Wednesday, January 31, 2007

CNN: Iran involvement suspected in Karbala compound attack

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN)-- The Pentagon is investigating whether a recent attack on a military compound in Karbala was carried out by Iranians or Iranian-trained operatives, two officials from separate U.S. government agencies said.

"People are looking at it seriously," one of the officials said.

That official added the Iranian connection was a leading theory in the investigation into the January 20 attack that killed five soldiers.

The second official said: "We believe it's possible the executors of the attack were Iranian or Iranian-trained."

Five U.S. soldiers were abducted and killed in the sophisticated attack by men wearing U.S.-style uniforms, according to U.S. military reports. (Watch how attackers got into the compound )

Both officials stressed the Iranian-involvement theory is a preliminary view, and there is no final conclusion. They agreed this possibility is being looked at because of the sophistication of the attack and the level of coordination.

Some Iraqis speculate that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps carried out the attack in retaliation for the capture by U.S. forces of five of its members in Irbil, Iraq, on January 11, according to a article published Tuesday.


Time-Some Iraqis speculate that the IRGC has already started a campaign of revenge with the killing of five American soldiers in Karbala on Jan. 20, nine days after the arrest of the IRGC members in Erbil. As the logic of the rumor goes, five American soldiers were killed for five Iranians taken; Karbala was an IRGC message to release its colleagues — or else. The speculation that Karbala was an IRGC operation may have as much to do with Iraqis' respect for IRGC capacity for revenge as it does with the truth.

NY Times-Iran May Have Trained Attackers That Killed 5 American Soldiers

ABC News: Bush Says Invading Iran 'Not the Plan'

ABC News: Bush Administration Decides Not to Release Evidence Against Iran

USA Today: General says U.S. has proof Iran arming Iraqi militias

L.A. Times: More flights likely along the Iranian border

Monday, January 29, 2007

Will Obama's background become a presidential campaign issue? - Although Sen. Barack Obama is a Christian, his childhood and family connections to Islam are beginning to complicate his presidential ambitions.

“In Indonesia, I had spent two years at a Muslim school,” he wrote in his first memoir, “Dreams from my Father.” “The teacher wrote to tell my mother that I made faces during Koranic studies.”

Obama — whose father, stepfather, brother and grandfather were Muslims — explained his own first name, Barack, in “Dreams”: “It means ‘Blessed.’ In Arabic. My grandfather was a Muslim.”

But with pundits already making faith a major issue in this presidential campaign — as evidenced by questions about Republican Mitt Romney’s Mormonism — Obama’s religious background is likely to come under further scrutiny.

“He comes from a father who was a Muslim,” said civil rights author Juan Williams of National Public Radio. “I mean, I think that given we’re at war with Muslim extremists, that presents a problem.”

Obama’s grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, for whom the senator was given his middle name, Hussein, was fiercely devoted to Islam, according to an account in “Dreams.” The grandfather, who died in 1979, was described by his widow when Obama visited Kenya in the late 1980s.


Also in the news:

Reuters: Israel's first Muslim minister sworn into office

Reuters: Jermaine Jackson wants Michael to convert to Islam

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Delusions of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

I meant to post a commentary this weekend, explaining how in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's fantasy world--a world in which he recieves messages from the Divine, Holocaust is a myth and the end is near for the US and Israel-- a US military strike against Iran is not only a bluff but the American troops are in retreat!

But Amir Taheri beat me to it. If you are wondering what's going on in Ahmadinejad's mind, or what he dreams about when asleep, take a look at Taheri's latest article in Asharq Alawsat:

Hours after receiving the Qatari visitor, Ahmadinejad attacked those who say he is leading the country to war. "What war?" he asked. " Some people say we are heading for war? Gentlemen, what war? The warmongers (i.e. the United States) are in retreat. They say we shall pay a heavy price for resistance. What price? What price have we paid?"

Ahmadinejad has also decided to test the Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq by ordering Tehran's clients there to turn the heat on the US and allied forces. Last week's attacks in Karbala and Basra, Iraqi Shi'ite cities that had been quiet, were part of that scheme. Another part of his plan provides for a coup by the Lebanese Hezballah with the help of a segment of the Maronite community led by Michel Aoun...Ahmadinejad also believes that American public opinion would not allow President George W Bush to take military action against the Khomeinist regime. Tehran's official media make a point of publicising the views of Bush's opponents to the maximum.

Ahmadinejad also counts on France and Russia to split the Security Council and isolate the United States. President Jacques Chirac's decision to open a direct channel to Ahmadinejad by sending a special emissary is seen as a sign that France would oppose US plans for further sanctions against Iran. The Islamic Republic is also redoubling its efforts to persuade Russia's President Vladimir Putin to invite Ahmadinejad to Moscow before the next session of the Security Council in March. Nevertheless, the president has issued a list of threats through Hussein Shariatmadari, Editor of the daily Kayhan, and a key spokesman for the radical Khomeinist faction. "The Americans must be made to understand the horrible consequences of any foolish act on their part," Shariatmadari wrote in an editorial last week. He then listed a series of warnings:

*** The Islamic Republic would attack American and allied troops in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

*** The Islamic Republic will stop the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz, depriving the global market of 24 million barrels each day

*** A storm of missiles will be unleashed against Israel, turning that country into "an earthly hell before they go to the real hell."

*** Arab countries allied to the US will see their very existence endangered.

*** The peoples of Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain and "parts of Arabia" will be invited to state uprisings against their governments to take revenge from their rulers.

Taheri then asks: What does all this remind you of? The obvious answer is " Saddam Hussein and his delusions in 2003. The late Ba'athist leader was also confident that Arab divisions, Western rivalries, and the peculiarities of the democratic system in the United States would , in the end, shield his regime against any attack.

Taheri is absolutely true. Some of the unclassified reports from US military interviews with Saddam 's captured aides regarding Saddam's delusions were published in a 2006 article in Foreign Affairs titled "Saddam's Delusions: A view From The Inside:"

Ibrahim Ahmad Abd al-Sattar, the Iraqi army and armed forces chief of staff, claimed that Saddam believed that even if his international supporters failed him and the United States did launch a ground invasion, Washington would rapidly bow to international pressure to halt the war. According to his personal interpreter, Saddam also thought his "superior" forces would put up "a heroic resistance and . . . inflict such enormous losses on the Americans that they would stop their advance." Saddam remained convinced that, in his own words, "Iraq will not, in any way, be like Afghanistan. We will not let the war become a picnic for the American or the British soldiers. No way!"

When the coalition assault did come, Saddam stubbornly clung to the belief that the Americans would be satisfied with an outcome short of regime change. According to Sattar, "No Iraqi leaders had believed coalition forces would ever reach Baghdad." Saddam's conviction that his regime would survive the war was the primary reason he did not have his forces torch Iraq's oil fields or open the dams to flood the south, moves many analysts predicted would be among Iraq's first in the event of an invasion. In the words of Aziz, "[Saddam] thought that this war would not lead to this ending." Saddam realized that if his strategic calculus was correct, he would need the oil to prop up the regime. Even with U.S. tanks crossing the Iraqi border, an internal revolt remained Saddam's biggest fear. In order to quell any postwar revolt, he would need the bridges to remain intact and the land in the south to remain unflooded. On this basis, Saddam planned his moves...

Where will Ahmadinejad's delusions lead Iran to?

Where is the Bush administration headed on Iran?

  • Financial Times-Last week, Mr Bush ordered a second US aircraft carrier to the Gulf and the deployment of more Patriot missiles in US military bases there. Richard Haass, former head of policy planning at the State Department in the first Bush administration, said the US president was leaving both the diplomatic and military option open. “You could interpret Bush’s recent actions towards Iran in two ways – either he is increasing pressure on the regime in order to soften it up for talks over its uranium enrichment plans, or this is classic gunboat diplomacy in which the US is preparing for some kind of punitive action,” said Mr Haass. “My guess is that Mr Bush’s actions leave room for either scenario and the Bush administration remains divided over which to pursue.”

  • The Swoop-Hostility against Iran continues to build in Washington. The deliberately public build-up of naval assets in the region is gathering pace. More quietly, several General-rank Air Force officers with specific experience in planning strategic bombing campaigns have arrived at the Al Udeid air combat command in Qatar...Treasury officials report that US financial sanctions on Iran – with new restrictions expected against government-connected banks – are imposing real costs on Iran’s economy. In addition, recent behind-the-scenes Saudi and CIA backing for Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Sinoira together with the Saudi refusal to restrict its oil production has, in the US view, “raised the cost of doing business” to Iran.

  • NY Times-On Iran, Bush Faces Haunting Echoes of Iraq: The administration does not have definitive evidence that Iran is moving toward producing a nuclear bomb, but next week it will unveil what officials say is evidence of Iran’s meddling in Iraq.
    In interviews over the past several weeks, officials from the Pentagon to the State Department to the White House insist that Mr. Bush’s goal in Iran is not to depose a government, Iraq-style, but rather to throw a series of brushback pitches...For Mr. Bush, this is not only about options but about legacy. Already bloodied in Iraq, he will come under increasing pressure to show that he has not left the United States weakened in the Middle East. He does not want to be remembered for leaving Iran more powerful than he found it when he came to office.

  • Robert Kaplan, The Atlantic-what about the report's advice to open a dialogue with Iran and Syria? Hasn't the President repudiated that fundamental principle, and, therefore, the thrust of the report? No. Keep in mind that neoconservatives themselves have not repudiated such talks in the abstract: rather, they have stated that if the United States were to markedly improve its strategic position in the Middle East, and thus be able to talk to Syria and Iran from a position of strength, dialogue with Iraq's neighbors might at some juncture be justified. That is exactly what the Administration seems to be doing: the troop plus-up in Greater Baghdad, coupled with a more powerful naval and air presence in the Persian Gulf, is designed to prepare a more favorable context for eventual negotiations. Secretary of Defense Gates has indicated as much.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

How to build confidence in practice, 'Islamic Republic-style'

Davos, switzerland-The Middle East is experiencing a crisis of confidence, agreed Ahmed Mahmoud Nazif, Prime Minister of Egypt, and John F. Kerry, Senator from Massachusetts (Democrat), USA, in a plenary session on the future of the region. Solving this requires "great collaboration of all countries… we should build confidence in practice," said Mohammad Khatami, [former] president of the Islamic
Republic of Iran.

One step would be to heal ties between Washington and Tehran. "The relationship between Iran and the United States can be great for the region and the whole world ... Unfortunately we have a very big, huge wall of inconfidence," Khatami noted. "Still, the door to the negotiation is open," he added. Kerry called on President Bush to engage with Iran and Syria...

Kash-Meanwhile, Mr Khatami didn't say if defying the UN Security Council by installing 3,000 centrifuges, as Iran announced today, would be such a great idea to restore the confidence he preached about today. Of course the door to talks is open but, as The Onion wittily says, for Ahmadinejad and his masters to tell America and the free world how awsome it feels for them to soon have a functioning nuclear weapons program.

Good luck Mr Kerry and by the way, thanks for dropping out of the 2008 Presidential race!

P.S. In the second photo, is kerry signing an autograph for Khatami or giving him his email address, cell phone number or what?

Why Iran wants UN's chief inspector removed

Kash Kheirkhah

Iran has demanded the complete removal of Chris Charlier, the UN official in charge of inspecting the country's nuclear program who had already been banned from entering Iran, accusing him of what an Iranian diplomat claimed as"passing confidential Iranian nuclear information which was supposed to be kept between Iran and the IAEA, to inappropriate countries and their media."

But who is Chris Charlier and why Iran is demanding his completet removal from its nuclear case?

Chris Charlier, a Belgian nuclear scientist who has travelled the world inspecting nuclear installations for the International Atomic Energy Agency, was the former head of a team of 15 Atomic Energy inspectors of the IAEA who have been inspecting the Islamic Republic's nuclear program since 2003. In may 2005, he spoke publicly for the first time about his inspections in Iran on a program called "Iran's nuclear secrets" aired on BBC 2 and NewsHour on PBS:

CHRIS CHARLIER: Whatever we say, whatever we do, they are always behind us with a video camera, with a microphone trying to record things that we saying. And it's a little disturbing because some people don't like it. You know, usually when we work, we don't like to have always somebody behind us, behind our shoulders and looking what we're doing or recording what we're saying. But, you know, it's part of the game.

When we asked them to get access there, they started, you know, "Well, there's nothing there," you know. "We just dismantled building, and there was nothing related to agency activities." And finally, after months of discussion, we went there.

They tried, really, I believe, to conceal their program and the activities. And, yeah, well, maybe there is things -- still others things that they are doing and we couldn't find, and that's why we are getting suspicious.

Charlier therefore believed that Iran's nuclear program could go well beyond peaceful purposes: "The way they've been postponing, and trying to gain time, is suspicious. I don't think the IAEA has any facts to support the idea that they have a nuclear weapons programme, but the way that Iran has behaved in all those smaller issues has made the agency suspicious."

As a result, in early 2006, Iran asked the International Atomic Energy Agency to remove Charlier, who had not been back to Iran since April 2006 because of Tehran's displeasure with his work and his comments, from inspection team probing Tehran's nuclear program. The IAEA bowed to mullahs' demand and replaced him although he remained the head of the team. In an interview with Der Spiegel published in July 2006, IAEA Chief Mohammad ElBaradei had this to say about Charlier's removal:

SPIEGEL: Tehran recently complained about your chief inspector for Iran, Chris Charlier, a Belgian. Is there anything to reports in the press that you removed him from his position in response to Iranian pressure?

ElBaradei: That isn't quite the way it was. Our statutes give any state being monitored by the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) the right to reject an inspector who is not to their liking. It's the same thing in diplomacy, where a state can reject a proposed ambassador as a persona non grata.

SPIEGEL: So he was suspended at the request of the mullah regime?

ElBaradei: No, he continues to work in a key position relating to the Iran issue. But he will not be traveling to Tehran until further notice. We have 200 inspectors who can conduct inspections in Iran. Individual employees aren't the issue. The issue is getting the job done. I will denounce the policy the minute we are no longer able to do so in Iran.

In the very same month, Charlier spoke with another German paper"Die Welt" in which he accused the Iranians of tricks and deceptions on their nuclear activities and concluded "Tehran is obviously making a bomb."

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Iranian regime feels the heat

Kash Kheirkhah

One month after The United Nations Security Council unanimously voted to impose sanctions against Iran over its failure to halt uranium enrichment, Iranian leaders seem to be coming to grasp with the grave consequences of defying the international community.

This past Monday, EU foreign ministers vowed on to implement "in full and without delay" the sanctions banning transfers of sensitive nuclear material to Iran and freeze assets of those associated with the nuclear program. The US government's decision to extend unilateral financial sanctions are also reported to have a bigger economic impact than expected. Earlier this month, the United States imposed sanctions on Bank Sepah, a state-owned Iranian bank, which accused of financing acquisitions for Iran's missile programme. This followed the US action in September against another major Iranian bank "Bank Saderat," which was also accused of facilitating the operations of the militant Hizbollah movement. What's more, The UN resolution has now made it difficult for Iran to conduct customary transactions, even with non-US banks. Some European banks, including UBS Bank and Credit Suisse of Switzerland, HSBC and ABN Amro, have already suspended most new dealings with Iran and the Commerzbank of Germany, the leading provider of international bonds for Iran, said it will stop handling dollar transactions for Tehran.

The US has also put the squeeze on Iran's main industry: Oil. The new U.S. campaign to dry up financing for oil and natural gas development seems to be the biggest crisis the Iranian regime has faced in the past 28 years. According to a report in Los Angeles Times in early January, the efforts by the United States and its allies over the last few months to persuade international banks and oil companies to pull out of Iran threaten dozens of projects, including development of Iran's two massive new oil fields have been very effective. Oil Ministry officials in Iran have admitted banks are no longer granting letters of credit for delivery of some supplies.

L.A. Times reports that "as nations such as Japan begin to back out of Iran oil development under U.S. pressure, the government in Tehran is being forced to dig into its own reserve funds to get crucial new projects off the ground." The report says if Iran were to suddenly stop exporting its 2.6 million barrels of oil a day, such as in the event of a military strike, world oil prices probably would skyrocket. But analysts believe a gradual decline might be offset by other OPEC members, particularly as Iraq increases its oil production and Saudi Arabia carries out plans for significant increases in its production capacity.

Times of London reports today, "since last July, a barrel of oil has fallen from $78 to just over $50, reducing the Iran Government’s revenues by one third. If the oil price fell into the $35 to $40 range, Iran would shift into deficit, and with access to foreign borrowing cut off by UN sanctions, the Government’s capacity to continue financing foreign proxies would quickly run out. Iran has reacted to this threat by calling on Opec to stabilise prices but, in practice, only one country has the clout to do this: Saudi Arabia. Earlier this month, in a highly significant statement, Ali al-Naimi, the Saudi Oil Minister, publicly opposed Iranian calls for production cuts to halt the decline in prices. Mr Naimi's pronouncement was cast as a technical matter unconnected with politics, but it seemed to confirm private warnings by King Abdullah that his country would try everything to thwart Iran’s hegemony in Iraq and throughout the region, whether by military intervention or more subtle economic means."

Robert Windrem from NBC News writes in his latest report that Saudis are letting the price of oil and thus, “waging an oil-price war” on Iran. The Saudi oil minister has steadfastly refused calls for a special meeting of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and announced that the nation is going to increase its production, which will send the price down even further. Oil Minister Ibrahim al-Naimi, during a recent trip to India, had said that oil prices are headed in the “right direction.”

Such grim prospects for Iran's economy under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government, combined with the US military build-up in Iraq and the Persian Gulf to stop the Iranian regime from challenging US interests in the Middle East, have, for the very first time in the Islamic republic's history, prompted the highest-ranking Iranian officials, including the spiritual leader Ali Khamenei, to both publicly and privately admit the looming threat against Iran is indeed "grave."

But with the UN Security Council deadline for halting Uranium enrichment approaching, will such a realization result in major concessions by the Iranian regime as it also prepares itself to celebrate the 28th anniversary of the Islamic revolution?

Sources: Financial Times, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, MSNBC.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Iran overplaying its hand

  • Iran: Overplaying Its Hand: The Administration no longer focuses exclusively on Iran’s nuclear program but regards Iran as a strategic challenge to US interests throughout the Middle East and beyond...Outside Bush’s immediate circle, opposition to military action against Iran is almost unanimous among officials and analysts. On Capitol Hill opposition is also widespread. However, events could move rapidly as a result of an on-the-ground US-Iranian confrontation in Iraq. A National Security Council official commented: “The military sees Iran as the Cambodia (the North Vietnamese supply route into South Vietnam) of Iraq. Unless they can close this down, we cannot win.” The result is that conflict with Iran may come not through the “front door” of nuclear weapons disagreements but through the “back door” of Iraq.

  • Arabia: Lower Oil Prices and Iran: confidential exchanges have taken place between US and Saudi officials about bolstering Sunni elements in the Middle East, especially against Iran. In addition to joining the US in supporting the Sinoira government in Lebanon, the Saudis are also helping on the oil front. Intelligence analysts in Washington believe that Iran is vulnerable to a lower oil price. The resulting economic stress may threaten domestic stability. “Ahmadinejad promised improved living standards,” one analyst told us. “He has completely failed to deliver on this.” We hear that, with US encouragement, the Saudis have resisted calls inside OPEC for collective action to stabilize prices.

  • Ahmed Al-Jarallah, Arab Times: Tehran continues to stand against the international community, ignore warnings to abandon its nuclear program and insist on teasing superpowers. In 2003 as a part of its preemptive strike policy the US attacked Iraq, which was thought to have nuclear warheads. We wonder what Iran is trying to do by angering and challenging the United States. In our opinion a US strike on Iran is imminent to correct Tehran’s misguided policies, and prevent that country from becoming a black sheep in the Middle East.

  • The Sunday Times-Khamenei pondeing nuclear deal: IRAN’S supreme leader is considering a change of policy on the country’s nuclear programme in an effort to defuse growing tension with the West, according to senior sources in Tehran. Khamenei is said to believe that Washington’s aim is not only to halt Iran’s nuclear programme but to overthrow the regime. Under proposals now being debated, an international group made up of the permanent five members of the UN security council, plus Germany or a nuclear power such as India, would oversee and monitor Iran’s nuclear programme.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

U.S. Plans envision "broad attack" on Iran

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani has called the news of an impending US attack on Iran "psychological warfare", while maintaining Iran is completely ready for such a confrontation. This reminds me of the nonsense the delusional regime of Saddam Hussein used to utter even days before the US invasion. Larijani seems to have already exchanged his role as Iran's chief nuclear negotiater to that of the former Iraqi information minister, the butt of the Western media's jokes, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf:

Reuters- WASHINGTON -- U.S. contingency planning for military action against Iran's nuclear program goes beyond limited strikes and would effectively unleash a war against the country, a former U.S. intelligence analyst said on Friday. "I've seen some of the planning ... You're not talking about a surgical strike," said Wayne White, who was a top Middle East analyst for the State Department's bureau of intelligence and research until March 2005.

"You're talking about a war against Iran" that likely would destabilise the Middle East for years, White told the Middle East Policy Council, a Washington think tank. "We're not talking about just surgical strikes against an array of targets inside Iran. We're talking about clearing a path to the targets" by taking out much of the Iranian Air Force, Kilo submarines, anti-ship missiles that could target commerce or U.S. warships in the Gulf, and maybe even Iran's ballistic missile capability, White said. "I'm much more worried about the consequences of a U.S. or Israeli attack against Iran's nuclear infrastructure," which would prompt vigorous Iranian retaliation, he said, than civil war in Iraq, which could be confined to that country.

Middle East expert Kenneth Katzman argued "Iran's ascendancy is not only manageable but reversible" if one understands the Islamic republic's many vulnerabilities. Tehran's leaders have convinced many experts Iran is a great nation verging on "superpower" status, but the country is "very weak (and) meets almost no known criteria to be considered a great nation," said Katzman of the Library of Congress' Congressional Research Service.

The economy is mismanaged and "quite primitive," exporting almost nothing except oil, he said. Also, Iran's oil production capacity is fast declining and in terms of conventional military power, "Iran is a virtual non-entity," Katzman added.

The administration, therefore, should not go out of its way to accommodate Iran because the country is in no position to hurt the United States, and at some point "it might be useful to call that bluff," he said. But Katzman cautioned against early confrontation with Iran and said if there is a "grand bargain" that meets both countries' interests, that should be pursued.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A hanging and a funeral

On January 3rd, Thomas Friedman reflected on Saddam Hussein's hanging in his column in NY Times. In light of what many analysts and even world leaders--including President Bush- called "botched" executions of Saddam, his half brother Barzan Ibrahim and former Revolutionary Court chief Awad al-Bandar, Friedman's column is definitely worth taking another read. The mishandled executions have now raised questions, even among those who support president Bush's new strategy on Iraq, as to whether Mr bush's new plan stands any chance of success under an Iraqi government that seems to be driven more by tribal instincts than the rule of law:

...No wonder the BBC’s world affairs editor, John Simpson, reported from Baghdad: “Altogether, the execution as we now see it is shown to be an ugly, degrading business, which is more reminiscent of a public hanging in the 18th century than a considered act of 21st-century official justice. Under Saddam Hussein, prisoners were regularly taunted and mistreated in their last hours. The most disturbing thing about the new video of Saddam’s execution for crimes precisely like this is that it is all much too reminiscent of what used to happen here.”

...The raw tribal theatrics of Saddam’s hanging highlight just how few of these values Iraq has imported. We are to blame for not creating the security needed for those values to take hold. But not enough of our Iraqi allies have risen to the occasion, either. It was our closest Iraqi partners who oversaw Saddam’s tribal hanging. We have to look that in the eye.

Saddam deserved to die 100 deaths. But imagine if Iraq’s Shiite leaders had surprised everyone, declared that there had been enough killing in Iraq and commuted Saddam’s sentence to life in prison — sparing his life in hopes of uniting the country rather than executing him and dividing it further. I don’t know if it would have helped, but I do know Iraqis have rarely surprised us with gestures of reconciliation — only with new ways to kill each other...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Former CIA director: We should opt for a non-violent regime change in Iran

Woolsey questions the efficacy of Radio Farda and VOA Persian

  • R. James Woolsey, Hearing, House Committee for Foreign Affairs: Given the nature of the Iranian regime, what should we do? I agree that this is a difficult matter and that there are no easy answers. But since I am convinced that the Iranian regime is fundamentally incorrigible, and since I am not yet ready to propose an all-out use of military force to change the regime and halt its nuclear program, in my judgment we should opt for trying to bring about, non-violently, a regime change. I admit that the hour is late since we have wasted much time trying to engage and negotiate with the regime, and I understand that in the context of an effort to change the regime without using force the effort could get out of hand. Yet I am convinced that the least bad option if for us to state clearly that we support a change of regime in Iran because of the irremediable theocratic totalitarian nature of the current regime as it has been demonstrated over nearly three decades, together with its interference with the peace and security of its neighbors – currently especially Iraq and Lebanon – and its nuclear weapons program.

In other news:

  • The Economist-Targeting Iran? (via irvaj): George Bush could hardly be clearer in his disagreement with those, such as the members of the Baker-Hamilton Commission, who have argued for an early exit from Iraq coupled with the wooing of its big neighbour, Iran. Last week he announced that another 21,500 American troops will be sent to Baghdad in an effort to impose a military solution there. Then came the sabre-rattling towards Iran. He confirmed the deployment of an extra carrier strike group and Patriot anti-missile batteries to the Middle East—a clear signal that he is giving himself the option of a military strike to halt Iran's suspected development of nuclear weapons.

  • Russia Confirms Sale of Tor-M1 Air Defense Missiles to Iran-Pravda: Russia's defense minister said Tuesday that Moscow has sent air defense missiles to Iran, the first high-level confirmation that their delivery took place despite U.S. complaints. Sergei Ivanov did not specify how many missile systems had been delivered, but a ministry official speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject said not all the systems contracted for had been delivered. "We have delivered short-range Tor-M1 missiles to Iran in accordance with the contract," Ivanov told reporters.

  • Allies 'Go After' Iran as Beefed-up Naval Force Sails for the Persian Gulf-The Times: Britain is joining an American military campaign to blunt Iranian influence in Iraq and the Gulf. In a move likely to heighten tension in an already volatile part of the world, US forces have been ordered to detain Iranian agents in Iraq and to strengthen substantially America’s military presence in the Gulf. Two Royal Navy minehunters have arrived in the Gulf to reinforce a naval frigate on patrol in the area. “We are going after their [Iran’s] networks in Iraq,” Zalmay Khalilzad, the outgoing US Ambassador to Baghdad, said. The aim was to change the behaviour of the Islamic regime in Tehran, he added. Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary, accused Tehran of “very negative behaviour”. Twice in the past few weeks US forces have detained Iranian officials in Iraq, first in Baghdad and last week in the northern city of Arbil.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Editor's note

A big apology to the readers of my newsroom for not being able to write in the new year. I've been primarily busy reading up on issues ranging from Mid East politics and history to the impact of cultures on politics and economic developments. I'll be back writing and reporting shortly. Stay tuned!