Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - January 3, 2005 - Iraq's Shiites rule out Iran model
Posted on 01/02/2005 11:47:58 PM PST by DoctorZIn
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Iraq's Shiites rule out Iran modelMonday, January 3, 2005
Political coalition says it won't create an Islamic theocracy
BAGHDAD In a surprise press conference Sunday, leaders of the Shiite-dominated coalition that is expected to prevail in national elections sought to dispel fears that they are under the secret sway of Iran, or have any desire to create an Islamic theocracy.
Speaking in offices that were damaged by a car bomb just six days before, leaders of the United Iraqi Alliance urged disaffected Sunnis to join in the elections for a National Assembly, scheduled for Jan. 30.
They also said that if their coalition gains power it would not demand the immediate withdrawal of American troops, but would wait instead for a stronger Iraqi military.
Insurgents on Sunday continued their unrelenting campaign to demolish the fledgling Iraqi forces, killing 18 members of the national guard and one civilian with a suicide car bomb near the town of Balad, north of Baghdad.
"Our group believes in sharing power with all Iraqi factions," Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the Shiite cleric who heads the election slate of the powerful alliance, said at the news conference in Baghdad.
"We have rejected the idea of a sectarian regime and we believe that Iraq is for all Iraqis." Appearing with Hakim at the briefing was Ahmed Chalabi, a secular Shiite and former exile who ranks high in the alliance slate of candidates. Chalabi said he had just returned from Tehran, where he told Iranian leaders that they must not interfere with Iraq's elections.
The charge of secret Iranian influence over the alliance, which is led by two huge Shiite religious parties, has been voiced by the king of Jordan and some prominent Sunni politicians. These critics fear that as the Shiite religious groups assert power, Iraq could be steered toward an Iranian-style theocracy.
Hakim, like many Shiite leaders, lived in exile in Iran during the reign of Saddam Hussein. He heads the largest single Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and enjoys the blessing of Ayatollah Sistani, Iraq's most revered cleric.
Hakim and Sistani have repeatedly said they do not want clerical control of government, but suspicions run wild among Iraq's Sunnis, who are anxious about the prospect of losing their historic dominance in Iraq.
Chalabi said in an interview that he told senior Iranian officials, including President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, three things: "First, we do not want any interference in the Iraqi elections; second, the alliance is not about an Islamic republic or a theocratic state, it is about democracy and pluralism, and third, we will need American forces to be in Iraq for the foreseeable future." The Iranian leaders accepted these points, he said. "They understand that the situation in Iraq is very different from Iran," he said.
Chalabi and other alliance officials pledged that their coalition will not accept any election money from Iran.
Chalabi said he had traveled to Iran as head of his own party, the Iraqi National Congress. But his rare, prominent appearance beside Hakim suggested that he has gained a strong position within the Shiite coalition.
A onetime favorite of the Pentagon, Chalabi last year saw a rival exile, Ayad Allawi, take over as interim prime minister. He fell out of favor with the Americans, who asserted that he gave sensitive secrets to Iran. But he has cultivated ties with Shiite groups, and political experts here say that the mainstream clerics now taking center stage appear to value Chalabi's wide international contacts and political experience.
When American occupation forces will leave Iraq is one of the touchiest political issues. The Shiite clerics know that many of their supporters would like to see foreign troops leave sooner rather than later, but they also know that U.S. protection is needed to hold elections and create a Shiite-led government.
The car bomb that killed 18 national guardsmen riding in a bus near Balad came a day after the Iraqi affiliate of Al Qaeda, led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, released a video showing five guardsmen being executed. In a statement, the insurgents promised to "slaughter, slaughter, slaughter" Iraqis who served in the national guard or the police.
Scores of national guard and police officers have been killed, as insurgents seek to cripple the interim government and disrupt the Jan. 30 elections.
The U.S. Army said that in preparation for the elections, total American forces in Iraq are projected to rise this month to 150,000, from a previous total of 138,000.
An American soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad on Saturday, the army said. Two other soldiers were reported wounded in Baghdad on Sunday in a suicide attack by a car bomber.
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Axis of evil' top Bush's second-term agenda[Excerpt]
WASHINGTON (AP) The three countries President Bush called an "axis of evil" in his first term are at the top of his foreign policy to-do list in the second, along with a revitalized Mideast peace process and continued efforts to repair European alliances frayed by the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
War and reconstruction in Iraq are likely to continue to command more attention than any other international issues, at least for the first couple of years of Bush's new term.
"The first priority has got to be getting Iraq right," said Max Boot, a conservative expert on national security at the Council on Foreign Relations.
But in the short run, the Bush administration also must juggle a complicated response to the devastation from tsunamis across South Asia amid some international sniping that the rich United States is not doing enough.
The massive relief effort for which the United States increased its financial aid commitment Friday to $350 million is drawing attention away from preparations for elections scheduled for Jan. 30 in Iraq, but the distraction will probably be brief.
Bush pledged to give it plenty of attention, saying in his weekly radio address Saturday that "we join the world in feeling enormous sadness over a great human tragedy."
On Iraq, the administration will get a real and perceived boost in credibility if elections scheduled there for the end of this month come off well, Boot and others said. Another round of elections is planned for later in 2005.
The alternative protracted turmoil and violence that the United States cannot control would complicate U.S. foreign policy far beyond Iraq.
"The odds are in our favor, but defeat is not out of the question," Boot said. "I think it's 60-40 in our direction."
The announcement Thursday that Iraq's largest Sunni Muslim political party will not participate in the election won't help. The insurgency is believed to draw most of its support from Sunnis, who provided much of Saddam Hussein's former Baath Party membership.
Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he found the security situation in Iraq worse during a trip in December than on three previous visits since the invasion.
"We basically have no trouble achieving any military objective; we have considerable trouble securing it," Biden said.
American patience with the war will soon wear thin, and doing the reconstruction job correctly could mean U.S. troops stay in Iraq far longer than the public expects, he said. That leaves two options for Bush as he begins his second term, Biden said.
"We muddle through for the next year, declare victory after the second election and leave, and then there would be chaos," Biden said. Or, "level with the American people and tell them we're going to be muddling through for the next four years, or longer."
Bush seemed to acknowledge that Iraq remains Job No. 1 during a year-end news conference.
"We have a vital interest in the success of a free Iraq. You see, free societies do not export terror," Bush said.
Iran and North Korea, the other two countries in Bush's famous axis, loom nearly as large as Iraq. The United States suspects both countries are on their way to possessing nuclear weapons, or already have them. Both have repressive or authoritarian governments that could interfere with their neighbors or worse.
U.S. policy in all three nations is yoked to the continuing war on terrorism, since all three are potential training grounds or arsenals for terrorists.
Bush must decide how much to push Iran and North Korea diplomatically; how much to cooperate with European efforts to contain the nuclear threats; and how much to listen to hawks in his own government who may press for a limited airstrike against Iranian nuclear facilities.
At the same time, Bush may play a central role in the next phase of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. For now, Britain is taking that lead while all sides await the outcome of Jan. 9 elections to choose a successor to Yasser Arafat.
China will probably also be a major focus of U.S. economic and diplomatic efforts during Bush's next four years, and not just because of its vast size and resources. China could help contain or confront North Korea, said Patrick Cronin, a foreign policy analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Bush will also have a wary eye on Russia, the Cold War nemesis turned ally in the war on terror. The administration chose mostly to hold its tongue as Russian President Vladimir Putin consolidated political and economic power while muting independent media organizations, but may now adopt a harder line.
As prominent as Iraq appears in U.S. foreign policy now, it is useful to remember that priorities can change quickly. ...
"One single act of terrorism can completely change this agenda, one huge financial crisis, one assassination" of an ally, Cronin said. "It's incredible how you can go in with one agenda and come out with another. "
What about freedom and the Iranian people?
"Branding Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as the "axis of evil" was the right thing to do. But saying that and then not having a policy, much less implementing it, toward Iran is worse than not having said it in the first place. Since then it seems that Bush has learned not to set such bold markers. That's the wrong lesson; we need more markers and more follow-up."
Could the Bush Administration also start listening and paying more attention to what Dr. Michael Ledeen, the American people, and Iranian activists have been saying for years now about the regime in Iran and the great potential for freedom in the region?
DoctorZin Note: Thanks for the plug...
Dec. 30, 2004 12:01 | Updated Dec. 31, 2004 10:18
Interesting Times: Bush's lost year
By SAUL SINGER
When the history of the war against Islam's jihadi branch is written, 2004 will have to go down as a lost year. In 2002, the Taliban fell. In April 2003, the Iraqi regime was toppled and in December the fugitive Saddam was captured in a foxhole.
The year was not a total loss. Progress toward building a democracy in Iraq has been greater than it looks. A Shi'ite coalition is expected to sweep the elections in January, which will most likely accelerate the process of Iraqis taking control of their own security, leading to a considerably rosier picture one year from now.
Yet even if we assume that progress in Iraq is steady, and that Iran and Syria fail to recapture Iraq into their own column, the fact remains that the jihadis have created enough of a mess to stall the US momentum toward dismantling the terror network.
Was the relative paralysis of 2004 the result of election jitters, or does it reflect burn-out that will continue deep into Bush's second term?
I would like to bet that Bush has not forgotten his own post-9/11 realization that the only way to keep America safe is to keep on the offensive, a conclusion that should have been reinforced by the experience of 2004.
Let's take Bush at his word and assume that he plans to spend the political capital he has gained. If so, how should Bush regain his stride in 2005?
First, by bringing back moral clarity. Branding Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as the "axis of evil" was the right thing to do. But saying that and then not having a policy, much less implementing it, toward Iran is worse than not having said it in the first place. Since then it seems that Bush has learned not to set such bold markers. That's the wrong lesson; we need more markers and more follow-up.
The first marker we need is what it means to win this war. The 9/11 Commission Report said the president should tell the American people that he cannot "promise that a catastrophic attack like 9/11 will not happen again," but that they are "entitled to expect their government to do its very best."
BUSH SHOULD do better than that. It's true that he can't guarantee there will be no more 9/11s before this war has been won. But he can and should set out a vision of a world in which no nation state deliberately supports terrorism. Once that world is achieved, the jihadis may still be able to inflict damage as individuals, but they will have lost their global war.
John Kerry unfortunately discredited the distinction between a war and a "nuisance," but it is a real one. Kerry had the right idea, but no way to get there, since he rejected the emphasis on confronting states. Bush has the way to get there, but has to rejuvenate it by returning to the bold clarity of 2002.
The objective of eliminating state-supported terrorism is concrete, much more so than rhetoric about defeating terrorism in general. As far as we know, neither Iran, Syria or Saudi Arabia are under specific threats from the United States to end the support for terrorism coming from within their borders or face specific consequences for their regimes. Whether such ultimatums should be delivered publicly or privately is a fair tactical question; but they should be delivered, and backed by plans to enforce them.
Second, Bush has to show that the 82nd Airborne is not the only arrow in his quiver. Each terror state has to be made to decide: Can it hang onto its old way of doing things, or should it go the way of Libya, and renounce WMD and terror? But if the only choice the US has is to invade or not, it is not surprising that rogue states are not lining up to cry uncle.
Yet invasion or bust is not America's real choice. Bush has plenty of underutilized and underestimated levers. Imagine if the US started talking about democracy in Saudi Arabia. Or if Bush held a press conference with Iranian dissidents. Or if the US proposed sanctions against Iran and Syria in the UN Security Council.
Such measures would not be as easily deflected by France and Germany as it may seem. Europe may not go as far as the US demands, but it will have to come up with an alternative that is tougher than its current see-no-evil policy. This is exactly what happened when Bush called for a new Palestinian government in June 2002; Europe did not jump on board, but the idea of a Palestinian prime minister was born and its relationship with Yasser Arafat was never the same.
The year 2004 was a year of lying low; 2005 had better be a year of leadership. Iran will either hold or cancel a presidential election this year, which will be the perfect opportunity for the newly-unified opposition to pull a Ukraine: i.e. stay in the streets until the government steps down.
Let Europe say that Ukrainians deserve democracy more than Iranians. Support the people, they will come.
- Editorial Page Editor Saul Singer is author of the book, Confronting Jihad: Israel's Struggle & the World After 9/11
Bush Is Urged to Quickly Outline Foreign Policy Goals[Excerpt]
But President May Encounter Hurdles Finding Resources for Outreach in Second Term, Experts Say
By Robin WrightWashington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 2, 2005; Page A21
Over the next two months, President Bush faces a daunting array of challenges around the world -- complicated by Asia's tsunami disaster -- that will be pivotal in determining how much momentum he can generate for the intensely ambitious agenda of his second term. Nothing less than the Bush doctrine is at stake, say U.S. officials and foreign policy analysts.
With the added burden of tsunami relief, however, the problem is no longer just figuring out how to achieve lofty political and diplomatic goals. It is also coming up with the resources to pay for U.S. commitments abroad, U.S. officials and foreign policy analysts say.
"There's no question that the Bush administration is going to be dealing with an immense budget challenge," said Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. "The pressure from our budget difficulties will allow the Bush administration very limited margins in both foreign and domestic policy. What to do about it is one of the great challenges of our time."
The new $350 million pledge for tsunami relief will eat up virtually the entire U.S. disaster relief budget, and the president has already said further U.S. contributions will be needed. The administration plans to go to Congress to ask for more money to fund aid -- for the tsunami and other disasters this year -- and U.S. military and reconstruction programs in Iraq, U.S. officials say.
For Iraq, the administration will request $70 billion to $80 billion in emergency spending from Congress next month, U.S. officials say.
"We can't have a war that is at this point unwinnable and costs soaring, and a military that desperately needs more support. That means a net rise in the defense budget, but we can't do that and have a tax cut and reform Social Security -- and not have us pay a price for it," said Geoffrey Kemp, a Reagan administration official now at the Nixon Center.
Because of the crushing pace of events in the Middle East, Russia, Europe and Asia, Bush also cannot afford to wait until his inauguration in three weeks to set the tone for the next year, Hagel said.
Bush returns today from a family holiday on his Texas ranch to deal with elections next Sunday for a new Palestinian leader and, pending violence that forces a last-minute delay, for Iraq's first democratic government on Jan. 30. He heads to meetings in Europe next month with Russian President Vladimir Putin and also French and German leaders -- with whom this White House has had chilly relations because of the Iraq war.
"The Mideast elections and Bush's trips to Europe will set the tone and produce the momentum that will carry us through later in the administration," a senior State Department official said. The two Middle East elections will heavily influence whether Bush can make headway in the world's most volatile region, first in reviving the moribund Arab-Israeli peace process, and then in stabilizing Iraq so the United States can begin planning an exit strategy.
The Palestinian election will be "an impetus for reform and an example of what the second term is all about -- building democratic progress as the fundamental principle that the U.S. can organize the [Arab and Islamic] world around in the years to come," the official said.
But to ensure that the election jump-starts peace efforts, Bush will finally have to "flesh out what he means by a Palestinian state" to provide the new Palestinian leader "with something to work with to face down terrorism and compromise at the negotiating table," said Richard N. Haass, Council on Foreign Relations president and former head of State Department policy planning for the Bush administration. Bush will also have to work with the Israelis to ensure their actions are not limited to the impending withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
In Iraq, the process that begins with elections could vindicate or undermine the Bush doctrine, analysts say. "We could be on the cusp of an historic moment in the Middle East where you really do have a breaking of the cycle of dictatorship, radicalism and terrorism and the beginning of a move toward sustainable, reasonable regimes in the region," said William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard and chief of staff to former vice president Dan Quayle.
"If things go badly, it's a whole different story and then we'll need to rethink military strategy and troop levels and do whatever it takes. But then we end up being preoccupied for the next year with Iraq -- and it gets harder to make progress on other fronts."
Although Iraq and the United Nations are organizing the election, the United States will play a critical role in influencing the turnout over the next month -- by U.S. troops confronting the insurgency and by the White House rallying friendly governments led by Sunni Muslims to encourage Iraq's minority Sunnis to be candidates and voters.
Bush also has to try to sustain a semblance of a military coalition, with several countries withdrawing or downsizing. Ukraine said last week that it will cut its 1,400-man contingent by two-thirds in April and withdraw by year's end.
During his trip to Europe, the president faces the challenge of winning back support strained by the Iraq war -- for joint diplomatic efforts and, more broadly, for his doctrine of preemptive military action, analysts say. If the president is unable to win acceptance of his doctrine, "the friction it generates will ultimately defeat it, even if its enemies do not," writes Yale's John Lewis Gaddis in the January-February issue of Foreign Affairs magazine.
European leaders are eager for collaboration on Middle East peace, but Bush has a long way to go to undo their skepticism about Iraq and the Bush doctrine, U.S. and European analysts say.
"Bush has less global flexibility post-Iraq, broad resistance to U.S. leadership initiatives . . . diminished U.S. influence in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, demonstrable limits on assembling 'coalitions of the willing,' stretched U.S. forces and skepticism about America's veracity and competence," wrote a team of former diplomats and policymakers assembled by Georgetown's Institute for the Study of Diplomacy and chaired by former defense and energy secretary James R. Schlesinger.
Bush will also meet Putin to try to sort out the increasingly complicated U.S. ties with Russia, where democracy is rapidly sliding.
IRAN PRODUCES CLADDING FOR URANIUM RODS
NICOSIA [MENL] -- Iran has achieved the capability to produce a key component for its nuclear program.
Iranian officials said Teheran has acquired the expertise to produce cladding for uranium rods. They said this has included Iranian capability to produce zironium for fuel cladding in nuclear installations. The cladding produces an alloy jacket around the uranium rods to prevent the escape of fission products.
Mansour Habashizadeh, director of Isfahan's Research and Fuel Production Center, asserted that Iranian scientists could produce cladding for uranium rods, a process that would ensure the operations of nuclear reactors. Habashizadeh said zirconium would be used as the casing for nuclear fuel in reactors.
In remarks reported by Iranian state television, Habashizadeh said Iranian scientists could produce 99.99 percent pure manganese, a metallic element used to strengthen steel alloys. Neither Habashizadeh nor the television report elaborated.
Powell predicts Shiite victoryFrom correspondents in Washington
January 3, 2005
US Secretary of State Colin Powell on Sunday predicted a Shiite victory in the Iraqi elections, but moved to assuage concerns it could bolster Iranian influence inside the country.
The statement came amid growing indications that Sunni Arabs will either boycott the January 30 polls or will be prevented from taking part in it due to a spreading insurgency.
"The new government that comes into place in Baghdad, the transitional national assembly, will be majority Shiite," Mr Powell said on NBC's Meet the Pressshow. "That's the majority of the population."
Shiite Muslims make up more than 60 per cent of Iraq's population, concentrated mostly in southern and central parts of the country. Sunni Arabs, who live in central and western provinces, comprise about 20 per cent of all Iraqis.
Former Iraqi foreign minister Adnan Pachachi, who now heads the Sunni-dominated Iraqi Independent Democrats Party, yesterday called for the vote to be delayed, saying elections under present circumstances "will leave a large segment of the population disenfranchised and many regions underrepresented".
But in a round of television interviews Mr Powell made clear the vote for the Iraqi National Assembly would go forward as scheduled, and insisted that a legislature dominated by Iraqi Shiites should not be cause for concern.
Mr Powell said he was confident the transitional administrative law, under which elections are being held, would protect the rights of the Kurdish and Sunni Arab minorities as well as other residents of Iraq.
As a result, he said Iraq was likely to end up with a government "that may be majority Shia but respects the rights of others".
Mr Powell also said he felt it was unlikely Shiite control of Iraq's future government would mean it would be run from Tehran.
"My sensing right now is that, even though there may be Iranian influence - and Iranians will try to influence this, of course - there is sufficient difference and past serious disagreements and conflicts between Iranian and Iraqi Shias," he said.
Given that, the Iraqi Shiites "will stand on their own two feet", he concluded.
Mr Powell did not spell out reasons for his confidence, but US and other Western diplomats had been in contact with aides to the most prominent Iraqi Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, and other Shiite officials to discuss the elections and future political arrangements, officials said.
Although seen as a moderate influence in Iraqi politics, Sistani was born in Iran and studied theology in the central Iranian city of Qom, the cradle of Islamic fundamentalism.
Shiite political leader Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, whose Unified Iraqi Alliance is expected to do well in the polls, assured visiting US senators last month that Iran would not be allowed to meddle in Iraqi affairs.
But he is closely tied to the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, an opposition group formed in Iran in 1982 and backed by it for many years.
US Senator Joseph Lieberman, who talked to al-Hakim in Baghdad, said he expected victorious Shiites to form a unity government that would include not only Kurds, but also leaders of the Sunni community.
However, Mr Pachachi said delaying the election "for a few months" could help avoid a situation, in which the legitimacy of the vote would be questioned.
Jordan will not remain silent if Iran intervenes in IraqiKuwait News Agency - World News
Jan 1, 2005
AMMAN -- Jordanian Foreign Minister Hani Al-Mulqi on Saturday said his country would not remain silent in case of any Iranian intervention in Iraq's internal affairs.
In an interview with Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), Al-Mulqi said however that his country welcomed Iran's participation in the meeting of Iraq's neighboring states, due in Amman on January 6.
An Iranian official source had said Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi might boycott the meeting, due to statements in the Washington Post quoting the Jordanian King Abdullah II as saying that Tehran has been intervening in Iraq's internal affairs and has the ambition of creating a Shiite crescent extending from Iran, to Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.
Asked whether Iran has confirmed its participation in the meeting, Al-Mulqi said he tried to talks to his Iranian counterpart twice about the meeting, but the latter has not answered the call.
Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Turkey and Egypt usually take part in the meetings of Iraq's neighbors.
Asked about the conference due in London to discuss the Palestinian issue, Al-Mulqi said his country welcomes participation in the meeting if the Palestinian leadership is agreed
FM to boycott Amman conference on Iraq after king accuses Iran of interferenceAP - World News
Jan 2, 2005
TEHRAN - Iran said Sunday it was downgrading its representation at a ministerial meeting of Iraq's neighbors in Jordan this week, apparently to protest accusations by Jordan's monarch that Iran was trying to influence the upcoming Iraqi elections.
King Abdullah charged last month that more than 1 million Iranians had entered Iraq, many to vote in Jan. 30 elections, and said they were being encouraged by the Iranian government.
Iran rejected Abdullah's comments as an insult to the Iraqi people and said they showed the Jordanian king's ``ignorance'' of the situation in Iraq.
Iran Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi will not attend the Amman meeting but will send a lower-level official, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said.
Jordan has extended invitations to the foreign ministers of Iraq's neighbors Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Syria. Representatives from Iraq, Egypt and Bahrain also were invited, the Jordanian Foreign Ministry said last week.
Last month, Iran hosted a meeting of interior ministers and security officials from Iraq's neighbors and Egypt to discuss the infiltration of terrorists into Iraq. The Jordanian interior minister attended the meeting, which ended with a commitment to boost cooperation on border control and to combat the transfer of money that finances terrorist activities.
Most of the Arab countries neighboring Iraq have Sunni majority populations and fear that a Shiite-dominated regime in Iraq would both embolden their own Shiite communities and lead to Iraq's moving closer to mainly Shiite Iran or adopting its Islamic state.
Shiites make up the majority of the population in Iraq and Shiite candidates are expected to fare well in the Jan. 30 elections to select a constitutional assembly. Although Shiites have long constituted the majority in Iraq, they were held down by deposed dictator Saddam Hussein, who favored the minority Sunnis.
THE WAY THINGS REALLY WORK: Americas Options Against IranJanuary 2, 2005: Americas Options Against Iran. Irans nuclear program is a matter of concern. The real question, of course, is what can the United States do about it?
The options are negotiate, launch aerial attacks to take out the nuclear program, or to enact regime change through one means or another. Negotiation is not exactly an option Iran has pretty much ruled out any deal that would limit its nuclear weapons program. There is also the fact that the Israelis will not patiently sit by while the Iranians use negotiations to buy time to continue their nuclear weapons development. These two factors leave only the option of stopping the program through air attacks or regime change.
Air attacks have huge problems. Iran has a widely-dispersed nuclear program. There are at least 23 cities (plus uranium mines) in this program. However, targeting does not just involve the nuclear program. Iran also has a huge missile program. There are 40 cities or islands involved with Irans missile program, which also would need to be hit so as to limit or preferably eliminate delivery options for the Iranians. This means at least 63 sites have to be hit in order to guarantee a major disruption to the Iranian nuclear program and its delivery system.
The type of air attack involved would probably be on the order of the first day of the 1991 Gulf War, in which a devastating air attack was launched over a months time. Even that devastating attack was not enough to prevent Saddam Hussein from launching missiles against Israel and Saudi Arabia in the 1991 Gulf War. In 2003, special operations forces were able to prevent a large number of launches, but their use is a huge step forward. Iran has some modern planes (particularly the MiG-29 Fulcrum), but the majority of their aircraft are old F-14As, F-4 Phantoms, J-7 Fishbeds, and F-5E Tigers. An air campaign would be able to hit the sites, and degrade the program. Iranian response would unpredictable, though.
The best option to guarantee a halt to Irans nuclear weapons program is to overthrow the imams. There are two ways this can be done; sponsoring the domestic opposition (which has significant popular support), or through an invasion. The former option has worked in the past. In the 1980s, the CIA was able to keep the Polish Solidarity movement functioning as an opposition movement despite martial law and opposition by the Polish and Russian secret police. That said, the effort took eight years, and the CIA back then was run by William Casey. Todays CIA has become more of a bureaucracy, and much more risk-averse. The other problem with such an effort is that the situation in Iran is markedly different in two respects: Poland did not have a lengthy history of sponsoring terrorist attacks, nor was that country trying to develop nuclear weapons.
The other option is an invasion. This is probably the touchiest option. Currently, Iraq involves 17 American brigades and three division headquarters. Afghanistan involves another division headquarters and three brigades. The 2nd Infantry Division is pretty much committed to defending the Republic of Korea. Two more divisions are carrying out peacekeeping in various parts of the world (the Sinai, Kosovo, and Bosnia being major deployments on that front). This is seven out of 24 divisions available (12 active, 8 National Guard, 3 active Marine, one reserve Marine). The Army is arguably stretched thin, since some divisions will have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan. Until the situation in Iraq stabilizes or additional divisions are formed up, that will remain the case. Iraq has become an insurgency, and those take time (usually five to ten years). Iran would, in all likelihood, develop a similar insurgency. That will further tie down American forces in the region.
The options against Iran are limited, in large part due to the peace dividend of the 1990s, in which eight active-duty and four National Guard divisions were disbanded. What is also not mentioned is that the divisions at the end of the Cold War had more troops per division than they do now. The Air Force and Navy suffered similar cuts (the navy lost over 200 ships, including three carrier battle groups, and the Air Force lost a dozen fighter wings and retired the entire force of FB-111A and B-52G bombers). The peace dividend is proving to be very costly three years into the war on terrorism. Harold C. Hutchison (email@example.com)
Khamenei Change?By Mohammad Parvin
FrontPageMagazine.com | January 3, 2005
The Committee on the Present Danger (CPD), led by Senator Jon Kyl (R), Senator Joseph Leiberman (D), George Shultz, and James Woolsey has issued a policy paper titled, Iran A New Approach, and have targeted Ali Khamenei as the sole cause of all the oppression and the only obstacle to peace and democracy in Iran. The policy paper states that:
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei of Iran presents a fundamental threat to peace, for all signs point to his determination to develop nuclear weapons. Irans people, on the other hand, are our allies. They want to free themselves from Khameneis oppression and they want Iran to join the community of prosperous, peaceful democracies.
What is notable in this policy paper is that while there are twenty-nine references to Khamenei and Khameneis regime, there is not one single reference to Islamic Republic or Islamic Regime. The Islamic term has been used twice in reference to Palestine and Guard Corps. This observation by itself should tell us enough about the nature of this policy paper.
The policy paper considers leading religious and reformist figures who have spoken against Khameneis rule and his unwillingness to establish normal relations with the United States as U.S. allies in dealing with Khamenei. It also symbolizes the elections of 1997 and 2001 as expression of the Iranian people for democracy and change.
The paper emphasizes the need of a fresh approach as a new American policy that includes:
- Reopening the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
- Designating the highest-ranking officials as the key person in the U.S. new policy toward Iran.
- Making Khamenei understand that if he does not comply with legitimate international requirements to keep his nuclear weapons development program suspended, the U.S. and others reserve the right to take out or cripple his nuclear capabilities.
- Conducting dialogue with Khamenei about his return to the mosque through Shi'a clerics with high religious standing. They should approach Khamenei--initially in private, to urge that he abdicate his power, and to make clear that they will go public with this demand if he resists.
- Supporting Iranian Democrats and dissidents to make the breakthrough to democracy and remove Khamenei from power.
- Making clear that although the U.S. authorities meet with representatives of the Khamenei regime, they consider these to be illegitimate!
- Making cultural, academic, and professional exchanges and programs an integral part of the U.S. efforts to assist Iranians in the democratization of their country.
- Developing the United States relations with the military and various services in Iran to isolate Khamenei who relies on hired paramilitary thugs.
- Deploying U.S. forces in the region, the CIA, FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency and others on works ranging from cross-border threats, terrorism and drugs.
- Imposing smart sanctions that target the Supreme Leader and his close circle of support, so that the people do not see the sanctions as harmful to them.
- Creating a good leverage for the U.S. by threatening that Khamenei be tired in an international tribunal to try Khamenei.
- Funding Farsi-language Radio Farda and VOA television, and other Persian Radio and TV stations through a $10 million annual budget.
- Conducting dialogue with the Iranian officials to discuss issues such as human rights, terrorism, nuclear weapons, and regional stability.
The committee concludes by recommending a peaceful but forceful strategy to engage with the Iranian people to remove the threat Khamenei presents.
The proposed policy by the committee is not anything close to what the freedom-loving Iranians are struggling for. Nothing short of a secular democracy is acceptable in Iran. So, Khamenei change is not going to stick! The committee seems to be aiming only in opening the U.S. Embassy and normalizing relations in spite of its rhetorical harsh stand against Khamenei. Reducing the suppressing machine of the Islamic Regime to the Khamenei regime is either due to the ignorance of the committee or their lack of respect for the wish and desire of Iranians for a secular democracy.
Does this policy have a chance to be adopted as the formal policy of the U.S. with respect to the Islamic Regime? Unfortunately, there are evidences to indicate that the U.S. government is warming up to embrace a similar policy.
As reported by Financial Times (12/27/04), President George W. Bush gave the EU's policy of engagement his strongest support yet and even seemed to criticize his own administration's more confrontational approach.
"We don't have much leverage with the Iranians right now," President Bush said at a press conference last week, arguing that the U.S. instead had to rely on the contacts that had been made by the Europeans.
"We're relying upon others, because we've sanctioned ourselves out of influence with Iran, to send a message that... we expect them to listen to those voices," he said. "We're a part of the universal acclaim [for the EU approach]. This is how we're dealing with the issue," President Bush said. "And so diplomacy must be the first choice."
The policy paper is doing just that. It first creates an illusional regime called Khameine Regime and then proposes to open the embassy and complete normalization with the Islamic Regime.
To prove it otherwise, they should adopt the following policy to allow the Iranian struggle for a secular democracy (and not water down Islamic Regime without Khamenei) to prevail. This policy should include the followings:
· Acknowledging the fact that the freedom-loving Iranians want a secular democratic regime and are against the entirety of the Islamic Regime, its constitution, and any form or shape of the interference of religion in state.
· Imposing a smart sanction against the Islamic Regime of Iran and not only Khamenei Regime. This sanction should be a real one and not of the type that would exclude 200 American companies including Halliburton and General Electric.
· Reducing the diplomatic relations with the Islamic Regime to the lowest possible level.
The task of changing the regime of terror in Iran and establishing a secular democratic government undertaken by freedom-loving Iranian people is difficult, but Iranians are capable of defeating their enemy, the Islamic Regime, if it is not supported by the interest-driven industrial power. If the U.S. wants to show support for the Iranians, it should respect the above three wishes. It is easy and comes at no cost to the American people.
Mohammad Parvin is an adjunct professor at the California State University and director of the Mission for Establishment of Human Rights in Iran (MEHR) - http://mehr.org
"They also said that if their coalition gains power it would not demand the immediate withdrawal of American troops, but would wait instead for a stronger Iraqi military."
that's a pretty smart approach on the part of the Shiite-heads. A sort of carrot/stick.
"On the one hand, we don't plan to make a Shiite majority rule, theocracy like Iran; but the US military is going to remain here as long as you Sunni a-holes keep blowing up Shiites. And once the US military is gone, and we have a stronger army, we'll be taking care of you once and for all, since you continued your mass-murder campaign, after having oppressed us for decades before and during Saddam Hussein's regime."
If the US has to keep troops there, it will only be because of the Sunni terrorists. The longer the US has to stay, the more established and more Shiite will the gov't apparatuses become.
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