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Iranian Alert -- April 30, 2004 [EST]-- IRAN LIVE THREAD -- "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^ | 4.30.2004 | DoctorZin

Posted on 04/29/2004 9:12:04 PM PDT by DoctorZIn

The US media almost entirely ignores news regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran. As Tony Snow of the Fox News Network has put it, “this is probably the most under-reported news story of the year.” Most American’s are unaware that the Islamic Republic of Iran is NOT supported by the masses of Iranians today. Modern Iranians are among the most pro-American in the Middle East.

There is a popular revolt against the Iranian regime brewing in Iran today. I began these daily threads June 10th 2003. On that date Iranians once again began taking to the streets to express their desire for a regime change. Today in Iran, most want to replace the regime with a secular democracy.

The regime is working hard to keep the news about the protest movement in Iran from being reported. Unfortunately, the regime has successfully prohibited western news reporters from covering the demonstrations. The voices of discontent within Iran are sometime murdered, more often imprisoned. Still the people continue to take to the streets to demonstrate against the regime.

In support of this revolt, Iranians in America have been broadcasting news stories by satellite into Iran. This 21st century news link has greatly encouraged these protests. The regime has been attempting to jam the signals, and locate the satellite dishes. Still the people violate the law and listen to these broadcasts. Iranians also use the Internet and the regime attempts to block their access to news against the regime. In spite of this, many Iranians inside of Iran read these posts daily to keep informed of the events in their own country.

This daily thread contains nearly all of the English news reports on Iran. It is thorough. If you follow this thread you will witness, I believe, the transformation of a nation. This daily thread provides a central place where those interested in the events in Iran can find the best news and commentary. The news stories and commentary will from time to time include material from the regime itself. But if you read the post you will discover for yourself, the real story of what is occurring in Iran and its effects on the war on terror.

I am not of Iranian heritage. I am an American committed to supporting the efforts of those in Iran seeking to replace their government with a secular democracy. I am in contact with leaders of the Iranian community here in the United States and in Iran itself.

If you read the daily posts you will gain a better understanding of the US war on terrorism, the Middle East and why we need to support a change of regime in Iran. Feel free to ask your questions and post news stories you discover in the weeks to come.

If all goes well Iran will be free soon and I am convinced become a major ally in the war on terrorism. The regime will fall. Iran will be free. It is just a matter of time.


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: alsadr; armyofmahdi; ayatollah; cleric; humanrights; iaea; insurgency; iran; iranianalert; iranquake; iraq; jayshalmahdi; journalist; kazemi; khamenei; khatemi; moqtadaalsadr; persecution; politicalprisoners; protests; revolutionaryguard; rumsfeld; satellitetelephones; shiite; southasia; southwestasia; studentmovement; studentprotest; terrorism; terrorists; wot
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Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail DoctorZin”

1 posted on 04/29/2004 9:12:10 PM PDT by DoctorZIn
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail DoctorZin”

2 posted on 04/29/2004 9:15:47 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Tehran's Air Defense Shoots at Ghosts

SMCCDI (Information Service)
Apr 29, 2004

Millions of Tehran's residents rushed, this evening, into the streets and onto the top of their roofs when Tehran's Air Defense System suddenly started firing into a clear sky. Many, fearing bombing or missile attack, went to bomb shelters as they did during the 1980-1988 war with Iraq. Dense firings were reported in some areas of the capital reminding residents of the Iran-Iraq war and the nightly jets or missile attacks by Saddam's forces which killed hundreds and injured untold thousands.

No official explanation has been given for the air-defense display, or exercise. Recent rumors of UFO sightings may have triggered the dangerous reaction to an unknown threat, or possible training exercise. Firing any type of ordnance into the sky always introduces the possibility that expended munitions will return to the ground and ignite fires, or harm innocents.

In reality, many believe that the so-called UFOs might be foreign reconnaissance flights and the Islamic regime will misinform the public about the true reason for the air defense show of force. The regime's leaders fear that any news that Iran is under attack by U.S. forces might degenerate into massive protest demonstrations that could result in the overthrow the theocratic regime
3 posted on 04/29/2004 9:17:46 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
US Terrorism Report Slams Iran

April 29, 2004
Yahoo News

The United States again condemned Iran as the world's leading "state sponsor of terrorism" but praised Saudi Arabia, which it said had made significant strides in combatting extremist violence.

As in previous years, the State Department identified Iran as the chief exporter of terrorism in its annual "Patterns of Global Terrorism" report, accusing the Islamic republic of fomenting terrorist attacks throughout the Middle East, particularly against Israel.

"Iran remained the most active state sponsor of terrorism in 2003," the report said, maintaining that Tehran's intelligence and security services were responsible for supporting extremist groups and that the country had failed to meet pledges to act against Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

Iran's "Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Ministry of Intelligence and Security were involved in the planning of and support for terrorist acts and continued to exhort a variety of groups that use terrorism to pursue their goals," it said.

The most egregious of these actions were Iran's continued funding of and arms transfers to Palestinian "rejectionist groups," its attempts to thwart the efforts of the US-led coalition in Iraq and its refusal to turn over al-Qaeda operatives it says are in custody, according to the report.

"During 2003, Iran maintained a high-profile role in encouraging anti-Israeli activity, both rhetorically and operationally," it said, citing Tehran's backing for Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.

All of those groups are designated "foreign terrorist organizations" by Washington and subject to US sanctions, as is Iran.

The report said Iranian officials had encouraged Palestinians to carry out suicide bombings against Israeli civilians and cited comments by a member of the country's conservative religious leadership urging Iraqis to follow that model in combatting the US-led coalition there.

It also suggested that after Saddam Hussein's ouster in April, Iranian operatives tried to sow discontent with the occupation among their fellow Shiite Muslims in southern Iraq and that elements of the government assisted members of terrorist organizations in escaping the coalition.

Other Middle East nations, with the exception of Syria and Lebanon, had positive records in fighting terrorism in 2003, with Saudi Arabia being singled out for exceptional work after deadly suicide attacks in Riyadh in May and November.

Saudi Arabia has come under heavy criticism from US lawmakers for its alleged unwillingness to deal with extremism, which manifested itself in the fact that it was home to 15 of the 19 hijackers involved in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

But the report lauds Saudi actions taken since then.

"I would cite Saudi Arabia as an excellent example of a nation increasingly focusing its political will to fight terrorism," the State Department counterterrorism coordinator, Cofer Black, wrote in the introduction to the report.

"Saudi Arabia has launched an aggressive, comprehensive and unprecedented campaign to hunt down terrorists, uncover their plots and cut off their sources of funding," he said. "I have been greatly impressed with the strides they have made and their seriousness of purpose."

Jordan and Morocco -- both of which were sites of terrorist attacks in 2003 -- were also cited for their cooperation in the global war on terrorism, as were Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Tunisia and the Gulf states of Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Yemen, the site of al-Qaeda attacks against US interests in the past, is cooperating with the anti-terror fight, but the report raised concerns about the release from prison of suspected terrorists.
4 posted on 04/29/2004 9:18:15 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Will Ban on Torture Have Any Effect?

April 29, 2004
Radio Free Europe
Golnaz Esfandiari

Prague -- Kianoosh Sanjari is an Iranian student activist who has been arrested and incarcerated several times in the last several years. Sanjari told RFE/RL he was subjected to psychological torture while incarcerated.

"For a youngster like me who was arrested at the age of 17 and put into prison, solitary confinement for several months was probably the worst psychological torture, and many [who were subjected to the same treatment] wished to die," he said.

Iranian authorities have always denied the maltreatment of prisoners and the use of torture. Human rights organizations say torture is prevalent in the country's prisons.

In its latest report on Iran, Amnesty International said, "torture and ill-treatment, including of prisoners of conscience, continued to be used, usually in cases where judicial or security officials denied detainees access to lawyers and relatives." Human Rights Watch said the "routine lack of respect for basic due process, as well as the frequent use of solitary confinement and prolonged interrogations, heighten the risk of torture and ill-treatment in detention."

Sanjari said many of those arrested during the 1999 student unrest were beaten. "I was a witness to the beatings in jail," he said. "Many of the students who were arrested in the aftermath of the student unrest in 1999 were lashed on their feet. For example, [well-known activist] Ahmad Batebi's head was held in a toilet. Consequently, many of the students are suffering even today from numerous infections."

"Until all jails are under the control of the prison organization, we will not witness the real implementation of the judiciary's directive." -- SanjariYesterday, the head of Iran's hard-line judiciary ordered a ban on the use of torture. In a 15-point directive to police, intelligence, and judicial officials, the head of Iran's judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi-Shahrudi, said, "Any torture to extract confessions is banned, and the confessions extracted through torture are not legitimate and legal."

The directive says that police should avoid blindfolding, restraining, or harassing detainees. Those accused of crimes also should have access to a lawyer.

Mohammad Hossein Aghassi, a lawyer based in Tehran, told Radio Farda correspondent Siavash Ardalan that the directive is a tacit admission that torture exists in Iran's prisons. "The issuing of this directive indicates that such events happen throughout the country. Before it was said that torture did not exist, the constitution had banned it, and Islamic law is also opposed to it. And now the details we see in the directive are exactly issues that critics have been pointing out. On the other side, [the authorities] have always denied [the allegations about torture]. They closed many of the publications and newspapers because they had said, 'Yes, there is torture [in Iran]," Aghassi said.

The timing of the directive is not clear. Some observers believe Iran's conservative judiciary may be trying to portray itself in a better light following the victory of conservatives in Iran's recent parliamentary polls.

Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi was quoted by Iranian newspapers as saying the directive should be welcomed "if, in the future, it is observed in Iran's judicial system and prisons."

But rights activists in Iran believe there is little hope that the order will actually stop the use of torture. "The existing laws are a better deterrent against the use of torture and maltreatment [of prisoners] than a simple directive. People who commit such acts do so secretly, and prisoners will not be released until such time that the signs of the beatings and harassment fade away. I think the directive serves more a propaganda purpose than a functional one," Aghassi said.

Student activist Sanjari also expresses doubt that the judiciary's directive will be implemented in all of the Islamic Republic's prisons. "[The authorities] have numerous prisons which are not under the control of the prison [authorities]. For example, I was held in solitary confinement for three months in 2001 in the Revolutionary Guard's Prison 59," he said. "Torture was used there, but the officials from the prison organization did not respond [about my whereabouts] to my family. Until all jails are under the control of the prison organization, we will not witness the real implementation of the judiciary's directive."

Currently, some 20 political prisoners are believed to be in detention in Tehran's notorious Evin prison. Human rights activists say a number of government critics and dissidents are also being held in other cities.

Earlier this week, Iran's reformist President Mohammad Khatami for the first time publicly acknowledged that some are being held in the Islamic Republic for their beliefs.
5 posted on 04/29/2004 9:18:56 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
What Is To Be Done in Iraq?

April 29, 2004
Weekly Standard
Reuel Marc Gerecht

From the May 3, 2004 issue: A plan for dealing with every faction.

05/03/2004, Volume 009, Issue 32

SO, what do we do in Iraq? It is obvious that the Bush administration and its distant and sometimes independent offshoot, the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, have been knocked off balance by events. It's not the first time, of course. The Baghdad and Najaf bombings of August 2003 unnerved Washington. But the "insurrection" of April 2004 appears to have completely disoriented the administration. Whether it is dealing with the Sunni Arabs, particularly those attacking and resisting U.S. forces in Falluja, or the Shiite militants behind the radical young cleric Moktada al-Sadr, or the anti-radical Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, or the United Nations and the Europeans, the administration certainly doesn't convey the impression that it has any plan left--except to (convincingly) promise perseverance and cross its fingers and hope that the U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi can devise a new political roadmap for the transfer of sovereignty on June 30.

At this point, it is worthwhile to remember that the vast majority of Iraqis are still probably on "our side," that is, they sincerely want a peaceful and workable transition of sovereignty that leads to a functioning, democratic Iraq. Given all the violence, and the enormous political problems that lie ahead, it is easy to forget this datum. Among the Shiites, and the Kurds, and even the Sunnis, it is not hard to see the desire to make things work. Though the June 30 deadline has made both American and Iraqi pulses race, we still probably enjoy more margin of error than we think we do, because relatively few Iraqis--certainly very few senior clerics in Najaf, who are the most consequential political players in the country--want chaos or a return to dictatorship. It's not unlikely the Bush administration will in the end be forgiven its worst mistakes and the problems that would have occurred even if the CPA had played a better hand. The Sunni "insurrection," for example, was in all probability inevitable. Would that we'd rounded up sooner more men from Saddam's elite military units, the intelligence and security services, and the paramilitary storm troopers, but these folks were going to come for us in any case. Ditto the Sunni militants and foreign holy warriors who have no intention to allow a Shiite-led democracy to take shape. And if the CPA had adopted the anti-Shiite mentality present in the voluminous, much-touted, but seldom-read State Department guide to Iraqi reconstruction, things in Iraq could be far worse. Sometimes poor--or no--planning is better than stacks of consistently bad ideas.

But what do we do now? Let's divide Iraq up into its principal sects--Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, U.N. bureaucrats, Europeans, and Americans--and work through them.

The Sunnis. What is the CPA trying to accomplish in the siege of Falluja? It is at this point unclear. If it is trying to send a clear signal of American resolve to the ex-Baathists, Sunni fundamentalists (and Falluja has been a crucible for Wahhabism in Iraq), and foreign holy warriors, it is failing. Just a glance at the Arabic media gives the opposite impression: The brave denizens of the town have successfully defied the American occupiers. Falluja has become a rallying cry. Even Iraqis who hate the insurrectionists may start to flip on us because the Americans appear to be engaging in an endless military action. Iraqi nationalism is a real and fickle thing. Even Shiites who would be thrilled to see the American military maul the ex-Baathists and Sunni fundamentalists fortified in the town (better the Americans deal with them now than we have to later) could start to turn if the United States undertakes a protracted siege. The Shiites may distrust the satellite channels Al Jazeera and Al Arabia for their pro-Saddam bias through the years, but nonstop images and sounds of the Falluja siege with innocent civilians dying day after day will start to tweak Iraqi nationalist nerves. Soon we could be in that very unpleasant situation where even our most steadfast Shiite allies start to say nice things about Iraqis they detest. And we should not forget the effect that this has upon Sunni holy warriors. Bin Ladenism is primarily fed by the appearance of American indecision and weakness. Inside Iraq and out, the "resistance" of Falluja is a godsend for holy warriors like Abu Musab al Zarqawi, an al Qaeda acolyte who has been behind many of the suicide bombings.

The United States simply cannot afford to engage in siege tactics. Negotiations must lead to the immediate surrender of the town and all those within it--the surrender of the insurgents' weaponry is meaningless since weaponry in Iraq can be quickly reacquired. Any agreement where the insurgents abandon their heavy weaponry and withdraw from the town unmolested is even worse. This will only punt down the road a worse confrontation. This is exactly what we did with Moktada al-Sadr. In other words, the only real option is for the Marines to storm the place. We should have taken the town immediately after the four American contract-workers were desecrated; indeed, U.S. armed forces should have cleaned up Falluja months ago. If there is one town in Iraq that has merited classic counterinsurgency tactics, it is Falluja. No doubt, there could be unpleasant repercussions within Iraq and elsewhere from a direct assault--Lakhdar Brahimi has already concluded that "collective punishment is certainly unacceptable and the siege of the city is absolutely unacceptable." But we now have no choice. We cannot retreat and we cannot maintain a siege. Sooner, not later, we need to align the tough rhetoric of the CPA chief L. Paul Bremer with military actions on the ground. It's unlikely we can please Brahimi and successfully fight this war in the Sunni Triangle at the same time.

The Sunnis and politics. It is obvious and understandable that the CPA is desperately trying to engage the Arab Sunnis in a political process that will, in theory, diminish the violence within the Sunni Triangle. It is entirely likely that some military actions were poorly planned and executed, killing and harassing moderate Sunni Arabs who earlier wished us no harm. Clumsy, heavy-handed U.S. actions are perhaps inevitable given the type of combat forces deployed, the American proclivity toward force-protection, and the dubious sources of some American intelligence (think about the known Sunni bad eggs in the hastily rebuilt Iraqi security services and then think about the information given to the U.S. military and the CIA about "hostile" Sunnis--it is quite possible that we have unknowingly on occasion done the bidding of ex-Baathists and Sunni militants). In an effort to make the Sunnis feel more loved, the Bush administration has decided to reverse partially Ambassador Bremer's decision to exclude the former Sunni military elite from a new Iraqi army. Brahimi, a Sunni Algerian Arab who rose to prominence under the rule of Algeria's generals, has already let it be known that he believes the Americans have engaged in too much de-Baathification. This view is also common within the State Department, the uniformed services at the Pentagon, and among Iraq experts in universities and think tanks. The administration ought to realize, however, it is playing with fire.

Does the Shiite community, and especially the Shiite clergy, realize that there are such things as "good Sunni military officers"? Sure. Though not numerous, such men in the past spared Shiite lives and property. The Shiites are well aware of the collective hell that all Iraqis endured under Saddam Hussein. But there is a red line here. And it will be very hard to know when we've crossed it until it is too late. And once we've crossed, we can't step back. And let us repeat what has become obvious since the "insurrection" of Moktada al-Sadr started: We lose the Shiites, we lose Iraq.

Let us be honest about how the Sunni community will view Sunni colonels and generals returning to an Iraqi army. Are they likely to say to themselves, "See, we will have a place in a new democratic Iraq," or to think they have a chance to recapture the instrument of political power, the ultimate check against a Shiite-led government? The Sunni will to power is the common denominator of modern Iraqi history--Shiites might argue that it is the common denominator of Islamic history. Travel Iraq and it is easy to find Sunnis who sincerely want to see their country democratic. Spend much time among the former military elite and you don't come away with the same sensation. Rather, you get the impression that they are furious at Saddam Hussein for going too far, for cocking up what had been a very good and sustainable situation.

It is possible, of course, that the democratic ethic can grow in such men. Ambassador Bremer has said that only ex-Baathist military officers with good records will be considered for reemployment. But what exactly does that mean? Officers who embraced the party--and your "better" officers over the rank of major probably did enthusiastically--but did not personally shoot women and children or order the destruction of Shiite homes, are these soldiers of good standing? And how many Sunnis will we need to hire into the new army to make the Sunnis feel as if they've received their "fair" share? Do we really think that whatever that share is will turn most of the Sunni rejectionists into democrats? If there is one thing the Provisional Authority may do in Iraq that most resembles Russian roulette, this is it. It would be very wise for the administration, if it insists on going through with this new "Buy Sunni" approach to the Iraqi military, to clear senior Sunni Arab military appointments with a good sampling of Shiites--especially the senior clergy in Najaf.

The essential political step for the Sunnis, as for all Iraqis, is to move to national elections as quickly as possible so we and the Iraqis can see how many Arab Sunnis are willing to vest themselves in a new, Shiite-led democratic order. The Sunnis need to know that the train is leaving the station and that they cannot stop it. Profound cooperation is much more likely if they know as a community that their interests will be permanently short-changed if the Shiites, Kurds, and Americans must construct a new Iraq without substantial Sunni participation.

For the Shiites, a seven-point plan:

(1) At all times treat Grand Ayatollah Sistani as the leader of the Shiite community. Even if Sistani isn't clearly in control--and Moktada al-Sadr is trying hard to challenge Iraq's preeminent divine--act as if he ought to be. The ayatollah is America's most essential ally in Iraq, regardless of whether the Americans and the Iraqis like to publicly admit it.

(2) Realize we have more maneuvering room with the rebellion of Sadr than with the Sunnis in Falluja. This means, first and foremost, don't attack the holy city of Najaf. There are many reasons why the Iraqi Shiites today loathe the Saudis, but up there at the top is the memory of Wahhabi holy warriors besieging and sacking Shiite shrine cities in Iraq repeatedly throughout the 19th century. If we go into Najaf in force, we will lose Grand Ayatollah Sistani, who is the guardian of the holy city. We lose him, we lose the country. There may conceivably be some wiggle room for a lightning-fast strike directly against Sadr, but it's most doubtful that American intelligence could ever supply the information needed to make this tactically possible. It's also most unlikely that the senior clergy of Najaf's clerical establishment, the Hawza, would countenance such a strike, though they detest Sadr. There is nothing wrong, however, with going after Sadr's men elsewhere in the country if they engage in any violent actions against Iraqis, Americans, or our allies. And if they attack, we should respond immediately with lethal force.

Ultimately, however, Sistani and the Hawza must handle Sadr. We cannot do this for them. In the past, Sistani could draw on significant armed forces from the tribes in the Shiite heartland around Najaf. He did so earlier to intimidate the followers of Moktada, the Sadriyyin. We must continue to hope that the senior clergy, who loathe the idea of internecine Shiite fighting, especially within Najaf, can find a means to neutralize Sadr as long as he remains in the shrine city. And if Sistani agrees to Sadr's being deported to Iran, then let the young holy warrior go. Even if Sadr has been receiving substantial Iranian encouragement and support--and it's likely that he has--it's unlikely that once in Iran he will be nearly as effective as he is in Iraq.

Though the clerical regime in Tehran unquestionably does not wish America well next door, and will try to sabotage the creation of a democratic order backed by moderate Iraqi clerics, its relationship with Najaf and the Iraqi Shia is complicated. Iranian pilgrims, including clerics, have flooded into Iraq's shrine cities--the Atabat, the gateways to Heaven--since the fall of Saddam Hussein. By now, Iran's ruling clerics have no illusions about the Hawza's antagonism to the Iranian model of a theocratic state and the distaste the Iraqi senior clergy has for Iran's "spiritual" guide, Ali Khamenei, whose politically acquired title of "ayatollah" (the sign of God) is not uttered felicitously by Iraq's more accomplished clerics. The regime in Tehran does not like to be seen as openly sponsoring a very young, not particularly well-educated cleric who is challenging the entire religious establishment of Najaf. Khamenei and Iran's number two, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, are well aware of the clerical dissatisfaction within their own ranks. If they openly or clandestinely go too far in Iraq, Najaf could and probably would push back. This may yet happen. But Sadr in Iran could actually be for Khamenei and Rafsanjani vastly more trouble than he's worth. If they are so foolish as to want him, let them have him.

(3) Have Bremer, or ideally the president, state clearly that America intends to help the United Nations advance the date of national elections as fast as possible. We should state loudly and clearly that we do not want United Nations participation in the political reconstruction of Iraq to delay elections for a constitutional assembly or a national assembly by a single day.

(4) We should state loudly and often that we will oppose any U.N. plan that diminishes the democratic throw-weight of the Shiite majority in Iraq. We believe that all Iraqis ought to have constitutional protections guaranteeing their individual rights, but the United States is not in favor of Lebanonizing Iraq into religious and ethnic cantons. This means that on most matters--except those specifically enumerated in a new constitution--the Shiites, if they vote as a bloc, will legislatively carry the day.

(5) If Brahimi and Sistani disagree on any issue pertaining to the representation of Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds in a transitional government, side with Sistani. If individuals in the State Department, CPA, or Congress (thinking here of Senators Joseph Biden and Richard Lugar) have a problem with this, then CD-ROMs full of Sadriyyin chest-thumping chants should be sent to these protesters. To add extra clarity, labels could be put on the CDs saying, "We lose Sistani, we lose Iraq."

(6) The Transitional Administrative Law is probably as dead as a door-nail. Don't waste time defending it. We should encourage the Shiites and Kurds to sit down and work out a different arrangement to protect Kurdish rights other than through a constitutional veto that effectively checks a Shiite majority on virtually any legislative matter. Encourage the Kurds and Shiites to work out, perhaps through a bicameral legislature, a checks-and-balances arrangement that makes it very difficult for a majority to run roughshod over Kurdish concerns.

(7) Senior U.S. officials and congressmen should repeat to themselves each night before bedtime: "The Islamic Republic of Iran intends to screw us in Iraq." Do not fall victim to the "realist" delusion that some kind of grand bargain is possible with Iran. A clerically supported democracy in Iraq is poisonous for Iran's theocracy. Intra-Shiite squabbles do matter, and this one--the battle between a one-man, one-vote democracy and Iran's theocratic "rule of the jurisconsult" (velayat-e faqih)--is enormous. Dealing with Iran in Iraq is going to be a very tricky, long-term affair. Most of the heavy lifting will, fortunately, be done by the religious establishment in Najaf. But we shouldn't complicate their lives or ours by seeking, openly or clandestinely, any bilateral U.S.-Iranian discussion on Iraq that allows Iran an official role in Iraq's reconstruction. If Brahimi starts to move in this direction, stop him.

The Kurds. The most overwhelming issue is fairly straightforward: Do the Kurds want to live in a democratic Iraq where they will not be able to veto legislation nearly as often as they might like? We should tell the Kurds that we will not support them against the Shiite objection to their comprehensive constitutional veto power in the Transitional Administrative Law. It's much better for us and all Iraqis if the Kurds and the Shiites have it out now on this issue, not later. Our position in Iraq is only going to get weaker with time--perhaps much weaker very quickly--and the Kurds would be far better off to have this argument with the rest of Iraq while we are in a position to influence events.

The United Nations and the Europeans. It is possible that Lakhdar Brahimi will ride to the rescue of the Bush administration before June 30. His and his office's commentary about excessive American-led de-Baathification and his preference for "technocrats" over would-be politicians in a transitional government probably do not help his case among the Shiites and Kurds, who see such language as pro-Sunni Arab. (Sunni Arabs made up the vast bulk of senior-level technocrats under Saddam Hussein's rule.) Brahimi's own silence as a senior official in the Arab League and as Algeria's foreign minister about Saddam's slaughter of Iraqi Shiites and Kurds after the great rebellion of '91 also probably does not endear him to most Shiites and Kurds. If Brahimi did speak out against this atrocity at the time, it would be most helpful for him to remind others of when and where he remonstrated against Saddam's actions.

Brahimi has, however, two factors working in his favor: the surreal but now unavoidable June 30 deadline and the "uprising" of Moktada al-Sadr, who has spooked the traditional Shiite establishment in Najaf. Both these factors might cause Grand Ayatollah Sistani to be less democratically inclined for the sake of short-term stability. Then again, Sistani might not want to compromise at all on Shiite representation in a transitional government and interim constitution if he feels too threatened by Sadr. The Bush administration and the Coalition Provisional Authority are both concerned about Brahimi's "Sunni" factor. Many within the government certainly know, even if Senator Biden does not, that the Iraqi Shia have viewed the United Nations primarily as a tool to use against the United States to expedite the elections process. If the United Nations ends up offering the Shiites no more, perhaps less, than what Ambassador Bremer was offering, we shouldn't be surprised if the U.N.'s "international legitimacy" and utility in Iraq evaporate overnight. We should obviously support Brahimi's efforts, but we should do so only as long as he does not run afoul of the majority of Shiites. If he does that, we need to be prepared to seize the initiative back, call for national, constituent elections within six months, and directly ask Sistani--privately at first, publicly if necessary--to whom we should transfer sovereignty on June 30. We should not hesitate to pass the responsibility for this to the Grand Ayatollah. (And we will see if he takes it.)

And concerning the Europeans, don't expect more of them to embrace our democratic cause in Iraq, even with a U.N. resolution. If Iraq were really a serious strategic issue for France and Germany--more serious than internal European Union politics and the humbling of the United States internationally--they would be behind us already. Though the transatlantic foreign-policy establishment in Washington is loath to see or admit the truth, France and Germany have more to gain in Europe--and therefore, in their eyes, in the world--if America is laid low in Iraq. Tactically, philosophically, and spiritually (anti-American schadenfreude is a legitimate and serious foreign-policy objective in both these countries), the French and the Germans--the heart of Senator John Kerry's international order--have much more to win by watching the Bush administration electorally defeated in Mesopotamia. Nonetheless, if Colin Powell would finally like to travel throughout Europe making the case for increased European commitment to the Anglo-American effort in Iraq, he should be encouraged to do so.

The Americans. Beyond what has been said above, only two things. Send more troops, and repeat several times each day: "If we lose the Shia, we lose Iraq."

Reuel Marc Gerecht is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard.
6 posted on 04/29/2004 9:20:02 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Advantage: Iran

April 23, 2004
The American Thinker
Douglas Hanson

The recent insurgency by the Shia extremist supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr has finally brought to light the operations of Iranian agents of influence in Iraq. For those in the intelligence and operations cells of the Coalition Provisional Authority and Combined Joint Task Force-7, the infiltration into Iraq of Iranian covert operators is not a surprise. As early as July 2003, the Coalition was seeing signs of Iranian agents traversing the porous Iraq-Iran border and moving into safe houses in Southern Iraqi cities and even into certain areas of Baghdad. These operatives are not the only problem; there are also an undetermined number of agents who masqueraded as legitimate religious pilgrims crossing into Iraq ostensibly to visit Shia holy sites in the cities of Najaf and Kerbala.

Whether this is part of a Coalition “bring ‘em on” strategy in order to conduct battles of annihilation, or is the result of a passive acceptance of Iranian infiltration, cannot be determined as of yet. What can be said is that this regional maneuvering by Iran has been going on for more than a decade, and that the previous administration had largely wished it away with a faulty policy of “containment,” just as it did with Saddam Hussein and Iraq.

Since the collapse of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact it has been somewhat unfashionable to view foreign policy problems in a traditional geopolitical sense. Global and regional “maneuver by proxy” was thought to be an outmoded concept. There was just one problem with this view: Iran continued to play the game. It saw opportunity in gaining footholds in strategic areas where vacuums existed because of the withdrawal of Western or Soviet advisors and support structures. In particular, Iran focused on those areas that controlled choke points of strategic waterways. The Horn of Africa is just such an area, since it dominates the commerce lanes of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. To Iran, then, Somalia was one of its most obvious strategic objectives.

In November 1991, the Somali capital of Mogadishu was the scene of heavy fighting between the clans of General Mohamed Farah Aidid and the "interim President" Mr. Ali Mohamed Mahdi. In fact, entire sections of the country were run by bandits and warlords, since there was no form of central government. By 1992, the UN estimated that “almost 4.5 million people, more than half the total number in the country, were threatened with starvation, severe malnutrition and related diseases.” The time was ripe for Iran to extend its reach.

Iran’s agents quickly allied themselves with General Aidid, and provided materiel, training, and intelligence support. Nevertheless, a UN brokered cease-fire was enacted on March 3, 1992, with the provision to deploy UN combat forces to monitor the cease fire and to protect humanitarian aid convoys. The initial contingent of security forces was found to be insufficient, so an increase to about 4200 personnel was authorized in September of 1992.

However, these forces were also hard-pressed to do a satisfactory job, as there were continuing firefights, hijacking of vehicles, and looting of convoys and warehouses. Bush 41 responded on December 4, 1992 to a UN request via UN resolution 794, by starting Operation Restore Hope, under which the US would not only establish a unified command, but would also contribute up to 28,000 troops to the effort. The first elements of US forces came ashore on the beaches of Mogadishu without opposition (but greeted by members of the Western press) on December 9, 1992. On December 13, lead elements had secured the airfield at Baledogle, and by December 16 they had seized Baidoa.

It was apparent that the Bush 41 Administration viewed the recent developments in Somalia between Aidid and Iran with their realpolitik glasses on, and had finessed a classic strategic counter-maneuver. Under the auspices of the UN, and under the umbrella of a humanitarian aid mission, they had effectively stymied, at least for the short-term, the Iranian maneuver to control the strategically significant Horn of Africa. Even so, by the time of President Clinton’s inauguration in January of 1993, experts on Iran said Aidid's tactics, in what had evolved into an urban guerrilla war with the US and UN, were typically Iranian.

The new Clinton Administration, either through naiveté, or an overwhelming desire to avoid confrontation, actually came to believe the prime objective was the humanitarian aid aspect of the mission, rather than a counter to a powerful Iran. The strategic retreat of US forces from Somalia by the Clinton Administration as a result of the “Blackhawk Down” ambush in October of 1993, allowed Iran to finally secure its influence in Somalia.

Almost unnoticed or ignored by the Bush 41 Administration was that, while Iran’s left hand was busy in Somalia, the right hand was conducting the other half of a double envelopment for achieving control of the strategic waterways in the region. In March of 1992, Iran started a long-term effort to effectively shut down the Straits of Hormuz, if it so desired, by seizing the island of Abu Musa.

Abu Musa island is located in the Persian Gulf about halfway between Iran and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is only a few miles square, but has significant oil reserves, which make the island an important possession, which would boost the economies of either Iran or the UAE. But the critical factor for the US and other oil importing countries is that Abu Musa is located in a position at the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf allowing whoever occupied it to threaten the Gulf's valuable oil shipping lane or, given the weaponry currently deployed there, to entirely close off the Gulf to all shipping. Shipping through the Straits of Hormuz must negotiate an “S” turn which is only 35 miles wide at the Strait's narrowest point. This puts shipping well within range of the Iranian weapons systems currently deployed on Abu Musa, which sits roughly at the midpoint in the channel.

Both the UAE and Iran have had longstanding claims to Abu Musa and the nearby Tumb Islands. But by 1971 the diplomatic conflict was reaching a head. In November of that year, Iran and the UAE reached an agreement that allowed the UAE to maintain sovereignty over Abu Musa, while concurrently permitting Iran to station military forces on the island. This somewhat uneasy situation remained the status quo until March of 1992, when Iran expelled all foreigners from Abu Musa. Most of the foreigners were from South Asia, and were a mix of laborers and professionals to help run schools, technical facilities and infrastructure on the island. In April, Iran took full control of the island.

Since the island had been jointly occupied by Iran and the UAE, the operation to secure the island was relatively easy. Intelligence reports at the time of the takeover are sketchy as to what actually happened on the island and, of course, are clouded by the sources doing the reporting. Some accounts paint a relatively non-lethal operation that amounted to closing all the schools and expelling all Arabs including UAE citizens. Other reports painted a darker picture that involved execution of UAE security police and some Westerners. Regardless, Iran lost no time in improving the island’s offensive and defensive capabilities.

Iran moved additional troops to the island and began construction of improved defensive positions and emplacements for Chinese-made HY-2 Silkworm anti-ship missiles. Iranian engineers also started to expand the airfield, and began a large-scale upgrade of the port facilities. In October 1994, when Iraq was conducting one of its “saber rattling” exercises against Kuwait, Iran increased its troop strength on Abu Musa. When the crisis was over, the additional troops remained.

In 1995, Iran increased its troop strength from 700 to 4000, many of them being Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) soldiers. All told, Abu Musa’s defenses now included SA-6 surface-to-air missiles, 155- millimeter artillery, Silkworm and Seersucker anti-ship missiles, and a US-made Hawk missile anti-aircraft battery. Reports also indicated that Iran had deployed the highly capable C-801 anti-ship missile system which has a range of 35 km. It should be noted that the C-801 anti-ship cruise missile is a Chinese version of the (ahem) popular French-made EXOCET anti-ship cruise missile. Later, the advanced C-802 anti-ship missiles with a 60-mile range were deployed to the island.

As if this weren’t enough weaponry and troops to defend an island a few square miles in area, in March 1995, during a week-long trip to the Gulf, then Secretary of Defense William Perry dropped the bombshell. He stated in a press conference that Iran's buildup on Abu Musa Island involved chemical weapons and that:

"We do not know why Iran would choose to deploy chemical weapons there, but we consider it a very negative factor and a very threatening action on their part." - Secretary of Defense Perry, quoted on CNN, March 22, 1995

Given the maritime nature of this situation, this makes perfect sense. Analysts view the Iranian Navy is the branch of service most closely tied to the IRGC and would be at the forefront of deploying NBC weapons on Abu Musa.

If the Bush 41 Administration failed to counter the initial Iranian “right hook” on Abu Musa in 1992, the Clinton Administration’s lack of response to several years of build-up of the island’s forces represented the classic Clintonian “we tried really, really hard” approach to resolve the problem. During a March 1995 press conference regarding US efforts to control arms proliferation to Iran, Under-Secretary of State Lynn Davis, said

No administration has worked harder to try to stop the flow of arms and technologies into Iran than this administration. We have a global effort, as I've described; and we've focused not only on those who supply these technologies, but also upon those in the region who would wish to build support for these particular goals.

Finally, in mid-1996, Defense Secretary William Perry stated that Iran is "a growing threat" to stability in the Persian Gulf region, and confirmed, albeit belatedly, that Iran had built up its forces around the mouth of the Gulf, and would now have the capability of shutting off one-fifth of the world's oil supply. Again, President Clinton’s actions were typical of his version of “getting tough.” He immediately authorized sanctions against Iran and Libya that he hoped would deter international firms from doing business with the two nations.

In other words, the flawed policy of containment and sanctions had allowed another festering sore to come back and haunt the Bush 43 Administration, and the forces of CENTCOM and the Coalition. As recently as February 2002, then Commanding General of CENTCOM, Gen. Tommy Franks, stated before The House Armed Services Committee that “Iran has developed the Shahab-3 medium-range missile to augment existing SCUD-B and SCUD-C systems, and as these programs mature they pose a significant risk to the region and to our deployed forces.” And that “…the dispute between Iran and the United Arab Emirates over the islands of Abu Musa, Greater Tonb, and Lesser Tonb continues to threaten peninsula security.”

It is clear that Iran’s long-term plan of seizing control of the strategic waterways in the CENTCOM region is being successfully implemented. It may well be that the Bush 43 Administration’s reluctance to forcefully confront the mullahs’ infiltration of Iraq is partially or wholly due to implicit, or even secret explicit, threats by Iran to shut down the Straits of Hormuz, if America acts in ways the mullahs deem unacceptable. That may be why Iranian operatives have been so free to help fund, train, and staff Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Militia in Iraq, and why in the last few days, al-Sadr’s thugs have also carried out attacks against British forces in and around Basra.

This sort of blackmail, if genuine, cannot be allowed to continue.

So, what are our options?

CENTCOM appears, in the eyes of the Middle East, to have lost the initiative, especially when it comes to solving the problem of Iranian backing of the renegade Shia militia. Some means of fighting back and regaining the initiative must be developed. Here are the principal alternatives:

1. A diplomatic strategy. The Iranian occupation of the island is not only disputed by the UAE, but also by the entire Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It may be feasible to line-up the much-coveted support of a large “international community” to demand re-occupation of Abu Masa by the UAE, and the evacuation of Iranian forces. This could be phrased in a way which promises united military action, by the GCC, the United States, and a coalition of the nations dependent on the free flow of oil through the Straits, if the mullahs balk beyond a certain deadline. Such a coalition could theoretically include Europe, Japan, China, South Korea, and many other nations. But, of course, the advantage of a surprise attack would be lost, should diplomacy, combined with sanctions and threats, fail as badly as it did with Saddam for so many years.

2. A military strategy. A surprise attack is one option, but it would need to be successful swiftly. The defenses arrayed on Abu Musa and Qeshm Island to the North are formidable; this would be no cakewalk for the Navy and Marines. But the balance of US air and naval power far exceeds that of Iran. Any prolonged fight would shut down a huge portion of the world’s economy, causing untold suffering, especially in poorer countries, but also throughout the developed world. It would not be pretty.

3. A political strategy within Iran. The mullahs face a restive and unhappy population, a “pre-revolutionary situation” as the Marxists used to term it. Diplomacy, combined with the threat of military action, combined with covert support for a mass uprising within Iran, might have the best chance of success.

None of the options is very good. The slack responses and strategic retreats of the past are now coming due. But inaction may be the worst option of all. And the risk of military action must be weighed against the risks of the tottering regime of the mullahs acting at a time, and in the manner of their choosing. Any action by Iran’s initiative to slow or stop shipping at this strategic point would restrict oil supplies to Asia, Europe, and the US. Japan, which gets about 66 percent of its oil from the Gulf region would be hurt the most by a closing of the Straits, but China is becoming increasingly vulnerable. The only thing worse would be a video of a Japanese supertanker “brewing up” after being hit by a volley of Silkworms. Then, the strategic initiative, especially in the eyes of the Arab nations, would be almost impossible to regain.

Douglas Hanson is our military afairs correspondent
7 posted on 04/29/2004 9:20:42 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
8 posted on 04/29/2004 11:13:17 PM PDT by windchime (Podesta about Bush: "He's got four years to try to undo all the stuff we've done." (TIME-1/22/01))
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To: DoctorZIn
Thousands of Workers protest in tense conditions

SMCCDI (Information Service)
Apr 29, 2004

Thousands of Iranian workers have gathered a this time, 09:35 AM of 4/30/04 THR local time, in downtown Tehran, Mokhber-odole and Baharestan area, in order to protest against the persistent deterioration of their conditions, the official corruption and the looting of Iran's Manufacturing Assets by speedy and illegitimate privatizations.

The protesters who are marking the "Int.'l Workers Day" (normally celebrated on May 1st but due this year difference with Iran's Calendar on April 30th) are shouting slogans calling for "General Strike" and slamming many policies of the regime.

The official security forces are starting to close many perimeters and are getting ready to smash the protesters while many plainclothes agents have infiltrated the crowd and are trying to change the slogans in favor of the regime and its leaders. But the workers are shouting, much louder, slogans, such as, : "Ya hojat ebn Hassan, Rishe ye Zolm ro beshkan" (May the root of tyranny be broken), "Etessab, Etessab.." (Strike, Strike..), "Kar, Nan, Azadi" (Work, Bread, Freedom) and the famous "Felestin ro raha kon, fekri be hal e ma kon" (Leave Palestine alone, Think about us!).

Some of the officially appointed heads of governmental "workers" entities are trying to calm the protesters by making empty promises.

Security agents are filming the protesters from the roofs of neighboring buildings.
The situation is very tense.
9 posted on 04/29/2004 11:42:05 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Labor Day in Tehran
10 posted on 04/30/2004 5:25:57 AM PDT by nuconvert ("America will never be intimidated by thugs and assassins." ...( Azadi baraye Iran)
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To: nuconvert

11 posted on 04/30/2004 5:28:03 AM PDT by nuconvert ("America will never be intimidated by thugs and assassins." ...( Azadi baraye Iran)
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To: DoctorZIn
Workers brutalized by regime forces

SMCCDI (Information Service)
Apr 29, 2004

Several workers have been brutalized by the regime's forces as they were caught shouting slogans against the regime's Supreme leader while walking toward Toop Khanhe area.

The arrested seemed to have been identified and were suddenly attacked by the plainclothes men who are benefiting of the official forces' protection. The protesters were shouting "Mellat Gueda-i mikonad, Rahbar Khoda-i mikonad" (People is starving, Supreme Leader is playing God), "Marg bar in Zendegui, in hame Sharmandegui" (Down with this life, full of shame), "Kargar, Moalem Etehad" (Workers, Teachers, Unity).

Several officially appointed speakers' speeches had few impact due to the loud slogans shouted by nearly more than 20,000 workers present in the area. Many Workers were from provincial cities and were carrying placards denouncing many policies.

Several foreigners were also present and they seemed to be reporters allowed to cover the official part of the today's gathering.

The situation is becoming more and more tense and at any time the troops can start the assault against those intending to extend the rally.
12 posted on 04/30/2004 8:54:01 AM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

13 posted on 04/30/2004 8:56:33 AM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran and New Threats in the Persian Gulf and Middle East

April 29, 2004
ORBIS (Foreign Policy Research Institute)
Steven Ekovich

For more than half a century, threats in the Persian Gulf have had repercussions beyond instability and conflict in the region itself. The Gulf has become a geopolitical and geo-economic epicenter for the rest of the world. This is, of course, mainly due to the industrialized states' voracious appetite for oil and fear of interruptions in their access to the Gulf region's enormous oil reserves. But the specific nature of the threats to Gulf oil access has changed sufficiently over the years that we may speak of new threats.

The proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons technologies and improvements in the means to deliver them mean that weapons' reach is no longer limited mainly to the parties in direct conflict. Improved ballistic missiles now jeopardize those outside the immediate conflict, as they did Israel during the Gulf Wars. If a regional power such as Iran manages to develop even longer-range missiles, the entire Near East, South Asia, and all of Europe would be imperiled. September 11 also demonstrated that actors from the Gulf can use the openness of democratic societies to inflict horrible damage without either military technology or biological or chemical weapons. Effective terrorism can now come not from states, but from sometimes unknown non-state actors, undermining the classic responses of defense and deterrence.

Dependency on Middle Eastern oil is unlikely to decline in the near future. The Middle East still has 70 percent of proven oil reserves, notwithstanding new sources and means of delivery that are being developed in the Atlantic basin, Russia, and the Caspian Sea. According to the U.S. Department of Energy's Annual Energy Outlook 2003, net U.S. oil imports could account for as much as 65–70 percent of total domestic demand by 2025, up from 55 percent in 2001. By 2025, 51 percent of world oil production is expected to come from OPEC, compared to the current 38 percent. About two-thirds of OPEC production comes from the Gulf. Prices are expected to rise with world demand, which is projected to increase from 76 million barrels a day in 2001 to 123 mb/d by 2025. The U.S. economy is likely to grow at a rate of 2.5–3.25 percent between 2001 and 2025, and other economies, notably China's, at an even higher rate. So energy consumption will rise even if energy is used more efficiently.

The Evolution of a Gulf Geostrategy

After the energy crisis of the early 1970s, the United States focused on Iran and Saudi Arabia as keys to ensuring Gulf stability. This "two pillars" approach would at the same time impede Soviet expansionism in the region and eliminate the need for a large-scale U.S. presence there. Through the 1970s, the two pillars also proved an effective way of reducing the threat Iraq posed to the region. But the 1979 Iranian revolution fanned virulent anti-American sentiment and Iranian animosity toward other regional regimes. Overnight, Iranian support for American interests crumbled, and U.S. relations with Iraq took a difficult turn. Saddam Hussein, with the support of moderate Arab states, the United States, and Europe, became the defender of Gulf Arabs against fundamentalist Iran and the agent of real politik for those who needed Gulf oil. His supporters overlooked his violation of an international border, use of chemical weapons, and efforts to develop nuclear weapons (with military technology provided by the Soviet Union, Germany, and France).1 The United States was left switching sides between Iran and Iraq in the1988 Iran-Iraq War in its attempt to ensure that neither state fell to the other. Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait in 1991 put an end to that balancing act. After the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq became an object of U.S. containment, much as the Soviet Union had been before. This was also extended to Iran, yielding a dual-containment policy. Some proponents of dual containment saw it as a replication of the Cold War policy. Patrick Clawson, for example, stated in 1998 that: This policy offers an excellent way for the West to deter external aggression until rogue regimes no longer pose a threat, at which point the U.S. security presence can be dramatically reduced. Long-term prospects are much the same as those when George Kennan recommended containment for the Soviet Union in 1947,and for the same reason: these regimes will eventually change because they cannot meet their people's needs.2

The new policy focused on containing the threat Saddam Hussein posed to his neighbors and his own people and preventing Iran from acquiring and developing WMD and the ballistic missiles needed to deliver them. Containing Iran was meant to force it to cease supporting terrorism, subverting governments friendly to the United States, and opposing the Middle East peace process. The policy imposed political and diplomatic isolation and economic pressure, aimed mainly at Iran's oil industry.3 This originally consisted of threatening to impose sanctions and opposing World Bank and IMF loans, as well as lobbying U.S. allies to maintain pressure on Iran in their commercial dealings, and asking Europe, China, Japan, and Russia to refuse Iranian attempts to buy WMD and advanced conventional weapons.4 The dilemma in containment is deciding at what point sufficient change has taken place in the targeted state to warrant taking steps toward reengagement. Containment of Iraq hardened under President Clinton as the United States became convinced that Saddam Hussein would never submit to UN Security Council resolutions, and the goal became regime change. In Iran, several necessary conditions would have to be met, which have not been to date. Iran would have to limit its conventional military capabilities, to prevent a regional arms race. Nonproliferation of WMD would have to be verified, and Iran would have to cease supporting global terrorism. Whether achieving these goals requires regime change is not easy to evaluate. If a non-democratic (even reformed) Iranian regime that reasons according to national interest rather than religious ideology is not possible, then some measure of democratization may be necessary, which would bring with it the instability endemic to the initial stages of democratic transition.

A notable, and perhaps fragile, recent trend can be observed in the Gulf (excluding Saddam Hussein's Iraq) toward countries' attempting to resolve their disputes through negotiation, arbitration, and judicial settlement rather than force orthreats.5 But it is not clear to what extent political reform in Iran will modify its WMD efforts, since national security and defense policies are controlled by a few hardliners, above all Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei. Nor is it certain that if President Khatami could gain more control of national security decisions he would necessarily curb Iran's WMD programs. Some Iranian officials appear to feel that Iran would better achieve security if it cooperated with international nonproliferation and arms-control regimes.6

Iran and Conventional Military Weapons

Iran's conventional military capability is fairly extensive, but for now it is a serious concern only to Iran's immediate neighbors in the Gulf. Whenever Iran has reached beyond the region, it has done so via proxy terrorism, from supporting terrorist attacks in Israel to the 1994 bombing of the Jewish Cultural Center in Buenos Aires. The Iranian armed forces comprise the regular defense forces (army, air force, navy) and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The latter was created as an ideologically driven force of elite status, but it lacks the professionalism and skills, such as they are, of the regular forces. Iran lost 40 to 60 percent of its equipment in the Iran-Iraq War, but has since rebuilt its land power (it has imported large amounts of weapons from Russia, including T-72 tanks). It still lacks power-projection capability, however, and could not engage in decisive warfare against the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), even were the U.S. Navy not present in the Gulf. Iranian forces could, however, easily defeat Iranian Kurds or any other internal opposition force.7

The Iranian navy poses a significant nuisance. Iran has attempted to overcome the limitations of its surface forces by relying on other types of naval warfare. Besides obtaining midget submarines from North Korea, the Iranian navy has three Russian Kilo-class diesel submarines.8 These subs would probably not last long against the U.S. fleet, but might still sink a few ships or at the very least complicate maritime traffic by laying mines in the Gulf. Iran has a fairly large air force. In the early 1990s it acquired MiG-29 and Su-24 aircraft from Russia. But the Iranian Air Force lacks major strike capability and would probably be effective only against its neighbors, including to some extent GCC countries, if others do not protect them. It cannot challenge Pakistani, Turkish, U.S., Saudi, or British air power.

Iran's missiles are its most worrisome conventional military assets. Missile technologies do not require the same dependence on other countries for supply, training, maintenance, and upgrading: They can be manufactured by a national defense industry, which provides relative autonomy in security planning. Accordingly, Iran has developed missiles that make up for the Air Force's limitations. It has acquired from the Chinese nearly a hundred C-801 and C-802 anti-ship missiles (roughly the equivalent of the French Exocet). The IRGC operates some 50 to 60 Chinese Silkworm surface-to-ship missiles from land, some of which have been deployed near the Straits of Hormuz to cover the entrance to the Gulf. Iran produces an indigenous cruise missile, and its 300km-range Scud-B and 500km range Scud-C missiles enable it to strike targets in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere in the vicinity. It is also seeking to acquire and adapt the 1,000km-range Nodong missile from North Korea, which would enable it to target Israel for the first time. In addition, it is working on a missile with a range of 1,300–1,500km, the Shahab-3, with assistance from Russian firms. The Iranian Defense Ministry confirmed in July 2003 that it had successfully conducted the final test of the Shahab-3, giving Iran an operational intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of striking both Israel and U.S. troops stationed throughout the Middle East and Afghanistan. There is also evidence that Iran is developing a Shahab-4, which has a range up to 2,000km.9 In March 2002 a U.S. intelligence official testified before Congress that the United States would "most likely" face an intercontinental ballistic missile threat from Iran by 2015.10

These increasing ranges raise disquieting uncertainty over whether Tehran intends to use them strictly defensively, as a regional deterrent, or as something more—perhaps to provide an extended deterrent to the Islamic and Arab world, at least for propaganda purposes. The concern that they might also be used offensively cannot be comfortably set aside. Iran's missile program does not lend itself to benign interpretations of the country's motives. As Shahram Chubin, analyst of Iranian national security policy asserts, "The onus is on Iran to make its missiles appear less threatening to its neighbors. To do this, it will have to speak with one voice and avoid resorting to boasting for (domestic) political effect."11
Iran has three possible methods of offensive warfare:

(l) strikes with ballistic missiles and WMD;
(2) a war of attrition against the U.S. Navy and trade in the Persian Gulf; and
(3) terrorism. Its lack of power projection and the presence of the U.S. Navy would prevent it from engaging in a significant land war, and its only possible use of conventional force would be a war of attrition meant to limit U.S. influence in the Gulf by striking against the U.S. Navy, oil installations, and trade vessels.

Iran has significant defensive strength. A ground force of a substantial number of divisions would be needed to completely defeat it. Short of fielding this, any U.S. military action against Iran would necessarily have more limited aims. And Iran could still make this costly. It could conduct a war of attrition with little worry of being destroyed, incurring heavy casualties, or suffering serious disruption of its national infrastructure. Anti-ship missiles launched from its coast would be difficult to locate and destroy; furthermore, U.S. naval surface vessels are constrained by the enclosed and shallow waters of the Persian Gulf. Iran could cut off or at least limit the international oil trade from the Persian Gulf. However, its ability to simply block the Straits of Hormuz is today "technologically defunct," as Richard Schofield puts it, because of advances in American military countermeasures.12 The United States would for all practical purposes be limited to airpower in its retaliatory options. Air and missile strikes would be unlikely to destroy Iranian missile sites entirely, making Iran's relative cost of the war lower than the United States'. Even if all Iranian missile sites were destroyed, the cost of damage done to shipping and the U.S. Navy would probably far exceed the cost of war to Iran. The only remaining U.S. option would be a limited amphibious landing to seize Iranian territory (e.g., the Straits of Hormuz), making the war more costly for Iran and providing the United States with a bargaining chip to end the conflict. This could be expensive for the United States. Otherwise, the only possible option would be nuclear weapons, which is not plausible except in the most extreme, even unrealistic, scenario—especially given the risk of retaliation from Iranian WMD. Iran could also employ strikes with its ballistic missiles, possibly loaded with WMD, against the Gulf States or other regional targets, such as Turkey. Ballistic missiles played an important role in the 1988 Iran-Iraq "war of cities." Because of limited accuracy, these missiles would only be useful as counter value weapons, and a large number of them would have to carry WMD in order to cause significant damage. In either case, Iran would be risking severe U.S. retaliation. A U.S. theater missile defense system protecting the GCC (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and the UAE), for example, would render Iranian strikes ineffective, undermining Iranian missiles as a deterrent. The greatest benefit of WMD and ballistic missile programs for Iran is raising the costs of an attack or a riposte against it. But Iran would be foolish to fully engage the United States, which could easily launch a blow that would cripple Iran's military. Lacking a reliable great-power ally, Iran would only be able to respond minimally, if at all. Any Iranian offensive action would therefore depend entirely on the United States' reluctance to use its full-strike capability, and the United States surely would not use nuclear weapons unless Iran used WMD against the GCC or other vital U.S. assets.13

Together, the GCC nations could deter Iran from military aggression. Although their total population is only about 23 million to Iran's 67 million,14 their combined military strength would rival Iran's air capabilities and could also stop an amphibious attack. The United States has thus supported greater coordination of the GCC, which remains relatively fragmented and vulnerable, able only to defend itself until Western help arrives.15 Notwithstanding the build-up of armaments in the Gulf, Iran can still make credible threats and use intimidation for diplomaticends.16

Iran and WMD

Iran remains a member of the NPT and the International Atomic Energy Agency, but it is acquiring WMD technology and know-how. To date, no clear-cut violations of the NPT have been found by inspections (IAEA inspections remain, however, an imperfect mechanism for monitoring clandestine weapons programs).17 Early in the 1980s, the Ayatollah Khomeini abandoned the Shah's nuclear weapons programs, but Iran had fully revived its program by 1991.18 It has significant deposits of uranium and the facilities to process it. China and Russia have been willing to help it develop nuclear facilities and, it is suspected, perhaps even weapons.

Whether Tehran intends to use these facilities to develop nuclear weapons is unclear. The United States has argued that since Iran has sufficient oil and gas reserves to meet its power needs, it does not need expensive nuclear reactors that could be used for military purposes. The United States strongly opposes the project (which is permitted under the NPT) and has in the past provided Russia with intelligence information pointing to the existence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program. Despite this, Russia is proceeding with helping Iran build a 1,000mw light water reactor at Bushehr. To what extent Moscow is encouraging, or at least tolerating, the transfer and development of nuclear weapons' technology is not known. Moscow acknowledges that there is nuclear assistance to Iran but says that it is "private proliferation" by Russian "entities" in contravention of Russian policies and laws. Moscow has a commercial interest in cultivating good relations with Tehran, even though Iranian missiles with nuclear warheads could also threaten Russia.19

In testimony before the Senate in September 2000, the deputy director of the Director of Central Intelligence Nonproliferation Center stated that Iran was actively attempting to acquire—from a variety of foreign sources, but especially Russia—fissile material and the experience and technology necessary to transform it into nuclear weapons. The Israeli Defense Ministry believes Iran could have nuclear weapons capability by 2005.20 However, to date, Iran's haphazard WMD programs are not patently threatening. Some in the Iranian government oppose the acquisition and development of WMD; Iran has repeatedly called for a Middle East Nuclear Weapons Free Zone; and President Khatami and others have regularly tried to reassure the world that Tehran has no ambition for nuclear weapons. But few doubt Iran's intention to develop a covert nuclear weapons program. Commercial satellite photos made in December 2002, for example, revealed at least two new sites, Arak and Natanz, that U.S experts believe could be another part of a nuclear17 weapons program.21 The recent discovery by UN inspectors of significant traces of highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium only lends additional credence to suspicions of the current regime's intent, despite the claim that purchased equipment was already contaminated. More intrusive inspections may still not satisfy the international community that Iran is sufficiently forthcoming. The more ominous evaluation of Iran's nuclear capacity22 is apparently not based on direct evidence but on the fact that the United States cannot track with great certainty Iran's efforts to acquire nuclear materials and technology on the international black market, mainly from the former Soviet Union. In effect, CIA analysts have warned that given Iran's intensive efforts to steal or buy highly enriched uranium and plutonium, it is possible that it may have more bomb-grade material than previously believed.

The Iranian chemical weapons production program dates to the Iran-Iraq war, in which Iran used chemical agents on several occasions to respond to Iraqi chemical attacks. Since the early 1990s it has put a high priority on this program. Already by 1996 the CIA claimed that Iran was continuing to expand and diversify its chemical weapons program, considered to be among the largest in the third world. The U.S. Defense Department estimated that Iran might have several hundred tons of blister, blood, and choking agents; and the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency concluded that Iran might have as much as 2,000 tons of chemical agents. These are World War I–era weapons, but the step to producing more advanced and more lethal nerve agents quite possibly may have been takenalready.23 Since China is an important supplier of technologies and equipment for Iran's chemical warfare program, Chinese supply policies will determine whether Tehran attains its long-term goal of independently producing these weapons. In the future, Iran could potentially supply other states trying to develop chemical weapons capabilities, as it is reported to have supplied Libya in 1987.24

Though it has ratified the Biological Weapons Convention, Iran is believed to have begun offensive biological warfare research during the Iran-Iraq War. The intensity of these efforts probably increased after the 1995 revelations about the scale of Iraqi efforts. Iran's biological warfare program is generally believed to be only in the advanced R&D phase, but the fear remains that it may already possess small amounts of useable agents and that within ten years Iran's military forces maybe able to deliver biological agents effectively.25

Why would Iran want to possess WMD? The classic motivation would be to deter adversaries from using their nuclear weapons or even making a conventional attack. The fall of Saddam's regime in Iraq should persuade Tehran that nuclear weapons are not needed for immediate regional stability, but Israel's and the United States' nuclear arsenals remain, along with nuclear-armed Pakistan (now on good terms with Saudi Arabia).26

Israel's nuclear weapons program dates back to the late 1950s and the construction of its nuclear facility at Dimona, in the Negev desert. Here, with first French and later South African assistance, the Israelis undertook a nuclear weapons program that is thought by now to have built between 75 and 130 devices. The Israeli government does not admit to possessing nuclear weapons and is not a member of the NPT. It prefers to leave to conjecture both its progress in development and the role of nuclear weapons in the Israeli Defense Force's doctrine. The states arrayed against Israel claim the right to develop nuclear weapons as a deterrent to Israel's unspoken arsenal. They balk at what they see as Washington's double standard of ignoring Israel's acquisition of WMD while opposing the transfer of even peaceful nuclear technologies to others. An Iranian nuclear capability would intensify Israel's fears, especially since the current Iranian regime is hostile to its very existence. Since Israel lacks strategic depth, its military doctrine has privileged preemptive conventional capabilities and the ability to carry the battle away from Israeli territory and its population centers. Also, given the delays inherent in mobilizing a largely reservist army, the country relies heavily upon its air force to give its army time to take the field. Thus, anything that undermines this role of the air force also calls into question the Israeli concept of defense and deterrence.27 Arab advances in missile technology, air defenses, and chemical weapons constitute just such a threat.28

Iran may also be seeking the prestige that comes with possessing nuclear weapons, which signifies scientific achievement and national pride. After all, if it wanted nuclear weapons to make up for its conventional military weaknesses, it could achieve this through chemical and biological weapons. In all events, since Iran lacks the nuclear umbrella of a dependable great-power ally, its development of missiles and WMD can be perceived as destabilizing and may even provoke preemption.26


Until recently, terrorism emanating from the Gulf has been aimed mostly against regimes allied with the West or the U.S. presence in the region. Five of the seven nations on the State Department's most recent list of states sponsoring terrorism are in the region (Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, and Iraq).29 Iran has been the main source of support for the Islamist groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Iran has conducted its own terrorist attacks in the past to show the West the costliness of being involved in the region.30 Since President Khatami took office in 1997, these attacks have ceased and Iran has even made conciliatory gestures towards the United States. But it is still considered to be the most important state sponsor of radical Islamic groups. Iran's attempt at the start of 2002 to deliver weapons to the Palestinian Authority aboard the Karine A is a striking example.

It would be very easy for Iran to once again employ terrorism in the Gulf region as an indirect method of wearing down the United States. But any large-scale attack, especially using WMD, would meet a robust American retaliation. So, Iran would find it more prudent to use Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other terrorist organizations as proxies to harm the United States, by engaging in attacks similar to those in the past against U.S. facilities such as Al-Khobar. Reviving subversive activities, as it previously did against Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, is also an option. However, in the recent past, the result of Iran's use of terrorism and subversion was to increase its isolation and make it a pariah state. Chubin asserts that "Iran has substantially repudiated this tactic, which has been morally discredited. For Iran today, terrorism is confined to the assistance extended to Palestinian groupings in support of their 'liberation struggle.'"31


Perhaps up to 90 percent of the heroin consumed in Europe comes from Afghanistan's poppy crop. Opium has been grown in Afghanistan for many years, but its cultivation increased dramatically during the Afghan-Soviet War. After the Soviet withdrawal in 1991, poppy cultivation continued to increase as the combatants in the Afghan civil war sought new means to finance their conflict and since it was a lucrative cash crop for poor farmers. By 2000 some 30 to 50 percent of the Afghan population, and as much as 80 percent of Afghanistan's economy, was involved in some aspect of cultivation, production, or trafficking. Drugs cross the permeable border with Iran on their way to Turkey and Europe despite Iran's29 efforts to stem the flow. Crossing Iran is the shortest route from the producers in Afghanistan to European consumers, and one that became all the more attractive after the Central Asian states split into separate countries, putting in place many new borders to cross. Via Iran there are only two.32

Pakistan and Iran suffer the worst health and social consequences of opium and heroin consumption. Iran is reported to have at least 1.2 million addicts and 800,000 casual users—by some estimates as many as 6.2 million people in Iran use drugs to some extent. Seventy percent of Iranian HIV/AIDS cases are believed to have resulted from shared needles.33 Opium also breeds government corruption, paves the way to an increased number of narco-states in the region, and of course isan important source of revenue for warlords and terrorist groups. It is estimated that 250 tons of heroin—a two-year supply for Western Europe—had already been stockpiled in Afghanistan by the time the Taliban regime forbade cultivation and trade in the crop in July 2000. After the fall of the Taliban, production skyrocketed from 185 tons in 2001 to 3,400 tons in 2002. Hamid Karzai's interim administration has not yet been able to control this production.34 So, it is in Iran's national interest to embrace a regional strategy, even with international backing, aimed at eliminating Afghan opium production—both to protect the health of the Iranian population and to deny economic resources to hostile state and non-state actors.

Beyond Containment?

The United States' containment of the communist bloc had the consistent support of America's allies; its dual containment of Iran and Iraq did not. Russia and China have even found opportunities to insert themselves further into an American-created vacuum, as demonstrated by their support of projects that could lead to Tehran's attaining WMD. The staunchest ally of containment has been Israel, but this has not helped promote the doctrine in the Arab world.

Successful containment requires steadfast allies willing to impose isolation and sanctions and bear their costs. Dual containment did not provide enough incentives to change the behavior of the targeted regimes: only the military defeat of Saddam Hussein's regime achieved containment's goals there. Nor has containment led Iran to completely abandon terrorism, its WMD programs, or development of its missile capabilities. Sanctions have caused only relatively mild economic difficulties. Former national security advisors Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft see no reason to believe that containment will stop terrorism. In a study they co-chaired for the Council on Foreign Relations, they call for "differentiated containment."32 This would focus the economic embargo on only a narrow range of specific items such as WMD components, missiles, and dual-use technology, and even allow U.S. companies to negotiate deals with Iran. Such an approach would also cool down the rhetorical war and increase the potential for dialogue.35

Ray Takeyh of the National Defense University's Near East and South Asia Center advocates a similar policy of simultaneous competition and cooperation: continuing the containment of terrorism, proliferation, and Tehran's opposition to an Israeli-Palestinian settlement while at the same time engaging Iran economically.36 A policy that proposes gains to Iran could well have a greater chance of success than containment. There are recent signs of this tilt in U.S. policy in L. Paul Bremer's welcoming attitude toward Iranian businessmen interested in contracts in Iraq and the future of its market.37 In more general terms, one can question whether the proliferation of WMD and ballistic missiles can ever be completely stopped. If non-proliferation is only a delaying action and not an ultimately attainable goal, then modifying the intentions of those possessing these weapons, and even gaining them as allies, would be better in the long term.

Containment has not allowed the United States to take advantage of opportunities to improve its position. Other powers have not hesitated to exploit openings in Iran, and China, Russia, and France entered into agreements with Saddam's Iraq to develop oil after an eventual lifting of UN sanctions. French, Russian, and Malaysian contractors have agreed to develop Iranian oil fields despite U.S. sanctions. European and Asian products are replacing U.S. products in Iran.38 Saudi Arabia finds containment inhibiting to its attempts to improve relations withIran.39 In short, containment surrenders Iran to others. It has also required a large U.S. military presence in the Gulf, which makes the region feel dominated. Of course, elements inherently hostile to the United States exploit this feeling of being dominated in order to gain support for terrorism and the overthrow of GCCregimes.40 It appears that containment has not only isolated Tehran from Washington, but also Washington from Tehran.

What, realistically, does the United States expect from Iran? At a very minimum, in the realm of arms, it wants Iran to limit its cruise and ballistic missile production. Nor can there be détente with Iran while it is promoting, or suspected of promoting, terrorism. Short of a full rapprochement with Iran, the United States will continue to deter it in the Gulf, but undoubtedly with fewer American ground forces in the GCC countries. This seems to imply greater GCC coordination and consolidation of their own forces. If an American military presence is still required for deterrence, in addition to U.S. troops in Iraq and Turkey, elements of the Fifth Fleet could be called upon to stay in the Gulf, but only in a clearly perceived minimal defensive posture. What the U.S. signals as an unambiguous defensive posture may still not prevent Iran from feeling boxed in. Christopher Preble of the Cato Institute, a former officer U.S. Navy who served in the Gulf, proposes that the navy end its longstanding policy of deploying a carrier battle group in the Gulf. For Preble, the American military "footprint" in the entire region can be significantly shrunk now that the Pentagon has twice demonstrated, in Afghanistan and Iraq, its ability to conduct expeditionary military operations from afar, even directly from U.S.-based forces. Reducing or even ending the permanent deployment of American military personnel to the Gulf would save money, remove U.S. military personnel as targets of violent extremists, and relieve some of the stress and burden on American troops.41

Deterrence would also need to repose on stable neighboring regimes, which would require further movement toward democracy and a renewed, serious effort to defuse the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But even a changed and improved deterrent context in the Gulf probably still will not bring about the minimum changes hoped for in Iranian behavior. Only a renewed commitment to peace and peaceful coexistence by Tehran can bring this about.


Iran can potentially gain more benefits from peace than from war. Despite sanctions, Iran's economic performance has improved, providing an opportunity to reduce Iran's debt and improve long-term growth. It is now just recovering from the 1988 Iran-Iraq War. Engaging in another war would mean a return to economic hardship and probably push to the brink a population sick of war. These factors work against an Iranian temptation to aggression. Iran is clearly doing better without war. It has even nurtured an indigenous industrial capacity due to its isolation. But its economy still has not attained pre-revolution levels. Tehran should conclude that it cannot make definite and predictable gains through military means. It must be convinced that the economic losses of war are not worth it. Although it has a strong bargaining position because of its military capabilities, the lure of free trade and normal relations should be sufficient to convince it to compromise on reducing, or at least controlling with verification, these capabilities. Obviously the United States should take measures to reinforce the peace option. It must be evident to Tehran that it is far better off than war-torn Iraq, and that it should one day be able to catch up with Saudi Arabia's per capita41 GDP. A new self-reliance has been observed as indigenous products have been forced to replace declining imports. Iranian business enterprises naturally would be interested in seeking export markets. Investment in oilfields is inadequate, but many foreign companies are seeking to invest in Iranian oil, and Iran is interested in using U.S. oil and gas technology to further develop its oil industry.42 In short, if containment is not doing that much harm to Iran, the United States will need bargaining chips other than termination of containment. It should be manifestly clear that the most significant boost to Iran's economy would come after economic and political reform, even democratization, which would create an investment climate favorable to foreign capital.

An Insoluble Dilemma?

Without an anti-regime revolution from below, rapprochement can only get under way after taking the first, small steps toward détente, perhaps by opening a direct dialogue. The Iranian people are ready for this. A recent opinion survey done by an Iranian polling agency in conjunction with Gallup revealed that three-quarters of Iranians favor resuming dialogue with the United States. But the hard-line regime remains intransigent; the directors of the polling agency were promptly arrested.(One of them, Abbas Abdi, had played a leading role as a young student in the takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979.) The poll also revealed that public support for Supreme Guide Khamenei was only 1.2 percent.43 So, with whom in Iran is dialogue possible?

Since Washington has no trust in the current regime's fundamentalist hardliners and seems to have given up on President Khatami's ability to provoke reform, it has for the moment limited its options, at least publicly, to supporting calls for change from the Iranian people themselves. Of course a successful popular movement would introduce a risky period of instability, and it is not even certain that a new regime would be satisfactorily democratic. This is the worry of Jahangir Amuzegar, a former finance minister in Iran's pre-1979 government. The West's hope and the opposition's claim is that it will be a pluralistic and participatory democracy with all its prerequisites—civil liberties, a transparent and accountable government, free elections, and thriving civil societies. But given the absence of a democratic tradition in Iran's paternalistic and patrimonial culture, and its historic rule by a monarchic/Islamic accommodation, such hopes and claims may still remain just that—hopes and claims.44

However, one sociological study points out that the generation now coming to political consciousness in Iran is "more educated, and certainly less dependent on traditional household structure." There is also evolution in gender roles and the economic and social expectations of a very young population.45 In any case, viable and enduring democracy does not come overnight. It is a project that takes years, and even generations.46

Open U.S. support of a liberal democratic revolution in Iran would undoubtedly lead the hardliners to crack down and possibly also to renew terrorism in the Gulf and beyond. Short of rapid and drastic political change in Iran, the United States will have to continue to muddle through in its diplomacy with the current regime. Pragmatic and discreet rapprochement based on shared national interests has already been seen in the limited informal cooperation from Tehran following 9/11 and the American military intervention in Afghanistan. Tehran and Washington may well have shared intelligence, for example, and Iran has confirmed that it authorized the use of its air space for American rescue missions and the transit of U.S. humanitarian aid to the Afghan people.47 This cooperation was rooted in a shared interest in eliminating the Taliban regime and showed that each side could be sensitive to the other's security concerns. Such an approach would reinforce the pragmatic directions in Iranian foreign policy that place national interest ahead of virulent Islamic solidarity. In the numerous conflicts around its borders, including in the new states that emerged from the breakup of the Soviet Union, Tehran has not supported the obvious Islamic candidates for diplomatic support. The only former Soviet republic to enter into an alliance with Iran has been Christian Armenia, seen from Tehran as a counterweight to the alliance of the two Muslim (albeit secular) states, Azerbaijan and Turkey. Iran has also cultivated ties to India, to balance against Muslim Pakistan, but has refused to become involved in the Kashmir dispute.48

A modified U.S. military posture in the region will surely also help Iran feel less besieged. This is all the more important because of the changed political-military situation around Iran's borders. The elimination of the Taliban in Afghanistan is welcome to Tehran, but the military presence of outsiders there is not. That the forces in Afghanistan are not only American but also UN and multinational can provide only meager reassurance. Recently Tehran has been sowing mischief in Afghanistan so as to make it difficult for the United States and others to perpetuate their presence there.49 Iran would certainly not want to see Pakistan rebuild its influence in those regions of Afghanistan where it was active before the defeat of the Taliban, but this does not mean Tehran is comfortable with a long-term U.S. presence to constrain Pakistan.

In addition, the composition of the post-Saddam regime in Iraq will have vital consequences for Tehran. It will be well for the United States to reconfigure its military presence in the Gulf in order to highlight its strictly defensive nature, to contain any temptations of the Iranian military. It should also rely more on indigenous GCC forces, including regional air forces. Reconfiguring the American naval presence should also be on the agenda. Of course, a less menacing post-Saddam regime in Iraq should lift significant pressure off of the GCC and allow the United States to redistribute some of its military assets to a friendly regime in Baghdad, especially in conjunction with others.

All military, diplomatic, political, and economic measures adopted to reassure the Iranian regime will no doubt be exploited by the hardliners to legitimize their rule. Tehran will most likely also interpret positive demarches as eagerness on the part of Washington to improve ties, in which case the hardliners could demand an increase in the cost of their cooperation. The United States must evaluate how far reform has gone in attaining an acceptable reduction of threat and a sufficient threshold of political and economic liberalism to warrant reengagement that is mutually beneficial. The narrow options available vis-à-vis Iran are, for the present, the major source of new threats in the Persian Gulf.

Steven Ekovichis professor of international relations and American foreign policy at The American University of Paris. This article was published in Winter 2004 Issue of Orbis.

1 - See, e.g., John L. Esposito, "Political Islam and Gulf Security," in John L. Esposito, ed., Political Islam: Revolution, Radicalism, or Reform? (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 1997), especially pp. 56–7.2

2 - Patrick Clawson, "The Continuing Logic of Dual Containment" in Survival, Spring 1998, p. 33.3

3 - Martin Indyk, "Remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations," New York, Apr. 22, 1999.Persian Gulf

4 - Gary Sick, "Rethinking Dual Containment" in Survival, Spring 1998, p. 8. For a recent summary of sanctions see Kenneth Katzman, "Iran: Current Developments in U.S. Policy," Issue Brief for Congress, Congressional Research Service, updated Dec. 26, 2002.5

5 - This trend is noted in several of the articles in Lawrence G. Potter and Gary Sick, eds., Security inthe Persian Gulf: Origins, Obstacles, and the Search for Consensus (New York: Palgrave, 2002).6

6 - Kenneth Katzman, "Iran: Arms and Weapons of Mass Destruction Suppliers," Report forCongress, CRS, updated Jan. 3, 2003, pp. 2–3; Shahram Chubin, Whither Iran? Reform, Domestic Politics and National Security (Oxford University Press for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Adelphi Paper 342, 2002), p. 37.

7 - The Military Balance 1999–2000 (Oxford University Press for the IISS, October 1999; SIPRI Yearbook: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security (Oxford University Press for SIPRI, 2000);Anthony Cordesman, "Iranian Military Capabilities," in Gary Sick and Lawrence Potter, eds., The Persian Gulf at the Millennium: Essays in Politics, Economy, Security, and Religion (London: Macmillan, 1997).

8 - Ibid.

9 - In "Non-Proliferation: Iran," Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, other places, Iranian confirmation of an operational Shahab-3 can be found at Payvand Iran News, Discussion of evidence of a Shahab-4 is at the website of the Federation of American Scientists, in "Iranian Missiles: Shahab-4,"
10 - Cited in Katzman, "Iran: Arms and Weapons of Mass Destruction Suppliers," p. 2.11
11 - Chubin, Whither Iran? p. 69.

12 - Richard Schofield, "Border Disputes: Past, Present, and Future" in Sick and Potter, The Persian Gulf at the Millennium, p. 153.

13 Howard, Seeking Peace in Our Time, ch. 3.

14 - CIA World Fact book 2002.

15 - J. E. Peterson, Saudi Arabia and the Illusion of Security (Oxford University Press for International Institute for Strategic Studies, Adelphi Paper 348, 2002), p. 40.16
16 - Cordesman, "Iranian Military Capabilities," p. 195.

17 - Michael Donovan, "Iran, Israel and Nuclear Weapons in the Middle East," Center for Defense Information, Feb. 14, 2002, at

18 - Sick, "Rethinking Dual Containment," p. 16.

19 _ Robert J. Einhorn and Gary Samore, "Ending Russian Assistance to Iran's Nuclear Bomb, "Survival, Summer 2002, esp. pp. 60–61.

20 - Statement by Deputy Director, DCI Nonproliferation Center A. Norman Schindler on Iran's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs to the International Security, Proliferation and Federal Services Subcommittee of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, as prepared for delivery on Sept. 21, 2000. Available at See also Donovan, "Iran, Israel and Nuclear Weapons."

21 - Kenneth Katzman, "The Persian Gulf: Issues for U.S. Policy, 2003," CRS Report for Congress, updated Feb. 3, 2003,, p. 9.

22 - James Risen and Judith Miller, "C.I.A. Tells Clinton an Iranian A-Bomb Can't Be Ruled Out," New York Times, Jan. 17, 2000.

23 - "Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control," Arms Control and Disarmament Agency ,May 1996; "Proliferation: Threat and Response," Office of the Secretary of Defense (Washington: Government Printing Office, April 1996), cited in W. Seth Carus, "Iranian Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapons: Implications and Responses," Middle East Review of International Affairs, Mar. 1998.

24 - "Iran Special Weapons Guide,"

25 - CEIP, "Non-Proliferation: Iran."

26 - See J. E. Peterson, Saudi Arabia, pp. 18–20.

27 - Geoffrey Kemp with Shelley A. Stahl, The Control of the Middle East Arms Race (Carnegie Endowment, 1992), pp. 104–5. See also Eliot A. Cohen, Michael J. Eisenstadt and Andrew J. Bacevich, "Israel's Revolution in Security Affairs," Survival, Spring 1998.

28 - See Carus, "Iranian Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapons," and Donovan, "Iran, Israel and Nuclear Weapons."

29 - Patterns of Global Terrorism, U.S. Department of State, April 2003,

30 - Ibrahim A. Karawan, The Islamist Impasse (Oxford University Press, Adelphi Paper 314 , 1997).p. 42.

31 - Chubin, Whither Iran? p.87.

32 - Cédric Gouverneur, "The Heroin Route from Afghanistan to Europe: Iran Loses Its Drugs War," Le Monde Diplomatique (English version), Mar. 2002.

33 - See "Central Asia: Drugs and Conflict," International Crisis Group Asia Report No. 25, Nov.26, 2001, pp. 10 and 14.

34 - Pierre-Arnaud Chouvy, "La récolte d'opium a explosé en Afghanistan en 2002!" Dec. 2, 2002,20 Minutes France SAS. Also reported in L'Hebdo, Dec. 5, 2002. See also

35 - Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft, and Richard Murphy, "Differentiated Containment," Foreign Affairs, May/June 1997, p. 27; Brzezinski, Scowcroft, and Murphy, Differentiated Containment: U.S. Policy toward Iran and Iraq (Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1997), pp. 23–25.

36 - Ray Takeyh, "Re-imagining US-Iranian Relations," Survival, Autumn 2002.

37 - Farnaz Fassihi, "Iranian Businessmen Head Into Iraq," Wall Street Journal Europe, Sept. 29, 2003.

38 - Sick, "Rethinking Dual Containment," p. 12; and Richard Herrmann and R. William Ayres, "The New Geo-Politics of the Gulf: Forces for Change and Stability" in Sick and Potter, The Persian Gulf at the Millennium, p. 42.

39 - See J. E. Peterson for an analysis of Saudi frustration with U.S. containment of Iran, pp. 34 and72.

40 - A point underlined by Brzezinski, Scowcroft, and Murphy, p. 20.

41 - Christopher Preble, "After Victory: Toward a New Military Posture in the Persian Gulf," Policy Analysis, June 10, 2003.

42 - Sick, "Rethinking Dual Containment," p. 23, and Shahran Chubin and Jerrold Green, "Engaging Iran: A U.S. Strategy," Survival, Autumn 1998, p. 154.

43 - Poll results reported widely, even by the Iranian news service INRA, but among other places see the Agence France Press story "Reformist Blasts Judiciary over 'Political' Pollster Trial," Dec. 26,2002. See also "Gauging Opposition," by Nader Sadighi in Iran va Jahan, Nov. 11, 2002. These reports and other relevant articles can be found at Abbas Abdi was arrested on the 23rdanniversary of the storming of the U.S. embassy. President Khatami's brother condemned the charges against Abdi as a "pompous political address."

44 _ Jahangir Amuzegar, "Iran's Theocracy Under Siege," Middle East Policy, Spring 2003, conclusion.

45 - Mohammad Hadi Semati, "The Coming Generation in Iran: Challenges and Opportunities," in Potter and Sick, Security in the Persian Gulf, p. 212.

46 - On the possibilities of democratic transition in the Middle East, see Marina Ottaway, Thomas Carothers, Amy Hawthorne, and Daniel Brumberg, "Democratic Mirage in the Middle East," PolicyBrief (Carnegie Endowment, Oct. 2002). As a comparison, the effort to rebuild democracy in post–World War II Germany took a couple of decades. See Steven Ekovich, "Relations between the UnitedStates and Germany: Deep and Troubled Waters," Geostrategics, Mar. 2001, pp. 41–51.

47 - Chubin, Whither Iran? p. 98. The confirmation is cited in Kenneth Katzman, "Afghanistan: Current Issues and U.S. Policy," CRS Report for Congress, updated Aug. 27, 2003, p.20.

48 - See Fred Halliday, "Iran and the Middle East: Foreign Policy and Domestic Change," Middle East Report, Fall 2001, p. 45.

49 - Ibid. See also Shaheen Fatemi, "IRI Attempts to Derail 'Iraqi Freedom'," Iran va Jahan, Apr. 15,2003.
14 posted on 04/30/2004 8:59:36 AM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn


April 30, 2004 -- OFFICIALS from various Muslim countries gathered in Kuala Lumpur recently to work out "a common strategy on issues of grave importance."
The gathering was prompted by Israel's killing last month of Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi, the Palestinian Hamas leader. To give the exercise a diplomatic veneer the Malaysians, who hold the rotating presidency of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said the meeting was to consider a response to the Sharon Plan, which has received conditional support from the United States, Britain and France among others.

Few in the Muslim world would understand why their leaders had to rush to convene a summit because of Rantissi's assassination. All Islamic governments have already registered their anger at the "targeted killing." Another condemnatory resolution is unlikely to get anyone any further.

And people might wonder: Why didn't the OIC call for a summit when 8,000 Muslim men and boys were murdered by the Serbs in Bosnia-Herzegovina? Why hasn't it held a single session on Chechnya - where, these past four years, 50 times as many Chechen Muslims have been killed as Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza?

Indeed, don't we in the Muslim world have other pressing problems that merit emergency summits? Hunger, poverty, illiteracy, the absence of law and order, corruption, lack of basic human rights and freedoms and the prospect of spiraling terror?

Shouldn't Muslim leaders meet to develop a common strategy to stop the terrorists who are killing innocent Muslims in Riyadh, Baghdad, Algiers and Casablanca?

One could, of course, reject the Sharon Plan in the most scornful tones and, by doing so, appear heroic to the rejectionist crowd. One could call on the Palestinians to continue dying, and living a life that, as T.S. Eliot put it, is only "partly living," so that the rest of us, especially politicians and journalists, could appear heroic on Al-Jazeera television.

Even before the conference, the proposed drafts of the Kuala Lumpur final communiqué exposed the meeting's true goal - a fig leaf to cover the OIC members' failure to develop even a rational analysis of the issues, let alone offer considered positions on them. What is the point of calling on the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and the mythical "international community" to "take all necessary measures" to stop the "Sharon Plan" - without making the least suggestion that the Muslim states themselves should do anything at all, not even offer a prayer?

A resolution is primarily about what its authors commit themselves to doing. And the Muslim states don't control what President Bush or the "international community" might do. They should focus their attention on what they themselves can do.

The first thing they can do is develop a clear and rational policy towards Israel.

Are the Muslim states prepared to accept the Jewish state as a reality with which they must live and, in time, develop relations? Or do they think that the destruction of Israel is the key to solving all other problems that the Muslims have faced for the past half-century?

The worst possible policy is one based on a secret dream of wiping Israel off the map in the long run while accepting it in the short run. That requires the Palestinians to continue living a life of misery and acting as cannon-fodder until the day Arab states are militarily strong enough to annihilate Israel.

The alternative is to accept Israel and try to make peace with it. That requires the Palestinian leadership to offer its own "peace plan." This has never happened because Yasser Arafat, taking himself for a master of Machiavellian politics, has always played Janus, with one face smiling at Israel while the other promises death.

For half a century, most Arab and other Muslim states have supported a strategy that has pushed the Palestinians into an ever-weaker position.

In 1947, they rejected the United Nations' partition plan which gave the Palestinians some 80 percent of the old mandate of Palestine. They accepted it in 1967 - after Israel was already in control of the entire mandate. Next, the Arabs for two decades rejected Resolution 242, which demanded the restoration of the West Bank and Gaza to the Palestinians in exchange for secure borders for Israel. On every occasion the Palestinian leadership, like French generals of the last century, was one war behind reality.

Today, the Palestinian leadership rejects the Sharon Plan - ensuring that something worse, from the Palestinian point of view, will be on the table five years from now. In 2010, Arafat, if he is still around, will emerge as a passionate supporter of today's Sharon Plan -which will no longer be on offer.

Why not start by telling the truth?

The Sharon Plan is on the table and must be discussed. No one has suggested that it is anything more than an opening gambit in a complicated game, the final goal of which is the creation of a Palestinian state. Bush has not said that the Sharon Plan must be imposed regardless of what the Palestinians think - only that "realities on the ground" must be taken into account.

That is plainly true; anyone who ignores those realities would be unable to find an end to the conflict. The "realities on the ground" also include the over 150,000 Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem. The so-called Clinton deal, rejected by Arafat at Taba in 2000, also mentioned "realities on the ground," as did the recent Geneva Accords between Israeli and Palestinian peace activists.

Bush has also made it clear that "any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes." In other words, without Palestinian agreement, the Sharon Plan can't go beyond its only phase that is entirely controlled by Israel: total withdrawal from Gaza.

Should Muslims mobilize to prevent Israel from handing Gaza over to the Palestinians? Should Arabs demonstrate against the dismantling of Jewish settlements there? Or should they accept the Gaza-first option which was the basis of the Oslo accords between Arafat and the Israelis?

Bush and other senior U.S. officials insist that the future Palestinian state must be "viable and contiguous." This means a land swap accepted by the Palestinians.

The Muslim leaders should support the two-state solution and welcome the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. They should then press the Palestinian leadership to propose its own peace plan for a return to a table on which the "Sharon Plan" is already spread. Finding common ground between the two plans will be the aim of any future negotiations.

Meaningless resolutions may make the Al-Jazeera audience happy for a few days. But they are a betrayal of the Palestinian people, who have been sacrificed at the altar of Arab and other Muslim vanities for two generations.E-mail:
15 posted on 04/30/2004 10:42:17 AM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Thaw brings Indiana Jones back to King Darius's court
By John Noble Wilford
May 1, 2004
After 25 years' absence, Western archaeologists are trickling back into Iran, resuming their study of the Persian empire of 2500 years ago.

Their numbers are expected to swell as a result of a new openness towards foreign scholars, proclaimed by cultural leaders last August at a conference in Tehran.

"We were told that Western researchers are welcome to Iran," said Gil Stein, director of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. "Part of Iran at least is very interested in improving relations with the West, and believes that scholarship and research play an integral role in that."

As a gesture of good faith, the institute announced this week that it was returning a set of 300 ancient Persian clay tablets to the Iranian Cultural Heritage Organisation. They were described as the first archaeological items to be shipped back since the 1979 revolution that overthrew the shah.

The tablets, inscribed with cuneiform writing from about 500BC, were among tens of thousands of such documents discovered by Chicago archaeologists that were lent to the institute in 1937 for translation and study. Thousands of tablet fragments were returned in 1951.

Archaeologists venturing back to Iran said they recognised the unsettled political conditions of the Middle East. Excavations by foreigners are suspended in Iraq and curtailed in several other countries.

American universities are negotiating long-term agreements for Iranian excavations. Various teams are already surveying ancient irrigation in the Khuzestan region near the Iraq border; investigating Bronze Age remains in central Iran; and digging at a prehistoric site near Persepolis, the old Persian capital.

"This is the new frontier of Near Eastern archaeology," Dr Stein said.

Work has also been started or planned by archaeologists from Australia, Britain, France, Germany and Japan. The Germans are excavating ancient copper production sites on the Iranian Plateau. The French are digging at a site associated with the Persian ruler Cyrus I.

The hardened clay tablets being repatriated date from the middle of the reign of Darius I, 509-494BC.

Although the inscribed writing is cuneiform, a script developed more than 5000 years ago by the Sumerians in what is now Iraq, the words are Elamite, an early language of what is now Iran.

Dr Matthew Stolper, a Chicago professor and specialist on ancient Iran, said most of the tablets were no larger than a modern credit card, each recording one transaction.

They came from Persepolis and contained details of the inner workings of the Persian government. Some of the seal impressions left in the clay indicate the existence of some previously unknown administrative offices of the empire and the identity of leaders of some parts of the empire.

From the tablets, researchers have learned how much labourers in Persia were paid - even their daily ration of barley and beer - that workers were brought in from distant parts of the empire, such as Greece, Egypt and Central Asia, and details about the system under which foreign delegations were authorised to travel across the land.
16 posted on 04/30/2004 12:52:29 PM PDT by freedom44
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To: DoctorZIn
This just in from a student in Iran...

"At around 7:30 pm. I looked at sky like other nights and I looked at moon and bright stars. Suddenly I saw a flashing light over in south west of Tehran.

It was a colorful object Red, Green and white were the colors that the object was radiating.

I thought it is an airplane as Mehrabad air port is located in the same direction.

I remembered UFO fever and I suspected it might be a UFO.
I called my friend who is a freeper too and he saw what I was able to see. I asked my neighbor to confirm what I saw, and he saw the same thing there.

The object was hovering over the sky and repositioning from west to south.

After a while, I saw the object is flying at a very very high speed to North and then it vanished in the sky.
Me and my freeper friend were shocked.

Most people here think these unknow flying objects are American spy planes and some other think it is related to Iranian Mullahs' nuke activities.

Whatever they are, I wouldnt believe others if I couldnt see them, myself. "
17 posted on 04/30/2004 3:20:56 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
First hand UFO report from inside of Iran...
18 posted on 04/30/2004 3:22:09 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
[cue 'Twight Zone' music]
19 posted on 04/30/2004 3:24:10 PM PDT by nuconvert ("America will never be intimidated by thugs and assassins." ...( Azadi baraye Iran)
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To: DoctorZIn
Thanks Dude! FREE IRAN!
20 posted on 04/30/2004 3:27:09 PM PDT by cmsgop ( It Puts The Lotion in the Basket or it gets the Hose Again........)
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