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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #300 on: December 28, 2009, 10:11:45 AM »

2nd post:

Pic heavy piece on citizens resisting regime thugs:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1238717/Thousands-Iranian-protesters-clash-riot-police-bloody-pitched-battle-streets-Tehran.html
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #301 on: December 29, 2009, 08:39:45 AM »

Clashes between security forces and opposition supporters have increased as sundown approaches in Tehran. The violence appears to be propagated by both sides, with footage showing security forces and protesters attacking each other. Reports from opposition sources claim that between four and 16 people have died thus far, including one Basij militiamen. Iran’s state-run media denies that any deaths have occurred.

The Iranian regime’s intimidation tactics in the lead-up to Ashura have evidently not succeeded in keeping protesters off the streets. Protests have thus far been reported in the cities of Tehran (in Vanak, Mohseni, Enqelab and Tajrish squares), Najafabad, Isfahan, Shiraz and Zanjan. Notably, there have been no reports of protests on Dec. 27 emanating from the Shiite holy city of Qom, where large opposition protests occurred earlier in the week for the mourning of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri. In the days leading up to Ashura, STRATFOR received several indications that Iran’s security apparatus would place a great deal of attention on preventing demonstrations in Qom, the seat of the Islamic republic’s clerical establishment and thus a critical city for the regime to protect.

Judging from the rough video footage of the demonstrations and from source reports on the ground, the opposition protests are not as large as anticipated, but are still significant. It appears that the security forces have been somewhat successful in dispersing the crowds. The more dispersed the protesters, the less protection they have as a group and the easier it is for the security forces to crack down.

Opposition sources have been claiming that there is dissent in the security ranks, asserting that some riot police have refused orders to shoot at the protesters and are shooting in the air. Similarly, dissidents claim there have been desertions among the police. These are, of course, partisan claims benefiting the dissidents, and therefore cannot be confirmed. Rumors have been spread in the past about dissent in the security apparatus. This is possible but the security forces have appeared to be effective.

Security on the streets is still being primarily handled by riot police and Basiji militiamen wielding tear gas and batons. Though preparations were made for reinforcements in the lead-up to Ashura, regular army troops and elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps units have not been called in. This suggests that the protests have not yet breached the regime’s tolerance level. Though the security forces have cracked down on protesters with greater ferocity in recent days, the regime still appears wary of using extreme violence on a religious occasion as sensitive as Ashura.

As sunset approaches in Iran, many of the protesters should begin to head home. The younger protesters will likely attempt to hold out for longer. The Ashura protests have not yet produced an unmanageable crisis for the regime, but tensions are mounting, and there is word that the protests may spill over into the next day. At that time, however, the protesters will not have the religious cover of Ashura to protect them from what would likely be a much more aggressive crackdown.
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #302 on: December 29, 2009, 01:47:08 PM »

Regime Change for Iran?
By the Editors

Iran has come to a test of strength between the regime and the people. At this point, the outcome is uncertain. All sorts of unquantifiable factors like the character and will of leaders are in play, as well as unforeseeable interventions, for instance from the military or the Revolutionary Guards, plain accident, perhaps an atrocity. And not least, what President Obama says, in the event that he stops sitting on the fence.

What’s been happening is a textbook lesson in politics. The mullahs had put in place an ideological regime. This meant that they were able to run the country only so long as they remained united. Rigged elections last June revealed that the mullahs were fighting for power among themselves and would go to any lengths to win. Under their turbans and robes, the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and those who do the dirty work for him were evidently careerists and not the devout Muslims they claimed to be. Those who were cheated in that election also wore robes and turbans, but the blatant openness of the cheating created exactly the sort of factionalism that destroyed the Soviet Union and is fatal to any ideological regime.

Hundreds of thousands of people are now out on the streets. On the face of it, the protesters and the regime are unevenly matched. The regime controls the Basij, the paramilitary force that is above the law. The choice facing the regime is how much violence to exert. This is the key to the future. Too little violence, and the protesters are likely to feel encouraged to make more demands. People are already taking to imaginative peaceful protests on the widest scale. Too much violence, and the protesters become enraged, in all likelihood turning violent themselves. The shooting of Nada Sultan and others, including the nephew of one of the opposition mullahs, is the kind of brutality for which an ideological regime has to pay a high price. The arrest of large numbers of demonstrators is always a standing provocation. Members of the Basij have been attacked and stripped of their uniforms, weapons, and motorcycles. There are reports of policemen refusing to fire on the crowd, taking off their helmets and going home.

Regime change is in the air, and a consummation devoutly to be wished, for it might spare the world the prospect of nuclear weapons in the hands of power-maniacs ready to use them for ideologically driven mass murder and geopolitical extortion. It is clear that the ideology of the Islamic Republic is over and done with. That fact should be acknowledged. We owe that much already to the people out on the streets.

National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MTEwZmM4N2RlY2JiMDlhMTUxNGJkZTQzN2EwYzBiY2U=
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G M
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« Reply #303 on: December 31, 2009, 07:33:37 PM »

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/day_of_reckoning_hHNtbO7IbHnphV3rxxYZ8N

I bet the mullahs are losing sleep.  rolleyes
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #304 on: January 02, 2010, 10:15:09 AM »

By GOLI AMERI
The Obama Administration and its European allies are currently looking at a menu of "focused sanctions" on Iran and its leadership. A month ago they were obsessing over China and Russia's cooperation on indubitably innocuous U.N. Security Council sanctions. In both cases, they have the wrong target in mind. Security Council resolutions and focused sanctions serve as public relations window-dressing. Europe is the key to any meaningful behavior-modifying sanctions on Iran. The continued focus on Russia and China's intransigence is allowing Europe to stay under the radar.

Iran has been under three Security Council sanctions in the past decade, while the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has prospered and the plight of the average Iranian has deteriorated. The IRGC, which in 2007 was designated by the U.S. Congress as a terrorist organization, planned and instigated a coup during the recent Iranian elections and bear responsibility for the murder, rape, and oppression of the Iranian people.

According to Mohsen Sazegara, one of the co-founders of the IRGC and current researcher and democracy activist residing in the U.S., the IRGC controls the fundamentals of Iran's economy, with over 800 companies involved in shipping and ship-building, banking, energy, chemicals, heavy construction and machinery, electricity, transport equipment, and import of tear gas for oppressing mass demonstrations. The IRCG's most recent foray into Iran's business activities was the purchase of a 51% share in the Iranian Telecommunications Company for $8 billion, effectively gaining control of all Iranian communications with the outside world.

Who is Iran's main business partner? In 2008 the EU was—in its own words—the "first trade partner of Iran," with imports and exports totalling €25.4 billion ($36.4 billion) followed by China, Japan, and South Korea. The €14.1 billion in European exports to Iran last year, up 1.5% from 2007, included mainly machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, chemicals and even dual-use telecommunications equipment responsible for tracking and imprisoning protesters. Of the €11.3 billion in European imports from Iran, 90% is energy-related. Germany, France and Italy top the list, the former two also members of the team involved in nuclear negotiations with Iran.

Yet despite the IRGC's deep involvement in the Iranian economy, the Associated Press reported shortly after the June elections that Daniel Bernbeck, head of the German-Iranian Industry Group, said that "doing business in Iran is a far cry from doing business with the government itself....I see no moral question here at all. We are not doing business with Iran, but with Iranian companies. We are not supporting the government."

In the past two decades Europe's refrain has been that trade keeps the doors of communications open and allows them to openly discuss the nuclear issue and human rights violations. In a 2007 interview with Deutsche Welle magazine, Mechtild Rothe, vice president of the European Parliament, said that "relations with Iran have not reached a point where economic interests should need to suffer. I think it would be much better to negotiate—to speak with each other."

The people of Iran have now spoken loud and clear about their democratic aspirations. The EU, however, continues to pursue its economic interests, save for a range of toothless feel-good statements. As recently as October, the National Iranian Oil Company announced that "negotiations [on the South Pars Gas field] with Shell and Repsol [Spanish firm] in recent weeks have gone in the desired direction and efforts are being made to take action as quickly as possible given the mutual interests in this field." France's Total has also resumed discussions with the Iranian government on another phase of the South Pars Gas field. The AP also reported that, when asked if France would recommend that French businesses scale back trade with Iran, foreign ministry spokesman Frederic Desagneaux "wouldn't say yes or no".

Since the post-election crackdown discredited Europe's so-called "open doors of communications" strategy, Europeans are now hiding behind the slogan that scaling back business with the IRGC hurts average Iranians. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told the New York Times after the elections that "sanctions weigh in particular on the middle levels of society, but especially on the disadvantaged ones."

In 1968, Archbishop Desmond Tutu responded poignantly to similar criticism on sanctioning South Africa and its impact on the poor: "Moral Humbug," he said. "There is no room for neutrality. Are you on the side of oppression or liberation? Are you on the side of death or life? Are you on the side of good or evil?"

The Europeans and the Obama Administration should finally recognize that their interest in deterring a nuclear Iran coincides with the Iranian people's democratic aspirations. The perpetrator in common is the IRGC. Yet the AP also reported Mr. Desagneaux as saying in June that "the current election crisis shouldn't be lumped in with the standoff over Iran's nuclear program." The IRGC is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's and the Iranian government's power base, and European trade is enhancing the growth of IRGC's web of companies. Flush with cash, the IRGC has taken over the development of the country's nuclear program, support for insurgencies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza and Lebanon, as well as systematic oppression of the Iranian people. Mr. Sazegara indicates that the Iranian government spent $15 million just to assemble demonstrators on the 30th anniversary of the U.S. hostage crisis.

Why is Washington not more forceful in restraining European trade with Iran? After the passing of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act in 2007, which legally penalizes companies investing more than $20 million in Iran's energy sector, the EU countries (according to the Congressional Research Service) threatened formal counter-action in the World Trade Organization. A New York Times op-ed by John Vinocur quoted German business newspaper Handelsblatt as saying: "What's needed concerning Iran trade isn't giving in to United States and Israeli pressure."

Despite other valiant efforts by the U.S. Treasury Department, Stratfor Intelligence reports that "no company has ever been officially sanctioned by the United States for dealing with Iran. More often than not the U.S. executive branch will sign waivers for foreign firms… to avoid a serious spat with a firm's country of origin." Under Section 4c and 9c of ILSA, the president may waive sanctions if the violating company's country of origin agrees to impose economic sanctions on Iran, or if it is deemed in the national interest of the U.S.

The prevailing wisdom is that Europe needs Iran for its energy needs and is unable to cut off trade in a recessionary environment. The German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce has been quoted as saying that sanctions on Iran could result in the loss of 10,000 German jobs. Iran ranks as EU's fifth supplier of crude oil after Russia, Norway, Libya, and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has already stood up to Iran by supporting Saad Hariri's election in Lebanon at the expense of the Iran-supported Hezbollah. It was also the only Arab country to vote in favor of the recent U.N. Resolution blasting the human rights situation in Iran. Saudi Arabia can step in, as it has done at least once in the past, to fill the oil vacuum created by sanctioning the IRGC.

The IRGC needs nuclear weapons technology to survive and firmly anchor its regional influence. To peacefully weaken the IRGC's muscle, Europe has no choice but to act now and cut off their source of capital. If Europe waits too long, it will be faced with an irreversible regional conflict in the Middle East, further exacerbating the current economic crisis. Furthermore, the Iranian blogosphere is buzzing about firms trading with the IRGC, and Mr. Sazegara and his colleagues are compiling a list of companies for mass boycotts. Europe should note that Iranians won't fast forget countries that thwart their march toward democracy and freedom.

Ms. Ameri is the former U.S. assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, U.S. representative to the 60th U.N. General Assembly and the U.S. public delegate to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #305 on: January 04, 2010, 10:34:12 AM »

By TIMOTHY J. GERAGHTY
The nagging question of the nuclear age has been what if a madman gets hold of an atomic bomb? That question is about to be answered as Iran's defiance puts it on a collision course with the West.

On Nov. 4, 2009, Israeli commandos intercepted an Antiguan-flagged ship 100 miles off the Israeli coast. It was carrying hundreds of tons of weapons from Iran and bound for Hezbollah in Lebanon. Since the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah war, Iran has rearmed Hezbollah with 40,000 rockets and missiles that will likely rain on Israeli cities—and even European cities and U.S. military bases in the Middle East—if Iran is attacked. Our 200,000 troops in 33 bases are vulnerable. Shortly before this weapons seizure, Hamas test-fired a missile capable of striking Israel's largest city, Tel Aviv.

Iran is capable of disrupting Persian Gulf shipping lanes, which could cause the price of oil to surge above $300 a barrel. Iran could also create mayhem in oil markets by attacking Saudi oil refineries. Moreover, Iran possesses Soviet made SS-N-22 "Sunburn" supersonic antiship missiles that it could use to contest a naval blockade.

Iran could unleash suicide bombers in Iraq and Afghanistan or, more ominously, activate Hezbollah sleeper cells in the U.S. to carry out coordinated attacks nationwide. FBI, CIA and other U.S. officials have acknowledged in congressional testimony that Hezbollah has a working partnership with Mexican drug cartels and has been using cartel smuggling routes to get personnel and contraband into the U.S.

While Iranian centrifuges continue to produce low-enriched uranium, the mullahs and their henchmen have been carrying out a campaign of deception. In October 2009, Iran rejected a plan to ship its low-enriched uranium out of country, primarily to Russia and France, to be highly enriched and then sent back to Iran for "peaceful medical purposes."

On Nov. 28, 2009, reacting to increased pressure from the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran warned it may pull out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This would seriously undermine international attempts to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program. Two days later, Iran announced plans to build 10 new nuclear plants within six years.

In another sphere, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez are openly cooperating to "oppose world hegemony," as Mr. Ahmadinejan has said, while weekly flights between Iran and Venezuela are not monitored for personnel and cargo. Meanwhile, Russia is building an arms plant in Venezuela to produce AK-103 automatic rifles and finalizing contracts to send 53 military helicopters to the country.

I have seen this play before. In 1983, I was the Marine commander of the U.S. Multinational Peacekeeping Force in Beirut, Lebanon. Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' (IRGC) Lebanon contingent trained and equipped Hezbollah to execute attacks that killed 241 of my men and 58 French Peacekeepers on Oct. 23, 1983.

Today, Hezbollah directly threatens Israel, destabilizes Lebanon, and undercuts the Israeli-Palestinian peace accords. Something similar is underway in Venezuela. Remember Hezbollah used the Beirut truck-bomb model for the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires on March 17, 1992 and the July 18, 1994 attack on the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association that killed 85 and wounded 200.

The man directly responsible for those bombings was the commander of the IRGC's Quds Force, Gen. Ahmad Vahidi. He is listed on Interpol's most wanted list and was a key operative in the 1983 attacks on peacekeepers in Lebanon. In August 2009, he was named Iran's minister of defense. He succeeded Gen. Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, who was the commander of the IRGC Lebanon contingent and the chief organizer of the 1983 Beirut bombings. Both have Beirut peacekeepers' blood on their hands and are the same key leaders who today are orchestrating Iranian deception and defiance as they march lock-step toward their ultimate goal—nuclear weapons.

Col. Geraghty, USMC (Ret.), is the author of "Peacekeepers at War; Beirut 1983—The Marine Commander Tells His Story" (Potomac Books, 2009).
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Rarick
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« Reply #306 on: January 05, 2010, 07:49:41 AM »

Do we stomp on these before they become serious?  Venezuela, Iran?  Afganistan is unwinnable given their TOTALLY tribal outlook.  Each Valley there is a country. 

Iran is starting to gain traction with other borderline countries, and that is bad.  Obamas issued and then not followed up ultimatum will give even more traction. Is Venezuela within SCUD range of the southern USA?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #307 on: January 06, 2010, 10:59:32 AM »

Tehran Imbroglio: No Green Revolution
THE IRANIAN GOVERNMENT LASHED OUT today against the West’s perceived support of anti-government protests by arresting foreign nationals allegedly involved in the Dec. 27 Ashura protests, and publishing a list of 60 organizations waging “soft war” against Tehran. Meanwhile, Shirin Ebadi — an Iranian lawyer, human rights activist and 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner — argued in her interview Monday with CNN that the Iranian government’s efforts to suppress demonstrations were failing and would only increase and radicalize the opposition, thus sowing seeds for the government’s downfall. This largely conforms to the analysis of most Western media and policy analysts, who see the ingredients for the downfall of the clerical regime in Iran as clearly arrayed; most believe it is only a matter of time before Tehran sees a regime change.

The picture painted by Western media and governments is, however, one that STRATFOR has refused to complacently accept.

The imbroglio on the ground in Tehran is perceived as a continuation of the “color revolutions” that began in the former Soviet Union, of which the Ukrainian 2004 “Orange Revolution” is a prime example. All the elements of a “color revolution” seem to be in play in Iran: a pariah regime maintains power despite what appears to be voter fraud while a supposedly liberal/pro-Western opposition launches a series of protests and marches that only accentuate the regime’s instability and unpopularity. Keeping with the latest fashion, the Iranian movement has even picked a color: green.

Western commentators who think they are witnessing regime change in Tehran could make an even more prescient parallel with the toppling of Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic in the so-called “Bulldozer Revolution” in October 2000. In late 2000, Milosevic’s Serbia was a pariah state that refused to budge over its crackdown in Kosovo in much the same way that Tehran refuses to budge on the issue of its nuclear program.

But if Iran today is to be compared to Serbia in 2000, then the regime change would have happened immediately following the June elections when protests reached their greatest numbers and the government was caught off guard by the virulence of the disturbance. Instead, a much more realistic (and poignant) analogy would be Serbia in 1991, when Milosevic faced his first serious threat — one he deftly avoided with a mix of brutality and co-option.

“The Western media confused liberal, educated, pro-Western university students in the streets of Belgrade for a mass movement against Milosevic…much like they do with Iran today.”
The March 1991 protests against Milosevic focused on the regime’s control of the country’s media. Opposition leader Vuk Draskovic — a moderate nationalist writer turned politician — was still smarting over his defeat in the presidential elections in December 1990, in which his party received no media access to Milosevic-controlled television. The March 9 protests quickly took on a life of their own. The assembly of nearly 150,000 people in Belgrade’s main square turned into a full-scale anti-Milosevic riot, prompting a brutal police crackdown that led to the Serbian military being called to secure the city’s streets. The next day Belgrade university students took their turn, but were again suppressed by the police.

Milosevic’s crackdown dampened enthusiasm for further violent challenges to his rule. Each time he was challenged, Milosevic retained power through a mix of restrictions (which were most severe in 1991) and piecemeal concessions that only marginally eroded his power. Meanwhile, Western media throughout the 1990s confused liberal, educated, pro-Western university students in the streets of Belgrade for a mass movement against Milosevic, much like they did with the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 and with Iran today.

But ultimately Milosevic stayed in power for two main reasons: he had ample domestic, popular support in Serbia outside of Belgrade, and he had the full loyalty of security forces in Serbia at the time: interior ministry troops and their various paramilitary organizations.

Serbian opposition eventually employed two strategies that toppled Milosevic: co-option and compromise with elements of Milosevic’s regime. Co-option meant convincing the industrial workers and miners of Central Serbia, as well as ardent Serbian nationalists, that protesting against Milosevic meant more than being a university student who discussed Plato in the morning and marched against the government in the evening. Highly organized student opposition group Otpor (“Resistance” in Serb) made it their central mission to co-opt everyone from labor union members to nationalist soccer hooligans to the cause. This also meant fielding a candidate in 2000 elections — firmly nationalist Vojislav Kostunica — that could appeal to more than just liberal Belgrade and European-oriented northern Serbia (the Vojvodina region).

Meanwhile, compromise meant negotiating with pseudo security forces — essentially organized crime elements running Milosevic’s paramilitaries such as the notorious “Red Brigades” — and promising them a place in the future pro-Democratic and pro-Western Serbia. These compromises ultimately came to haunt the nascent pro-Western Belgrade, but they worked in October 2000.

These Serbian opposition successes stand in stark contrast to Iran today. In Iran, we have seen no concrete evidence that the opposition is willing or able to co-opt Iranians of different ideological leanings. As long as this aspect is missing, security elements will refuse to negotiate with the opposition since they will perceive the regime as still having an upper hand. Furthermore, security elements will ultimately not switch sides if they don’t have assurances that in the post-clerical Iran they will retain their prominent place or at least will escape persecution. This was the “deal with the Devil” that the Serbian opposition was ready to make in October 2000. But in Iran, at this moment, a deal with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and their paramilitary Basij forces is not possible.

Ultimately, Serbia in 2000 was also surrounded by a different geopolitical situation. Isolated in the Balkans with no allies — not even Russia, which at the time was weak and dealing with the aftershocks of the 1998 economic crisis — Western pressure exerted on Belgrade was inordinately greater than the pressure the United States and its allies can exert on Iran today. It is further highly unlikely that a military strike against Iran would have the same effect that NATO’s three-month air campaign against Serbia did in 1999. The scale of the two efforts is vastly different. Serbia was an easy target surrounded by NATO states, while Iran can retaliate in a number of ways against the United States and its allies, particularly by threatening global energy trade.

Evidence from the ground in Iran indicates that the ruling regime may undergo a certain level of calibration — especially as different factions within the clerical regime maneuver to profit from the imbroglio — but it is hardly near its end. The continuation of protests is not evidence of their success, much as the continuation of protests against Milosevic throughout the 1990s was not evidence that he was losing power. Milosevic not only held out for nearly 10 years after the initial 1991 protests, but he also managed to be quite a thorn in the side of the West, taking charge in numerous regional conflicts and going toe-to-toe with NATO.

We may later come to see in the Iranian protests of June and December 2009 the seeds of what might eventually topple the regime. But if we learn anything from the Serbian example, it is that a regime that survives a challenge — as Milosevic did in 1991 — lives to tough out a number of fights down the road.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #308 on: January 13, 2010, 07:22:20 AM »




AFP/Getty Images
Iranian security guards, firemen and municipal workers outside the home of Massoud Ali-Mohammadi on Jan. 12An improvised explosive device (IED) detonated in the Qeyterieh district of Tehran at approximately 8:05 a.m. on Jan. 12, killing University of Tehran physics professor Massoud Ali-Mohammadi in front of his home. Ali-Mohammadi’s association with the Iranian opposition movement and possible participation in the country’s nuclear program have led to a host of possible suspects in the attack, but details remain murky, and who was behind the attack remains unclear. However, a close examination of photographs and video of the blast scene reveals the sequence of events and clues to the type of IED employed in this attack.

The IED detonated as Ali-Mohammadi exited the driveway of his gated home and turned left on the street in front of the residence. Several reports have stated that the IED was remotely detonated, and the precision timing involved in this attack supports these reports and indicates that there was at least one spotter that had a line of sight to the target. There would have been an approximately two- to three-second window as Ali-Mohammadi exited his driveway for this attack to have been successful. A timing device would not be dynamic enough to detonate the IED at the specific time or account for possible delays. A remotely detonated device and an eyes-on spotter would provide the precision needed for this type of attack to be successful, and the largely residential area where the attack took place offers ample places for a spotter to hide in wait.

The photos and video of the site also demonstrate that the IED was located to the left of the exit of Ali-Mohammadi’s driveway along the street in front of his home, either placed in a garbage can or on a motorcycle parked along the road. The damage to the left side of Ali-Mohammadi’s vehicle and to the motorcycle indicates the IED was located outside the vehicle, as does the pattern of fragmentation at the scene.

The damage caused by the IED appears to be consistent with that of a low-velocity explosive packed with a form of shrapnel (perhaps something like ball bearings) — similar to a shotgun blast. Low explosives, like gunpowder or perchlorate mixtures, tend to heave and propel objects, while high explosives, such as RDX and PETN, tend to shatter and cut objects. The IED was located only a few feet from Ali-Mohammadi’s vehicle, but the metal frames of the vehicle and the motorcycle and Ali-Mohammadi’s body were intact – noticeably absent the type of blast effects normally associated with high explosives. There also was consistent 1-inch to 1.5-inch fragmentation damage all around the blast scene, indicative of some form of shrapnel being packed into the IED to make the device more lethal.

The use of a low-explosive device does not fit the typical modus operandi of a national intelligence agency. If an intelligence agency was involved, it is possible that such a device was used in order to conceal the author of the attack, or the attack could have been subcontracted out to a local organization. The materials used in this device likely were readily available and procured locally in Tehran. The fact that the device functioned as planned shows a degree of expertise, but that is not necessarily indicative of the involvement of a national intelligence agency.
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Rarick
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« Reply #309 on: January 13, 2010, 08:27:24 AM »

I guess Iran just became an "active sector"?   I guess some of the people in Iran are starting to think of the usual solution for govts that get to stuck on themselves.
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G M
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« Reply #310 on: January 13, 2010, 09:22:03 AM »

I wonder how you say Mossad in Farsi.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #311 on: January 13, 2010, 09:32:36 AM »

Stratfor says the guy published regularly as an academic, but did not seem to be involved in nuke production , , , AND that he was supporting the opposition?
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Rarick
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« Reply #312 on: January 13, 2010, 09:37:16 AM »

Mossad (plus some unprintables as well).   Wouldn't surprise me in the least, but I do wish the Iranians would DO more than just cry for a change.
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G M
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« Reply #313 on: January 13, 2010, 01:27:44 PM »

Stratfor says the guy published regularly as an academic, but did not seem to be involved in nuke production , , , AND that he was supporting the opposition?

I'd think the mullahs would be better off with an arrest and show trial in that situation rather than stage a bombing.  huh
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #314 on: January 13, 2010, 01:32:49 PM »

Quote
I'd think the mullahs would be better off with an arrest and show trial in that situation rather than stage a bombing.  huh

You could say the same about the protestors they are shooting, but they are shooting them nonetheless. My suspicion is that they are trying to succinctly communicate there are few depths to which they will not stoop, so Iranians ought best toe the line.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #315 on: January 13, 2010, 03:54:35 PM »

Or, if defection was in the cards, (and it wouldn't be the first defection btw) then this too makes a clear point to others similarly situated.
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Rarick
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« Reply #316 on: January 14, 2010, 04:38:01 AM »

Makes a point in a proper Persian manner too.  There is a legend about what a Persian king did to a gold thief...........His final meal was hot gold.
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« Reply #317 on: January 14, 2010, 06:41:37 AM »

Iranian Attack Complicates Nuclear Negotiations
MASSOUD ALI-MOHAMMADI, an Iranian physics professor at Tehran University, died early Tuesday when an improvised explosive device detonated outside his home as he pulled out of the driveway to go to work.

Ali-Mohammadi had been described by most media as a nuclear physicist. Since bombings in Tehran are quite rare and Iranian nuclear physicists are a bit of a hot commodity in the Islamic Republic, speculation quickly spread that the attack was the work of a foreign intelligence organization –- like the Israeli Mossad — to decapitate Iran’s nuclear program. Reports from the Iranian state press and Iranian officials propagated this idea, claiming that the Iranian Foreign Ministry had evidence that the bomb was planted by “Zionist and American agents.”

But upon further investigation, we found quite a few holes in that theory. For one thing, Israel would only target Ali-Mohammadi if he were a major figure in the Iranian nuclear establishment. From what we were able to discern, Ali-Mohammadi did not appear to be more than an academic who wrote frequently on theoretical physics, an area that has little direct applicability to the development of a weapons program. His apparently marginal role in Iranian nuclear affairs, along with the fact that he was a supporter of the Green Movement and was not living under the type of strict security one would expect of a nuclear scientist working on a sensitive operation for the state, led us to doubt claims that this was a Mossad operation.

“There are no clear answers as to who murdered Ali-Mohammadi, but the implications of the attack are easier to discern.”
Obscure Iranian dissident groups have thrown out other highly dubious claims, while some of our sources indicate that the attack was orchestrated by the regime itself to strengthen its position at home. There are no clear answers as to who murdered Ali-Mohammadi and for what purpose, but the implications of the attack are easier to discern.

Regardless of whether this attack was committed by Israel, a hard-line faction of the Iranian regime or a dissident group, Iran has portrayed the incident as an attack by a foreign intelligence organization on Iranian soil. That is a claim that resonates deeply inside the Islamic Republic. It also puts on the spot many of the opposition figures who don’t want to be accused of acting as enemies of the state when the state is claiming it is under siege by foreign rivals.

The attack consequently spells trouble for negotiations between the West and Iran over the latter’s nuclear program. Whether or not this result was intended by the regime, it will now be difficult –- at least in the short term — for Iran to publicly engage with the United States over the nuclear issue without losing face at home. Iran — by claiming its own scientists are under attack — now has added political justification to become more obstinate in those negotiations.

That could present an opportunity for Israel. Israel has kept quiet in recent weeks as yet another U.S. deadline has come and gone for Iran to respond to the West’s nuclear proposal to ship the bulk of Iran’s low-enriched uranium abroad for further enrichment. Iran has been increasingly cooperative in the past several days in entertaining the proposal and demonstrating its interest in the diplomatic track, while maintaining its own demand to swap the nuclear fuel in batches. The U.S. administration has continued resisting this demand, but has been making a concerted effort to demonstrate that it is making real progress with the Iranians to fend off an Israeli push for military action.

Israel, however, doesn’t have much faith in the current diplomatic process, which it sees as another Iranian maneuver to keep the West talking while Tehran buys time in developing its nuclear capability. As a result, Israel has made clear to the United States that it will not tolerate another string of broken deadlines. If Iran becomes more inflexible in the nuclear negotiations, Israel will have a stronger argument to make to the United States that the diplomatic course with Iran has expired. And should the United States be driven by the Israelis to admit the futility of the diplomatic course, the menu of choices in dealing with Iran could narrow considerably.
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« Reply #318 on: January 14, 2010, 08:54:19 AM »

Israel is on it's own. Barry ain't doing shiite to the mullahs.
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« Reply #319 on: January 28, 2010, 11:22:07 PM »

Obama Silent on Iran, Merkel Picks up the Slack
U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA presented the nation with his first ever State of the Union address on Wednesday. The speech focused almost entirely on domestic affairs, revealing the world’s sole superpower to be wholly engrossed in domestic politics and economic concerns. Barely one out of the approximately 16 and a half pages of the address looked beyond U.S. shores. There were no profound challenges to U.S. rivals as we have seen in previous speeches.

Geopolitically speaking, a global hegemon preoccupied with domestic concerns is significant in and of itself. Simply put, it means that its challengers can take note of the acrimonious political debates on the home front and hope to catch America distracted on a number of global issues. One such front is Iran, where the United States is engaged with its Western allies in trying to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon. There was barely a mention of Iran in Obama’s State of the Union, aside from a fleeting reference to “growing consequences.” But this does not mean that Wednesday carried no developments on the issue of Iranian nuclear ambition; it just means that they did not occur in Washington.

We therefore turn to Berlin where German Chancellor Angela Merkel made her most forceful statement to date on the question of sanctions against the Iranian regime. Standing next to Israeli President Shimon Peres on Tuesday, Merkel said, “Iran’s time is up. It is now time to discuss widespread international sanctions. We have shown much patience and that patience is up.”

Tehran responded to the change in tone almost immediately, issuing a statement through the Iranian Deputy Minister of Intelligence on Wednesday that claimed that two German diplomats were involved in the December Ashura anti-government protests in Iran and were promptly arrested. The statement further alluded that “Western intelligence networks” were responsible for the protests. This leads one to wonder if Tehran was publicly linking the protests and covert activity on the part of the German government.

The spat between Iran and Germany makes for some interesting geopolitical drama. First, Germany’s relationship with Iran is not a recent phenomenon. Historically, Germany has always felt more comfortable expanding via the continental route. For example, it attempted to use the Berlin-Istanbul-Baghdad-Tehran path to compensate for its inability to break through the Skagerrak Strait and into the Atlantic due to the presence of the British navy. Furthermore, arriving late to the colonial game, Germany looked to expand its influence in the Ottoman and Persian territories where local rulers saw Berlin as a benign European power due to its status as the challenger nation.

“The spat between Iran and Germany makes for some interesting geopolitical drama.”
Fast forward to today. Tehran has relied on Germany as one of its most consistent supporters in the West. German businesses, particularly in the heavy industrial sector, exported nearly $6 billion worth of goods in 2008, a marked increase from barely $1 billion in 2000, especially considering the worsening relations between Tehran and the rest of the West’s powers. While trade with Iran only makes up around 0.4 percent of total German exports — on par with Berlin’s exports to Slovenia — industrial giants such as ThyssenKrupp and Siemens do a lot of business with Tehran, particularly in the steel pipe sector. Exports of steel pipe to Iran make up a sizable 18 percent of total global German exports of that particular sector and are valued at around $400 million, a sum Germany cannot ignore amidst rising unemployment and uncertain economic times.

As such, Germany has repeatedly looked to avoid cracking down on Tehran, keeping sanctions language constrained to the United Nations arena where it is clear that no progress can be made without a change in Russian and Chinese positions. However, Merkel’s comments seem to suggest that change may actually be afoot. This is particularly true when one puts them in the context of the announcement from Siemens on Wednesday that it plans to cut future trade relations with Iran, and by Hamburg-based ports company HHLA that it will cancel its planned agreement to modernize Iran’s Bandar-Abbas port. It should be noted that both companies have close ties to the German state.

To explain Germany’s change in tone we can point to two factors. One is increased pressure from the United States. STRATFOR sources have reported that German banks were facing up to $1 billion in fines from the United States for doing business with Iran. German banks — which are already hurting from the economic crisis and are almost certain to experience more pain in 2010 — are key in financing German exporters. A crackdown on their operations would have effectively forced them to stop providing credit to any business intending to export to Tehran. The second pressure came from Israel, whose intelligence services have close ties to German intelligence services, and whose entire Cabinet held a joint session with German intelligence officials last week. President Peres also came to Berlin to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, not the time for Berlin to eschew cracking down on Tehran’s Holocaust-denying government. The image of modern Germany being a friend to the state of Israel is very important to Berlin.

Merkel may have ultimately decided that with the elections in Germany behind her, the time to protect businesses in the face of American and Israeli pressure was over. On the other hand, she may have calculated that changing her tone on Iran would save German businesses that export to Tehran because the United States would then not crack down on banks that deal with export financing.

Whatever Berlin’s reasoning may be, it is important for us to determine whether it is merely a change in tone or a concrete change of policy. It is therefore going to require a careful study of Berlin’s moves in the coming weeks as the approaching February deadline — set by the international community for Tehran to comply with demands on its nuclear program — reveals just how serious Merkel is and whether she is willing to impose sanctions against Iran without a U.N. agreement. If Germany is serious about enforcing sanctions against Iran, it will place concrete pressure on Tehran, the kind of pressure that an entire U.S. State of the Union address dedicated to the Iranian nuclear program would not have been able to bear.
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« Reply #320 on: January 29, 2010, 10:58:52 AM »

second post

Iran’s To-Do List
WITH JUST A LITTLE UNDER TWO MONTHS to go before post-Baathist Iraq holds its second round of elections, Iraq’s Sunnis are being pushed into an all-too-familiar corner by Iran’s political allies in Baghdad. A Shiite-led government commission in Iraq is currently examining a list of 511 Sunni politicians who, depending on the commission’s final decision, could be deemed too Baathist to be considered eligible to participate in the elections. Meanwhile, in the Iraqi Shiite holy city of Najaf, the provincial council has ordered the expulsion of Sunni Baathists from the city. Any remaining Baathists, according to the local council, would face “an iron hand.”

This is quite disconcerting for the United States. The last time Iraq’s Shiite faction attempted to cut Iraq’s Sunnis out of the political process was in 2003 under a highly controversial debaathification policy that essentially drove the Sunnis toward insurgency as a means of regaining political power. At that time, the Iranians had a golden opportunity at hand: the fall of Saddam Hussein meant the door was wide open for Iran to establish a Shiite foothold in the heart of the Arab world. After initially facilitating the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Tehran spent the next several years working on locking down Shiite influence in Baghdad. Iran did so with the help of its political, intelligence, economic and militant assets, but was also greatly aided by the nuclear bogeyman.

Throughout the Iraq war, STRATFOR watched as Iran used its nuclear program as a bargaining chip with the United States to consolidate influence over Iraq. This isn’t to say that the Iranians were never seriously interested in a nuclear weapons program. Indeed, such a program would be a welcome insurance policy and status symbol for the Iranian regime. But Iran’s nuclear ambitions ranked second on its priority list. Iran’s primary goal was always Iraq, Iran’s historic rival.

“By creating a nightmare scenario for the United States in Iraq, Iran effectively multiplies the value of its cooperation to Washington.”
Roughly seven years later, Iran is now ready to move down that list of priorities. In the weeks leading up to the Iraqi elections, STRATFOR has seen our forecast of Iran’s power consolidation in Iraq come to fruition. The Iranian incursion and seizure of the al Fakkah oil well in southern Iraq was the first warning shot to the United States, followed by some very obvious signs that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki — long known for keeping his distance from Tehran -– was beginning to align with Iran’s political allies in Baghdad. In a diplomatic slap to Washington’s face, al Maliki’s spokesman Ali al Dabbagh said Tuesday that U.S. attempts to intervene in the Iraqi political process to save a place for the Sunnis in the government would “not achieve anything.” The message Tehran is telegraphing to Washington is clear: Iran –- not the United States — holds the upper hand in Iraq.

With Iraq under its belt, Iran can now afford to focus on its next objective: nuclear weapons. But this particular agenda item carries a load of complications for Tehran, the most obvious of which is the threat of a pre-emptive U.S./Israeli strike on its nuclear facilities.

In a shifting of priorities, Iran is now effectively using Iraq as a bargaining chip with the United States in its nuclear negotiations. Iran can see how desperately the United States needs to disengage from Iraq to tend to other issues. The threat of a major Sunni insurgency revival could run a good chance of throwing those withdrawal plans off course. Iran can also see how the United States, with its military focus now on Afghanistan, is no longer in a position to provide the same security guarantees to the Sunnis as it could at the height of the 2007 surge. Therefore, by creating a nightmare scenario for the United States in Iraq, Iran effectively multiplies the value of its cooperation to Washington.

As intended, this leverage will prove quite useful to Tehran in its current nuclear tango with the United States. If the United States wants to avoid a major conflagration in Iraq, then, according to Iran’s agenda, Washington is going to have to meet Tehran’s terms on the nuclear issue and give serious pause to any plans for military action. Iran has already made this clear by officially rejecting the West’s latest proposal to remove the bulk of its low-enriched uranium abroad. Some might call this defiance, others might call it overconfidence, but at its core, this is a negotiation and Iran still holds a lot of cards.
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« Reply #321 on: February 03, 2010, 02:50:14 PM »

   
Iranian Proxies: An Intricate and Active Web
February 3, 2010




By Scott Stewart

For the past few years, STRATFOR has been carefully following the imbroglio over the Iranian nuclear weapons program and efforts by the United States and others to scuttle the program. This situation has led to threats by both sides, with the United States and Israel discussing plans to destroy Iranian weapons sites with airstrikes and the Iranians holding well-publicized missile launches and military exercises in the Persian Gulf.

Much attention has been paid to the Iranian deterrents to an attack on its nuclear program, such as the ballistic missile threat and the potential to block the Strait of Hormuz, but these are not the only deterrents Iran possesses. Indeed, over the past several years, Iran has consistently reminded the world about the network of proxy groups that the country can call upon to cause trouble for any country that would attack its nuclear weapons program.

Over the past several weeks, interesting new threads of information about Iranian proxies have come to light, and when the individual strands are tied together they make for a very interesting story.


Iran’s Proxies

From almost the very beginning of the Islamic republic, Iran’s clerical regime has sought to export its Islamic revolution to other parts of the Muslim world. This was done not only for ideological purposes — to continue the revolution — but also for practical reasons, as a way to combat regional adversaries by means of proxy warfare. Among the first groups targeted for this expansion were the Shiite populations in Iraq, the Persian Gulf and, of course, Lebanon. The withdrawal of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) from Lebanon in 1982 left behind a cadre of trained Shiite militants who were quickly recruited by agents of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). These early Lebanese recruits included hardened PLO fighters from the slums of South Beirut such as Imad Mughniyah. These fighters formed the backbone of Iran’s militant proxy force in Lebanon, Hezbollah, which, in the ensuing decades, would evolve from a shadowy terrorist group into a powerful political entity with a significant military capability.

One of the most impressive things about these early proxy efforts in Lebanon is that the IRGC and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security were both very young institutions at the time, and they were heavily pressured by the 1980 invasion of Iran by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, which was backed by the Gulf states and the United States. The Iranians also had to compete with the Amal movement, which was backed by Libya and Syria and which dominated the Lebanese Shiite landscape at the time. Projecting power into Lebanon under such conditions was quite an amazing feat, one that many more mature intelligence organizations have not been able to match.

Though these institutions were young, the Iranians were not without experience in intelligence tradecraft. The years of operating against the Shah’s intelligence service, a brutal and efficient organization known as the SAVAK, taught the Iranian revolutionaries many hard-learned lessons about operational security and clandestine operations, and they incorporated many of these lessons into their handling of proxy operations. For example, it was very difficult for the U.S. government to prove that the Iranians, through their proxies, were behind the bombings of the U.S. Embassy (twice) and Marine barracks in Beirut or the kidnapping of Westerners in Lebanon. The use of different names in public statements such as the Islamic Jihad Organization, Revolutionary Justice Organization and the Organization of the Oppressed on Earth, when combined with very good Iranian operational security, served to further muddy the already murky waters of Lebanon’s militant landscape. Iran has also done a fairly good job at hiding its hand in places like Kuwait and Bahrain.

While Iran has invested a lot of effort to build up Shiite proxy groups such as Hezbollah and assorted other groups in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, the Iranians do not exclusively work with Shiite proxies. As we discussed last week, the Iranians also have a pragmatic streak and will work with Marxist groups like the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, Sunni groups like Hamas in Gaza and various militant groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan (they sought to undermine the Taliban while that group was in power in Afghanistan but are currently aiding some Taliban groups in an effort to thwart the U.S. effort there). In an extremely complex game, the Iranians are also working with various Sunni and Kurdish groups in Iraq, in addition to their Shiite proxies, as they seek to shape their once-feared neighbor into something they can more-easily influence and control.


More than Foot Stomping

For several years now, every time there is talk of a possible attack on Iran there is a corresponding threat by Iran to use its proxy groups in response to such an attack. Iran has also been busy pushing intelligence reports to anybody who will listen (including STRATFOR) that it will activate its militant proxy groups if attacked and, to back that up, will periodically send operatives or proxies out to conduct not-so-subtle surveillance of potential targets. Hezbollah and Hamas have both stated publicly that they will attack Israel if Israel launches an attack against Iran’s nuclear program, and such threats are far more than mere rhetorical devices. Iran has taken many concrete steps to prepare and arm its various proxy groups:

On Dec. 11, 2009, authorities seized an Ilyushin-76 cargo plane in Bangkok that contained 35 tons of North Korean-produced military weapons that were destined for Iran (though Iran, naturally, denies the report). The weapons, which included man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), were either equivalent to, or less advanced than, weapons Iran produces on its own. This fact raised the real possibility that the Iranians had purchased the North Korean weapons in order to distribute them to proxies and hide Iran’s hand if those arms were recovered after an attack.
In November 2009, Israeli naval commandos seized a ship off the coast of Cyprus that was loaded with hundreds of tons of weapons that were apparently being sent from Iran to Hezbollah. The seizure, which was the largest in Israel’s history, included artillery shells, rockets, grenades and small-arms ammunition.
In August 2009, authorities in the United Arab Emirates seized a ship carrying 10 containers of North Korean weapons disguised as oil equipment. The seized cache included weapons that Iran produces itself, like rockets and rocket-propelled grenade rounds, again raising the probability that the arms were intended for Iran’s militant proxies.
In April 2009, Egyptian authorities announced that they had arrested a large network of Hezbollah operatives who were planning attacks against Israeli targets inside Egypt. It is likely, however, that the network was involved in arms smuggling and the charges of planning attacks may have been leveled against the smugglers to up the ante and provide a warning message to anyone considering smuggling in the future.
In January 2009, a convoy of suspected arms smugglers in northern Sudan near the Egyptian border was attacked by an apparent Israeli air strike. The arms were reportedly destined for Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and were tied to an Iranian network that, according to STRATFOR sources in the region, had been purchasing arms in Sudan and shipping them across the Sinai to Gaza.
As illustrated by most of the above incidents (and several others we did not include for the sake of brevity), Israeli intelligence has been actively attempting to interdict the flow of weapons to Iran and Iranian proxy groups. Such Israeli efforts may explain the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, whose body was discovered Jan. 20 in his room at a five-star hotel in Dubai. Al-Mabhouh, a senior commander of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, lived in exile in Damascus and was reportedly the Hamas official responsible for coordinating the transfer of weapons from Iran to Hamas forces in Gaza. A STRATFOR source advised us that, at the time of his death, al-Mabhouh was on his way to Tehran to meet with his IRGC handlers. The operation to kill al-Mabhouh also bears many similarities to past Israeli assassination operations. His status as an Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades commander involved in many past attacks against Israel would certainly make him an attractive target for the Israelis.

Of course, like anything involving the Iranians, there remains quite a bit of murkiness involving the totality of their meddling in the region. Hezbollah sources have told STRATFOR that they have troops actively engaged in combat in Yemen, with the al-Houthi rebels in the northern province of Saada along the Saudi border, and have lost several fighters there. Hezbollah also has claimed that its personnel have shot down several Yemeni aircraft using Iranian-manufactured Misagh-1 MANPADS.

The governments of Yemen and Saudi Arabia have very good reason to fear Iran’s plans to expand its influence in the Gulf region, and the Yemenis in particular have been very vocal about blaming Iran for stirring up the al-Houthi rebels. Because of this, if there truly were Hezbollah fighters being killed in Saada and signs of Iranian ordnance (like MANPADS) being used by Hezbollah fighters or al-Houthi rebels, we believe the government of Yemen would have been documenting the evidence and providing the documentation to the world (especially in light of Yemen’s long and unsuccessful attempt to gain U.S. assistance for its struggle against the al-Houthi insurgency). That said, while Hezbollah MANPADS teams are not likely to be running around Saada, there is evidence that the Iranians have been involved in smuggling weapons to the al-Houthi via Yemen’s rugged Red Sea coast. Indeed, such arms smuggling has resulted in a Saudi naval blockade of the Yemeni coast. Reports of al-Houthi militants being trained by the IRGC in Lebanon and Iran are also plausible.

Iran has long flirted with jihadist groups. This support has sporadically stretched from the early days of al Qaeda’s stay in Sudan, where Hezbollah bomb makers instructed al Qaeda militants in how to make large vehicle bombs, to more recent times, when the IRGC has provided arms to Iraqi Sunni militants and Taliban factions in Afghanistan. Iran has also provided weapons to the now-defunct Supreme Islamic Courts Council in Somalia and one of its offshoots, al Shabaab.

Over the past several months we have also heard from a variety of sources in different parts of the Middle East that the Iranians are assisting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Some reports indicate that a jihadist training camp that had previously been operating in Syria to train and send international fighters to Iraq had been relocated to Iran, and that with Iranian assistance, the jihadists were funneling international militants from Iran to Yemen to fight with AQAP. Other reports say the Iranians are providing arms to the group. While some analysts downplay such reports, the fact that we have received similar information from a wide variety of sources in different countries and with varying ideological backgrounds suggests there is indeed something to these reports.

One last thing to consider while pondering Iran’s militant proxies is that, while Iranian missiles will be launched (and mines laid) only in the case of open hostilities, Iranian militant proxies have been busily at work across the region for many years now. With a web of connections that reaches all the way from Lebanon to Somalia to Afghanistan, Iran can cast a wide net over the Middle East. If the United States has truly begun to assume a defensive posture in the Gulf, it will have to guard not only against Iranian missile strikes but also against Iran’s sophisticated use of proxy militant groups.

 
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« Reply #322 on: February 08, 2010, 04:45:30 PM »

John Bolton a long time hawk on Iran finally just came out and said the only thing to stop Iran from obtaining the bomb is a US or Israeli strike.

I have the impression the US powers to be have already quietly accepted that Iran will be a nuclear power.












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Rarick
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« Reply #323 on: February 09, 2010, 04:26:02 AM »

Change US powers to Current Administration, and you probably hit the nail on the head.
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« Reply #324 on: February 09, 2010, 08:03:26 AM »

Bolton is right I fear.  I would add that this , , , farce in which we are currently are engaged, what Krauthammer calls a "Kabuki Theater", is designed to pass the time until Iran has nukes.

Our deadline of September and then the "we are really serious this time deadline of 12/31" of have come and gone.

I saw SecDef Gates last night say our really big next move is to get a UN resolution shocked rolleyes cry  as if Iran's violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty which it signed were not enough.  PATHETIC.

That said, I certainly am not hearing any eagerness from our military for a military solution and Iran is not an easy nut to crack as those who glibly envision an Osirak 2 seem to think.   Are there non-nuclear solutions?  Anyone?  Anyone here calling for nukes?

It is more than worth noting that this farce began during the Bush administration and of the Euros that the Germans in particular bear the responsibility for the consequences for undercutting the economic pressures on Iran until it is now too late.  Also worth noting is that the Chinese depend on Iran for much of their energy and now that we have given them such huge claims upon us and our resources that we are in no position to  pressure them or blow them off.

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Rarick
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« Reply #325 on: February 10, 2010, 05:50:09 AM »

Yeah, people driving that block to the corner store instead of walking it, and politicians failing to actually do something when the bluff is called, have worked us into a nasty little corner.  The irresponsibility of our businesses crossed with the "everyone gets a free house" by the government to ruin an economy we need during this instable period after the end of the cold war.

Then We The People fail to hold ourselves and government accountable for our mistakes, and looking for Bailout Balm to avoid or sothe the owwie that we earned?  I am in one of those moods tonite............

Now there is an inability to deal with a real threat to us and our allies, I guess it is time to send a bill to Europe eh? due for empowering an agressively expansionist, religiosly fanatic regime.  I wonder if Nostradamus' man in a blue turban has turned up yet? could it be the UN backed by what is developing in the middle east with Iran leading things?

Okay wild surmise, but what lynchpin is there that could reverse this situation?
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« Reply #326 on: February 11, 2010, 02:12:46 PM »

Iran, Beacon of Liberty?
 
 
By REUEL MARC GERECHT
Published: February 10, 2010
ON Thursday, the birthday of the Islamic Republic of Iran, we will see whether the democratic opposition movement has been driven underground by the increasingly brutal harassment from the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iranian society has become like molten rock under high pressure: more eruptions are inevitable. And if the dissidents can take to the streets, they will.

In any case, the fraudulent June 12 presidential elections and the subsequent internal tumult ought to make us wonder what would happen if Iran actually went democratic. President Obama and his advisers — still devoted to engagement and the hope that Iran’s nuclear-weapons program can be peacefully derailed (despite Tehran’s stepping up of its enrichment program this week), and probably skeptical that Ayatollah Khamenei and his Revolutionary Guards Corps could lose power — have likely spent little time envisioning a region where the Islamic Republic as we have known it no longer exists. At least, nobody from the administration’s foreign-policy brain trust has laid out any plans for that contingency.
But given the troubles facing Ayatollah Khamenei, the near certainty that the clerical regime is going to get a lot nastier soon and the momentous possibilities of a democratic Iran, the White House should give it some thought. Mr. Khamenei is confronting a democracy movement that has grown larger despite an almost total lack of organization and charismatic leadership.

Iran’s militarized theocracy will survive or perish depending on the strength of the Revolutionary Guards, the praetorian branch of the military that has become a self-sustaining fundamentalist conglomerate. Yet many guardsmen and their children, like the children of the clerical elite, are graduates of Iran’s best universities. And if there is one factor that has inclined Iranians toward the opposition, it has been higher education — a point the regime has surely noted when it comes to the probable loyalties of the country’s nuclear physicists.

In fact, many rank-and-file guardsmen voted for Mohammad Khatami, the reformist candidate, in the 1997 presidential election, even though their senior officers detested him. It’s likely this schism remains.

The funeral in December of the regime’s bête noire, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, where hundreds of thousands turned out, suggests the regime may also be encountering resistance from the clerical establishment.

The senior clergymen of the holy city of Qum have never had any regard for Ayatollah Khamenei’s religious credentials and political pretensions; their quiescence has been achieved through intimidation by the regime and their inability to see any political alternative. But part of Ayatollah Montazeri’s appealing dissent, which has been echoed by other Shiite clerics since his death, is that the Islamic Republic doesn’t have to change much for the differences to be telling. Just freeing the Parliament from unelected clerical oversight would be a revolutionary step.

We will likely know in the coming months if the opposition can draw into the streets larger numbers of the mostazafan, “the oppressed poor,” who have been the popular bedrock of the regime since the 1979 revolution. The economic “reforms” that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has planned will probably worsen Iran’s already debilitating inflation and unemployment. An opposition combining the young mullahs, college-educated bureaucrats within Iran’s bloated civil service and a significant slice of the urban poor could be too diverse for the guards, a partly conscripted force, to suppress.

The guards rose to prominence defending the homeland against an Iraqi invader; they have not yet shown that they have the fortitude to kill their countrymen like the Russian secret police or the Chinese Red Guards. Note how much time and effort the regime has spent to deflect blame for the killing of one young woman, Neda Agha-Soltan, in the post-election rioting last summer. A self-confident regime would have killed unapologetically. Senior guardsmen may want to unleash a bloodbath to preserve the status quo, but Ayatollah Khamenei, who lacks the cold-blooded will of the state’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, doesn’t seem to want to slaughter Iranians or make himself a hostage of his henchmen.

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(Page 2 of 2)



When regimes start to crack, the unthinkable becomes thinkable. Ayatollah Khamenei’s supporters could start to wonder whether their influence could survive in a more open political system. Iranian journalists are reporting that former guardsmen who’ve joined the opposition are signaling their one-time brothers that they could have a soft landing in a new order. However much the regime has worked to brainwash its security force (“the bulwark against disbelief”), if more Iranians are killed, rank-and-file guardsmen may suspend their belief and choose not to shoot.

A democratic revolution in Tehran could well prove the most momentous Mideastern event since the fall of the Ottoman Empire. A politically freer Iran would bring front and center the great Islamic debate of our times: How can one be both a good Muslim and a democrat? How does one pay homage to Islamic law but give ultimate authority to the people’s elected representatives? How can a Muslim import the best of the West without suffering debilitating guilt?

To an extent seen in no other country, Iran’s intellectuals have battled and evolved over these questions. For a century, the country has been trying to develop constitutional government. For 30 years, dissident clerics and lay intellectuals have struggled to reassert the democratic promise in the revolution.

Especially for religious dissidents, democracy is now seen as a keystone of a more moral order, where the faith can no longer be used to countenance dictatorship. An operating assumption of President Obama’s speech to the Islamic world in Cairo last year is that Washington can work with authoritarian regimes against extremism — that Muslims don’t need to be politically free to tame religious militancy. But the evolution of Christianity, which never had Islam’s deep fusion of church and state, tells us something different: that it has been the West’s political evolution — from autocracy to democracy — which has, more than anything, depoliticized Christianity.

The same process is happening to Islam in Iran, but at a much faster pace than anything seen in the West. As a result, millions of Iranians — the sons and daughters of once faithful revolutionaries — have secularized. Whereas secularizing Westernized autocracies like the shah’s prompted upwellings of religious radicalism, Iran’s religious dictatorship has produced a softening secularization that is likely to last, since both nonreligious and faithful Iranians increasingly see representative government as indispensable to their values.

The impact of all this on Muslims everywhere is likely to be profound. In the Middle East, the Iranian Revolution catapulted Islamic fundamentalism into the foreground. An Iranian democratization couldn’t help but shake Sunni fundamentalists who, too, have wrestled with the tension between the Holy Law and voting. Sunni Arabs often like to pretend that they live in a different world from their Shiite Iranian cousins, but the truth is the opposite: cross-fertilization has been enormous. With Iranian democracy growing, liberal Arabs and Sunni Islamists would become much bolder in their demands.

Iran’s transformation would also remind Turkey’s ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party, whose commitment to democratic values has been increasingly shaky, that an authoritarian path creates revolt. And an Iranian democracy would powerfully affect Iraq, whose elected government has struggled with its own Tehran-backed demons. A democratic Iran would have little sympathy for Iraqis who prefer autocracy and religious militancy.

A democratic Tehran would also likely reduce its aid to Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Baathist dictatorship in Syria. Palestinian fundamentalists who now receive substantial Iranian financing would also likely be a subject of heavy debate in a free Parliament, as would aid to other radical Sunni groups throughout the Middle East and Tehran’s disconcerting contacts with Al Qaeda (which were detailed by the 9/11 commission report). Iran could easily become what Ayatollah Khomeini had wished — the model that transforms the Middle East — albeit not in the manner he hoped for.

Last, a democratic Iran would bring the reopening of the American Embassy, a symbolic measure of the highest significance that has long been popular among ordinary Iranians. The “Great Satan” would be no more.

President Obama has nothing to lose by moving away from engaging Ayatollah Khamenei and toward a vigorous engagement with the Iranian people’s quest for popular sovereignty. Rhetoric, sanctions aimed at cutting off Iran’s gasoline imports and intelligent covert aid to dissidents should be harnessed to the democratic cause. President Obama has an openly willing partner in the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, to make Iranian liberté a trans-Atlantic affair.

The administration should have no illusions: Ayatollah Khamenei’s regime is irretrievably paranoid. In its eyes, Western states, which have so far done next to nothing to help the democracy movement, are as culpable as the dissidents for Iran’s troubles. The supreme leader will seek ways to get even. And he isn’t going to give up his nukes. But a democratic Iran probably would.

Without the bogeyman of a Great Satan and the militant dream of regional hegemony, a Persian Parliament, overwhelmed with the people’s demands, would find much better things than enriched uranium to spend the nation’s money on. And if the clerical regime cracks, Mr. Obama will get credit. In no other endeavor, foreign or domestic, is the president likely to earn as much.


Reuel Marc Gerecht, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is a former Middle Eastern specialist in the C.I.A.’s clandestine service.
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« Reply #327 on: February 11, 2010, 03:15:13 PM »

Good post.
Sounds a bit encouraging.
Last night while driving and listening to Marc Levin he was saying Bama should go all out supporting the opposition and putting ALL screws available on the Mullahs.
The one issue not addressed is that the guy who "lost" to Amedinjad (sp?) may not have had any different approach to Israel.
Is there any data how the average Iranian feels about sweeping the Jews into the Mediterranean?

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Rarick
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« Reply #328 on: February 12, 2010, 07:10:31 AM »

I am begining to suspect that the current adiministration is like the majority of others in recent years....... Lip service to Democracy only.
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« Reply #329 on: March 06, 2010, 07:42:37 PM »

And this A-hole is out there!....  First, the WW2 Holocaust was a lie and now this!  somebody's in denial...

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Iran's Ahmadinejad: Sept. 11 attacks a 'big lie'
AP

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaks at the International Conference on AP – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaks at the International Conference on National and Islamic …

   
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer Ali Akbar Dareini, Associated Press Writer – Sat Mar 6, 1:50 pm ET

TEHRAN, Iran – Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Saturday called the official version of the Sept. 11 attacks a "big lie" used by the U.S. as an excuse for the war on terror, state media reported.

Ahmadinejad's comments, made during an address to Intelligence Ministry staff, come amid escalating tensions between the West and Tehran over its disputed nuclear program. They show that Iran has no intention of toning itself down even with tighter sanctions looming because of its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.

"September 11 was a big lie and a pretext for the war on terror and a prelude to invading Afghanistan," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by state TV. He called the attacks a "complicated intelligence scenario and act."

The Iranian president has questioned the official U.S. version of the Sept. 11 attacks before, but this is the first time he ventured to label it a "big lie."

In 2007, New York officials rejected Ahmadinejad's request to visit the World Trade Center site while he was in the city for a U.N. meeting. The president also sparked an uproar when he said during a lecture in New York that the causes and conditions that led to the attacks, as well as who orchestrated them, still need to be examined.

At the time, he also told Iranian state TV the attacks were "a result of mismanaging and inhumane managing of the world by the U.S," and that Washington was using Sept. 11 as an excuse to attack others.

He has also questioned the Sept. 11 death toll of around 3,000, claiming the Americans never published the victims' names.

On the 2007 anniversary of the attacks, the names of 2,750 victims killed in New York were read aloud at a memorial ceremony.
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« Reply #330 on: March 06, 2010, 08:18:22 PM »

Oy vey   rolleyes

Good thing we have such a coherent strategy to deal with all this , , ,
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« Reply #331 on: March 07, 2010, 02:35:28 PM »

Agreed.  Now on Drudge Iran is reporting they have cruise missles now.

In my living room and in my amatuer opinion the only way Israel can stop them is to use nuclear weapons.

There is no reason not to take the Mullahs at their word that they mean what they say about wiping the Jews out of Israel.

Thinking it through the potential consequences are horrendous, and yes will lead to another 1000 years of Muslim revenge.  That said the only other option is for the Jews in Israel to await their own deaths.

Because of inaction over the years the only way to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons by rogues is to use nuclear weapons.

And as noted before my impression, is that the US has already decided against such a move and is now thinking some sort of containment.  But containment can't work.  Isn't that obvious?

If I wasn't born a Jew would I actually think the US should bomb Iran with nucs or otherwise to save Israel?

Could I expect the goyam to do that for us? 

I don't know.

I wonder what Clinton would have done.  Hillary talks a bit tougher than the phoney One.  Yet clearly she works for him and has to be constrained by his policies.  Just wondering out loud.  As much as I dislike Hill/Bill I don't beleive that either could have been nearly as bad as this guy.

The billboard sign out West that portrayed W with the words, "miss me yet" could (bite my tongue) even be applied by me for Bill.

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« Reply #332 on: March 07, 2010, 07:39:30 PM »

Ah yes, Bill Clinton who sent Johnny Chung to raise money in Taiwan in return for sailing a US aircrafty carrier through the straits?  Bill Clinton who took money from the Red Chinese front of the Riady family?  The same Riady's who paid Webster Hubbell $700,000 in psuedo consulting fees that really were to pay him doing time without implicating Hillary in the Rose firm's overbilling in AK?  Bill Clinton who enabled technology to Red China by moving technology export decisions from the State Dept to the Commerce Dept in return for donations?  Bill Clinton who let Saddam Hussein run the UN inspectors out of Iraq so that we were nearly totally blind four years later when it was time to decide whether SH had WMD?

That Bill Clinton?
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« Reply #333 on: March 07, 2010, 09:10:26 PM »

at least a-hole has been reading the internet this time.  With internet facts to back him up this time he may be right evil

Maybe a MOAB reconfigured into a shaped charge weapon can reach deep enough? otherwise Israel will have to rely on the Barak, Patriot, and Ground based versions of the airforce airborne laser. undecided
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« Reply #334 on: March 08, 2010, 09:39:27 AM »

"That Bill Clinton?"

Your riight.  I guess it is natural that I used to think every time it can't get worse then the Clintons we now have the "Phoney ONE".

As much as Clinton was/is a total dishonest liberal I still never thought he was some sort of manifestion of an American hating Communist.

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« Reply #335 on: March 10, 2010, 07:59:53 AM »

Tuesday, March 9, 2010   STRATFOR.COM  Diary Archives 

U.S. Left With No Good Options in Iran
ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES CHIEF OF STAFF Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi arrived in Washington on Monday for a visit in which he will meet with a series of U.S. officials, including White House National Security Advisor James Jones and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen. The topic of sanctions on Iran will inevitably come up, just as the White House has downgraded the once “crippling sanctions” package it has tried to compile. The downgrade follows months of failed attempts to bring on board all members of the P-5+1, most notably Russia and China.

The Americans have reportedly moved on to a more watered-down, weaker version of sanctions that target not Iran’s gasoline imports, but rather the country’s shipping, banking and insurance sectors after appearing to have resigned themselves to the fact that Russia and China were not going to come on board with the initial, more severe proposal. The latest deadline being considered by those drafting the new package is reportedly May, though with the way deadlines have been treated throughout the affair (remember the February deadline?), even that seems like a stretch.

The United States thus finds itself in a geopolitical bind, stuck with no good options and the still formidable task of convincing Russia and China to come on board with the rest of the P-5+1 in agreeing to a way to pressure Tehran into giving up its nuclear ambitions while avoiding a war in the Persian Gulf. But even with watered-down sanctions, Russia still has an interest in seeing the United States remain mired in this imbroglio. Every day of American distraction in the Middle East means another day of Russian resurgence in its former Soviet domain carried out with minimal interference from Washington. And China, which depends on Iran for a significant portion of the oil essential to greasing the wheels of its ever-expanding economy, is happy to push for more talks as long as it is not the only U.N. Security Council member that refuses to bow to Washington’s desires.

With U.S. President Barack Obama’s hopes for a change in the Russian and Chinese positions hinging on how Moscow and Beijing respond to the new draft, the world’s superpower finds itself in uncomfortable terrain. Washington knows that this latest version of sanctions –- labeled as “smart” sanctions due to the fact that they are not intended to target the Iranian people, but rather the country’s elite military force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps –- is only as good as its ability to appease the Israelis, who would want to be able to draw the United States into a fight with Tehran and utilize the strength of the American military as a way of setting back the Iranian nuclear program.

One of the United States’ main strategic imperatives is to prevent the formation of a dominant power on the Eurasian landmass. One of the tactics Washington has been known to employ to achieve this imperative is to wait as long as possible to join a fight as long as there are others present that can do the brunt of the dirty work. For example, the United States stood on the sidelines until 1917 before entering the Great War, and waited until 1944 to land on the beaches of Normandy, giving its Western European allies (as well as its Soviet friends on the Eastern Front) plenty of time to absorb casualties and weaken the Nazi war machine before putting any of its own soldiers into the line of fire.

“One of the United States’ main strategic imperatives is to prevent the formation of a dominant power on the Eurasian landmass.”
Another tried and true tactic, however, has been to utilize a third force –- whether that be a state actor or a non-state actor –- to do Washington’s bidding. Unleashing Islamist insurgents against the Soviets during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan (with financial support from Saudi Arabia and logistical assistance from Pakistan) is a well-known example, as is the use of Awakening Councils in Iraq’s Sunni provinces during the 2007 surge, which helped turn the tide of what then looked like an interminable war. And with the recent focus on the empowerment of the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police eerily mirroring the obsession with “Vietnamization” in the 1970’s, the last 100 years of American foreign policy show a country that operates according to the notion that it is easier to allow others to do something for you than it is to do it yourself.

When the United States surveys the current landscape in the Middle East, it does not see any good candidates for helping it to contain Iran. The historic counterweight to a strong Persia, Iraq finds itself weak and fractured, possibly even at the risk of becoming an Iranian satellite as a result of the 2003 American invasion, which toppled the government of Saddam Hussein. The Russian comeback in central Asia and the Caucasus has largely bottled up any possibility of taking that route to destabilize Tehran, short of enlisting the support of Moscow itself. The Persian Gulf states recognize that geography is king, and while the United States buys these countries’ oil, the Iranians are a permanent presence in the region that will not go away over time. Then there are the Saudis, who, despite the sophistication of its equipment, have a military with a very limited capability of operating beyond its borders. Turkey –- a strong country in the region that theoretically could pose a big help to the United States — is focused on other foreign policy agendas that likely outrank helping the Americans at the moment. Afghanistan has problems of its own — namely the fact that it has never existed as a coherent nation state — while Pakistan is currently battling a jihadist insurgency at home. Hopes for a revolution in Iran, through the much-publicized Green Movement, failed to materialize, while the few anti-regime domestic militant groups whose interests could possibly intersect with those of Washington -– Mujahideen-e-Khalq and Jundallah -– do not come close to having what it takes to take on Tehran.

There is, of course, the possibility of negotiations. But all sorts of Faustian bargains arise from this route as well, meaning that when it comes to Iran, the United States is left with no good options.

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« Reply #336 on: April 15, 2010, 09:33:08 AM »

Iran Lays Out Its Terms
IRANIAN PRESIDENT MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD said Tuesday he would be sending U.S. President Barack Obama a letter, the contents of which would be made public in the coming days. In a live interview on state television, Ahmadinejad said that Iran was the “only chance” for Obama to salvage his administration’s position in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Iranian president remarked, “The best way for him [Obama] is to accept and respect Iran and enter into cooperation. Many new opportunities will be created for him.”

This is not the first time Ahmadinejad has offered his American counterpart cooperation in an attempt to extract concessions. But he has never been so direct about telegraphing his view that the United States is in a difficult position in the Middle East and South Asia, nor has he offered Iran’s help so that the United States can extricate itself from the region. What is important is that the Iranian leader is pretty accurate in both his description and prescription.

Washington is indeed working toward a military drawdown in Iraq, and needs to make progress in Afghanistan within a very short time frame. Iran borders both these countries, where the Islamic republic has significant influence. Cognizant of Obama’s domestic political imperatives, Ahmadinejad said, “He [Obama] has but one chance to stay as head of the state and succeed. Obama cannot do anything in Palestine. He has no chance. What can he do in Iraq? Nothing. And Afghanistan is too complicated. The best way for him is to accept and respect Iran and enter into cooperation. Many new opportunities will be created for him.”

The Iranian president is correct in that a solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is extremely unlikely. In terms of Iraq, the Iranians recently signaled that they are prepared to accept a sizeable Sunni presence in the next Iraqi coalition government. This will facilitate the U.S. need for a balance of power in Iraq, thereby allowing Washington to exit the country. Similarly, the Americans cannot achieve the conditions for withdrawal in Afghanistan without reaching an understanding with the Iranians.

“In exchange for helping the United States, the Islamic republic first wants international recognition as a legitimate entity.”
Therefore, the maverick Iranian leader was not engaging in his usual rhetoric when he said, “Mr. Obama has only one chance and that is Iran. This is not emotional talk but scientific. He has but one place to say that ‘I made a change and I turned over the world equation’ and that is Iran.” So, what exactly does Ahmadinejad want in return for helping the leader of his country’s biggest foe?

The answer lies in the following comment by Ahmadinejad: “Acknowledging Iran would benefit both sides and as far as Iran is concerned, we are not after any confrontation.” The Iranians are trying to bring closure to their efforts of the last eight years in which they have been trying to exploit the U.S. wars being fought in their neighborhood to achieve their geopolitical objectives. Ahmadinejad is laying out his terms.

In exchange for helping the United States, the Islamic republic first wants international recognition as a legitimate entity. Second, the global community needs to recognize the Iranian sphere of influence in the Islamic world. Third, and most importantly, while it is prepared to normalize ties with the United States, Iran wants to retain its independent foreign policy.

Put another way, Iran wants to be treated by the Obama administration along the lines of how U.S. President Richard Nixon’s administration dealt with China during the early 1970s. The demand for respect is a critical one. Iran is not interested in rapprochement with the United States along the lines of what Libya did in 2003 when it gave up its nuclear weapons arsenal in exchange for normalized relations with the United States and its Western allies.

Iran is not close to crossing the nuclear threshold yet, but it wants to retain that as a future option as per any deal. Iran has been emboldened by the fact that the United States is neither in a position to exercise the military option to prevent the Persian state from going nuclear, nor is it able to put together an effective sanctions regime that could affect a change in Tehran’s behavior. It is therefore using the regional dynamic as leverage to try and extract the maximum possible concessions on the nuclear issue.

On a further note, an arrangement based on the concept of “accept us for who we are” is critical to the interests of the Iranian regime for two reasons. First, it gets rid of the external threat of regime change. Second, it allows the Iranian regime to demonstrate on the domestic front that its aggressive foreign policy has paid off, which completely undermines its Green movement opponents.

It is too early to predict whether Iran can achieve its goals or not. It has moved to the final round of its efforts to use American weakness to its advantage, and at this stage it does hold a strong deck of cards.
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« Reply #337 on: April 23, 2010, 06:54:17 PM »

Thursday, April 22, 2010   STRATFOR.COM  Diary Archives 

How Iran's Military Exercises Impact the U.S.
THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY GUARD CORPS (IRGC), Iran’s elite military force, will stage a three-day exercise involving land, air and sea forces beginning Thursday. The deputy commander of the IRGC, Brigadier General Hossein Salami, made the announcement on state television Wednesday. The Iranian maneuvers will specifically highlight Iran’s indigenous missile capability, allegedly testing new weapons. Meanwhile, in response to a widely publicized report from the U.S. Department of Defense that said an Iranian missile could strike the continental United States by 2015, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said Iran had no plans to build a ballistic missile that could do so.

The exercises come at a time when the United States is rethinking its Iranian strategy; it faces a number of considerations that have it backing away from the potential of a military strike. First and foremost is the fact that Washington is preparing to exit Iraq and needs a sufficiently firm political compromise there to avoid a reversion to widespread sectarian violence, and preserve the regional balance of power. The Iranians, through their Shiite proxies in Iraq, have the capability to shatter any such compromise (though for their own regional ambitions would only do so as a last resort). A similar situation exists in Afghanistan. The United States is aware that its eventual withdrawal from Afghanistan is only politically feasible if it and the major neighboring powers — including Iran — make arrangements to prevent the country from relapsing into a haven for militants and a battleground for internal and external forces vying for influence.

Second, the American realization has been that striking Iran’s clandestine nuclear program would require better intelligence about the location and vulnerabilities of nuclear sites and unattainable levels of confidence in penetrating deeply buried and hardened facilities. More importantly, it would require managing the aftermath. To further deter an American attack, Iran has publicized its most critical retaliatory maneuver: deploying a variety of military tools to damage and threaten the Straits of Hormuz, through which about 40 percent of the world’s seaborne oil supply passes.

“The exercises come at a time when the United States is rethinking its Iranian strategy.”
Oil shocks at a time of global economic fragility are not tolerable for the United States. While Washington continues to assess the complexities of an air campaign that could (with limited confidence in success) neutralize Iran’s threats to the Persian Gulf, Tehran maintains a spectrum of capabilities — including missiles, mines and swarms of small, fast attack craft — that could cause considerable damage to commercial traffic, and raise uncertainties to the point that oil prices would climb even if attacks on oil-carrying vessels were relatively ineffective. This in turn would negatively impact economies from Greece to Cambodia, and everywhere in between.

At the same time the United States is aware that Iran is a rational player. Tehran would not resort to an internecine option like attacking Hormuz (which would incidentally cut off Iran’s own imports, including gasoline) unless it was convinced that an American attack was inevitable and imminent. The Iranians also want to see U.S. forces withdraw from Iraq so that they can get on with the business of configuring Iraq’s political make-up to favor Tehran’s interests. By doing so, they would pre-empt the possible re-emergence of Persia’s historic fears of a powerful Mesopotamian foe.

At a time when the United States is debating Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities and urging unilateral and multilateral sanctions, and Iran is threatening to blast the global economic recovery, both sides have reasons to consider bargaining. Though Washington’s desire to leave the region and maintain a balance of power against Iran is contradictory, a deal could be struck in which the United States could get its withdrawal free of Iranian sabotage, and Iran could get greater regional influence — possibly even nuclear-armed status. But relations are fraught with distrust and neither side can afford to look weak. The Iranian exercises are meant to drive home the point for Washington that attacking Iran is a far too risky solution, and accommodation is a much better choice.

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« Reply #338 on: May 20, 2010, 02:38:57 AM »

What a U.S.-Iran Entente Would Look Like
AT STRATFOR WE TRY TO KEEP TRACK OF minute details related to global events. At the same time though, we do not allow ourselves to get bogged down in the proverbial weeds or trees. Instead we focus on the forest as a whole and what the forest will look like over a temporal horizon.

So, while everyone else Tuesday was obsessing over the latest U.S. plans for a fresh round of sanctions against Iran, we were trying to understand what the world would look like if the United States and Iran brought three decades of hostility to an end. Most people would deem the exercise as ludicrous given Tuesday’s events. But STRATFOR has long been saying that with no viable military options to attempt to curb Iranian behavior, and an inability to put together an effective sanctions regime, Washington has only one choice, and that is to negotiate with Tehran on the issues that matter most to both countries.

We are not just talking about the nuclear issue, but rather the key problem of the balance of power between a post-American Iraq and the entire Persian Gulf region. The agreement signed in Tehran by the leaders of Iran, Turkey and Brazil is the first public evidence that the two sides could agree to disagree in roughly the same way the United States and China did in the early 1970s.

While both Washington and Tehran have a lot to gain from a detente, an end to their hostile relationship — which at the moment is far from assured — would have immense implications for a number of players in the region and around the world. This is a subject that has been intensely discussed among our analysts who cover the various regions of the world. Rather than craft a flowing narrative on their ruminations, STRATFOR presents them here in raw form.

An Iran with normalized relations with the United States is a challenge for both Washington and Tehran. The former more so than the latter because it is about the United States according recognition upon a state not because it has accepted to align itself with U.S. foreign policy for the region, but because there are no other viable options for dealing with Tehran. The United States can live with Iran driving its own agenda because of geography, but geography becomes the very reason why many U.S. allies are worried about an internationally rehabilitated Tehran. These include the Arab states, particularly those on the southern shores of the Persian Gulf, and Israel. Iran already has the largest military force in the region — which will only grow more powerful once Tehran is no longer encumbered by sanctions. It will, however, be some time before Iran is able to meaningfully project or sustain conventional military force, though it already exercises considerable influence via regional proxies. Even now, despite all the restrictions, it is still able to finance its regional ambitions — a situation that would only improve once foreign investments pour into the Iranian energy sector.

“While both Washington and Tehran have a lot to gain from a detente, an end to their hostile relationship would have immense implications for a number of players in the region and around the world.”
For the Persian Gulf Arab states, Iran’s return to the global energy market is as much a threat as its military power. Israel is already dealing with the rise of hostile Arab non-state actors, an emergent Turkey and an Egypt in transition, so from its point of view a rehabilitated Iran only makes matters worse for Israel’s national security. To a lesser degree, the Turks and the Pakistanis are concerned about Iran returning to the comity of nations. Ankara wants to be the regional hegemon and does not want competition from anyone — certainly not its historic rival. The Pakistanis do not wish to see competition in Afghanistan, nor do they want their relationship with the United States affected.

The United States has been hobbled by the memories of the 1979 hostage crisis for a generation now, while the importance of oil to the global system makes security in the Persian Gulf an unavoidable commitment for American forces. During the Cold War, when the United States did not have to worry about Gulf security or Iranian ambition, the United States was emotionally, militarily and diplomatically free to encircle the Soviets, parlay with the Chinese, induce the Europeans to cooperate, dominate South America and use Israel to keep the Middle East in check. We are in a radically different world now. But once the United States lets go of the expensive and unwieldy security and emotional baggage caused by Iran, Washington’s ability to reshape the international system should not be underestimated. And that says nothing of what an Iran with a free hand would do to its backyard.

The trajectory of this hypothesized rapprochement coincides with the trajectory of increasing U.S. military capacity. Though U.S. ground combat forces remain heavily committed now, this will change in the years to come. This trajectory is already taking shape, but a U.S.-Iranian entente would accelerate the process. A United States with a battle-hardened military accustomed to a high deployment tempo without the commitments that defined the first decade of the 21st century will have immense capability to deploy multiple brigades to places like Poland, the Baltic states or Georgia. Its naval deployments will be able to spend less time in the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf and more time loitering in places like the South China Sea. These capabilities will certainly create friction with states like Russia and China. The United States is on this trajectory with or without Iran, but with a U.S.-Iranian rapprochement, it is possible on a more rapid timetable and to a greater degree.

An Iranian-U.S. rapprochement would be a relief to Europe. The Europeans are exhausted by having to keep up with U.S.-Middle Eastern problems, and while the Iranian imbroglio has not forced the Europeans to commit any troops, they are worried that it may in the future. Europeans, especially the French and the Germans, would welcome a Tehran-Washington reconciliation from an economic perspective as well. Both want to use Iran as a market for high-tech products, and France has its sights set on the South Pars natural gas field in the Gulf. Iranian natural gas reserves, estimated to be the second largest in the world, would potentially fill the Nabucco pipeline and give Europe an alternative to Russian energy exports.

Russia has no interest in seeing the United States and Iran come to terms with each other. Iran may be a historic rival to Russia, but it’s a rivalry the Russians have been able to manipulate rather effectively in dealing with the United States. Building Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant and threatening to sell S300 strategic air defense systems to Iran are Russia’s way of capturing Washington’s attention in a region that has consumed U.S. power since the turn of the century. Moscow may be willing to give small concessions over Iran to the United States, but its overall interest is to keep Washington’s focus on Tehran. The more distracted the United States is, the more room Russia has to entrench itself in the former Soviet space and keep Europe under its thumb. If the United States manages to work out an understanding with Tehran and rely more heavily on an ally like Turkey to tend to issues in the Islamic world, then it can turn to the pressing geopolitical issue of how to undermine Russian leverage in Eurasia.

East Asia’s major powers would, in general, favor a U.S. rapprochement with Iran. Japan, China and South Korea, the world’s second, third and 13th biggest economies respectively are all major importers of oil and natural gas. If the United States were to lend its support to Iran as a preeminent power in the Middle East, it would not only open up Iran’s energy sector for greater opportunities in investment and production, but also relieve the Asian states of some of their anxiety about instability in the region as a whole, especially in the vulnerable Persian Gulf choke point through which their oil supplies are shipped. Moreover, these states would leap at new opportunities for their major industrial giants to get involved in construction, energy, finance and manufacturing in Iran, which would all be facilitated by American approval. A U.S.-Iranian entente would pose a problem only to China. Not only would it bring yet another of China’s major energy suppliers into the U.S. orbit and strengthen U.S. influence over the entire Middle East, it would also shrink China’s advantage as a non-U.S. aligned state when it comes to working with non-U.S. aligned Iran. Nevertheless, the economic possibilities of China working with Iran without provoking American aggression would likely outweigh the concerns over U.S.-Iranian vulnerabilities. That is unless an Iranian-facilitated withdrawal from Washington’s wars resulted in the United States putting more pressure on China.
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« Reply #339 on: June 03, 2010, 11:40:57 AM »

Iran: Converting Back to the Dollar
June 2, 2010 | 1952 GMT
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ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images
Iranian Finance Minister Seyed Shamseddin HosseiniThe Central Bank of Iran (CBI) announced a plan to convert 45 billion euros from its foreign exchange reserves into dollars and gold, Iran’s state-owned news channel Press TV reported June 2. Meanwhile, the Iranian daily Jaam-e Jam quoted unnamed sources as saying the new monetary policy would be carried out in three phases — the first of which had already begun.

From 2006 through much of 2009 a declining dollar motivated Tehran’s move toward the euro as its preferred currency for its foreign exchange reserves, a policy that dovetailed nicely with its anti-American foreign policy posture. Iran calculated that the dollar would remain in a state of decline while the United States dealt with the fallout from the financial crisis and global risk appetite returned. Even though they were paying transaction fees for converting dollars into euros, the increasing strength of the euro and the political benefits of reducing dollar-denominated holdings more than outweighed these costs.





(click here to enlarge image)
However, while the euro rose from the “conclusion” of the financial crisis, the unfolding European debt crisis is now pressuring the currency again. As a result, in the last six months the euro has lost about 20 percent of its value relative to the dollar. This is problematic for the Iranians, as they now have significant losses on the euro portion of their foreign exchange reserve holdings — last year Iran had claimed that its reserves amounted to about $100 billion (more than half of which it claimed was in euros), not far from other sources reporting $97 billion.

These losses are particularly painful for Iran, as its economy is already suffering from three decades of U.S.-led international sanctions that have led to the atrophy of its energy sector — Iran’s main revenue source. Further complicating this situation are the probability of additional sanctions, an aggressive Iranian foreign policy agenda, existing divisions within the ruling elite and the threat of domestic social unrest over poor economic conditions.

These circumstances would explain why Iran is deciding to alter its currency policy and revert to a largely dollar-denominated foreign exchange reserve. While such a move is indicative of a widening gap between Iran’s rhetoric and its actual behavior when it comes to doing business, narrowing that gap is a luxury Tehran neither can afford nor is too concerned with, given the pragmatic radicalism of the regime.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #340 on: June 12, 2010, 12:36:37 AM »

Et Tu, Moscow?
ADAY AFTER RUSSIA JOINED ITS FELLOW permanent U.N. Security Council members in passing a fresh round of sanctions against Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, coolly told state-run Al Alam TV that “Iran has been under sanctions and economic, technological and political blockade for more than 30 years — we got used to it.”

Iran may be used to a lot of things, but it is having an exceptionally difficult time getting used to the idea of Russia — long considered Iran’s primary power patron — hanging Tehran out to dry. Iran made no secret of its displeasure with Moscow in the lead up to the sanctions vote, releasing statement after statement warning the Kremlin of the consequences of turning its back on Tehran. Now having received the sanctions slap in the face, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is showing his defiance by canceling his trip to the Russian and Chinese-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Tashkent on June 11, while Iran’s oil minister has postponed a June 22 visit to Russia.

This is by no means the first time Iran has been betrayed by its Russian ally. After all, Russia voted in the affirmative the previous six times the Security Council passed sanctions resolutions against Iran. Those previous sanctions were a symbolic show of force against Iran, and everyone, including Iran, knew they lacked real bite and suffered from the enforceability dilemma. This latest round of sanctions will face the same enforcement challenges and were careful to avoid touching Iran’s energy trade so as to get Russian and Chinese buy-in. That said, this did not end up being a fluff resolution.

The newest resolution expands travel and financial sanctions on Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps entities — a preponderant force in the Iranian economy. The sanctions also go beyond inspections of Iranian air cargo to the seizure and disposal of Iranian contraband traveling by air or sea that could be used for military purposes. Instead of calling on states to exercise vigilance and restraint in the supply, transfer or sale of offensive weapons to Iran, the new resolution bans all of the above. Like previous resolutions, this one bars Iran from all enrichment-related activity, but now also emphasizes the construction of new nuclear sites. In short, this sanctions round expands the list of things Iran supposedly cannot do, while it allows action by interested states to interfere with a broader range of Iranian activities.

“This is by no means the first time Iran has been betrayed by its Russian ally.”
No sanctions resolution would be complete, however, without its caveats. With no real legal mechanism to enforce across international boundaries, the level of adherence to the sanctions will be left for individual states to decide. A closer look at the sanctions text also reveals a number of loopholes by Russian design. For example, Iran may be banned from nuclear and enrichment activities, and other countries may be banned from making nuclear investments in Iran, but Russia contends that in projects like the Bushehr nuclear power plant (and even future projects), it is not making such an “investment” if Iran is the one paying for the construction and training, and if the project and training are taking place on Iranian soil. Russia was also careful to include enough fine print in the clause banning arms sales to Iran to exempt a long-threatened Russian sale of the S-300 air defense system to Iran.

With more holes than Swiss cheese, the sanctions are by no means a call to war. But Iran’s biggest fear goes beyond the actual text of the sanctions and into the meat of the negotiations currently taking place between Russia and the United States.

STRATFOR has been closely tracking a coming shift in Russia’s foreign policy, one that would emphasize pragmatism over belligerence in dealing with the United States over thorny issues like Iran. Russia hopes to obtain much-needed Western technology and investment to modernize its economy and ensure Moscow’s long-term competitiveness in the global system. While the United States and Russia have (for now) agreed to disagree on more contentious issues like U.S. military support for Poland and Georgia, the Russian decision to move against Iran with this sanctions resolution is quite telling of the progress made thus far in U.S.-Russia negotiations. And for those outstanding points of contention, Russia still has the S-300 and Bushehr levers to wave in Washington’s face should its negotiations with the United States take a turn for the worse. Meanwhile, Washington has just acquired a very useful tool to bolster its negotiating position vis-a-vis Iran: the prospect of Russia abandoning its premier Mideast ally.

The Iranians have long known that their alliance with Russia stood on shaky ground, but they also worked fastidiously to try to keep U.S.-Russian relations as agonizing as possible to avoid being put in this very position. This is not to say Iran would be coming to the negotiating table empty-handed when it faced Washington. After all, Iran still has very strong levers against the United States in Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan that it can use at a time of its choosing. The question, then, is whether that time may be approaching. As Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Thursday, “It is now the Islamic republic’s turn to make the next move.”
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« Reply #341 on: June 20, 2010, 07:28:23 AM »



IRAN'S NEXT MOVE

A senior Iranian official Thursday warned that Tehran would not tolerate the
inspection of vessels belonging to the Islamic republic in open seas under the
pretext of implementing the latest round of sanctions imposed on Iran by the U.N.
Security Council (UNSC). Kazem Jalali, rapporteur of Parliament's Foreign Policy and
National Security Committee, said one such response would be Iranian countermeasures
in the strategic Strait of Hormuz. This statement from the lawmaker is the latest in
a series of similar statements from senior Iranian civil and military officials in
recent days.

Iran making good on this threat hinges on a number of prerequisites. First, a
country must actually move to exercise the option of boarding an Iranian ship. If
that were to happen, the question then would be: Will Iran actually go as far as
retaliating in the Strait of Hormuz? After all, such an action carries the huge risk
of a countermove from the United States, which cannot allow Iran to tamper with the
free flow of oil through the strait.

At this point, it is unclear how Tehran will respond to one of its ships being
searched. What is certain is that this latest round of sanctions has created a
crisis for the Iranian leadership both on the foreign policy front and domestically,
where an intra-elite struggle has been publicly playing out for a year. Our readers
will recall that STRATFOR's view prior to the June 9 approval of the sanctions was
that the United States was not in a position to impose sanctions with enough teeth
to force Iran to change its behavior.

That view still stands because the latest round of sanctions are not strong enough
to trigger a capitulation on the part of the Iranians. But they have enough bite to
prevent Iran from doing business as usual, especially with the European Union and
the United States piling on additional unilateral sanctions. Perhaps the most
significant development is the Russian alignment with the United States, which made
the fourth round of sanctions possible.

"The latest round of sanctions has created a crisis for the Iranian leadership both
domestically and on the foreign policy front."

 

Russia is no longer protecting Iran in the UNSC. Furthermore, imposing sanctions on
Iran after it signed a uranium swap deal has been a major loss for Tehran. It has
created a very embarrassing situation for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at
home, where he has no shortage of opponents -- even among his own ultraconservative
camp. The U.S. move to allow the May 17 Turkish-Brazilian-Iranian uranium swap
agreement to go through, followed quickly by a move toward sanctions suggests that
Washington tried to exploit the intra-elite rift to its advantage and undermine the
position of relative strength that Tehran had been enjoying up to that point. The
U.S. move has not only exacerbated tensions between the warring factions in the
Iranian political establishment, it has also forced Iranian foreign policy
decision-makers to go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate Iran's strategy
vis-a-vis the United States.

Despite saying earlier this week that his country is ready to negotiate, there is no
way Ahmadinejad can come to the negotiating table just as the United States has
gained an upper hand in the bargaining process. He cannot be seen as caving in to
the pressure of the American-led UNSC sanctions. As it is, the Iranian president has
to deal with the domestic uproar that he is leading the Islamic republic to ruin,
which makes efforts to regain his position among the warring factions and formulate
a response to get the Islamic republic back in the driver's seat even more
difficult.

While it has a number of cards to play, (e.g., Iraq, Lebanon, and Afghanistan),
precisely how Iran will respond remains as opaque as the infighting within the
regime. But the next move has to come from Iran. This new situation has led STRATFOR
to engage in its own process of reassessing the situation on the Iranian domestic
and foreign policy fronts.

Copyright 2010 Stratfor.
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« Reply #342 on: June 20, 2010, 07:47:43 AM »

Just buying time until they can target Israel with nukes.
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« Reply #343 on: June 20, 2010, 08:09:13 AM »

http://pajamasmedia.com/michaelledeen/2010/06/17/the-fatal-follies-of-containment/?singlepage=true

It’s grim news that geopolitical “experts” are thinking deeply about what to do after Iran gets the bomb, both because it means that they have already accepted the inevitability of Iran-with-nukes, and because they continue to skim over the basic facts about the world and the war in which we are so deeply engaged.  The debate about Iran should not revolve around nukes, but about the war Iran is waging against us right now.

There is an amazing unwillingness to grant that American soldiers are being killed every day by Iranian proxies and by Iranian fighters (mostly from the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force), mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Those killers are trained in Iran, funded by Iran, armed by Iran, and provided intelligence from Iran. They do not need nukes to kill us, but the experts obsessively focus their attention on the nuclear question.

Why do they refuse to talk about the real war? Why do they focus their attention on a problem that does not (yet) exist, rather than a terrible problem that does exist? To put the matter as brutally as possible, why don’t they — and our leaders — care about evil people who kill Americans?

Yes, from time to time a military leader will stand up and tell the press or the Congress about the ongoing attacks against American military personnel from the Islamic Republic of Iran. These are very short-lived episodes. Neither our journalists nor our elected representatives demand to know more, because they really do not want to know more. If they knew more, if they added up all these episodes over many years they would have to recognize the pattern, that is to say, the war that is being waged against us.
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« Reply #344 on: June 27, 2010, 10:06:56 PM »

Note the cautionary words at the bottom of the piece about reliability

http://www.philstockworld.com/2010/06/27/uss-carrier-harry-truman-now-officially-just-off-iran-as-israel-allegedly-plotting-an-imminent-tehran-raid/
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« Reply #345 on: June 27, 2010, 10:34:23 PM »

I find it very unlikely that Hussein is willing to pull the trigger on Iran. I'd love to be wrong, but I don't think so in this case. The most I see happening is the US suspects/was told an Israeli strike is in motion and is prepping to protect the oil tankers and gulf states from Iranian retaliation.
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Rarick
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« Reply #346 on: June 29, 2010, 06:29:18 AM »

If ANY ship is in the Arabian Gulf it can be claimed to be "just" off the coast of ..............6 countries I can think of off the top of my head.  The Suez is a choke point, if you have to shut it down for security for some military ships, running a set of military ships thru in one batch makes sense.  Is there any mention that they are ALL going to the same place.........  I wish I had a sense of the regular deployment, a change there, would really indicate things are going on.
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« Reply #347 on: June 29, 2010, 09:53:23 AM »

GM:

That is my thought too.
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« Reply #348 on: July 07, 2010, 09:05:50 PM »

http://www.jpost.com/International/A...aspx?id=180693

UAE asks US to stop Iran by all means

By JPOST.COM STAFF
07/07/2010 11:30

Ambassador to US reportedly says "we cannot live with a nuclear Iran."


The United Arab Emirates ambassador to the United States said Tuesday that it would be difficult to co-exist with a nuclear Iran and that it would support any actions the US took to prevent such a possibility The Washington Times reported.

Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba reportedly endorsed the military option if sanctions do not stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

"I think it's a cost-benefit analysis," Otaiba said to an audience in Aspen, Colorado. "I think despite the large amount of trade we do with Iran, which is close to $12 billion … there will be consequences, there will be a backlash and there will be problems with people protesting and rioting and very unhappy that there is an outside force attacking a Muslim country; that is going to happen no matter what."


"If you are asking me, 'Am I willing to live with that versus living with a nuclear Iran?,' my answer is still the same: 'We cannot live with a nuclear Iran.' I am willing to absorb what takes place at the expense of the security of the UAE," Otaiba reportedly said, in response to a question after a public interview with the Atlantic magazine. His remarks surprised many in the audience, The Washington Times reported.

John R. Bolton, former US ambassador to the United Nations, told The Washington Times that Otaiba's comments reflect the views of many Arab states that "recognize the threat posed by a nuclear Iran."

"They also know — and worry — that the Obama administration's policies will not stop Iran," he told The Times. Arab leaders, Mr. Bolton said, regard a pre-emptive strike as "the only alternative."

Otaiba "was thus only speaking the truth from his perspective," Mr. Bolton reportedly said.
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« Reply #349 on: July 18, 2010, 05:59:32 PM »

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/7896463/CIA-suspects-Iranian-nuclear-defector-who-returned-to-Tehran-was-a-double-agent.html

CIA suspects Iranian nuclear defector who returned to Tehran was a double agent

The CIA is investigating whether Shahram Amiri, the Iranian nuclear scientist who defected to the US but last week flew back to Tehran, was a double agent.
 
By Philip Sherwell in New York and William Lowther in Washington
Published: 5:04PM BST 17 Jul 2010

The strange case of Shahram Amiri has puzzled US intelligence chiefs who approved a $5 million payment to him for information about Iran's illicit nuclear programme.

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