Skip to comments.Iranian Alert -- May 20, 2004 [EST]-- IRAN LIVE THREAD -- "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 05/19/2004 8:59:55 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 Americans 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.
Iran Could Test ICBMs as Early as 2005
May 19, 2004
Middle East Newsline
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. intelligence community has determined that Iran could begin testing components of intercontinental ballistic missiles as early as 2005.
U.S. officials said Iran has achieved sufficient progress in its Shihab-class intermediate-range missile program to enable testing of ICBM components starting from next year. The officials said Iran has succeeded in overcoming major obstacles in extending the range of its ballistic missile program.
Iran has maintained or even exceeded its targets in 2003 for the extended-range Shihab-3 program. Officials said the successful test of the Shihab-3 in June 2003 could enable Teheran to quickly advance toward the development of a ballistic missile with a range of 1,700 kilometers. This would mark the start of Iran's research and development program into space-launched vehicles.
"During 2003, Iran continued R&D in its longer-range ballistic missile programs, and publicly reiterated its intention to develop space launch vehicles -- and SLVs contain most of the key building blocks for an ICBM," CIA director George Tenet told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Feb. 24. "Iran could begin flight-testing these systems in the mid- to latter-part of the decade."
Iran's Revolutionary Guards Making a Bid For Increased Power
May 20, 2004
Kamal Nazer Yasin
Irans Revolutionary Guards, the military force that has served as the main pillar of support for the Islamic republic, is seeking to play an independent role in the countrys domestic political life. The entry of the Revolutionary Guards into the political fray can have many unintended consequences, including the rearrangement of Irans policy-making process.
Irans conservative clerics created the Revolutionary Guard Corps to defend the 1979 Islamic revolt from both foreign and domestic enemies. Before his death in 1989, the spiritual leader of the revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, prohibited the Revolutionary Guards from becoming actively involved in politics, which for much of the Islamic republics history has been marked by factional infighting. In addition, the Iranian constitution prohibits members of the armed forces from direct engagement in politics.
However, recent domestic and regional developments enabled the Revolutionary Guard commanders to break the taboo on political activity. Conservative clerics became increasingly reliant on the countrys security forces as they went about re-establishing their firm grip on power.
On the domestic front, hard-liners relied heavily on the Revolutionary Guards to manage get-out-the-vote and other activities that helped secure a conservative landslide victory in the controversial February parliamentary elections. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].
At the same time, the Revolutionary Guards domestic prestige has been significantly enhanced by the fact of its management of Irans nuclear program. The program, under intense international scrutiny because of its arms-making potential, is a source of tremendous national pride in Iran.
On the security front, the US-led war on terrorism -- specifically the presence of US troops in two neighboring countries, Afghanistan and Iraq has enhanced the Revolutionary Guards clout in defending Irans national interests. Indeed, the Revolutionary Guards reportedly dominate Irans embassy in Iraq, and have garnered praise in Tehran for running effective intelligence and diplomatic operations that stifled Bush administration talk of promoting regime change in Iran.
Prior to taking on a higher political profile, the Revolutionary Guards established itself as an economic force in the country, launching a vast array of financial and economic enterprises. In large part, the businesses were seen as needed to finance Revolutionary Guard security programs. At the same time, the ventures were intended to build the guards independence. In this, guard commanders sought to mimic their military counterparts in Pakistan and Turkey. In both those countries, the army acts as far more than an instrument to protect national interests: they both play high-profile political roles and often define what the respective nations security interests are.
Signs of the growing political clout of the Revolutionary Guards are abundant. For instance, on May 18, a former guards commander, Ezatullah Zarghami, was named to the key post of national television and radio chief.
In addition, in apparent exchange for its help during the parliamentary elections, the Revolutionary Guards were permitted to field its own slate of candidates. Thus, when the new parliament convenes later in May, about one dozen legislators will be under the effective control of the Revolutionary Guards. Political observers note that this is the first time in the Islamic republics 25-year history that the guards have had such a parliamentary presence.
By far the greatest demonstration of the Revolutionary Guards political influence occurred in early May, when the military abruptly closed down Tehrans new Imam Khomeini International Airport. In justifying its action, Revolutionary Guard representatives said the fact that a Turkish consortium, TAV, was in charge of operating the airport terminal posed a threat to Irans "security and dignity," the official IRNA news agency reported. Accordingly, the guards have demanded that the TAV airport deal be voided before the airport reopens.
Some observers suspect an economic motive is behind the Revolutionary Guards action in the airport row. When TAV won the tender to operate the airport, the losing bidder was reportedly a company with close ties to the Revolutionary Guards.
TAV in a statement said it had already expended million to fulfill its airport operation obligations. The statement also asserted that a memo of understanding governing TAVs management of the airport was still valid.
The Iranian student news agency, ISNA, described the May 8 closure of the airport as illegal, going on to blame the action on "irresponsible elements." IRNA, meanwhile, quoted the lame-duck Parliament Speaker Mehdi Karroubi as characterizing the incident a "disaster and disgrace for the country." Nevertheless, the new airport which was 30 years and $465 million in the making remains closed while the issue is decided at the highest levels of Irans government.
Given the opaque nature of Irans political system, it is difficult to determine the attitude of the countrys conservative religious hierarchy towards the guards rising political profile. Some observers suggest the guards efforts to become more politically active are simply a reflection of changing geopolitical conditions that have rewritten the rules governing domestic Iranian politics. Others believe the Revolutionary Guard commanders may be overplaying their hand, and thus could soon be subject to action designed to curb their political ambitions.
An important indicator of the Revolutionary Guards future in politics should come in 2005, when the Guardian Council will vet candidate for the presidential election. If the candidate favored by the guards current Tehran Mayor Mahmud Ahmadinejad is allowed to run in the election, many observers will take it as a sign of conservative acceptance of a Revolutionary Guard role in politics.
Editors Note: Kamal Nazer Yasin is a pseudonym for a journalist specializing in Iranian affairs.
Journalist for British paper expelled from Iran
Iranian authorities have ordered the only US journalist based in Tehran to leave the country because he reported on the aftermath of the Bam earthquake without permission, his British newspaper said.The Guardian said correspondent Dan de Luce, 38, would return to London on Thursday after authorities declined to renew his visa and accreditation. He would be permitted to reapply in three months, authorities said.
Mr De Luce had published a dispatch last month critical of the reconstruction effort in Bam after last year's earthquake which killed more than 20,000 people.
He had travelled to the city as an aid volunteer, after being denied a permit to make the trip as a journalist.
"Dan de Luce deliberately contravened the regulations. His professional activities have been suspended for three months and this is not because of what he wrote but because of contravention of the regulations," the Iranian Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance said in a statement.
Mr De Luce told The Guardian he was disappointed to be leaving.
"I was just trying to do my job. I wrote the story from Bam because I thought it was important to document the situation there, what the survivors and the aid agencies were saying," he said.Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said the expulsion "can only set back our attempts to understand the fast-changing nature of Iranian society", adding he hoped Iran would reconsider.
The British Foreign Office said it was for Iran to decide who could enter the country, but Mr de Luce's expulsion "sends the wrong messages about freedom of the press, about Iran's willingness to engage sensibly with the international community".
Mr De Luce's predecessor for The Guardian, Geneive Abdo, left Tehran in 2001, expressing fear she might be punished after authorities criticised her interview with a political prisoner.
Do we really need these reports daily? How about weekly or monthly?
Yes, yes, there's turmoil and tension in Iran, but that's old news. The place has been in turmoil and tension for years, with no change in sight.
British embassy attacked in Iran protest
By Mohsen Asgari in Tehran and Gareth Smyth in Baghdad
Published: May 20 2004 5:00 | Last Updated: May 20 2004 5:00
Demonstrators threw stones and home-made hand grenades at the British embassy in Tehran yesterday during protests against the presence of US troops in Najaf and Karbala, the two Shia Muslim holy cities in neighbouring Iraq.
Police used batons to disperse the crowd, which included members of the Basiji paramilitary group linked with conservative clerics.
Earlier, tens of thousands of people had heard Mehdi Karrubi, the speaker of parliament, support Tuesday's call by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's leading Shia cleric, for both US troops and the militia led by renegade cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to leave Najaf and Karbala.
As the demonstrators dispersed from the city's vast Revolution Square, about 500 gathered in front of the British embassy. They called for it to be closed and hurled stones over the high walls, breaking windows and prompting officials to lower the British flag. There were no reports of injuries.
US and British officials have generally welcomed Tehran's co-operation over Iraq, at least 55 per cent of whose 25m population are Shia Muslims. But there is growing popular concern in Iran, where 90 per cent of the 65m population is Shia, about the fate of the holy shrines, which mark the graves of Ali and Hussein - Shia Islam's most important saints.
Fighting broke out again yesterday in Karbala between the US and Mr Sadr's militia, with news agencies reporting as many as four Iraqis killed.
Last Friday the golden dome of the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf was holed in four places during exchanges of fire.
Iranian Shia flocked to the shrines after the downfall of Saddam Hussein last year, but at least 40 died in bombings in Karbala and Baghdad in March and the Iranian government subsequently discouraged citizens from making the pilgrimage.
In Lebanon, whose 4m population is at last 40 per cent Shia, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbollah, yesterday urged Iraqis to defend the holy places against the Americans.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, said the Islamic world was "sensitive to sacrilege" and that if the US continued to "offend the Muslim world" it would "for sure experience the bitter taste of defeat".
The British embassy in Tehran has suffered several attacks in the past year. A fire bomb was thrown at the back gate of the compound last November and there were four shooting incidents in August and September last year after a former Iranian diplomat was arrested in the UK, following an extradition request by the Argentine authorities.
Regime's Anti-Coalition Demo Turns Into Another Fiasco
SMCCDI (Information Service)
May 19, 2004
The Islamic republic Anti-Coalition demo turned into another fiasco, today, as millions of Iranians ignored the official calls for "massive participation". In Tehran alone, with over 14 millions of inhabitants, the regime was not able to bring into streets more than 30,000 professional demonstrators composed mainly from affiliates of the regime or foreigners along with forced individuals from governmental offices, military forces and schools.
Same trend was followed in most Iranians cities where the residents boycotted the official demos.
Groups of Bassijis were seen trying to enflame the few protesters and reports are stating about a simulation of attack against the British Embassy in Tehran where several incendiary devices were thrown by these plainclothes agents toward the diplomatic premises.
The absolute majority of Iranians have shown, in the last years and at several occasions, their rejection of the Islamic regime and its calls for supporting violence. The today's fiasco was similar to the regime's last Anti-Israeli demo where it was not able to bring in more than 5,000 individuals.
You can check in here weekly or monthly......the rest of us look forward to daily news about Iran.
That's too bad. We got good articles from De Luce.
You will hear more about Iran in the months ahead.
We should just precision bomb the regime over and over again. Entirely from the air.
The Persian people can do the rest.
This is the 2nd time they expell British Journalists from Iran. Last time, they expelled Economist Weekly reporter from Iran.
Sending British a message, I guess.
You're free to check it yearly.. Alot of us want to know daily.
Is it true that Iranians are the most pro-American (or least anti-American) people in the Islamic world?
-- No 20.40 % (82)
-- Yes 69.15 % (278)
-- Not Sure 10.45 % (42)
Total Votes: 402
404 Votes so far... LoL! I voted Yes.
We should freep this poll!
I think it's better when you have Iranians voting. That's the whole idea behind the poll. To get their prespective on things.
Yeah, you are right but I thought voting there is a help as long as we know they are veyr Pro-America.
Bolton Flies In to Discuss Security
The Moscow Times
Thursday, May 20, 2004
U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton was to arrive in Moscow on Wednesday evening to discuss a wide range of security and nonproliferation issues ahead of a meeting between Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin next month.
Bolton will meet with officials of the Foreign Ministry, Energy and Industry Ministry, Federal Space Agency and Federal Nuclear Power Agency to discuss nonproliferation issues, including Iran's nuclear program and Bush's Proliferation Security Initiative, a U.S. Embassy official said Wednesday.
The official said the bulk of the meetings were set for Thursday, but did not elaborate.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman declined to comment on Bolton's visit, and calls to the Federal Space Agency and Federal Nuclear Power Agency went unanswered Wednesday.
Bolton's visit comes three days after U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice completed a trip to Moscow during which she also discussed nonproliferation issues. She met with Putin and other senior Russian officials.
A senior U.S. diplomat told reporters Sunday that Russian officials reaffirmed to Rice the country's "greater" interest in the PSI but said they have not decided whether to sign on to the initiative, which provides for the interdiction of weapons of mass destruction on the ground, in the air and at sea.
Bush and Putin will discuss the PSI on the sidelines of the next G-8 summit, from June 8 to 10 on Sea Island, Georgia, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters during a visit to the United States last week. The two presidents will also meet during celebrations commemorating the 60th anniversary of D-Day in France on June 6.
"We expect that the meeting on Sea Island will [generate] an additional agreement in the sphere of struggle against terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," Lavrov said at a meeting of G-8 foreign ministers on May 15.
Russian officials initially expressed reservations about the PSI, which Bush announced in May 2003, but have gradually become more supportive in recent months.
The Middle East Does Not Need Another Failed Theocracy
May 19, 2004
Unfortunately the situation in Iraq is rather dire and a number of nations can profit from its chaos whereas others would definitely suffer from an Iraq undergoing pervasive civil strife which can very well make Iraq a theocratic state. Getting rid of the old hazard of Saddam Hussein and his rapacious family has led to the emergence of a motley group of characters in post Saddam Iraq who are fighting for dominance over the nation.
One such individual who deserves special attention is a man by the name of Moqtada al-Sadr who had appeared out of the woodwork of a chaotic post Saddam Iraq. He is a young Shiite Muslim cleric in his early thirties who is among many individuals struggling for power in today's Iraq. He is the son of Mohammad Sadiq Sadr, who was a prominent cleric in the Shiite religious establishment. In 1999, Sadr senior was assassinated in 1999 and the most likely perpetrators were agents of Saddam Hussein's Baath party. After his father's death, al-Sadr took over his father's charitable organization and had operated in a clandestine manner by setting up various cells in Shia dominant areas of Iraq in the hopes of overthrowing Saddam Hussein and establishing a religious theocracy like the one in neighboring Iran.
Shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein by U.S forces, Moqtada al-Sadr right away maneuvered for influence through his family's foundation. In that time period, a poor neighborhood in Baghdad that is inhabited mainly by Shiites was renamed Sadr City from the previous name of Saddam City. In the Shia slum areas of Baghdad, his followers distributed food to the needy thereby endearing himself to poverty stricken members of the Shiite community. Al Sadr's methods of attaining power were by no means limited to charity work and sermons but by violence and intimidation as well.
Prior to the U.S. invasion, al-Sadr was a relative unknown outside of Iraq who had obtained instantaneous notoriety in the American political and military establishment. He was regarded as a minor rabble rousing nuisance up until the summer of 2003 and has turned into a major threat to American interests and most importantly to Iraqi interests as well. The first signs of trouble occurred on April 11, two days after the fall of Baghdad when a pro U.S. cleric by the name Abdel Majid al-Khoie was murdered in Najaf and according to the U.S., Sadr was the most likely culprit. Then came the string of fiery Friday prayer sermons. Here are some examples of his quotes:
"Terrorize your enemies as we cannot remain silent at their violations. Otherwise, we will reach a stage when the consequences will be serious... I am concerned about you because demonstrations are useless... Your enemy loves terrorism and scorns nations and all Arabs. It seeks to silence the opinions of others. I appeal to you not to resort to demonstrations because they have become useless. You should resort to other methods." Quoted by Iraqi web site Sharja Al-Khalij, 5 Apr 04
"I will only negotiate with the Americans if their country says that it has come here to liberate us not to occupy us, as occupying a country is incompatible with the very principle of negotiations... We are not hostile to America, but we are the enemy of occupation... I only want a government based on freedom and rule by the people. Obviously, such a government will be an Islamic one." Interview with Iranian news agency Irna, 23 Feb 04
"The Untied States did not only come to overthrow Saddam only or take our oil. It came with the intention of destroying the whole cultural, moral, and humanitarian structure of Iraqi civilization and replace it by a structure producing thorns, moss, and a defeated nation." Quote from editorial in Sadr's Al-Hawza newspaper, 7 Aug 2003
These quotes are rather typical of today's "popular" imams whose sermons are anti American (even though it was the U.S. who overthrew Saddam) in flavor with the ever-recurring theme of enemy (Israel, U.S. and the UK.) plots. One can't forget the ordering of the followers to attain martyrdom. But interestingly enough you won't see these Imams or their sons in the front lines.
However not all of his quotes were so inflammatory like the following:
"I hope you will send my greetings and my thanks to the American people who love peace. I thank them because they supported us by demonstrations. I love them because I wanted to guide them to God and I wish to unify them with our people. So let Ramadan be a meeting for us of peace and settlement, a month of preventing bloodshed, wars and terrorism. This month will be a seed of unity and brotherhood between the two peoples and the two religions." Letter to occupying forces to mark Ramadan published in Sadr's Al-Hawzah newspaper, 6 Nov 03
"We have been keen and are still keen to avoid a clash with the occupation forces. But as I have said, we continue to face, almost on a daily basis, an intense campaign of escalation, harassment and provocation... Our course is to avoid collision and bloodshed as long the path of politics, diplomacy and negotiation remains open." Quoted by Lebanese web site Al-Safir, 5 Nov 03
I had to include those quotes to underline a certain point in that it is typical of mullahs who involve themselves in politics to show two faces at times to throw off their enemies for their own gains. Also that in situations where they feel vulnerable, miraculously they are open to dialogue and negotiations but when they feel that they have the upper hand -¦ it is their law or no law! Sounds familiar does't it?
The occupation of Iraq has been a very bumpy one but the recurring theme was that as long as the Shiite leadership is to some degree cooperative with the coalition that something positive can be salvaged for the United States and then the unthinkable happened. On the 28th of March, the Coalition Provisional Authority announced the closure of Moqtada al-Sadr's weekly newspaper al-Hawza for inciting anti U.S. violence. His Mehdi army this past April then started to engage in hostile actions against the coalition forces. So started the campaign of insurgency by the Shiites although Sadr's army consists of fighters who are largely a radical fringe group.
The Mehdi Army was formed in the summer of 2003 in defiance of the Coalition Provisional Authority's promotion of arms control. They are thought to number to up to ten thousand fighters and they are getting more recruits day by day who join out of frustration of their poor quality of lives and naturally their anger would be directed towards the Americans.
An important point is that al-Sadr's target is not limited to the U.S. occupation alone but towards other competing Shiite factions. This became obvious when members of his militia had clashed with moderate Shiites over control of the shrine of Ali in Najaf in July of 2003. So today, his militia through spilling blood in a holy city has control of the Shrine of Ali and with that, have control over the numerous donations that it receives from visiting pilgrims.
Al-Sadr's main rival is the highly venerated Iranian born Ayatollah Sistani. Sistani in contrast to al-Sadr is a soft-spoken, moderate cleric who commands greater respect among the Shiite faithful than Sadr. He had called for limited cooperation with the coalition to ensure a speedy handover to Iraqi rule and the most likely ruling elite of Iraq will consist mainly of Shia population.
Despite the majority of the Iraqis are Shiite, they have been the oppressed segment of the Iraqi people under Saddam Hussein's rule. Because of the U.S. invasion a power vacuum was created and the Shias right away entered the chaotic landscape. It is clear that through their strength in numbers, the Shiites will hold the most power in a new Iraq. Whether it will be strength through the ballot box or through the gun remains to be seen but let us hope for the former rather than the latter.
After the fall of Saddam Hussein, the cities of Karbala and Najaf became model cities for the rest of the nation. The Shiites found new freedom in worship, assembly, politics and in the media. With the new dynamisms and a large and steady influx of pilgrims, these cities were becoming boomtowns of sort. The magic ingredients: peace, freedom, hard work and a pioneering spirit. But thanks to al-Sadr, these towns in recent months have been taken over by his militia and they have been using these holy cities as a springboard for their military activities against U.S. forces.
Consequently, economic activity has ground to a virtual halt in both Najaf and Karbala. The residents are confined to their homes and once again a climate of fear has returned to these cities. Just recently, hundreds of protesters in Najaf were calling on Mr. Sadr's militia to leave the city. Sadr's militia responded by firing in the air, which had caused the crowd to disperse.
The U.S. earlier stated clearly that they wanted al-Sadr either captured or killed. Recently they seem to adopt a softer stance on him. It would be better for the Iraqis to deal with him for the majority of the Shiites see Sadr as a dangerous troublemaker and an important test on collective Shia effectiveness would be shown by how they would treat him. Through his violent deeds he is clearly a tyrant waiting to happen. Hopefully the Iraqis will see him as he is and put him on trial for his crimes against the Iraqi nation. More important, if they want to avoid becoming a theocracy and if they have any doubts about its effectiveness in governing a nation, all they have to do is look east towards neighboring Iran and right away they will come to the right decision. I'm sure the ruling "rahbars" in Tehran hope they will come up with the wrong decision.
Here is a great flash video on Iran from Krisof of NYTimes
The Enemy is Not Just Al-Qaeda
By Robert Spencer
FrontPageMagazine.com | May 20, 2004
Editor's note: In the light of the recent feeding frenzy in the press over some Mujahideen warriors who got their feelings hurt, it is apparent that many Americans dont get it that we are in a war for our survival. The article that follows is a corrective, particularly in light of the prison scandal and the unseemly and self-destructive hysteria over it. The prisoners being made into victims in the prison abuse debacle in Iraq were captured with guns in their hands in Iraq trying to kill our soldiers. They are apocalyptic Muslim warriors/terrorists who live to die while killing us. They are hard cases and tough to break for information, information which could save American and Iraqi lives.
As weve listened to this prison case unfold we have heard that out of a 700 person Military Police Battalion there are seven or eight people who have poor judgment. However, the abuses they are charged with committing are mainly those of petty things like changing the eating cycle of the prisoners, leaving the lights on 24 hours per day (sleep deprivation) and other techniques designed to break down a prisoners resistance to tough questions. It is rough treatment and the 780 American dead from Iraq probably wish that we had gotten a lot tougher a lot sooner so we could have known where the terrorist was who killed them. Thats what is at stake here survival. If some Muslim warrior from Yemen who went to Iraq to kill Americans gets his feelings hurt just remember he was not arrested by a street cop for spitting on the sidewalk. He was dragged from his fighting hole by our soldiers. Hes a Yemeni and hes in Iraq. Why is that? Why is he not in Yemen?
The three things every American needs to understand (and what this article makes clear) is that our enemy is not one organization (al-Qaeda), that the this war did not start on 9/11, and that it will not be over until our enemies are disarmed and dead.
The Enemy is Not Just Al-Qaeda
By Robert Spencer
I believe you are what Americans call Al-Qaeda. National Guard Spc. Ryan Anderson gave this response when two undercover agents he thought were Islamic terrorists asked him: What organization do you think we are?
Anderson, who is now under arrest for attempting to betray his country and join the jihad, chose his words carefully. A convert to Islam who had spent considerable time cruising for radical Muslim Internet sites, Anderson knew that what Americans think of as one unified organization Al-Qaeda is in reality a loose affiliation of many organizations, or even an American conceptual grouping of people who share common motives and goals.
This misunderstanding by many is what makes questions revolving around a link between Saddam and Al-Qaeda so crucial: if Iraq had nothing to do with Al-Qaeda, the assumption goes, it had nothing to do with terrorism, and American armies never should have gone there. The war must have started to protect American oil supplies or create jobs for Halliburton or avenge Saddams attempt on President Bushs father.
But Saddam could have had, and did have, many ties to terrorism.
In March of 2002, the Iraqi dictator arranged a public ceremony to pay roughly $500,000 to terrorists in the West Bank, paying $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers and $10,000 to those whose family members were killed in other clashes with the Israeli army. If Saddam never had anything to do with Al-Qaeda (which is still an open question), he was clearly a supporter of terrorism. Because of the politically correct blackout in the mainstream media on serious inquiry into the roots of Islamic radicalism, many Americans still believe that the terrorist enemy is limited to an organization named Al-Qaeda, and that the threat will end once that group is neutralized or eliminated; in light of this, Saddams well documented connections to terrorist groups other than Al-Qaeda are ignored.
The question of the nature of Al-Qaeda, and of the Islamic terror threat as a whole, carries important policy implications In reality, the terrorist threat and the Al-Qaeda threat are far from synonymous. The roots of todays war on terror lie in the creation not of Al-Qaeda, but of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the prototypical Muslim radical group of the modern age, was founded in Egypt by Hassan Al-Banna in 1928. The Brotherhood emerged as a response to the abolition of the caliphate by Turkish secularist pioneer Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1924. Al-Banna and the Brotherhood considered Islam to have an essential political and social character that needed to be reasserted in the face of the societal ills that had come to the Islamic world with secularism. Al-Banna excoriated Ataturk for separating the state from religion in a country which was until recently the site of the Commander of the Faithful. Sounding notes that Osama bin Laden would echo decades later, Al-Banna characterized the abolition of the caliphate as just part of a larger Western invasion which was armed and equipped with all [the] destructive influences of money, wealth, prestige, ostentation, power and means of propaganda.
Al-Bannas Brotherhood had a deeply spiritual character from its beginning, but it didnt combat the Western invasion with just words and prayers. Al-Banna decried the complacency of the Egyptian elite: What catastrophe has befallen the souls of the reformers and the spirit of the leaders? . . . What calamity has made them prefer this life to the thereafter [sic]? What has made them . . . consider the way of struggle [sabil al-jihad] too rough and difficult? When the Brotherhood was criticized for being a political group in the guise of a religious one, al-Banna met the challenge head-on:
We summon you to Islam, the teachings of Islam, the laws of Islam and the guidance of Islam, and if this smacks of politics in your eyes, then it is our policy. And if the one summoning you to these principles is a politician, then we are the most respectable of men, God be praised, in politics . . . Islam does have a policy embracing the happiness of this world. . . . We believe that Islam is an all-embracing concept which regulates every aspect of life, adjudicating on every one of its concerns and prescribing for it a solid and rigorous order.
Al-Bannas vision was in perfect accord with that of classical Muslim scholars such as Ibn Khaldun, who taught in the fourteenth century that in the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force. In a similar spirit, Al-Banna wrote in 1934 that it is a duty incumbent on every Muslim to struggle towards the aim of making every people Muslim and the whole world Islamic, so that the banner of Islam can flutter over the earth and the call of the Muezzin can resound in all the corners of the world: God is greatest [Allahu akbar]! This is not parochialism, nor is it racial arrogance or usurpation of land.
Al-Banna would doubtless therefore have looked kindly upon the Palestinian Sheikh Ibrahim Madhis 2002 call to believers: Oh beloved, look to the East of the earth, find Japan and the ocean; look to the West of the earth, find [some] country and the ocean. Be assured that these will be owned by the Muslim nation, as the Hadith says . . . from the ocean to the ocean.
According to Brynjar Lia, the historian of the Muslim Brotherhood movement: Quoting the Quranic verse And fight them till sedition is no more, and the faith is Gods [Sura 2:193], the Muslim Brothers urged their fellow Muslims to restore the bygone greatness of Islam and to re-establish an Islamic empire. Sometimes they even called for the restoration of former Islamic colonies in Andalus (Spain), southern Italy, Sicily, the Balkans and the Mediterranean islands.
Such talk may have seemed laughable then, but it isnt so much now in these days of increasing jihadist activity in Spain, the Balkans, and elsewhere in Europe. And even at that time, the Brotherhood had weapons and a military wing. Scholar Martin Kramer notes that the Brotherhood had a double identity. On one level, they operated openly, as a membership organization of social and political awakening. Banna preached moral revival, and the Muslim Brethren engaged in good works. On another level, however, the Muslim Brethren created a secret apparatus that acquired weapons and trained adepts in their use. Some of its guns were deployed against the Zionists in Palestine in 1948, but the Muslim Brethren also resorted to violence in Egypt. They began to enforce their own moral teachings by intimidation, and they initiated attacks against Egypts Jews. They assassinated judges and struck down a prime minister in 1949. Banna himself was assassinated two months later, probably in revenge.
The Brotherhood was no gathering of marginalized kooks. It grew in Egypt from 150 branches in 1936 to as many as 1,500 by 1944. In 1939 al-Banna referred to 100,000 pious youths from the Muslim Brothers from all parts of Egypt, and although Lia believes he was exaggerating at that point, by 1944 membership was estimated as between 100,000 and 500,000. By 1937 it had expanded beyond Egypt, setting up several branches in Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, and Morocco, and one in each of Bahrain, Hadramawt, Hyderabad, Djibouti and, Lia adds matter-of-factly, Paris. These many thousands, dispersed around the world, heard al-Bannas call to prepare for jihad and be lovers of death.
One of the Muslim Brotherhoods principal children is Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement that glorifies the murder of innocent civilians in Israel. Hamas identifies itself in its Charter as one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine. The Muslim Brotherhood Movement is a world organization, the largest Islamic Movement in the modern era. It is characterized by a profound understanding, by precise notions and by a complete comprehensiveness of all concepts of Islam in all domains of life: views and beliefs, politics and economics, education and society, jurisprudence and rule, indoctrination and teaching, the arts and publications, the hidden and the evident, and all the other domains of life.
Only at this point does Al-Qaeda come into the picture. According to Janes Intelligence Review, one man Sheikh Abdullah Azzam was both an influential figure in the Muslim Brotherhood and the historical leader of Hamas. Azzam was a Muslim scholar who shaped Osama bin Ladens view of the world. Raised in a pious Muslim household, Azzam earned a degree in Sharia from the Sharia College of Damascus University in 1966. In 1973 he received a Ph.D. in Islamic jurisprudence from al-Azhar University in Cairo, the oldest, most respected, and most influential institute of higher learning in the Muslim world.
Azzam then joined the jihad against Israel, but soon grew frustrated. His fellow mujahedin spent their off-hours gambling and playing music, both forbidden activities according to Islamic law particularly in the interpretation of the Shafii school which holds sway at al-Azhar. Ultimately Azzam decided that this revolution has no religion behind it and traveled to Saudi Arabia to teach. There he taught that the Muslims philosophy in conflicts with non-Muslims ought to be jihad and the rifle alone. NO negotiations, NO conferences and NO dialogue.
In 1980, attracted by the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan, he went to Pakistan to get to know the movements leaders. He taught for a while at the International Islamic University in Islamabad, but soon resigned in order to devote himself full-time to jihad. Azzam and his dear friend Osama bin Laden founded the Mujahedin Service Bureau in order to give aid to those fighting in Afghanistan. However, this was not enough to satisfy Sheikh Azzams burning desire for Jihad. That desire inspired him finally to go to the frontline. There he was killed in 1989 under mysterious circumstances in Peshawar. His followers hail him as a martyr and as the main pillar of the Jihad movement in the modern times. Said Osama bin Laden ten years later in an interview broadcast on Al-Jazeera television: Sheikh Abdullah Azzam was not an individual, but an entire nation by himself. Muslim women have proven themselves incapable of giving birth to a man like him after he was killed.
Azzam truly was extraordinary. It is remarkable indeed that this academic who earned degrees from two major Islamic universities and taught in four countries would have ended up fighting alongside Osama bin Laden. Why wasnt he upbraided and dismissed by the faculties of any of these universities for his radicalism? Why wasnt he convinced that the way he was thinking of jihad was out of step with the Quran and the example of the Prophet?
The obvious answer is that his view of jihad was not a newly-minted heresy, held only by his colleagues in Al-Qaeda, but something believed much more broadly. This fact was underscored by the success of the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979. Of course, Jimmy Carters feckless policies made the Ayatollah Khomeinis triumph possible, but Khomeini himself, a Shiite who had no involvement in the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, was absolutely clear about the Islamic character of his revolution. Islam, he declared, makes it incumbent on all adult males . . . to prepare themselves for the conquest of [other] countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country in the world. . . . But those who study Islamic Holy War will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world. ... Islam says: Kill in the service of Allah those who may want to kill you! There are hundreds of other [Quranic] psalms and Hadiths [sayings of Muhammad] urging Muslims to value war and to fight.
Khomeinis words are echoed today by operatives in dozens, if not hundreds of other Islamic groups around the world that are dedicated to jihad. Al-Qaeda is involved with some, but not all. Some are even rivals of Al-Qaeda, although they will always work together against a common non-Islamic foe rather than allow themselves to be diverted into fighting one another. In fact, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the terrorist mastermind in Iraq whom the CIA says murdered Nicholas Berg, is not an Al-Qaeda operative. Robert S. Leiken and Steven Brooke of the Nixon Center explain that though he met with bin Laden in Afghanistan several times, the Jordanian never joined al Qaeda. Militants have explained that Tawhid [Zarqawis own radical Muslim group] was especially for Jordanians who did not want to join al Qaeda.
Recent reports confirm that, far from emanating from a single, hierarchical organization, Islamic terrorism is being perpetrated today by widely dispersed groups that share only a similar view of the world and how they would like to transform it. In a piece on Moroccan terrorists, the New York Times noted that their networks are dispersed throughout Europe and are very autonomous. This pattern recurs among Islamic militants worldwide.
There is even a continuing threat from an old source: the Muslim Brotherhood. Just last Sunday Egyptian police arrested 54 members of the group on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities. Although its younger, flashier children grab more of the headlines, the Brotherhood is by no means a spent force. It ongoing involvement in violence (combined with American unwillingness to acknowledge how compelling the radical vision of Islam is to Muslims) is just more evidence that todays fixation with Al-Qaeda could be dangerously misleading.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and the author of Onward Muslim Soldiers: How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West (Regnery Publishing), and Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the Worlds Fastest Growing Faith (Encounter Books).
 Ray Rivera, Talk of defecting shown in video, Seattle Times, May 13, 2004.
 Brynjar Lia, The Society of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt, Ithaca Press, 1998. P. 28.
 Lia, p. 33.
 Lia, pp. 68-9, 75-6.
 Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History, translated by Franz Rosenthal; edited and abridged by N. J. Dawood, Princeton University Press, 1967, p. 183.
 Lia, p. 79.
 Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Friday Sermon on Palestinian Authority TV, MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 370, April 17, 2002. www.memri.org.
 Lia, p. 80.
 Martin Kramer, Fundamentalist Islam at Large: The Drive for Power, Middle East Quarterly, June 1996.
 Lia, pp. 153-4.
 Lia, p. 155.
 Jonathan Raban, Truly, madly,deeply devout, The Guardian, March 2, 2002.
 Phil Hirschkorn, Rohan Gunaratna, Ed Blanche, and Stefan Leader, Blowback, Janes Intelligence Review, August 1, 2001.
 See Umdat al-Salik, k29.5; r40.1-3.
 Who was Abdullah Azzam? in Abdullah Azzam, Join the Caravan, Azzam Publications, 2001. P. 8.
 Ibid., p. 9.
 Ibid., p. 10.
 Ibid., p. 11.
 Ibid., p. 7.
 Quoted in Amir Taheri, Holy Terror: Inside the World of Islamic Terrorism, Adler & Adler, 1987, pp. 241-3.
 Robert S. Leiken & Steven Brooke, Who Is Abu Zarqawi?, Weekly Standard, May 24, 2004.
 Elaine Sciolino, Morocco Connection Is Emerging as Sleeper Threat in Terror War, New York Times,
May 16, 2004.
Shamkhani: Israel "Too Vulnerable" to Materialize Threats on Iran
May 20, 2004
Iran's Minister of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani Wednesday dismissed the possibility of Israel launching a military attack on Iran nuclear facilities and said that "Israel is too vulnerable to materialize its threat."
Speaking to reporters at the end of the cabinet meeting, in response to a query raised on Israel's threat to attack Iran, he replied that it is impractical.
"The world's silence on Israel's growing threats and the hostile approach of Israel Premier Sharon is open to question," he added, according to Irna.
Bush Says No to Iran-Controlled Shi'a State
May 20, 2004
Baghdad -- United States President George Bush was quoted on Thursday as telling one of Iraq's main newspapers that he did not foresee Iraq becoming a Shi'a theocracy controlled by neighbouring Iran.
"I don't think there will be a Shi'a religious government in Iraq which Iran will dominate," Bush was quoted as telling Azzaman newspaper in an interview.
"I am convinced that the Iraqi people do not want any party to control them, they want the United States to be a friendly state and do not want the Iranians to dominate them," he said.
Around 60 percent of Iraqis are Shi'as, who were persecuted during the rule of Saddam Hussein. Washington is due to hand sovereignty to a new unelected Iraqi government on June 30.
'I am convinced that the Iraqi people do not want any party to control them'
US-led forces are due to remain in Iraq, raising doubts about how much power the new Iraqi government will actually exercise.
Bush said US-led forces would continue to train the Iraqi police and security forces and help Iraqi forces "deal with foreign fighters" in Iraq.
"We will have an active role but the reality is that Iraqis will control Iraqi affairs," he was quoted as saying.
The Rising Prominence of Iran's Revolutionary Guards
May 20, 2004
The US Alliance for Democratic Iran
There are growing indications of the increasing role of Irans Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) in government agencies and other centers of power in recent months. Irans rulers have been alarmed by rising anti-government sentiments across the country in the past several months and a downward spiral in the economic fortunes of Iranians.
The most recent sign of the IRGCs prominence came earlier this week when the head of the state television and radio network (IRIB), Ali Larijani, was replaced by his deputy Ezatollah Zarghami, a former IRGC Brig. Gen. with a long record of involvement in crackdown at home and terrorism abroad, dating back to the early 1980s.
Zarghamis appointment follows last Februarys sham parliamentary election in which dozens of IRGC commanders won seats. In fact, the Guards Corps played a major role in getting the IRGC personnel and their families out to vote. It also helped bus in thousands of people from Tehrans surrounding villages to the capitals main voting poles to showcase a high turnout in an election millions of Iranians shunned.
With Zarghami at the helm, the IRIB will no doubt step up its disinformation campaign against Irans democracy movement and its fundamentalist propaganda beamed into Iraq. There are already a dozen radio and TV broadcasts jointly controlled by the IRIB and IRGC, broadcasting venomous propaganda into Iraq to wreak greater instability by spreading extremist views.
Thats not all. Late last month, Reuters reported, Iran's Revolutionary Guards are overseeing some 400 nuclear experts in order to prevent further leaks of sensitive information about Tehran's atomic facilities. And a US official expressed "explicit concerns" that the Iranian military was controlling the nuclear weapons programs.
On May 20, the Eurasia Insight wrote, The Revolutionary Guards reportedly dominate Irans embassy in Iraq, and have garnered praise in Tehran for running effective intelligence and diplomatic operations there.
The growing influence of the IRGC in Irans centers of power is sanctioned by the mullahs Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Fearing the explosive potential of popular discontent as summer approaches, the ruling clique has to rely on the IRGCs iron fist to clampdown further on Irans democracy movement and political dissidents.
Equally significant, the rise of the IRGC reflects Tehrans determination to intensify its meddling in Iraq and vigorously pursue its nuclear weapons program.
Washington needs to be very vigilant about these developments and warn Irans rulers that suppressing Iranian dissidents, interfering in Iraq and pursuing nuclear weapons will not be tolerated. More importantly, the United States should embrace democratic opposition forces that are working to unseat the ruling mullahs. This is imperative because only a regime change in Tehran would ultimately rid Iran and the region of the ayatollahs menace.
Power Politics in Transition
May 18, 2004
Iran Institute for Democracy
By Amir Taheri
May 18th, 2004
The history of the dismantlement of the British Empire is full of moments of high political and diplomatic drama that often lead to decades of regional dispute. There are many examples, including such notorious ones as Kashmir and Cyprus. It is one such case that is the main topic of Faisal ibn Salmans information-packed and well-written book.
From the mid-1960s, Britain, under a Labour government, began to consider closing its military bases east of Suez, thus ending over a century of colonial engagement in one of the worlds most unstable regions. Many of those bases had been originally established to protect India, the Jewel in the Crown of the British Empire. With the Indian Subcontinent no longer under British rule after 1947, however, that reason no longer applied. In the meantime, however, oil had been discovered in the Gulf, providing the British military presence around the Arabian Peninsula with a new justification.
As is often the case in history, however, the final decision to act in this case to withdraw from east of Suez was taken mainly because of domestic political considerations. Harold Wilson, leading a government with a slim majority in the House of Commons, had to placate his left-wingers; one way to do so was to reduce Britains colonial commitments. Financial considerations also played a part, although Faisal ibn Salman shows that the annual cost of keeping British bases in the Gulf did not exceed £12 million, and that the rulers of Abu Dhabi and Dubai had offered to foot the bill.
At any rate, Britains withdrawal created a political and security vacuum which had to be filled. One outside power capable of doing so was the United States but, as Faisal ibn Salman points out, the US was at that time so bogged down in Indochina that its leaders had no time to pay attention to events in the Gulf.
President Lyndon Johnson was never given a proper report on developments and, it is likely, would have shown little interest had he read one. American indifference continued well into the Nixon administration which began in 1969. Neither William Rogers, Nixons secretary of state, nor Henry Kissinger, who began as national security adviser, were interested in the region.
US lawmakers were even less informed. Faisal ibn Salman reminds us that even in 1973 some members of the US Congress even thought that Iran and Iraq are the same country, spelled differently. After British withdrawal, only three powers in the region could pretend to a leading role in shaping a new status quo: Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
The last one, Iraq, however, had scripted itself out of regional politics because of its radical politics and troublesome alliance with the Soviet Union. Saudi Arabia, for its part, could do much, thanks to the prestige of the Kingdom as the site of Makkah and Madinah, and the charismatic personality of its ruler, King Faisal ibn Abdul Aziz. It too, however, ultimately lacked both the demographic and military strength needed for such major-power games. That left Iran which, as Faisal ibn Salman shows, had the population, the military muscle and, from the mid-1960s onward, the ambition to claim a leadership role in the Gulf. Iran, however, had its own problems when it came to playing big cheese in the Gulf; it had virtually no experience of the region.
Although large numbers of Iranians had immigrated to different parts of the Gulf for decades, successive governments in Tehran had never paid any attention to what was to become of, in the words of the Shah, the lifeline of Iranian economy and security. No senior Iranian official had visited the so-called Trucial States or the Sultanate of Oman before 1968. And Irans official presence there consisted of a single Savak (security) officer plus a few dozen aid workers and medical personnel from the Red Lion and Sun Society running a number of clinics and primary schools. Iranian universities offered no courses about the Gulf. And the Iranian Foreign Ministry did not even have a Gulf desk until 1968. By 1970, however, the Gulf was at the center of Iranian preoccupations, finding echoes even in domestic politics. And the Shah was able to claim that his government would guarantee the security and stability of a region that contained more than half the worlds known oil reserves.
The second problem that Iran faced in claiming a leadership role in the region was its historic claim to Bahrain. For generations Iranian schoolchildren had been taught that Bahrain was an inalienable part of national Iranian territory. At one point Bahrain was even designated Irans 14th province and assigned a seat in the countrys Parliament. By 1969, however, the Shah had realized that, without solving the Bahrain problem, Iran would not be able to claim leadership in the Gulf.
Irans territorial grievances at the time were not limited to Bahrain. Iran also wanted two other islands, later named Al-Arabi and Farsi, in the middle of the Gulf and in waters that, under a continental shelf agreement, were assigned to Saudi Arabia. At one point, the Iranian Navy intervened to seize an oil rig belonging to an American company working under Saudi license in waters between the two islands. The episode ended with Iran receiving one island while acknowledging Saudi ownership of the other. Faisal ibn Salman offers the best account of the incident that this reviewer has seen anywhere.
At the same time Iran was involved in another dispute, not mentioned by Faisal ibn Salman, over the Omani island of Beit Al-Ghanam (also known as Umm Al-Ghanam) which guards the southern section of the Strait of Hormuz opposite Ras Mussandam. That dispute, however, was quickly settled as Iran sought a military presence in the sultanate itself, ostensibly to fight communist insurgents in Dhofar.
Iran was also involved in two other disputes concerning islands. One dispute was with the sheikhdom of Sharjah over the island of Abu Musa. The other was with the sheikhdom of Ras Al-Khaimah over two tiny islands: Lesser Tunb and Greater Tunb. (The two sheikhdoms, along with others, changed their designation to emirate after 1971.)
The three islands are often wrongly referred to as the Hormuz islands. They are in fact located to the southwest of the Strait of Hormuz which is a narrow body of water between the Iranian islands of Hormuz, Qeshm, Larak, and Hangam to the north and the Omani salient in the Mussandam Peninsula to the south. (The body of water between the north of Qeshm and the Iranian mainland is the Strait of Clarence.)
The Gulf is a shallow body of water with a maximum depth of 90 meters. In other words, all of it is continental shelf. In any division of the Gulf on the basis of the continental shelf, the two Tunb islands fall into Iranian territorial waters while Abu Musa falls into the territorial waters of the sheikhdom of Umm Al-Quwain.
In 1970, however, the two Tunbs were under the flag of Ras Al-Khaimah while Abu Musa was recognized by Britain as part of Sharjah. Faisal ibn Salman shows that sometime in 1969 the Shah decided to abandon Irans claim to Bahrain while deciding to seize Abu Musa and the two Tunbs.
Faisal ibn Salman gives an accurate account of the positions of both sides in the two disputes but, maybe because this is still an unsettled diplomatic issue, is careful not to take sides. His account of the secret contacts, the maneuverings and posturings and what can only be regarded as diplomatic skullduggery that surrounded the issue of the three islands, makes fascinating reading. The book is a valuable contribution to the study of a crucial episode in the regions history, a period that has not received the attention it merits. It is also important for at least two other reasons. The first is that it refutes the usual left-wing claim that Iran, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states would make no move without the permission of British or American masters. What we see here is regional powers playing the hand dealt to them by geography and history and in their own national interests.
Secondly, the book shows that, given the will to find a diplomatic solution, the regional states could work out solutions to their problems. And this is an important lesson if only because the issue of the three islands still remains a bone of contention between Iran and the United Arab Emirates.
This excellent book suffers from two imperfections. The first concerns method and substance. The second is a result of inattentive editing.
As far as the first is concerned, the book would have benefited from more background information. For example, the average reader might not be aware of basic demographic, territorial, economic and other facts that contribute to a states ability to project power at any given time. Some maps would have also been helpful.
The author also misses some crucial points. For example, he does not notice the distinctly pro-Arab tilt that Irans foreign policy assumed after 1967 partly thanks to Ardeshir Zahedi. He also ignores the campaign that Iraq conducted against Irans plans. In fact, in 1970, this reviewer read a set of confidential reports that detailed Iraqs contacts with Sheikh Saqar ibn Muhammad Al-Qassimi, the ruler of Ras Al-Khaimah. Midhat Ibrahim Jumaah, an Iraqi diplomat, visited the sheikh on at least two occasions and promised him all necessary support against Irans attempts to capture the two Tunbs. Thus the stronger power to which Sheikh Saqar was referring in his conversation with a British emissary was neither China nor Russia but Iraq.
In the case of Iran some account of the dramatic social, economic and cultural changes that it experienced in the 1960s would have been helpful. It would have also been important to present the factors that shifted Irans historical gaze from the north to the south. For example, from the mid-1950s onward the southern half of Iran experienced the nations biggest demographic boom after Tehran. The growing importance of oil revenues, the heightened activity of the Soviet Navy in the Indian Ocean, the appearance of radical groups in the Arabian Peninsula, linked with the communists in South Yemen, and the need of new Iranian industries for easy markets, all helped bring the Gulf region to the attention, not only of policymakers but also of the average citizen.
Also Iranian decision-making was not as straightforward as the author assumes. Nor was Iran a one-man show with the Shah doing as he pleased.
To be sure, the Shah did make all major decisions but the input from the bureaucracy, the diplomatic service, interest groups, the media and other non-state organs was much more important than Faisal ibn Salman believes.
The author also ignores a major problem: The decision by some Arabs from the 1960s onward to refer to the Persian Gulf as the Arabian Gulf. That decision poisoned relations between Iran and the Arabs and promoted popular support for Irans aggressive pursuit of hegemony in the Persian Gulf.
One problem that Faisal ibn Salman faced was his lack of access to official Iranian archives. To make up for that, he has depended on two sources. The first is the memoirs of Assadullah Alam, one of the Shahs longest serving court ministers. Alam, however, is not a very reliable source for two reasons. First, he tends to exaggerate his importance, at times to the point of twisting facts.
Secondly, he was not really in the loop as far as government policy was concerned. Although he bore the title of minister, he was in fact a kind of royal chamberlain. His position had no basis in the constitution, and he was thus not allowed to attend Cabinet meetings. Unless he asked for specific briefings on this or that subject, there was no way for him to know what was going on. And because both Prime Minister Amir Abbas Hoveyda and Foreign Minister Zahedi disliked Alam, it is unlikely that they would have gone out of their way to enlighten him on any subject.
There are also problems with some other Iranian officials that Faisal ibn Salman interviewed. Because they had no access to official documents and/or private notes, at times they gave inaccurate, if not misleading, accounts of some events.
As already mentioned, there are also problems, including grammatical errors and misspellings, that more careful and vigorous editing would have avoided. For example, Irans decision to buy military hardware from the Soviet Union is repeated three times.
We read of Soviet insurgence instead of incursion. Vittorio Winspeare Guicciardi, the Italian diplomat who led a United Nations mission to Bahrain, is often referred to as Winspeare only. Muhammad Reza Amir-Teymour is presented only as Amir Teymour (who is somebody else) and wrongly described as the Iranian governments parliamentary secretary.
Amir-Khosrow Afshar is described in three different ways on the same page. Richard Helms is suddenly introduced as Helms with no mention of his positions as director of the CIA and later, US ambassador to Iran.
Theodore Sorensen is presented as President Kennedys military adviser. And President Franklin D. Roosevelt is presented as President Theodore Roosevelt. Goronwy Roberts is presented as British foreign secretary which he never was. And Omar Saqqaf was minister of state for foreign affairs while King Faisal himself held the post of Saudi foreign minister.
There are also different spellings of the names of several islands, notably Hangam and Farur, causing some confusion. The author mentions that a brother of the sheikh of Sharjah was attacked and wounded after the deal with Iran concerning Abu Musa. There is no mention, however, that the Sheikh himself, Khalid ibn Muhammad Al-Qassimi, was in fact assassinated.
Nonetheless, all these are minor points that do not diminish the books essential contribution to the study of Iran-Arab relations in the Gulf in the aftermath of Britains withdrawal from east of Suez. The book has the unusual merit of making a complex issue accessible to the average reader without compromising its own academic credentials.
Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf: Power Politics in Transition by Faisal ibn Salman Al-Saud, 181 pages, Publishers: I.B. Tauris, London, 2004.
Top US, Russian Officials Meet For Nonproliferation Talks
May 20, 2004
The Associated Press
MOSCOW -- U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton held nonproliferation talks with high-ranking Russian officials Thursday, including discussions of Russia's nuclear aid to Iran and a U.S. initiative that would halt illicit commerce in weapons transported by land, sea or air.
Bolton's visit, part of a regular series of consultations, was timed for the run-up to meetings next month between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President George W. Bush at the D-Day commemoration at Normandy, France and the Group of Eight meeting in Sea Island, Georgia.
The U.S. wants the G-8 meeting it is hosting to focus on economic issues, a plan to boost democratization and reform in the Middle East, and the Proliferation Security Initiative calling for international cooperation in interdictions of mass destruction weapons. In particular, it is pushing for Russia to join that initiative by the G-8 meeting.
A senior U.S. State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters that Russia's joining would be especially significant because it would encourage China to follow suit, and because Moscow could bring its influence to bear on other former Soviet republics that have weak export controls.
Bolton was expected to express Washington's continuing concern over Iran 's alleged nuclear enrichment program and Moscow's plans to ship nuclear fuel to power the nuclear power station it is building in Iran .
Moscow and Tehran have dismissed U.S. allegations that Russia is in fact helping develop Iran's nuclear weapons capability by providing a plant that will have enough fuel for an entire fuel cycle. Washington is concerned about a North Korean-type scenario, in which Iran could withdraw from the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, seize the fuel at its plant, and process the plutonium from it, allowing it to manufacture nuclear weapons.
Russia says it wont' ship nuclear fuel to Iran for the reactor until the two countries sign an agreement under which all spent fuel would be returned to Russia. At present, Russia is planning to provide the fuel early next year and commission the reactor in 2007, the State Department official said.
Iran is the Soviet Union
National Review - By Lt. General Thomas McInerney & Maj. General Paul Vallely
May 20, 2004
In many aspects, Iran seems a more formidable enemy than Iraq. It has a larger population, a more challenging terrain, and a military not degraded by years of sanctions. That said, Iran is very likely to fall more easily than Iraq did, because Iran's domestic opposition is developing into a serious threat to the regime.
Iran reminds us of the Soviet Union circa 1989. It is a large country with a huge population (more than sixty-eight million), and it should be a rich country, sitting as it does on huge reserves of oil. The country's wealth, however, does not make it down to the majority of Iranians. Instead, approximately 40 percent of Iranians live in poverty, because the clerics who control Iranian political and economic life siphon off much of the national income for their own uses.
The Constitution of the Soviet Union promised numerous rights to its citizens. Likewise, the Iranian constitution presents a façade of political freedom. It has an elected parliament and a democratically elected president. The catch, however, is that the constitution also vests all ultimate power in an nonelected body of six clerics and six religious lawyers, the Guardian Council, and the post of Supreme Ruler, a cleric chosen by another nonelected body, the House of Experts.
For many years, the Islamic Republic apparently was popular within Iran. However, over time, many Iranians have come to oppose the theocratic nature of the Iranian state and resent the concentration of political and economic power in the hands of the mullahs, their families, and their cronies. Among the youth of Iran there are many who find Western political forms and even elements of Western culture more attractive than the political and cultural construct offered by the mullahs. In fact, judging from recent political developments in Iran, it appears that the rule of the mullahs survives only because they manipulate Iran's political process. Democratic reform won't happen naturally in Iran because the mullahs probably will block it, using their constitutional power and, if that fails to stem the tide of democratization, the quasi-official paramilitary forces at their command, their own versions of the militias and "fedayeen" of Ba'athist Iraq. It cannot be denied, however, that the people of Iran are ready and eager for it. The broadly popular Iranian movement in favor of democracy deserves our support for three simple reasons: the Iranian people want to be free, they deserve to be free, and the Web of Terror will greatly diminish when they are free.
For these reasons, the United States and other free nations should offer the democratic opposition everything we can to help them spread their message: satellite phones, computers, fax machines, even satellite radio and television stations, Voice of America broadcasts, and so on. Our goal should be to help the democratic opposition achieve the same impact on Iran that Solidarity had in Communist Poland. Our president should make it clear that our country stands behind the ambitions of the Iranian people for freedom. And if we succeed in creating a stable, democratic Iraq, the president's words will have a very tangible meaning for the people in Iran.
As encouraging as the growing strength of the pro-democracy movement in Iran is, we cannot wait for moral suasion and quiet diplomacy to have some effect on the mullahs. They are a key strand in the Web of Terror, and their nuclear ambitions are dangerously close to fulfillment.
The Iranians insist that their nuclear program is devoted to civilian purposes, to provide electricity. In September 2003, however, inspectors of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency reported that they had discovered highly enriched (weapons-grade) uranium on equipment at an Iranian nuclear site. This discovery and other reports concerning the Iranian nuclear program, including some that we heard directly from Israeli and Indian diplomats brings into question the CIA's oft-cited analysis that Iran would have nuclear weapons in two to three years. We remember all too well the shock that occurred when, after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, international inspectors discovered that Saddam Hussein's nuclear program was much farther along than prewar intelligence estimates had claimed. We also now know thanks to Libya's about-face on its WMD programs that Libya was much farther along in developing nuclear weapons than anyone imagined. There is no reason to be sanguine and there is every reason to be worried about how far Iran has gone and is going in its nuclear program.
If Iran develops nuclear weapons, so might other countries in the region. Saudi Arabia, for instance, already has as many as fifty Chinese-made intermediate-range ballistic missiles. Saudi Arabian officials have met with Pakistan's President Musharraf, and, as we recently discovered, Pakistan has a history of selling nuclear technology and nuclear know-how, including apparently to Iran, North Korea, and Libya. We have no way of knowing what the Pakistani nuclear establishment might have sold to Riyadh in the way of equipment, advice, and documents related to nuclear weapons or the Pakistani army might have exchanged as a quid pro quo for Saudi financial support of the Taliban and Pakistan-sponsored Islamist rebels in Kashmir. It is imperative that Pakistan disclose all of its nuclear proliferation dealings with other countries.
More important is the question of Israel's reaction to Iran's nuclear weapons program. On January 4, 2004, the Israeli Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz, an Iranian-born Israeli, spoke to the Iranian people via a radio broadcast. Speaking in his native Farsi, General Mofaz bluntly told his listeners that Israel would not accept an Iranian nuclear bomb. Only a couple of weeks later, we met with Israeli diplomats who underlined Mofaz's comments. They also confirmed information we received in 2003: Israel considers a preemptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities as a serious possibility. There is precedent for such a strike. In 1981, in a brilliantly planned and executed attack, the Israeli Air Force destroyed Iraq's French-built Osirak nuclear reactor, an act that was publicly condemned and privately welcomed in the region and around the world.
In Rowan Scarborough's book, Rumsfeld's War, it was revealed that the Israeli defense forces have eighty-two nuclear weapons as part of their nuclear deterrence force. In our research for this book, we discovered that a group of countries, led by Israel and the U.S., had been working since 1981 on a mega-secret project to develop and deploy a weapon system that can neutralize nuclear weapons. The highly advanced, space-deployable, BHB weapon system, code-named XXXBHB-BACAR-1318-I390MSCH, has extraordinary potential and is a key part of the West's deterrence strategy. For the past twenty-five years, the project and the scientists involved in it were kept in strict secrecy and their existence denied. The scientists rejected Nobel Physics prize and Nobel Peace prize nominations and have been repeatedly and deliberately the subject of intense military disinformation through the media in order to divert attention from their highly secretive work. In 1981, when CIA director William J. Casey signed onto the SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative) a missile defense shield against incoming nuclear warheads he gave the green light for the technology's development for deterrence purposes and peaceful use only. Although we have only limited information, it appears that Iran's rapidly developing nuclear capabilities could be neutralized and rendered obsolete, as could the capabilities of other rogue countries.
Moreover, Iran continues to be a major state sponsor of terrorism with such clients as Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority. Iranian support of these groups is coordinated by agents of Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (also known as the Pasdaran), organizations that have been used by the mullahs to export Iranian-style Islamic revolution throughout the region for decades. In early January 2004, an American intelligence officer confirmed to us that there are also al-Qaeda operatives in Iran and Iran has refused to turn over these terrorists to the United States.
A pro-Western, democratic regime in Iraq is, obviously, a threat to the Iranian mullahs' legitimacy because it would provide a rallying point for Iranian exiles and would-be democratic reformers. If the mullahs continue to run Iran, they will try to destroy a democratic Iraq. It was not a surprise, therefore, when we learned from a CIA officer that the MOIS already is active in the Shi'ite areas of Iraq, often in support of extremist Shi'ite clerics. We cannot tolerate Iranian support for terrorism, including attempts to subvert Iraq. But most of all, we cannot tolerate Iran's development of nuclear weapons.
The president must first inform Iran in the bluntest language possible that developing nuclear weapons is a red line it cannot cross. The president should not only immediately invoke his statutory authority to impose sanctions against corporations that do business with Iran's oil industry, but also encourage foreign governments to do the same. Japan needs to be encouraged to crack down on its corporations by a direct appeal to its self-interest: Every Japanese corporation that invests in Iran's oil industry is making a de facto investment in Iran's nuclear weapons cooperation with North Korea and North Korea has Japan as a target. Likewise, the United States must urge Russia and Germany to pull their support from Iran's civilian nuclear program; the technology and know-how is too easily transferred to weapons programs. It might be worth approaching France with a request to restrict its support of Iran's nuclear program if only to give the world another example of the French government's boundless venality.
The United States must prepare to approach the UN Security Council with a draft resolution for a total economic embargo on Iran, the seizing of Iranian assets (to be held in trust for future Iranian government), and a strict naval quarantine in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. The United Nations would lift the embargo only when the Iran government dismantles its nuclear weapons program under the supervision of international inspections. Libya (and before Libya, South Africa) has given Iran an example to follow on how to dismantle a nuclear weapons program in a way that meets international standards of verification. Iran would be required to surrender or destroy all equipment needed to produce fissionable materials (highly enriched uranium and plutonium), all long-range ballistic missiles, and all cruise missiles; release all documents related to its nuclear weapons program; and expel all foreign scientists, technicians, and engineers involved in nuclear weapons design, development, and production. Because the French or Russians are likely to veto or, at least, threaten to veto such a Security Council resolution, the United States should be ready to impose these conditions on Iran with a coalition of our own. If that coalition is, in the end, composed solely of the United States, the Gulf States, Great Britain, Australia, Japan, and India, it would be enough.
A strict "no sanctuary" policy regarding terrorists is an essential part of the global strategy against terrorism. Therefore, the United States should be prepared to give Iran another dose of strong antiterror medicine by using airpower to strike terrorist sanctuaries within Iran. If Iran allows al-Qaeda or other jihadist groups to set up shop or take refuge within its borders, it must pay the price of being an accessory to and abettor of terrorism.
The Iranian mullahs' support for terrorism, their repression of their own people who so obviously yearn to be free, and their appalling human rights record are reasons enough to change the regime. Their ambitious nuclear weapons program makes regime change in Iran more than desirable; it makes it necessary now. And to achieve that, we should deploy every lever we have diplomatic, economic, and even military until we get the necessary result.
Re #30 & 32:
Great Articles, Great Posts!
Israel says Iran using Gaza tunnels in anti-Israeli attacks
UNITED NATIONS, May 19 (AFP) - Israel on Wednesday accused Iran of using tunnels in the Gaza Strip, targeted in the ongoing Israeli military crackdown, to further anti-Israeli attacks.
After the Security Council voted to criticise Israel for the deaths of Palestinian civilians and the demolition of houses in the Gaza refugee camp of Rafah, Israel's UN ambassador said the tunnels were used by numbers of groups.
"Today, Israel stands at the gates of hell in the Gaza Strip," Dan Gillerman told the council after the vote.
"The southern city of Rafah serves as the arms smuggling gateway of the Palestinian Authority and the main pipeline for transporting weapons and ammunition into Gaza," he said.
Gillerman said the tunnels "have been used by Iran and Hezbollah, as well as by Palestinian terrorist organisations like Hamas and the PFLP, for turning the Gaza Strip into a base for missile and rocket attacks against Israeli targets."
He also said the Palestinians had succeeded in smuggling rocket-propelled grenades into Gaza, a claim rejected by the Palestinian representative at the United Nations, Nasser al-Kidwa.
"The Israeli statement after the vote was a sorry one, to say the least," al-Kidwa told reporters. "Everything he has said is just a hoax."
Salam Pax succumbs to unbearable weight of blogging
By Elisabeth Wynhausen
May 20, 2004
JUST five days after leaving Baghdad, Salam Pax has rushed from a television studio to an interview in the atrium of a glossy Sydney hotel. The whole thing seems a little surreal, he says. Salam Pax as he is now known the world over, is the 31-year Iraqi man whose weblog or "blog" provided the most immediate account of life during the war in Iraq.
His web diary began on a lighter note as a way of keeping in touch with his friend Raed, a Palestinian from Jordan he had met while the two were studying architecture.
There was a time he practically felt he knew the few fellow bloggers reading him. But the site had millions of hits in the ominous build-up to the war, as his blog recorded the hardships of life under Saddam Hussein, with sharp barbs and sly humour. When he went offline, during the war, it was feared he might have been picked up by the Iraqi secret police.
Pax survived. But his blog has succumbed not to the authorities but to the terrible weight of becoming the virtual personification of Iraq.
"As the world starts looking at your website, you get more and more weighed down with the responsibility of it," he tells Media.
In Australia as a guest of the Sydney Writers Festival, Pax is an animated, round-cheeked man as full of surprises as his web diary, now published in book form by Text. He, too, has a sneaking preference for books, he admits in his rapid-fire English.
"The truth is I still prefer printed stuff. I still print loads of stuff out," he says. "The disadvantage of the book is that you don't really see how things are put in context. In a weblog, the whole point is, click on the link, read the article, make up your mind , then tell me whether you agree with me or not. The weblog is just immediate."
Indeed some believe that web diaries like his will eventually replace war reporting. Salam Pax is not one of them, however.
"Someone wrote 'these bloggers commit random acts of journalism' and they are random. You always have to remember that all blogs really are opinion pieces."
On the other hand, the blogger has the access journalists may be denied.
Because an Iranian expatriate adapted the software to allow people to blog in Farsi, he says, "there is a huge Iranian blogging community". "A couple of months ago there was a big student uprising in Iran."
The journalists who tried to enter the country were refused permission by the authorities.
"There was no possibility for a journalist to go in and talk to people. But you had five or six incredibly good weblogs that were showing pictures of dorms that had doors kicked in and blood spattered on the walls,"
Pax says. While the boundaries between journalism and blogging have blurred, with some journalists producing weblogs their own organisations have the right to edit subverting the idea of the weblog Pax has gone in the opposite direction.
He writes a column, Baghdad Blog, for the Guardian newspaper but gave up his web diary last month, at least for the time being. He was starting to censor himself, he says.
"There are almost 30 Iraqi blogs now, all of them started after the war. Blogging as an Iraqi became a political statement. You're supposed to say right at the top of your blog whether you love the Americans or you're a Saddamist.
"People don't realise there are a hundred shades of grey in between," says Pax, who managed to be open-minded from first to last.
Good thread and posts.
Iran will become front page news soon, and one can imagine a future Mideast with a Westernized Iranian democracy next to a reformed Iraq. These two nations, over 90 million people, will be the hope of the planet.
The Iranian students smell freedom, the smart but quiet Iraquis smell freedom. When they TASTE it, lookout world.
Let Freedom Ring ~ Bump!
Iran to Resume Trial Over Canadian's Death in July
May 20, 2004
TEHRAN -- A rare trial of an Iranian security services agent, charged with the "semi-intentional" murder of a Canadian journalist, will resume in July after a nine month delay, a lawyer acting in the case said on Thursday.
Intelligence Ministry employee Reza Ahmadi pleaded not guilty at the trial's first and only session last October to any involvement in the death of Iranian-born Zahra Kazemi, who died in custody in Tehran last July.
The death of Kazemi, 54, a Montreal-based photographer arrested for taking photographs outside Tehran's Evin prison, strained Iran's ties with Canada and cast a spotlight on the treatment of detainees in Iran's prisons.
Investigations into Kazemi's death also exposed deep rifts between the Islamic state's hardline judiciary and reformist-run Intelligence Ministry, which has called the prosecution's case against its agent baseless.
Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, one of three lawyers representing the interests of Kazemi's family, said the trial would resume on July 17 after a delay to allow all parties to study the case.
"We wanted to review the case and we have done it. We are ready to fight for the rights of the victim whose arrest and interrogation were irregular," Dadkhah told Reuters.
Iran's judiciary initially announced that Kazemi had died of a stroke. But a government inquiry revealed she received a heavy blow during the first 72-hours of questioning inside prison which split her skull and caused a brain haemorrhage.
Dadkhah, part of a three-strong legal team headed by 2003 Nobel Peace prize winner Shirin Ebadi, said there were many unanswered questions regarding the case.
"Why was she interrogated after working hours? She was not a criminal so why did a prosecutor go to the prison to question her at night?" he said.
He also said the prosecution argument that Ahmadi alone had caused Kazemi's death was implausible.
"It is a mistake to just accuse one person for her murder. Different people should be called to the court," he said.
Iran's judiciary chief earlier this month issued a directive banning the use of torture and other abuses on detainees -- a move seen by many rights activists as a tacit admission that the practice was common in Iran's jails.
Iran Slammed for Expelling Guardian Reporter
May 20, 2004
PARIS -- Iran's expulsion of the only U.S. journalist based in Tehran is a new sign that it does not readily accept criticism, says a press freedom group.
Iran ordered out Dan de Luce, a reporter for the Guardian, because he reported the aftermath of the Bam earthquake without permission, the daily said.
De Luce had published a dispatch last month critical of the reconstruction effort in Bam following last year's earthquake which killed more than 20,000 people. Iranian authorities said he would be allowed to reapply for a visa in three months.
"This decision is an obstacle to the freedom of the press and shows once again that the Iranian authorities react badly to criticism," Robert Menard, the secretary-general of Paris-based Reporters Without Frontiers, said in a statement.
De Luce had travelled to Bam as an aid volunteer, after being denied a permit to make the trip as a journalist.
The Iranian Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance said in a statement de Luce had deliberately contravened regulations and that was why his permission to work had been revoked for three months.
Iran is the Soviet Union
National Review - By Lt. General Thomas McInerney & Maj. General Paul Vallely
May 20, 2004
CIA: Chalabi Possibly Spied for Iran
FoxNews ^ | 5/20/04 | FoxNews
Posted on 05/20/2004 6:03:15 PM PDT by wagglebee
This is a big story.....hard for the media to avoid Iran now.
"that was why his permission to work had been revoked for three months."
Regime planning something over the next 3 months? Or don't want coverage of the annual demonstrations? Let's see if they start expelling other journalists....and how many of their own end up in jail this summer.