored their message to make sure no one makes blanket calls against the Islamic Republic. Such rhetoric would not only provoke the authorities, but alienate segments of a budding movement that includes a huge cross-section of the nation: Emergency room physicians and pious, working-class women who cover all but their faces in black chadors; factory owners and factory workers; and a wide range of political groups whose agendas converge in opposition to Ahmadinejad.

Posters held aloft Wednesday urged demonstrators to stop their march at a certain point and call out praise for the prophet Muhammad. Then, the witnesses said, they were instructed to remain silent for 10 minutes in honor of those killed so far in the unrest, disperse and go home.

Big rallies held Tuesday and Wednesday were largely silent, devoid of slogans altogether, except for the occasional salavats -- blessings for the prophet and his descendants -- which served to both refresh the crowd as it walked along in the late spring heat and make older, pious protesters feel welcome as they worked their prayer beads.

"We had one vote and we gave it to Mousavi," said one placard at Wednesday's rally. "We have one life and we'll give it up for freedom."

Both the government and the protesters seem eager to avoid an all-out confrontation. Not only would a Tiananmen Square-style massacre sully officials' claims to popular legitimacy, it would create a whole new set of martyrs who could further galvanize a popular movement. Such killings paved the way for the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

So far most of the violence has been inflicted by semiofficial militias such as the Basiji or the secretive Ansar-e Hezbollah, which have been reportedly responsible for at least 12 deaths in the last five days of unrest.

Perhaps more perilous for authorities is the possibility that some soldiers, security officials and Revolutionary Guardsmen might refuse orders to fire on protesters, creating a dangerous rift within the security apparatuses.

"I would never do it," said Hossein, a 23-year-old member of the security forces who said he and many of his friends at the military base where he serves supported the marchers. "Maybe someone would, but I would never fire on any of these people myself."


Mostaghim is a special correspondent.

Copyright 2009 Los Angeles Times

June 18th, 2009, 12:51 PM
The Iranian government has been attempting to stop the flow of information into and out of the country. YouTube, MySpace, Yahoo Meessenger, BBC Persia, Facebook and others are blocked. Search keywords are filtered out.

But there are millions of Iranians living outside the country who find ways to communicate with those inside.

Proxy Servers for Iran (http://proxysetupforiran.blogspot.com/)

Tor (http://www.torproject.org/)

June 19th, 2009, 08:16 AM

Ayatollah demands end to protests

Iran's Supreme Leader has issued a stern warning that protests
against the country's disputed presidential election results must end.

In his first public remarks after days of demonstrations, Ayatollah Khamenei said the outcome must be decided at the ballot box, not on the street.

He said political leaders would be blamed for any violence.

Demonstrators calling for a new election earlier vowed to stage fresh protests on Saturday.

Addressing thousands of people at Tehran University, the ayatollah voiced support for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying the president's views on foreign affairs and social issues were close to his.

Responding to allegations of electoral fraud, the ayatollah insisted the Islamic Republic would not cheat.

"There is 11 million votes difference," the ayatollah said. "How one can rig 11 million votes?"

He appealed to candidates who had doubts about the election result to pursue any challenges through legal avenues.

BBC Tehran correspondent Jon Leyne says that Ayatollah Khamenei appears to have staked everything on this election result and Mr Ahmadinejad.

It all points to heavy crackdowns if the protests continue, our correspondent says.

In his highly anticipated address after Friday prayers, the ayatollah said despite differences of opinion among the presidential candidates, they were all trustworthy and loyal to the Islamic Republic.

He said the election was a "political earthquake" for Iran's enemies - singling out Great Britain as "the most evil of them" - whom he accused of trying to foment unrest in the country.

The official results gave Mr Ahmadinejad 63% of the vote against 34% for his main election rival, Mir Hossein Mousavi.

The Guardian Council - Iran's main electoral authority - has invited Mr Mousavi and two other defeated candidates to discuss their objections tomorrow.

Published: 2009/06/19 10:47:03 GMT


June 19th, 2009, 12:20 PM

Protest at Iran's 'evil UK' claim

The Foreign Office is in talks with the Iranian ambassador in London
after his country's supreme leader called the UK government "evil".

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made the comments as he appealed for an end to protests about election results.

He said Western nations were showing "their enmity against the Islamic Republic system and the most evil of them is the British government".

Ambassador Rasul Movaheddian is meeting officials at the Foreign Office now.

Officials want to register their displeasure at Ayatollah Khamenei's comments and find out why he made them.

BBC News website world affairs correspondent, Paul Reynolds, says that the summoning of the Iranian ambassador represents a shift of position by the British government which up until now had wanted to avoid getting involved in public arguments with Iran.

He added: "The line had been that it wanted to avoid giving the Iranians any reason to blame Britain for interfering. The US government has taken a similar view.

"However, Ayatollah Khamenei's description of Britain as the most 'evil' of foreign governments was a step too far."

British diplomats are thought to believe Britain is being used as "proxy" for the United States, because Iran does not want to endanger its improving relations with America.

In his first public remarks after days of demonstrations, Ayatollah Khamenei issued a stern warning that protests against the country's disputed presidential election results must end.

'True faces'

In his address to tens of thousands of worshippers at Tehran Friday prayers, which was broadcast live by Iranian state TV and radio, he said the outcome must be decided at the ballot box, not on the street.

He voiced support for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying the president's views on foreign affairs and social issues were close to his.
“ What we want is to have a good relationship with Iran in the future but that depends on Iran being able to show to the world that it's elections have been conducted fairly ”
Prime Minister Gordon Brown

Demonstrators calling for a new election earlier vowed to stage fresh protests on Saturday.

Ayatollah Khamenei also lashed out at Western government in is address.

He told worshippers: "I urge old friends and brothers to be patient and keep control of ourselves.

"Please see the hands of the enemy. Please see the hungry wolves in ambush, who are gradually even removing their mask of diplomacy and showing their true faces. Be aware of them.

"Today, senior diplomats of some Western countries, who addressed us diplomatically up until today, have now removed their masks. They are showing their true faces.

"They are showing their enmity against the Islamic Republic system and the most evil of them is the British government."

'Good relationship'

Speaking at the European summit in Brussels, Prime Minister UK Gordon Brown, insisted that Britain and the EU wished to have good relations with Iran, but that human rights should be respected.

He said: "The whole world is looking at Iran, at the speech that has been made today but also what is happening in Iran has been happening over the last few weeks.

"It is for the Iranian people to decide their future in elections.

"We are with others, including the whole of the European Union, unanimously today, in condemning the use of violence, in condemning media suppression and in condemning attempts, of course, to make sure that there are people, who are political prisoners who are not free to express their views in Iran.

"What we want is to have a good relationship with Iran in the future but that depends on Iran being able to show to the world that its elections have been conducted fairly and that there is no unfair suppression of rights or of individuals in that country."
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/06/19 14:41:08 GMT


What!? We're no longer the "Great Satan?"

First GM, now this.

June 20th, 2009, 10:33 AM
The reason the current government/dictatorship of Iran exists is because the United States has allowed it to exist. If the administration gets fed up (enough) with the government of Iran, it will take it out.

June 20th, 2009, 11:04 AM
^ The way we took out Iraq, Bob?

June 20th, 2009, 12:41 PM
Except for just tossing these out:

This mess is easier to fix than anyone is thinking. Simply absorb Israel into the United States.

If the administration gets fed up (enough) with the government of Iran, it will take it out.

You haven't explained what would be the result.

If nothing else, the turmoil in Iran should demonstrate to uninformed Westerners that Iranian society isn't monolithic. They just happen to be ruled by an oppressive government. Minus that government, I consider them much less a threat than any Muslim country in the region, even less than Egypt.

But "taking out" that government would be just another in a line of enormous blunders by the West. Just because a large segment of the population want representative reform doesn't mean they entirely trust US motives.

The Iranian Constitutional Revolution of 1905 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iranian_Constitutional_Revolution) was a landmark event in the Middle East.

In 1951, Mohammad Mossadegh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammad_Mossadegh#Prime_Minister) was elected Prime Minister. But two years later, a covert operation by British and American intelligence called Operation Ajax (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Ajax) overthrew the government, and the monarchy under the Shah Reza Pahlevi was installed.

June 20th, 2009, 05:26 PM
^^^^ Operation Ajax.

That is the poster boy for blowback.

We've over thrown a Government all because of oil.

The Iranian PM wasn't too fond of Big Oil, setting up shop in his land.

The US, just kindly let the CIA take care of business.

Little did we know, that the Shah, would be a little too liberal and Western in his taste. Boy, did that ruffle up the Iranian Conservatives...

Next thing you know, there is a whole Revolution, and can't stay and party any more.

June 22nd, 2009, 02:17 AM
This VID (http://www.dailymotion.com/swf/x9ndxl) of Iranians in the street fighting off the police gave me chills -- actually really choked me up.

These people want things to change.

This is not going to end soon.

June 22nd, 2009, 09:15 AM
Learn something every day. Fifty is the threshold of fraud.

Statistics provided by the candidates, who claim more than 100% of those eligible have cast their ballot in 80-170 cities are not accurate -- the incident has happened in only 50 cities

Guardian Council: Over 100% voted in 50 cities

The Guardian Council Spokesman Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei

Iran's Guardian Council has suggested that the number of votes collected in 50 cities surpass the number of people eligible to cast ballot in those areas.

The council's Spokesman Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei, who was speaking on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) Channel 2 on Sunday, made the remarks in response to complaints filed by Mohsen Rezaei -- a defeated candidate in the June 12 Presidential election.

"Statistics provided by the candidates, who claim more than 100% of those eligible have cast their ballot in 80-170 cities are not accurate -- the incident has happened in only 50 cities," Kadkhodaei said.

Kadkhodaei further explained that the voter turnout of above 100% in some cities is a normal phenomenon because there is no legal limitation for people to vote for the presidential elections in another city or province to which people often travel or commute.

According to the Guardian Council spokesman, summering areas and places like district one and three in Tehran are not separable.

The spokesman, however, said that although the vote tally affected by such issues could be over 3 million and the council could, at the request of the candidates, re-count the affected ballot boxes, "it has yet to be determined whether the possible change in the tally is decisive in the election results," reported Khabaronline.

Three of the four candidates contesting in last Friday's presidential election cried foul, once the Interior Ministry announced the results - according to which incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner with almost two-thirds of the vote.

Rezaei, along with Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, reported more than 646 'irregularities' in the electoral process and submitted their complaints to the body responsible for overseeing the election -- the Guardian Council.

Mousavi and Karroubi have called on the council to nullify Friday's vote and hold the election anew. This is while President Ahmadinejad and his Interior Minister Sadeq Mahsouli have rejected any possibility of fraud, saying that the election was free and fair.

© 2009 Press TV

*Press TV is a Tehran based news agency.

Iran's ire with the UK may have something to do with an in-depth analysis of the Iran vote by the London based Chatham House (http://www.chathamhouse.org.uk/files/14234_iranelection0609.pdf). Lots of numbers; summary on first page. They found that two entire provinces in Iran had a turnout of over 100%.

June 22nd, 2009, 09:22 AM
With info-technology everywhere it's getting harder and harder to cheat & lie, no matter where or what the scam might be.

June 22nd, 2009, 10:22 AM
Only 50.

What a relief!

June 22nd, 2009, 10:43 PM
In a previous post, I mentioned that the administration might eventually get "fed up" with the current government of Iran, and take it out. (a la Iraq.) I did not suggest that it do so. I simply stated what I perceive to be a fact. Doesn't matter WHO is President, and which party happens to be in the White House.

By the same measure, North Korea is also on that "we are tolerating you for now" list. As long as North Korea doesn't present a real threat to the U.S., the administration will allow that government to exist.

June 23rd, 2009, 12:28 AM
This is difficult to watch (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjQxq5N--Kc), and along with the clip (http://www.dailymotion.com/swf/x9ndxl) posted by Lofter, are becoming symbols of the Iranian uprising.

June 23, 2009

Web Pries Lid of Censorship by
Iranian Government


Shortly after Neda Agha-Soltan bled her life out on the Tehran pavement, the man whose 40-second video of her death has ricocheted around the world made a somber calculation in what has become the cat-and-mouse game of evading Iran’s censors. He knew that the government had been blocking Web sites like YouTube and Facebook. Trying to send the video there could have exposed him and his family.

Instead, he e-mailed the two-megabyte video to a nearby friend, who quickly forwarded it to the Voice of America, the newspaper The Guardian in London and five online friends in Europe, with a message that read, “Please let the world know.” It was one of those friends, an Iranian expatriate in the Netherlands, who posted it on Facebook, weeping as he did so, he recalled.

Copies of the video, as well as a shorter one shot by another witness, spread almost instantly to YouTube and were televised within hours by CNN. Despite a prolonged effort by Iran’s government to keep a media lid on the violent events unfolding on the streets, Ms. Agha-Soltan was transformed on the Web from a nameless victim into an icon of the Iranian protest movement.

At one time, authoritarian regimes could draw a shroud around the events in their countries by simply snipping the long-distance phone lines and restricting a few foreigners. But this is the new arena of censorship in the 21st century, a world where cellphone cameras, Twitter accounts and all the trappings of the World Wide Web have changed the ancient calculus of how much power governments actually have to sequester their nations from the eyes of the world and make it difficult for their own people to gather, dissent and rebel.

Iran’s sometimes faltering attempts to come to grips with this new reality are providing a laboratory for what can and cannot be done in this new media age — and providing lessons to other governments, watching with calculated interest from afar, about what they may be able to get away with should their own citizens take to the streets.

One early lesson is that it is easier for Iranian authorities to limit images and information within their own country than it is to stop them from spreading rapidly to the outside world. While Iran has severely restricted Internet access, a loose worldwide network of sympathizers has risen up to help keep activists and spontaneous filmmakers connected.

The pervasiveness of the Web makes censorship “a much more complicated job,” said John Palfrey, a co-director of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

The Berkman Center estimates that about three dozen governments — as widely disparate as China, Cuba and Uzbekistan — extensively control their citizens’ access to the Internet. Of those, Iran is one of the most aggressive. Mr. Palfrey said the trend during this decade has been toward more, not less, censorship. “It’s almost impossible for the censor to win in an Internet world, but they’re putting up a good fight,” he said.

Since the advent of the digital age, governments and rebels have dueled over attempts to censor communications. Text messaging was used to rally supporters in a popular political uprising in Ukraine in 2004 and to threaten activists in Belarus in 2006. When Myanmar sought to silence demonstrators in 2007, it switched off the country’s Internet network for six weeks. Earlier this month, China blocked sites like YouTube to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

In Iran, the censorship has been more sophisticated, amounting to an extraordinary cyberduel. It feels at times as if communications within the country are being strained through a sieve, as the government slows down Web access and uses the latest spying technology to pinpoint opponents. But at least in limited ways, users are still able to tweet and transmit video to one another and to a world of online spectators.

Because of the determination of those users, hundreds of amateur videos from Tehran and other cities have been uploaded to YouTube in recent days, providing television networks with hours of raw — but unverified — video from the protests.

The Internet has “certainly broken 30 years of state control over what is seen and is unseen, what is visible versus invisible,” said Navtej Dhillon, an analyst with the Brookings Institution.

But taking pictures is an increasingly dangerous act in Iran. The police in Tehran confronted citizens who were trying to film near a memorial to Ms. Agha-Soltan on Monday.

Threatening people who have cameras is only the latest in a series of steps by the authorities. On June 12, the day a disputed presidential election set off the protests, the government summarily shut down all text messaging in the country — the prime tool that government opponents had been using to keep in touch — making newfangled tools like Twitter and old techniques like word of mouth more important for organizing.

In the days that followed, Iran has tightened the spigot without closing it entirely. Even before the election, the country was known to operate one of the world’s most sophisticated Web filtering systems, with widespread blockades on specific Web sites. According to a spate of news reports in April, including one in The Washington Times, some of the monitoring technology was provided by Nokia Siemens Networks, a joint venture between Nokia, the Finnish cellphone maker, and Siemens, the German technology giant.

The day after the election, Iran’s state-controlled telecommunications provider completely dropped off the Internet for more than an hour, according to Renesys, an Internet monitoring company. Access was partly restored the Monday after the election. YouTube said traffic to the site from within Iran was down about 90 percent last week, indicating that most — but not all — connections had been stopped or slowed. Facebook said traffic from Iran was down by more than half since the election.

Whether for political, social or financial reasons, Iran has been hesitant to shut off its sterilized Internet access entirely. Some have reasoned that a complete halt would hurt businesses.

Still, the off-and-on Web connections and government threats imposed a kind of self-censorship on some of the population, one that is also evident in other countries with authoritarian regimes, Mr. Palfrey said.

Some Iranians have harnessed ways to bypass the system, relying in part on supporters around the world who are offering their computers as so-called proxy servers, which are digital safe houses that can strip out identifying information and allow Iranians to view blocked Web sites. Tor, a volunteer-run tool for masking Internet traffic that bounces Internet connections off three separate computers, said the traffic emanating from Iran over the course of the week increased tenfold.

Despite the crackdown, the videos and tweets indicate to many that broadly distributed Internet tools — and the spirit of young, tech-savvy people — cannot be completely repressed by an authoritarian government.

“You can’t take the entire Internet and try to lock it in a little box in your country, as China continuously attempts to do,” said Richard Stiennon, founder of IT-Harvest, a Web security research firm. “There are just too many ways now to find paths around blockages. They would have to ban the Internet entirely, or build their own network.”

That may not be so far-fetched. Experts say China is in its own league for filtering. Ethan Zuckerman, a colleague of Mr. Palfrey’s at the Berkman Center, said China has “baked in the censorship” for its citizens by building its own Web sites and tools. Recently it said it would require so-called Green Dam filtering software to be installed on all computers sold in the country, prompting a complaint from the United States government and most likely kicking off yet another round of cat-and-mouse.

Brian Stelter reported from New York, and Brad Stone from San Francisco. Reporting was contributed by Michael Slackman from Cairo, Steven Lee Myers from Baghdad, Noam Cohen from New York, and an employee of The New York Times from Tehran.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

June 23rd, 2009, 12:20 PM
Democracy, made in Iran
By reviving memories of an ousted leader, Iran's protesters are signalling they want to win reform without US intervention

Stephen Kinzer
guardian.co.uk, Monday 22 June 2009 19.00 BST (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/jun/19/iran-protests-mousavi-mossadeq)

Protesters displaying pictures of former prime minister Muhammad Mossadeq alongside
presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi during demonstrations in Iran last week.
Photograph: Anonymous (courtesy of Stephen Kinzer)

Despite efforts by Iran's leaders to keep photographers off the streets during post-election protests this month, many vivid images have emerged. The one posted here, above, is the one I found most chilling, poignant and evocative.

By now, many outsiders can identify the man whose picture is on the right-hand side of this protest sign. He is Mir Hossein Mousavi, the reported loser in this month's presidential election. The elderly gentleman in the other picture is unfamiliar to most non-Iranians. He and his fate, however, lie at the historical root of the protests now shaking Iran.

The picture shows a pensive, sad-looking man with what one of his contemporaries called "droopy basset-hound eyes and high patrician forehead". He does not look like a man whose fate would continue to influence the world decades after his death. But this was Muhammad Mossadeq, the most fervent advocate of democracy ever to emerge in his ancient land.

Above the twinned pictures of Mossadeq and Mousavi on this protest poster are the words "We won't let history repeat itself." Centuries of intervention, humiliation and subjugation at the hand of foreign powers have decisively shaped Iran's collective psyche. The most famous victim of this intervention – and also the most vivid symbol of Iran's long struggle for democracy – is Mossadeq. Whenever Iranians assert their desire to shape their own fate, his image appears.

Iranians began their painful and bloody march toward democracy with the constitutional revolution of 1906. Only after the second world war did they finally manage to consolidate a freely elected government. Mossadeq was prime minister, and became hugely popular for taking up the great cause of the day, nationalisation of Iran's oil industry. That outraged the British, who had "bought" the exclusive right to exploit Iranian oil from a corrupt Shah, and the Americans, who feared that allowing nationalization in Iran would encourage leftists around the world.

In the summer of 1953 the CIA sent the intrepid agent Kermit Roosevelt – grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt, who believed Americans should "walk softly and carry a big stick" – to Tehran with orders to overthrow Mossadeq. He accomplished it in just three weeks. It was a vivid example of how easy it is for a rich and powerful country to throw a poor and weak one into chaos.

With this covert operation, the world's proudest democracy put an end to democratic rule in Iran. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi returned to the Peacock Throne and ruled with increasing repression for a quarter-century. His repression produced the explosion of 1979 that brought reactionary mullahs to power. Theirs is the regime that rules Iran today.

Carrying a picture of Mossadeq today means two things: "We want democracy" and "No foreign intervention". These demands fit together in the minds of most Iranians. Desperate as they are for the political freedom their parents and grandparents enjoyed in the early 1950s, they have no illusion that foreigners can bring it to them. In fact, foreign intervention has brought them nothing but misery.

The US sowed the seeds of repression in Iran by deposing Mossadeq in 1953, and then helped bathe Iran in blood by giving Saddam Hussein generous military aid during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. Militants in Washington who now want the US to intervene on behalf of Iranian protesters either are unaware of this history or delude themselves into thinking that Iranians have forgotten it. Some of them, in fact, are the same people who were demanding just last year that the US bomb Iran – an act which would have killed many of the brave young protesters they now hold up as heroes.

America's moral authority in Iran is all but non-existent. To the idea that the US should jump into the Tehran fray and help bring democracy to Iran, many Iranians would roll their eyes and say: "We had a democracy here until you came in and crushed it!"

President Barack Obama seems to grasp this reality. During his recent speech in Cairo, without mentioning Mossadeq by name, he conceded that "in the middle of the cold war, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government." Then, after the current electoral protests broke out, he avoided the hypocrisy of righteous indignation and confined himself to saying that "ultimately the election is for the Iranians to decide."

Anyone doubting the wisdom of those words should pay attention to the sprouting of Mossadeq pictures during protests in Iran. They mean: "Americans, your interventions have brought us tyranny and death. Stay home, keep your hands off and leave our country to us for a change."


I rise in reluctant opposition to H Res 560 (http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-hr560/text), which condemns the Iranian government for its recent actions during the unrest in that country. While I never condone violence, much less the violence that governments are only too willing to mete out to their own citizens, I am always very cautious about "condemning" the actions of governments overseas. As an elected member of the United States House of Representatives, I have always questioned our constitutional authority to sit in judgment of the actions of foreign governments of which we are not representatives. I have always hesitated when my colleagues rush to pronounce final judgment on events thousands of miles away about which we know very little. And we know very little beyond limited press reports about what is happening in Iran.

Of course I do not support attempts by foreign governments to suppress the democratic aspirations of their people, but when is the last time we condemned Saudi Arabia or Egypt or the many other countries where unlike in Iran there is no opportunity to exercise any substantial vote on political leadership? It seems our criticism is selective and applied when there are political points to be made. I have admired President Obama's cautious approach to the situation in Iran and I would have preferred that we in the House had acted similarly.

I adhere to the foreign policy of our Founders, who advised that we not interfere in the internal affairs of countries overseas. I believe that is the best policy for the United States, for our national security and for our prosperity. I urge my colleagues to reject this and all similar meddling resolutions.

Statement (http://www.house.gov/apps/list/speech/tx14_paul/iranres.shtml) by the lone dissenter [405-1] (http://clerk.house.gov/cgi-bin/vote.asp?year=2009&rollnumber=411), ('brutal Iranian regime supporting' (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxMJIMxhCOI)) Representative Ron Paul.

June 23rd, 2009, 01:58 PM
Obama: World 'appalled' by Iran violence
Jun 23 12:42 PM US/Eastern
AP White House Correspondent (http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D990GC480&show_article=1)

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama on Tuesday declared the United States and the entire world "appalled and outraged" by Iran's violent efforts to crush dissent, a clear toughening of his rhetoric as Republican critics at home pound him for being too passive.
Obama condemned the "threats, beatings and imprisonments of the last few days. "

"I strongly condemn these unjust actions," Obama said in a news conference at the White House.

In Tehran, chaotic images of riot police beating and shooting protesters have seized the world's attention and heightened pressure on Obama to act—or at least speak out more strongly.

At least 17 people have been killed in protests since the election last week.

Protesters in Iran have demanded that the government there cancel and rerun the elections that ended with a declaration of overwhelming victory for hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Reformist presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi says he won and has claimed widespread fraud.

"I have made it clear that the United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and is not interfering in Iran's affairs," Obama said. "But we must also bear witness to the courage and dignity of the Iranian people, and to a remarkable opening within Iranian society. And we deplore violence against innocent civilians anywhere that it takes place."

Obama noted the killing of a young woman, Neda Agha Soltan, whose apparent shooting death was captured on video and circulated worldwide.

"We have seen courageous women stand up to brutality and threats, and we have experienced the searing image of a woman bleeding to death on the streets," Obama said. "While this loss is raw and painful, we also know this: Those who stand up for justice are always on the right side of history."


Interventionism and Gun Control in Iran
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
by Jacob G. Hornberger (http://www.fff.org/blog/jghblog2009-06-23.asp)

The situation in Iran is providing liberals with a harsh lesson about the First Amendment and the Second Amendment. It’s a lesson that our American ancestors understood very well.

Here’s the lesson: Without the right to keep and bear arms, the rights of freedom of speech and peaceable assembly are meaningless. If tyrants own all the guns, then they know that they can suppress fundamental rights of the people without worrying about violent resistance to their tyranny.

With a monopoly on guns, what incentive do tyrants have to end their tyranny? The tyrants know that a disarmed citizenry has but two options: obey the tyrants by submitting to their tyranny or die at the hands of loyal and obedient (and armed) military and police forces.

Meanwhile, conservatives and neoconservatives are criticizing President Obama for not more openly supporting the Iranian protestors. Perhaps they have forgotten what happened to the Kurds and Shiites in Iraq after conservative President George H.W. Bush encouraged them to rise up and try to overthrow Saddam Hussein at the end of the Persian Gulf War. They got massacred, as Bush’s military forces stood by and watched.

While we’re on the subject of democracy, perhaps we should remind ourselves of the secondary rationale that conservatives and neoconservatives used for invading Iraq — “democracy spreading.” It went like this: Even though we invaded Iraq because we were certain that Saddam was about to explode mushroom clouds over American cities, after we failed to find any WMDs we decided that we actually invaded Iraq because we love the Iraqi people and wanted to bring them democracy. That’s why we killed, maimed, tortured, sexually abused, and exiled millions of them and destroyed their country — so that the survivors could enjoy democracy.

Well, we all know that there is no democracy in Iran. After all, despite those elections, the big elephant in the room is that those Ayatollahs who really rule the country aren’t elected at all. They’re the ones who decide who gets to run for office.

Yet, do you see even one conservative or neoconservative traveling to Iran to stand with the protestors and defend democracy? Do you see even one of them demonstrating in the streets of Tehran and standing up to the Ayatollah tyrants? (continued) (http://www.fff.org/blog/jghblog2009-06-23.asp)

June 23rd, 2009, 02:56 PM
It turns out some of Obama's remarks about Iran were part of a staged contrivance (http://www.politico.com/blogs/michaelcalderone/0609/Obama_calls_on_HuffPost_for_Iran_question.html) to have this question, purportedly "directly from an Iranian" "still courageous enough to be communicating online" asked by Huffington Post's Nico Pitney:

“Under which conditions would you accept the election of Ahmadinejad, and if you do accept it without any significant changes in the conditions there, isn't that a betrayal of the — of what the demonstrators there are working towards?”

A deft political move of equivocation by Obama regarding direct diplomatic talks with Iran?

Full transcript of exchange here (http://www.eandppub.com/2009/06/huff-post-makes-splash-on-iran-at-obama-presser.html).

June 23rd, 2009, 05:28 PM
On MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast June 22, 2009, The Nation’s Washington Editor, Chris Hayes discusses the "very virulent strain of neocon ideology" that urges more involvement in Iran's domestic affairs.

Read more and see video here (http://rawstory.com/08/news/2009/06/23/nation-editor-virulent-strain-of-neocons-want-to-meddle-in-iran/).

June 23rd, 2009, 05:53 PM
The situation in Iran is providing liberals with a harsh lesson about the First Amendment and the Second Amendment. It’s a lesson that our American ancestors understood very well.

Here’s the lesson: Without the right to keep and bear arms, the rights of freedom of speech and peaceable assembly are meaningless. If tyrants own all the guns, then they know that they can suppress fundamental rights of the people without worrying about violent resistance to their tyranny.

BS, the US government would be absolutely impossible to overthrow without the military being on the revolutionary side. Therefore all the guns privately owned are meaningless.

June 23rd, 2009, 07:23 PM
The Flower of Scotland is the Snowdrop then is it? Much easier to tread upon barefooted I suppose...

June 23rd, 2009, 07:25 PM
The situation in Iran is providing liberals with a harsh lesson about the First Amendment and the Second Amendment. It’s a lesson that our American ancestors understood very well.
What they understood has become skewed over time. 100 citizens with muskets or rifles could be a formidable opponent for a company of uniformed soldiers. That's no longer the case.

Oppressive governments usually have a loyal (well paid) military. Armed conflict is usually prolonged and brutal, and more often than not, the result is not a unified victorious citizenry, but a strong faction seizing power, continuing the oppression.

In my view, for an Iranian uprising to be successful with a representative government installed, the military must be turned, not defeated.

June 23rd, 2009, 07:30 PM
The Flower of Scotland is the Snowdrop then is it? Much easier to tread upon barefooted I suppose...

Excuse me? Care to elaborate?

June 23rd, 2009, 08:39 PM
The Flower of Scotland (http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/questions/anthem/scotland.htm) is the Snowdrop (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/snowdrop-campaign-may-fold-over-rows-1276082.html) then is it? Much easier to tread upon barefooted (http://www.scotshistoryonline.co.uk/thistle/thistle.html) I suppose... (http://www.lewrockwell.com/watson/watson12.html)

Oppressive governments usually have a loyal (well paid) military. Armed conflict is usually prolonged and brutal, and more often than not, the result is not a unified victorious citizenry, but a strong faction seizing power, continuing the oppression.
Very astute observation. The tenor of the article I posted was more rhetorical -- observing that forestalling the "oppressive government" from ever coming into being is the purpose of an armed citizenry. (Though some would argue it didn't stop Lincoln.)

June 23rd, 2009, 08:42 PM
How about you address my point. Do you not agree that the might of the US armed forces renders any arms the public may buy to overthrow the government useless?

June 23rd, 2009, 09:24 PM

Neda Salehi Agha-Soltan[2] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neda_Agha-Soltan#cite_note-1) (Persian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_language): ندا آقا سلطان - Nedā Āġā-Soltān; born 1982, died June 20, 2009)


June 23rd, 2009, 10:12 PM
Alonzo-ny, I fail to see what overthrowing the US government has to do with the price of tea in China. Privately owned guns aren't for people to proactively use against government -- but are to dissuade government from using theirs against the people. Can we end the digression?


Neda Salehi Agha Soltan’s story touches everyone except Iran’s rulers

Martin Fletcher | June 24, 2009 (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article6565497.ece)

She was invoked by President Obama in the White House. The exiled son of Iran’s late Shah said that he carried her picture in his left breast pocket alongside those of his daughters. She was extolled in newspapers and on television bulletins from Australia to America, from Russia to Dubai.

The extraordinarily potent story of Neda Salehi Agha Soltan, the 26-year-old Iranian woman shot dead during Saturday’s demonstrations in Tehran (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article6557858.ece), continued to wash around the world yesterday — touching everyone except the rulers of her own country, who did their level best to suppress it.

They forbade her family from holding a wake in a Tehran mosque. They ordered them to bury her without fanfare or eulogy. They ordered them not to speak about her in public, and reportedly even told them to remove the black mourning ribbons outside their house. The state-controlled media mentioned Miss Soltan only to suggest that her death was staged.

She was the daughter of a government worker from Tehran, the second of three children. She loved music and travelling and hoped to be a tour guide.

Though loyal to the Islamic Republic she was outraged by the apparent rigging of the presidential election. She started going to the demonstrations. Ignoring the entreaties of friends, she went to Saturday’s protests with her music teacher and two others but got stuck in traffic.

She stepped out of the car for some air, a gunshot rang out and Miss Soltan collapsed. Blood bubbled up through her mouth from the wound in her chest. Her last words were: “I’m burning.” Her body was put into a passing car which fought its way through the traffic. By the time she reached Shariati hospital it was too late.

Hamid Panahi, the music teacher, defied the regime’s gagging order. “They know me. They know where I am. They can come and get me whenever they want,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “When they kill an innocent child this is not justice. This is not religion. In no way is this acceptable.”

He called Miss Soltan a “beam of light” who “couldn’t stand the injustice of it all. All she wanted was the proper vote of the people to be counted.”

Her fiancé, Caspian Makan, told BBC Persian TV: “Eyewitnesses and video footage of the shooting clearly show that probably Basij paramilitaries in civilian clothing deliberately targeted her, Eyewitnesses said they clearly targeted her and she was shot in the chest.

“We worked so hard to get the authorities to release her body. She was taken to a morgue outside Tehran. The officials from the morgue asked if they could use parts of her corpse for body transplants for medical patients.

“We buried her in the Behesht-e Zahra cemetery in southern Tehran. They asked us to bury her in this section where it seemed the authorities had set aside spaces for graves for those killed during the violent clashes in Tehran last week.

“On Monday afternoon we had planned to hold a memorial service at the mosque. But the authorities there and the paramilitary group, the Basij, wouldn’t allow it.

“They were afraid that lots of people could turn up at the event. So as things stand now, we are not allowed to hold any gatherings to remember Neda.”

Mohamad, who owns a Tehran hardware store, told The Times: “I voted for Ahmadinejad because I believed he was closer to my morality and piety. But this is not what we voted for. Life is the most divine thing in Islam. You don’t take it away like that.”

June 24th, 2009, 07:03 AM
Iran's Khamenei may be a
casualty in vote crisis

By HAMZA HENDAWI – 1 hour ago

CAIRO (AP) — Just a few weeks ago, they would have been virtually unthinkable acts of defiance in Iran: standing up to the supreme leader, ignoring his warnings to stay off the streets — then chanting for his death.

But the boisterous opposition protests thrusting Iran into its worst civil unrest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution have broken the taboo against direct criticism of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Now some are talking about him as a casualty of the crisis — and wondering if the aloof cleric's powerful office will survive after his eventual death.

For two decades, Khamenei's word has been law in Iran, where the supreme leader is considered by some as God's representative on Earth. Today he is reviled, not revered, by thousands of supporters of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, who claims he was defrauded in the June 12 presidential elections.

Unprecedented chants of "Death to Khamenei!" by some protesters underscore an astonishing blow to the 70-year-old cleric's standing.

"The election dispute may further erode his religious and political authority, especially among the traditional clergy, leaving him even more dependent on the Revolutionary Guard," Iran's most powerful and feared security force, said Ali Nader, an Iran expert with the RAND Corp.

Khamenei, to be sure, has spent years meticulously cultivating support in the powerful military and judiciary, and that could mean he remains secure in the country's top job.

Khamenei quickly endorsed the results of the disputed election, which gave a landslide victory to his ally, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Militiamen loyal to Khamenei used lethal violence to crush street protests, one day after he warned in a nationally televised Friday sermon of bloodshed if opposition demonstrations continued.

His handling of the crisis and his support for the hard-line Ahmadinejad emboldened protesters to ignore his warning. And at the high echelons of the ruling elite, his actions have tempted two former presidents — reformist Mohammad Khatami and powerful insider Hashemi Rafsanjani — to come out in sympathy with the protesters, dealing another blow to Khamenei's standing.

Questioning the judgment and actions of a leader is not at all unusual in democracies, but it is a very serious step in Iran, where the supreme leader traditionally is a revered patriarchal figure whose word should be gospel to his nation.

But Khamenei has lost face. That has weakened him and is likely to prompt questions about his leadership for years to come.

Removing him from office may be difficult — though by no means impossible — but he may never live down what is widely seen among Iranians as the divisive role he played in a crisis in which a father-of-the-nation role was expected from him.

Additionally, there are no obvious successors at present to Khamenei.

Iran's crisis began when Mousavi, a former prime minister who served under Khamenei when the latter was president in the 1980s, charged that Ahmadinejad was re-elected through widespread fraud. Mousavi has demanded a new election, an option Khamenei has flatly rejected.

Experts say Khamenei's actions could revive a long-stewing debate on whether he had the proper scholarly credentials to assume the land's highest office back in 1989. The Council of Experts, a powerful clerical body, has the authority to remove the supreme leader, but such a move could plunge the country into turmoil unless agreed in advance with the nation's military and judiciary.

Khamenei's handling of the election crisis also could bring to the fore another simmering argument among senior clerics on whether Iran, 30 years after the Islamic revolution, still needs a supreme leader.

However, doing away with the job would need a change in the constitution, something that may not be easily attainable giving the factional nature of Iran's political establishment.

Rafsanjani has not taken a major public role in the post-election meltdown, leading to suspicions that he is working behind the scenes with other powerful clerics who could be troubled by Khamenei's handling of the crisis.

"Rafsanjani has succeeded in knocking the supreme leader off his pedestal by revealing Ayatollah Khamenei to be a political partisan rather than an above-the-fray spiritual leader. In other words, the supreme leader has become a divider, not a uniter," said a report by EurasiaNet, a group operated by the Open Society Institute of George Soros.

Frederic Tellier, an Iran expert with the Brussels-based International Crisis Group think tank, believes removing Khamenei from office is unlikely given the balance of power in Iran.

But Tellier won't rule out a change in the system when Khamenei is gone.

"After Khamenei, the possibility of a joint leadership looks more credible and a way to preserve the balance between the factions and diverse sensitivities of the Islamic Republic," he said.

Like his predecessor, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini — the father of the 1979 revolution — Khamenei came to his position under the doctrine of Welayet-al-Faqeeh: the right of the most learned to rule the nation. However, the doctrine is not universally accepted by Shiite clerics in Iran, and Khamenei himself was not a senior-enough cleric to get the job.

Those opposed to the doctrine are mostly senior clerics of the "quietest" school, which opposes the involvement in politics by the clergy and advocates that they remain above the fray as the people's spiritual guides. However, most of Iran's younger clerics have grown with the Welayet-al-Faqeeh doctrine and know no other.

Khamenei has spent years building a power base in the armed forces and the powerful Revolutionary Guard, a paramilitary force that operates as the regime's chief protector. His authority has not rested on the religious credentials he is supposed to have as a supreme leader.

That means that what Khamenei lacks in charisma and scholarly pedigree, he makes up for with support in powerful institutions.

"Khamenei inherited the position with little religious justification and scholarship and limited prestige," said Anthony Cordesman, a Middle East expert with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. "He lives largely on a mixture of the impact Khomeini had, the support of other leaders in the government, and the power over the security forces."

Challenging the supreme leader openly is not unheard of in Iran, but those who dared do it paid a high price.

Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, a leader of the revolution who was once tipped as Khomeini's successor, fell out with the ruling clergy in 1989 over his advocacy for civil and human rights. He has been sidelined since, living in the holy city of Qom — sometimes under house arrest — but that did not stop him from openly criticizing Ahmadinejad.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press.

June 24th, 2009, 09:18 AM
Iran’s Election Drama More Elaborate Than You Think
by Muhammad Sahimi, June 24, 2009 (http://original.antiwar.com/sahimi/2009/06/23/irans-election-drama/)

The world has been mesmerized by events in Iran over the past several weeks. First, there was a fierce presidential campaign that saw Mir Hossein Mousavi, the main reformist candidate, rise in the polls. Huge rallies were held around Iran to support his candidacy. For the first time since the 1979 Revolution, Iranians at home and abroad seemed to be united in their quest to oust President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

One hour after voting had ended on June 12, Iran’s Interior Ministry had called Mousavi’s headquarters to inform him that he was going to win, and that he should prepare his victory statement without boasting too much, in order not to upset Ahmadinejad’s supporters. But suddenly everything changed. Several commanders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRG) showed up at Mousavi’s headquarters and told him that his campaign was tantamount to a "velvet revolution," which they would not allow to succeed. Then the results of the rigged election were announced, which started the protests that continue today.

But who is the real power behind Iran’s rigged presidential election, which has been called an "election coup" by a Mousavi spokesman? It is widely believed that, as the commander in chief of Iran’s armed forces, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is the coup leader. But the issue is more complex.

Ever since he was appointed as the IRG’s top commander three years ago, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari has been talking about the "internal threat" to the Islamic Revolution. He has even reorganized the Guards for them to be better prepared for any uprising. Moreover, a few days before the June 12 elections, the IRG’s head of the political directorate, Brig. Gen. Yadollah Javani, accused Mousavi and other reformists of trying to start a color revolution (since Mousavi had used green as the symbol of its campaign), and warned that the Guards "will suffocate it before it is even born." So the coup leaders are, in fact, the IRG’s top commanders. They represent the right wing of the second generation of Iranian revolutionaries.

The second-generation revolutionaries were in their twenties at the time of the Iranian revolution of 1978-1979. They joined the IRG almost immediately after the Revolution and fought two fierce wars in the 1980s: against Saddam Hussein’s forces, which had invaded Iran in September 1980, and against the forces of Mujahideen-e Khalq organization (MEK), an armed Islamic leftist group that had opposed the shah. After the MEK began assassinating Iran’s leaders in June 1981, the young revolutionaries waged a bloody battle against them, killing thousands, and forced the MEK into exile in Iraq, where it collaborated with Saddam Hussein. The MEK is now listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization.

Using the war with Iraq as the excuse, the young Islamic revolutionaries also helped their clerical leaders – Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (who was elected Iran’s president for two terms from 1989-1997 and is still a powerful politician), Ayatollah Khamenei (who was Iran’s president in the 1980s), and others – to impose extreme political repression on Iran, one result of which was the effective elimination of all secular political groups from Iran’s political scene, a terrible blow to Iran’s political development.

The war with Iraq ended in July 1988. Many of the young Islamic revolutionaries either supported the execution of thousands of political prisoners in July-September 1988 or were silent and did not protest it. Then, Ayatollah Khomeini passed away in June 1989. That split the young revolutionaries into two camps.

In one camp were the Islamic leftists who believed that Iran needed a political opening to end the extreme repression of the 1980s. Many in this group were members of the intelligence apparatus and, therefore, were fully aware of what was going on in the society and sensed the danger of a social explosion and counterrevolution. They are now the leaders of the reform movement.

The young revolutionaries in the second camp were conservative. Some stayed with the IRG after the war, people like Gen. Jafari and Gen. Javani. Others, such as President Ahmadinejad, Interior Minister Sadegh Mahsouli, and his main deputy Kamran Daneshjou (all serving in the IRG), who supervised the elections, joined the bureaucracy.

Ayatollah Khomeini’s death had another long-term consequence whose effect is felt today. It made it possible for a reactionary Islamic group to reemerge. The group, called the Hojjatiyeh Society, was founded in the 1950s and was fiercely opposed to the Bahai faith and the Sunni sect of Islam, and it even worked with the shah’s secret service to stymie the spread of Communism in Iran. It also opposed the 1979 Revolution and Ayatollah Khomeini’s concept of Valaayat-e Faghih (governance of the Islamic jurist), the foundation of Iran’s constitution and political system. Ayatollah Khomeini banned the Hojjatiyeh in 1983 and famously said of them that “they cannot run even a bakery, let alone a country.”

After its reemergence in the early 1990, the name Hojjatiyeh was never used. Its members began advocating an Islamic government led by an unelected supreme leader, rather than an Islamic Republic. Their present leader is Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, a hard-liner and reactionary cleric who has openly opposed any meaningful elections and is Ahmadinejad’s spiritual leader.

Ayatollah Mesbah, as he is called in Iran, once said, “It does not matter what people think. They are ignorant sheep.” He believes that the supreme leader is selected by God, and the task of the ayatollahs who are members of Iran’s Assembly of Experts (a constitutional body that chooses the supreme leader) is to discover him. Former reformist president Mohammad Khatami has referred to Ayatollah Mesbah’s followers as the “shallow-thinking traditionalists with Stone-Age backwardness.”

Ayatollah Mesbah’s disciples include Intelligence Minister Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehei, Mojtaba Hashemi Samareh (a senior aid to Ahmadinejad), and Ahmadinejad himself. In fact, all of Iran’s intelligence ministers since the Revolution have been Ayatollah Mesbah’s students in his seminary, the Haghani School in Qom. Many of the top commanders of the IRG are his followers. The Basij militia, a paramilitary group controlled by the IRG, has also been deeply penetrated by his disciples, as has the judiciary. Ever since he was elected president in 2005, Ahmadinejad has repeatedly used Ayatollah Mesbah’s term “Islamic government of Iran” rather than “Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Thus, the men behind the election coup are the second-generation revolutionaries whose spiritual leader is Ayatollah Mesbah. Two weeks before the elections Mesbah issued a secret fatwa – which was leaked by some in the Interior Ministry – authorizing the use of any means to reelect Ahmadinejad, hence giving the green light for rigging the elections.

But what are the goals of the coup? There appear to be three.

One is purging the old, first-generation revolutionary leaders, including the most important of them, the former president and powerful politician Rafsanjani. Ever since Ahmadinejad defeated him in the disputed 2005 presidential elections, he and his supporters have been bitter foes of Rafsanjani and his supporters. Rafsanjani has let it be known that he believes that Ahmadinejad is hurting Iran’s national interests with his foreign policy, rhetoric against Israel, and inflammatory statements about the Holocaust.

But the antagonism toward Rafsanjani has an economic dimension too. He and his family are fabulously rich and favor a modern economy. And just as Ahmadinejad has consolidated the IRG’s hold on Iran by appointing cabinet members, provincial governor-generals, and city mayors from the ranks of the IRG, he also wants to consolidate the IRG’s hold on Iran’s economy. Under him, the IRG has won more than $10 billion in contracts over the past four years. The IRG now wants to eliminate the competition from Rafsanjani and his supporters.

In his “victory” speech on Sunday June 14, Ahmadinejad never mentioned even once Ayatollah Khomeini or the Islamic Republic. Thus, just as Deng Xiaoping and his successors have kept Mao Zedong’s pictures everywhere and Joseph Stalin kept Lenin’s pictures everywhere while acting against what Mao and Lenin advocated, Iran’s second-generation revolutionaries will keep Ayatollah Khomeini’s pictures everywhere (as well as Khamenei’s) while acting against his teachings, including his most famous saying, “The scale [for people's acceptance of a politician] is the people’s vote.”

The second goal of the coup is moving the country toward an Islamic government by making the elections a meaningless process that can be easily rigged or manipulated, which will destroy the republican aspect of Iran’s political system This is recognized by the reformists, and indeed the great majority of the Iranian people, which is why they are resisting the rigged elections. Their resistance is not what the coup leaders expected.

The third goal is to start the preparation for the eventual replacement of Ayatollah Khamenei, who is known to be ill, by someone they trust. Rafsanjani chairs the Assembly of Experts that selects the supreme leader. Given his important role in the Revolution and his influence, Rafsanjani will play a crucial role in the succession process. Thus, if he can be eliminated, it will pave the way for Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, or one of his disciples, to become the supreme leader.

Thus, this is a pivotal moment in Iran’s contemporary history, and indeed the Middle East’s. If the second-generation revolutionaries succeed, Iran will enter a period of extreme political repression, which will make it easier for the War Party and the Israel lobby to try to convince the public that Iran’s nuclear program must be handled through military attacks.

If, on the other hand, the protests succeed in turning back the rigged elections, the reformists and democratic groups will have a golden opportunity to move Iran much faster toward a democratic political system, which will be crucial to the stability of the Middle East.

June 24th, 2009, 11:51 AM
Seems to me that the "revolution" is fading... Bill Keller was mocked in some circles for acknowledging the reactionaries master stroke even as the crowds surged... but a week later it looks like he was right.

I also suspect that suspended diplomatic and trade relations with the west won't keep the new Iranian government up at night - hell its probably a goal of theirs, along with crushing dissent among the clerics, killing and muting any people who oppose them, keeping the people poor and stupid - with the recession coming, it will keep the people even more dependent on the all powerful government for any work. A sad state of affairs.

So will the simmering hatred of the people cool off, or heat up summer continues? They can only keep the extra troops out there for so long before they get fed up too.

June 25th, 2009, 09:34 AM

Views: I voted for Ahmadinejad (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8118279.stm)

Some reverse logic, notably:
Everybody has the right to protest, so long as it is peaceful and not harming or killing innocent people. It's not fair that Mousavi is sending innocent people to the front line, he should come out and lead, rather than send them to be killed or hurt by police - or themselves.

I don't like the police treatment of the demonstrators.

June 25th, 2009, 11:23 AM
That is more sideways than backwards Zip.

That somehow a guy that has not been seen for a week is to blame for people being angry at him not being elected in an election that many believe to be a fraud?

I guess you could say that it is backwards that they are blaming the deaths of the protesters on the protesters themselves and not on the ones who are killing them, but the entire statement looks like a 90 degree rotation from reality, not a direct opposition to it....

June 25th, 2009, 03:31 PM
Ahmadinejad: 44 like 43
Says Obama 'made a mistake'

BY ANDY BARR (http://www.politico.com/politico44/perm/0609/ahmadinejad_obama_like_bush_39f9c561-5dac-473f-8134-d704da545cdb.html)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad compared Obama on Thursday to former President George W. Bush.

Reacting to Obama's comment (http://www.politico.com/singletitlevideo.html?bcpid=1155201977&bctid=27282174001) Tuesday that he is "appalled and outraged" by crackdowns in Iran, Ahmadinejad said, "Mr. Obama made a mistake to say those things ... our question is why he fell into this trap and said things that previously Bush used to say."

"Do you want to speak with this tone? If that is your stance then what is left to talk about... I hope you avoid interfering in Iran's affairs and express your regret in a way that the Iranian nation is informed of it," he added, according to Reuters (http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE55N24020090625).

June 25th, 2009, 03:47 PM
Talking to Ahmadinejad, Part II

posted by ROBERT DREYFUSS on 06/24/2009 @ 08:24am
President Obama has gone about as far as he should go in condemning the government of Iran for its crackdown and repression of a popular movement for change in Iran. Since the election on June 12, his rhetoric has become harsher by the day. Yesterday, he said:

The United States and the international community have been appalled and outraged by the threats, the beatings, and imprisonments of the last few days. I strongly condemn these unjust actions.
Don't we all! But it's one thing for a Nation columnist to call the actions by the current Iranian regime disgusting and despicable, as I've done many times, and it's another thing for the president of the United States to do it. Because in the next few months, Obama may very well have to send emissaries to sit down and talk to that very regime. Now that he's condemned the repression, let's hope Obama goes back to his original plan of trying to get Iran to the table.

The cold, hard reality of Iran is that the current regime, led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Leader, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president is likely to remain in power. Yes, the legitimacy of their government has been stripped away. Yes, the regime has all but eliminated the "republic" part of "Islamic Republic," relying now on sheer military power to rule. Yes, its crackdown on dissidents has been ugly and brutal.

But if Khamenei and Ahmadinejad want to talk to the United States, perhaps as soon as this fall, America's answer had better be: Yes.

To be sure, it isn't clear if Iran's leaders will want to talk at all. Why? Three reasons. First, because during the election season and afterwards, Ahmadinejad's campaign whipped up the president's base, which consists of hard-core ultranationalists and religious zealots, and it won't be easy to put them back on the leash if the regime decides to talk to the United States. Second, because Khamenei has blamed the United States, Great Britain, Europe, and Israel for the actions of the "terrorists" (i.e., pro-democracy marchers) challenging his authority, and he may find it useful or necessary to demonize the West for the foreseeable future, making it unlikely he will respond positively to any tenders from the West. And third, because most of the more moderate members of Iran's establishment, including in the field of national security and foreign policy, who might have served as personal envoys for Khamenei in talks with the West, have either sided with the reformists or with conservative opponents of Ahmadinejad in Iran's parliament and in the camp of Mohsen Rezai, the former Revolutionary Guard commander who ran against Ahmadinejad.

Yesterday, at a forum organized by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, former top State Department official Nick Burns -- who retired in 2006 after serving as the point man on Iran policy during the Bush administation -- argued that even if Ahmadinejad wants to talk, Obama ought to refuse. David Ignatius, the Washington Post columnist, asked Burns, "In trying to stabilize Iran, Khamenei and Ahmadinejad may crave negotiations with the United States. Doing so would be very popular in Iran. What should the United States do if that happens?" Burns responded:

"That really is the key policy question. We have to be very careful not to give undue legitimacy to this government, not while people are in the streets. ... We should be patient. We should see what happens. For a month? For a year? ... We have to be very careful not to get them to the negotiating table very soon. Now is not the time."
That seems wrong-headed to me, on all counts. While Khamenei and Ahmadinejad may not want to talk soon, for the reasons I stated above, if they do offer to talk I think it will absurd and foolhardy not to take them up on the offer. Spurning an offer by Tehran to talk to Washington would instantly undue all of Obama's good will in Iran and in the region, and it would give the hardliners ample ammunition to further demonize the United States domestically.

Yesterday, in responding to a reporter's question at his news conference, here's how Obama handled that issue:

QUESTION Thank you, Mr. President. Your administration has said that the offer to talk to Iran's leaders remains open. Can you say if that's still so, even with all the violence that has been committed by the government against the peaceful protesters? And if it is, is there any red line that your administration won't cross where that offer will be shut off?

THE PRESIDENT Well, obviously what's happened in Iran is profound. And we're still waiting to see how it plays itself out. My position coming into this office has been that the United States has core national security interests in making sure that Iran doesn't possess a nuclear weapon and it stops exporting terrorism outside of its borders.

We have provided a path whereby Iran can reach out to the international community, engage, and become a part of international norms. It is up to them to make a decision as to whether they choose that path. What we've been seeing over the last several days, the last couple of weeks, obviously is not encouraging, in terms of the path that this regime may choose to take. And the fact that they are now in the midst of an extraordinary debate taking place in Iran may end up coloring how they respond to the international community as a whole.

We are going to monitor and see how this plays itself out before we make any judgments about how we proceed. But just to reiterate, there is a path available to Iran in which their sovereignty is respected, their traditions, their culture, their faith is respected, but one in which they are part of a larger community that has responsibilities and operates according to norms and international rules that are universal. We don't know how they're going to respond yet, and that's what we're waiting to see.
Reading that carefully, it is clear that Obama isn't taking the offer to talk off the table. (In other words, all options are on the table!)

In a piece of staged Q & A, Obama called on the Huffington Post, whose reporter rather theatrically forwarded a question to Obama "directly from an Iranian." Pressed by the reporter to say whether he'd refuse to recognize Ahmadinejad an Iran's president, Obama said, correctly, "There are significant questions about the legitimacy of the election." But he added:

"Ultimately, this is up to the Iranian people to decide who their leadership is going to be and the structure of their government."
Later, bugged by Major Garrett of Fox News, Obama still insisted that he's willing to talk to Iran's leaders, and he reiterated the offer to host Iranian diplomats at July 4 gatherings at US embassies:

GARRETT Are Iranian diplomats still welcome at the embassy on the Fourth of July, sir?

THE PRESIDENT Well, I think as you're aware, Major, we don't have formal diplomatic relations with -- we don't have formal diplomatic relations with Iran. I think that we have said that if Iran chooses a path that abides by international norms and principles, then we are interested in healing some of the wounds of 30 years, in terms of U.S.-Iranian relations. But that is a choice that the Iranians are going to have to make.

GARRETT But the offer still stands?

THE PRESIDENT That's a choice the Iranians are going to have to make.
The neocons, including Elliot Abrams -- who's quoted in the papers today -- are pushing hard for Obama to refuse to talk to Iran. Let's hope he continues to reject that advice.

June 25th, 2009, 04:43 PM
Here's the key.

Rhetorical question (+):

"Are you saying I should approve of the killing of your own people? You can decide what you want to do and HOW to do it in your country, but that does not mean anyone else has to approve it."

June 26th, 2009, 03:05 PM
Iran Election Protest Anthem (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtKshycrCrs)

June 26th, 2009, 05:21 PM
^Wow. The internet may have a bigger part to play in this revolution than anything else.

June 27th, 2009, 06:38 PM
From The Times
June 27, 2009
Leading demonstrators must be executed, Ayatollah Khatami demands

Martin Fletcher
A hardline cleric close to the Iranian regime demanded the execution of leading demonstrators yesterday as the opposition ended the week in disarray.

In a televised sermon at Friday prayers in Tehran, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami called on the judiciary to “punish leading rioters firmly and without showing any mercy to teach everyone a lesson”. He said that those leaders were backed by the United States and Israel. They should be treated as mohareb — people who wage war against God — and deserved execution.

In a clear warning to all other dissenters, he declared: “Anybody who fights against the Islamic system or the leader of Islamic society, fight him until complete destruction.”

The Ayatollah claimed that Neda Soltan, the woman shot during a demonstration last Saturday, had been killed by fellow protesters because “government forces do not shoot at a lady standing in a side street”.

Ayatollah Khatami’s address came at the end of a week in which the regime has brutally suppressed all street protests and arrested hundreds of opponents for daring to challenge President Ahmadinejad’s re-election.

The Guardian Council, which oversees elections and is controlled by regime loyalists, said that it had found no major irregularities in the election on June 12, and described it as the “healthiest” since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. It offered the losing candidates the sop of a special commission but nobody believes that it will annul a result that has been unambiguously endorsed by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader and Mr Ahmadinejad’s main sponsor.

Regime operatives appeared to have sabotaged the main website through which Mir Hossein Mousavi, the defeated candidate, communicates with his supporters. The former Prime Minister has not appeared in public for nine days and his movements are said to have been curtailed by a large, unwanted security force.

The regime’s ubiquitous security groups now break up even the smallest gatherings before they can gain critical mass. Its agents have become adept at spreading misinformation about when and where protests are taking place, and intimidating Tehranis with telephone calls warning them not to join rooftop protests at night. They have also shut opposition newspapers.

The regime blocked a day of mourning for the victims of the demonstrations that had been organised by Mehdi Karoubi, another of the defeated candidates, and pressured Mohsen Rezai, the fourth candidate, into dropping complaints about electoral fraud.

The opposition had planned to release thousands of green balloons over Tehran yesterday bearing the message “Neda you will always be in our heart”. The protest failed to get off the ground.

“The opposition is in retreat, pondering its next move,” an analyst in Tehran said. “People are demoralised to some extent and just don’t have the bounce in their step they had a week ago . . . The regime thinks it’s got them on the run and can finish them off.”

The most outspoken criticism of the regime is now coming from outside Iran. On Thursday President Obama called the regime’s suppression of dissent “outrageous”. He admitted that his hopes of opening a dialogue with Iran had been damaged but rejected Mr Ahmadinejad’s demand that he apologise for criticising the crackdown.

Speaking after talks with Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, he said that their two countries spoke with “one voice” in condemning the regime’s behaviour.

The foreign ministers of the G8 powers, meeting in Italy, issued a statement deploring the crackdown and urging Iran to resolve the crisis over the disputed election through democratic dialogue. “We deplore post-electoral violence which led to the loss of lives of Iranian civilians and urge Iran to respect fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression,” the G8 ministers said in a joint statement.

David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, said: “The violence we have seen over the last ten days and the killings and the beatings are deplorable and they show a failure to protect their own people.

“There is a crisis of credibility not between Iran and the West, but between the Iranian counting of the votes and the Iranian people.” Even Sergei Lavrov, the Foreign Minister of Russia, which is helping Iran to develop nuclear power, said that he was seriously concerned by the regime’s use of force, and urged Tehran to settle all issues in a democratic way.

The regime appears impervious to such criticism. For now it is concerned only with survival. “They believe the world will eventually have to deal with it,” an analyst said.

Iran's obscene denial

It is the oldest trick in the Iranian book: discredit opponents by painting them as dupes of great, middling or little “Satans”.

All week the state media have been filled with tales of foreign powers whipping up protests to bring down the mullahs. Many vices are prohibited in this bastion of Islamic virtues but evidently not bald-faced lying.

Nothing has been more obscene, however, than the campaign to avoid blame for the death of Neda Soltan, the innocent demonstrator fatally shot last Saturday.

It gagged her family and stopped them mourning or burying her with dignity. Then it started accusing foreign agents and their Iranian stooges of killing her. Jon Leyne, the BBC correspondent in Tehran, allegedly hired a thug to shoot her so that he could get good pictures. Officials have variously claimed she was shot by fellow protesters, foreign agitators or the CIA.

Arash Hejazi, the doctor who was standing next to Miss Soltan and tried to save her life , has now risked permanent exile to tell the truth. She was shot in her chest by a basij militiaman on a motorcycle, he told The Times.

The man was caught by the crowd. He escaped with his life because, unlike the regime and contrary to its lies, the protesters eschew violence.

June 28th, 2009, 06:13 AM
Iran 'arrests UK embassy staff'
From BBC

Tehran has blamed the US and UK for post-election unrest

Iran has detained eight local staff at the British embassy in Tehran on accusations of having a role in post-election riots, local reports said.

The embassy has not yet confirmed the report from the semi-official Fars news agency, which did not name its source.

Relations between the countries are strained after Tehran accused the UK of inflaming unrest, which London denies.

Some 17 people are thought to have died in street protests after the disputed 12 June presidential poll.

Tehran has expelled two British diplomats in the past week, and the UK has responded with a similar measure.

There is no independent confirmation of the latest arrests.

"Eight local employees at the British embassy who had a considerable role in recent unrest were taken into custody," Fars said, without giving a source.

The UK Foreign Office said in London: "We have in the last few days received a number of, sometimes confused, reports that British nationals or others with British connections have been detained. We continue to raise them with the Iranian authorities."

June 28th, 2009, 09:14 AM
"...the United States has gone out of its way not to interfere with the election process in Iran..." ~President Obama responding (http://rawstory.com/08/news/2009/06/26/obama-brushes-off-tehran-demand-for-apology/) to Ahmadinejad’s demands for an apology.

This is a curious way to deny interfering - while simultaneously revealing an inertial intent to interfere as the default U.S. position.

Has the clever rhetoric of Ahmadinejad finally met its match?

June 28th, 2009, 01:54 PM
Leading demonstrators must be executed, Ayatollah Khatami demands
^ The very next edition

of the Spanish Inquisition.

July 1st, 2009, 07:27 PM
From The Times
July 2, 2009
Opposition leaders court arrest by defying 'unlawful Iranian regime'

Mr Mousavi, shown with his wife Zahra Rahnavard, is believed to be at home in Tehran

Three of Iran’s most prominent opposition leaders flagrantly courted arrest yesterday by denouncing President Ahmadinejad’s Government as illegitimate, one day after the regime said that it would tolerate no more challenges to the election result.

Mir Hossein Mousavi, the former Prime Minister who lost the election, said that the suppression of dissent was tantamount to a coup. “It’s not yet too late,” he declared on his website. “It is our historical responsibility to continue our protests to defend the rights of the people . . . and prevent the blood spilt by hundreds of thousands of martyrs from leading to a police state.”

Ayatollah Mohammed Khatami, 65, a popular former President, accused the regime of mounting a “velvet revolution against the people and democracy” and called the security crackdown “poisonous”.

Mehdi Karroubi, 72, another defeated presidential candidate, said that “visible and invisible forces blocked any change in the executive power”. He added: “I will continue the fight under any circumstances and using every means.” The regime responded by shutting down his newspaper.

One Iranian analyst expressed astonishment at their audacity. “It looks like they’re trying to become living martyrs,” he said. “At the very least they will be put under house arrest. At worst they will be taken to jail and charged with threatening national security.” The regime might hesitate to lock them up because of the prospect of hundreds of thousands of supporters taking to the streets. “The only question is how big the demonstrations would be and how long the people could fight the might of a military state,” the analyst said.

Mr Mousavi, 67, is living at home with his family in Tehran, with security and intelligence agents watching his every move. They have arrested most of his inner circle and made it progressively harder for him to communicate with his followers.

Since Tuesday, when Iran’s Guardian Council declared that a partial recount had confirmed Mr Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election, hardliners have all but accused Mr Mousavi of treason. Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a hardline cleric close to the regime, called him “anti-revolutionary”. The Basij — the regime’s volunteer militia — sent Iran’s chief prosecutor a letter accusing him of nine offences including threatening national security.

Mr Mousavi’s statement said that he was forming a political group to defend citizens’ rights and votes, which suggested that he is preparing a campaign of resistance against Mr Ahmadinejad and his patron, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader.

He still has powerful supporters including two former presidents, Mr Khatami and Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Ali Larijani, the parliamentary speaker, Mohammed Baqer Qalibaf, the Mayor of Tehran, and several leading clerics. Mr Ahmadinejad’s fiscal profligacy means that Iran faces huge economic problems that could eat into his support over the coming months.

Forced from the streets by the security forces, Mr Mousavi’s supporters are also preparing a campaign of civil disobedience. They are talking of strikes, boycotting goods advertised in the state-controlled media, moving money out of government-controlled banks and giving money directly to the needy instead of government-controlled charities.

Analysts say that anger will grow and could erupt at football matches, prayer meetings or anywhere that large numbers gather. They say that opposition supporters will go underground and stage lightning demonstrations. They also expect some elements to start launching violent attacks on government targets.

In a possible sign of the regime’s anxiety Mr Ahmadinejad abruptly cancelled a visit to Libya for an African Union summit yesterday.

The regime appeared to have released two more of the nine Iranians working for the British Embassy in Tehran who were arrested last weekend. One or two are still in custody.

Iran’s police chief, Esmaeil Ahmadi-Moghaddam, said that the authorities were seeking Arash Hejazi, the doctor who tried to save the life of Neda Soltan who was shot dead during a demonstration. Dr Hejazi fled to Britain last week and told The Times how Miss Soltan had been shot by a Basiji. Mr Ahmadi-Moghaddam accused him of encouraging Western media hype.

July 16th, 2009, 12:50 AM
From Andrew Sullivan / The Daily Dish (http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/07/rape-in-evin-prison.html):

Rape In Evin Prison

by Chris Bodenner
July 15, 2009

HuffPo's Shirin Sadeghi compiles (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shirin-sadeghi/the-rape-of-taraneh-priso_b_233063.html) several horrific accounts. Potkin Azarmehr, a British-Iranian blogger, points out:

By killing protesters, the government makes martyrs of them, but by raping them and allowing them to live, it makes them shunned in society.

The Rape of Taraneh: Prison Abuse of Iran's Protesters (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shirin-sadeghi/the-rape-of-taraneh-priso_b_233063.html)

December 11th, 2009, 02:23 PM
Kermit and a friend offer a song in solidarity with protestors in Iran ...

It's Not Easy Being (a) Green (Revolutionary) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_Iwq7HPLfM&)

December 11th, 2009, 09:35 PM
I consider myself, at 50, a fairly jaded politico, but the brave young Iranian women moved me to tears last June, July.

Have a look at this one, lofter (and others) --
Bella Ciao, Iran (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNocyz1NRjA).

December 13th, 2009, 12:55 PM
And a favorite cross of the neocons to nail the Democrats to. The GOP's knowledge of Iranian history doesn't extend far beyond 1979 and the Teheran hostage situation; if they looked 26 years in the past they'd know that under Eisenhower, a Republican, the U.S. and British organized a coup which ousted the fairly-elected Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadeq, because he was planning to nationalize the Iranian oil industry. The coup returned the hated Shah Pahlavi to the throne nine years after his abdication. The Islamic Republic's hostility towards us now is a direct result of our support of the Shah, which began under the Republicans.

I have a degree in middle east studies, and I want to attack iran.

That fascist dictatorship of thugs and murderers MUST be destroyed. Peace in the middle east is impossible so long as this fake regime exists.

December 13th, 2009, 04:35 PM
What do you want to attack it with?

December 13th, 2009, 06:04 PM
What do you want to attack it with?

Since almost no naval forces, and no air force material and manpower are being applied in afghan or iraq, they would be the first place to look for resources.

I would also pull the 58,000 troops stationed in Germany doing little outside of keeping the local town pubs filled, along with the 55,000 troops in Japan, if needed - but I doubt they will be.

Bomb the nuclear sites, the IRG barracks, the gov't official buildings like their parliament, etc., and the gov't will collapse.

A handful of spec ops platoons can be used to extract officials such as Ahmadinejad and Khameini for Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes' trials in the Hague.

December 13th, 2009, 08:15 PM
Since almost no naval forces, and no air force material and manpower are being occupied in afghan or iraq, they would be the first place to look for resources.

I would also pull the 58,000 troops stationed in Germany doing little outside of keeping the local town pubs filled, along with the 55,000 troops in Japan, if needed - but I doubt they will be.

Bomb the nuclear sites, the IRG barracks, the gov't official buildings like their parliament, etc., and the gov't will collapse.

A handful of spec ops platoons can be used to extract officials such as Ahmadinejad and Khameini for Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes' trials in the Hague. Woow, so simple. I don't know what the hell we are waiting for..

December 13th, 2009, 09:08 PM
I have a degree in middle east studies,

Oh, nice, a scholar at our WNY forum. Welcome.

and I want to attack iran.

Yikes! Where exactly did you get this degree?

December 13th, 2009, 10:13 PM
I would also pull the 58,000 troops stationed in Germany doing little outside of keeping the local town pubs filled, along with the 55,000 troops in Japan, if needed - but I doubt they will be.

Bomb the nuclear sites, the IRG barracks, the gov't official buildings like their parliament, etc., and the gov't will collapse.

That's the easy part. And then?

Shouldn't be too hard to figure out the post-attack situation, given that it's a country of a mere 75,000,000 people.

Look how simple it was next door.

December 13th, 2009, 10:46 PM
Ok, lets pretend we are sitting in Obama's cabinet, and we game the side of the liberals here...meaning, we can continue to do nothing, i.e, Option "A", while:

1) the iranian leadership continues to murder its own people in gulags, or shoots them outright on the streets. I thought liberals would care about their fellow democracy advocates around the world - or is it they care only when non-muslims are involved?

2) Iran continues to murder US GIs in Iraq, making the pacification and rebuilding of that country that much harder. When liberals complain about iraq, they should realize it was made vastly more difficult because of iran.

3) Iran continues to fund hamas and hezboolah, who are de-stabilizing the middle east. Peace is impossible as long as the current iranian regime exists.

4) Iran continues to build nuclear weapons, which would provide massive leverage over the middle east and world - who knows how far they will blackmail and extort the world?

5) the iranians fascists spread their "revolution" to the middle east illiterate, uneducated masses, jeopardizing the arab nations, and almost guaranteeing wars and nuclear arms races.

Or, we can attack iran and depose the leadership, and prevent 1-5.

I think I'll take option B.

December 13th, 2009, 11:02 PM
We went through this 8 years ago.

We're still going through it today.

Some people never learn.

December 13th, 2009, 11:08 PM
Ok, lets pretend we are sitting in Obama's cabinet, and we game the side of the liberals here...meaning, we can continue to do nothing, i.e, Option "A", while:

1) the iranian leadership continues to murder its own people in gulags, or shoots them outright on the streets. I thought liberals would care about their fellow democracy advocates around the world - or is it they care only when non-muslims are involved?

2) Iran continues to murder US GIs in Iraq, making the pacification and rebuilding of that country that much harder. When liberals complain about iraq, they should realize it was made vastly more difficult because of iran.

3) Iran continues to fund hamas and hezboolah, who are de-stabilizing the middle east. Peace is impossible as long as the current iranian regime exists.

4) Iran continues to build nuclear weapons, which would provide massive leverage over the middle east and world - who knows how far they will blackmail and extort the world?

5) the iranians fascists spread their "revolution" to the middle east illiterate, uneducated masses, jeopardizing the arab nations, and almost guaranteeing wars and nuclear arms races.

Or, we can attack iran and depose the leadership, and prevent 1-5.

I think I'll take option B.
1)We really don't care if Iranians are killing each other, never did..

2)We should have known before we went into Iraq that taking Saddam out would leave Iran unchecked and that Iran would interfere in our warfare and rebuilding efforts..

3) Iran does not have borders with countries containing HAMAS and HEZBOLLAH. Working on blocking the shipments to these groups should be priority #1.

4) It is difficult argue this one but going to war is not the solution, blockade is....

5) Let's try to educate the masses so they won't be brainwashed by the dictators..

December 13th, 2009, 11:24 PM
I think I'll take option B.

You clarified that before.

But you didn't answer this: Then what? (You know, with the remaining 74.5 Million Iranians left after the attack?)

December 14th, 2009, 09:46 AM
You clarified that before.

But you didn't answer this: Then what? (You know, with the remaining 74.5 Million Iranians left after the attack?)

Just as an iraq, the country can either be handed off to a democratically structured government - as the millions of protestors in the country are now demanding, or to a UN-midwifed gov't that transitions over to the iranians over the next 6 months to a year.

Then, they are on their own.

Not too hard to grasp, no?

December 14th, 2009, 09:47 AM
We went through this 8 years ago.

We're still going through it today.

Some people never learn.

Went through what 8 years ago?

December 14th, 2009, 09:52 AM
1)We really don't care if Iranians are killing each other, never did..

They have been killing alot of people outside their borders as well.

2)We should have known before we went into Iraq that taking Saddam out would leave Iran unchecked and that Iran would interfere in our warfare and rebuilding efforts..

No question, Rumsfeld poorly handled the iraq invasion - which should have been preceded by the removal of the iranian leadership.

3) Iran does not have borders with countries containing HAMAS and HEZBOLLAH. Working on blocking the shipments to these groups should be priority #1.

This is very difficult to accomplish, but can be addressed by #4...

4) It is difficult argue this one but going to war is not the solution, blockade is....

I had considered this a great deal, and even war-gamed it with other military officials, the problem is that without military strikes to degrade their missile capability, they would fire medium-range weapons into neighboring arab states, israel, and US troop bases in iraq.

Sadly, a massive bombing campaign similar to the "shock-and-awe" one in iraq is the only option.

5) Let's try to educate the masses so they won't be brainwashed by the dictators..

I'd love to...how do you propose to accomplish this?

December 14th, 2009, 10:02 AM
Why stop at Iran? What about Burma, Zimbabwe and the many other corrupt African regimes who are killiing their people?

December 14th, 2009, 10:06 AM
Went through what 8 years ago?I thought you said you were smart.

I have a degree in middle east studies, and I want to attack iran.

December 14th, 2009, 01:38 PM
RS, your first mistake was to address anyone that was against your own vision of middle eastern "policy" as "liberals".

You made a blanked categorization and that never serves to get people to your side unless you already have a following. You canot divide and conquer if the people you are addressing are not that divided!

The second was thinking that using less troops than Iraq would somehow be able to be magically transported, equipped, and sent into another (rather modern by some comparisons) country of 75M and depose a RELIGIOUS leader and then just "appoint" a leader and all is good.

That simply does not work. It has rarely worked in the history of the world, how do you think it will work with a country where even the MODERATES do not like the US.

The WORST thing we could do at this point is stage a military action that would galvanize the opposing factions against the US and make it so that their own dissent was eliminated in the face of a "common enemy".

For so much study on the Middle East, you seem to be remarkably ignorant of human nature.

You going to come back and try and win our respect, or are you just going to yell at us and say we do not know anything, yadda yadda yadda (the third "yadda" is the most important, don't you know!).

December 14th, 2009, 01:50 PM
I dont really understand your stance on this topic. Are you saying that somebody should interfere with Irans advancement? I just feel if the u.s. is allowed to keep nukes then the rest of the world is entiteled to have their choice of weapons as well.
the u.s. is all bark and no bite. the fight people ATTEMPTING to get nukes but once another country obtains them the u.s. lays down like a whipped puppy. MESSAGE TO THE WORLD: its okay to have nukes but its NOT okay to make them. Thats sort of like its okay to smoke pot but illegal to grow,buy,or sell it.

December 14th, 2009, 02:10 PM
Actually K, it makes sense.

When you have too much to lose, you are less likely to use it.

You get a megolomaniac with a death wish, he is more likely to light one off.

Although I do not like the superpowers having this death-stick, The less that have it, the better.

December 15th, 2009, 01:28 AM
I dont really understand your stance on this topic. Are you saying that somebody should interfere with Irans advancement? I just feel if the u.s. is allowed to keep nukes then the rest of the world is entiteled to have their choice of weapons as well.
the u.s. is all bark and no bite. the fight people ATTEMPTING to get nukes but once another country obtains them the u.s. lays down like a whipped puppy. MESSAGE TO THE WORLD: its okay to have nukes but its NOT okay to make them. Thats sort of like its okay to smoke pot but illegal to grow,buy,or sell it.
Now, that's a little too liberal of a view on this topic, for my taste anyway...

December 15th, 2009, 12:40 PM
Liberal? Or just plain accomodating?

December 16th, 2009, 02:05 AM
Liberal? Or just plain accomodating? You are right NH, labeling this particular view as Liberal is wrong..

December 24th, 2009, 12:24 PM
People like me in the know said it 10 years ago, but even the liberals are finally accepting that the military solution is the only viable option:


"But there are three compelling reasons that the United States itself should carry out the bombings. First, the Pentagon’s weapons are better than Israel’s at destroying buried facilities. Second, unlike Israel’s relatively small air force, the United States military can discourage Iranian retaliation by threatening to expand the bombing campaign. (Yes, Israel could implicitly threaten nuclear counter-retaliation, but Iran might not perceive that as credible.) Finally, because the American military has global reach, air strikes against Iran would be a strong warning to other would-be proliferators.

Negotiation to prevent nuclear proliferation is always preferable to military action. But in the face of failed diplomacy, eschewing force is tantamount to appeasement. We have reached the point where air strikes are the only plausible option with any prospect of preventing Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. Postponing military action merely provides Iran a window to expand, disperse and harden its nuclear facilities against attack. The sooner the United States takes action, the better."


Better late than never for the liberals at the Times, at least they see if they want their credibility intact they've opened their eyes to this diseased regime of murderers.

December 24th, 2009, 12:58 PM

Our military is stretch dangerously too thin, as it is. Also, Iran shares a border with Afghanistan and Iraq; We don't need to destabilize that region any more than it all ready is.

December 24th, 2009, 01:15 PM
Better late than never for the liberals at the Times, at least they see if they want their credibility intact they've opened their eyes to this diseased regime of murderers.

Here's the correct link to the entire article.


The piece isn't an EDITORIAL; it's a guest OPINION by:

Alan J. Kuperman is the director of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Program at the University of Texas at Austin.

December 24th, 2009, 03:19 PM
I would also pull the 58,000 troops stationed in Germany doing little outside of keeping the local town pubs filled, along with the 55,000 troops in Japan, if needed - but I doubt they will be.

Bomb the nuclear sites, the IRG barracks, the gov't official buildings like their parliament, etc., and the gov't will collapse.

A handful of spec ops platoons can be used to extract officials such as Ahmadinejad and Khameini for Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes' trials in the Hague.

From that same NY Times Opinion piece (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/24/opinion/24kuperman.html?pagewanted=2&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1261681532-K0qyBOTOtBfCl7Do/JD5rQ) ...

Since peaceful carrots and sticks cannot work, and an invasion would be foolhardy ...

December 24th, 2009, 03:46 PM
Does anyone seriously think that you can go into a country four times the size of Iraq with 4 or 5 Divisions. Especially when they're described as pub-crawlers.

December 27th, 2009, 11:49 AM
The opposition in Iran might take care of regime change themselves.

Live Blogging from Iran ...

Live-blog: Ashura in Iran – December 27, 2009 (http://www.irannewsnow.com/2009/12/live-blog-ashura/)

January 6th, 2010, 02:08 AM
... Bomb the nuclear sites ...

Easier said than done:

Iran Shielding Its Nuclear Efforts in Maze of Tunnels

NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/06/world/middleeast/06sanctions.html?hp)
January 6, 2010

Last September, when Iran’s uranium enrichment plant buried inside a mountain near the holy city of Qum was revealed, the episode cast light on a wider pattern: Over the past decade, Iran has quietly hidden an increasingly large part of its atomic complex in networks of tunnels and bunkers across the country.

In doing so, American government and private experts say, Iran has achieved a double purpose. Not only has it shielded its infrastructure from military attack in warrens of dense rock, but it has further obscured the scale and nature of its notoriously opaque nuclear effort. The discovery of the Qum plant only heightened fears about other undeclared sites.

Now, with the passing of President Obama’s year-end deadline for diplomatic progress, that cloak of invisibility has emerged as something of a stealth weapon, complicating the West’s military and geopolitical calculus.

The Obama administration says it is hoping to take advantage of domestic political unrest and disarray in Iran’s nuclear program to press for a regimen of strong and immediate new sanctions. But a crucial factor behind that push for nonmilitary solutions, some analysts say, is Iran’s tunneling — what Tehran calls its strategy of “passive defense.”

Indeed, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates has repeatedly discounted the possibility of a military strike, saying that it would only slow Iran’s nuclear ambitions by one to three years while driving the program further underground.

Some analysts say that Israel, which has taken the hardest line on Iran, may be especially hampered, given its less formidable military and intelligence abilities.

“It complicates your targeting,” said Richard L. Russell, a former Central Intelligence Agency analyst now at the National Defense University. “We’re used to facilities being above ground. Underground, it becomes literally a black hole. You can’t be sure what’s taking place.”

Even the Israelis concede that solid rock can render bombs useless. Late last month, the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, told Parliament that the Qum plant was “located in bunkers that cannot be destroyed through a conventional attack.”

Heavily mountainous Iran has a long history of tunneling toward civilian as well as military ends, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has played a recurring role — first as a transportation engineer and founder of the Iranian Tunneling Association and now as the nation’s president.

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of big tunnels in Iran, according to American government and private experts, and the lines separating their uses can be fuzzy. Companies owned by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of Iran, for example, build civilian as well as military tunnels.

No one in the West knows how much, or exactly what part, of Iran’s nuclear program lies hidden. Still, evidence of the downward atomic push is clear to the inquisitive.

Google Earth, for instance, shows that the original hub of the nuclear complex at Isfahan consists of scores of easily observed — and easy to attack — buildings. But government analysts say that in recent years Iran has honeycombed the nearby mountains with tunnels. Satellite photos show six entrances.

Iranian officials say years of veiled bombing threats prompted their country to exercise its “sovereign right” to protect its nuclear facilities by hiding them underground. That was their argument when they announced plans in November to build 10 uranium enrichment plants. Despite the improbability and bluster of the claim, Iran’s tunneling history gave it a measure of credibility.

“They will be scattered in the mountains,” the chief of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, told Iran’s Press TV. “We will be using the passive defense so that we don’t need to have active defense, which is very expensive.”

Mr. Gates, along with other Western officials, has dismissed that line of argument as cover for a covert arms program.

“If they wanted it for peaceful purposes,” he said of the Qum plant on CNN, “there’s no reason to put it so deep underground, no reason to be deceptive about it, keep it a secret for a protracted period of time.”

Iran denies that its nuclear efforts are for military purposes and insists that it wants to unlock the atom strictly for peaceful aims, like making electricity. It says it wants to build many enrichment plants to fuel up to 20 nuclear power plants, a plan many economists question because Iran ranks second globally in oil and natural gas reserves.

Ploy or not, any expansion seems unlikely to zoom ahead. After a decade of construction, Iran’s main enrichment plant, at Natanz, operates at a tiny fraction of its capacity. The Qum plant is only half built. Nuclear experts say the new plants, if attempted, may not materialize for years or decades. Even so, they note that tunnels would be the easiest part of the plan and may get dug relatively soon.

Despite the questions about whether the West can credibly threaten to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, analysts insist that the United States, Israel and their allies will never rule out that option. The Pentagon, in fact, is racing to develop a powerful new tunnel-busting bomb.

“Deeply buried targets have been a problem forever,” said Greg Duckworth, a civilian scientist who recently led a Pentagon research effort to pinpoint enemy tunnels. “And it’s getting worse.”

A Tunnel Expert

Mr. Ahmadinejad began professional life as a transportation engineer with close ties to the Revolutionary Guards and an abiding interest in tunnels.

He helped found the Iranian Tunneling Association in 1998, according to the group’s Web site. That year, the Tehran subway began a major expansion, and Iran, in secret, accelerated its nuclear program.

In early 2004, while mayor of Tehran, Mr. Ahmadinejad served as chairman of the Sixth Iranian Tunneling Conference. He praised the leaders of ancient Persia for creating networks of subterranean waterways and called for the creation of new “tunnels” between the government, universities and professional groups.

“I ask God to help us all,” he said in a paper. Such tunneling conferences, held regularly in Tehran, draw global manufacturers of tunnel-boring machines — giant devices as big as locomotives that dig quickly through rocky strata. Terratec, an Australian maker, noted early last year that Iran had recently become “one of the most active markets in the world.”

Many of the companies keep offices in Tehran. Herrenknecht, a German firm considered the market leader, lists three. Engineers say Iran has hundreds of miles of civilian tunneling projects under way, including subways in Tehran, Isfahan, and Shiraz, highway tunnels across the country and water tunnels to irrigate the dry interior.

By all accounts, the seeds of the downward military shift were planted during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, when Iraq hit Tehran and other Iranian cities with waves of missiles. Constructing shelters, bunkers and tunnels became a patriotic duty.

An Opposition Watchdog

In 2002, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an opposition group, revealed that Iran was building a secret underground nuclear plant at Natanz that turned out to be for enriching uranium. Enrichment plants can make fuel for reactors or, with a little more effort, atom bombs.

Satellite photos showed the Iranians burying two cavernous halls roughly half the size of the Pentagon. Estimates put the thickness of overhead rock, dirt and concrete at 30 feet — enough to frustrate bombs but not to guarantee the plant’s survival.

The disclosure of Natanz set off the West’s confrontation with Iran. Two years later, the International Atomic Energy Agency found to its surprise that Iran was tunneling in the mountains by the Isfahan site, where uranium is readied for enrichment. “Iran failed to report to the agency in a timely manner,” an I.A.E.A. paper said in diplomatic understatement.

Then, in late 2005, the Iranian opposition group held news conferences in Paris and London to announce that its spies had learned that Iran was digging tunnels for missile and atomic work at 14 sites, including an underground complex near Qum. The government, one council official said, was building the tunnels to conceal “its pursuit of nuclear weapons.” The council further charged that Mr. Ahmadinejad and the tunneling association were providing civilian cover for military work and acquisitions.

The council’s assertions got little notice. Some Western experts saw them as overstated. Some questioned the council’s objectivity because it sought the government’s overthrow. Perhaps the biggest impediment was a suspicion of defectors at a time when the American invasion of Iraq was proving to be based in part on Iraqi dissidents’ false claims about Saddam Hussein’s unconventional weapons.

United Nations atomic inspectors did check out a few of the tunnels at Isfahan, but not at Qum because the plant was on a military base and thus off limits for inspection without strong evidence of suspicious activity.

“We followed whatever they came up with,” Mohamed ElBaradei, the recently departed head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said of the council in an interview. “And a lot of it was bogus.”

Frank Pabian, a senior adviser on nuclear nonproliferation at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, strongly disagreed. “They’re right 90 percent of the time,” he said of the council’s disclosures about Iran’s clandestine sites. “That doesn’t mean they’re perfect, but 90 percent is a pretty good record.”

In 2007, the council announced that Iran was tunneling in the mountains near Natanz, the sprawling enrichment site. Satellite photos confirmed that.

And Qum became a vindication, though belatedly, in late September, when President Obama, flanked by the leaders of France and Britain, identified “a covert uranium enrichment facility” being constructed there.

Military Warrens

In December, the opposition group capitalized on its new stature to issue a report on Iranian military tunneling. It said Iran had dug tunnels and bunkers for research facilities, ammunition storage, military headquarters and command and control centers. “A group of factories” in the mountains east of Tehran, it said, specialize in “the manufacturing of nuclear warheads.”

Over all, the report raised to 19, from 14, the number of locations where it said tunnels — often multiple tunnels — were hiding military bases and work on arms.

American war planners see Iran’s tunnels — whatever their exact number and contents — as a serious test of military abilities. Most say there is no easy way to wipe out a nuclear program that has been well hidden, widely dispersed and deeply buried.

Among the difficulties, military experts say, are decoy tunnels and false entrances, the identification of which requires good intelligence. The experts add that Iran’s announcement about new enrichment plants may simply produce a blur of activity meant to confuse Western war planners.

David A. Kay, a nuclear specialist who led the fruitless search for unconventional arms in Iraq, said the hiding of a plant or two among the rocky labyrinths could pose a particular challenge for Israel. “They have limited intelligence for targeting,” Dr. Kay said, adding that the United States was better equipped to map out Iran’s nuclear terrain.

Raymond Tanter, an Iran expert at Georgetown University who served in the Reagan White House, agreed. “So far, the tunneling has not succeeded to the point that the American technology couldn’t get to it,” he contended. “But it makes Israel’s options more problematic, because they have less of a military edge.”

Doubts notwithstanding, the Obama administration has been careful to leave the military option on the table, and the Pentagon is racing to develop a deadly tunnel weapon.

The device — 20 feet long and called the Massive Ordnance Penetrator — began as a 2004 recommendation from the Defense Science Board, a high-level advisory group to the Pentagon.

“A deep underground tunnel facility in a rock geology poses a significant challenge,” the board wrote. “Several thousand pounds of high explosives coupled to the tunnel are needed to blow down blast doors and propagate a lethal air blast.”

The bomb carries tons of explosives and is considered 10 times more powerful than its predecessor. It underwent preliminary testing in 2007, and its first deployments are expected next summer. Its carrier is to be the B-2 stealth bomber.

Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters in October that budget problems had delayed the weapon but that it was now back on track. Military officials deny having a specific target in mind. Still, Mr. Whitman added, war planners consider it “an important capability.”

Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company

January 30th, 2010, 11:00 PM
U.S. Speeding Up Missile Defenses In Persian Gulf

THE HUFFINGTON POST (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/30/us-speeding-up-missile-de_n_443304.html)
JANUARY 30, 2010

WASHINGTON — As the Obama administration edges toward imposing tougher sanctions on Iran, it has begun upgrading its approach to defending its Persian Gulf allies against potential Iranian missile strikes, officials said Saturday.

The United States has quietly increased the capability of land-based Patriot defensive missiles in several Gulf Arab nations, and one military official said the Navy is beefing up the presence of ships capable of knocking down hostile missiles in flight.

The officials discussed aspects of the defensive strategy on condition of anonymity because some elements are classified.

The moves have been in the works for months and are part of a broader adjustment in the U.S. approach to missile defense, including in Europe and Asia. Details have not been publicly announced, in part because of diplomatic sensitivities in Gulf countries which worry about Iranian military capabilities but are cautious about acknowledging U.S. protection.

The administration will send a review of ballistic missile strategy to Congress on Monday that frames the larger shifts. Attention to defense of the Persian Gulf region, a focus on diffuse networks of sensors and weapons and cooperation with Russia are major elements of the study, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Russia opposed Bush administration plans for a land-based missile defense site in Eastern Europe, and President Barack Obama's decision to walk away from that plan last year was partly in pursuit of new capabilities that might hold greater promise and partly in deference to Russia.

One military official said the adjustments in the Gulf should be seen as prudent defensive measures designed to deter Iran from taking aggressive action in the region, more than as a signal that Washington expects Iran to retaliate for any additional sanctions.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton consulted with numerous allies during a visit to London this week. She told reporters that the evident failure of U.S. offers to engage Iran in negotiations over its nuclear program means the U.S. will now press for additional sanctions against the Iranian government.

Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. Central Command chief who is responsible for U.S. military operations across the Middle East, mentioned in several recent public speeches one element of the defensive strategy in the Gulf: upgrading Patriot missile systems, which originally were deployed in the region to shoot down aircraft but now can hit missiles in flight.

In remarks at Georgetown Law School on Jan. 21, Petraeus said the U.S. now has eight Patriot missile batteries stationed in the Gulf region – two each in four countries. He did not name the countries, but Kuwait has long been known to have Patriots on its territory.

A military official said Saturday that the three other countries are the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain – which also hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet headquarters – and Qatar, home to a modernized U.S. air operations center that has played a key role in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

In a presentation Jan. 22 at the Institute for the Study of War, Petraeus explicitly linked the actions to concerns about Iran.

"Iran is clearly seen as a very serious threat by those on the other side of the Gulf front, and, indeed, it has been a catalyst for the implementation of the architecture that we envision and have now been trying to implement," he said.

He said that "architecture" includes the extra Patriot batteries "that weren't there, say, two years ago."

"Other countries have certainly increased their Patriots, a whole host of different systems; Aegis ballistic missile cruisers are in the Gulf at all times now," Petraeus added.

The Aegis ships are equipped with a missile known as the SM-3, which gained international acclaim in February 2008 when a souped-up version was launched from a Navy cruiser in the Pacific and shot down a failing U.S. satellite in space.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has spoken publicly about a new approach to missile defenses, both in Europe and the Gulf.

"I don't want to get into it in too much detail," Gates said in September. "but the reality is we are working both on a bilateral and a multilateral basis in the Gulf to establish the same kind of regional missile defense that would protect our facilities out there as well as our friends and allies."

Gates said the adjusted approach is based in part on a belief by U.S. intelligence that Iran has not been progressing as fast as previously believed on development of a long-range ballistic missile, but is concentrating more heavily on short- and medium-range missiles of the sort that the Patriot and the Aegis systems are designed to defend against.

Associated Press writers Anne Flaherty and Anne Gearan contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2010 HuffingtonPost.com, Inc.

January 30th, 2010, 11:13 PM
US General Says Yemen Could Become Iran-Saudi Proxy War

VOA News (http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/middle-east/US-General-Says-Yemen-Could-Become-Iran-Saudi-Proxy-War-82427857.html)
Al Pessin
January 24, 2010

The commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, General David Petraeus, says there are indications the domestic conflict in Yemen could become a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Petraeus spoke in Washington Friday at the Institute for the Study of War.

General Petraeus was asked whether he sees the civil war between Yemen's government and rebel Houthi forces in the north as a proxy war, with Iran supporting the rebels and Saudi Arabia helping the government. The general said it is not a proxy war now, but has the potential to become one, and there may already have been some movement in that direction.

"Frankly, although there is a lot of rumor, there's a lot of allegations, and so forth, we have been hard pressed to find indications of substantial levels of that," he said. "Although there have been some indicators in the past month or so that some of that is indeed beginning to happen."

General Petraeus says he has been concerned about growing militancy in Yemen for more than two years. When he became commander of U.S. forces in the region a year-and-a-half ago he ordered his staff to develop a plan for engagement with Yemen, and last year he made two secret visits to the country.

"[The] first trip, candidly didn't go entirely according to what we hoped it would be," he said. "It was more along the lines of 'frank and open' conversations. The visit in July, on the other hand, was a literal as well as figurative embrace."

After that more-productive visit, General Petraeus went to Yemen again on January 2, for what he thought would be another secret visit. But this time, to his surprise, he was greeted by a television camera in the office of President Ali Abdallah Salih.

"There was no reticence to show he [the president] was meeting with the commander of [the U.S.] Central Command," he said. "And, indeed, announcing that the reason I was there was to talk about how we could support them, assist them, in the effort to deal with the growing al-Qaida in the Arabian Penninsula."

After that visit, General Petraeus announced a doubling of U.S. military aid to Yemen, to $150 million this year, but Pentagon officials said the final figure had not yet been officially determined.

The general praised Yemeni military strikes in December that killed insurgent leaders and suicide bombers, and destroyed two training camps. But he said, as with all places where insurgents and terrorists find fertile recruiting grounds, the key is to put together an international civilian effort to help provide the kind of aid and services the people want and need. He said Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf states can be very helpful in that effort.

September 4th, 2010, 05:14 PM
Stop the War Talk

NY TIMES / International Herald Tribune (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/02/opinion/02iht-edaslan.html?_r=1&ref=global&pagewanted=all)
September 1, 2010


The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in Washington, purportedly to be part of the Obama administration’s relaunch of peace negotiations. But the urgent talk is of war, thanks to Jeffrey Goldberg’s much-discussed Atlantic Monthly cover article (http://www.theatlantic.com/debates/israel-iran/), which faithfully reproduced the logic of Israeli military and political leaders.

According to this, even Israelis who doubt that a nuclear Iran would immediately attack Tel Aviv argue that the threat is “existential.” An Iranian bomb would provide a “nuclear umbrella” for Hezbollah missiles and Hamas terrorism. It would force the Gulf states to ally with Iran against the United States and its cornered ally. Israel’s only option is a pre-emptive strike, like the ones it carried out against nuclear reactors in Iraq and Syria. It is only a matter of time.

The logic seems to be pushing on an open door. In the United States, an impressive 65 percent of Americans would support military action, according to a recent FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll. Indeed — so the logic continues — the U.S. military would do a better job against Iran’s nuclear facilities, and the United States would surely be blamed for, and suffer the consequences of, any pre-emptive attack by Israel. So shouldn’t the U.S. carry out the strike itself? Shouldn’t Israel’s friends in America prepare the ground?

This drumbeat must be silenced, and only President Obama can silence it.

An Israeli attack on Iran would almost certainly precipitate a devastating regional war with unforeseeable global consequences.

Iran is not Syria, with no immediate capacity to retaliate against a surprise attack on its nuclear sites. Iran is a country of 70 million people, and its commanders, battle-hardened by a brutal eight-year stand-off with Iraq, have the ability and will to engage in a long, protracted war against Israel and American interests. Iran maintains a large military equipped with Russian-made weapons systems, surface-to-surface missiles, combat aircraft, unmanned drones and high-speed torpedo boats capable of destroying large warships.

Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard has extended its reach from southern Lebanon to South America and maintains proxy forces — again, Hezbollah and Hamas — positioned in Israel’s back yard. They’ll force Israel to fight a war of attrition on multiple fronts.

Israel would likely be compelled to extend its military operations to include Lebanon. That would instantly plunge the entire region into war, likely bring a new intifada onto Jerusalem’s streets and place enormous pressure on leaders in Cairo and Amman to renounce their peace treaties with Israel. If Israeli planes use Saudi airspace, Iran has threatened to attack the kingdom, too.

The United States, for its part, could forget about the withdrawal of its forces from Iraq and the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan. There are up to 30,000 Iranian operatives in Iraq ready to do Iran’s bidding. And Iran enjoys significant loyalty from Afghan officials and warlords, particularly those in the trouble-prone region of Herat.

Iran has repeatedly said that it would, in the case of an attack, shut down the Strait of Hormuz, through which roughly 17 million barrels of oil pass every day, spiking oil prices and devastating America’s financial recovery.

All of this could engender a serious diplomatic crisis between the United States and Russia — respectively Israel’s and Iran’s patrons — at a time when U.S.-Russian relations are improving.

Netanyahu says Iran is led by “a messianic apocalyptic cult” and that failure to attack is appeasement. But surely not every year is 1938, not every statesman who fears the nemesis of war is Chamberlain.

Iran’s leaders, ruthless as they clearly are, are not crazed men looking for a 10-megaton exploding belt. They know that Israel has up to 200 warheads and a second-strike capacity in missile-carrying submarines. They also know that incinerating Tel Aviv means irradiating all of Palestine — that destroying Israel means the destruction of Tehran, Qum and their other great cities. They have repeatedly and formally declared they would make peace with Israel along any lines acceptable to the Palestinians. Nothing will reinforce their hold on power like a surprise attack in which hundreds, if not thousands, are killed.

And exactly what is a “nuclear umbrella”? Did the absence of a nuclear Iran stop Hezbollah from attacking Israel in 2006? If war resumes, God forbid, would a nuclear Iran keep Israel from attacking Hezbollah missile sites in Lebanon any more than, say, the images of bombed out Beirut apartment buildings on CNN?

Most plausibly, Iran wants a nuclear weapon for much the same reason Israel developed one: as an ultimate hedge against invasion by superior conventional forces.

In the Atlantic Monthly article, Goldberg — stretching the words of one ambassador from the Emirates — argues that if Iran becomes a nuclear power, “the small Arab countries of the Gulf would have no choice but to leave the American orbit and ally themselves with Iran.” But to suppose that the Gulf states — utterly dependent on the West culturally, technologically and militarily — would ally with Iran because of a bomb is fatuous.

Mohamed ElBaradei, the former chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency and an Egyptian, has called a strike “completely insane,” arguing that it would “turn the region into one big fireball” and that the Iranians “would immediately start building the bomb — and they could count on the support of the entire Islamic world.”

A former Israeli intelligence boss, Ephraim Halevy, and a former military chief of Staff, Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, have issued similar warnings.

Clearly, an Iranian bomb would cause irreparable damage to the global anti-proliferation regime, add a threat to Israel and complicate American foreign policy. All nonviolent diplomatic means should be used to prevent this.

But if a year from now we are confronted by an Iran crossing the nuclear threshold, that would be a lesser evil than what we will confront in the wake of an attack to prevent this.

If President Obama has the nerves for risk, he should rather gamble on rallying the international community to force through an Israeli-Palestinian deal within a year. That would not mean an end to the anti-Western leaders clinging to power in Tehran, but it would certainly do more to reduce their motivation to attack Israel than a temporary setback to their nuclear program would.

Reza Aslan, an Iranian-American writer, is a member of the faculty at the University of California, Riverside, and the author of “Beyond Fundamentalism: Confronting Religious Extremism in a Globalized World.” Bernard Avishai is adjunct professor of business at Hebrew University and the author, most recently, of “The Hebrew Republic: How Secular Democracy and Global Enterprise Will Bring Israel Peace At Last.”

Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company

September 7th, 2010, 10:34 AM
Forgive my ignorance, but wasn't Israel set up as kind of a homeland for displaced Jewish citizens of Europe?

You think that maybe they could "move" from their "homeland" of 70 years back to the areas they were displaced? Maybe a nice chunk of East and West Germany perhaps?

The last thing we should be doing is contemplating another war....sorry, "military action", when we are this far in debt. Imagine what $1T could have done for our infrastructure here?

It could have finished that 2nd avenue subway line and had a few $B leftover!!! ;)

October 3rd, 2011, 12:08 AM
Scum like these two corporate thugs are why there should be more folks in the streets (and spitting on the name recently emblazoned across the NY State Theater at Lincoln Center) ...

Koch Brothers Made Sales to Iran

The DAILY BEAST (http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2011/10/02/koch-brothers-made-sales-to-iran.html)
October 2, 2011

So that’s why Koch Industries was trying so hard to discredit a story–before it even came out. A mammoth investigative report in Bloomberg Markets Magazine has some devastating charges against one of the world’s largest private companies: The billionaire Koch Brothers allegedly made a ton of money off of sales of petrochemical equipment to Iran. The company dodged the U.S. trade ban using foreign subsidiaries. The company allegedly engaged in illicit payments in Africa, India, and the Middle East, and, from 1999 to 2003, had to pay more than $400 million in fines. The report, which goes on in detail with blow after blow to Koch Industries’ integrity, quotes an employee saying that managers taught them how to steal and cheat. The technique was called the “Koch Method.”

Read it at Bloomberg News (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-02/koch-brothers-flout-law-getting-richer-with-secret-iran-sales.html)

Koch Brothers Flout Law Getting Richer With Secret Iran Sales

BLOOMBERG NEWS (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-02/koch-brothers-flout-law-getting-richer-with-secret-iran-sales.html)
By Asjylyn Loder and David Evans
October 2, 2011

In May 2008, a unit of Koch Industries (http://topics.bloomberg.com/koch-industries/) Inc., one of the world’s largest privately held companies, sent Ludmila Egorova-Farines, its newly hired compliance officer and ethics manager, to investigate the management of a subsidiary in Arles in southern France. In less than a week, she discovered that the company had paid bribes to win contracts.

“I uncovered the practices within a few days,” Egorova-Farines says. “They were not hidden at all.”

She immediately notified her supervisors in the U.S. A week later, Wichita, Kansas-based Koch Industries dispatched an investigative team to look into her findings, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its November issue.

By September of that year, the researchers had found evidence of improper payments to secure contracts in six countries dating back to 2002, authorized by the business director of the company’s Koch-Glitsch affiliate in France (http://topics.bloomberg.com/france/).

“Those activities constitute violations of criminal law,” Koch Industries wrote in a Dec. 8, 2008, letter giving details of its findings. The letter was made public in a civil court ruling in France in September 2010; the document has never before been reported by the media.

Egorova-Farines wasn’t rewarded for bringing the illicit payments to the company’s attention. Her superiors removed her from the inquiry in August 2008 and fired her in June 2009, calling her incompetent, even after Koch’s investigators substantiated her findings. She sued Koch-Glitsch in France for wrongful termination.

Obsessed with Secrecy

Koch-Glitsch is part of a global empire run by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, who have taken a small oil company (http://topics.bloomberg.com/oil-company/) they inherited from their father, Fred, after his death in 1967, and built it into a chemical, textile, trading and refining conglomerate spanning more than 50 countries.

Koch Industries is obsessed with secrecy, to the point that it discloses only an approximation of its annual revenue -- $100 billion a year -- and says nothing about its profits.

The most visible part of Koch Industries is its consumer brands, including Lycra fiber and Stainmaster carpet. Georgia-Pacific LLC, which Koch owns, makes Dixie cups, Brawny paper towels and Quilted Northern bath tissue.

Charles, 75, and David, 71, each worth about $20 billion, are prominent financial backers of groups that believe that excessive regulation is sapping the competitiveness of American business. They inherited their anti-government leanings from their father.

Abolishing Social Security

Fred was an early adviser to the founder of the anti-communist John Birch Society, which fought against the civil rights movement and the United Nations (http://topics.bloomberg.com/united-nations/). Charles and David have supported the Tea Party, a loosely organized group that aims to shrink the size of government and cut federal spending.

These are long-standing tenets for the Kochs. In 1980, David Koch ran for vice president on the Libertarian ticket, pledging to abolish Social Security, the Federal Reserve System, welfare, minimum wage laws and federal agencies -- including the Department of Energy, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency.

What many people don’t know is how the Kochs’ anti-regulation political ideology has influenced the way they conduct business.
A Bloomberg Markets investigation has found that Koch Industries -- in addition to being involved in improper payments to win business in Africa, India (http://topics.bloomberg.com/india/) and the Middle East (http://topics.bloomberg.com/middle-east/) -- has sold millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment to Iran, a country the U.S. identifies as a sponsor of global terrorism.

The ‘Koch Method’

Internal company documents show that the company made those sales through foreign subsidiaries, thwarting a U.S. trade ban. Koch Industries units have also rigged prices with competitors, lied to regulators and repeatedly run afoul of environmental regulations, resulting in five criminal convictions since 1999 in the U.S. and Canada (http://topics.bloomberg.com/canada/).

From 1999 through 2003, Koch Industries was assessed more than $400 million in fines, penalties and judgments. In December 1999, a civil jury found that Koch Industries had taken oil it didn’t pay for from federal land by mismeasuring the amount of crude it was extracting. Koch paid a $25 million settlement to the U.S.

Phil Dubose, a Koch employee who testified against the company said he and his colleagues were shown by their managers how to steal and cheat -- using techniques they called the Koch Method.

[...]‘Totally Betrayed’

Bentu says he felt dismayed because Koch Industries clearly tells all of its employees around the world that integrity (http://www.kochind.com/about/culture.aspx) is the company’s No. 1 value.

“You feel totally betrayed,” Bentu says. “Everything Koch stood for was a lie.”


The Civil Trial

Bill Koch brought a lawsuit on behalf of U.S. taxpayers, claiming that Koch Industries’ scheme defrauded the government of royalties. The case came to trial in 1999. Former company employees testified that Koch Industries trained them to steal.

Phil Dubose, who worked for Koch Industries from 1968 to 1994, told the jury how the scheme worked.

“The Koch Method is to cheat the producer out of crude oil,” he said.

He testified that he was able to steal 2,000 barrels a month from one customer.

“You used every available tool to mismeasure the crude oil in Koch’s favor,” says Dubose, who is now retired.


24,587 False Claims

Two days before Christmas 1999, the jury delivered the verdict: Koch Industries had made 24,587 false claims in buying oil, underpaying the U.S. government for royalties on Native American land from 1985 to 1989. Koch paid the U.S. $25 million to settle the case in 2001.


‘A Total Failure’

“This is an example of a total failure of a company to follow the regulations, keep their pipeline safe and operate it as the regulations require,” Ziegler, who now operates his own pipelines, testified.

FULL ARTICLE (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-02/koch-brothers-flout-law-getting-richer-with-secret-iran-sales.html)

January 7th, 2012, 09:28 PM
Damn that Obama and his Secret Iran Plan!

Now he's gone and used our armed forces to rescue some unfortunate Iranians ... and our guys didn't even fire a shot!

If only Rick Santorum was in charge. He would have bombed the damned boat and been done with it.

U.S. Navy rescues Iran fishermen held by Somalia pirates

Sailors from a destroyer boarded the Iranian dhow and detained 15 Somalis after one of the fishermen revealed the crew was captive. The rescue came days after Iran warned the U.S. Navy to get out.

Los Angeles Times (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-us-iran-pirates-20120107,0,7311400.story)
By David S. Cloud
January 7, 2012

Reporting from Washington —

A Navy destroyer rescued 13 Iranian fishermen held hostage by Somali pirates in the Arabian Sea only days after Tehran warned the United States to keep its ships out of the nearby Persian Gulf.

Sailors from the guided-missile destroyer Kidd boarded the Iranian dhow Thursday and detained 15 Somalis after one of the fishermen was able to reveal in a radio communication that his vessel's crew was being held captive.

Seeing a publicity windfall at a time of growing tension withIran (http://www.latimes.com/topic/intl/iran-PLGEO0000011.topic), Pentagon (http://www.latimes.com/topic/unrest-conflicts-war/defense/the-pentagon-PLCUL00216.topic) public affairs officers quickly swung into action, setting up a conference call for reporters with Navy commanders in the region.

Among those briefing journalists was Rear Adm. Craig S. Faller, who commands the John C. Stennis aircraft carrier strike group, which conducted the rescue and includes the Kidd. Faller later received a congratulatory telephone call from Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta (http://www.latimes.com/topic/politics/government/leon-panetta-PEPLT00008422.topic), the Pentagon said in a statement.

"When we get a distress signal, we're going to respond," Pentagon spokesman George Little quoted Panetta as saying.

The Stennis is the ship that Gen. Ataollah Salehi, head of Iran's army, advised Tuesday not to return to the Persian Gulf after the carrier had passed through the Strait of Hormuz, the strategic choke point that Iran has threatened to close in response to economic sanctions by the United States and its allies ...

... The rescue operation began early Thursday after a helicopter from the Stennis, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, started tracking a small boat suspected of carrying pirates until the vessel pulled alongside the Iranian fishing dhow 175 miles southeast of Muscat, the capital of Oman.

When the Kidd made radio contact with the dhow, the captain identified himself as Iranian and initially denied that any pirates were on board.

However, it became clear that he was "under duress" when the Iranian began speaking in Urdu so that the Somalis could not understand what he was saying, said the Kidd's captain, Cmdr. Jennifer Ellinger. The Kidd had a linguist on board who could understand Urdu, a South Asian language.

After revealing that there were indeed pirates on board, the Iranian "pleaded with us to come over and board their vessel," Ellinger said.

The U.S. sailors boarded the vessel without firing a shot and detained the Somalis, who were being held aboard the Stennis awaiting a decision on whether they would be prosecuted, Faller said.

The Iranian said the pirates had been using his vessel as a "mother ship," a base from which to mount other raids.

After its crew received food and water, the dhow went on its way, crew members wearing smiles and Kidd baseball caps, Faller said.