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12/22/2004 Clip No. 438
Iranian Intelligence Minister 'Ali Yunesi: No Valuable Nuclear Info Left Iran; US Agents Tried to Sell Us Atomic Bombs to Frame Us
The following are excerpts from an interview with Iranian Intelligence Minister 'Ali Yunesi:
'Ali Yunesi: We will not allow valuable information out of Iran. In my opinion, the information that got out was not classified or valuable. I must emphasize that the information that reached the Americans was not of any value.
We have been approached. They said they wanted to sell us uranium. They said they had enriched uranium available for sale. They said they have bombs for sale. Like at a vegetable store. These advances were guided by espionage agencies, especially America's and the Mossad. They wanted to frame Iran this way.
I want to ask you a question, whoever answers first gets a prize. Why did America do this? Is the question clear? After all, America knew that the reports of the Hypocrites (Mojahedin-e Khalq) are false. No it's important. Alright, I'll tell you.
Journalist: It's because the Americans are used to lying.
'Ali Yunesi: No, I'll tell you But if anyone We'll give him a gold coin. Well, I won the gold coin myself. It is an important matter of intelligence. I thought that because you are so sharp you'd know the answer. The Americans wanted to protect their main spies. That's why they send the Hypocrites. The information that the Americans wanted is the information provided by their professional spies. They (the Americans) thought that we wouldn't spot the real spies, and if the Hypocrites made their information public, we wouldn't notice their real spies.
The Struggle for the Middle East
From the January 3 / January 10, 2005 issue: Iraq, Iran, and democracy.
by Reuel Marc Gerecht
01/03/2005, Volume 010, Issue 16
THE MIDDLE EAST HAS DEFINED the first four years of George W. Bush's presidency. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the administration's evolving pro-democracy Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative, and the downplaying of the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation have overturned America's traditional approach to the region. Our European and Muslim allies in the Cold War, the transatlanticist foreign-policy establishment in the United States, and the Near Eastern cadres within the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency have all been dismayed--in the case of France, Germany, and certain quarters at Foggy Bottom and Langley, appalled--by the post-9/11 actions of President Bush.
But what should be the administration's Middle East project for the next four years? Post-Saddam Iraq is not a failure--as long as roughly 80 percent of Iraq's population is moving towards democratic governance, we're not failing. But it is certainly an awful mess. Clerical Iran, the bête noire of every administration since 1979, is advancing its nuclear-weapons programs and playing a favorite Middle Eastern parlor game--divide-and-frustrate the Westerners (the Europeans have enthusiastically abetted Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the clerical regime's major-domo and its most accomplished realpolitician). And even though Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda has so far failed to strike the United States again--a more severe visa policy towards Middle Eastern Muslim males has all by itself made tactical planning and operations inside the United States enormously difficult--Islamic holy-warriorism remains a ferocious menace. Muslim Americans have shown themselves highly resistant to violent Islamic extremism--if they had been as susceptible to bin Ladenism as European Muslims have been, we would likely have seen numerous attacks since 9/11 inside the United States. Young Muslim men could still, however, get infected by the ever-vibrant militancy coming from abroad. As long as bin Ladenism brews in the Middle East, the successful penetration of America's defenses remains an ever-terrifying possibility.
How is the administration going to deal with bin Ladenism in the Middle East? The Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative, the Bush administration's attempt to shatter the nexus between autocracy and Islamic extremism, could easily die an early death if it becomes only a program administered by the Near East Bureau of the State Department. The bureau has never liked the idea, seeing it as an annoying project advanced by naive pro-democracy hands at the National Security Council. The further we are from 9/11, the easier it is for some to view bin Ladenism as a pre-9/11 tactical threat, one sufficiently dealt with by enhanced domestic security and closer liaison relationships with the European and Middle Eastern intelligence and security services. (The "realist" camp--think Brent Scowcroft on the right, Zbigniew Brzezinski on the left--has more or less held this view since September 12, 2001.) Just a year ago, in November 2003, the president declared war on the status quo in the Middle East by announcing his new "forward strategy of freedom." So how can his administration advance the initiative so that it isn't feckless?
And should the Bush administration now become more engaged in the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation? The oldest, luckiest, and most influential terrorist, Yasser Arafat, is at long last dead. Some of his minions in the Palestine Liberation Organization seem in comparison more moderate. The Europeans, who view the Israeli-Palestinian imbroglio as the epicenter of Islamic militancy in the Middle East and among Europe's millions of Muslims, are desperate to see progress in the Holy Land. A sizable slice of Washington's foreign-policy establishment, and Muslim reformers abroad, share the European assessment of the global repercussions from Israeli-Palestinian troubles. They would love to see the United States again more engaged. A resumption of the "peace process" would help our embattled friend, British prime minister Tony Blair, America's staunchest European ally, who is perpetually torn between America and his French and German "partners." So should the Bush administration abandon its restrained, wait-and-see approach to the evolution of Palestinian politics and pressure Israel again to make concessions to nurture Palestinian moderates?
LET'S TAKE THE ABOVE ISSUES in order of importance. Iraq comes first. Senior officials, particularly within the Pentagon, ought now to be waking up each morning and telling themselves that the United States may well lose in Iraq in the next 6 to 12 months unless serious course corrections are made. And if the United States loses in Iraq, the repercussions will seriously weaken America everywhere. If we lose in Iraq, neoisolationism in both the Republican and Democratic parties--the disposition is actually stronger on the left than on the right--will in all probability skyrocket. And if such a retreat could be catastrophic for the West--bin Ladenism and other nefarious forces in the Middle East would be supercharged; Beijing might make a play to squash once and for all democratic Taiwan--then failure in Iraq could conceivably define the post-Cold War world, replacing 9/11 as the signal event of our era.
The Bush administration ought to admit to itself two obvious facts. First, we are losing the "war of the roads" in Iraq. If the Sunni insurgency controls the principal arteries in and out of Baghdad and can kill with ease on major thoroughfares elsewhere, there is no way the United States and its Iraqi allies can win a counterinsurgency campaign in the country's heartland.
The administration really should not use here the refrain, of which it is becoming ever more fond, that "only Iraqis can secure their country." Clearing the roads adequately, which means suppressing the occasional bombings, brigandage, and assassinations, really has nothing to do with "standing up" Iraqi security forces. If there is one kind of military operation that does not require much local knowledge, it's undertaking roadblocks, observation posts, and ground and air patrols. The military personnel required to perform this function 24/7 isn't small, but it is certainly within the capabilities of forces already present in Iraq if the Pentagon so chose to allocate these resources. It beggars the mind to believe that the U.S. military cannot deploy sufficient forces to secure the highway between Baghdad and the capital's international airport. Insurgents and brigands--it's very difficult often to tell the difference--now own this short stretch of highway, which regularly sees ordinary Iraqis robbed and shot, often in carefree, outrageous ways. What is worse, official Americans, authorized contractors, and the few lucky Iraqis who have the right friends can chopper overhead, traveling the same route in relative security. (That is, until the Iraqi insurgents and their foreign supporters, emboldened by their success and the failure of the Americans to counter them more aggressively, start using better ground-to-air weaponry.)
Anyone who has spent any time at all with Iraqis--be they Arab Sunni, Arab Shiite, Kurd, pro-or anti-American--knows that the vast majority of Iraqis have wanted to see many more U.S. military checkpoints and patrols on the highways. As the insurgency has warped into constant street crime and hostage-taking, a gut-level bitterness towards Americans, who seemed omnipotent after the downing of Saddam, has surged. It is a surreal experience to listen to the Iraqi Sunni elite, "vacationing" in Amman, Jordan, castigate the Americans for their failure to provide basic street security while simultaneously expressing the hope that their Sunni Arab brethren, both foreign and domestic, blow the Americans and their "Shiite sympathizers" out of Iraq.
It is certainly true that many Iraqis--many very pro-American Iraqis--are indignant about the careless use of American firepower when insurgents strike and Americans respond. The U.S. Army is a stunningly powerful machine, and the spooky nature of combat in Iraq--you never know when you will get hit, and combatants and noncombatants are often indistinguishable--naturally inclines U.S. soldiers to view all Iraqis with suspicion. The military brass and their civilian bosses deserve praise for understanding the risks of deploying too much power in this counterinsurgency. And the ethic of force protection--probably the strongest ethic in the U.S. military--is reflective of America's larger familial sensibilities.
But we have reached a point in Iraq where our first priority must be to guarantee Iraqis--not Americans--a minimum of security on the major highways. A greater American presence and firepower on the roads could kill more innocent Iraqis. The American death toll could climb. Yet it is an excellent bet that most Iraqis would be willing to absorb the losses provided they can see improvement in their daily security. If we do not do this, and do it fairly quickly, we are likely to damage irreparably moderate political forces in the country, especially within the Sunni heartlands, as we and our allies occupy ever smaller, disconnected, fortified oases surrounded by insurgents, their sympathizers, and a fearful population who know better than to cast their lot with men who only fly above them.
At this late date before the January 30 elections, there is probably no more effective and essential campaign for the U.S. military than securing the roads. Start with the highway to the airport, and then go after the roads from the capital south to the Shiite heartlands. The Shiites need to see that we are serious about maintaining their security and the flow of pilgrims from the capital to the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala. Everybody else--but most importantly neighboring Sunni Arab countries that may be ever more inclined to aid militarily their brethren who are fighting "American occupation" and Shiite (read "Iranian") domination--needs to see that the United States can protect one short airport highway that connects Iraq to the outside world.
Second obvious fact: The government of Ayad Allawi has failed. It is possible that Allawi and his list of candidates will do well enough in the January 30 elections to remain a force in Iraqi politics. The power of incumbency--the qa'id factor of Arab politics--is real, even in Iraq where the status quo isn't an electoral strength. The United States will, however, be enormously fortunate--even though many within the American government, particularly within the State Department and the Clandestine Service of the CIA, strenuously argue the opposite--if Allawi flames out in the elections, and the "Shiite list" backed by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq's preeminent divine, the rabble-rouser Moktada al-Sadr, and Ahmad Chalabi proves overwhelmingly triumphant.
A DIFFERENT APPROACH to the Sunni insurgency needs to be tried, and only an official realignment of Iraq's politics, where the majority actually has some official presence and power, is likely to encourage the Bush administration and the Allawi government, which will remain in office until a new constitution is approved, to change course. Interim Prime Minister Allawi came into office promising "outreach" to the Arab Sunnis who'd backed the Baath party and Saddam Hussein. He put forth an enormous gamble: You join me in building a new Iraq, and I will promise you a serious place within the new bureaucracy, especially within the army and the security services, the traditional levers of Sunni Arab power. Allawi did not betray the democratic objectives of a new Iraq, but he certainly intimated to the "exiled" Arab Sunnis that through him they would get a position in government that would be difficult for a democratically elected government to reverse.
Unfortunately for Allawi, and Iraq, the Sunni Arabs have not played according to this plan. What Allawi has in fact done is introduce into the fledgling Iraqi government Baathist and Sunni fundamentalist moles.
We regularly hear the U.S military say that their sources of information on the insurgents are getting better. This may well be true. It certainly appears, however, that the insurgents' information, organization, and effectiveness are improving faster than our ability to neutralize them. One fears that the new Iraqi security and intelligence services are so thoroughly penetrated that it is questionable whether American cooperation with these organizations can ever be operationally secure. Allawi's bureaucratic gambit has had adverse repercussions beyond the tactics of counterinsurgency. Odds are it has emboldened the Sunni insurgents in the field. It has certainly emboldened the Sunni Arab elite one finds in Jordan (the case is no doubt similar in Syria), who have probably played an important, perhaps essential, role in developing the cohesion and effectiveness of the insurgency. One shudders contemplating the disaster we would have faced had the Coalition Provisional Authority actually maintained and incorporated more of the Sunni Arab military elite from Saddam's armed forces into the "new" Iraqi armed forces.
Though it is impossible to dissect precisely the Sunni Arab mentality that has fueled the insurgency, it's not too hard to see the two most influential mind-sets. One is that of the antidemocratic sectarian, who has used violence as a means of "negotiating" a future political position that a one man, one vote democracy would deny. These Sunni Arabs essentially want to create a pre-1970s Lebanon model in Iraq, where the Sunni community enjoys power, prestige, and wealth beyond what its numbers, accomplishments, and economic capacity warrant. These folks are the "pragmatists" among the Sunni Arab insurgents, since it is just possible to imagine them working out some deal with the Shiites and Kurds. Any workable deal would leave them vastly weaker than they were under Saddam, but this group just might compromise since their attachment to Iraq is sufficiently mundane--family, friends, property--that they would not want to risk losing it completely. Prime Minister Allawi gambled that these "pragmatists" were a decisive majority among the Arab Sunni elite and among the insurgents actually fighting.
The second mind-set is that of the Arab Sunni supremacist. These folks can be either Baathists or religious fundamentalists. They would rather be dead, or live permanently in exile, than accept an Iraqi state where Arab Shiites and Kurds rule. Rhetorically, if not financially, this group receives more support from the Sunni Arab world, which likes to depict these diehards as Iraq's finest patriots. Allawi gambled that the "pragmatists" would sell out the "supremacists."
None of the prime minister's bets has paid off because the lines between the "pragmatists" and the "supremacists" are often blurred, ideologically and familially. Also the itch to try violence as a means to win, not just draw or place, has been greater than what Allawi apparently expected. And once the violence starts, it's hard to stop. An emotional chain reaction sets in that further clouds the difference between "pragmatists" and "supremacists."
Where do we go from here? In all probability, we're stuck with Allawi's "deal" unless the January 30 elections can somehow change the dynamic and tactics. This could happen. A substantial Sunni vote in the January 30 elections would gut the legitimacy the insurgents are vying for inside Iraq and elsewhere in the Arab world. The Sunni Arab elite who have either sided with the insurgents or are sitting "neutral" on the sidelines would get a loud wake-up call that they have misjudged the flock. If the Sunni Arabs vote in the elections, or, more important, if they abstain en masse, Allawi may see the light (he no doubt will see it before the CIA does), and start intimidating, not negotiating with, the "pragmatists."
Allawi and the Americans ought to make it perfectly clear that the Shia are coming (after the elections, even the diehard Sunnis may begin to appreciate the writing on the wall) and the Arab Sunni elite has at most a year to join the new Iraq. In the meantime, he and the Americans (and if not he, then the Americans) should talk openly and regularly about how the new Iraqi army will be overwhelmingly Shiite and Kurdish since the Sunni Arabs have given them no choice. We have to ratchet up the pressure on the Arab Sunni community, especially on its elite, while prominent Iraqi Shiites--real ones, not the Allawi, ex-Baathist look-alikes--appeal to the Sunnis behind the scenes to join the new nation. The Sunni Arabs have to know--they have to feel it in their bones--that they are on the verge of losing everything in Iraq. Allawi's grand gambit has done the opposite: It has produced self-confident, smiling faces among men who are actually enjoying the war (often safely ensconced in fine hotels in neighboring Arab states).
In the end, the Sunnis will not win a civil war. Inevitably the Iraqi Shia, diehard nationalists who will not long tolerate Sunni terrorist bombing campaigns in the South, will militarily organize themselves to defeat the Sunnis on their own turf. But their victory would likely be ferocious. Latent Shiite anger over decades of brutal Sunni oppression would probably come to the fore, empowering the most radical and cold-hearted among the Shiites. The democratic experiment and its most influential proponent, the moderate Shiite religious establishment, would both likely collapse amid the violence. The creation of an Iranian-aided Iraqi Hezbollah would become a distinct possibility. If the most radical and dictatorial came to the fore among both Sunni and Shiite Arabs, the Kurds would sensibly conclude that any association with Arab Iraqis was unhealthy. The de facto separation of Kurdistan could become de jure. Jordan and Saudi Arabia, two staunchly Sunni anti-Shiite states, could start throwing weaponry and money at any Sunni group that can shoot. A very ugly outcome.
* * *
AND THEN THERE IS IRAN--as if Iraq weren't enough. The Islamic Republic's pursuit of atomic weapons--and only the deaf, dumb, blind, and the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency officials (when speaking publicly) don't know that the clerical regime is energetically pursuing a nuclear-weapons program--is getting ever closer to the finish line. Whether you believe the prognostications of the Israelis or of the French foreign intelligence service, both of which think that a nuke is near, or those of the Americans, who generally guestimate a bomb in three to five years, a nuclear weapon under the control of Ali Khamenei, Iran's clerical head, and Hashemi Rafsanjani, the regime's number two and probably the cleric most intimately associated with Tehran's two-decade-old drive to produce fission weapons, is just over the horizon unless somebody in the West can delay it.
President Bush personally has described Iran's nuclear-weapons aspirations as "unacceptable" to the United States. He has thrown his administration behind the French-British-German effort to use diplomacy to convince Tehran to forsake its uranium enrichment efforts, even though the conduct of the Europeans has convinced an increasing number of American officials that this soft-power approach has no chance of succeeding with a regime that has been lying about its intentions for nearly 20 years. The Europeans have so far adamantly refused to consider serious economic sanctions against the mullahs. In particular, France, which has probably had the best intelligence collection against the Iranian nuclear target among the Europeans, has clearly signaled that it wants to expand, not curtail, trade. France's largest automotive company, Renault, in which the French government is an influential minority shareholder, has signed an agreement with Tehran to build factories in Iran for export to the entire Middle East and Central Asia.
And it is an open question, of course, whether any combination of sanctions, short of a blockade of Iranian oil, could convince the ruling mullahs to cease and desist since the nuclear program is one of the few things that the quarrelsome political clergy can agree on. It is also undoubtedly popular with many ordinary Iranians, who see the nuke as an expression of Iranian nationalism, not as an instrument of mass destruction in the hands of virulently anti-American clerics. The mullahs, who have alienated just about everyone in the country with their incompetence, corruption, and antidemocratic behavior, have accidentally discovered something that gives them prestige and nationalist credentials. (Secretive and mendacious, the ruling divines owe a thank you to the virulently anti-regime group the Mujahedeen Khalq for originally exposing the nuclear program's dimensions and progress to the Iranian public.)
Which brings us to the crucial question: What can the administration do?
There are four options:
One. Admit defeat, play along with the Europeans, and learn to love the clerical nuclear weapon. Of course, President Bush and Vice President Cheney would have to eat their words about an Iranian nuclear menace, abandon preemption, the Axis of Evil doctrine, and the entire counterterrorist approach since 9/11. They would also have to cross their fingers that a regime addicted to both terrorism as statecraft and anti-Americanism wouldn't ever use its nuclear-weapons technology against the United States or an ally, directly or indirectly via surrogate Islamic radicals. In particular, the Bush administration would need to forget the disconcerting contacts--see the 9/11 Commission report--between members of al Qaeda and the clerical regime. Democratic senator Joseph Biden could be helpful as a model in this regard, as he always tries to refer to the members of al Qaeda in Iran as "in custody," which is exactly how the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs describes them.
Two. Try to force a vote on the U.N. Security Council finding Iran not in full compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and thereby subject to sanctions. This tactic won't work since neither the Europeans, nor the Russians, nor the Chinese would likely go along. This maneuver might make sense as a preliminary to a preemptive military strike, allowing Washington to say that it tried. However, since the Europeans are never going to state publicly what they regularly say privately--that the Iranians are determined to acquire, at minimum, the means of quickly producing a nuclear weapon--the rhetorical and moral advantage of going to the U.N. seems nil.
Three. Tell the Europeans in crystal-clear language that the United States intends to strike preemptively clerical Iran's nuclear-related facilities unless they insist to the Iranians that Western inspectors must be allowed immediate free access to any challenged site in Iran. Tell the Europeans to tell the Iranians what Washington said to them. (U.S. surveillance satellites should be trained on Iran to watch for telltale movement and communications.) This approach might possibly work, but it's doubtful. Either the Europeans or the Iranians will probably refuse (the Iranians are vastly better than the French, Germans, and Brits at brinkmanship).
Four. Realize that the only option that passes the pinch test--that realistically offers a good chance of delaying Iran's nuclear-weapons production by years--is a preemptive military strike against all of the facilities that American, European, Israeli, and (in private) IAEA intelligence suspect are associated with weapons production. There are certainly many arguments to be made against a preemptive attack, though only one is really free from a pre-9/11 mindset that advances defense over offense in counterterrorism. The weak arguments--the Iranian nation will rise against us, the democratic movement in Iran will die, the Iranian clergy will retaliate in Iraq and globally--are not historically or psychologically particularly compelling. Iranians as a people may well rally around the flag, but so what? The Iranians rallied around the flag when Saddam Hussein invaded in 1980. The invasion didn't prevent the spiritual collapse of the Islamic revolution and the growing popular animus towards the ruling clergy, which were both well underway by the mid-1980s.
Iranians are not nationalist automatons--they are among the most profound, cynical patriots imaginable. They have learned to hate the clerical regime for the most intimate, in-your-face reasons. This disgust will not be long buried by a rush of patriotic passion provoked by an American bombing run on nuclear facilities. Given the Iranian character, it's likely to dissipate at an astonishing speed.
And even if the Iranians were to prove themselves nationalist zealots--there is a first time for everything--history is littered with determined nationalists who lose in battles against stronger powers. And the current Iranian government has already stifled the democratic movement in the country. The democratic culture in Iran is certainly alive and growing. But it's absurdly American-centric to believe that Iranians are embracing democratic ideas because of a love of the United States. Iranians are increasingly democratic in spirit because of their own collision with various types of dictatorship over the last hundred years. Some of Iran's most determined and popular democratic dissidents already have a very jaundiced view of the United States. After a U.S. strike, they would just like us even less.
What a preemptive attack would certainly do is provoke another debate about the competence of a ruling clergy who led the nation into a head-on collision with the United States. Khamenei and Rafsanjani, and the Revolutionary Guard Corps behind them, would not look so clever or so unchallengeably strong the day after U.S. missiles and planes destroyed the nuclear facilities. The clerical regime might well try to retaliate against the United States clandestinely. It rose to power in large measure on deceit and a willingness to use intimidation, ruthless violence, and terrorism against its opponents (which is, of course, why you don't want them to have a nuke).
But the fear-of-terrorism argument takes us back to the pre-9/11 world, where we preempted ourselves because of our fear of our enemies' potential nastiness. This argument is similar in sentiment and ethics to those used by European states that gave laissez-passers to Palestinian terrorists so long as the Palestinians agreed not to kill Israelis and Jews on their soil. The logic of this argument will always cede the high ground to an enemy willing to use terrorism against us (and the mullahs have certainly proven over two decades that they are willing to use terrorism against us and others). The only responsible rejoinder here is to threaten your enemy with massive retaliation, aimed directly at the world he cherishes, and especially at the military and security-and-intelligence structures that guarantee his survival. If we want to stop Iran's terrorist-supporting clerics from getting nukes, we have to be prepared to stare them down.
And, yes, the Iranians could try also to strike us in Iraq, but they are on operationally weak ground in Mesopotamia. Iraqi Shiite interests differ starkly from clerical Iran's. The Iraqi Shia as a people and the major Shiite groups through which Iran has tried to work its influence have pledged themselves to creating a democracy. It is enormously unlikely that the Iraqi Shia will abandon a peaceful path to democracy and engage in terrorism against the United States for the sake of a Persian clerical regime that most Iraqi Arabs dislike and don't trust. And Iranians must have secure Iraqi operational partners: If they operate alone, they stand out and run the serious risk that their hand will be discovered. If discovered, the clerics' fear of massive American retaliation against the regime comes into play.
The stronger argument against attacking Iran's nuclear-weapons facilities is that we may not technically be able to do it. This point needs to be debated by military men, intelligence officers, and senior officials. Given how diligently Iran has tried to hide certain facilities and deny access to others, the evidence certainly suggests that the clerical regime's research and production may not allow for that much duplication and concealment. The American, European, and Israeli intelligence communities have a good deal of information on a wide variety of likely and possible sites. Quite unintentionally, the IAEA has also aided in what is becoming a targeting guide. And given the awful terrorist track record of the clerical regime toward us and others, it would be wise for the administration--assuming it wants to pass the pinch test and not continually punt to the Europeans--to posit that we can severely hurt the Iranian nuclear-weapons program until proven otherwise.
* * *
WHICH LEAVES US with al Qaeda, the Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative, and the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation. The first two are completely intertwined. The Middle East initiative is the Bush administration's attempt to get to the root causes behind al Qaeda: the nexus between Islamic extremism and tyranny. Building on the intellectual spadework done by such influential historians as Princeton University's Bernard Lewis and Johns Hopkins University's Fouad Ajami, President Bush has underscored American-supported Middle Eastern autocracy as the jet fuel behind Islamic holy-warriorism. The Broader Middle East Initiative is supposed to encourage the political opening of Middle Eastern societies. Yet as of now, the initiative contains no coercive measures for encouraging dictators and kings to loosen their grips on their societies. In the State Department's view, this evolution is all supposed to happen voluntarily.
There is no historical reason to believe that it will. The Middle East's unelected rulers have shown no inclination whatsoever to off themselves. On the contrary, they have shown repeatedly that they are willing to intimidate, jail, or eliminate serious regime-threatening dissident movements. Still, things are changing in the Muslim Middle East, particularly in the Arab world. In great part owing to President Bush's post-9/11 actions, reformers are trying to gain some public ground and even, in some countries, toeholds inside governments. These efforts reflect a general consensus in the Middle East, among both the man in the street and the elites, that the status quo is unsustainable, that something must give in the Middle East's politically dysfunctional societies. Travel the Middle East and it's easy to find people who feel that just maybe, for a variety of interlocking reasons, despotism in the region is now on shaky ground. Which is why if the Bush administration is serious about its own analysis and intentions it will start to pressure the only two governments over which it has any real leverage--Egypt and Jordan.
Egypt is the make-or-break country in the Arab world. If Egypt were to go democratic, the political impact on the Arab world would be even greater than the likely shockwave that will come from Iraq if the democratic experiment there can hold. Along with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, Egypt is the birthplace of the jihadist spirit of 9/11. Highly Westernized, urban, and urbane, Egypt is rich in wannabe political parties, particularly those of a religious stripe. If the president's counterterrorist democracy project makes sense in the Middle East--and it is certain that this president believes passionately that it does (a good example of a man who knows virtually nothing about the Middle East knowing more than many "realist" foreign-service and intelligence officials who've dedicated their lives to the region)--then his administration needs to prove that the Broader Middle East Initiative is more than just ideological window dressing. It should attach pro-democracy conditionalities to American aid.
For example, give Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, or whoever succeeds him (he is old and in spotty health), a three-year deadline to implement a real democratic transition. Link the billions in U.S. aid to political achievements. Marry the aid to regular public statements about the need for the people of Egypt to determine their own destiny. (To his credit, President Bush has already rocked the Egyptian dictator once by a speech that singled out Egypt as a dictatorship that needed to evolve.)
Will Mubarak or his eldest son, who may be his successor, go for it? Probably not. But the United States needs to align itself finally on the democratic side in the Muslim Middle East. In no small part, bin Ladenism arose because the United States was constantly aligning itself with oppressive dictators, an understandable by-product of the Cold War. We should be enormously wary of any claim made by the U.S. intelligence community that support for this dictator or that king is essential to the war on terrorism. Eventually, we have to stop putting the cart before the horse. There is no historical reason to believe that bin Ladenism will end until the Middle East's autocracies evolve--until liberals, Muslim moderates, and fundamentalists have a chance to make their case democratically.
And intelligence services love to say their liaison work is essential to national security. Upon review, one usually discovers that it isn't quite as essential as the intel officers said, and that the regime in question isn't giving information to us because they like us. Fear of common enemies or more powerful "friends," possible punishment and reward, have much more to do with the liaison relationships. We cannot win this war through police actions. As a bureaucratically astute National Security Council official recently remarked, we should use our intelligence and security-service relationships to encourage these foreign intelligence and security services to evolve. Middle Eastern security services will have to crack--their loyalties and esprit de corps must become more popularly based--to have democratic movements triumph, at least without bloodshed. In both Egypt and especially Jordan, many within the political elites say they want change, that they have to change, sooner not later. Put them to the test. Give them an incentive to get serious.
And democratic change in Jordan, where over half the citizenry identifies itself as Palestinian (the percentage is even higher if one counts long-term Palestinian "refugees"), could have an enormous positive impact upon the Palestinian community on the West Bank of the Jordan river. No one talks about what democracy would do among East Bank Palestinians. They should. The identities of the denizens of both banks may meld. They may further separate. They will definitely provoke each other, fueling a profound debate about what it means to be Palestinian. To the Bush administration's credit, it seems to understand well that the key to any successful Israeli-Palestinian dialogue is the democratic evolution of the Palestinian people on the West Bank and in Gaza (it should add on the East Bank). The Palestinians must show that they have divorced themselves from decades of imbibing terrorism ("armed resistance") as the core of their national identity. This may be a long and painful process even in a democratic Palestinian society. Neither the Israeli Left nor Right wants to go back to the summer of 2000, when many Israelis, perhaps even a majority, had hoped that Israeli concessions were the key to producing a lasting peace. Suicide bombings have killed off that dream and transformed the Labor party into a vastly more skeptical enterprise.
Ariel Sharon is popular in Israel because the Palestinian national movement, led by the Palestine Liberation Organization, waged war on the Israeli liberal imagination. That imagination isn't dead, but it is circumscribed by the security barrier across the West Bank. The "Wall" has cut the Palestinian suicide-bombing success rate by 90 percent, and returned something close to normalcy to the Israeli psyche. A renewed "peace process" begins with that barrier: It ain't going anywhere. (Indeed, it can only grow in length and size.) And no American government post-9/11 is going to force the democratically elected government of Israel to move it, not before the Palestinian people have proven beyond doubt that they have gone cold-turkey on terrorism. It is in fact the "Wall," not Arafat's death, that is the real catalyst for change among West Bank Palestinians.
One has to assume that Tony Blair, a pretty keen observer of the American scene, knows this. Yet American coercion of the Israelis is the sine qua non, as any European will tell you, of "progress" in the Holy Land. The British prime minister apparently believes that American coercion of Israelis might again be possible through an international conference on the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation. It isn't. The repercussions of such a conference, where it is certain that the French and perhaps other Western Europeans would behave poorly, could not redound to the prime minister's advantage in Washington, Jerusalem, Paris, Berlin, or London. The Bush administration would do Prime Minister Blair an enormous favor by telling him so. A revolutionary among the organically conservative and timid French and Germans, Blair ought to push with President Bush for meaningful Palestinian democracy, where all Palestinians, not just the old guard of the PLO, have a real chance for power. And George Bush perhaps could remind Tony Blair, who could remind the French and Germans, that bin Ladenism went from infancy to adulthood during the presidency of Bill Clinton, who was addicted to advancing the nationalist and religious aspirations of the Palestinian people by negotiation. (Remember those halcyon years!)
Of course, no discussion about any of the Middle East's problems between the president and the prime minister, Middle Eastern Muslims' two finest Western friends, is going to mean much unless the two gentlemen get it right in Iraq. If we lose there, it's all over. In our awful fall, even the French, smilingly, might pity us.
Reuel Marc Gerecht is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard.
'Nuclear push key to Iran's ambition'
December 24, 2004
IRAN'S historic ambitions to be the dominant regional power mean it will not be dissuaded from its long-term goal of nuclear weapons, creating the prospect of an eventual showdown with the US and its allies.
That is the view of US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who also says the Iranian ambition to be the world centre for Shia Muslims is driving its "dangerous game" in neighbouring Iraq.
Mr Armitage made the comments on US television in a pessimistic assessment of the prospects for Iran, which has agreed with European nations to suspend the nuclear enrichment program it insists is for power generation only.
"I don't believe in the long run the Iranians will be dissuaded from this program and we're going to have to consider all our options with our friends and allies," he said.
In an insight into the Bush administration's thinking on one of the most potentially difficult foreign policy problems the US will face in the next four years, Mr Armitage argued that a historical perspective was vital to understanding the Iranian psyche.
Mr Armitage has resigned as the State Department No2, but will remain until early next year.
He said he had served as an adviser to the Shah of Iran's special forces soldiers before the revolution in 1978-79.
"I believe that Iranians, who are perfectly congenial and wonderful one-on-one, in a group are quite ethnocentric, nationalistic and indeed hegemonistic," he said. "They think they're still at the time of Xerxes and Persepolis (a reference to the Persian king from 485BC to 465BC and his capital).
"I think it's not for nothing they call it the Persian Gulf and not the Arabian Gulf.
"So I think that they have, in the minds of the Iranian leadership, a great desire to be a much bigger player in the region."
The political reform movement in Iran gave little hope of a different outlook, he said. "I think the reform movement is misnamed. I think there are some who wanted a little more breathing room in their own life, but if you assume the reform movement is one that would eschew nuclear weapons and does not hold the same dreams of glory for Iran, I think you'd be wrong."
Asked if the use of force was the last resort with Iran, Mr Armitage said it would be irresponsible to discuss that publicly, but said the standard US statement was that "all options are on the table".
Iran should take notice of Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, who had given up his ambitions for weapons of mass destruction, saying it had brought him more headaches than benefits, he said.
Iran's ambition to be the world centre of the Shia Muslim religion was largely behind its efforts to influence Iraq's politics, he said.
"In terms of Iraq, they're playing a very dangerous game. They're using money, primarily, and in some cases, weapons, to try to subvert the south, the southern part - the Shia part of Iraq.
"They're trying to buy influence. I think ultimately they will fail in this, but they're playing a very dangerous game. I think Iran wants to have an Iraq that certainly is no threat to them, but moreover, aids them in their ability to become the, sort of the - what would you say? - world centre for Shia."
Arrest of American and Israeli Spies Not Serious: Experts
Posted Thursday, December 23, 2004
PARIS, 23 Dec. (IPS) Experts and intelligence community did not take seriously the so-called revelations made on Wednesday 22 December by the Iranian Information (Intelligence) Minister concerning the arrest of 10 spies on charges passing nuclear information to American and Israelis.
Talking to reporters, Mr. Younesi, a junior cleric, said the culprits had been detained during the present Iranian year of 1383 that ends on 21 March 2005, adding that three of the suspects were staff of Irans Atomic Energy Organization.
The spies, believed to be agents of Mossad and CIA, were arrested in Tehran and the southern province of Hormozgan, he said, adding that the detainees were handed over to the Islamic Revolution Court", one that deals mostly with the regimes security, espionage and counter-espionage matters, according to the official news agency IRNA.
They behaved like [they were] at the greengrocer", he said, making sure that none of the data from the Iranian nuclear program had leaked to foreigners.
But while some news agencies like ISNA and Mehr quoted the spokesman as having said eight Zionists had been detained, implying that the detainees are Israelis or possible Iranian Jews, others, like the official news agency IRNA used the word people.
Although the Minister did not reveal the identities of the arrested people or said when they have been detained, however, he suggested that the suspects were not professionals in espionage, as some of them turned to a number of different Iranian agencies asking to purchase enriched uranium and an atomic bomb".
"They behaved like [they were] at the greengrocer", he said, making sure that none of the data from the Iranian nuclear program had leaked to foreigners.
Earlier this month, the Intelligence Ministry said it had arrested a spy who had been pretending to work on nuclear centrifuges in order to cast doubt on Tehran's recent agreements with the European Union to suspend such work.
Insisting that Irans intelligence network was ranking among worlds best agencies, if not the best and in any way, superior to both the American CIA and Israels Mossad, Mr Younessi hen went on describing to bored reporters that how his agents could decipher all secret codes used by would be spies, reading their e-mails, listening to their cell phones or reproducing letters wrote with invisible ink.
But Mr. Younessi failed to explain that if his ministry and his agents are so competent, how come then that they were not able to detect a journalist passing classified information to an un-named military attaché from an unidentified foreign embassy? one Iranian journalist who was present at the press conference told Iran Press Service.
He was referring to the case of Mr. Javad Qolam Tamimi, a journalist and author of a weblog who, after being released from prison two weeks ago, confessed that he had been brainwashed by counter-revolutionaries and has passed information to a military attaché.
Ever since the Information Ministry lost the confidence and trust the ruling conservatives in November 1998 and the creation of a parallel intelligence network under the direct control of Ayatollah Ali Khamenehi, Mr. Younessi drops such bombshells time to time in order to justify the existence of his ministry, a former intelligence officer explained, regretting that the Iranian security and intelligence services are probably the most inoperative.
The arrest of the so-called spies surfaced four days ago after the Foreign Affairs Ministrys spokesman confirmed that eight people had been detained on charges of espionage for the United States and Israel.
However, an Israeli online service dealing with intelligence and military affairs speculated that the vague and unverifiable charge -- a typical Iranian exercise to cover up a fiasco could be a response to the arrest, a month ago, of Iranian and Iran-sponsored surveillance teams.
According to DebkaFile, Iranian agents and proxies have been discovered hanging about outside Israels diplomatic missions in the United States, South America, West Europe and the Middle East.
Team members rounded up by the FBI and Egyptian intelligence admitted that they were collecting information for Iranian intelligence.
Team members rounded up by the American FBI and Egyptian intelligence in the last ten days admitted under interrogation that they were collecting information for Iranian intelligence, the DEBKA-Net-Weekly said in an exclusive story.
Egyptian President Hosni Mobarak had informed Israels Trade and Industry minister Ehud Olmert on 14 December about Egyptian security services arrest of a group of Egyptian Islamic fundamentalists carrying out surveillance of the Israeli embassy in Cairo and monitoring the movements of Israeli diplomats and their families in the city on behalf of the Islamic Republic.
DEBKA-Net-Weeklys counter-terrorism sources report that foreign intelligence services have been telling Israel since late November that Iranian spy teams have been spotted outside Israeli missions in various parts of the world, including one nabbed by the FBI watching Israeli consulates in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Houston.
It was made up of Iranian Americans, Arab and Pakistani students - some of them US citizens, and all activists belonging to Muslim fundamentalist groups, the service said, adding they were perfectly aware that the data sent to Iranian intelligence was intended for use in hostage taking and bombing attacks against Israeli missions. ENDS IRAN ESPIONAGE 231204
Stoning of adulterous woman put on hold in Iran
December 24, 2004
Tehran - Iranian authorities have temporarily stayed the execution by stoning of a woman convicted of adultery while her case is studied by the judiciary pardons commission.
Hajieh Esmailvand, whose plight has been taken up by rights group Amnesty International, was sentenced by a court in the north western town of Jolfa to be flogged 100 times, jailed for five years and then hanged.
Her lover, identified only as Ruhollah G, has been sentenced to hang and is still awaiting execution.
In its report, the reformist newspaper Tosseh yesterday said the two had murdered Esmailvand's husband in 2000.
The Supreme Court later changed her sentence to stoning because of the adultery, as is permitted under Islamic law.
But an unnamed judiciary official said the "stoning has been stayed pending a decision by the pardons commission".
Amnesty International has called on its members to appeal to the Iranian authorities for the execution to be stopped.
According to Amnesty, Iran's penal code is very specific about the manner of execution and types of stones that should be used. It states that men should be buried up to their waists and women up to their breasts for the purpose of execution by stoning. However, those who manage to free themselves are spared.
Although the exact date of Esmailvand's arrest and trial are not known, it is reported that she has been imprisoned in Jolfa since January 2000.
Amnesty said reports suggested that the Supreme Court had ordered that the remainder of her prison sentence be annulled so that the stoning sentence could be carried out.
But no sentence of stoning has been carried out in Iran for more than a year, with the practice seeming to have been suspended since the end of 2002 under pressure from the European Union, which has made human rights an integral part of talks with Tehran on closer trade ties.
BEHIND THE HEADLINES
Years after Persian Jew disappears,
his mother refuses to give up hope
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 23 (JTA) Elena Tehrani turns away at the mention of her son, tears flowing down her tired face.
Even 10 years after the fact, the story of Babak Tehranis imprisonment in Iran is painful to tell.
On June 8, 1994, Babak, then 17, and his friend Shaheen Nikkhoo, then 20, left Tehran on a secret journey to freedom. Leaving Iran was illegal and risky for the pair, both of whom were at the age of military conscription.
The two Jewish youths planned to cross into Pakistan, then head to Austria and finally to the United States. They and the man who was smuggling them out Atta Mohammed Rigi, arrived in the southeastern city of Zahedan, near Irans southeastern border with Pakistan.
Eyewitnesses there saw the two Jews being arrested by non-uniformed secret police, Tehrani said.
Ill never forget that day, said Tehrani, who has begun to speak about her sons disappearance on U.S.-based Persian-language TV and radio stations.
I was in Austria, waiting for Babak to call me. Instead, the smugglers relatives called and said that Babak, Shaheen and the smugglers had been arrested and they would help get them released, she said.
Days turned to weeks, though, and the smugglers gave no word on Babaks condition or whereabouts. Frantic, Tehrani who by then had immigrated to Southern California turned for help to two Los Angeles-based Iranian Jewish groups.
The Iranian-American Jewish Federation and the Council of Iranian American Jewish Organizations have been at the forefront of trying to secure the release of the two youths, as well as 10 other Iranian Jews imprisoned in the 1990s while trying to flee Iran through Pakistan.
Pakistani officials in New York did not return calls requesting comment on the cases.
This is a very complicated issue, said Sam Kermanian, former chairman of the federation. These people were arrested for the purpose of putting a stop to illegal Jewish migration out of Iran. It was done basically to create fear among Jews in Iran.
Kermanian said that in the past 10 years the federation, in cooperation with the families of the Iranian Jewish prisoners, has tried to resolve their plight through diplomatic channels in the United States and abroad and via political, human rights and other private contacts.
Frank Nikbakht, public affairs director for the council, said his organization has been collaborating for the past four years with Tehrani and the other families but had taken a more vocal public approach to the situation.
Sometimes you have to you use diplomacy, Nikbakht said. But for this case, because the Iranian government has been lying to the prisoners families for so many years and promising to release them, we believe the time has long passed for silent diplomacy, and we have to use all sorts of public pressure on the Iranian government.
In 2000, with the assistance of various American Jewish groups, the council was successful in publicizing the case of 13 Iranian Jews from Shiraz imprisoned in 1999 on charges of spying for Israel.
The international exposure put pressure on the Iranian regime and the Iran 13 were eventually released.
The federation also played a role, quietly working for the prisoners release through diplomatic channels.
Back in 2000 we wanted to bring out this case of these prisoners, along with the case of the Shiraz prisoners, but many American Jewish organizations strongly disapproved of this approach, so we couldnt go ahead with it, Nikbakht said. We thought that once we had the attention of the world we should have linked these two issues and solved them together.
In Israel, meanwhile, political activist Yehuda Kassif has led a one-man mission of public advocacy by lobbying Israeli officials on behalf of the prisoners families for the past seven years.
I worked for so many years voluntarily because no one else seemed to care, except for the nearest families of course, said Kassif, who is managing director of the Israel Precious Stones and Diamonds Exchange.
Kassif said he has met with Israeli officials including President Moshe Katsav, Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon and members of the Knesset, pressuring them about these cases.
He also said he single-handedly has tried to keep the story alive in the Israeli media through television interviews, circulation of posters with the prisoners photos and distribution of bottles of wine bearing their images.
Despite his meetings, Kassif said he has had little success getting Israeli officials to take significant action on behalf of the Iranian Jewish prisoners.
While grateful for the support she has received from various Jewish groups, Tehrani said her sons case has been forgotten over the years by the general public. After so much time, the Iranian government now denies having custody of her son, she said.
When my sister went to the Information Ministry in Tehran recently and asked about Babak, they denied even having him and claimed he was stolen by smugglers in the border area. Its just ridiculous! Tehrani said. I know its not true because Ive had many credible witnesses come forward who have proof and seen my son in Iranian prisons.
The most recent eyewitness verifying Babaks whereabouts is an Iranian Jewish man in Los Angeles, who asked that his name be withheld out of concerns for his own safety.
In a sworn affidavit given to the Tehrani family, the man indicated that he had seen Babak Tehrani in 1996 in the infamous Evin Prison in Tehran while the man was trying to sell nearby land to prison officials.
As I was walking, a jail cell with a window caught my eye. I went forward and I saw several youths who were sitting on the floor, he said in the affidavit. The poor kids, including one whom I knew particularly since he was my daughters classmate and whose name was Babak.
Evin is among the maximum security prisons the Iranian government uses to hold and torture political dissidents, student protesters, journalists and others that the regime believes poses a threat to its power, Nikbakht said.
Tehrani said her sons imprisonment for the past decade has been extremely uncommon and suggests foul play. Iranian laws require only a fine or a maximum two-month prison sentence for leaving the country illegally.
The Iranian government is holding my son but they dont want to admit it, because it would be embarrassing to them to have held a boy on no charges for the last 10 years, she said.
She also said she recently has become more vocal about her sons case. Tehrani appeared on KRSI, a Los Angeles-based Persian-language radio station broadcasting to Iran, to ask Irans spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to release her son.
She also has pleaded for her sons release on Persian-language television programs beamed from the United States into Iran.
At this point, I really dont care about the politics of it all because my son has nothing to do with it hes just an innocent person caught in between this mess, Tehrani said. Im even ready to go on the air and publicly apologize to the Iranian government if thats what it takes for them to release him.
Over the past 10 years, the families of these dozen Jewish prisoners have formed an L.A.-based group called the Families of Iranian Jewish Prisoners to keep the issue in the public eye, and to continue to collect data about their imprisoned relatives.
Iranian Jewish leaders in Southern California said they will continue to cautiously pursue the case, recognizing the risk that their activity could potentially pose to the approximately 20,000 Jews still living in Iran.
Tehrani and other family members of the prisoners contacted for this story said that despite the passage of time, they have not given up hope that they will see their loved ones again.
Hope is all I have had these past 10 years the hope that someone will come forward and finally help bring Babak back to me, Tehrani said. Maybe then I will have a normal life again knowing hes safe in my arms.
(Karmel Melamed is a freelance journalist in Southern California.)
December 23, 2004, 8:28 a.m.
Were engaged in a regional war.The insurgency and the future of the Middle East.
The notion that we are fighting an "insurgency" largely organized and staffed by former elements of Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime is now fully enshrined as an integral piece of the conventional wisdom. Like earlier bits of the learned consensus to which it is closely linked it is factually wrong and strategically dangerous.
That it is factually wrong is easily demonstrated, for the man invariably branded the most powerful leader of the terrorist assault against Iraq Abu Musab al Zarqawi is not a Baathist, and indeed is not even an Iraqi. He is a Palestinian Arab from Jordan who was based in Iran for several years, and who when the West Europeans found he was creating a terror network in their countries (primarily Germany and Italy) and protested to the Iranians moved into Iraqi Kurdistan with Iranian protection and support, as the moving force in Ansar al Islam.
You cannot have it both ways. If Zarqawi is indeed the deus ex machina of the Iraqi terror war, it cannot be right to say that the "insurgency" is primarily composed of Saddam's followers. Zarqawi forces us to think in regional terms rather than focusing our attention on Iraq alone. Unless you think that Iraqi Defense Minister Shaalan is a drooling idiot, you must take seriously his primal screams against Iran and Syria ("terrorism in Iraq is orchestrated by Iranian intelligence, Syrian intelligence, and Saddam loyalists"). Indeed, there has been a flood of reports linking Syria to the terror war, including the recent news that the shattered remnants from Fallujah have found haven and succor across the Syrian border. Finally, the Wahabbist component carries the unmistakable fingerprints of the quavering royal family across the border in Saudi Arabia.
The terror war in Iraq was not improvised, but carefully planned by the four great terror masters (Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Saudi Arabia) during the infuriatingly long run-up to the liberation. They made no secret of it; you have only to go back to the public statements of the Iranian mullahs and the Syrian Baathists to see it, for top Iranian officials and Bashir Assad publicly announced it (the mullahs in their mosques, Bashir in a published interview). They had a simple and dramatic word for the strategy: Lebanon. Assad and the mullahs prepared to turn Iraq into a replay of the terror war they had jointly waged against us in Lebanon in the 1980s: suicide bombings, hostage-taking, and religious/political uprisings. It could not have been more explicit.
Some of our brighter journalists have recently written about Iraqi documents that show how Saddam instructed his cohorts to melt away when Coalition forces entered Iraq, and then wage the sort of guerilla campaign we now see. But neither they nor our buffoonish intelligence "community" have looked at the documents in the context of the combined planning among the four key regimes. Anyone who goes back to the pre-OIF period can see the remarkable tempo of airplanes flying back and forth between Damascus, Baghdad, Tehran, and even Pyongyang (remember the Axis of Evil?), as military and intelligence officials worked out their strategies. Some of those flights, as for example those between Saddam's Baghdad and the mullahs' Tehran, were a kind of man-bites-dog story, since in the past such flights carried armaments to be dropped on the destination, whereas in 2002 and early 2003 they carried government officials planning the terror war against us in Iraq.
The myth of the Baathist insurgency is actually just the latest version of the old error according to which Sunnis and Shiites can't work together. This myth dominated our "intelligence" on the Middle East for decades, even though it was known that the Iranian (Shiite) Revolutionary Guards were trained in (Syrian-dominated, hence secular Baathist) Lebanon by Arafat's (Sunni) Fatah, starting as early as 1972. The terror masters worked together for a long time, not just after the destruction of the Taliban. But we refused to see it, just as today we refuse to see that the assault against us is regional, not just Iraqi.
Many of the statements emerging from official (that is, both governmental and media) Washington nowadays reflect yet another error, a corollary of the axiom that sees the region hopelessly divided between Shiites and Sunnis. The corollary has it that the impending electoral victory of the Iraqi Shiites will greatly increase Iranian leverage in Iraq. The truth, as Reuel Gerecht so eloquently demonstrated in the Wall Street Journal last week, is precisely the opposite, because the Shiite leaders in Iraq are fundamentally opposed to the Iranian doctrine that places a theocratic dictator atop civil society. The Iraqis adhere to the traditional Shiite view that people in turbans should work in mosques, leaving civil society to secular leaders, and therefore their victory in Iraq will threaten the sway of the mullahs across the border. We should not view all Shiites as a coherent community, and we should welcome a traditional Shiite society in Iraq, and recognize that it is a valuable weapon in the war against the terror masters in Tehran.
The mullahs know this well. They dread the success of traditional Shiites in Baghdad, and they are desperately trying to foment a Sunni/Shiite clash of civilizations. That is the explanation of the resumption of suicide-bombing attacks in the holy Shiite cities of Najaf and Karbala, which the mullahs' intelligence agents had terminated when previous bombings intensified anti-Iranian (rather than the hoped-for anti-Sunni) passions. As many Iraqi leaders have observed, the recent attacks in the holy places demonstrate desperation, not growing "insurgent" strength.
The clear strategic conclusion remains what it should have been long before Coalition troops entered Saddam's evil domain: No matter how strongly we wish it to be otherwise, we are engaged in a regional war, of which Iraq is but a single battlefield. The war cannot be won in Iraq alone, because the enemy is based throughout the region and his bases and headquarters are located beyond our current reach. His power is directly proportional to our unwillingness to see the true nature of the war, and our decision to limit the scope of our campaign.
The true nature of the war exposes yet another current myth: that we are at greater risk because we failed to send sufficient troops into Iraq. More troops would simply mean more targets for the terrorists, since we are not prepared nor should we be to establish a full-scale military occupation and to "seal off" the borders with Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. Hell, we can't even seal off the Mexican border with the United States, an area we know well. How can we expect to build a wall around Iraq?
No, we can only win in Iraq if we fully engage in the terror war, which means using our most lethal weapon freedom against the terror masters, all of them. The peoples of Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia are restive, they look to us for political support. Why have we not endorsed the call for political referenda in Syria and Iran? Why are we so (rightly and honorably) supportive of free elections in the Ukraine, while remaining silent about or, in the disgraceful case of outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell, openly hostile to free elections in Iran and Syria? Why are we not advancing both our values and our interests in the war against the terror masters?
Why 2, and why January? Two, so even if they use one they have one, and can threaten its use to deter retaliation. The other to use. January, because that is when Iraqi elections are scheduled. To prevent the example of a successful democracy right next door, the mad mullahs will stop at nothing. All perfectly obvious.
As for the IAEA farce, nobody on earth believes any of it will have any effect, and never have. The Europeans are paying protection money to the Iranians, and flaking for them diplomatically, to avoid being on the same side of anything as the U.S., and to send the message, "please bomb Americans or Israelis, but not us".
I'm glad to find this forum. I post in campaignofone.org site, "News You Can Use" Forum. There is no interaction and I think that I'm off topic. I also opened the WW IV blog at the same site but it seems it's "off topic."
I felt so strongly about what's happening in the Middle East and the unspeakable danger heading our way. I should know how these illegitimate governments of mullahs and tyrants think; I was born there.
I'm adding my voice to yours to persuade our government to act MUCH faster than they intend to.
I started ringing the alarm very early in November and here are the links to my posts for anyone who's interested. I also emailed some of the posts to a few NRO editors/contributors and the White House.
- After next: Iran, killing two birds with (one stone)
- Iran II (Iran's very close to the bomb)
- Iraq: election outcome (bomb Iran before Elections)
- Iraq: Shiite clerics murders (Al-Sadr, Iranian takeover)
I hope we all be able to persuade our government to act ASAP, within weeks that is.
Merry Christmas, MK
This thread is now closed.
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