Thursday, August 31, 2006

I'm a patriotic Iranian. That's why I say 'no' to Tehran's nuclear program

Kash Kheirkhah

USA Today reported on Monday that nuclear program has become a source of pride for manyIranians, quoting some of them as saying,"Having nuclear technology is our legal right."

Well, I am an Iranian born only five years before 1979 Islamic revolution (read disaster). I was living in Iran until three and half years ago and as you can see from what I write and report on this blog, not a day goes by that I don't think about my country and its future at the incapable hands of its current rulers.

Yes, I'm a patriotic Iranian and that's why I loudly say no to Tehran's nuclear program: No to a dangerous program that is rushing my country toward a disastrous war. No to a shameful project that has everything to do with Tehran's regime expanding its brutal apparatus of control and repression and nothing to do with my "sense of pride" and "legal right."

Sense of pride? Legal right? Baloney.

How can I feel proud when the only thing my Japanese student knows about Iran is "Iran is a dangerous country?"

How can I feel proud when the government whose job is to protect its people, instead expose them to fatal electromagnetic waves of satellite-jamming devices?

How can I feel proud when my my country is represented by a mentally-disturbed individual who is more than ready to sacrifice the whole country to pave the way for the world's final confrontation, thus precipitating his messiah's appearance?

And what about other legal, inalienable rights of mine?

What about my right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion?

What about my right to freedom of opinion and expression?

What about my right to a peaceful life, liberty and security?

What about my right to proper education, affordable medical services and a prosperous economy?

I am a patriotic Iranian. That's why I say 'no' to Tehran's nuclear program.

Also read my two other commentaries on Iran's nuclear program:

Invoking Iranian people's nationalism over a program that poses the gravest threat to Iran and Iranians is a pathetic propaganda campaign no Iranian should fall for.

Mr Ahmadinejad, I'm a patriotic Iranian, but you tell me which one will bolster my sense of patriotism: A costly nuclear power program that is likely to impose a wide range of back-breaking sanctions on an already suffering nation or trade agreements that would lift the sanctions and provide Iran—among other things-- with spare parts for its ailing civilian airline that is taking more lives each passing year?What do we gain by our nuclear program even if it is peaceful? Is it going to create jobs in a country whose unemployment rate is becoming a national threat? Is it going to bring bread to the homes of our underprivileged people? Is it going to make us a safer nation or put us more at risk?

Bush: The world faces a grave threat from the radical regime in Iran

From President Bush's Address to American Legion National Convention. Bush sounds strikingly different this time and says he'll deliver a series of speeches "describing the nature of our enemy in the war on terror." Will he make a case for Iran in the upcoming days?

...To understand the struggle unfolding in the Middle East, we need to look at the recent history of the region. For a half- century, America's primary goal in the Middle East was stability. This was understandable at the time; we were fighting the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and it was important to support Middle Eastern governments that rejected communism. Yet, over the decades, an undercurrent of danger was rising in the Middle East. Much of the region was mired in stagnation and despair. A generation of young people grew up with little hope to improve their lives, and many fell under the sway of radical extremism. The terrorist movement multiplied in strength, and resentment that had simmered for years boiled over into violence across the world.

Extremists in Iran seized American hostages. Hezbollah terrorists murdered American troops at the Marine barracks in Beirut and Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. Terrorists set off a truck bomb at the World Trade Center. Al Qaeda blew up two U.S. embassies in East Africa, and bombed the USS Cole. Then came the nightmare of September the 11, 2001, when 19 hijackers killed nearly 3,000 men, women, and children.

In the space of a single morning, it became clear that the calm we saw in the Middle East was only a mirage. We realized that years of pursuing stability to promote peace had left us with neither. Instead, the lack of freedom in the Middle East made the region an incubator for terrorist movements.

The freedom agenda is based upon our deepest ideals and our vital interests. Americans believe that every person, of every religion, on every continent, has the right to determine his or her own destiny. We believe that freedom is a gift from an almighty God, beyond any power on Earth to take away. And we also know, by history and by logic, that promoting democracy is the surest way to build security. Democracies don't attack each other or threaten the peace. Governments accountable to the voters focus on building roads and schools -- not weapons of mass destruction. Young people who have a say in their future are less likely to search for meaning in extremism. Citizens who can join a peaceful political party are less likely to join a terrorist organization. Dissidents with the freedom to protest around the clock are less likely to blow themselves up during rush hour. And nations that commit to freedom for their people will not support terrorists -- they will join us in defeating them.

This summer's crisis in Lebanon has made it clearer than ever that the world now faces a grave threat from the radical regime in Iran. The Iranian regime arms, funds, and advises Hezbollah, which has killed more Americans than any terrorist network except al Qaeda. The Iranian regime interferes in Iraq by sponsoring terrorists and insurgents, empowering unlawful militias, and supplying components for improvised explosive devices. The Iranian regime denies basic human rights to millions of its people. And the Iranian regime is pursuing nuclear weapons in open defiance of its international obligations.

We know the death and suffering that Iran's sponsorship of terrorists has brought, and we can imagine how much worse it would be if Iran were allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. Many nations are working together to solve this problem. The United Nations passed a resolution demanding that Iran suspend its nuclear enrichment activities. Today is the deadline for Iran's leaders to reply to the reasonable proposal the international community has made. If Iran's leaders accept this offer and abandon their nuclear weapons ambitions, they can set their country on a better course. Yet, so far, the Iranian regime has responded with further defiance and delay. It is time for Iran to make a choice. We've made our choice: We will continue to work closely with our allies to find a diplomatic solution -- but there must be consequences for Iran's defiance, and we must not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Jimmy Carter to hold talks with Khatami

By Robin Wright, Washington Post--For an event that would turn a page in American history, former president Jimmy Carter has agreed in principle to host former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami for talks during his visit to the United States starting this week.
Carter's term as president was dominated by the rupture in relations after the 1979 Iranian revolution and the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, where 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days until the day he left office.

Iranians made the overture for the meeting, and the Carter Center in Atlanta is working on the possible timing, said Phil Wise, the former president's aide.

"President Carter, in his role since leaving the White House, has made his office and services and center available to basically anybody who wants to talk. He believes that it is much better to be talking to people who you have problems with than not to, and that's the approach he takes now," Wise said. "I can confirm that President Carter is open to a meeting if the former president of Iran would like to have one."

Despite mounting tensions between Washington and Tehran over the latter's nuclear program, the Bush administration issued a visa for Khatami yesterday, as well as for about a dozen family and staff members, for a visit lasting about two weeks, the State Department confirmed. Khatami is expected to arrive in the United States tomorrow.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Reza Pahlavi on Iran: 'A race against time'

August 27, 2006 Newsweek International--Reza Pahlavi was just a teenager in 1979 when an Islamic revolution in Iran ousted his father, the shah. In the years since, Pahlavi, who now lives in Maryland, has been involved with activists both inside Iran and abroad who seek to overthrow the mullahs from power. As the Iranian government continued to stonewall on the nuclear issue—with the United States calling for sanctions despite Iran's offer to "talk seriously"—NEWSWEEK's Rachel Makabi spoke to Pahlavi, 46, to get his thoughts on the standoff, the effectiveness of U.S. policy toward Iran and his ongoing work with Iranian dissidents. Excerpts:

Makabi: What do you make of Iran's latest nuclear proposal?
Pahlavi: The regime's response to [U.N.] Security Council Resolution 1696 was predictable, as it was simply a variation of double talk—a tactic they have now mastered to an art form... Will it get the bomb first, thereby bullying the world into appeasement, or will there be an actual convergence of domestic and international pressures [on the regime]?

What do you think will happen if China or Russia resists imposing sanctions? Accepting the regime's rejection of the Security Council's demand for an immediate enrichment freeze will erode the prestige and moral authority of the United Nations, which for some time has been in need of rehabilitation. As permanent members, Russia and China bear important responsibility to not weaken the words, actions and authority of the Security Council.

Are you in favor of military intervention?
We need to steer away from the mind-set that either we have to diplomatically negotiate or talk about any kind of military intervention. Neither one can solve the situation. What's obvious is to invest in the people of Iran themselves because you have the most natural ally among the Iranians.

Do you think the regime is close to collapse?
It is completely at odds with what the people of Iran stand for. There is a generational battle taking place. There is a flight of capital from Iran; the people of Iran are clear as to the consequences. They look at it as a whole—our country is going down and all of our resources are being badly managed by corrupt officials. The people of Iran are committed to putting an end to it. This regime will not survive—I have no doubt about that, but it should be at the hands of the Iranian people and not foreign intervention. Right now, we need to help the people help themselves.

What would be the ideal government to replace the existing one?
We will have a constitutional assembly, and within that debate, the Iranian people will determine a final form of government. Our issue is to make sure we have a secular, democratic system.


Hamas spokesman blames Palestinians for Gaza chaos

NY Times--JERUSALEM, Aug. 28 — In an unusual instance of self-criticism, a well-known Hamas official has deplored the collapse of Gazan life into chaos and has said that much of the blame belongs to Palestinians themselves.

“Gaza is suffering under the yoke of anarchy and the swords of thugs,” Ghazi Hamad, a former Hamas newspaper editor and the spokesman for the current Hamas government, wrote in an article published Sunday in Al Ayyam, the Palestinian newspaper.

After so much optimism when Israelis pulled out of Gaza a year ago, he wrote, “life became a nightmare and an intolerable burden.”

He urged Palestinians to look to themselves, not to Israel, for the causes. But he appeared not to be placing the blame on Hamas or the Palestinian Authority’s prime minister, Ismail Haniya of Hamas. He said various armed groups in the Gaza Strip — most affiliated with Fatah, Hamas’s rival — were responsible for the chaos.

“We’ve all been attacked by the bacteria of stupidity,” Mr. Hamad wrote. “We have lost our sense of direction.” He addressed the armed groups: “Please have mercy on Gaza. Have mercy on us from your demagogy, chaos, guns, thugs, infighting. Let Gaza breathe a bit. Let it live.”

He also questioned the utility of firing rockets into Israel that cause few casualties but result in many Palestinian deaths when the Israelis retaliate. He seemed to be arguing for other armed groups to follow the Hamas decision to halt rocket fire into Israel. His article was first described in English on Monday in The Jerusalem Post.

Jerusalem Post-'Gaza caught in anarchy and thuggery'

Friday, August 25, 2006

Southern Lebanon residents: Hezbollah used us as human shields

As Southern Lebanon residents begin to speak up, the extent of Hezbollah's crimes against its own people becomes clearer:

NY Times--MARWAHEEN, Lebanon, Aug. 24 — For months, the residents of this predominantly Sunni village near the Israeli border watched anxiously as the Shiite Hezbollah militiamen brought arms and rockets into town in preparation for battle. The residents grappled with whether they should accept the fighters’ presence and face a possible Israeli attack or try to eject them, with the more probable risk of retribution by Hezbollah.

On Thursday, as the village buried 23 people who were killed by Israeli warplanes while trying to flee on July 15, many had belatedly made up their mind. “We kept beseeching them, ‘Stay out! Stay out!’ ” said Zainab Ali Abdullah, 19, who lost her father, brother and several other members of the family in the attack. “They said, ‘We’re all in the same boat together, so deal with it.’ But why should our children die for their cause?”

...When the war broke out, rockets flew out of the village and a hilltop nearby, and the fears of many residents that trouble would come grew stronger.

On Thursday, one of the suspicious white vans was sitting next to the town mosque. The van had apparently been hit by an Israeli missile, but the launching platform for a Katyusha rocket could still be seen inside. A rocket that lay next to the van a few days earlier had been removed.

Elsewhere, villagers showed off a weapons dump that included heavy machine guns, mortar rockets and launchers, and numerous other rockets left behind. Part of the weapons store had been bombed, but a much larger store down the street was intact.

Residents said Hezbollah was using them as human shields. “One man in this village was able to turn all our lives upside down for just a bit of money,” Ibrahim said. When the villagers left, he said, the fighters did too, as evidenced by the limited damage done to the town.

“We want the army and the United Nations to come in here and protect us,” he said. “Israel is our enemy, but the problem is that Hezbollah gave them an excuse to come in and kill our children.”


Hezbollah's position is no more secure in the broader Arab world, where it is seen as an Iranian tool rather than as the vanguard of a new Nahdha (Awakening), as the Western media claim. To be sure, it is still powerful because it has guns, money and support from Iran, Syria and Hate America International Inc. But the list of prominent Arab writers, both Shiite and Sunni, who have exposed Hezbollah for what it is--a Khomeinist Trojan horse--would be too long for a single article. They are beginning to lift the veil and reveal what really happened in Lebanon.

Having lost more than 500 of its fighters, and with almost all of its medium-range missiles destroyed, Hezbollah may find it hard to sustain its claim of victory. "Hezbollah won the propaganda war because many in the West wanted it to win as a means of settling score with the United States," says Egyptian columnist Ali al-Ibrahim. "But the Arabs have become wise enough to know TV victory from real victory."

Tehran soon to announce new nuclear developments

Islamic Republic News Agancy, Tehran -- Government spokesman Gholam-Hossein Elham said here Friday that Iran has gained fresh achievements in its peaceful nuclear activities and will soon announce them.

"In the nuclear domain, we have made progress and obtained new scientific successes which will be announced soon," Elham said as he was speaking as a pre-sermon lecturer at this week's Friday prayers congregation. He said Iran has recorded progress in other areas of science and technology as well.

"This great scientific achievement is the fruit of a long-term research project ... It will be officially announced by a top official," he added. He said the achievement proves success of the government in materialization of its platforms.

And Financial Times reports "EU still hopes for further Iran dialogue." No comment really.

Ahmadinejad would sacrifice half of Iran for the sake of eliminating Israel

Jerusalem Post: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, if he ever became the supreme decision maker in his country, would "sacrifice half of Iran for the sake of eliminating Israel," Giora Eiland, Israel's former national security adviser, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

At present, Eiland stressed, the ultimate decision maker in Iran was Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 67, whom he said was "more reasonable." But, Eiland went on, "if Ahmadinejad were to succeed him - and he has a reasonable chance of doing so - then we'd be in a highly dangerous situation."

The 49-year-old Iranian president, he said, "has a religious conviction that Israel's demise is essential to the restoration of Muslim glory, that the Zionist thorn in the heart of the Islamic nations must be removed. And he will pay almost any price to right the perceived historic wrong. If he becomes the supreme leader and has a nuclear capability, that's a real threat."

...As the crisis with Iran deepens, meanwhile, some Israeli sources believe the US has acted foolishly in spurning opportunities for international diplomatic cooperation against Iran in recent years, and that Israel mistakenly encouraged this course of action.


Monday, August 21, 2006

Iranians upset at Government's financial aid to Hezbollah in Lebanon

Ali Nourizadeh, Asharq Al-Awsat-- The Iranian government's pledge of 500 million dollars to Hezbollahhas angered many Iranians who say they are still awaiting money to help rebuild their homes that were damaged by wars and natural disasters, informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The anger is particularly fierce in the Khuzestan district, which sustained severe damage during the Iran-Iraq war, and in Bam, which was hit hard by an earthquake three years ago.
Hezbollah is reportedly handing out wads of cash to residents of southern Lebanon to help rebuild their homes. The money is thought to originate from Tehran, but Iran is downplaying allegations that it has allocated hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Lebanon.

...Informed sources” told Asharq Al-Awsat that spontaneous demonstrations were staged in Bam and in Khuzestan on Friday as protesters shouted slogans critical of Hezbollah and the government. They were demanding their homes be rebuilt instead of the government intervening in Lebanese affairs.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Israel committed to block arms and kill Nasrallah

NY Times--JERUSALEM, Aug. 19 — Despite a cease-fire agreement, Israel intends to do its best to keep Iran and Syria from rearming Hezbollah and to kill the militia’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, says a senior Israeli commander.

The officer would only speak on the condition of anonymity in an interview on Friday. But, speaking one day before commandos carried out a raid that Israeli officials said was to disrupt arms shipments for Hezbollah from Syria and Iran, he was explicit that Israel would continue to seek out and block any such attempts. He also emphasized that, despite criticism from the Israeli public and even troops of the performance of the Army and government, he considered the threat and the fighting ability of Hezbollah to have been severely diminished.

Furthermore, he made it clear that Sheik Nasrallah remained a target as the leader of a group that Israel and the United States have labeled terrorist. “There’s only one solution for him,” he said. At another point, he said simply, “This man must die.”


  • Amir Taheri, Arab News--Lebanon: Prelude to a Bigger, Longer, Costlier, and Deadlier Struggle: If one takes the conflicting claims of victory seriously, only one conclusion seems possible: The protagonists are in no mood to modify, let alone abandon, their rival projects to remove the threat of war. There will be no place for the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Baathist regime in Syria and the Hezbollah in an American-designed "Greater Middle East". At the same time, there could be no place for Israel, US influence, and pro-American regimes in a Middle East where the Islamic republic and its allies, including non-state players, set the agenda. The miniwar fought in Lebanon was one battle in what could be a bigger, longer, costlier, and deadlier struggle for setting the agenda for the Middle East that would also affect the global balance of power. Because the prospect of such a war is looming larger than before, it may be too early to draw hasty conclusions from the five-week test of wills that Lebanon had to witness this summer.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Iranian people, the biggest losers in the Lebanon war

President Bush says world needs time to see Hezbollah lost the war. That's true, but if the United States allows mullahs to continue to fill Hezbollah's pockets with their oil money and also countries like never-trustworthy France to easily backpedal on their commitments to the multinational force, this unfortunately won't happen.

Inside sources in Iran report Iran's National Security Council has approved 500 million dollars to be granted to Hezbollah in the next 18 months. Where does the money come from? Out of Iranian people's pocket. Thomas Friedman can't hide his anger at this:

I'm not sure yet who's the winner in the war between Hezbollah and Israel, but I know who's the big loser: Iran's taxpayers. What a bunch of suckers.

Isn't it obvious? As soon as the reckless war he started was over, Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, declared that Hezbollah would begin paying out cash to the thousands of Lebanese families whose homes were destroyed. ''We will pay compensation, a certain amount of money for every family to rent for one year, plus buy furniture for those whose homes were totally destroyed,'' said Nasrallah. ''These number 15,000.''

...But wait -- where will Hezbollah get some of the $3 billion-plus needed to rebuild Lebanon? Last time I checked, Hezbollah did not have any companies listed on the Nasdaq. The organization doesn't manufacture anything. It doesn't tax its followers. The answer, of course, is that Iran will dip into its oil income and ship cash to Nasrallah, so that he will not have to face the wrath of Lebanese for starting a war that reaped nothing but destruction.

...In the cold war, Russian taxpayers were the suckers who rebuilt Arab armies every time they got crushed by Israel. Now Iran's citizens will foot the bill with their oil income -- assuming the ayatollahs actually put their money where their mouth is. (Iran was always happy to spend money on Hezbollah rockets. Let's see if it will pay for schools and clinics.)

This is why I am obsessed with bringing down the price of oil. Unless we take this issue seriously, we are never going to produce more transparent, accountable government in the Middle East. Just the opposite -- we will witness even more reckless, unaccountable behavior like Nasrallah's and Iran's.

Been to Syria lately? Why do you think it can afford to shrug off U.S. sanctions? It also is not making microchips. It is, though, exporting about 200,000 barrels of oil a day, and that is what keeps a corrupt and antiquated regime in power. The Syrian regime subsidizes everything from diesel to bread. As in Iran, almost half of Syria's people are teenagers, and without real economic reforms, widespread unemployment and unrest are just around the corner -- but for now, oil money postpones the reckoning.

Ditto Iran. Iran is OPEC's second-largest producer, selling the world about 2.4 million barrels of oil a day and earning the regime over $4 billion a month -- the government's main source of income. To buy public support, Iran's regime subsidizes housing, gasoline, interest rates, flour and rice.According to an Aug. 2 report on, ''Iran spent $25 billion on subsidies last year, or more than half the $44.6 billion it collected through crude oil exports.'' But Iran actually has to import more than one-third of its gasoline, because it can't refine enough itself. This became so expensive the regime wanted to ration subsidized gas but feared a public backlash. No wonder. Bloomberg reported that subsidized gasoline in Iran is 34 cents a gallon.

Repressive governments like Iran's and Syria's use oil money to buy off their people and insulate themselves from the pressure of political and economic reform. When oil prices get high enough, they can even buy a monthlong war in Lebanon. Why not? It's like a summer sale: ''Now, this summer only: 34 cents-a-gallon gasoline and a war with the Jews and new living room furniture for Lebanese Shiites! Such a deal!''

If we could cut the price of crude in half, it would mean that all of Iran's oil income would go to subsidies -- which would be unsustainable and therefore a huge threat to the regime. It would also make Iran's puppets, like Nasrallah, think three times about launching wars with Israel that might ravage Lebanon again.Too bad we have a president who tells us we're ''addicted to oil'' but won't do anything about it. That sort of hypocrisy just makes Nasrallah's day.

Now I don't know if cutting the price of crude oil in half on such a short notice, as Friedman argues here, is possible at all or not, but the point he makes about the roots of Iran and Syria's arrogance and their defiance of the international community, is absolutely true.

Will the US ever be able to create the "new Middle East" and deal with the root cause of terror and instability in the Middle East as long as Tehran's regime wallows in $70-a-barrel oil money?

Quote of the week

Downing Street: "President Ahmadinejad has said publicly that he wants Israel wiped off the map, and denies the Holocaust. This is a regime that funds, arms and glorifies terrorism, thinks nothing of undermining its neighbours' stability and, most worryingly, that is trying to acquire a nuclear weapon. The international community is working hard to prevent this happening."

Hizbollah hands out cash for Lebanese war victims

Should I say where the money comes from or is it stating the obvious? While many survivors of the 2003 Bam earthquake in Iran are still living in tents, mullahs are giving away millions of dollars of Iran's oil revenue to their puppet in Lebanon to buy him support and eventually votes. This, while Major Arab countries and the US have already pledged enough money for Lebanon's reconstruction. Tom Friedman raises the same points today in NY Times which I'll feature in my next post.

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Hizbollah handed out bundles of cash on Friday to people whose homes were wrecked by Israeli bombing, consolidating the Iranian-backed group's support among Lebanon's Shi'ites and embarrassing the Beirut government.

"This is a very, very reasonable amount. It is not small," said Ayman Jaber, 27, holding a wad he had just picked up from Hizbollah of $12,000 in banknotes wrapped in tissue.

Israeli and U.S. officials have voiced concern that Hizbollah will entrench its popularity by moving fast -- with Iranian money -- to help people whose homes were destroyed or damaged in the 34-day conflict with Israel.

Hizbollah has not said where the funds are coming from to compensate people for an estimated 15,000 destroyed homes. The scheme appears likely to cost at least $150 million. The Lebanese government has yet to launch anything similar.


Officials: U.S. blocked Iranian missiles to Hezbollah

USA Today-WASHINGTON -- The United States blocked an Iranian cargo plane's flight to Syria last month after intelligence analysts concluded it was carrying sophisticated missiles and launchers to resupply Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, two U.S. intelligence officials say.

Eight days after Hezbollah's war with Israel began, U.S. diplomats persuaded Turkey and Iraq to deny the plane permission to cross their territory to Damascus, a transfer point for arms to Hezbollah, the officials said. The episode was detailed by one U.S. intelligence official who saw a report on the incident. It was confirmed by a U.S. official from a second intelligence agency and by a diplomat with a foreign government. They did not want their names used because they were not authorized to discuss the incident.

HOW MISSILES WERE DETECTED: The science of 'crate-ology'

Their account illustrates the quiet support the United States gave Israel during the 34-day war, even enlisting help from Muslim nations where acting on Israel's behalf is politically anathema. Israel and President Bush have accused the Shiite-dominated government of Iran, Hezbollah's primary supplier, of shipping the Shiite militia increasingly sophisticated weapons by way of Syria. The Iraq and Turkish governments would not discuss the incident. Iran's United Nations mission denied trying to send Hezbollah weapons. The intelligence officials did not provide reports, satellite photos or other evidence to corroborate the sequence of events. Their account could not be independently verified.

The officials described this timeline:

•July 15: Three days after the war began, a source tipped off U.S. intelligence about an imminent shipment of missiles from Iran to Hezbollah.

•July 19: A spy satellite photographed Iranian crews loading three missile launchers and eight crates, each normally used to carry a Chinese-designed C-802 Noor missile, aboard a transport plane at Mehrabad air base near Tehran. Israel says Hezbollah fired a C-802, a precision-guided anti-ship cruise missile, at an Israeli warship off Lebanon's coast on July 14.

•July 20: The Ilyushin Il-76 transport plane left for Damascus, but Iraqi air-traffic controllers denied it permission to enter Iraq's airspace. The Iranian flight crew then requested permission to fly over Turkey. Turkish controllers granted permission — but only if the plane would land for an inspection. The plane returned to Tehran, where the military cargo was unloaded.

•July 22: The plane flew humanitarian aid to Damascus after stopping for inspection in Turkey. Though the missiles were not visible in the satellite photos, the launchers and specialized crates with distinctive shapes allowed U.S. analysts to identify the missile type, the intelligence officials said. Asked about the account during an interview Tuesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, "We work on these kinds of things all the time." But she added, "I can't comment on specific cases."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Life under a brutal totalitarian regime

In the free world, the job of the police is to serve and protect. In Iran, it is to arrest and destroy. It's hard to believe--even for someone like me who, unfortunately, has spent the better half of his life under mullahs--that these gangs of soldiers who are this savagely wrecking and ransacking peoples' property are actually "The Iranian Police"...

But this is all our fault. We Iranians allow mullahs to continue to kill, torture, imprison and silence us. We allow these gangs to break into our private property, ransack our homes and arrest our loved ones. We let a mentally-disturbed individual, who dreams of expanding his ideology of terror through nuclear weapons, to take charge of our country and represent us in the world.

Trust me, we only have ourselves to blame and nobody else.

Related:The New York Times--Police in Tehran Remove Satellite Dishes

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Questions for Ahmadinejad (That Mike Wallace didn't ask)

  • The Wall Street Journal (via Iran va Jahan)--The time of the bomb is in the past. Today is the era of thoughts, dialogue and cultural exchanges. -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on "60 Minutes" with Mike Wallace, Aug. 13, 2006 Q: A follow-up to that, Mr. President: Are you aware of a man named Mansour Ossanloo? He is the leader of the independent trade union representing the workers of the Vahed Bus Company in Tehran. A year ago, your security forces raided one of their meetings and cut out a piece of Mr. Ossanloo's tongue. Now he speaks with a lisp. Is this how "dialogue" is conducted in the Islamic Republic of Iran?

  • The Wall Street Journal (Via Iran va Jahan)--The grand inquisitor confronts...Mr. Rogers? : An old line that used to make the rounds at CBS News held that the last thing the CEO of a major corporation wanted to hear was "Mike Wallace on line one." Anyone who has ever seen my former colleague in action gets the joke immediately...To his credit, Mike never let up. But in the end all a reporter can do is ask the tough question and let the subject answer. If he doesn't, you can try again. But at some point, you have to move on. And that is precisely what Mike and "60 Minutes" should have done

  • Reuters--Iranian missiles ready to hit Tel Aviv says cleric: Iran will hit Tel Aviv with its medium-range missiles if attacked, said an influential senior cleric on Tuesday. "If they (U.S. and Israel) militarily attack Iran ... They should be afraid of the day when our missiles with 2,000 km range will hit Tel Aviv," Ahmad Khatami told state television. Khatami sits on the Assembly of Experts, the body of 86 clerics that constitutionally supervises the country's most powerful man, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

  • The New York Times--Police in Tehran Remove Satellite Dishes:The police raided rooftops in a residential neighborhood of downtown Tehran and removed more than 100 satellite dishes from apartment buildings. The newspaper Kargozaran reported that a crackdown against satellite television had already begun in at least three other provinces, Gilan, Isfahan and Kurdistan. Satellite dishes — widely used to watch opposition Persian-language programs beamed mostly from the United States — are prohibited by law, but previous governments rarely enforced it, acknowledging that the dishes would sprout back every time the authorities tried to round them up.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Ahmadinejad keeps fooling the world

First of all, I should say I didn't find anything of real substance in Ahmadinejad's interview with CBS tonight as it only gave--as I predicted earlier--Ahamadinejad a chance to turn loose another tired, nonsensical phillipic on the US and Israel. Still, there are a couple of points here I 'd like to bring to your attention as an Iranian who certainly can read deeper into Ahmadinejad's words and also a journalism major myself:

  • First of all, I was disappointed to some extent with Mike Wallace and the way he did the interview. He particullarly didn't follow up on some of Ahmadainejad's answers (which by the way, at times were totally unrelated to the question Wallace asked) such as the one about the roadside bombs in Iraq. Maybe Wallace had been told he couldn't push Ahmadinejad beyond a certain limit or even ask some off-limits question. In my opinion, there were times Wallace, as one of America's most-respected and seasond investigative journalists, could force Ahmadinejad into a corner but rather decided ( reasons I can't figure out) to let him reiterate the nonesense he always trots out .

  • Wallace also made a boo-boo when he called Bush the commander in chief of the "so-called" free world, prompting Ahmadinejad to capitalize on that by saying "The word 'so-called" that you yourself mentioned says it all.'" That was a gift from Wallace handed to Ahmadinejad on a silver plate.

  • Ahamdinejad said:"Before the revolution, the German, French, American government and the Canadian government had signed contracts with us to produce nuclear fuel inside Iran. But immediately after the establishment of the Islamic Republic, their opposition started," he said. "Right now, they are opposed to our nuclear technology. Now why is that?" The answer is very clear. The previous government of Iran under the late Shah, was a respected member of the world community who was committed to all international treaties to which it was signatory. The current regime under Khamenei and Ahmadinejad is a terrorist one which speaks of wiping another nation off the map. That's the difference. Wallace (who has interviewd Shah by the way) remained mute when Ahmadinejad asked that question.

  • On Iraq and Iran's role in causing the current atrocites there, Wallace asked" am told that your revolutionary guards, Mr. President, are taking bombs, those — those roadside bombs — the IED's into Iraq. And what they are doing is furnishing the insurgents in Iraq with the kind of material that can kill U.S. soldiers. Why would you want to do that?" Interestingly enough, Ahmadinejad didn't even bother to deny Iranian incitement in Iraq, nor did he get angry at Wallace's question. Instead he said,"Well, we are very saddened that the people of Iraq are being killed, I believe that the rulers of the U.S. have to change their mentality. I ask you, sir, what is the American army doing inside Iraq? " which means the allegations about Iran's role in attacks against the American-led forces in Iraq are indeed true (and it was as if he wanted to imply yes, we do that. What are you gonna do about it?)

  • Ahmadinejad, at one point, went so far as to threaten Bush,"Please give him this message, sir. Those who refuse to accept an invitation to good will not have a good ending or fate." This message did sound like a threat and Ahmadinejad did mean it. Keep in mind that he compares his letter to Bush to the letter Muhammad--Muslims' prophet--sent to the Persian King "khosrow Parviz", asking him to become a muslim. Khosrow Parviz refused to do so and even is said to have torn the letter. Eventually, an Islamic invasion put an end to the Persian empire.

Ahmadinejad claimed, "Today is the era of thoughts, dialogue and cultural exchanges." These words couldn't sound any emptier, coming from someone who openly calls for the destruction of another nation, and orders crackdown on the internet and satellite TV, two main channels of cultural exchanges in today's world. He preached Bush to try to love people whereas in the prisons of the regime he represents, innocent Iranians are being tortured and killed on a regular basis. He is a sham and thousands of empty words and fake smiles of the kind we saw in this interview tonight won't be able to stop the world from seeing him for what he really is: A dangerous man who--through pursuing nuclear weapons and spreading terror in the region--is pushing Iran toward an all-out disaster.

How the axis of terror act to survive

From Symour Hersh's latest article in New Yorker:

The U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel told me, however, that, from Israel’s perspective, the decision to take strong action had become inevitable weeks earlier, after the Israeli Army’s signals intelligence group, known as Unit 8200, picked up bellicose intercepts in late spring and early summer, involving Hamas, Hezbollah, and Khaled Meshal, the Hamas leader now living in Damascus.

One intercept was of a meeting in late May of the Hamas political and military leadership, with Meshal participating by telephone. “Hamas believed the call from Damascus was scrambled, but Israel had broken the code,” the consultant said. For almost a year before its victory in the Palestinian elections in January, Hamas had curtailed its terrorist activities. In the late May intercepted conversation, the consultant told me, the Hamas leadership said that “they got no benefit from it, and were losing standing among the Palestinian population.” The conclusion, he said, was “ ‘Let’s go back into the terror business and then try and wrestle concessions from the Israeli government.’ ” The consultant told me that the U.S. and Israel agreed that if the Hamas leadership did so, and if Nasrallah backed them up, there should be “a full-scale response.” In the next several weeks, when Hamas began digging the tunnel into Israel, the consultant said, Unit 8200 “picked up signals intelligence involving Hamas, Syria, and Hezbollah, saying, in essence, that they wanted Hezbollah to ‘warm up’ the north.” In one intercept, the consultant said, Nasrallah referred to Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz “as seeming to be weak,” in comparison with the former Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Barak, who had extensive military experience, and said “he thought Israel would respond in a small-scale, local way, as they had in the past.”

And we all know by now what happened later when Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani-- having failed in his negotiations with Javier Solana over Iran's response to the EU-proposed package--went to damascus straight from Rome and instructed Hezbollah on the abduction of two Israeli soldiers to distract G8 leaders from discussing Iran's nuclear issue. Unfortunately, mullahs' strategy worked and Lebanon fell prey to Iran, Khaled Mashaal and Hassan Nasrallah's evil ambitions.

As a matter of fact, this excerpt clearly shows that as long as there is a regime such as Islamic Republic of Iran and dangerous frauds such as Hassan Nasrallah and Khaled Mashaal in the Middle East who rely on "terror" to survive, and as long as they are not confronted by the international community, peace will continue to elude the Middle East.

Unfortunately, it's just as simple as that.

UN Lebanon resolution: Day of reckoning is upon Iran and Hezbollah

Here are some excerpts from Resolution 1701, passed unanimously by the UN Security Council aimed at ending the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon:

The Security Council,

--Emphasises the importance of the extension of the control of the government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory in accordance with the provisions of resolution 1559 (2004) and resolution 1680 (2006), and of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, for it to exercise its full sovereignty, so that there will be no weapons without the consent of the government of Lebanon and no authority other than that of the government of Lebanon;

--Calls for Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution based on the following principles and elements:

  • security arrangements to prevent the resumption of hostilities, including the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL as authorised in paragraph 11, deployed in this area;
  • Full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that, pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of July 27, 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state;
  • No foreign forces in Lebanon without the consent of its government;
    No sales or supply of arms and related materiel to Lebanon except as authorized by its government;

--Requests the secretary general to develop, in liaison with relevant international actors and the concerned parties, proposals to implement the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), including disarmament, and for delineation of the international borders of Lebanon, especially in those areas where the border is disputed or uncertain, including by dealing with the Shebaa farms area, and to present to the Security Council those proposals within 30 days;

--Decides further that all states shall take the necessary measures to prevent, by their nationals or from their territories or using their flag vessels or aircraft;

  • a. the sale or supply to any entity or individual in Lebanon of arms and related materiel of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts for the aforementioned, whether or not originating in their territories, and;
  • b. the provision to any entity or individual in Lebanon of any technical training or assistance related to the provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of the items listed in subparagraph (a) above, except that these prohibitions shall not apply to arms, related material, training or assistance authorised by the government of Lebanon or by Unifil as authorised in paragraph 11;

I know there's a long way for all these clauses to be fully implemented. But if what this new UN resolution calls for IS NOT a huge blow to Hezbollah and its Iranian masters' plans in Lebanon, then what is it? Whatever spin Iran and Hezbollah put on the result of this disasterous war, the "day of reckoning" has already started for both of them indeed.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The morning after the morning after

Excellent piece as always by Tom Friedman. I couldn't agree more:

Thomas Friedman, NY Times, Aug11-With every war there are two days to keep in mind when the guns fall silent: the morning after, and the morning after the morning after. America, Israel and all those who want to see Lebanon’s democracy revived need to keep their eyes focused on the morning after the morning after.

Here’s why.

The only way that the fighting in south Lebanon will be brought to a close is if all the parties accept a cease-fire and the imposition of a robust international peacekeeping force, led by France, along the Israel-Lebanon border — supplanting Hezbollah.

The morning after that cease-fire goes into effect, everyone knows what will happen: Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah — no matter how battered his forces and how much damage his reckless war has visited on Lebanon — will crawl out of his bunker and declare a “great victory.” Hezbollah, he will say, fought the Israeli Army to a standstill inside Lebanon and rained rockets on northern Israel. Meanwhile, military analysts everywhere will write that Israel has “lost its deterrence” vis-à-vis Arab forces, and blah, blah, blah.

Sorry, been there, heard that, and I don’t buy it. What matters in war, alas, is the balance of destruction on the ground and the political weight it exerts over time.

On the morning after the morning after, Lebanese war refugees, who had real jobs and homes, will start streaming back by the hundreds of thousands, many of them Shiites. Tragically, they will find their homes or businesses badly damaged or obliterated. Yes, they will curse Israel. But they and other Arabs will also start asking Nasrallah publicly what many are already asking privately:“What was this war all about? What did we get from this and at what price? Israel has some roofs to repair and some dead to bury. But its economy and state are fully intact, and it will recover quickly. We Lebanese have been set back by a decade. Our economy and our democracy lie in ruins, like our homes. For what? For a one-week boost in ‘Arab honor?’ So that Iran could distract the world’s attention from its nuclear program? You did all this to us for another country?”

...Israel needs to keep its eyes on the prize. It’s already inflicted enormous damage on Hezbollah and its community, but Nasrallah will only have to pay the full price for inviting all that destruction once the guns fall silent on the morning after the morning after. So let’s get there as soon as possible. That will deter him. What would deter him even more, though, would be if the U.N. would go ahead and impose sanctions on Iran for its illicit nuclear bomb program. After all, it was Iran, Nasrallah’s master, that ordered up this war to distract the U.N. from doing just that. It would be nice to say to Iran: You ravaged Hezbollah for nothing.Beyond those two limited objectives, there’s no storybook ending for Israel in Lebanon, and it shouldn’t throw more good lives after some elusive knockout blow.

It’s just not that kind of neighborhood. As they say in the movies, “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.”

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Lebanon crisis: Breakthrough in talks over cease-fire?

Haaretz reports that the parties involved in diplomatic negotiations for a UN-brokered cease-fire resolution aimed at ending the fighting in Lebanon made a breakthrough Thursday, raising hopes that a truce deal would pave the way for the stationing of international troops in Lebanon as part of a package that would end the month-long confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah.

Hararetz also quotes a Lebanese senior political source as saying "The breakthrough is based on the inclusion in the call for a cessation of hostilities for a progressive Israeli withdrawal from Lebanese territory to go simultaneously with the deployment of the Lebanese army backed by reinforced UN peacekeepers."

The source also said the peacekeepers would mainly be reinforced by French soldiers. As part of the deal, Hezbollah would pull out from south of the Litani river. After 30 days, there would be a more comprehensive resolution that declares a ceasefire and sets out solutions for the release of captive IDF soldiers, the release of Lebanese prisoners and the disarming of Hezbollah.

I belive this is great news for all those who would not only like to see this war end as soon as possible, but also for all those who want to see Hezbollah and its leader, finally dealt with. It doesn't matter if Aljazeera and other Arab media will hail Hezbollah as the tiumphant side of this disasterous battle. The reality of the matter is that, as Tom Friedman states in his wonderful book, From Beirut to Jerusalem, prime time can't substitute for reality and the reality is that when the war is over, Hassan Nasrallah will no longer be a player in the Lebanese politics after what he did to his own country and the poor people of Lebanon. What's more, Iran will no longer be able to threaten to unleash Hezbollah in response to the international pressure to stop its nuclear program.

The ideology of terror, death and destruction more dangerous than ever

Today's developments in the UK proved us once again that the ideology of terror, death and destruction is still at work, and is growing more dangerous than ever. The following are some of the commentaries I have written on how this ideology has grown over the past three decades under the West's eyes and in a large part, due to its wrong policies of the past in the Middle East:

Islam according to Al-Qaeda and mullahs

I'll tell you who Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is

The ideology of death and destruction

Danish cartoons and the plague of Islamic fundamentalism

For the continuing coverage of the foiled terror plot, visit In the Bullpen.

Update: Aterrific piece by William Shawcross the author of "The Shah's Last Ride" and "Allies: Why the West Had to Remove Saddam" in The Wall Street Journal, August 11 -Arc of Extremism (through Iran va Jahan)

It took President Bush to tell the truth to Britain about the alleged massive plot to blow U.S.-bound airliners out of the sky. In his first comment on the apparently foiled attempt, he put it simply: "This was a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists." He is right, but in the first news reports in Britain yesterday, the words "Islamic" or "Muslim" were hardly mentioned, let alone the dread word "fascist." Instead the common code-words on television were that the 24 men arrested were "British-born" and "of Pakistani origin." No mention of their Islamist ideology. Does the BBC think they might turn out to be from Pakistan's embattled Christian minority? I don't think so.

In Europe, the truth is so terrible that we are in denial. Perhaps it is understandable. We simply do not know how to deal with the fact that we really are threatened by a vast fifth column, that there are thousands of European-born people, in Britain, in France, in Holland, in Denmark -- everywhere -- who wish to destroy us. You see this denial in the coverage of Israel's war against Hezbollah. The deaths in Lebanon are utterly tragic. But if you watched only British television, particularly the BBC, you would be hard-pressed to understand that Israel has been forced into a war for its survival. Last weekend people marched in an anti-Israel march though London carrying banners proclaiming "We are all Hezbollah Now."

As the historian Victor Davis Hanson recently pointed out, there is a moral madness at work here. We refuse to admit there is a pattern to global terrorism. We are terrified of being called "Islamophobic." European papers are frightened to publish cartoons which some Muslims demand we censor, but are happy to portray the Israelis as latter-day Nazis. Not for nothing does Mr. Hanson say that we have forgotten the lessons of 1938.

In a live BBC interview recently I called Hezbollah "Islamofascists." The charming interviewer said nervously, "That's a very controversial description"; I replied that it was merely accurate. She brought the interview to a swift close. But it's not just Hezbollah, of course. The same ideology of hate inspires al Qaeda, the inspiration if not the controller of the British bombers. In Britain we are actually quite lucky. We have a prime minister who, in my view, has committed many errors at home; but abroad Tony Blair has a clear vision, both moral and pragmatic, of the threat that we face. And for this he is mocked and abused as nothing more than George Bush's "poodle."

In a thoughtful recent speech in Los Angeles, Mr. Blair spoke of fighting an "arc of extremism." That is Islamic extremism, whether it is inspired al Qaeda or by Tehran, whether its footsoldiers are Sunni or Shiite, whether they were born in Britain or southern Lebanon or Iran or Saudi Arabia. As Mr. Blair said, the battle is over the values that are to govern the future of the worlds. "Are they those of tolerance, freedom, respect for difference and diversity or those of reaction, division, hatred?" "This is war" said Mr. Blair. Alas, it is. Wherever they were born, the men who want to blow up airliners, who want to destroy Israel and, not coincidentally, who want to kill all hope of a decent society in Iraq -- are Islamofascists who are united in hatred of us. The sooner we in Europe understand that, and that they must be defeated, the safer everyone -- Christians, Jews, Muslims, nonbelievers -- will be.

Joementum continues

I'm really glad to see Joe Lieberman delivering on his promise of running as an independent candidate for the November Elections. I believe, in the current US political environment filled with flip-floppers, glad-handers and baby-kissers, Joe Lieberman belongs to a rare breed of US politicians who have the political courage to really move beyond the partisan divides of the US politics and state what they firmly believe in, even if that makes them unpopular with some in their own party and constituency.

The people who chose Ned Lamont over Lieberman on Tuesday simply sent the wrong message to the other US politicians: That no matter how experienced, able and honest you are, you can still be punished for sharing an unpopular position with a President who comes from the other side of the aisle, even if that means disassociation from partisan politics, which is apparently what the majority of American voters want from their representatives and President. Would the conneticut Democratic voters have done the same thing if a Democrat President had taken the US to an unpopular war and Lieberman had supported it? I highly doubt so.

So, I hope to see Joe win in the November elections for the guts and focus he has shown in his politics, in the midst of all the political confusion that has crippled the Democratic Party since 9/11, particularly vis-a-vie the war on terror.

Go Joe, go!

Akbar Ganji goes to Hollywood

Interesting stuff here:

TIME-Iranian dissident writer Akbar Ganji was speaking to an audience of about 80 people Wednesday night, when a good-looking, older fellow in a white windbreaker started to ask something from the back of the room. The question, delivered thoughtfully and without pause, concerned the fierce, saber-rattling rhetoric of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Suddenly, Ganji's interpreter went ashen-faced. "My god!" she said aloud. "Is that Warren Beatty?"

Yes, it was. Beatty, along with wife Annette Bening — as well as Sean Penn, Brad Pitt and others — had gathered at the palatial home of legendary producer Mike Medavoy to hear the investigative journalist speak about the current state of the Middle East and, specifically, Iran. Only recently released from an Iranian prison after serving a six-year sentence for "harming national security" and "spreading propaganda," Ganji, 47, is barnstorming the U.S. this summer to gain support for his reformist movement. He declined an invitation to the White House last month, claiming he doesn't represent a specific opposition party or faction. But this week, he seemed right at home in Hollywood.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Buffet and Hezbollah

Thomas Friedman, one of my role models in journalism whose writings I always read avidly, writes in NY Times today that the most talked-about story in Israel before Hezbollah started the war was the fact that in the largest ever buy-out of an Israeli company, American investor Warren Buffett had paid $4 billion for an 80 percent stake in Iscar Metalworking Cos., an industry leader in metal-cutting tools owned by the Wertheimer family. Friedman then says:

That's where Israel's head was on the eve of this war--and it explains something I sensed when I visited Israel shortly after the war started.

Nobody wanted this war and nobody was prepared for it. Look closely at pictures of Israeli soldiers from Lebanon. There is no enthusiams in their faces, and certainly no triumphalism. Their expressions tell the whole story:" I just don't want to be doing this-another war with the Arabs."

"Israel was not prepared for this war," said the Israeli political theorist Yaron Ezrahi." It came upon us like the crash of a meteorite...The whole focus of debate in the country before this war was on withdrawal."

What's so troubling for Israelis is that this war is about nothing and everything. That is , Israel got out of Lebanon, and yet Hezbollah keeps coming . It is all about Hezbollah's need to justify its existence and Iran's need for distraction.

What's doubly sad is that Lebanon was getting its act together , Rafik Hariri, the former prime minister, represented a whole new type of Arab leader--one who rose to power by being a builder and entrepreneur. He understood that Lebanon, freed of Syria, was a country whose youth had the energy and skill to compete anywhere... But Mr Hariri was murdered, allegedly by Syria, and now Lebanon's democracy is being murdered by Hezbollah. Once again, in the Arab world, the past buries the future.

Israel mustn't get sucked into that same grave. Israel needs to get a cease-fire and an international force into south Lebanon--and get out. Israel can't defeat Hezbollah, it can only hurt it enough to make it think twice about ever doing this again--and it has pretty much done that. It must not destroy any more of Lebanon, which is going to still be its neighbor when the guns fall silent.

Israel wins when Warren Buffett's company there is fully back in business--not when Nasrallah is out of business. Because that will only happen, not by war, but when Arabs wake up and realize that he is another fraud, just another Nasser, whose strategy would condemn the flower of Arab youth--who deserve and need so much better--to another decade of making potato chips , not microchips. Nasrallah can win in the long run only if he can condemn the flower of Israel's youth to the same fate. Don't let it happen, Israel.

I totally agree with Tom Friedman. In fact, what 's so frustrating about Israel's handling of this war is that it's playing right into the hands of Hassan Nasrallah and his sponsors in Syria and Iran, by unnecessarily dragging the war on to a far longer and bloodier dimension, thus letting Hassan Nasrallah off the hook.

But if Israel agrees to a cease-fire, makes sure about the deploymant of the intenational force and withdraws from Lebanon without wasting any more time, the dust will settle and the Lebanese people will get to see Nasrallah for the "fraud" and the "puppet" that he is.

Hassan Nasrallah must pay for inviting death and destruction upon Lebanon as a favor to his terrorist masters in Tehran and he will, only if Israel listens to people like Friedman-Kash

Mike Wallace: Ahmadinejad, good-looking in a strange way

Well, take a look at this photo and let me know what Wallace means for God's sake if you ever find out! By the way, don't hold your breath. There's not gonna be anything new in this interview except for the same old nonsensical diatribe Ahmadinejad trots out againt Bush, Israel and the West every once in a while.

NEW YORK -- "60 Minutes" veteran correspondent Mike Wallace may have retired last March but that didn't stop him from scoring an exclusive interview Tuesday with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.And that fact wasn't lost on the controversial Iranian president, who halfway through the interview asked Wallace: "I thought you had retired."

Wallace has spent a lot of time in Iran over the past four decades, interviewing the Shah, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and, most famously, the 1979 sitdown with the Ayatollah Khomeini who asked the Iranian leader what he thought of Anwar Sadat's desciption of him as a lunatic. There wasn't any of that this time. Wallace dismissed the common perceptions of Ahmadinejad."He's actually, in a strange way, he's a rather attractive man, very smart, savvy, self-assured, good looking in a strange way," Wallace said. "He's very, very short but he's comfortable in his own skin."


Portions of the interview will appear on the CBS Evening News on Thursday, Aug. 10 at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT. The entire report will be broadcast on 60 Minutes this Sunday at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Iranians among Hizbollah combat dead: TV

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard have been found among Hizbollah guerrillas slain by Israeli forces in southern Lebanon, Israel's Channel 10 television reported on Wednesday citing diplomatic sources.

It said the Iranians were identified by documents found on their bodies, but gave no further details on how many were discovered or when. Neither the Israeli military nor Hizbollah representatives in Beirut had immediate comment on the report.

Iran, like fellow Hizbollah patron Syria, insists its support for the Shi'ite guerrilla group is purely moral.

Israel says many of the rockets being fired against its civilian and military targets are Iranian made, and that Hizbollah fighters taking on its forces trained in Iran. Washington also accuses Tehran of actively funding Hizbollah.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards are traditionally very close to fellow Shi'ite Muslims in Hizbollah and were deployed in south Lebanon in the 1980s.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Madam Secretary, how do you explain this?

L.A. Times--Iranian Professionals' U.S. Visas Revoked:

Amid rising tensions with Iran, U.S. officials have abruptly revoked the visas of dozens of Iranian professionals headed to a university reunion in Northern California this weekend, refusing them entry as they landed at several U.S. airports. The men and women had obtained 15-day visitor visas to attend the fourth global alumni reunion of Iran's Sharif University of Technology, a prestigious institution known as the "MIT of Iran."

Organizers said they knew of about 40 barred from entering the U.S. in recent days. About a dozen of the visitors, some traveling with spouses and children, were detained at San Francisco International Airport on Thursday, and some were held overnight in what one described to a friend in a brief phone call as "jail conditions."

Is this the way to win the hearts and minds of the Iranian people? Is this the way to help pro-democracy movements in Iran or does this provide mullahs with just the right fodder to use in their campaign of lies and distortion against the United States?

Dear Madam Secretary Rice,

President Bush and you have both repeatedly mentioned that you make a clear distinction between the Iranian people and Tehran's regime. Last February you asked congress to grant you $5 million to be used to foster Iranian student exchanges. So, where does this horrible incident come from?

Aren't you letting the Iranian people down?

Monday, August 07, 2006

What is the Israeli leadership thinking?

Haaretz reports that the IDF plans to ramp up their offensive in Lebanon in response to Sunday's rocket attacks on northern Israel:

A senior General Staff officer told Haaretz that for the first time since the fighting began, Israel plans to attack strategic infrastructure targets and symbols of the Lebanese government. Other than bombing the Beirut airport to prevent arms transfers to Hezbollah, Israel has hitherto not targeted Lebanon's infrastructure, insisting that it is only at war with Hezbollah, not with the Lebanese government or people. However, the officer said, "we are now in a process of renewed escalation. We will continue hitting everything that moves in Hezbollah - but we will also hit strategic civilian infrastructure."

What is Israel really thinking? If the problem is rocket attacks, why should Lebanon's infrastructure be targeted? What has Israel really achieved so far by its sloppy, ineffective aerial bombings? Is the Israeli leadership really deaf to the alarming "today we are all Hezbollah" talk among even the most anti-Hezbollah Lebanese? Does it really think such a bullying strategy will pressure the Lebanese government to stop Hezbollah after four weeks of an aimless offensive that has made almost everyone, including the Lebanese Prime Minister, sympathetic to Hezbollah? If there were one Arab country that could be Israel's biggest ally, it was Lebanon, but the Israel's desultory military campaign and indiscriminate targeting of innocent Lebanese civilians are already planting the seeds of much more violent hostilities between the two countries for generations to come.

I'm sorry to see there seems to be no strategy here on the side of the Israeli leadership but pure madness. It also seems Israel's new administration still has no clue as to where its going, even after four weeks of a clumsy military campaign that not only has not led to the release of Israeli soldiers and the disarming of Hezbollah, but has, instead, weakened the Western-backed government of Foad Siniora immensely and caused most Lebanese to rally behind Hezbollah.

Also read:

You destroyed Lebanon, ya Israel, and it is the worst step you have ever taken. (from Lebanese blogger forum through Haaretz)

Everyone who can is leaving. The Israeli fantasy that the Lebanese will rise up against Hezbollah will not come to pass. Why? Because Hezbollah supporters are the only ones who will stay in this country.

Israel, you are expelling everyone. If you are really pursuing Hezbollah, why are you bombing cities like Aden and Jounieh, high-rise buildings, the military facilities of the Lebanese army? The supermarkets have emptied out, the streets are deserted. People simply cannot stay.

After you loosen your siege, the only ones who will remain here are the poor Shi'ites who lost everything in this war: friends, families and homes. Even if you manage to destroy Hezbollah, won't 100 Hezbollahs sprout up out of this suffering?

The irony, ya Israel, is that Lebanon is perhaps the only country in the region that could have been a friendly state one of these days. A warm peace, not a cold one. I always heard from acquaintances who traveled to Israel that the two countries are astonishingly similar (aside from the political issues, of course). Tel Aviv, I was told, is basically a Hebrew version of Beirut. Lately, the subject of peace has begun to seep into cultural dialogue here.

No one is speaking about peace any longer. No one will forget the atrocious acts you carried out here. People will also not raise the subject of peace, because it is no longer relevant. Peace is discussed here in the context of tourism and the economy. What tourism? What economy? Everything is dead here.

Okay, you needed to bring back your soldiers. Okay, you wanted to get rid of Hezbollah once and for all. But your soldiers are still missing, and you have made yourself into a far less secure place. You can argue that Lebanon brought it all upon itself, but that is exactly what people will hurl back in your faces in the future, ya Israel. You complicated the situation for yourself. You killed something fragile that you should have been nurturing: a liberal Arab neighbor...

Middle East crisis: where does each player stand today?

Kash Kheirkhah

The Middle East Nations: : The Middle East, a territory that extends from the eastern Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf, has been termed in history books and encyclopedias, as the cradle of civilizations, the world’s most sacred ground as it embraces the birthplace and spiritual centre of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. But the Middle East as we know it today is known more for its ethnic and religious conflicts than anything else. A region identified with. Coups, foreign occupations, installed dictators, instability, poverty, ethnic, and most recently ideological hatred.

But why? Why is this region always in a mess? It's really impossible to narrow down the answers to a small article here. To most analysts, “oil” is what has made the Middle East prone to all the misery and foreign intervention it has faced in the course of its history, but to me it’s not just that. Coming from a Middle East nation myself, I find the major problem with the religious mentality that is rooted in those nations.

In almost all Middle East nations, all powers are assigned to one individual who either calls himself God's representative on earth or claims to able to preserve the divine "Islamic" laws better than anybody else.. In the Middle East, individuals are not supposed to make their own history, write their own laws (since they interfere with the divine laws that have been sent to them 1400 years ago) and effect any substantial changes in their society, commensurate with their new world status. Entangled in the cobwebs of traditional and religious beliefs, the masses in the Middle East always choose the easiest ways out of a problems: by battling the changes of time (even if it means a going through more pain and anguish) and then justifying their actions by resorting to those divine laws. Suicide bombing is a clear testimony to that. Thomas Friedman asks: When will the Arab-Muslim world stop getting its "pride" from fighting Israel and start getting it from constructing a society that others would envy, an economy others would respect, and inventions and medical breakthroughs from which others would benefit? My answer: Never. Why not? Because, that's too much responsibility and hard work for nations to whom democracy and the rule of people and not those who claim to speak on behalf of God has never made any sense. Because, that means having no enemy to pin all types of social and economic ills on. And because that means to rock the boat to its very foundations. I'm not saying everyone in the Middle East has the same mentality but I do believe the majority do and that's why the Middle East needs a renaissance. Look at Japan after the US dropped two nuclear bombs on them. Where are they now? Are they still launching kamikaze attacks on the US or are they one of the most powerful industrial nations in the world and one of the closest US allies?

Israel: Israel's continuing dependence on military might as a key to all the problems it faces in the region has proved to be its biggest mistake. Military might, when used indiscreetly, can only radicalize a region already fertile for crisis and help terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah recruit more desperate youths who, having seen an Israeli bulldozer flattened their homes and killing their families, have nothing to lose any more. What Israel seems to be lacking now is a visionary statesman who, is able to handle threats to Israel without seeding the ground for future bitter harvests of hatred, death and destruction. Would Yitzhak Robin or Ariel Sharon have reacted the same way that Olmert did? I would dare to assume not, since they both had been through that cycle and in case of Sharon, even burned by previous experiences in Lebanon and The Palestinian territories. Once proud Israeli military commanders, both Robin and Sharon had turned into men of peace, finally realizing what was at stake for the Jewish state. Olmert, Sharon's deputy, is considered to be a moderate politician, even more than his predecessor. He won the elections on a mandate of peace and was on his way to evacuate more of the occupied territories. But Iran and Hezbollah miscalculated and tested him only three months in to his tenure, making him prove his people he is as fearless as his predecessors too. In this context, his reaction was justified, although his lack of military experience led him to make terrible strategic mistakes such as relying solely on air power to pound Hezbollah without the use of ground troops. That mistake has so far played right in to the hands of Hezbollah and helped them survive four weeks of nonstop Israeli offensive, upgrading Nasrallah's status to a hero in the region. If Israel is looking for a prosperous future, first it should show restraint and instead opt for strengthening the moderate governments who have come to terms with a Jewish state and will be able to root out extremism in their own lands. Israel crushed PLO even after it accepted Israel, and got Hamas. It stayed in Lebanon and helped change the image of Hezbollah from a terror organization created by a terror state called Islamic Republic of Iran to a resistance force. It’s time for Israel to learn from its past mistakes and give diplomacy more time. Otherwise, this cycle of hatred and violence will be an albatross around Israelis' neck for generations to come.

Iran: My goodness. Has there been anything left to say about Iran? Tehran's regime is to day the main obstacle on the way of the formation of a Palestinian State and the growth of democracy in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. A new, stable, democratic Iraq and Afghanistan will be the ultimate nightmare for the mullahs who see the justification for financing terror in the crises they help create. In a new Middle East there's no room for backward mullahs and their ideology of terror, hatred, death and destruction and they very well know that. They don't care about the Palestinians and their cause. Iran's pursuit of nuclear bombs and their banking of terror in the region is its fight for its very own survival. As long as they are in power, there'll be no peace process in the Middle East. As Dennis Ross says, the root cause of the current crisis goes through Iranians. Question is what do we do about them?

The United States: As President Bush and Condoleezza Rice have mentioned over and over again, American policy sought to achieve peace in the Middle East by promoting stability in the Middle East, yet these policies gave them neither. The lesson of 9/11 taught Americans was that that swamp of the Middle East breeds mosquitoes of terror and that it time for the US to spread democracy in the Middle East as a cure for terrorism. The Bush administration has sure made its fair share of blunders in doing so, but that doesn’t mean the idea is wrong. We have to consider the fact that the intermediate period of transition to democracy is not easy, especially in a region like Middle East, in which the forces of terror live off that stagnant swamp. As a case in point, every time The US get close to brokering a landmark peace deal between Israelis and the Palestinians, a string of Hamas or Islamic Jihad-sponsored suicide bombings derailed the peace initiative for at least a year. What the United States needs to do here is that in the Israeli -Palestinian disputes, it should exert more control over Israel to make them show more restraints when the forces of terror try to drag Israel to a crisis of this scale and then cut the arms of Syria and Iran. With Syria all they should is divorce them from Iranians. Syrian leadership is not an ideological one same as Iran and that leaves the US some maneuvering power with Damascus. As for Iran, I'll get to it in a separate post. Suffice it to say that smart political and economic sanctions will do the job if they are implemented quickly and properly.

For Israel, there'll be cross-border infiltrations, seizures, rockets mortar fire and even suicide bombing for some time to come. But if Israel wants to get to the root of this problem, it should show some political leadership and diplomatic courage. One real solution could be King Abdullah's peace plan by which for the first time since 1948, Arab states collectively will offer to normalize their relations with Israel in return for Israel's complete withdrawal from the territories it occupied during the 1967 War. On the other hand, Moderate Arab leaders should know that without stopping militant groups like Hamas and Hezbollah from provoking Israel, no piece imitative will ever work. What’s more, Tehran’s regime, as the main obstacle to the Arab-Israeli peace process and also America’s Greater Middle East initiative, must be confronted. How? I’ll explain in another post.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Stressed out and anxious in Beirut

Hugh Sykes BBC News, Beirut

People keep asking me, "Do you know when it will stop?"
I shrug my shoulders, and say: "Your guess is as good as mine." Then they ask: "But Beirut - will they bomb Beirut again?" "What would be the point?" I reply.

Then they bombed Beirut again.

People keep saying to me, "We are not Hezbollah - why are they bombing our homes?"

The Israelis say that these renewed attacks on Beirut are justified because they are targeting Hezbollah. But for the hundreds of thousands of people in this city who don't support Hezbollah it feels like collective punishment.

Many Lebanese readily agree that Hezbollah gravely miscalculated when they captured those two Israeli soldiers on 12 July - but now they go on to say: "We were never Hezbollah. But we are all Hezbollah now. The Israeli response is completely unjustified."

I have met some who curse Hezbollah, and who say the Israeli bombardment is understandable. Some, but not many.

And I don't think "But we are all Hezbollah now" is just talk. The more Israel destroys, the more supporters Hezbollah will be able to recruit.


Iran's plot to mine uranium in Africa

Times of London--Iran is seeking to import large consignments of bomb-making uranium from the African mining area that produced the Hiroshima bomb, an investigation has revealed. A United Nations report, dated July 18, said there was “no doubt” that a huge shipment of smuggled uranium 238, uncovered by customs officials in Tanzania, was transported from the Lubumbashi mines in the Congo. Tanzanian customs officials told The Sunday Times it was destined for the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, and was stopped on October 22 last year during a routine check. The disclosure will heighten western fears about the extent of Iran’s presumed nuclear weapons programme and the strategic implications of Iran’s continuing support for Hezbollah during the war with Israel.


Iran's top nuclear negotiator said Sunday that Iran will expand uranium enrichment, in defiance of a U.N. Security Council resolution giving the Islamic Republic until Aug. 31 to halt the activity or face the threat of political and economic sanctions. Ali Larijani called the U.N. Security Council resolution issued last week illegal and said Iran won't respect the deadline. "We reject this resolution," he told reporters. "We will expand nuclear activities where required. It includes all nuclear technology including the string of centrifuges," Larijani said, referring to the centrifuges Iran uses to enrich uranium.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Iranian official admits Tehran supplied missiles to Hezbollah

  • Haaretz: A senior Iranian official admitted for the first time Friday that Tehran did indeed supply long-range Zelzal-2 missiles to Hezbollah.Mohtashami Pur, a one-time ambassador to Lebanon who currently holds the title of secretary-general of the "Intifada conference," told an Iranian newspaper that Iran transferred the missiles to the Shi'ite militia, adding that the organization has his country's blessing to use the weapons in defense of Lebanon. Pur's statements are thought to be unusual given that Tehran has thus far been reluctant to comment on the extent of its aid which it has extended to Hezbollah.

  • AFP--Iran to supply Hezbollah with surface-to-air missiles: Iran will supply Hezbollah with surface-to-air missile systems in the coming months, boosting the guerrillas' defences against Israeli aircraft, according to a report by specialist magazine Jane's Defence Weekly, citing unnamed Western diplomatic sources. In a meeting, held late last month, the Lebanese Shiite Muslim militia called on Tehran to "accelerate and extend the scope of weapon shipments from Iran to the Islamic Resistance, particularly advanced missiles against ground and air targets." Hezbollah's representatives pressed for "an array of more advanced weaponry, including more advanced SAM (surface-to-air missile) systems," Jane's said Friday."Iranian authorities conveyed a message to the Hezbollah leadership that their forces would continue to receive a steady supply of weapons systems,"it added.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Ahmad Batebi: Kidnapped, jailed, beaten ... over a bloodied T-shirt

For those of my readers who would like to know more about "Ahmad Batebi", whom I wrote about a few days ago, here is a background report on him in UK's Observer, published in April. Batebi was arrested again a few days ago while on medical leave and according to his wife, is on hunger strike:

His handsome face was seen around the world. The photograph, used on the front of the Economist magazine, showed Ahmad Batebi, his hands holding the bloodstained T-shirt of a fellow student beaten by paramilitaries. His look of indignation captured the mood of young Iranians demonstrating for democracy in the summer of 1999.

Just holding that shirt earned Batebi a 15-year prison sentence for endangering national security, served in the notorious Evin prison in north Tehran.

After meeting a visiting United Nations human rights envoy last November during brief leave from prison, Batebi was abducted and subjected to threats, sleep deprivation and other psychological torture before being thrown back into prison.

In the first three months of his imprisonment, Batebi wrote an open letter to the authorities describing how interrogators held his head in a drain full of excrement and beat him on the testicles. His trial lasted for just three minutes, with the Economist cover cited as evidence that he had jeopardised the reputation of the Islamic republic. His case illustrates how Iran's clerical establishment continues to rule through repression and fear. Dozens of other political prisoners languish in jails across the country. Human rights monitors say no one knows precisely how many because some families choose to suffer in silence.


We should support democracy in the Middle East

The next US president may give up on Middle East democratisation, but we shouldn't. It's still our best hope

Timothy Garton Ash, The Guardian: A central claim of the Bush administration's foreign policy is that the spread of democracy in the Middle East is the cure for terrorism. So what do you do when you get a democratically elected terrorist organisation? Ignore the contradiction. Pretend it doesn't exist.

...Two diametrically opposite conclusions may be drawn from these first strange fruits of democratisation in the Middle East. One is to say that the whole Bush agenda of supporting democratisation in the Arab and Islamic world was misguided from the start - the product of a naive, missionary-cowboy approach to international politics. It destabilises. It brings terrorists and extremists to power. The cure is worse than the disease. So let's get back to seasoned old "realism". Let's not try to transform these countries or expect them to be more like us, but take them as they are. Let's pursue our national interests - security, trade, energy - with whatever allies we can find. Stability comes first. Your friendly local despot may be a sonofabitch, but at least he'll be our sonofabitch. Or so we fondly imagine.

This is the default position of much European diplomacy. It's the wisdom of Jacques Chirac. Curiously enough, it's also where some of the European left ends up - taken there by its opposition to "war for democracy" à la Bush and Blair, or simply by the kneejerk "If Bush is for it, we must be against it". But following the American debate closely over the past weeks, I find that opposition to the democratisation agenda is also growing inside the US.

... I believe this is precisely the wrong conclusion to draw. In the long run, the growth of liberal democracies is the best hope for the wider Middle East. It's the best hope of modernisation, which the Arab world desperately needs; of addressing the root causes of Islamist terrorism, inasmuch as they lie in those countries rather than among Muslims living in the west; and of enabling Arabs, Israelis, Iranians, Kurds and Turks to live side by side without war. But it will be a long march.

We know from elsewhere that the intermediate period of transition to democracy can be a dangerous time, that it can actually increase the danger of violence, especially in countries divided along ethnic and religious lines, and where you rush to the party-political competition for power without first having a functioning state with well-defined borders, a near-monopoly of force, the rule of law, independent media and a strong civil society. That's what happened in the former Yugoslavia. That's what's been happening, in different ways, in Palestine, in Lebanon and in Iraq. Full, liberal democracy contributes to peace; partial, half-baked democratisation can increase the danger of war.

What we in the community of established liberal democracies should do is not abandon the pursuit of democratisation but refine it. Recognise that only in exceptional circumstances (such as postwar Germany and Japan) do democracies grow from under military occupation, and that the purpose of building democracy does not justify military intervention. Accept that, as the Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji wrote in the New York Times, it's better for people to find their own paths to freedom, and our job is to support them...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Iran frees bin Laden's son: Die Welt

BERLIN (Reuters) - Iran has freed a son of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden from house arrest, a German newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Die Welt said the Iranian Revolutionary Guard released Saad bin Laden on July 28 with the aim of sending him to the Syria-Lebanon border. It linked the reported move to the outbreak of war between Israel and Lebanese-based Hizbollah.

"From the Lebanese border, he has the task of building Islamist terror cells and preparing them to fight together with Hizbollah," Die Welt said, quoting intelligence information.

"Apparently Tehran is counting on recruiting Lebanese refugees in Syria for the fight against Israel, using bin Laden's help," it added in a preview of a report to appear in its Thursday edition.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The ideology of death and destruction

NY Times: Iranian women dressed as suicide bombers rallied Monday in Tehran to express support for Hezbollah and opposition to Israel.

NY Times: A billboard of Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, dominates a Tehran street.

Kash Kheirkhah

While Hassan Nasrallah has retreated to his bomb-proof bunker and is even rumored to be hiding in the Iranian embassy in Beirut, his billboard in Tehran encourages Lebanese people to die for his masters' pathetic cause which is wiping Israel off the map. At the same time, mullahs are trying the take the best advantage of the ongoing war in Lebanon, by staging sickening shows, such as the one in the first picture, in which some poor, brain-washed Iranian women are dressed as suicide bombers.

These two pictures fully encapsulate the ideology of death and destruction; the plague that was set in motion by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 and then through Iran's petro-dollars, was spread to the whole region. Today, Usama Bin Ladan, Ali Khamenei, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Khaled Mashaal and Hassan Nasrallah are all heir apparent to this evil ideology.

And it is this evil ideology that is responsible for the suffering of the Palestinian people and shattering of their hopes and dreams for a better future.

It is this evil ideology that, by authorizing the use of the innocent Lebanese civilians as human shields, is directly responsible for the disaster of Qana.

It is this evil ideology that, by dragging Lebanon into a wanton war, is responsible for the gradual destruction of the beautiful country of Lebanon.

It is this evil ideology that is responsible for all those Innocent Iraqi people who are blown into pieces every single day in Iraq.

It is this evil ideology that is responsible for turning innocent youths into walking bombs.

And last but definitely not least, it is this evil ideology that is responsible for the grief hundreds of thousands of Iranian families have been through for the past 27 years, under the current regime in Iran.

As I mentioned in my previous post, the world should wake up to this danger. There'll come a day that this evil ideology will pose a direct threat to the very same countries that now, in return for their economic interests, have, knowingly, turned a blind eye on it.

This ideology and those who sponsor it must be confronted before it's too late. We owe this to our future generations.

Also: BBC-Blair warns of 'arc of extremism': Tony Blair has warned that an "arc of extremism" is stretching across the Middle East and said "an alliance of moderation" was needed to defeat it.
Mr Blair also told the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles that Syria and Iran had to stop supporting terrorism or they would "be confronted.The prime minister said: "There is an arc of extremism now stretching across the Middle East and touching countries far outside that region." "Their support of terrorism, their deliberate export of instability, their desire to see wrecked the democratic prospect in Iraq, is utterly unjustifiable, dangerous and wrong.
"If they keep raising the stakes, they will find they have miscalculated."