Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - January 17, 2005 - US Special forces 'on the ground' in Iran
Posted on 01/16/2005 10:02:49 PM PST by DoctorZIn
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US Special forces 'on the ground' in IranIan Traynor
Monday January 17, 2005
American special forces have been on the ground inside Iran scouting for US air strike targets for suspected nuclear weapons sites, according to the renowned US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh.
In an article in the latest edition of the New Yorker, Mr Hersh, who was the first to uncover the US human rights abuses against Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison last year, reports that Pakistan, under a deal with Washington, has been supplying information on Iranian military sites and on its nuclear programme, enabling the US to conduct covert ground and air reconnaissance of Iranian targets should the escalating row over Iran's nuclear ambitions come to a head.
Acting on information from Pakistani scientists knowledgeable about Iran's nuclear programme, Mr Hersh reported, US commandos have penetrated territory in eastern Iran seeking to pinpoint underground installations suspected of being nuclear weapons sites.
The report in the New Yorker said the Americans have been conducting secret reconnaissance missions over and inside Iran since last summer with a view to identifying up to 40 possible targets for striking should the dispute over Iran turn violent.
"This is a war against terrorism and Iraq is just one campaign," Mr Hersh quotes one former US intelligence official as saying. "The Bush administration is looking at this as a huge war zone. Next we're going to have the Iranian campaign."
Another unnamed source described as a consultant close to the Pentagon said: "The civilians in the Pentagon want to go into Iran and destroy as much of the military infrastructure as possible."
That appeared to be a reference to noted "neocons" in Washington such as the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, and others. Arguments about Iran's suspected nuclear programme have been raging for the past 20 months since it was discovered that Tehran had been conducting secret nuclear activities for 18 years in violation of its international treaty obligations.
The International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna has had inspectors in the country throughout the period. While finding much that is suspect, the inspectors have not found any proof of a clandestine nuclear bomb programme.
The IAEA chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, has infuriated the Bush administration over his even-handed dealings with Iran, while the Europeans - Britain, Germany, and France - have been pursuing a parallel diplomatic track that has won grudging agreement from Tehran to freeze its uranium enrichment activities.
Mr Hersh reported that the US campaign against Iran is being assisted by Pakistan under a deal that sees Islamabad provide information in return for reducing the pressure on Abdul Qadeer Khan, the disgraced metallurgist who is the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb and who was revealed last year to be the head of the biggest international nuclear smuggling racket uncovered.
Since confessing his activities and being placed under house arrest almost a year ago, Khan has been incommunicado. Despite heavy pressure, IAEA inspectors and US officials, according to knowledgeable diplomats, have been denied all access to the man who supplied Iran, Libya and North Korea with nuclear equipment and expertise.
After months of being denied permission, IAEA inspectors last week gained access to the Parchin military facilities outside Tehran which the Americans contend has been a centre for Iranian attempts to refine missile technology for nuclear purposes, although experts agree that Iran does not yet have a nuclear capability.
A White House aide, Dan Bartlett, sought to weaken the claims in the New Yorker. The report, he told CNN, was "riddled with inaccuracies." he added: "I don't believe that some of the conclusions he's drawing are based on fact."
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Ping... You might find something interesting in this story.
Calling Hersh a "investigative journalist" is almost as stupid as calling him "renowned".
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Iran says samples from military site will prove nuclear program is peaceful
11:44 PM EST Jan 16
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - The government said Sunday that environmental samples taken from a military complex this weekend by United Nations nuclear inspectors will prove that the country's atomic program is for peaceful purposes and not making weapons, as the United States alleges.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency took samples from landscaped areas of the huge Parchin complex, which Washington believes may be involved in nuclear weapons research.
"We know what the result will be. Since we have never done any illegal activity, definitely the result will prove our declarations," Asefi told reporters.
The IAEA had been pressing Tehran for months to be allowed to inspect the Tehran-area complex, long used to research ammunition, missiles and high explosives.
The United States has alleged that the Iranians may be testing high-explosive components for a nuclear weapon, using an inert core of depleted uranium at Parchin as a dry run for how a bomb with fissile material would work.
President George W. Bush's communications director, Dan Bartlett, told CNN's Late Edition that the White House wanted to resolve Iran's nuclear file through negotiation, primarily by relying on European allies and the IAEA. But he added that Bush has not ruled out resolving the issue militarily.
"No president at any juncture in history has ever taken military options off the table. That is known. But what President Bush has shown (is) that he believes we can emphasize the diplomatic initiatives that are underway right now," Bartlett said Sunday.
I don't believe anything Seymour Hersh says.
Iraqi insurgents send action report to Iran's military chiefsSun. 16 Jan 2005
Tehran, Jan. 16 Sources within the Iranian opposition have confirmed to Iran Focus that they were able to obtain a classified document from within Iran's intelligence and security apparatus showing Iran's connections to insurgents carrying out attacks in Iraq.
The document is a report written by an Iraqi group mounting armed attacks on Iraqi civilians and U.S. and Coalition troops in Iraq. It was addressed to Revolutionary Guards Brigadier General Obeydavi, a senior commander of the Qods (Jerusalem) Force.
The Qods Force is the extra-territorial arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and oversees the Iranian regime's external military activities in Iraq.
The report described how attacks were "successfully carried out". It acknowledged that the Iraqi group was primarily mounting attacks in Baghdad and provinces to its west.
"We have presently reduced the number of attacks in southern Iraq, but operations still continue in Baghdad and in Ramadi, Falluja, Salahoddin, and Diyala", the report said.
"Consequent to the objectives defined, there is stability in southern Iraq, but there are relentless operations in the other provinces mentioned", it added.
The report goes on to say, "The number of personnel involved in each operation differs according to the requirements and the importance of the target. We will inform you of any operation if more than 50 people are required to take part. Attacks are being conducted on the occupation forces, forces of the former regime and on any other force which is deemed necessary".
The report takes responsibility for a number of serious bombing campaigns carried out in recent months. It also confirms cooperation among insurgent forces. It cites a December 21 document which had written, "Our latest operation was carried out in western Baghdad. At present we have 120 battlefield personnel of which 15 to 20 have mounted successful operations. A number of our personnel were arrested".
That report mentioned that the fatwa calling for the group to carry out operation in Iraq was issued in Iran's holy city of Qom.
Conventions wisdom is useless vs. jihadists[Excerpt]
January 16, 2005
BY MARK STEYN SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
A third of a decade after 9/11, it's hard trying to maintain a war footing against a nebulous enemy. At the Senate confirmation hearings for the new attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, Democrats seem to have decided that the very concept of an "enemy" is dubious, cheerfully cranking up their sanctimonious preening for CNN and berating Judge Gonzales for declining to extend the Geneva Conventions to captured terrorists.
To be covered by Geneva, a combatant has to have (a) a commander who is responsible for his subordinates; (b) formal recognizable military insignia; (c) weapons that are carried openly, and (d) an adherence to the laws and customs of warfare.
Islamist terrorists meet none of these conditions, and extending the protection of the conventions to them would simply announce to the world that, from a legal point of view, there's no downside to embracing terror. Blow up a nightclub or a schoolhouse or a pizza parlor and you'll still get full POW status.
Ah-ha, say the Dems. But, if we don't treat our prisoners with respect, America's brave men and women in uniform will pay the price when they fall into enemy hands.
Hello? Does anyone in the Democratic Party still read the newspapers, other than the fawning editorials of the New York Times?
If an American falls into the hands of the enemy, he's going to be all over the Internet having his head hacked off for a recruitment video or dragged through the streets and strung up on a bridge in Fallujah.
The military historian Sir Max Hastings made the point last week that, in an age of overwhelming U.S. military supremacy, for her enemies asymmetric warfare -- i.e., terrorism -- is the only logical way to go. But the urge by the Democrats and the media to raise them to the level of lawful combatants only makes things even more asymmetric: They can decapitate us while screaming "Allahu Akbar!" and clean up on the DVD sales, while we're only supposed to ask name, rank and serial number, two of which they don't have and they're flexible on the first. ...
In late summer, three hostages were seized in Iraq -- the two Americans were murdered immediately, but the third, a Briton, was kept alive while his jailers very adroitly played off U.K. Muslim lobby groups and public opinion against her majesty's government. As I wrote back then, "the feelers put out by the foreign office to Ken Bigley's captors . . . confer respectability on the head-hackers and increase the likelihood that Britons and other foreigners will be seized and decapitated in the future. The United Kingdom, like the government of the Philippines when it allegedly paid a ransom for the release of its Iraqi hostages, is thus assisting in the mainstreaming of jihad."
I was proved right a few days later when poor Margaret Hassan, an aid worker who'd lived in Baghdad for decades and was married to an Iraqi, was seized -- in the hopes of extracting further gestures of deference from British officials -- and then, like Bigley, murdered.
It's depressing that after three years the Democrats seem incapable of any kind of characterization of the enemy that approximates to reality. But it's not surprising. In the landscape of modern progressive pieties, there are no enemies, just friends whose grievances we haven't yet accommodated.
But out there in the field a good glimpse of how things really work was provided by Moayad Ahmed Yasseen, who was captured in Fallujah a couple of months ago and turned out to be full of interesting information. He was a colonel in Saddam's Iraqi Army, and after the fall of the Baathists last spring was sent to Tehran, where he says he was received by Iran's head honcho, Ayatollah Khamenei, and various Iranian intelligence officials.
He returned with cash, weapons and car bombs for his new outfit -- something called Jaish Muhammad, which means Muhammad's Army. It's closely allied with Abu al-Zarqawi, insurgent numero uno in the new Iraq. A few weeks later, Saddam ordered Yasseen west, for a meeting with Syrian intelligence to procure more money and weapons from Boy Assad.
So who's the enemy there? Take your pick. Saddamite remnants, Iranian theocrats, Syrian Baathists, ad hoc insurgents, a Jordanian terrorist commander; states, non-state actors, Islamic fundamentalists, secular dictatorships, wily opportunists -- you name it, Col. Yasseen's plugged into it. And, even though Osama has anointed Zarqawi as his viceroy in occupied Iraq (somewhat post facto), it seems unlikely he or anybody close to him in the luxury caves with en suite latrine has anything to do with what's going on in the Sunni Triangle, or Saudi Arabia, or Indonesia, or anywhere else.
We were encouraged after Afghanistan to see al-Qaida as less of a hierarchical structure and more of a loose franchise operation. But it seems doubtful that these days it's anything at all -- except perhaps a meaningless media shorthand for a network of diffused autonomous Islamist groups operating from Central America to the Balkans to Southeast Asia, not to mention gazillions of British, Canadian and European Muslims who graduated from the Afghan terror camps and either returned home to await instructions or sallied forth to join the jihad in Chechnya, Gaza and Bali, plus various disaffected individuals who just got the Islamist fever, like the July 4th shooter at Los Angeles Airport and, indeed, the Washington sniper duo, the younger of whom liked to draw pictures of planes crashing into skyscrapers, etc.
How do you deal with an enemy that encompasses everything from the U.N.'s favorite dictatorships to free-lance nutters? You need methods that are as diverse as they are. You need to be smart and at times improvisational.
You don't do what the senators puffing all over the TV want to do: Box in the United States and give free Geneva upgrades to terrorists.
Iraqi people will overcome the forces of terror, says man tipped to win pollBy Jim Muir in Baghdad
Outside the office of Abdul al-Aziz al-Hakim, formerly the home of Tariq Aziz, one of the best-known faces of Saddam Hussein's regime, the pneumatic drills were clattering away, preparing fortifications to protect the man widely tipped to win the Jan 30 elections.
Scarred buildings nearby and a scorched palm tree bear witness to the huge car bomb that went off at the gate last Dec 27, killing 15 of his guards.
Inside, symbols of death and Shia martyrdom are everywhere. On the wall of Mr Hakim's reception room is a large portrait of his brother, Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer al-Hakim. He was blown to smithereens with 80 other people by an even bigger bomb in the Shia holy city of Najaf in August 2003, only three months after his triumphal return from exile in Iran.
On all the coffee tables there are large bouquets of flowers brought by well-wishers to congratulate Mr Hakim on surviving the attempt on his life.
A card on one reads: "May God preserve you as an asset for the Iraqis - Ali Radi al-Haidari, governor of Baghdad." Mr Haidari was shot dead on his way to work two days after his visit.
Responsibility for the death of the governor and for the attempt on Mr Hakim's life was claimed by the al-Qa'eda-linked Sunni militant group headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He promised to redouble his efforts to kill the "apostate" Shia leader.
Yesterday Mr Hakim dismissed the insurgents as terrorist gangs, Islamic fanatics and Saddam remnants whose mission was doomed to fail.
"What we say to these groups is that their operations will not deflect us from our path," he told The Telegraph. "We will stand by the Iraqi people. The movement of the people does not depend on one person, or two, or 10, or 1,000. The Iraqis will cut these people down to size."
Mr Hakim, who is the first candidate of the United Iraqi Alliance, which groups all the main Shia factions, blamed the Americans for the success of the insurgents.
"They adopted wrong policies," he said. "Nobody welcomes the US forces or wants them to stay."
He said they made two basic errors, one military, one political: not relying on "forces from the people", such as Mr Hakim's powerful Badr Brigade, and not allowing the formation of a provisional Iraqi government immediately after the overthrow of the Ba'athists.
Mr Hakim and many of his followers spent most of the past two decades in Iran, which armed and trained the Badr Brigade, and their Farsi is as good as their Arabic. But he played down American worries about Iranian influence in Iraq.
"I do not believe these fears are justified," he said. "Iran just wants good neighbourly relations. No Iraqi welcomes the presence of any foreign country, Iran included - any influence, any tutelage, anything like that. Independence is a principle we insist on. We reject interference in our internal affairs, from Iran or anyone else."
The elections are expected to give the Shia, who comprise around 60 per cent of the population, a majority share of power at last, with Mr Hakim as their most prominent political figure.
He insisted that an election victory would not herald an attempt to impose an Iranian-style Islamic republic or the political demise of the Sunnis, who dominated under Saddam. He also ruled out a civil war between Sunnis and Shia, which many predict.
"We do not want there to be any imposing, any monopoly of power," he said.
"We believe in the principle of freedom. The best solution for Iraq is to go to the people and not to permit any group to seize power."
Iran Nobel laureate Ebadi says ready for arrestSun Jan 16, 2005 01:51 PM GMT By Amir Paivar
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi says she is ready to face arrest for refusing to appear before the Islamic state's feared Revolutionary Court.
The human rights lawyer, who won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize, has defied a judiciary order to attend the court on the grounds that she was not informed of the charges she faced.
Asked if she feared the judiciary would carry out its written threat to arrest her if she did not go to court by Sunday, Ebadi told Reuters: "In this country anything is possible."
Ebadi, the first Muslim woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, said the court had now told her that her case involved a civil suit brought by a private complainant.
This explanation further angered Ebadi, 57, who pointed out that the Revolutionary Court, which has jailed many intellectuals and political dissidents in the past, deals with national security issues.
"It is unprecedented for the Revolutionary Court to summon someone for a private suit and (for them to) be told that failure to appear would result in his or her arrest," she said.
"I believe the Revolutionary Court has diverted from the principle of impartiality regarding my summons and I hope it will be addressed by the judicial authorities," she added.
A staunch defender of women's and children's rights, Ebadi is disliked by religious hardliners in Iran, who view her as a tool of the West. Her defence of high profile dissidents has also brought her into regular conflict with the authorities.
The organisation Human Rights Watch strongly criticised the judiciary's move against Ebadi.
"This is a blatant attempt by the Iranian government to silence one of the few remaining voices for human rights in Iran," said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of the group's Middle East and North Africa Division.
"If even a Nobel prize winner can be threatened, then no activist is safe."
Reformist President Mohammad Khatami, speaking during an African tour on Saturday, said Ebadi had nothing to fear.
"As head of state, I personally guarantee her safety and her freedom to continue her activities," he told reporters in Dakar. "It is just an ordinary case and it is going to be settled pretty soon," he added.
Ebadi said she hoped her stand against the judiciary would end the common practice of courts issuing a summons without informing the defendant of the charges.
"It has also happened in the past and I hope my objection will stop such practices," she said.
Seymour Hersh has all the credibility of DEBKA.
January 14, 2005, 10:26 a.m.
Human Rights Watch cant claim the high ground.What we need is a global standard.
I noticed that the sun rose again this morning, which means that New York-based Human Rights Watch, where people like Bianca Jagger and George Soros rub elbows and pass judgment on George W. Bush and other lesser souls, is once again denouncing the U.S. Reports the BBC, HRW has found the U.S. guilty of a "betrayal of human rights principles in the name of combating terrorism."HRW says the US can no longer claim the moral high ground and lead by example.
It cites coercive interrogation techniques at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib jail as particularly damaging.
The group, the largest US-based rights organisation, says the actions of the US in such detention centres have undermined Washington's credibility as a proponent of human rights and a leader of the war against terror.
"Its embrace of coercive interrogation [is] part of a broader betrayal of human rights principles in the name of combating terrorism," HRW says.
Of course, these complaints have been made many times before: For HRW, a morning without an anti-American pronouncement is like a day without whine. But they're being made again now because Abu Ghraib is in the news and Human Rights Watch wants to raise money. (Of course, the Abu Ghraib trials are big news not only in the U.S. but also throughout Europe, and especially in France here's a chunk of Le Monde coverage.)
Is there any substance to HRW's complaints? Well, yes you should not make terrorists stay up late listening to Ratt and you should not make Iraqi convicts get naked and then laugh at them. If you're an American soldier doing these kinds of things, you'll be punished, even as others also try to punish your fellow soldiers and your country.
But if HRW was sincerely interested in any "betrayal of human rights principles" it wouldn't be doing its gratuitous Yank-bash-for-cash thing for the millionth time. It would be over in Turtle Bay whipping Kofi Annan and the U.N., because wherever there are blue helmets, there's hell to pay. No place is this more true than in the U.N.'s biggest "humanitarian" mission, MUNOC, the fiasco in eastern Congo, where, as yet another BBC report notes, "UN peacekeepers working in DR Congo sexually abused girls as young as 13." Regular readers of this space will know the Bunia story by now: Crazed militias burn villages. U.N. sets up refugee camps. Militiamen rape girls in the camps while U.N. peacekeepers doze. U.N. peacekeepers do the same thing, but leave a tip. The U.N. investigates, wrings hands, issues statements expressing outrage. A year passes. Nothing changes.
As I said, this story has been covered here before, but every time I write about it, I get a pile of e-mails from people who think I'm making it up or something. Maybe I'm fixed on this because I have three young daughters whom I would never trust to the care of the U.N., and especially not to the supervision of Jean-Marie Guéhenno of France who was appointed by Kofi Annan as under-secretary-general for peacekeeping operations and charged with running MUNOC. M. Guéhenno is very French in his sorrow, as the BBC suggests: "The rules of the UN are crystal clear," he told a reporter. "Any sex with under-18 years is against the UN rule and whenever we find that, this is just something that needs to be punished."
Such Gallic regret. Yes, something that needs to be punished. But how? M. Guéhenno is apologetic, but, he explains, it's out of his hands. As the report notes, "[MUNOC] can only repatriate soldiers responsible and call for them to be brought to justice at home."
Those who dislike America's role in Iraq never propose an alternative solution, except to let the U.N. take care of it all somehow. But haven't the Iraqis suffered enough? It would be kinder to return the country to Saddam than to give it to Annan. The apparent corruption of the U.N. is simply staggering.
That's certainly nothing new. In the early '90s, when I was reporting on the famine in Ethiopia and how the U.N.'s Food and Agricultural Organization had mismanaged relief there, I was stunned by the pettiness behind so much U.N. misbehavior and the distressing level of venality among the organization's top officials.
The FAO was at the time (and perhaps still is, for all I know) the largest of the U.N.'s autonomous organizations, spending billions of dollars trying to end the world's hunger and meeting sudden crises through its World Food Program.
The FAO was given to a Lebanese named Edouard Saouma in 1975. He had run the FAO with a distinctive sense of style: When he stepped out of the open door of his limousine and entered the FAO offices, for example, his staffers were required to stand and salute. He liked to be called Your Excellency and he traveled regally, expecting fully to be treated as a head of state H.R.H. the King of Groceries. At the time, Saouma's salary for his term was at least $1,200,000, including expenses. He controlled a multimillion-dollar fund, for which accounting was murky at best. His excess of hubris so mightily offended Western delegates that the Canadians mounted an effort to oust him when he stood for reelection to a third six-year term in 1987. According to the diplomatic sources I interviewed back then, Saouma was able to survive by simply doling out huge favors paid for by the FAO's befogged fund to disaffected voter nations.
But the real criticisms of Saouma centered on how his massive ego clogged the relief pipelines and prompted many donors to bypass the FAO completely. As I wrote at the time:The fiasco that led to his attempted ouster occurred at the height of the Ethiopian famine of 1984, when 5,000,000 people were on the verge of starvation. Hunger was killing them off at the rate of about 2300 a day, and the Ethiopian government made an emergency appeal for aid. That request ran afoul of a long-simmering battle between Saouma and his colleague James Ingram, director of the World Food Program; their running squabbles have often crippled the UN's relief apparatus. A knowledgeable source in the FAO contends that Ingram inexplicably stalled for several days before granting a transfer of 30,000 tons of supplies, but then Saouma refused to sign off on the shipment. He was annoyed, explained the source, because an Ethiopian official had gone to his rival Ingram first. The battle raged for days and days as the death toll mounted. Finally, when Saouma's whims had been entertained and the Ethiopian official had been recalled by his government, the food was released. According to one high-ranking, 20-year veteran of the FAO, the price of his pique was more than 45,000 Ethiopian lives.
Edouard Saouma was never front-page news, of course. But he is well remembered. Every two years, the U.N. presents the Edouard Saouma Award to "national or regional institutions that have implemented with particular efficiency a project funded by the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) of FAO." Sometimes it goes to Cuba. Sometimes it goes to China. Everyone's a winner at the U.N.!
These events in eastern Congo like the earlier events in Ethiopia and other places where the U.N. is at work merit your attention, if only because organizations like Human Rights Watch don't give them nearly enough, shrugging them off with a press release at best. Abu Ghraib is on the front page around the world. MUNOC is less than a news obscurity but only because American troops are not involved and therefore there is no money to be raised by groups like HRW and no self-serving sanctimoniousness from the press. When I asked a journalist friend why this wasn't a bigger story, he said, simply, "Nobody cares about the U.N. in Africa."
Human Rights Watch may complain that the country now prosecuting its own soldiers for breaking the law is guilty of a "betrayal of human rights principles in the name of combating terrorism." But by making such a stupendously frivolous, rhetorical, bombastic charge against the U.S., while ignoring the routine atrocities committed by the U.N.'s army of rapists and crooks, organizations like Human Rights Watch can no longer claim the high ground and pretend to lead by example. They've reduced themselves to moral telemarketers. But in a way it's even worse: It's a betrayal of charity scams in the name of combating human-rights abuses.
Crawling to France. The president of the United States is going to go to Europe in February just after Valentine's Day to spread love and beg forgiveness from France and Germany or, in Colin Powell's diplo-speak, to "mend things." Why this is in the best interests of the U.S. can be discussed later and no doubt will be, and at length. But John Vinocur's excellent analysis in the International Herald Tribune is certainly the place to start your head-scratching. As Vinocur writes, "Against the backdrop of four years of the mantra-like specifics of Bush policies, no one I have talked to in Brussels or Washington since Christmas week has come up with a substantive explanation of what this trip is about." The French are at least buying the K-Y for the party, however: As the IHT also reports, Chirac is turning down the volume on his anti-American screeching.
Unpseakable Truth Numéro 1: France's neo-fascist demagogue, Jean-Marie Le Pen, has scandalized Le Monde and every other newspaper in France by saying the French weren't exactly miserable under the Nazis. This is certainly true if you weren't a French Jew: Virtually every postwar figure in France, save De Gaulle himself, endured the war peacefully in Vichy or in the occupied areas. Even as Jews were being sent to the camps by the French, famous socialists and Communists were working for the Germans, and not under duress, either until the Stalin-Hitler pact was broken. In fact, the founder of Le Monde, Hubert Beuve-Méry, was a happy Vichy collaborator himself. John J. Miller and Mark Molesky's Our Oldest Enemy has details.
Adrift. The tsunami that struck Asia and killed thousands left those far away from the disaster struggling to find the meaning in it all. Although the headline in the Sunday Telegraph is moronic, the archbishop of Canterbury lived up to it, thinking maybe the tsunami might make us wonder if we should believe in God. This Episcopal goofiness drew a rebuke from Frank Johnson in The Spectator who wondered if the Sunday Telegraph piece should make us wonder if we should believe in Mr. Cantab. For a week or so, everyone who typed for a living was looking up Leibniz and Voltaire, getting Candide mostly right but Theodicy really wrong. In Le Point, Olivier Weber got to play the cynic (although the most remarkable French headline was on a now-lost Yahoo news item: "Three Frenchmen killed in tidal wave"). Paul Johnson, also in The Spectator, came up with a chirpy interpretation of the event, one that came close to my own view, which is that a horrifying event like this is how God gives us sensible, life-affirming advice: Do not live next to the volcano. Move the cottage back from the riverfront. No hotels on the beach, please. Wendy Doniger, overwriting in the TLS, got it wrongest, though, when she came up with this howler: "After the desperate scramble for survival, for shelter, water, food, after searching for the living and then searching for the dead, it is time to bury the dead and to grieve, and that is always a moment that, to borrow Samuel Johnson's phrase, concentrates the mind wonderfully." Are you kidding me? If anything produces vast clouds of dim imprecision, it's a writer asked to write about sorrow. For a writer, to borrow Samuel Johnson's common sense, there's no such thing as good grief.
Denis Boyles writes the EuroPress Review column for NRO.
News team to focus on womenFrom correspondents in Tehran
January 16, 2005
THE first Iranian news agency run by women has been launched, claiming an editorial focus on improving women's rights in the Islamic republic.
Managing director Sadigheh Ghanadi today said the Iranian Women's News Agency (IWNA) intended to cover all news events, but would also "raise cases of social harm against women".
She said the agency, based in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad, had employed 40 staff - the majority of whom were female - and had been set up under an initiative by women members of Iranian city councils, most of whom are conservative politicians.
She said the agency was also backed by female members of Iran's hardline-controlled parliament.
IWNA's Internet-based service will provide a more conservative flavour to women-oriented media, including the reformist-leaning Women In Iran website and Zanan (Women) magazine.
200 more books banned in IranSun. 16 Jan 2005
Tehran, Jan. 16 Iran's bookstore owners are complaining of the government's decision to ban 200 books, including political, social, cultural, religious, arts, music, scientific and historical literature.
According to a Tehran bookshop owner who wanted to remain anonymous, Iran's government have recently sent a list of 200 books considered to be "immoral", "unIslamic", or "influencing acts against the state".
"Storeowners have been instructed to remove these books from their shelves and either hand them in or burn them. The sale of such books are prohibited", he said.
"The Solar Eclipse, Pictures of Two People, and Sharks are among a number of science research books that have now been banned", he added.
"Simply Music, The Garden of Music, The Music of Khayam are three of the musical books prohibited, and among the religious and political books barred you will find The Words of Christ and The Rights of the Kurds", the storeowner complained.
He said that the latest move by authorities increases limits on freedom of expression. The Tehran resident complained that such government rules affect booksellers' businesses.
Iran asks citizens to avoid travel to Iraq
Tehran, Jan 16, IRNA -- Iran on Sunday advised its citizens to avoid travel to Iraq, warning them of the hazardous security situation in the neighboring war-wracked state.
"Given...the unsuitable security situation in Iraq, the faithful Iranian people are asked to seriously refrain from traveling to that country," the Iranian Interior Ministry said in an advisory.
Most Iranian travel for pilgrimage to Iraq, home to the shrines of five imams revered by Shiites, including the mausoleums of Imam Ali (AS) in Najaf and Imam Hussein (AS) in Karbala.
The two Muslim neighbors, with Shi'a majority populations, have come a long way since the ouster of the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to regulate pilgrims' visits into their respective cities.
Last month, Iran banned its nationals from traveling to Iraq after blasts killed 66 people in the Shi'a pilgrimage cities of Karbala and Najaf.
"All borders of Iran with Iraq are now closed and movement in or out prohibited until further notice," said a police announcement.
"Due to the worsening situation in Iraq... travel to Iraq's holy cities by Iranian nationals is banned," the statement said, adding that the ban would remain in force 'until the security situation improves'.
Authorities in the Islamic Republic have regularly warned against illegal trips to the war-torn country because of raging conflicts across Iraq.
Last March, a series of coordinated bombings turned a Shiite mourning ceremony into carnage, in which 171 people were killed in Karbala and Baghdad.
Meanwhile, Iraq's chaotic situation has landed hundreds of Iranians in jail, with their relatives complaining of their dire situation in custody.
Last month, Tehran MP Fatemeh Rahbar said some 1,500 Iranian pilgrims held in Iraqi prisons had been released.
The announcement came days after a group of the prisoners' relatives gathered outside the Foreign Ministry building in Tehran, calling for their release.
Rahbar said the Iraqi police had arrested some of the Iranian citizens even as their trip to the Shi'a holy sites was legal, while a few others had illegally crossed the border into the war-wracked country.
"We met with the families of the pilgrims, who said their relatives, held in Kut and Badreh prisons, had no access to warm water and were only allowed to take bath with cold water every 20 days," she said.
"This was coordinated with the Foreign Ministry official and it was then that these individuals were freed all, except for few people whose trip to Iraq was illegal and they are still held at the country's prisons," the MP added.
Rahbar said Iranian prisoners were held in cells 'where there is no enough room even for sitting' and where cases of 'various diseases' are rampant.
The Iranian inmates are also suffering from lack of 'suitable and warm clothing', and they 'have to use cardboard instead of blankets' for sleeping, she added.
Rahbar, a member of the parliament's cultural commission, stated that Tehran had asked international bodies, including the United Nations, to try to properly supervise the situation of prisons in Iraq and resolve the problems of the inmates.
She also called on Iranian security officials and police to take necessary measures, preventing pilgrims from making illegal trips to Iraq.
Indias blunder in energy negotiations - Iran gas costlier than Malaysian offer last year
Jan. 17, 2005
India's US $40 billion deal with Iran for import of 7.5 million tonnes of LNG for 25 years beginning 2009 is more expensive than liquefied natural gas Petronas of Malaysia had offered to sell to New Delhi last year. The delivered cost of Iran LNG would not be less than US $3.40 per million British thermal unit (mBtu) as compared to Petronas'' offer to state-run National Thermal Power Corp to sell three million tonnes per annum of LNG at a delivered price of US $3.27 per mBtu, industry sources said. India will pay Iran 0.065 of Brent price at the time of loading of each consignment plus the fixed price of US $1.20 per mBtu. Price according to this formula would be capped at US$3.10 dollars per mBtu at US $31 a barrel Brent price.
Irans nuclear technology lies in minds of Iranian scientists: first IAEO directorPARIS, Jan. 16 (MNA) -- Akbar Etemad, the founder of the Iran Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) and the first IAEO director, says that Irans nuclear technology lies in the minds of the countrys nuclear scientists and thus can never be suspended.
Etemad, who once headed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors and was even a candidate for the post of IAEA director general, has a lot to say about Irans nuclear activities.
In a recent interview with the Mehr News Agency, he said that nuclear expertise is in fuel technology rather than in power plants.
If a country has access to the complete nuclear fuel cycle it is considered a nuclear power, even though it may have no nuclear power plants, Etemad observed.
In fact, even if you have dozens of nuclear reactors but lack the national power to access the nuclear fuel cycle, you would only be a consumer in the nuclear market, he explained.
Etemad, who has been living in Paris since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, criticized the country for agreeing to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
If I were still director, I would never have allowed Iran to join the NPT, which is in fact an inefficient treaty meant to grant a special concession to some powerful countries, he said.
Rather, I would have tried to continue cooperation with the IAEA within the framework of its charter, he added.
The former IAEO director noted that France and Germany have both proven that they are not prepared to give Iran its nuclear rights.
He stated that Iran had purchased 10 percent of the shares of Frances Eurodif uranium enrichment plant for one billion dollars in 1975, enabling it to avoid bankruptcy, but has never received any uranium from the plant, even though it is a shareholder.
Eurodif is still the worlds biggest enrichment plant, but, unfortunately, it has failed to officially recognize Irans right and has violated international law by refusing to give Iran its rightful due, Etemad noted.
Germany also a broke a contract with Iran to build the Bushehr nuclear power plant by discontinuing construction work on the plant, withholding equipment that Iran had purchased, and revoking the license for the export of the purchased equipment for phase 2 of the project.
Now that both countries have entered talks with Iran, which means they officially recognize the countrys rights, they should attempt to rectify their previous mistakes, Etemad said.
During those years Iran had good relations with all countries including Britain, Germany, France, China, India, Argentina, and Brazil, he stated, adding that even at that time the United States intended to impose conditions on Iran.
Our nuclear story with the U.S. started from the time they became aware of Irans major nuclear energy program, and the first group that arrived in Iran to announce its interest in nuclear cooperation with the country was a delegation from Westinghouse.
If it makes the decision, Iran can resist the foreigners and obtain its rights through patience and a united political will, Etemad stressed.
We cannot allow our technological future to be controlled by foreign forces, since this would be considered a disgrace for the free nation of Iran, he noted.
The former Iranian official also stated that in order to become self-sufficient in the field of nuclear energy, Iran must implement a long-term plan lasting approximately 40 years.
France, which is a major nuclear power, particularly in the field of nuclear fuel production, has trained 100,000 nuclear experts and technicians over the past three to four decades, he said.
Etemad stressed that Iran should not restrict itself to relations with the West but should also take a serious approach to expand ties with the rest of Europe, East Asia, South America, Africa, and other countries throughout the world.
Iran should continue the current process with patience and a strong political will in order to show Europe it will never forgo its interests, he noted.
We have to trust and support our youth so Iran can stand on its own feet and we must persuade Europe to respect our interests, Etemad said.
Iranian officials were right to decide to reach an agreement with Europe, on the condition that they continue to remain vigilant in the process of talks and focus on the Islamic Republics interests, he added.
Etemad criticized the country for its weak performance in disseminating information about its international activities and its nuclear program.
Iran should convince world public opinion that it is abiding by international law and implementing fair and logical measures, he stated.
Iran should develop the political will for nuclear energy activities and the world should realize nothing can destroy the countrys desire to produce nuclear fuel.
The current process of talks with the European Union is the best way forward for Iran to continue the course of its nuclear activities, on the condition that it continues to strongly defend its national interests.
Twenty years ago, the same Western countries imposed severe economic sanctions on the country, but as soon as they realized Irans (nuclear) capabilities, they sent their foreign ministers for negotiations with the country and even proposed granting concessions.
This is because Iran has demonstrated its independence and political persistence.
In my opinion, Iran is a very advanced country in the field of atomic technologies. In other words, it actually possesses the heart of this technology. The foundation of this (technology) is the successful chemical conversion of uranium.
Iran has also taken great strides regarding enrichment in Natanz and other related centers.
As for the heavy water project, longer planning is required. The plan to produce 100 tons of heavy water per year is a unique project for Iran.
That sounds interesting!
So why the US government is not helping the students and those who intend to rise?
Hersh is well known for publishing less than reliable reports, but I thought FR readers should know of his report.
This is a bit old but interesting to read...--- Pilot
BBC News - Breakfast with Frost
Sunday, 12 December, 2004
On Sunday, 12 December, 2004, Sir David Frost interviewed Farah Pahlavi, former Empress of Iran.
DAVID FROST: It's now 25 years since the Shah of Iran was deposed in one of the most dramatic overthrows of power of the 20th century.
Before he was forced to relinquish the Peacock throne I interviewed him at Persepolis the ancient symbol of Persian kingship and I asked him what was the common bond that united the Iranian people
With months the Islamic revolution headed by Ayatollah Khomema changed everything and the Shah and his family were forced to flee Iran, never to return, never yet to return anyway.
I interviewed the Shah again in exile in Panama in January 1980 and he died six months later in Egypt.
At his side throughout the whole of the last 21 years of his life was his Empress, Farah Pahlavi. Ma'am, welcome. Very good to have you here.
FARAH PAHLAVI: Good morning, thank you for inviting me.
DAVID FROST: And seeing your husband, your late husband there. When you met him, how long was it between ... was it love at first sight?
FARAH PAHLAVI: Well I must say that of course I always loved the King as a citizen, the loyal citizen to her King. But after many meetings of course this love turned from a person to his king to a love of a woman to a man.
DAVID FROST: And I suppose perhaps one of the happiest moments of your whole time together was when you were able to give birth to your first child who was a son, the son and heir that he so hoped for. That must have been a moment of ecstasy?
FARAH PAHLAVI: Yes, it was. It was a wonderful moment, not only for us but also for all our compatriots. And also so many moments of other happiness with my other children. And whatever happened positive for our country.
DAVID FROST: And when we were talking in that clip, I think probably looking back on it now, the Shah probably overestimated the power that the King had over the people and probably underestimated the power that the Mullahs had?
FARAH PAHLAVI: Well not being where we are now today, of course we think back and in spite of what has happened in Iran and the revolution and the 25 years, now we're looking back and with hindsight of course we could have seen the problems better, we maybe could have managed, the problems better
... And also it was a mistake from our part and also in the government and I guess the mistake of the people in the streets and many of the opposition that thought that Khomeni who had promised them paradise, will give them paradise. But unfortunately he opened the door to hell.
DAVID FROST: And at the same time, I mean, I suppose the two things people quoted a lot about that time were of course the activities of SAVAK and of corruption and so on.
But do you think the real problem, because this is something I ask prime ministers about, how do you keep in touch with what people are thinking and so on? And the answer is that they try, but with an absolute monarch, presumably people apart from you, tell a Shah what they think he wants to hear?
FARAH PAHLAVI: It's possible that around every power there are people who want to only give the good news. But we have to consider Iran in the context of that period. We had our big neighbour, the Soviet Union, who always dreamt to reach the warm waters of the Persian Gulf. We had religious fanatics and seeing the result now, we see that we didn't see some of the dissatisfactions.
But, having said that, when you look back in the last 25 years I can not stop myself comparing what was the situation of the Iranians 25 years ago and what was the situation of Iran, and also in the Middle East, and what would have happened if the revolution didn't happen. And I think really that with all the shortcomings we had, like any other country or any other regime, we didn't need such a horrible revolution.
DAVID FROST: Did you feel betrayed in that last year, year and a half, when you had been ousted from Iran and the United States' President Carter and others didn't really give you the support that you thought you'd earned?
FARAH PAHLAVI: Well Sir David, you know it was a very difficult time. And sometimes unbearable. But we had to survive, I had to survive for my husband, for my children, for my own dignity.
And you know, for foreign politics and power you can understand they are after what they think is their national interest. And after all a government had changed. But we at the same time received many letters and many supporting words from simple people, and that kept us going on. And I can consider that life is a struggle for all of us, no matter in what position we are relative to opposition.
DAVID FROST: Talking of struggle and so on, when I was doing the interview with the Shah in exile the Khomeni regime were announcing to the world that you as a family, and the Shah, had left Iran with 176 billion dollars. I presume that was not true?
FARAH PAHLAVI: Of course it's not true. It's all the propaganda of the regime and also all the opposition. The King was a patriot. He loved his country above all, and its people. And I must assure you now people realise that that was all propaganda and I hope today the same people who wrote or said about this supposedly billions, think of the corruption which exists today in Iran.
DAVID FROST: And finally, would you like George Bush, President Bush, would you like him to do in Iran what he's done in Iraq, and go in and have a regime change?
FARAH PAHLAVI: This is the most undesirable thing to happen. Iranians I think which are really desperate for change, desperate for freedom and democracy.
And I am sure with the help of the Iranians inside and outside of Iran, and with the help and the moral help of the freedom-loving people of the world, Iranian people will reach democracy and freedom.
The Guardian -- quoting Hersh -- couldn't you have at least gone to the National Enquirer for a more reliable source?
So Farah says no active use of force to oust the regime, that is undesirable. Then what else can the US do?
It sounds like Europe has more influence when it comes to Iran.
We can call them a member of the Axis of Evil, but we cannot remove the regime from power.
Our hands are tied.
Don't you agree?
oh yeah, and I am Santa Claus
Hersh -- and his article -- have have already been thoroughly trashed here on FR. Besides, this article is from The Guardian...
No more bloodshed in Iran! That is what I agree with... but in the worst case scenario the US has to intervene and we may watch a full scale bloodshed in Iran to oust the regime.
I'd be so glad if the US could hand weaponry and tools to the Iranian youths to oust the Islamic regime with less bloodshed and without US carpet bombings and ...etc!
Well, our hands are tied until we have no obvious policy on Iran.
And Re: EU influence on Iran, yes those bunch of thieves have lots of influence on the Mullahs than the US government and that is what it is!
I think people willing to fight the regime if we arm them!
If you really want to send a message to Iran, send in a KBR assessment team.
"Let's see...that looks like a good place to set up a camp, and there's another good place for a camp..."
THE COMING WARS
by SEYMOUR M. HERSH
What the Pentagon can now do in secret.
Issue of 2005-01-24 and 31
Sunday, January 16, 2005
If over the past 15 years or so one read and believed the reports of Human Rights Watch, one would be 110% convinced that the United States -- the world's oldest democracy; the country that brought down colonialism, Nazism, Fascism, and Communism; invented the UN; serves as a safehaven for tens-of millions of people of all races, nationalities, and creeds; and remains still the most sought after destination for millions of intending immigrants around the world -- is the greatest threat to peace, international cooperation, freedom and democracy ever to exist. It seems that for the guys and the gals at HRW, whenever something "negative" happens in the world, it's ultimate source is something the USA has done or failed to do.
Dr Zin, the New Yorker has asked FR not to link or publish their magazine articles scroll down here
These publishers have asked us not to allow any material at all to be posted to FR:
I thought I new all the restricted magazines.
I should have known better.
Well, Sy is harshing the truth again....
The boy is about as sharp as a bowling ball..-Foghorn..
This article gets too much attention in Persian speaking Media.
From His Majesty Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi's last will and testament, written shortly before his death :
"I will trust the faith of my nation to its Constitution. This sacred document is a priceless grant, passed on to our nation as a graceful aftermath of the 1906 Constitutional Revolution. For that very reason, safeguarding it - respecting its principles which signify the territorial integrity, the independence of our nation, along with the foundation of the national will based upon our historical heritage and spiritual beliefs - is a collective duty for every Iranian including my own son.
In the like manner that the essence of every young Iranian is filled with sentiments of national pride, I hope that my son by focusing on the truth, heeds the lessons of this painful and arduous experience in history - a lesson which my nation has paid a very dear price for - and with his sincere faith in the Almighty God and the support of the kind hearted people of Iran, regains the integrity of his nation's sacred tri-color flag. I trust the faith of my young successor to the Creator and the noble people of Iran. That, is my last wish."
I agree that Seymour Hersh is not necessarily a credible news source. In fact, the report that American special forces are in Iran is old news to me. I remember reading in the summer of 2004 that American and Israeli covert operations teams were being sent in to Iran. I think I read that in several news sources at the time, not the least of which was the Jerusalem Post, which is my favorite Israeli newspaper (and a credible news source, IMHO). It's my hope that now that Hersh has reported it, that it's a large-scale operation. Best-case scenario is that we establish the capability of doing some sabotage in the near future. Say, attempt to simultaneously (meaning within a 24-hr period) sabotage every target we know of, but don't say a word about it. Should Iran retaliate (say, on American forces in Iraq, or in Israel), it would give us the international advantage of not appearing to be warmongers. But I hope we couldn't care less what the rest of the world (read: Europe) thinks of us.
In my opinion, we have to do something. Helping along regime change would be ideal. By all accounts, Iran will have the bomb by the end of 2007. Other reports, probably more accurate, suggest they may have it by the end of 2005. Irsaeli intelligence suggests they might have it by early summer. But the truth is, we really don't know. Which means we need to get going. If the White House has a real Iran policy, the public hasn't been informed. They don't need to tell us details (and it's probably best that they don't, as much as we would like to know them!), but we (and the Iranian people, most of all!) need to be made aware of it. I'll be mighty disappointed if the State of the Union doesn't talk about Iran more than one sentence, if that much. Iraq received a paragraph, maybe two, in 2002. Iraq deserves the foreign-policy spotlight, but know this - Iran is next. Either regime change happens in Iran, or Iran tries to effect regime change somewhere else.
Finally, take note of the White House and the Pentagon's response to Hersh's story. They didn't quite say that the story is flat-out wrong and total nonsense. They blasted the story for sure. But they didn't quite deny it.
Reading the CNN account, at least they do the favor of making Hersh's biases crystal-clear. Suffice it to say, he's not a neocon.
But surely no one here thinks that we don't have any assets inside Iran!
Interesting how much more excited certain FR's get with an attack on Iran rather than a revolution in Iran.
The Liberal US Media has been so successful in protraying Iran as some violent anti-US nation that some don't even care to hear the truth that the vast majority of Iranians are strongly pro-US.
I think tourists are so important for changing the world point of view about Iran..because we only can report exact news of Iran. Often television, newspaper and also internet say only that Iran is a terrorist country, without democracy and supporting Al-Qaeda, the big ghost... But the reality is a bit different... they don't say that Iranian people are also kind and hospitable or Iran has millenary history and culture (that you can find out in its many archaeological places) or the majority of population is against the regime and is waiting for an American invasion (!). I know that for you it's a bit different because you was born there, had grown there, are living there and maybe you'll die there but we are not talking about living in Iran but going there only for tourism. That's make the difference.
You're surprised about Iranian awating for an American invasion? It's the reality..Last summer I spoke with a lot of people, young and old, students, taxi drivers, commerciants, ecc. and when I asked them why they don't do anything against the government, they answered me that they don't have any leader (because the regime killed them) and without a leader any revolution isn't possible and most of them said me that they hope in an American invasion like the Iraqi one..I was so...incredoulus because I've seen what the Iraqi invasion produced, but they were so convinced..they say that only America can help them to destroy the regime. I said them that in my opinion it's fundamental an internal popolar rebellion to drive away the Ayatollahs and American invasion is not the solution, but they didn't hear me. In my opinion is because of the insucces of the Islamic revolution: Khomeini promised a lot of things to Iranians but then he didn't work to help his people. Now the way of life in Iran is changed in better from 10-15 years ago and is still changing (very slowly) without any other bloody revolution, so they think the situation could be changed gradually or only with an American invasion, but without another revolution...It's terrible but it's the reality. And I can't judge them because I've never lived in a dictatorship.
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