Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - November 9, 2004 [EST]- IRAN LIVE THREAD - "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 11/08/2004 9:05:47 PM PST 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.
By Louis Charbonneau
VIENNA (Reuters) - A European deal aimed at freezing Iran's nuclear fuel programme in exchange for peaceful atomic technology and other incentives will never work if Washington is not directly involved, diplomats and an analyst said on Monday.
Over the weekend, diplomats from France, Britain and Germany reached a preliminary agreement with Iranian negotiators under which Tehran would suspend its uranium enrichment programme for an unspecified period, while negotiating a larger package of economic and political benefits with the European Union.
Washington, which accuses Iran of using its atomic energy programme as a front for developing weapons, believes Iran is only using the talks with the EU to buy time to get the bomb. Tehran denies wanting nuclear weapons.
"In the long run, I don't think this deal can work without the U.S. buying into it," David Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector and head of the Institute for Science and International Security think-tank, told Reuters. "It can work for six months or so, but not for the medium or long term."
If approved by the four capitals, this agreement will stop the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from referring Iran to the U.N. Security Council when it meets on November 25, as Washington has been demanding for over a year.
"One problem is that Iran can suspend for six months, then resume enrichment and somehow blame the EU," Albright said.
Several diplomats said the Iranians might suspend enrichment now to avoid the Security Council, then pick a fight with the EU sometime after the November 25 IAEA meeting and begin preparing for the actual enrichment of uranium -- a process of purifying uranium for use as fuel in reactors or weapons.
"Iran has the parts for 1100 to 1200 (enrichment) centrifuges and is eager to put a cascade together," said one diplomat. "The next stage for Iran will be announcing that they are setting up a pilot enrichment cascade but not enriching any uranium. That would be too much for the Europeans."
U.S. SAYS "NO DEAL YET"
In Washington, a U.S. State Department official, who asked not to be named, said of the imminent European-Iranian deal: "We take them at their word that they seem to be moving close to a deal, but that they are not there yet."
White House spokesman Scott McClellan, referring to the IAEA deadline, said: "The board set a November deadline. And this is a time when Iraq should take this opportunity and comply."
Albright said another problem was the EU offer of nuclear technology. In the original offer, the EU trio pledged to sell Tehran a light-water reactor, which is considered to be less useful for covert weapons activity than heavy-water reactors.
Several Western diplomats familiar with the EU-Iran talks, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they believed firms in France, Britain and Germany would never agree to sell nuclear technology to Iran with the United States opposing it.
"The only ones to provide this (light-water reactor) would be the French or Germans. Government officials went to German companies and asked if they would sell Iran this technology and they said no, because their U.S. business is too valuable for them. The same with the French," said the diplomat.
European diplomats and officials from the IAEA have said U.S. participation would give much-needed strength to the EU initiative with Iran.
But Washington's hardliners have refused to join forces with the EU, insisting that Tehran forfeited the right to a nuclear programme by keeping its nuclear fuel production research hidden from the IAEA for almost two decades.
Another diplomat said the EU-Iran agreement was "purely political" and that all it really amounted to was a declaration of support for Russian nuclear activity in Iran.
Russia has built the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran and hopes to build more plants, despite fierce U.S. opposition.
Nov. 9, 2004 0:10
Iran is expected to announce this week a full suspension of activities that can be used to make nuclear arms as part of a deal with European powers aimed at stymieing US attempts to have it hauled before the UN Security Council, diplomats said Monday.
Outlining for the first time the contours of a confidential agreement hammered out on the weekend, the diplomats told The Associated Press the deal could still collapse due to resistance by hard-liners in the Islamic Republic to cooperation with the Europeans.
"We are very close to an agreement but we still need to hear the final word" from the Iranians, said one of the diplomats, who was briefed on the substance of the weekend talks in Paris. "We think it will be a yes - the noises are positive but we are not sure."
Any such deal would be significant because it would commit Iran not only to continue its voluntary freeze on enriching uranium - which can be used to make nuclear weapons - but also to stop related activities such as building centrifuges used in the enrichment process and uranium reprocessing.
The International Atomic Energy Agency unanimously passed a resolution in September demanding Iran freeze all work on uranium enrichment and related activities, and the UN nuclear watchdog is to judge Iran's compliance at a November 25 board of governors meeting.
But Iran has defied the agency by continuing to build centrifuges and by converting a few tons of raw uranium into hexafluoride gas - a stage before enrichment.
In a provision sure to be opposed by the United States, the weekend deal would only commit Iran to suspending its work until it and the European Union reach a deal on economic and technological assistance to Tehran, including help in building a peaceful nuclear industry, said the diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Washington wants a guarantee of indefinite suspension if not an outright scrapping of Iran's domestic enrichment plans.
The United States wants Iran referred to the UN Security Council for secret nuclear activities it says have breached the Nonproliferation Treaty.
But if Iran accepts the deal, US hopes of building consensus on that later this month at the agency's 35-nation board meeting are unlikely.
One of the diplomats acknowledged approval of the deal by the Iranians could lead to tensions with Washington.
"If we solve a problem with the Iranians we hope there will not be a problem with the Americans," said the diplomat.
The diplomats spoke as Iranian officials suggested the preliminary agreement - negotiated for the EU by France, Germany and Britain and already accepted by the Europeans - may be finalized soon.
"The trend of negotiations was a positive trend," Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told state-run television Monday. "We hope the deal between Iran and Europeans can be finalized and create the necessary confidence."
But hard-liners in Teheran called on the government to ignore demands it suspend nuclear activities with the daily Jomhuri-e-Eslami newspaper denouncing the accord on its front page.
"Despite the fact that the Europeans cannot be trusted has been proven to all, unfortunately these people (Iranian negotiators) have again reached agreement with these three traitor European countries," the daily said.
Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the Vienna-based IAEA, called the agreement "a step in the right direction."
Speaking on the sidelines of an international conference on nuclear security in Australia, Elbaradei said he hoped the deal would be finalized in "the next few days" and would lead Iran to suspend its nuclear enrichment and reprocessing programs.
The US State Department reacted cautiously to the developments.
Spokesman Richard Boucher said the Europeans had not yet provided Washington with a full readout of the talks, but they agreed with Washington that Teheran must fully and immediately suspend all nuclear weapons activities.
Repeating the US stance, Boucher said Washington believes if Iran does not comply, its behavior should be referred to the Security Council.
In Brussels, Cristina Gallach, a spokeswoman for Javier Solana, the EU's senior diplomat, said: "We came very close to agreement (Sunday) but we still need to hear the final word (from Iran."
Iran is not breaching its Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty obligations by seeking to enrich uranium, but is under strong international pressure to drop such plans as a good faith gesture to prove it is not seeking atomic weapons.
Teheran suspended uranium enrichment last year but has refused to stop other related activities such as reprocessing uranium or building centrifuges, insisting its program is intended purely for the production of fuel for nuclear power generation.
By Joel C. Rosenberg
Yesterday I arrived in Istanbul for an eight-day research trip through this ancient and strategically positioned country to do research for my next novel, which focuses on the increasingly dangerous nuclear alliance between Russia and Iran.
But as with JIHAD, the truth may be stranger -- and deadlier -- than fiction.
An Iranian friend just back from several months in Tehran tells me the buzz among those opposed to the mullahs' suffocating regime is, "When will President Bush invade us so we too can be free?"
That may be the most important question of the President's second term: Will Iran be next?
More to the point: If necessary, will the U.S. go to war against Iran, not just to set tens of millions of suffering souls free from the Ayatollah's reign of terror but to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power and thus posing a clear and present danger to U.S. national security?
President Bush knows Iran is feverishly working to build, buy or steal nuclear weaponry. He also knows Moscow is inexplicably helping the mullahs in their pursuit. And he was right to describe Iran as part of the "axis of evil."
We have far stronger evidence that Iran has an aggressive nuclear weapons development program than we ever did against Iraq. We know the Russians have built nuclear power facilities for Iran's terrorist regime, and are contracted to build more such facilities in the coming years. Furthermore, Iran admits its intent to enrich uranium into weapons-grade material despite international protestations. On top of all this, evidence of Iran's support for global terror (including funding and at times directing Hezbollah, Hamas, and the deadly anti-American insurgents in Iraq) is unmistakable.
I pray war can be avoided. There is, after all, almost no American or international public support for taking miltary action against Iran.
But U.S. covert capabilities were so scaled back in the '90s that few have the confidence the CIA alone can stop Iran. And I have little confidence that an effective diplomatic deal can be struck to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
What incentives would be truly persuasive enough to overcome Tehran's radical Islamic ideology, passionate Persian nationalism, and the mullahs' fear that the U.S. (a.k.a, the "Great Satan") is closing in on them from the east (in Afghanistan) and the west (in Iraq)? And how would we know that any deal the U.N., Europeans or the even the U.S. administration could strike would be honored, rather than used by Iran simply to buy them enough time to finish a secret nuclear arms program?
The challenge is that if the mullahs sense the slightest whiff hesitation in the White House, they will surely regard it as weakness, concluding the U.S. will not take action to stop them from going nuclear. And every day we delay taking action brings Iran closer to the holy grail of the jihadists: membership in the nuclear club.
Is there any serious doubt that if the mullahs acquire nuclear weapons they will use them -- at the minimum to intimidate Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates; drive up the price of oil; and bring Western economies to their knees?
Evil is regrouping within the borders of Iran.
To misunderstand the nature and threat of this evil is to risk being blindsided by it. America was blindsided by al-Qaeda on 9/11. At enormous political risk and to his great credit, President Bush took preemptive action to avoid being blindsided by the genocidal Saddam Hussein.
It is now imperative that President Bush take whatever preemptive action necessary to stop Iran's murderous ambitions. It may cost him all the political capital he just acquired. But we have no choice.
There may be less time than we think.
The tragic murder of Dutch film maker Theo Van Gogh in Amsterdam has underscores a far broader and more sinister trend for Islamic extremism in Europe. It also has a number of dangerous international implications to it, especially as it relates to the broader war on terrorism.
This analysis will attempt to present the facts behind the crime using both English and Dutch news reports. I apologize for the lack of point-by-point sourcing but am more than willing to provide sources upon request.
According to press reports, Theo Van Gogh was gunned down in Amsterdam and apparently begged for his life before the attacker finished him off by slitting his throat. The attacker, one Mohammed Bouyeri, had previously been investigated by Dutch authorities for his involvement with Samir Azzouz, an Islamic extremist who appears to have attempted to join Basayev's Chechen contingent 2 years earlier. Bouyeri left a letter containing atypical Salafist rhetoric on Van Gogh's body and is already believed to have something of a criminal record.
Van Gogh, as is already commonly known, was involved in making of a controversial film about the life of women under Islam. However, there seems to be a lot more to the murder than simple Islamic extremism.
The Netherlands is one of the most liberal nations in Europe outside of perhaps Scandinavia and like that region, Christianity is more or less an endangered species and the birth rate is plummeting. Because of that, many Islamist radicals like the UK-based al-Muhajiroun hope to be in control of the country by some period in the mid to late 2020s and the general plan seems to be to use the eventual Dutch takeover as a model that can be spread to other European nations, France and the UK in particular. Now I don't think that this plan is even remotely viable for a whole host of reasons, but then I'm not a radical Islamist and they believe that in order to keep their cadres ready for the inevitable revolution that they have to be kept as separate and unassimilated from the rest of Europe as possible. One of the best ways to do this is to ensure ethnic strife and Amsterdam, one of the most multi-ethnic cities in all of the Netherlands, certainly fits the bill as far as the perfect place to start a race riot.
More to the point, the Islamist extremist leadership in the Netherlands (personified by an individual that we know from the Milan wiretaps as an al-Qaeda leader called "Ismail" who has been operating there for decades) already has a perfect model for whipping up ethno-religious discord: the assassination of the Dutch politician Pym Fortuyn. Fortuyn was killed by a deranged animal rights' activist, but the political unrest that followed from his death gave Ismail and his immediate superiors in London a perfect model for stirring up political unrest in the Netherlands. In addition, the al-Qaeda/GSPC/Salafi Jihad/Lashkar-e-Taiba networks that run through the Netherlands are extensive enough to ensure that if it does come to riots, Ismail will have anywhere between one and several hundred stormtroopers to call upon.
The Saif al-Din al-Muwaheed (SDM, "Sword of Justice of the Faithful") group that appears to have carried out the Van Gogh murder also planned to assassinate Somali-born VVD MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali, independent conservative MP Geert Wilders, Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk, Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen, and Deputy Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb. All of these are fairly prominent targets, especially in a country as small as the Netherlands, and had even half of the attempts succeeded they would have unquestionably stirred up ethno-religious strife throughout the country. All of this might seem fairly odd from a group that purports to seek to advance the interests of Islam - unless one accepts that this was the plan all along.
Unfortunately, Bouyeri and the apparently 10-man SDM group (cell?) was far from merely a group of disgruntled Islamists. Azzouz, whom I mentioned earlier, was arrested in October 2003 by Dutch authorities along with 4 other al-Qaeda members. According to Dutch intelligence, Azzouz was in contact with Naoufel, a Spanish Moroccan who was involved in both the Casablanca and 3/11 bombings and may have given Azzouz orders to carry out an attack in the Netherlands. Azzouz was eventually released on lack of evidence but arrested yet again in June after Dutch intelligence linked him to plans to carry out bomb attacks against the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, the Dutch Parliament, and an unidentified nuclear reactor.
Given the close ties between Azzouz and Bouyeri and the apparent connection between Bouyeri's SDM and the Takfir wal Hijra movement, it would seem fairly obvious, at least to me, that they are part of the larger al-Qaeda network and that Azzouz or an unidentified third party likely recruited Bouyeri and convinced him and his social clique to form the SDM and draw up the hit list. Right now however, all Dutch authorities are saying is that Bouyeri and Co are part of a group of 150-200 North African extremists from several terrorist groups (al-Qaeda, GSPC, Salafi Jihad, etc.) that they're keeping an eye on.
One can't help but wonder though, how many more people like Bouyeri are there out there that the Dutch won't catch in time?
In any case, if this was an act of international terrorism, you can look for the ultimate source of this either with Ismail or his masters in London. Or, if you want to stretch the casuality even further, you can link it all the way back to Saif al-Adel and the rest of the al-Qaeda ruling council in Iran. Because as long as that chain of command remains intact, what we've seen so far is only the tip of the iceberg.
Faster please, in Europe as well as in Iran.
A militiaman has been killed and several other wounded following an armed clash with the residents of the Esmaeel-Abad village of Rafsanjan located in central Iran. Other reports are stating about several villagers killed or injured during the bloody turmoil by the regime forces.
Official sources are claiming that the villagers had resorted to violence which lead to the security forces' retaliation; But other reports are stating about the degree of brutality used by militiamen against the villagers who were first protesting peacefully against the take over of their water resources.
The villagers water has been confiscated by the powerful Rafsanjani clan for their own Pistachio cultures.
Government urged to address key issues of manufacturing, oil revenues and industry
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
A group of 11 prominent Iranian economists issued a dire warning to the Islamic Republic's leadership Monday, complaining that political squabbling had left fundamental weaknesses in the economy ignored.
In an open letter carried in several national newspapers, the group of top university academics lashed out at what they said was a "society infected by politics" and policies dictated by "emotions and idealism regardless of their economic consequences." The professors also cautioned over continued "isolation in the international arena and blanket state administration in the manufacturing, industrial and service sectors."
Iran is also over-dependent on oil revenues and suffers from budget shortfalls, financial and administrative corruption, stubbornly high unemployment, lofty state subsidies, technological underdevelopment, smuggling and uncompetitive manufactured products, they said.
"For a country like ours, whose administration has always been in the hand of a certain domain of limited figures, there can be no room for the justification of absurd trials and errors" or "spontaneous initiatives without scientific basis," the letter said.
The 11 signatories of the letter, timed to figure in the debate ahead of presidential election scheduled for May 2005, are from several top universities across the country. A number of them have served in state economic organizations.
The warning is a direct challenge to Iran's conservative-held Parliament, elected in February after most pro-reform candidates were barred from contesting the polls.
Conservatives pledged to focus their attention on bread-and-butter issues, accusing reformists loyal to President Mohammad Khatami of having spent too much time on social and cultural reforms.
But Parliament has yet to focus much of its attention on issues such as the burden of energy subsidies, high inflation - 15 percent officially, around 30 percent unofficially - or downsizing or privatizing state bodies.
The open letter comes after months of mixed messages from Iranian authorities on privatization plans.
Article 44 of Iran's constitution, written after the 1979 Islamic revolution, states that core infrastructure must remain in the hands of the state.
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on state matters, was quoted as saying in early October that a capitalist approach to privatization was out of the question.
However, in early October the Expediency Council gave a ruling to allow the privatization of downstream oil and gas sectors, mines, banking, insurance, telecommunications, railway, roads, airlines and shopping.
Two weeks ago, the Management and Planning Organization (MPO) furthered the council's decision by drawing up a 20-year economic, social and cultural development plan (2005-2025) which calls for privatization of major state enterprises.
But the MPO and Expediency Council decisions came after deputies openly opposed several major contracts that were signed with foreign firms in recent months, despite the government's privatization target of $5.95 billion in the year to March 2005.
The Council of Guardians has opposed French car manufacturer Renault's bid for a joint contract to build a new car with Iran's national car industry, and a cell phone contract awarded to Turkish company Turkcell.
Tehran's airport was also closed by the Revolutionary Guards on the basis that a contract with a Austrian-Turkish consortium threatened national security.
Reformists have accused hard-liners in Parliament of being hostile to what they see as badly needed foreign investment.
"The international community is resolved not to allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. And we are committed to pursuing this through peaceful diplomatic means and this is what we are continuing to do," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters.
"I have seen the reports on a preliminary agreement. We've been in touch with our European friends involved in these efforts. We appreciate their efforts.
"We're still working to find out more details of what that may be. We will see what the results are later this week," McClellan added.
An Iranian negotiator, Hossein Moussavian, announced Sunday that Iranian and European Union officials have reached a "preliminary agreement" on easing concerns over the Islamic republic's nuclear programme following negotiations in Paris.
"We reached a preliminary agreement at the experts level," Moussavian told state television from the French capital after what has been described as two days of "difficult discussions".
"This agreement is to be taken to the capitals of the four countries, and in the next days, if the capitals approve it, it will be announced officially," he said, adding that he was "not pessimistic".
Iran and the EU states of Britain, France and Germany held talks on getting Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment in order to avoid being hauled before the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.
The United States accuses Iran of secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons under cover of its civilian atomic energy program and wants the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to refer Tehran to the Security Council when the agency meets in Vienna on November 25.
McClellan highlighted that the IAEA board has five times called on Iran to fully cooperate with the international community and to suspend all enrichment and reprocessing activities.
"The board set the November deadline and this is a time when Iran should take this opportunity and comply," added the spokesman.
Many of Iran's most high-profile civil society activists rely on the internet to get their message out. Human Rights Watch said that the Iranian authorities are arresting these activists and bloggers in order to cripple the country's growing network of independent nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
"The internet has been a gateway for outreach and information sharing with the Iranian public," said Joe Stork, Washington director of Human Right Watch's Middle East and North Africa Division. "With so many NGO activists arrested or under surveillance, the remaining members of civil society fear for their safety."
Human Rights Watch said that the arrests, which began on September 7, point to a disturbing development in which the government is attacking mid-level activists in the NGO community for the first time. In case of the Internet-related arrests, the authorities are detaining contributing journalists and technicians rather than higher-profile political leaders under whose names these web sites operate.
"We're talking about rank and file activists working on social and cultural issues," said Stork. "Their basic freedoms are being sacrificed as conservative leaders try to purge critics from society."
Human Rights Watch said that to date none of the detainees have been charged with any crime. Judicial authorities have given differing reasons for these arrests. On October 12, 2004, Jamal Karimi Rad, the judiciary's spokesman, said that the detainees were accused of "propaganda against the regime, endangering national security, inciting public unrest, and insulting sacred belief." The head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Shahrudi, in an interview with state-run television on October 27, 2004 stated that "these people will be tried in connection with moral crimes."
Nemat Ahmadi, defense counsel for some of the detainees, has been repeatedly barred from meeting his clients and has stated that they are being kept in solitary confinement.
"The only criminal behavior here appears to be that of Iran's judiciary officials," Stork said. "They seem to be ready to defy the country's own laws as well as its international human rights obligations in solidifying their hold on power."
Human Rights Watch called on the Iranian authorities to end their harassment and intimidation of peaceful critics, and free the arrested activists immediately and unconditionally.
Background: Internet writers and civil society activists who have been arrested over the past two months include:
Mahbubeh Abasgholizadeh, the editor of Farzaneh, women's rights and NGO activist, arrested at her home on November 2,
Fereshteh Ghazi of the daily Etemad and on-line journalist, arrested in her office on October 28,
Reza Mir Ebrahimi, former editor of foreign affairs of daily Etemad, arrested on October 27,
Javad Gholam Tamayomi of the daily Mardomsalari, arrested on October 18,
Omid Memarian, NGO activist and on-line journalist, arrested in his office on October 10,
Hanif Mazroi, former journalist, arrested on September 8,
Amir Mojiri, on-line journalist, arrested on September 8, and
Shahram Rafihzadeh, cultural editor of daily Etemad, arrested on September 7, 2004.
In addition, a number of prominent civil society activists, including Azam Taleghani, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, Imad-din Baghi, and Mohammad Maleki have been banned from leaving the country.
ARIS, Nov. 8 - Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi of Iran on Monday praised the outcome of weekend talks with European negotiators, saying that a preliminary agreement had been reached to suspend Iran's production of enriched uranium immediately. But he emphasized that any suspension would be only temporary.
"We hope that the deal between Iran and Europeans can be finalized and create necessary confidence," Mr. Kharrazi said of the 22 hours of difficult negotiations in Paris on Friday and Saturday between an Iranian delegation and senior officials of France, Germany, Britain and the European Union.
But, he added, "The talk is about continuing the suspension for a short period to build confidence."
Paradoxically, Mr. Kharrazi and his negotiator in Paris, Hussein Mousavian, were more optimistic in public than the Europeans in describing the negotiations. The two Iranians described the result as a "preliminary agreement," while all of the European participants said only that "considerable progress" had been made toward a "preliminary agreement."
That seems to indicate the desire of the Iranian officials to push the agreement through Iran's murky political leadership, where agreement is universal that Iran has the right to produce enriched uranium and must not agree to a permanent ban.
Mr. Kharrazi's comments in Tehran to state-run television underscored the fact that the Europeans had given in on the issue of whether Iran's suspension of uranium enrichment would be permanent, European officials said. But the Europeans also resisted Iran's demand that the suspension last only six months, the officials added.
Instead, the suspension will continue only as long as Iran and the Europeans are involved in negotiations for a comprehensive package of rewards for Iran in exchange for a suspension of its production of enriched uranium, which can be used in civilian and military nuclear programs.
The Iranian side is studying a draft agreement that was discussed over the weekend, and European officials said areas of disagreement between the two sides remained when the talks broke up.
But the Iranians have made clear in public statements before and after the negotiations that they want a deal.
If a deal is in place by the time the 35 countries that make up the leadership of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency, meet Nov. 25 in Vienna, it will block a move by the United States to send the Iran problem to the Security Council for possible penalties.
In Brussels on Monday, Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, said an agreement would make referring Iran to the Security Council unnecessary. "I think if we get an agreement we will not see any reason why,'' he told Reuters.
In Australia on Monday, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, called the agreement "a step in the right direction," adding that he hoped that a deal would be completed in "the next few days" and that it would lead Iran to suspend its nuclear enrichment and reprocessing programs.
Mr. Kharrazi's call for the need to "build confidence" is code for the Iranian demand that it be given a package of rewards as proof that it is not suspending its enrichment program and getting nothing in return.
Among the incentives proposed to Iran by the Europeans were the reaffirmation of Iran's right to a nuclear energy program for peaceful purposes; support in Iran's acquisition of a light water research reactor; resumption of talks on a trade agreement between the European Union and Iran; support for Iran's membership in the World Trade Organization; continuation of a policy defining as a terrorist organization the Iranian opposition group known as Mujahedeen Khalq ; access to imported nuclear fuel at market prices for Iran's reactors; and help with regional security concerns, including combating drug trafficking.
In Iran on Monday, the hard-line daily Jomhuri-e-Eslami denounced the talks on its front page and criticized the Iranian negotiators who conducted them.
"Despite the fact that the Europeans cannot be trusted has been proven to all, unfortunately these people have again reached agreement with these three traitor European countries," the newspaper said.
In October 2003, Iran and the same three of European countries reached agreement in Tehran for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment and to accept stricter international inspections of its nuclear sites. But Iran violated the agreement this year, charging that the Europeans had reneged on their promises of economic and political incentives.
Yea. "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. "
I have known two electrical engineers Reza and Hassim while working at AT&T about 10 years back range. They both where so pro American and for freedom it was not funny. They where amoung the lucky ones that got their families out and resettled here. They both held quite similiar philosphies,
which amoung them was the strong desire for many Iranians to be free of the yoke of religious tyranny. They told me many people of all ages that had contacts with western cultures, desired a democratic/leader elected system similiar to what we have. Perhaps the day will come when this country can manage to break the stronghold the mullahs have over them. It is really sad.
Iran is forming a coalition with China, Russia and the EU to counter US policies.
Constitutionalist Party of Iran's letter to President Bush
CPI ^ | 11/08/04 | CPI
Dear President George W. Bush,
As the Secretary General of the Constitutionalist Party of Iran and on behalf of CPI members, I would like to extend our deepest condolences for the recent tragedies in Iraq. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and the families of the victims.
We in CPI fully support your administrations stated vision of a democratic Middle East. Therefore we feel compelled to remind you that your vision of a better future for the people of Middle East will not be realized as long as the Islamic Republic is in power in Iran.
As the tragic events of the past few days has shown, Iranian Mullahs are repeating what they did in Iran during the Islamic revolution but this time in Iraq through their agents and criminal elements within Iraqi society. They are sending their trained terrorists and agents across the border to blend in with the local population. They are quietly moving into mosques and seminaries. They are training thugs and vigilantes in the name of providing security for the neighborhoods. They are intimidating the local populations and moderate clergies into submission through beatings and murder. They are creating chaos and will continue to do so in the future.
Mr. President, peace, stability and progress in Iraq will not be possible as long as these radical Mullahs in Iran are not confronted and defeated. We strongly encourage you to control the borders with Iran, hunt the Islamic regimes agents down in Iraq, and disarm the vigilantes and thugs such as the followers of Mughtada Al-Sadr. Iranian regime wants to see Americas total defeat in Iraq. They want to extend their dark and evil rule to Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. They must not be allowed to succeed.
Mr. President, The radical regime in Iran must be defeated. In this struggle America will not be able to find a better ally than the freedom loving people of Iran. Iranian people are eager to see the end of radicalism in Iran but they need your moral support and need to see your firm stance against the terrorists and thugs in Iraq and their supporters in Iranian regime. Therefore we strongly encourage you to stand firm and do all you can to defeat them in Iran and Iraq.
Mr. President, I am sure millions of Iranians will join me in wishing you and the coalition troops a speedy victory against the Evil forces of darkness in the Middle East.
May God bless you, and may God bless the U.S.A.
Sincerely yours Foad Pashaei Secretary General of CPI
Posted Monday, November 8, 2004
TEHRAN, 8 Nov. (IPS) A high-ranking officer of the Iranian revolutionary Guards admitted Monday for the first time that using atomic weapons by Iran would have adverse results for the country.
Using non conventional weapons in military dimension would produce adverse effects for the nation.
Using non conventional weapons is in contradiction with the fundaments of our religion and in military dimension, such arms would produce adverse effects for the nation, the acting commander in chief of the ruling ayatollahs Praetorian Guard General Mohammad Baqer Zolqadr told journalists on the occasion of the so-called Qods (Jerusalem) Day, that falls on the last Friday of the fasting month of Ramazan and marks the Islamic Republics solidarity with the people of Palestine.
Analysts noted that this is the first time that a senior military officer was both admitting that the Islamic Republic might be in possession of nuclear arms and warning against using them.
Last week, Ayatollah Ali Khamenehi stated that atomic weapons were against Iranian religious jurisdictions that are based on Islamic Canons. However neither Mr. Khamenehi nor the general failed to explain how Islam could have banned the production of an arm that did not exist on the time of Muslims prophet Mohammad?
The United States and Israel accuse Iran of seeking to develop atomic bombs under cover of a civilian nuclear program. Iran denies the charges saying it only intends to produce electricity from nuclear power plants.
Mr. Zolqadr described Israels threats against Iran as political bluffing and warned that Tehran would strike back at the Jewish State or any other country that attacked Irans nuclear installations.
"Not Israel, but no other power in the world is capable of attacking Iranian nuclear centres. However, if Israel or any other country attacks any site in Iran, we know no limits to threaten their interests anywhere in the world", Mr. Zolqadr said, adding that the enemy cannot sustain an all out riposte from Iranian armies.
According to Mr. Zolqadr, considered as a hard line officer, no nation would dare to attack Irans 10 millions trained basijis (volunteers) and one million soldiers ready to defend their Islamic state.
His comments were an answer to recent press reports that Israel is considering the destruction of Iranian nuclear facilities on the same pattern they used for the bombing of Iraqs nuclear reactor in 1981.
But most military experts doubt about the seriousness of Israels plans for Iran, noting that not only Tel Aviv was in possession of all details concerning the location of Iraqs nuclear facility, but also it benefited from the ongoing war between Iran and Iraq, while in the case of Iran, the nuclear facilities for military use are well hidden and scattered across the vast country.
If Israel or any other country attacks any nuclear site in Iran, we know no limits to threaten their interests anywhere in the world.
Iran is known to have developed a sophisticated missile system based on the Shahab 3 ballistic missile that, with a range of 1.500-2.000 kilometres, can easily hit Israel.
According to the commander, Iran reorganised its armed forces after the eight years Iran-Iraq War and also benefited from Americas invasion of neighbouring Afghanistan and Iraq.
Earlier the commander addressed high-school students at a conference entitled "The World Without America."
"The world without America is a world without oppression, without terror, without invasion, without massacre", he said in a speech, adding America today is the symbol of all the worlds miseries. If America abandons these evil qualities, the world would be a much better place to live. ENDS ZOLQADR THREATS 81104
"IS NORTH KOREA ABETTING IRAN'S NUCLEAR PROGRAM?"
Gee, wouldn't that be a shocker?
(now I'm trying to remember if there were any mysterious mishaps around that time - maybe shortly before or after? - and might there be a connection?)
(Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad) Allawi and his government have, over the past few months... been making every effort to try and get a peaceful settlement in Fallujah, Blair told the House of Commons.
The action by allied and Iraqi forces under way in Fallujah would cease now, immediately, if the terrorists and insurgents who are using Fallujah as a base for terrorism would lay down their weapons and agree to participate in the elections, he said.
Reporting to MPs on the outcome of last weeks EU summit in Brussels, Blair offered profound condolences to the families of three British soldiers killed by a suicide car bomb south of Baghdad last week.
We salute their dedication, professionalism and, above all, sheer and undaunted courage, he said.
The three British soldiers had been part of an 850-strong British force, mostly from the Black Watch regiment, who were controversially deployed into the US-controlled zone south of Baghdad ahead of the offensive on Fallujah.
We have to hold firm, be resolute and see this through, including in Fallujah, said Blair, who was repeatedly questioned, mostly by his own Labour party MPs on the Fallujah offensive.
Let there be elections in Iraq in January, Blair said. Let the terrorists and insurgents lay down their weapons so that those elections can take place.
We are doing everything we can to limit civilian casualties, Blair said.
In a warning shot to Tehran and Damascus, Blair also said it was immensely important that Syria and Iran make sure that their borders are not being used as a route for insurgents to cross over into Iraq.
Opposition Conservative leader Michael Howard offered his partys backing, saying: I support everything you said about the importance of defeating terrorism in Iraq and elsewhere.
Iran students protest over assault on academic
Tuesday, November 09, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com
LONDON, Nov 9 (IranMania) - Hundreds of Iranian students and academics held a rally in one of Tehran's main universities on Monday to protest at an assault on a top academic allegedly carried out by members of a hardline militia.
Members of the student Basij militia last week reportedly assaulted and briefly detained the head of Tehran's Elm-o-Sanaat university, Doctor Mohammad Taghi Salehi, following what they said was an unauthorised lecture at the university by prominent dissident Ebrahim Yazdi.
"We do not think a permit was needed for a lecture by Dr Yazdi," said one student activist who spoke at Monday's gathering at Amir Kabir university.
The Basij -- a volunteer militia attached to the Revolutionary Guards -- has denied any involvement of its members.
The activist, Mehdi Habibi of the leftist Muslim Student Association, said "Yazdi -- a prominent liberal and outspoken regime critic currently facing charges of seeking to overthrow the regime -- should be free to speak because of his past "revolutionary credentials".
Several academics and reformists figures have denounced the attack and called for the immediate prosecution of the offenders., AFP reported.
The protestors read out statements demanding the Basij be cleared from the universities and an appropriate apology be given to Salehi. They also called for the resignation of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's representative in Elm-o-Sanaat university.
Several speeches on Monday heavily criticised Iran's now-dominant hardliners and some senior figures in the Islamic regime.
Members of the Basij also attempted to take the tribune at the protest, but were booed. The protest took place amid tight security and no violence was seen, a witness said.
Students in Iran's universities -- one of the centres of the embattled reform movement -- have continued to organise meetings with reformist figures. Hardliners frequently disrupt rerformist political meetings.
President George W. Bush has won a mandate from the American people to continue pursuing his aggressive foreign policy, but the US will also reach out to the international community where it can, according to Colin Powell, the secretary of state.
The president is not going to trim his sails or pull back, Mr Powell told the Financial Times on Monday. It's a continuation of his principles, his policies, his beliefs. In his first interview since the presidential election last Tuesday, Mr Powell stressed Mr Bush had won a mandate to pursue a foreign policy that was in the US national interest.
That policy would also be in the interest of friends and alliances, and while it would be multilateral in nature, the US would act alone where necessary.
Mr Powell's office would not comment on whether he would remain as secretary of state during Mr Bush's second term.
Mr Powell said US foreign policy had been aggressive in terms of going after challenges, issues. The president was going to keep moving in this direction.
|For a full transcript of the interview
On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said the transition of power that was taking place as Yassir Arafat lay ill in a Paris hospital presented a chance to move the peace process forward.
We are ready to seize this opportunity aggressively, he said, showing Washington's readiness to join Tony Blair, the British prime minister, who is due to visit the White House this week, in making Middle East policy a priority.
Mr Powell described the peace process as one of the biggest overhangs in our foreign policy, the way it is perceived. He did not elaborate on how the US intended to become more involved and warned that it still needed responsible partners on the Palestinian side.
Referring to co-operation between the US and Europe over Iran, Mr Powell said there was no agreement yet between Iran and the European Union three of Britain, France and Germany on its nuclear programme. The US had not endorsed a European proposal and Iran should not be given another chance to slip away from referral to the United Nations Security Council, he said, while confirming that regime change was not the US policy towards Iran. Iran and the US will be sitting at the same table in Egypt later this month at a conference on Iraq.
Asked if this could lead to more direct contact with Iran, Mr Powell replied: We will see what develops.
The US would urge the conference participants Iraq's neighbours, the Group of Eight industrialised nations and the five permanent members of the Security Council to do everything possible to help Iraq. He referred to additional financial contributions, electoral assistance and more Nato support for training. But he did not expect France and Germany to reverse course and send troops.
By Amir Paivar
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran said on Tuesday it was now able to make large numbers of its medium-range Shahab-3 ballistic missile, which defense experts say is capable of hitting Israel or U.S. bases in the Gulf.
"We have the capability to mass-produce Shahab-3 missiles," Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani told reporters at a defense industry building inauguration.
He joked that Iran could now produce the missiles like its auto industry churns out the country's best-selling car, the Paykan. His comments, reported on several local news agencies, were confirmed by the Defense Ministry.
Iran first deployed the Shahab-3 to its Revolutionary Guards in 2003, Around six of the missiles, bearing slogans vowing to "Wipe Israel from the face of the earth" have been seen together at military parades since then.
Officials have repeatedly said in recent months they could use Shahab-3 to strike back at Israel should it try to attack its nuclear facilities.
Israel and the United States accuse Iran of developing nuclear warheads to deliver with the Shahab-3 but Iran says its atomic plants are solely for generating electricity.
Asked about Shamkhani's comments on the mass production of missiles, an Israeli security source said: "We expected this development, and have deployed accordingly."
He was referring to Israel's Arrow II missile-killer, designed to counter threats like the Shahab-3.
Iran recently announced it had improved Shahab-3's accuracy and increased its range to 1,250 miles.
That potentially brought parts of southern Europe within Iran's reach. But Shamkhani said the increased range was merely so that Iran, a country three times the size of France, could launch the missile from anywhere within its own borders.
"The change in Shahab-3's range is based on this concept, not to threaten a certain country," he said.
He also denied accusations that Iran is developing a long-range missile with a range of up to 2,500 miles.
"This is what the Israelis say," Shamkhani said. "They want to imply that we are seeking to threaten Europe, but we don't feel any threat from Europe."
"If we had invested in this we wouldn't be worried about saying so. In the past seven years we have been very transparent about announcing our missile capability," he said.
Iran insists the Shahab-3 is purely a deterrent and Shamkhani played down the likelihood that Iran's nuclear plants would ever come under attack.
"I say with confidence that there is no possibility for such an attack. If such an attack happens its negative consequences for the attacker would be greater that the advantages." (additional reporting by Dan Williams in Jerusalem)
DEFESE and FOREIGN AFFAIRAS DAILY
GIS Tuesday, November 9, 2004
US Policy Approaches to the New Middle East, With the Emphasis on Iran
Analysis. By Dr Assad Homayoun.
The re-election of US Pres. George W. Bush significantly affects the entire strategic balance in the Middle East, and particularly with regard to Iran.
The Iranian and Syrian governments, in particular, plus many nominally non-state, transnational players such as al-Qaida, HizbAllah, and the like geared much of their strategic posturing over the past few years to removing the Bush Administration in the US. This created its own dynamic, but, having failed, the positions and policies of these entities will now evolve.
US evaluation of, and policies toward, the Middle East must take account of this transformation of realities, and potential threats and opportunities.
Clearly, it has to be recognized that much of the greater Middle East is highly unstable, with some aspects moving so detrimentally to international order that the situation could move beyond capacity and power of the United States to control it. The Middle East has witnessed revolutionary change in the past three years, and still more massive changes are underway, particularly as one of the most static focal elements, the Arab-Israeli dispute has transformed with the current transition of power in the Palestinian camp.
But it is important not to forget that the geographical factor in Middle Eastern history has great significance. Geography, in a way, is history in motion. This region is geopolitically located in middle of three continents and connects and separates three Oceans. The Middle East is, according to British geographer, Sir Hanford Mackinder, the heart of Eurasian-African world island, and is also the cradle of civilization and birthplace of important religions such as Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
This region has always had great role and impact in world history, and there is no reason to suppose that this will change.
In the early 19th Century, and indeed after expedition of Napoleon to in 1798, and temporary French occupation of Egypt, the Middle East entered into international politics and rivalries and became the bone of contention between Europeans: the French and especially the British, Russia, and Germany. They competed with each other for domination and control of the region and its resources; finally British came out as lords paramount of the region, especially the Persian Gulf. In early 20th Century, the discovery of oil gave new importance to the Middle East. It became the heartland of energy supply which became increasingly vital for industrial powers, and their dependence on fossil fuels continues to expand.
After World War I, and especially after World War II, the US gradually and finally replaced Great Britain in the region as the dominant power in the Middle East. The US presence gave a new dynamic to the Middle East.
It was policy of Great Britain and later the United States that no other external power, and no regional power, should dominate and disturb the balance of power in the Middle East, especially the Persian Gulf.
The Change in Iran and the Triumph of Revolutionary Islam
The revolution in Iran, the fall of the Shah in 1979, and the coming to power of fundamentalist clerics that year introduced massive, destabilizing changes to the region as well as to international politics.
In November 1979, Islamist militants raided the US Embassy in Tehran, took diplomats and the embassy staff as hostages. It was the first fundamentalist challenge and a serious test of resolve of the United States Government. It was a challenge which the then-Carter Administration in the US failed to meet. Due to the weakness of US Pres. Jimmy Carter, government-sponsored international terrorism started its advance towards a new kind of war.
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of Shia fundamentalism, in January 1980, in a speech to 120 Pakistani Army officers visiting him in the Iranian city of Qom, said: We are at war against infidels. Take this message with you. I ask all Islamic nations and all Muslims, all Muslim armies and all Islamic states must join us for holy war; jihad must triumph. For the first time in the region, a government openly supported jihad, promoted and sponsored international terrorism, and transformed the region into turmoil and posed a threat to moderate regional governments, and to US interests in the Persian Gulf.2
Saudi Arabia, to prevent Iranian-style revolution and to compete with the Shia Islamic Administration in Tehran, began to promote its own Sunni-Wahhabi version of Islamic fundamentalism. Competition between the two branches of Islam Shiism and Sunnism and financial, logistical, and ideological support for the promotion of their causes, has been main reason for much of the present unrest, even though the Iranian clerics and the extreme Wahhabists cooperate closely on matters regarding common enemies, such as the United States and the West in general.
Between them, they created new warriors with no fixed address, who devised and undertook wars using classic and new forms of asymmetrical doctrines in both the psychological warfare arena (including terrorism), and in guerilla warfare ostensibly on behalf of no state, but against Russia, the West in general, and the US and Israel in particular. Their steady escalation of capabilities, cohesion, willpower, doctrine and capabilities honed by fighting in Afghanistan, Chechnya, the Philippines and, particularly, the former Yugoslavia led to increasingly direct confrontation with the US, and ultimately to the pivotal events of September 11, 2001. Financial support for building of tens of thousands of Iran-oriented Shia and Wahhabist Sunni mosques throughout South Asia, Central Asia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and elsewhere in the Balkans, in Western Europe, Australia, Africa, the US and elsewhere; the printing and distributing religious literature and organizing religious schools; and the targeted use of television: all this helped to indoctrinate millions of Muslim youths and remade them and equipped them for terrorism and suicide bombings.
This surge, now substantially self-financing, and increasingly seeking strategic weapons to support, defend and project their momentum, is the main reason that the world has, in recent years, been catapulted to the verge of a new Dark Age.
The Soviet Union, to prevent fundamentalist contamination of the Central Asian and Caucasian regions, and also to benefit from the vacuum and gain influence in the Persian Gulf, invaded Afghanistan in 1979. The United States and Saudi Arabia, to keep the Soviet Red Army from the Persian Gulf, helped Afghani-based mujahedin with money and arms to fight the Red Army in Afghanistan. This created a sense of mission and identity among many Muslim youth (not just the Afghanis), and, coupled with the US military presence in Saudi Arabia (created to counter the essentially-secularist military expansion of Iraqi Pres. Saddam Hussein), led to creation of the terrorist and political momentum of Osama Bin Laden and the al-Qaida network of terrorist groups which pledge allegiance to him.
Revolution in Iran had another ramification in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere. Iraqs Saddam Hussein, to fill the vacuum in the Persian Gulf which was created after the fall of the Shah, as well as to dominate the Persian Gulf, was happy to be able to respond to the provocations of the Iranian clerics, and invaded Iran in 1980. The ensuing war lasted eight years. With that war resolved, when it was reduced to a stalemate, Saddams forces invaded Kuwait in August 1990, and the US and an international coalition mobilized, invaded Iraq, defeated Saddam, and freed Kuwait. After September 11, 2001, the US, in retaliation for the al-Qaida attacks on New York and Washington, DC, invaded Afghanistan and ended the Taliban Administration which had given shelter and supports to bin laden and al-Qaida.
In early January 2002, in his State of the Union address to the US Congress, Pres. Bush warned that an axis of evil made up of Iraq, Iran and North Korea had accumulated weapons of mass destruction (WMD) which could be used to commit terrorist acts. In a speech in June 2002, at West Point, the President declared his Pre-emption Strategy, and, in early 2003, the US invaded Iraq, defeated Saddams Armed Forces and ended the Baathist Government there. With the toppling of Saddam Hussein, and the subsequent expansion of insurgency wars and terrorism, the status quo has been shattered and the entire region is now in revolutionary turmoil.
The US strategy to remove Saddam from power was basically a logical response to the threat posed to US, Western and regional interests. Military operations which led to military victory and the fall of Baghdad in 2003 were historical in their speed and effectiveness, but, perhaps inevitably given the significant planning by Saddam and his advisor to wage a post-war insurgency, the post-conflict violence still confronts the new Iraqi Administration and the Coalition forces. As Chinese strategist Sun Tzu said: there has been never a protracted war from which a country has benefited.
But all war is hell and chaos. And, in war, no matter what preparations and good plans are laid, there are, inevitably, unpredicted difficulties. According to the German strategist, Carl von Clausewitz, war is the providence of chance, and, moreover, from the Trojan Wars to the present war in Iraq, failures of intelligence have always led (and in the future will lead) to the frustration of the best designs, despite all possible precautions.
In looking at all of the events now challenging the region, it is clear that the catalyst was the revolution which began in 1978-79 in Iran, and the transfer of control of that strategic country to the hands of radical clerics. The clerics started to use Iran as a springboard to advance their revolutionary designs, and historic events took place one after another, and are still continuing to happen. It is almost certain that, but for the involvement of Iran, the ongoing Iran-Iraq competition, and the ongoing Iran-Saudi Arabia (Shia-Sunni) competition, the Palestinian question would have resolved into a viable modus vivendi before this.
The Middle East as the New Center of Gravity
Today, the Middle East has geopolitically been expanded and extended from the Pamir-Alai mountains on the Central Asian-China boundary, through the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, from the Urals to the Horn of Africa; and it has become volatile, and in a new manner than in the past century a center of gravity in 21st Century international politics.
It has become, increasingly rather than less, the nexus of international lines of communications. Despite the growth in available oil and gas reserves in Africa and Central Asia, the Middle East contains some 70 percent of the oil reserves vital to the economies of the US, Europe, Japan, India, and China. It is the scene of present and future rivalry, especially between the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) and the US for secure access to energy. The Chinese dependence on oil is growing every year; indeed, energy together with water has become the bottleneck for the Chinese economy.
We cannot forget that four of the seven important strategic and commercial passages of the world for commerce and specially oil are located in the Middle East:
- 1. The Straits of Hormuz between the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea is one of the most important chokepoints, and the outlet for more than 14-million barrels of oil a day from Persian and Arabian producers to the world market;
- 2. The Bab al-Mandeb strait connects the Red Sea-Suez Canal sea lane with the Indian Ocean;
- 3. The Suez Canal itself connects the Mediterranean to the Red Sea; and
- 4. The Turkish Straits (Bosporus and Dardanelles) connect the Mediterranean to the Black Sea.
The Middle East is a center for fundamentalism, ethnic and religious rivalries, as well as the dispute which has been underway for a half-century between Israel and the Palestinians.
More importantly, the Middle East is the major world center of international terrorism and the fountainhead of the new type of asymmetrical warfare being conducted by Islamist forces against, essentially, Western forces. This form of warfare is pivotal because it has changed the contextual framework of strategic conflict. We no longer see conventional, structured military forces fighting against like adversaries. Rather, we see warfare initiated from within the realms of civil society masked as to its origins, formations, operating doctrines, and legitimizing framework as it confronts an economically, technologically and militarily superior set of adversaries on terms conducive to the initiator.
This new form of asymmetric warfare is led by the radical governments of Iran, Sudan, and Syria, none of which could afford a direct and attributable, or conventional, confrontation with their adversaries. Within this strategy sponsored by Iran, Syria and Sudan, fundamentalist militant fringe groups are trying to hijack Islam, to undermine moderates in the region and bring about confrontation between Islam and Judeo-Christian nations. It is not an overstatement to say that Islamists are pushing the cause of radical Islam in a way which could disturb the international order and present a grave threat to the worlds equilibrium and to its civilizational structures.
Finally, the region has become center for WMD, including nuclear proliferation and expanded ballistic missile inventories. The uncontrolled WMD environment which the US-led operations against Saddam was intended to begin to address holds the greatest potential since the creation of nuclear weapons for globally-catastrophic eruption.
Prescription for Stability
It is responsibility of the United States, as the only power with sufficient political and military force projection capability, to secure peace and stability in the region. For stability and real reform, however, it is logical and critical that the US policy leaders and their teams should understand the present realities of the region to follow sound and workable policies.
Today in Iran, an administration which is totally irresponsible and which vigorously supports international terrorism, while grossly violating the human rights of its own citizens, is fast moving to become a military nuclear power. It is clear that it already possesses the delivery systems, doctrine, command and control systems, and national command authority to manage nuclear weapons on a sophisticated scale.3 It has also been known for more than a decade that Iran has acquired nuclear warheads from the former Soviet Union, and possibly from North Korea, while pursuing its own nuclear weapons program.
Strategic analyst and regional expert Yossef Bodansky reported in February 1992: By the end of 1991, Iran had all (or virtually all) the components needed to make three operational nuclear weapons: aerial bombs and/or surface-to-surface missile (SSM) warheads. Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy has learned from highly-reliable sources that the weapons were assembled from parts bought in the ex-Soviet Muslim republics. These weapons can become operational as early as February to April 1992. Tehran is committed to providing Syria with a nuclear umbrella before June 1992.4
Iran is the biggest and most important country of the Persian Gulf. External powers need to understand that Iran has legitimate security deeds and may need to expand and strengthen it defense capability. However, Tehran clerical Administrations drive to develop nuclear weapons is dangerous for Iran and the region, as much as it is for the West. Indeed, despite the claim that an Iranian nuclear capability is essential to Iran because of the regional proliferation of such weapons (India, Pakistan, Israel, Russia), the main reason for ruling nomenklatura in Tehran wishes to possess nuclear weapons is to consolidate its shaky and domestically-unpopular rule and to prevent external support for the Iranian population.
Indeed, all scenarios for the use of nuclear weapons by the clerical Iranian leadership would be most disastrous for Iran, rather than the states which it attacks with such weapons. Nuclear weapons are not, for Iran, war-winning weapons. Any use by Iran of its strategic nuclear weapons either as terrorist weapons or as ballistic missile-delivered counter-city weapons would invite an overwhelming retaliation which would destroy Irans strategic and social infrastructure even more than has already been done by the clerics consistent warfare with Iraq and the West.
Indeed, it is logical to suggest that the vast expenditure by the clerics on nuclear weapons and associated delivery and command and control systems may have been totally wasteful from another perspective: Israel and the US, the two principal targets of Iranian clerical hostility, are now well-advanced in the development and deployment of anti-ballistic missile (ABM) systems which could render the Iranian threat essentially meaningless for other than rhetorical purposes.
It must be accepted that the Iranian clerical Government is already de facto nuclear and that it has secured several nuclear warheads which could be mounted on its Shahab-3D intermediate-range ballistic missiles. Hojjat ol-Eslam Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, the head of powerful Council of Expediency, in his interview in May 15, 2004, elliptically implied that Iran had reached the breakout path with regard to its strategic weapons program. The Islamic Republic has accepted new protocol of safeguards (Program 93+2) but has not approved it in the Iranian Parliament, the Majlis. It is possible even probable that Iran could withdraw from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and follow the path of North Korea in this regard.
Moreover, Russia will not change its commitment to Iran because of economic and strategic interests. Neither will the bulk of the European governments, which are trying in vain to change the mind of the Tehran Administration. They appear to wish to support a government which is totally rejected by its own people. The governments of France, Germany and Britain, due to their economic interests, have been trying to appease the ruling clerics, coaxing Tehran to depart from its strategy of developing nuclear weapons. These governments must soon face realty and understand that nothing will deflect the clerics from their course of action.
Pres. Bushs initiatives for political, social and economic reform, and for promoting democracy in the greater Middle East, along with his roadmap for a viable Palestinian state, are sound within the context of historic trends and current realities, but Muslim leaders, too, are showing signs that they know they must address the regions social and economic problems and proceed toward genuine reform.
Clearly, within this reality, the ongoing stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians would, if not addressed in the emerging post-Arafat era, be detrimental to the security of the wider Middle East. A new approach to Palestinian-Israeli problems is imperative to the stability of the region, and now seems possible.
A stable and democratic Iran possibly only with the removal of the clerical Government would be most significant in helping to achieve a stable peace in the region, particularly given the ruling clerics pivotal efforts in financing and sustaining the Palestinian, HizbAllah and proxy Syrian conflict against Israel. Regional stability, including an end to the Palestinian-Israel conflict can only be reasonably expected to occur when the clerical leadership of Iran is replaced by a secular, democratic Government.
The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and against transnational terrorism will not be solved or eased unless until the Iranian clerical Administration, the operational and financial center for terrorists and a major sponsor of the insurgency in Iraq, is removed from power. Perhaps as significantly, Iran, with its history, strategic location, population, and resources, can, with a return to a secular, nationalist Government, play an important rôle for peace and stability of the region.
Today, the great majority of Iranians have indicated through a wide range of quiet and public protests that they are against the ruling clerics and are ready to rise to establish a secular democratic government. The President of the United States has repeatedly supported the cause of Iranian freedom, but different voices from different branches of the Administration, expressing different and confusing messages, has been disappointing to Iranians who have been for decades struggling for freedom.
Clearly, however, the history of Iranian and Persian nationalism militates against the efficacy of foreign, armed intervention in Iran, even to support the Iranian people. The Iranian people have shown on many occasions that, at the appropriate tipping point, they have the strength to act suddenly to change their situation, provided they understand that the outside world supports them.
But if armed foreign intervention is counter-productive when it comes to Iran, so, too, is the kind of negotiation and ostensible offering of incentives which France, Germany and Britain the EU3 are advocating. Nor will sanctions or an Osirak-style surgical military strike (of the type undertaken by Israel against Iraq in 1981) work. Any military attack on Iran will, because of the great strategic depth and military capability of the country, escalate and propel the entire region to a wider war with unpredictable consequences. Iran is advanced in various fields of WMD. Military attack or surgical operations could create centrifugal forces and those weapons could fall into the hands of radicals and terrorist groups and create problems much more extensive than those of today in Iraq.
However, to successfully achieve change in Iran, there cannot be any compromise by the US or any deals by it with the clerics, because such actions will not change the mullahs mindset. The most practical option for the United States is to assist the Iranian people, given the momentum of the anti-clerical sentiment in Iran.
Negotiation, compromise or the offering incentives, such as is being advocated by various European leaders, will not change the intentions of the ruling clerics, but could bolster and contribute to consolidation of their shaky administration. Indeed, any signs of protection of the clerics by European leaders disappoint and antagonize the people of Iran. Perhaps more importantly, the European proposal also advocated by failed US Presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry to offer the clerics non-military nuclear energy technology as an incentive for Iran to stop developing military nuclear capability, should be seen as being patently ludicrous, as it was for North Korea.
The Iranian leadership is not overly concerned with energy matters. It wants nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons, not nuclear energy, are what it sees as its safeguard and its assurance of continued power.
But the clerical Administration of Iran has lost it political and religious legitimacy. It is fragile and is ready to be toppled.
The Armed Forces as a whole and a large body of the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) are dissatisfied with the leadership. They fully understand that the mullahs, with their mishandling of foreign and domestic affairs, are leading Iran to the verge destruction and disintegration. More than 270,000 (out of approximately 300,000) clerics have turned against their own leaders.
While hardliners in the February 2004 Majlis election forced out so-called reformists, the system is not as monolithic as it looks. A power struggle within the system, like the last days of the Soviet Union, is underway. The only thing the Iranians need is open US moral and political support give them the psychological impetus to act.
1. Dr Assad Homayoun in a Senior Fellow with the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA), in the Washington, DC, area, specializing in studies on the Northern Tier region. He is also President of the Azadegan Foundation for Democratic Change in Iran, an institution which promotes Persian culture and history. He was a senior diplomat in the Iranian Foreign Ministry, and was the last Iranian diplomat in charge of the Imperial Iranian Embassy in Washington, DC, when the Shah left office in 1979.
2. From 1969, Libyan leader, Muammar al-Qadhafi, who overthrew the Libyan Kingdom during the absence of King Idris I for hospital treatment, promoted, financed and equipped terrorist and revolutionary forces, but did not preach jihad. Rather, unlike the clerics who seized power in Iran, he was a secularist who has often worked with Islamist groups to achieve revolutionary goals in the Middle East and elsewhere. The Iranian clerical leadership, however, uses jihad, and Islamism to mobilize Muslims in wars against non-Muslim societies and against secularist or nationalist Middle Eastern governments.
3. See Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily, September 27, 2004: Iran, North Korea Test Deployments of National Command Authority Systems, New Nuclear Systems.
4. Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy, in its February 1992 edition, published a report by Yossef Bodansky entitled Iran Acquires Nuclear Weapons And Moves To Provide Cover to Syria. It was reprinted in the December 12, 2002, edition of Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily within the context of a report entitled Irans Military Nuclear Capability, Highlighted by Exclusive 1992 Report, Now Critical Part of Persian Gulf Strategic Planning.
5. The clerical Government hosts, almost every year, a conference in Tehran to which all the key anti-Israel and other terrorist groups are invited. This protracted gathering involves more than political or rhetorical support for the armed Palestinian and other groups engaged in the war against Israel, but also involves training, planning and financing activities by Tehran to help stimulate the conflict.
3 killed in clashes in central Iran's Rafsanjan
Tuesday, November 09, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com
LONDON, Nov 9 (IranMania) As a result of armed clashes over a water well in Rafsanjan in Kerman Province, central Iran, three people were killed and three others wounded, Irans Baztab website reported.
According to the report around 200 villagers of Ismaeilabad held a gathering in protest to the digging of a water well by the neighboring Dolatabad villagers in a region where they claimed to be as part of their territory, yet as the clashes intensified, the armed villagers threatening the security guards who were sent to the scene of dispute, began exchanging fire.
Among the dead was Sergeant Abdolreza Ahmadipour who along with a number of other police forces were sent to the scene to suppress the clash.
November 09, 2004, 7:50 a.m.
Of all the data emerging from the election, perhaps the most interesting is that most Americans are unhappy about the way the war in Iraq has been waged. Some of these are Deaniacs and Mooreons who are unalterably opposed to the war itself, but many are disgruntled supporters who see the frightening specter of political micromanagement in the ascendancy over military requirements.
They are right, and I hope the president agrees with them. I also hope that he knows it is a mistake a potentially enormous mistake to look at Iraq as a thing in itself instead of one battle in a far larger war. We will never have security in Iraq so long as fanatics rule in Tehran, Riyadh, and Damascus. This unpleasant fact does not play well among the doyens of the State Department and the misnamed intelligence community, yet it is inescapable. Delay in dealing with it will produce the same awful results as previous delays, and for the same reasons.
Just as political considerations (mostly Tony Blair's, not ours) delayed the liberation of Iraq beyond all rational measure thereby enabling the terror masters to plan the Iraq strategy we have seen so politics (driven by the Jerry Bremer and endorsed by the State Department and the National Security Council brain trust headed by the soon-to-depart Robert Blackwill) imposed the catastrophic withdrawal of the Marines from Fallujah last spring. I trust that nothing of the sort will happen this time, for each retreat only ensures more deaths and a more difficult and costly battle next time.
But asking for politics to be removed from strategy is like asking for pheromones to be removed from sexual attraction. It can't be done. The political remedy is the selection of a suitable War Cabinet. The president must have the advice of people who will not shirk from the unpleasant tasks before us, and who are capable of leading their agencies to maximum performance.
Unfortunately this probably means a wholesale housecleaning. If it were up to me, I would urge the president to replace the secretaries of state and defense, the national-security adviser, and the heads of the FBI and the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency). All are exceptionally gifted and patriotic people. All have worked very hard. But all have failed, for different reasons and to different degrees. There is a very narrow window of time to make wholesale changes, and I hope the president will seize his moment.
Let's take the top three positions.
State: I have just returned from a couple of weeks in Europe, and was very surprised to hear diplomats complaining bitterly that they felt abandoned by Powell. "Where is he?" they lamented, "we supported him and he left us to fend entirely for ourselves."
The proper care of allies is right up near the top of a secretary of State's mission, and the allies don't give Colin Powell a passing grade. For that alone, he needs to go. There are other reasons, too, above all his weasely performance on Iran (every strong presidential statement was instantly followed by leaks from State undercutting the president's words; the secretary's deputy and best friend Richard Armitage called Iran "a democracy," which may be the great mal mot of this administration).
Finally, there's Powell supine acceptance of Foggy Bottom's conventional wisdom on every subject, forgetting that the foreign service isn't supposed to make our foreign policy; it's supposed to carry out the president's policies.
Who should replace him? Zell Miller.
Defense: I love Rumsfeld, but he presides over a dysfunctional building. Top aides spend inordinate amounts of time editing memos instead of leading, and that's his fault. Every day is crisis time as new "snowflakes" cascade out of the secretary's office and everyone is supposed to snap to attention, drop whatever they're doing, and tend to the latest urgent matter. All the top people are grotesquely overworked, overloaded, and overwhelmed. The military men and women feel slighted, which is normal in DoD. But we're at war now, and the civilian/military relationship has to be much better. It doesn't seem that Rumsfeld can do it.
Moreover, Rumsfeld and this is a real shock has proven oddly ineffective at bureaucratic infighting. Early on, he refused to permit anyone from DoD to work on the national-security staff. "I pay 'em, they work for me here," he thought. But that meant that the NSC was staffed mostly by detailees from State and CIA, whose policy views were very different from his own.
Finally, he has stood by and watched his people paralyzed by pseudo-scandals and investigations, and generally failed to communicate to Congress and the public. I know this sounds an odd thing to say about a media star, and I am invariably awed by his press conferences. But how could he have permitted his Iran experts to be forbidden to talk to Iranians? And he should be held accountable for shortsightedness on Iraq; he didn't see the terror war coming.
Who should replace him? Jim Woolsey.
NSC: The National Security Council has two main tasks. The first is to ensure that the president makes timely decisions on the crucial policy questions. The second is to enforce the president's decisions on the other agencies. This NSC has failed on both counts. Leave aside what Condoleezza Rice thinks about policy; when the NSC works well, the national-security adviser constantly tells the president about key issues and about the opinions of State, Defense, and others. He is supposed to sort them out and make up his mind. Then the security adviser makes it happen.
Instead, this NSC has repeatedly tried to find compromises that would satisfy the Cabinet secretaries, and that has slowed things down, and sometimes as in the case of Iran policy led to outright stalemate.
Virtually the whole staff needs to be replaced. Blackwill is leaving, which is a good thing. The whole team working on Iraq and Iran should be sent back to their home bases, along with the (surprisingly numerous) Clinton appointees who still occupy space in the Old Executive Office Building.
Who should be the new security adviser? John Bolton or Paul Wolfowitz.
The president needs people he trusts, but they have to be strong people, ready to fight and win a tough war. Obviously, Dr. Rice is "family" for Dubya, and she's been smart, eloquent, and loyal, all rare qualities. But she has mismanaged the NSC and made many personnel errors. If the president wants her to stay close to him, State is probably the best place. But she'll need a strong group of assistant secretaries around her.
All this is based on the hopeful assumption that the president knows what he wants to do on the key questions, and that he wants to be more vigorous than he was in the second half of his first term. If that is wrong, if he's happy with the way things went, then these changes are not necessary.
But I hope he wants a real War Cabinet. He doesn't have one now.
Michael Ledeen, an NRO contributing editor, is most recently the author of The War Against the Terror Masters. Ledeen is Resident Scholar in the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute.
A quarter-century ago this month, several hundred Iranian students seized the American Embassy in Tehran, taking our Marines and diplomats hostage, and leaving Americans fuming and asking, "Why do they hate us?" Now, as the Bush administration prepares for its second term, Iran is again at the top the agenda, and we seem equally clueless as to how to approach it.
So how do we come up with a coherent plan for Iran? A good place to start would be by analyzing the smart moves and the many mistakes America made over the last 14 years with another member of the so-called Axis of evil: Iraq. There are some obvious similarities between the goals and methods of these two countries, and Iran learned a great deal from Iraq's efforts to deceive the international community about its weapons programs. If we are to meet the challenge from Iran, there are four main lessons to be learned:
Beware the siren song of easy regime change. Throughout the 1990's, many Americans claimed that Saddam Hussein's regime was so hated by the Iraqi people that merely committing our foreign policy to regime change, arming a small band of insurgents and perhaps providing them with air support would be enough to topple the government. In the end, of course, it required a full-scale ground invasion to do so, and even the size of that effort has proved inadequate.
Similarly, there is good evidence that most Iranians want a different form of government, but there is little evidence that they are ready to take up arms against their rulers. Most Iranians simply don't want to go through another revolution. While Iranians on the whole are probably the most pro-American Muslims in the region, they are also fiercely nationalistic. Given our experience in Iraq, we should assume they would resist any effort by America to interfere in their domestic affairs.
A diplomatic solution is far preferable to a military one. Though the problems America faces in Iraq today would likely be argument enough against invading another Middle Eastern state, there's another reason to hold off on attacking Iran: we do not have a realistic military option there. Our troops are spread thin, and Iran's Revolutionary Guards could mount a far more potent military insurgency than the rebels in Iraq. Nor do strategic air strikes on nuclear targets seem like a viable alternative. One lesson Iran learned from Iraq was to widely disperse its nuclear facilities, duplicate them, hide them and harden them. Today we do not know enough about Iran's nuclear network to know if a widespread air campaign could even set it back significantly, while we doubtless would face retaliation from Iran in the form of terrorist attacks and an all-out clandestine war by Iranian agents in Iraq.
A multilateral approach can produce results where a unilateral course may fail. The key element in Saddam Hussein's decision to give up his nonconventional weapons programs - or at least put them on ice - was the willingness of the French, Russians and Chinese to agree, in the wake of the Persian Gulf war, to a system of inspections and economic penalties built around the idea that sanctions would remain as long as the inspectors kept finding elements of the regime's illegal weapons programs. The problem came over the next decade, as these countries repeatedly broke ranks with America and Britain and the pressure on Baghdad abated, allowing Iraq to defy the inspectors and siphon billions of dollars from the United Nation oil-for-food program. By 2003, the perfidy of Iraq's friends on the Security Council was so apparent that it seemed likely Saddam Hussein would soon accomplish his goal of having the sanctions lifted or seeing them collapse.
Our dealings with Iran have shown similar tendencies. During the 1990's, the United States tried to change Iranian behavior by cutting off all commercial relations. It was a policy that was all sticks and no carrots. While these sanctions did accomplish important secondary objectives (like limiting Iran's military build-up), they failed to have much impact on the country's pursuit of nuclear weapons or support for terrorism. On the other hand, Europe and Japan pursued a policy of nothing but carrots: providing boatloads of aid and trade in the hope that it would somehow convince Tehran to behave itself. Of course, it did nothing of the kind.
If we and our allies ever want to force real changes by the mullahs - and give them a reason to slow or halt their nuclear program - we are going to have to agree to a multilateral approach that combines carrots and sticks. That means being ready to reward positive steps that Iran might take - including greater access to nuclear sites and diminishing support for terrorism - with immediate trade benefits, while simultaneously imposing tough sanctions for each step it takes in the wrong direction.
It's worth recalling that over the past 15 years we have seen Iran back down in the face of the threat of multilateral sanctions. In 2003, for example, the International Atomic Energy Agency revealed that Iran had a program for uranium enrichment. Convinced that the Europeans and Japan were serious about punishment, Iran agreed temporarily to suspend the program. (Not surprisingly, once the European threat faded, the program was restarted immediately.)
One of the goals of a balanced approach should be to convince Iran to accept a robust inspection program with a legitimate threat of sanctions to back it up. Here as well, the experience with Iraq should make us comfortable that if we can get such a system in place with Iran, it has a good chance of succeeding. Of course, the difference is that with Iraq we had Security Council resolutions that authorized comprehensive inspections, imposed draconian sanctions and permitted, under certain circumstances, the use of force. With Iran today, we have only the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty - a voluntary measure that allows inspectors to look only where the country allows them to look, does not actually prohibit the development of fissile material and carries only the vague threat of unspecified sanctions if the Security Council can agree on them. Only a coherent strategy among the United States, Europe and Japan will bring Iran to heel.
It is much easier to get our allies on board for punitive measures if we decide well in advance what will set them in effect. In our dealings with Iraq in the 1990's, we learned that the toughest negotiations were with our allies, not our adversary. Only once have the United States and Britain been able to convince our allies to back our demands that Saddam Hussein disarm - in 1991, at the end of the Persian Gulf War.
After that, the international inspectors and the security services of many countries repeatedly caught the Iraqis cheating, lying, smuggling prohibited goods, undermining the sanctions and otherwise violating their pledges time and again. But we were never again able to come to any agreement at the Security Council to sanction Iraq - let alone those countries that were violating the resolutions on Iraq.
The same pattern is even more likely to hold true for Iran, where the Europeans, Japanese, Russians and Chinese all do a great deal of business. This is why the threat of "referring" Iranian violations of the nonproliferation treaty to the Security Council is not much of a threat - it is unlikely that the Security Council will summon the courage to impose meaningful penalties on Tehran.
Instead, we have to lay down clear red lines that, if Iran chooses to cross them, would automatically set off pre-established multilateral sanctions. The violations could include Iran's deciding to resume production of uranium hexaflouride, a compound used in enriching nuclear fuel for weapons; starting new enrichment operations at the Natanz centrifuge facility; importing additional enrichment technology; constructing new enrichment or plutonium extraction plants; testing ballistic missiles that could carry nuclear warhead; and refusing to stop mining uranium domestically.
Looking at the Iraq example, the bottom line for Iran is that we have to act now, while we still have some options left that might persuade the mullahs in Tehran to slow or halt their nuclear program. But we must get our allies on board immediately, and get firm commitments from them should Iran go back on its word in the future. The last thing we want to do three or five or ten years from now is to be bickering at the Security Council while Iran joins the nuclear club.
Kenneth M. Pollack is director of research at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and the author of the forthcoming "The Persian Puzzle: The Conflict Between Iran and America."
When Tony Blair prepares for a summit with President George W. Bush, one of his golden rules is never to predict publicly what the president might say.
But there are high hopes in London that this week's meeting between the two men in Washington little more than a week after the president's re-election will see a new attempt to inject momentum into the Middle East peace process.
Mr Blair's official spokesman on Monday went some way to airing these hopes. He told reporters that a clear signal of intent to revive the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians should emerge from the summit and that this would have a lot of depth.
Political observers can be forgiven for being cynical in the face of such enthusiasm. Mr Blair has repeatedly stated in the last 18 months that he is personally committed to reviving the Middle East peace process, but has had little to show for his efforts following meetings with the president.
However, the stakes for Mr Blair this week are very high. The prime minister is preparing for a general election in either May or June next year.
He must therefore show his Labour supporters that he is getting something in return after giving Mr Bush such steadfast support through the Iraq war and its chaotic aftermath.
Some British officials privately suggest it is rather premature to expect anything tangible to emerge in Washington this week.
The [US] administration is still suffering post-election fatigue and the focus there right now is on who is getting what job, said one official. But while they warn against expecting dramatic developments on Friday, Mr Blair's aides expect discussion on the peace process to focus fruitfully on several areas.
First there is the need to shore up the Palestinian Authority, a task that some British officials privately suggest could be a good deal easier should Yassir Arafat pass away.
The UK believes the PA needs a better security apparatus, a properly functioning administration and the broader political base that comes with elections.
The Bush administration will be urged to look at ways it can help European Union efforts to bring this about in the occupied territories.
British officials also say there will be a discussion with the president about forging a new approach to Israel. Mr Blair believes it was right to support Ariel Sharon's planned withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza next year.
But the discussion with Mr Bush will focus on ways of ensuring that the Gaza withdrawal is a first step towards a settlement leading to the creation of two states side-by-side.
The Middle East is not the only issue on the prime minister's mind. Iraq will also be high on the agenda, with the US attack on Fallujah now under way. Blair will want to stress to the president that there has to be a political process to restore order in Fallujah that accompanies the military one, says one figure.
Iran wll be the other key issue. The Iranians are expected to state in the next two days whether they will accept a deal offered by Britain, France and Germany that avoids them being referred to the United Nations Security Council over their nuclear programme.
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