Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - October 1, 2004 [EST]- IRAN LIVE THREAD - "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 09/30/2004 9:50:17 PM PDT by DoctorZIn
The US media still largely 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. As a result, 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. In fact they were one of the first countries to have spontaneous candlelight vigils after the 911 tragedy (see photo).
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.
Not to worry John Kerry has a suggestion :
"With respect to Iran" "I think the United States should have offered the opportunity to provide the nuclear fuel"
(directly from the debate)
Despite intense negotiations recently at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, the Iranian nuclear challenge has remained very much unresolved. Delegates struggled to come up with a unified stance, but even their apparent unity was insufficient to get the Iranians to agree to minimal compliance with IAEA demands.
While some approaches to the problem might buy time, the Iranians seem set on their course. Their most recent announcement that they would convert uranium into gas needed for enrichment was yet another threshold crossed by Tehran in its defiance of the IAEA. The assurances of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, a weakened leader who is set to leave office next year, that Iran would refrain from building nuclear weapons, had little if any credibility. Barring a dramatic shift on Iran's part, the stage is set for a showdown at the UN Security Council in November, after the American presidential election.
Yet, the Security Council is unlikely to be the venue for reaching a viable solution. What the U.S. will seek in New York depends on whether President George W. Bush gets reelected. A second Bush administration will push for international sanctions, but wide-ranging agreement is needed for the sanctions to become effective. Without this consensus, the U.S. will be unable to achieve much. Indeed, if the use of force is taken off the table, Washington has little leverage over Tehran: the U.S. Congress and different American administrations have imposed all possible political and economic sanctions. Washington, therefore, needs unanimous European, Russian and Chinese endorsement of its views. The Europeans might be frustrated by Iranian tactics and deception, feel embarrassed by their own lack of success, and side with the U.S. But even with some European Union countries on board, new sanctions will require arduous negotiations and more American frustration with the UN process.
Whether Bush can succeed in garnering international support for his plan is doubtful. Many countries remain distrustful of the U.S. and remember the strenuous negotiations over Resolution 1441 and subsequent debates over Iraq. And making the case for sanctions against Iran will be tough: With Iraq fresh in mind, questions as to the quality of intelligence and the wisdom of a coercive approach would come to dominate the debate.
Moreover, Russia and China, who publicly, if quietly, opposed the Iraq war, are likely to actively resist the efforts of the U.S. and its allies. Both countries have massive economic and political interests in Iran and helped it develop its nuclear industry. With Iran now surrounded by American allies, both worry about U.S. designs for the region. Finally, the two countries do not share Washington's Middle East vision or its anxiousness over the direction being taken by Tehran. The Bush administration has not prepared the ground for a successful diplomatic outcome, and the trade-offs required to get Beijing and Moscow on board might come at too high a cost for Washington.
The Democratic candidate John Kerry has articulated a daring strategy that would put Tehran to the test by guaranteeing fuel supply to Iranian nuclear plants, but also see to it that the fuel is reprocessed outside the country. The pluses of this approach are evident - Iran's intentions would be exposed, while it would also be given the benefit of the doubt. However, it could also precipitate a showdown should Iran hesitate or rebuff the offer. This plan evokes - without replicating - the 1994 Agreed Framework that the Clinton administration offered to North Korea, which delayed rather than stopped its nuclear program. However, the Kerry plan is even bolder because it seeks an end to the crisis.
Bush, in turn, would impose sanctions because his basic policy assumption is that Iran is on its way to building nuclear weapons. Kerry would expose Iranian intentions first, and, if a nuclear weapons program is confirmed, proceed to enroll the international community in a vast effort to roll it back.
The problem with both strategies is that they divorce the nuclear question from the larger issues at stake, thus ignoring the reasoning behind Tehran's security policy. By treating the Iranian nuclear issue as solely a security concern (albeit one that is crucial), the U.S. is avoiding the difficult task of defining a comprehensive and consistent policy toward Iran. It also ignores the matter of Iran's role in the region. However, Iran's now-evidenced interference in American efforts in Iraq, as well as its continued support for radical groups, makes it difficult for U.S. policymakers to reason in grand strategic terms.
That said, the Washington policy debate is abuzz with new ideas on how to deal with Iran. The hawks might be counting the troops and equipment needed to deal a blow to Iran, but from "selective engagement" to a "grand bargain" an array of more pragmatic ideas is available. Their proponents include former high-level officials and regional experts who understand the danger of reducing the discussion to the nuclear issue. This inflates the value of Iran's nuclear program while obscuring other areas where progress can be made.
Iran has several valid rationales, at least in its own eyes, for pursuing a military nuclear capability. For many Iranian decision-makers, the Iraq war suggests that a strong, credible deterrent is the best shield against American aggressiveness. Similarly, the North Korean negotiations suggest that the U.S. will come to the negotiation table and even explore deals that include security concessions when it is faced with complex challenges from nuclear states.
If Iran's wager that the international community will be unable to formulate a common approach proves right, and if the Europeans refrain from imposing sanctions, the Iranians could reap substantial benefits. But if the U.S. pursues a policy of engagement, Tehran will be hard-pressed to respond positively to American overtures. Iran might prefer a grand bargain, but it should also accept incremental steps aimed at diffusing tensions. If it wavers, it will send a damaging message to the world and confirm the worst fears about its aims.
A showdown with Iran will have grave repercussions on global affairs. From arms control and terrorism to stability in the Gulf and democracy, Iran is at the nexus of several major issues dominating the international agenda. If the U.S. can move beyond domestic considerations and its structural limitations in comprehending Iran, it could at least convince the world of its good intentions.
Emile El-Hokayem is a researcher in Middle East security issues at the Henry L. Stimson
Center, a Washington think tank. He wrote this commentary for THE DAILY STAR
Iran's foreign minister has said that his country will never give up its right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful use, though he denied any intent to produce nuclear weapons.
Iran reassures Russia on nukes
* Envoy says Tehran will work with UN to remove all concerns about its nukes
MOSCOW: Irans envoy to Russia assured Moscow on Thursday Tehran would work with the UN atomic agency to remove all concerns about its nuclear programme after Russia criticised Irans stance on the issue.
Russias criticism of nuclear partner Iran could lead to Moscow throwing its weight behind US efforts to take Iran to the UN Security Council for possible economic sanctions at a UN nuclear watchdog meeting in November, diplomats say.
In a note sent to Reuters after talks between Iranian Ambassador Gholamreza Shafei and Russias top nuclear official, Alexander Rumyantsev, Iran nevertheless stressed making nuclear fuel did not breach any UN nuclear rules.
During the conversation Iran stressed that the Islamic Republics nuclear programme is fully peaceful, it said.
While continuing to work with the IAEA and the global community to prove the Iranian nuclear programme is peaceful, Iran states that making nuclear fuel is within norms stipulated by the NPT (nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty)...and no country can take away that right.
Russia toughened its stance on Iran this month after Tehran threatened to defy a call by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for it to stop work on enriching uranium - a process that can be used to develop nuclear arms.
Formally, Russia - a permanent UN Security Council member with a veto right - opposes taking Iran to the Council.
Washington says Iran wants nuclear weapons and may use Russian atomic know-how to acquire them - a charge Iran and Moscow deny.
Russia has been building a nuclear power station near the Iranian city of Bushehr on and off for more than a decade. President Vladimir Putin has said Russia would ditch the $800 million project should Iran breach any IAEA requirements.
The Iranian embassy also said Rumyantsev would travel to Iran in late November to discuss nuclear ties. reuters
Iran's Revolutionary Guard chief shrugs off danger from Israel
TEHRAN (AFP) The chief of Iran's Revolutionary Guard shrugged off the danger of Israel waging a long-distance war against the Islamic Republic, the official IRNA news agency reported Thursday.
"The Zionist regime is not capable of waging a long-distance war against Iran," said General Yahya Rahim Safavi, head of Iran's ideological army, in apparent reference to Israel's ballistic arsenal. "We keep watch of the Zionist military movements against Iran and we regard them as incompetent," he said, without elaborating. But Israel is "not only a threat to the Arab and Islamic region and the Middle East, but for the entire world's security", the Revolutionary Guard commander said. Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani said last week that the Iranian army had taken delivery of a new "strategic missile" and that the weapon, unnamed for security reasons, was successfully tested. Iran has deliberately kept mum on whether the missile was the Shahab-3. Believed to be based on a North Korean design, it is thought to be capable of carrying a one-tonne warhead at least 1,300 kilometres, well within range of Israel. On Wednesday, Israel's Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz said Iran must be stopped before it achieves nuclear capability. Iran insists that its atomic energy programme is purely peaceful, but the United States and Israel, in particular, fear it conceals efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Israel, believed the be the only nuclear-armed country in the Middle East, now views Iran as its number one enemy after the downfall of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq and has been lobbying hard for greater international pressure to be exerted on Tehran. Iran's Revolutionary Guard commander said his country had "achieved self-sufficiency in the military industry, especially in medium-range and long-range missiles."
Russia is Against Taking Irans Case to U.N. Security Council
Russia, which is building Irans first nuclear reactor in Bushehr, said today it is against referring Irans nuclear program to the U.N. Security Council.
"Taking this issue to the U.N. Security Council - which is a political body - will hardly do us any favors," Igor Ivanov, head of Russia's Security Council and a former foreign minister told the Interfax news agency.
Ivanovs comments came a day after Iran said its nuclear program should not be referred to the U.N. body. But at the same time John Bolton, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, said the U.S. is pushing for Irans nuclear activities to be debated at the Security Council. The U.S> is accusing Iran of secretly pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Iran rejects the US allegations and says its nuclear program is solely for civilian purposes.
Irans Foreign Minster Kamal Kharrazi told CNN on Tuesday that Iran is not seeking nuclear bombs, but it has developed long and medium-range missiles to defend itself against potential threats. Kharrazi also said that Irans nuclear program should not be referred to the UN Security Council because there hasn't been a violation.
Meanwhile, John Bolton said at a conference at the American Enterprise Institute that, "The reason we favor taking it to the Security Council is, we want to put Iran in the international spotlight, in the agency and the UN system responsible for such matters, to change the global political dynamic, to increase the pressure on Iran to give up pursuit of nuclear weapons.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has called on Iran to immediately suspend all activities related to uranium enrichment and to provide a definitive review of its nuclear activities until the 25th of November . The agency will decide in its November session whether or not further steps are appropriate .
Ahura Yazdi has cancelled his "liberation" trip to Iran after telling people for over 300 days that he will be going Iran. After taking 3 calls all the sudden the guy cancels his liberation trip.
He told the interviewer in Persian that he won't be attending now but will be attending sometime later. He said the Iranian government have worked it so that his plans will not work out.
He sounds like a total con dodging every single question and changing everything he's ever said during this interview. The interviewer slams him throughout with questions he answers and then quotes his previous statements for which he has no answer other then the Iranian government has plans.
He also said that the people of Iran will be free in spirit, but the interview questioned him on his previous statements on how he'd enter the country and there will be an immediate revolution, whereby he dodged the question and gave an off the wall answer about timing. The interviewer kept asking him so you won't return until the people themselves take out the regime and he kept saying it is the will of the people and said that it was the people who didn't want him to go.
"We see the Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons as being particularly dangerous for the United States forces in the region, and for our friends and allies in the Middle East and in Eastern Europe," he said. "As Iran develops ballistic missile capabilities, and pursues nuclear weapons, we see that threat as growing."
Iran has repeatedly denied it is pursuing nuclear weapons, and says it is only seeking to produce electricity from nuclear power. The United States wants to bring the matter before the U.N. Security Council.
In New York Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazzi told journalists Iran would never give up peaceful nuclear technology, but again denied that Iran wants to produce nuclear weapons. He added, however, that Iran finds concerns about its nuclear program understandable, and said Iran is willing to resume talks with European nations in a bid to calm fears.
The nuclear issue is one of several major impediments to any improvement in the frigid relationship between Washington and Tehran. Mr. Kharazzi acknowledged that U.S.-Iranian relations are at a low point.
U.S. officials have also accused Iran of sending arms and funds to Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shi'ite Muslim cleric who is waging an insurgency against U.S. forces and the Iraqi interim government. Mr. Bolton said Iran has been what he termed unhelpful in Iraq.
"I don't think there's any question that there's Iranian involvement in Iraq that's not helpful, and we've made that clear to them," he said. "British and other coalition partners have made that clear to them. We're determined to have free and fair elections in Iraq in January, and it's not helpful to that process to have anyone, inside or outside, try to disrupt the progress Iraq is making toward a democratic solution."
Iranian Foreign Minister Kharazzi denied any meddling in Iraq. He said Iran agrees that elections in Iraq must be held on time, even if some cities must be temporarily excluded because of poor security.
Mr. Bolton said efforts by insurgents to disrupt the electoral timetable in Iraq is evidence that they are, as he put it, getting desperate.
Iran Seeking Foothold In Lebanon
|Effort to bolster Hezbollah as it develops nuclear weapons makes Tehran a major threat.|
As Israeli leaders continued to warn against the dangers posed should Iran develop nuclear weapons, Tehran reportedly conspired with Syria in August to have its Hezbollah proxies replace Yasir Arafats troops as the most important Palestinian force in Lebanon.
Professor Steven David, director of international studies, started the Coalition of Hopkins Activists for Israel's (CHAI) "Professor Speak" Symposium Tuesday night, with a lecture and discussion session titled "Iran and Nukes: What Now?"
According to David, Iran now has the potential to create nuclear weapons through centrifugation, a process which involves separation of particles of varying density, to optimize the isotope U235, the isotope needed to create a nuclear weapon. From this process, which is referred to as "enriching," Iran can increase its uranium production by 90 percent.
David asserted that the United States should be concerned about Iran's potential. He warned that if nuclear weapons are in fact created, they could potentially fall into the hands of Iran"s Muslim extremists. Iran already has over 100 missiles, and though David conceded that these missiles do not have the capability of targeting an American city from Iran, they could be transported on a commercial planes or sea vessels to wreak havoc on American soil.
Though David painted a daunting picture of Iran's capability, he is even more pessimistic about the United States' capability to fight Iran. "Iran has a larger population and a better military than Iraq," said David.
Additionally, because uranium production is not performed in a centralized facility, "this creates the problem of locating the uranium. Centrifuges can be dispersed. You can't destroy something, if you don't know its location," David said.
Along with the difficulty involved in destroying nuclear production facilities, a tremendous amount of civilian casualties would occur, because these such facilities are located in populated cities.
Another option the United States could employ is not to do anything - to let Iran build their nuclear weapons. Advocates of this course of action argue that nuclear weapons create a "peaceful" situation, due to the fact that, because their neighbors have weapons, countries would be less inclined to use them.
David used the situation in India and Pakistan as an example of this method. Though he recognized the logic behind these claims, he found them unfavorable. He argued that once these weapons are in extremists' hands, "this would create a more volatile situation, as opposed to a friendly one."
According to David, "diplomacy is the third option." The United States could negotiate with Iran to see if they would agree to stop producing uranium. Though this is an optimistic outlook, David stated, this is unlikely to be effective, especially considering that Iran agreed to stop "enriching" its uranium, and then later reneged on this agreement.
David argued that the United States could "rely on deterrence" and threaten Iran into submission. However, if the United States were to do this, it would have to rely on its already overburdened military, which would not be advantageous for the United States. "The military options are not great, though they exist," said David.
Though he did not recommend it, David also suggested that the United States could use covert means to bring a change in government. He asserted that Iran is the second-most pro-American country in the Middle East, second to Israel; extremists are the ones who taint its atmosphere and political climate. However, he warned, if the United States were to use this tactic, and the American public were to find out, the government would loose its legitimacy.
Though David stressed that Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons should be stopped, he is not optimistic about this prospect. "I think we can slow it down, but we can not stop it," he said.
For the past three years the central war game of the U.S. armed forces has been centered on Iran. But what exactly will await them there, even they do not purport to know
Six divisional task forces of the U.S. armed forces, subordinate to three corps commands arrive simultaneously from six different directions; two airborne expeditionary forces (combat wings, transport, command and control, intelligence, refueling); five aircraft carriers at a distance of up to 1,500 kilometers from their northernmost targets; three Special Forces battalions - all struck at Iran and pushed to seize its capital city.
The Iranians sent a far larger ground force into action against them, consisting of 15-17 corps commands, suffering blatantly from air inferiority but trained to use drones against the invader, along with missiles and weapons of mass destruction (most likely chemical and biological, not nuclear. The fighting centered on Tehran, where the Americans were out to topple the regime of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who was 30 days away from installing a nuclear warhead on a surface-to-surface missile, whose range included American targets.
It is on the basis of this scenario that, for the past three years, the central war game of the U.S. armed forces has been conducted, under the codename Unified Quest, or UQ for short. The stages of the game continue throughout the year and it reaches its peak in one feverish week in May, at the War College in Carlyle, Pennsylvania.
There was no point trying to hide the Iranian background to the event, in which a large number of officers and civilians take part - more than 500 every year - including observers from foreign countries (Britain, Spain, France, Germany, Turkey, Australia and Israel, too), from the State Department and the Department of Interior, from the CIA and the FBI, and from organizations such as Medecins sans Frontieres (Physicians Without Borders), which this year sent a delegation of physicians. Indeed, not only did the Pentagon forgo any attempt to keep the event secret, it tried to play up the Iranian aspect. The enemy state was called "Nair," and for the mentally challenged it was explained that this is a fictional state on the basis of the geography and culture of Iran.
Officially, there is no direct connection between the doctrinal, organization and operational ideas that the command of the integrated forces and the land arm are putting into practice in Unified Quest - similar war games are held under the auspices of the air force, the navy and the marines - and the decisions that will be placed on the president's desk, for him to make with his exclusive authority, when the time comes. In practice, there is no differentiating between the insights that are achieved in the war game and what the Pentagon will prepare for the president's authorization. The one small difference is between a war game and a war that will be no game.
Just as the American presence in Afghanistan did not prevent the incursion into Iraq, so it will not prevent an operation in Iran, either. A hint in this direction can also be found in the innovation that has been introduced into the next exercise in the UQ series. The games of 2002-2004 dealt with three scenarios, of which the Iranian scenario was only one, albeit the most important of the three.
Alongside it Washington had to deal with two other headaches, one an underground revolt in "Sumasia" (Sumatra / Indonesia), the other terrorism in the American homeland. The Israeli representative was assigned to help rehabilitate battle-torn Sumasia and not in the activity in Nair, perhaps in order to ward off in advance allegations about joint American-Israeli planning against Iran.
Now the Sumasi scenario, which has been fully played out, has been set aside, and the 2005 UQ exercise, which will be played in May 2005, though the preparations begin this month, will focus on "Nair." That is the immediate mission, and to bridge the gaps that were revealed in the previous exercises will require the massing of all the forces.
It turns out that even as the eyes of the world are on the collision course between Iran's thrust for nuclear arms and the international community, which is imploring Tehran to stop and is hinting that there will be those (Americans, Israelis) who will not balk at a preemptive strike against the nuclear facilities in Iran, systematic preparations are underway for a different type of military operation: not against the nuclear sites - that could be part of the operation, by means of Special Forces and air strikes, but that will not be enough - but against the regime that refuses to stop.
To create a deterrent threat against Iran, as the country pushes to go nuclear, without admitting to offensive intentions, a UQ narrative farther into the future, in 2015-2016, was set. But the timing ploy is transparent and suffers from an internal contradiction, because the rationale of the confrontation with Iran will not occur in another dozen years. It will be resolved, one way or the other, by Iranian submission or American action, in the years immediately ahead, and perhaps within one year.
President Bush's top adviser, Karl Rove, is said to have declared that you don't shoot in an election year - and, in the months ahead, the efforts at persuasion will continue, along with the warnings and the sanctions, until the moment of decision arrives, though the threat must not be brandished before the polls close.
Secretary of State Colin Powell last week was careful to use the phrase "at present" when he said at the United Nations that the U.S. does not have plans for military action. As soon as the words left his mouth, that present ended and a different present, a new one, began. In its official, futuristic, timetable, the campaign that has been practiced in Unified Quest will be superfluous or too late.
Lessons from the IDF
The two main problems identified by the commanders of the Americans' "blue" force (joined by the British and, it's hoped, by others as well) in doing battle against the "red" enemy are the complexity of the urban environment and the vulnerability of the supply and communications lines. About 12 million people are crowded into the urban space of Tehran, and that number will rise to 17 million in the coming decade. The population of Greater Tehran has shot up by leaps of millions in recent years. Israelis who were last there a quarter of a century ago, when Khomeini took power, will discover that the city has more than doubled in size.
American officers warn that the routine training for combat in built-up areas is more appropriate to villages and towns than to a vast conurbation of this scale, a "mega-city" that extends across dozens of square kilometers of territory.
One of the commanders of the "red," quasi-Iranian, force, retired Colonel Richard Sinnreich, wrote, in justification of the Israeli arm's Operation Defensive Shield in Jenin, that U.S. forces are more likely to encounter situations similar to those in the West Bank than those they encountered in Afghanistan. That was before the war in Iraq. General Kevin Byrnes, commander of TRADOC (U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command), said this year in a lecture that the study of the up-to-date lessons of the Israel Defense Forces and the British Army was an essential element in planning for Iraq. Even as he spoke, the reds of Sinnreich and his colleagues surprised the blues in the capital of Nair by transferring military units from sector to sector not secretly but completely in the open - though without the blues being able to bomb them, because the move was made in the course of a parade in the streets where thousands of children and other civilians were gathered.
Every soldier a combatant
The Americans don't yet have an answer to the problem that is vexing them in both Iraq and "Nair," along the 900 kilometers of the road from a southern naval base to the capital: how to minimize damage to their combat troops along the access roads.
One in four American deaths in Iraq takes place in non-combat circumstances, usually in vehicle accidents. Many of the other casualties result from the detonation of makeshift bombs. The Americans discovered that there is a large difference between "soldiers" of the type of the captured heroine Jessica Lynch - that is, uniformed personnel in the role of combat support, who have forgotten their basic training - and combatants. The first type are very soon killed, wounded or taken captive.
General Peter Schoomaker, who was recalled from retirement by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to become army chief of staff, in order to make the ground force more combative, set a new goal: every soldier will be a combatant. Signal operator and artillery gunner, military policeman and sergeant in a civilian auxiliary unit - all will first of all be riflemen, so they can defend themselves (and undercut the image of costly entanglement).
In the UQ game the lesson of Iraq was described in more rational terms: there is no gradual transition between the stages of the campaign, from "main battle operations" (whose conclusion Bush festively declared on May 1, 2003) to operations of stabilization and security. All the stages are intertwined. Even if Tehran is conquered, the regime is toppled and the president declares victory, resistance will continue, with the possibility that four of every five Iranians will support it (and there are 68 million Iranians, half of them too young to remember the shah).
It's likely that the Americans will look for a local or exiled underground which it will invite to assist the invasion and thus legitimize it, in the hope that the masses of the regime's opponents - of whom 30 percent or even 40 percent are unemployed - will join. The astonishing phenomenon of the past few weeks - the popular demonstrations in the wake of a promise by a mysterious individual, Dr. Ahura Pileghi Yazdi, in broadcasts from Washington, that Iran will be liberated from the revolutionary regime today, October 1 - shows that latent processes can be awakened at any moment and for any reason. But an external attempt to ride that wave will be a gamble. The Iranians possess a proud national consciousness; they want democracy without ayatollahs, but they also abhor external intervention, and they still remember with affront the intrigues of the CIA and British intelligence which toppled the prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, half a century ago.
The Americans have a long account to settle with the dead Khomeini and the living Khamenei. The day after the U.S. elections in another month will mark the 25th anniversary of the Iranian seizure of the American embassy in Tehran, which led to the incarceration of 50 hostages for 444 days. During that period the U.S. Army shamed itself in its own failure, without making contact with the enemy, in the planning and execution of an operation to free the hostages.
Afterward, toward the end of the Iran-Iraq war, the Americans fought the Iranians and felled them on the margins of the "war of the tankers" in the Persian Gulf. Iraq, from this point of view, was a double and ongoing diversion, in 1991 and 2003, and in the years between those two wars. The bothersome adversary - in developing missiles and seeking to go nuclear, in assisting Hezbollah and in exporting the revolution (and now also in encouraging insurrection against the Americans in Iraq) - was and remains, Iran.
What exactly will await the Americans in Iran, even they do not purport to know. Speaking just a few months ago, at the convention of AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby in Washington, Philo Dibble, the deputy assistant secretary of state for Iran and Iraq (formerly the deputy to the U.S. ambassador in Damascus), said that in the absence of an ongoing presence of his government's representatives in Iran in the recent past, America has no concrete acquaintance with the field there; there's material for reading, conversations are held with Iranians outside their country, developments are analyzed - but America doesn't really know.
Powell, in a talk with the Washington Times, recalled the period when he was a young colonel, the adjutant of the undersecretary of defense in the Carter administration, Charles Duncan, during a visit to Iran. The Iranian air force put on a spectacular show of fighter planes for Duncan, but the American experts who were deployed to assist the air force spoke about it with contempt to Powell, and described to him the gap between the pilots, who were from the aristocracy, and the operators of the systems in the backseat, who were from the lower classes. Powell, who was the national security adviser in the Reagan administration at the end of the Iran-Iraq war, quoted approvingly a remark by Henry Kissinger, who said, "It's too bad both sides didn't lose." And Powell is considered the spokesman of the moderates in the Bush administration.
All these channels converge to one clear operational conclusion. The Americans will be happy not to be drawn into a large operation in Iran. They would rather Khamenei abandons nuclear development, as Khomeini suddenly changed his mind on the eve of his death and gave in to the Iraqi demand for a cease-fire (according to a new study, one reason for this was the downing of a civilian Airbus of Iran Air by missiles fired from an American ship). They will ask the UN to authorize a multilateral operation. They will want the counter-revolution to come from within and not be tainted by foreign intervention. But if all these dreams do not come true soon, and if the connection between missile and nuclear warhead becomes imminent, they will pull out the plans that were practiced in Unified Quest and send the blues to fight the reds.
Sporadic clashes took place, late yesterday night, as groups of young sized the occasion offered by a religious ceremony in order to break taboos and to protest against the Islamic regime.
Young girls and boys were seen dancing, chanting and shouting slogans against the Islamic regime and its leaders, in the Keshavarz and Vali-e-Asr areas located in center of Tehran, despite the sporadic brutal attacks of some of regime's plainclothes men often retaliated.
Unprecedented traffic jams blocking several arteries slowed the security forces' deployment and the support of many of the civilian security agents on the ground.
An unusual number of surveillance helico, flying at very low altitude, have been reported from the early hours of today's morning especially in the Azad, Vali-e-Asr and Enghelab areas. It seems that the authorities are fearing popular gatherings at the occasion of the "Mehregan event" declared as "pagan" by the dogmatic Islamists and clerics. Many residents are intending to make, this evening, a celebration and popular show of force at the occasion of this Ancient Iran's legacy.
Clashes were reported as well, yesterday evening, from the cities of Esfahan, Shiraz and Hamadan leading to several injured and arrested. Same type of aerial show of force intending to intimidate the residents has been reported from these cities.
Welcome to Persian Harvest Festival of (MEHREGAN) The 9th annual Mehregan event will be held on:
Saturday and Sunday
October 2 & 3, 2004
11:00 AM to 11:00 PM
Orange County Fair & Expo Center in Costa Mesa, CA.
ONE-Day Pass $20
TWO-Day Pass $30
Child (under 10 years) Free.
Parking is FREE
(Tickets are sold at the Gate) & Major Iranian Markets Plus Ticket Master
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In Iran's tourist showpiece, not quite anything goes
By CNN's Hala Gorani
KISH Island, Iran (CNN) -- I had slipped into my black abaya and headscarf on the plane to comply with the Islamic Republic's dress code from the moment I entered Iran.
On the tarmac at Tehran, and despite the early morning hour -- it was 2 a.m. -- the heat was stifling and an extra layer of synthetic fabric was the last thing I wanted to wear.
I was in Iran filming for the latest edition of CNN's "Inside the Middle East," which airs Friday, October 1.
Iran is among the three countries U.S. President George W. Bush refers to as the "axis of evil" -- a phrase the American leader coined in his 2002 State of the Union address that only added to the diplomatic bitterness between the two countries.
Recent disputes over Iranian nuclear sites and the war in Iraq certainly haven't helped relations.
So, as the holder of a U.S. passport, I am routinely targeted for special treatment at the immigration desks of countries like Iran.
This time, all the while smiling and remaining courteous, customs officers led me to a back office and fingerprinted my 10 fingers and both palms.
I was later told that Iran fingerprints U.S. citizens because America fingerprints Iranian travelers on arrival in U.S. airports. A bit of customs tit-for-tat, it seems.
I officially entered the Islamic Republic of Iran with black hands (there was nothing to wipe my hands with) and the lost look of someone in a completely foreign land.
I quickly found my translator and drove off with him to the Homa Hotel, one of Tehran's tired-looking luxury hotels that used to belong to the Sheraton group before the Islamic revolution of 1979.
Our "Inside the Middle East" crew was not given filming permission on the Iranian mainland. We were to fly to the vacation resort of Kish the next day: the only location in Iran, it seems, that officials were happy for us to film.
Freer - but not quite easier
Kish is an island south of the Iranian mainland in the Persian Gulf. I was told it was a freer, more open version of the Iranian mainland.
Indeed at the airport, there was a live Western-style band welcoming passengers, something that is technically illegal in the Islamic Republic. There was a man dressed as a big bunny to amuse the kids.
But the dress code for women was barely different. I could show a bit more hair, but not much. And the 45 degree heat and 100 percent humidity on the island made any extra layer of clothing almost unbearable.
Two million people and billions of dollars left Iran after the revolution in 1979. Kish authority officials are hoping to attract some of them and their money back to the free-trade-zone island.
For Iranian nationals, there are several tax-free malls with Western products that are either difficult or impossible to find on the mainland. From Fruit Loops cereal boxes to Moulinex kettles, it's all there.
Iranian nationals are given a tax-free allowance of goods to take back home. About 1.3 million Iranians come to the island every year, and officials here want to increase that number to 2 million.
In Kish, there is no morality police. There are female mannequins in the shop windows with uncovered heads, which is not allowed in shops in Tehran.
Hot dog stands
There are coffee shops and hot dog stands that wouldn't look out of place in a European shopping center. The women push the boundaries of what is socially acceptable with smaller, more colorful hijabs that barely cover their heads.
I spoke to Myriam and her veil-free 12-year-old daughter in the mall.
"Here, she can wear what she wants. That's why she likes it here," Myriam says.
And although alcohol is illegal, I am told that all I have to do is ask for it, and it could be delivered to my hotel room within a few hours.
Two years ago, the first five-star hotel opened in Kish. The Dariush Grand is an enormous complex built in the image of the ancient city of Persepolis in southern Iran. It smacks more of pre-revolution grandeur than stern Islamic Republic.
There is more freedom in Kish, without a doubt -- but not enough, according to some. Almost everyone I spoke to criticized the status quo in the Islamic regime. Some would do it in a subtle manner; others would openly call the ayatollahs crooks.
Having spent much time in Arab countries in the Middle East like Saudi Arabia and Syria, where openly criticizing the government can mean a considerable period of time in jail, I knew this was something powerful.
When I told Iranians in the UK about how openly some were critical of their own Islamic government, I was told that, in recent years, there is less fear of honestly slamming the regime.
Live pop music
In a country of 70 million, with a crushing majority under the age of 30, some observers wonder how long the current system can last without being challenged in some way.
During my stay, I visited one of the island's restaurants, where guests are allowed to enjoy live pop music in public. Some patrons hide their faces, uncomfortable being filmed while on a fun night out, but 27-year-old Hamed tells me why he likes Kish.
"Everywhere else, they catch you. Here, you have a little bit more freedom," he says.
Dancing is outlawed in Iran, so guests have an interesting way of moving to the music: arms up in the air, torso undulating, fingers snapping, while staying solidly seated in their chairs.
On the beach, men and woman are segregated. Females can wear the skimpiest bikinis on their beach, as long as men steer clear. There are big signs written in fat red letters -- "NO MEN ALLOWED" -- at the entrance to women's beaches.
"We're aware of the limitations," said Bezhad Shenandeh of the Kish Free Trade Organization, "but you have to work within the Iranian context."
He added that their immediate goal was to attract more Iranian expats, not too bothered with the republic's stringent interpretation of Islamic law, rather than Westerners who might find the stringent rules too difficult to deal with while on holiday.
Officials were eager for us to film an outdoor music concert, complete with a raffle competition to win a car. There was a DJ who played club music, an MC on a big stage facing a parking lot filled with hundreds of seated men and women clapping to the music, live singing acts, even a fireworks display.
The open-air party was to celebrate the end of a two-month shopping festival. Often suffering from an image problem abroad, the Iranian government seemed intent on having us tell the world that this is a much more laid-back country than some in the world might believe. Perhaps it's a desire to counter-balance the daily trickle of stories on Iran's nuclear head-to-head with the West?
Kish is hoping that the British bank Standard Chartered will open an office on the island soon. It would be the first foreign lender to operate in Iran since the 1979 revolution.
Authorities there say this would help outside money trickle back into the country, helping tourism projects and trade between the Islamic Republic and the rest of the region.
The hope, for some at least, is to test things out on the island to determine how well they might work within the existing set of rules that govern the rest of the country.
"Kish has become a model, a pioneer," adds Bazhad Shenandeh, "And this is a place where things are tested and if it fits within the context of the regulations, then things could move onto the mainland."
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