Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - January 19, 2005 - Tehran denies US nuclear spy missions in Iran
Posted on 01/18/2005 11:57:07 PM PST by DoctorZIn
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Tehran denies US nuclear spy missions in Iran
By Najmeh Bozorgmehr in Tehran and Guy Dinmore in Washington
Published: January 18 2005 18:41 | Last updated: January 18 2005 18:41
Iran on Tuesday dismissed a report that US commandos were carrying out secret missions inside the country and lashed out at US policy in Iraq.
Ali Agha-Mohammadi, head of the propaganda committee of the Supreme National Security Council, said a report in the New Yorker magazine that claimed the US had started to identify alleged hidden nuclear sites inside Iran as potential targets in its war against terror, was part of a campaign of psychological warfare.
The entry of American commandos for espionage is not that easy. It would be naive to believe it, he told Iran's state radio.
Another senior Iranian official who asked not to be named saw the article as a US reaction to the talks that had been taking place this month between Iran and the EU 3-- Britain, Germany and France on curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Americans now leak such stories to adversely affect Iran-EU talks which are progressing now. This is to exert more pressure on Iran and to imply that they are pursuing their own methods. It is part of their carrot and stick policy, the official told the Financial Times.
The US administration has accused Iran of seeking weapons of mass destruction and interfering in neigh-bouring Iraq and Afghanistan.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, on Tuesday lashed out at the US over its policy on Iraq, saying Washington would not tolerate a democratic outcome to the elections inIraq.
In a message to Muslim pilgrims in Mecca, Mr Khamenei said there were two threats to the Iraqi elections: First, rigging the votes, in which Americans are experts.
But in the event of the politically-minded and educated youth of Iraq managing to prevent the vote-rigging, the second threat was a military coup andthe imposition of another dictator.
In a sign there would be no let-up in Washington's hostile rhetoric towards Iran, Condoleezza Rice, nominated as secretary of state, on Tuesday included Iran in a list of six countries she described as outposts of tyranny.
We cannot rest until every person living in a fear society has finally won their freedom, she told the Senate foreign relations committee in her prepared statement.
In the Middle East, President Bush has broken with six decades of excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in hoping to purchase stability at the price of liberty.
The stakes could not be higher. As long as the broader Middle East remains a region of tyranny and despair and anger, it will produce extremists and movements that threaten the safety of America and our friends.
But, in a speech that laid the emphasis on diplomatic rather than military solutions in the second Bush administration, Ms Rice stressed the importance of working with allies in insisting that Iran and North Korea abandon their nuclear weapons.
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About the Author
JEROME R. CORSI, PH.D., co-author of the NEW YORK TIMES #1 bestseller, UNFIT FOR COMMAND, received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and is an expert on America's antiwar movement and political violence. He is the author of many articles and books and lives in Connecticut.
With the reconstruction in Iraq under way and the distraction of the U.S. presidential election behind us, focus will once again turn to a gathering threatThe Islamic Republic of Iran. A charter member of the "axis of evil," this rogue terrorist state and the mullahs who govern it are on a collision course with American and European governments that seek to end its development of nuclear weapons. The influence of Iran cannot be discounted, however, because it has perfected the art of oil price manipulation in order to fund its nuclear endeavors, terrorist activities, and strategic contributions to key U.S. politicians who, in turn, work diligently at normalizing diplomatic and trade relations between the two nations.
In ATOMIC IRAN, Jerome Corsi, co-author of the best-selling UNFIT FOR COMMAND, uncovers the true intentions and practices of the Iranian regime and gives light to the aid and comfort being supplied by some key U.S. politicians. Uncovered is a web of pro-Iranian financiers who make significant campaign contributions to political leaders who affect U.S. trade policy towards Iran and are able to work at normalizing diplomatic relations, thereby legitimizing the rogue republic. This poses an immediate security threat to the United States. It allows the regime to take advantage of relaxations in the Patriot Act to begin importing terrorists under the disguise of diplomatic personnel.
Also revealed is the manipulation of world oil prices by Iran. Its restriction of supply has the dual effect of hindering the growth of world economies and increasing revenue for Iran, which is then used to fund international terrorism and its own deadly pursuits. Dr. Corsi warns that a nuclear Iran would devastate the Middle East through its tyrannical policies and threats and would have a significant impact on the world by using its control of 40 percent of the global oil supply to hold nations hostage with oil prices rising to over $100 and even $200 per barrel.
ATOMIC IRAN is a wake-up call to Americans. It is a call to pay attention to the growing crisis with Iran and to hold U.S. politicians accountable for their relationships with and efforts on behalf of the Iranian regime. By understanding the events that led to Iran's arrival at the verge of nuclear statehood, the intentions of the mullahs, their connection with American politicians, and the severe repercussions to be suffered from allowing the regime to proceed with its plans, readers of ATOMIC IRAN will be equipped to take the debate to their local communities and to the officials they have entrusted with their safety and security.
British commanders fear reaction to American aggressionTIM RIPLEY
REPORTS of an increasingly hard-line US policy towards Iran are starting to worry British generals and diplomats, who fear the 9,650-strong UK garrison in southern Iraq would be targeted by Tehran in retaliation to any strike by the Bush administration.
The allegations of US covert operations inside Iran have added to the worries in Whitehall that the stand-off with Tehran over its nuclear ambitions could be moving into a more dangerous phase.
Last summers capture of eight Royal Marines by Iranian Revolutionary Guards off southern Iraq has convinced many senior British officers and diplomats that any increase in tension with Iran would result in blow back against British forces in Iraq. The marines were eventually released unharmed but it later emerged that Iranian gunboats entered Iraqi territorial waters to abduct the marines patrol boats.
Revolutionary Guard naval forces conducted the operation, apparently on the orders of hard-line Mullahs, causing tension within the Tehran government which had been trying to cultivate the Europeans as a counter-weight to the Americans. "We now think the Iranians were sending us a signal," said one British officer. "They were saying, if you get too close to the Americans we can make life very difficult for you and you will pay a price."
Foreign Office sources are particularly worried that the departure of Colin Powell from the Bush administration has left the neo-conservatives in control of US foreign policy in Washington. British intelligence sources are becoming worried that the Iranians will employ a strategy to strike back at US interests and its allies across the Middle East.
Here, the role of the large Shia population in southern Iraq will be crucial and this could make life very uncomfortable for the British garrison in the Basra region.
Until now the Shia of southern Iraq have generally been co-operative with British forces, but the fear is that Tehran could activate "sleeper" cells to launch an all- out guerrilla war.
There were credible reports that last summer Tehran concentrated troops along the border with Iraq in response to US sabre-rattling over the nuclear issue, raising the possibility that Iran might try to seize Iraqi territory.
Rice Urges World Unity in Pressing Iran and North Korea to End Their Nuclear Programs
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Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice Tuesday urged international unity in insisting that Iran and North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions. She said if the current European initiative with Iran falters, the matter should go to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.
Ms. Rice says the world is sending a message to Iran that it cannot be a legitimate participant in the international system and politics and at the same time pursue a nuclear weapons program.
She told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at her confirmation hearing that the United States supports the joint British-French-German initiative with Iran to persuade it to drop its weapons ambitions.
But she said if the European effort founders, the question of the Iranian program should go to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions: "There is a path ahead. If the Europeans are unable to get a satisfactory understanding with the Iranians about their international obligations," she said. "I think we have to go back and look at the process that was prescribed, which is that this would go to the Security Council and we would go from there. Nobody is saying that there have to be sanctions right away or anything of the sort. What we are saying that Iran has to be held to account for its international obligations."
The ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee Joseph Biden said it is unlikely that the Security Council could be persuaded to sanction Iran if the matter was put before it. "The likelihood of the U.N. Security Council, maybe you have more faith in the U.N. Security Council than I do, but the likelihood of them concluding that Iran is in non-compliance and imposing broad sanctions, we already sanction the heck out of them, and impose broad sanctions, I wouldn't want bet my, I wouldn't want to bet anything on that," he said.
Senator Biden asked why the United States does not join the so-called Euro-three in approaching Iran with incentives to drop its nuclear weapons ambitions.
Ms. Rice suggested that is impractical because of the United States' turbulent past history with Iran and differences with Tehran on other issues including human rights and its alleged involvement in terrorism.
She expressed skepticism about the Europeans' chances of success but said she hopes they will succeed, saying someone needs to test the Iranians' willingness to live up to their international obligations.
The Secretary-designate was asked by Democratic Senator John Kerry about an article by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker magazine that the United States has conducted secret reconnaissance missions in Iran to identify nuclear or missile sites for possible attacks later this year.
Ms. Rice did not specifically address points raised in the article by Mr. Hersh. But echoing a Pentagon spokesman Monday, she said the article is inaccurate and does not represent U.S. policies toward Iran or its expectation of policies toward Iran.
In another exchange with Mr. Kerry, Ms. Rice said the United States remains committed to a diplomatic resolution of the issue of the North Korean nuclear program through the six-party talks hosted by China.
Ms. Rice said she is hopeful that Pyongyang will be persuaded to return to the talks, and recognize it has no other option but to give up its nuclear weapons program in a verifiable way.
She reiterated the United States has no intention of invading or attacking North Korea, and that the reclusive communist government can choose another path in relations with Washington and the rest of the international community by agreeing to disarm.
U.S. Warns Iran Over Missiles, Punishes Chinese FirmsTue Jan 18, 2005 02:13 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration expressed concern on Tuesday about Iran's pursuit of longer-range ballistic missiles and imposed sanctions on Chinese companies it accused of helping Tehran in those efforts.
The economic sanctions -- which the Chinese government denounced as unjustified -- were part of a broader campaign by the Bush administration to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. Iran denies its nuclear facilities are to be used to make weapons.
"I hope we can solve it diplomatically. But I will never take any option off the table," President Bush told NBC television in an interview when asked about the potential for military action against Iran.
The Bush administration made no public announcement of the sanctions, first reported by The New York Times on Tuesday. The penalties and the Chinese companies affected were disclosed in government documents published earlier this month.
U.S. officials say the exports to Iran included high-performance metals, the Times said.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush will work with European allies "to find a diplomatic resolution to Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons."
"They made some very clear commitments and we will see by their actions whether or not they are finally serious and willing to follow through on those commitments," McClellan said.
"We have a number of concerns about Iran, including their pursuit of nuclear weapons and their interest in longer-range ballistic missiles, and we've expressed those concerns," McClellan added.
CHINA OPPOSES WEAPONS SPREAD
China on Tuesday said it stands opposed to any spread of weapons of mass destruction.
"The U.S. government has wantonly launched sanctions against Chinese companies without any evidence," Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan told a news briefing in Beijing.
Jan. 15, 2005. 01:00 AM
Legacy of a failed revolution
25 years after he helped U.S. diplomats flee Tehran, Ken Taylor reflects on echoes of that crisis
It betrayed Iranians, reshaped the Muslim world and transformed diplomacy, writes Olivia Ward
One bleak January morning in 1980, a sign was posted on Canada's embassy in Tehran: "temporarily closed."
The obscure event marked a momentous day for six Americans in hiding from a hostage crisis that had devastated their government and thrown their country into turmoil. With the help of Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor and his officials, they were issued false Canadian documents, disguised as TV journalists and smuggled out of Iran.
Now, 25 years later, the Iranian hostage crisis is long over. But the events that it set in motion have had a deep impact on Iran, the West, and the way diplomacy is done in the 21st century.
"The Iranian revolution, as Ayatollah Khomeini envisaged it, has failed," says Taylor, who now lives in New York. "It was revolution for export, and it didn't sell. Iran is in a serious internal struggle and unable to resolve its relationship with the U.S. The hostage crisis was a very bad moment in history."
The siege began Nov. 4, 1979, when militant students stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and captured 70 Americans amid a time of turmoil. The government of Shah Reza Pahlavi had crumbled, the fatally ill ruler had fled, and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini who aimed to establish an Islamic state was vying with liberals who hoped to democratize the country.
Although the hostage-takers later admitted their dramatic action was meant only as a protest, they found themselves at the centre of a profound international crisis that was to last 444 days, bring about the defeat of President Jimmy Carter, and ensure the ascendancy of an extremist clerical regime that has never released its grip on power.
"The hostage crisis legitimized anti-Americanism in Iran," says political science professor Saeed Rahnema of York University's Atkinson Faculty, an Iranian exile. "It consolidated power for the Khomeini regime and its Islamic republic. Instead of creating democracy and political freedom, it ensured that there would be repression."
While the majority of the Americans taken prisoner were in the main embassy building, six diplomats remained in the next-door consulate. When militants tried to break in, they escaped. Although some were later captured, six got to the Canadian and Swedish embassies, among the few that were able to take the risk of admitting them.
"I sent a message right away to (foreign minister) Flora MacDonald," Taylor says. "(Prime Minister) Joe Clark was very affirmative. We assumed there would be a prolonged crisis, and I didn't feel that it was the role of our embassy to say, `We can't take you in.'"
Expecting that Washington would work with the Canadian diplomats to move the hidden Americans out quickly two were in Taylor's residence the ambassador waited for further word. But with the 52 captives in the embassy taking centre stage, the Carter administration showed little interest. Six weeks later, MacDonald met with U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, insisting that escape plans be launched.
"She told Vance to turn his attention to this, or we'd do it ourselves," said Taylor. "Shortly afterwards, the CIA in Washington got involved. Working with Ottawa, they created total Canadian identities, including passports, driver's licences, every kind of paper imaginable."
In advance of the escape, most of the Canadian embassy staff was gradually sent out of the country, along with Taylor's wife, Pat. The ambassador was among the last to leave, along with fugitive American consular staff Robert Anders, Mark and Cora Lijek, Joseph and Kathleen Stafford, and agricultural attaché Henry Schatz.
The remaining 52 Americans held hostage would not be released until Jan. 20, 1981, one year later. It was their fate that preoccupied America and much of the world for months to come.
At the scene of the siege, however, there was little indication of how dire its consequences would become.
"They created a fence (around the embassy), and outside it were stalls set up to sell things," recalls former CBC reporter Carole Jerome, author of The Man in the Mirror, which documents the Iranian revolution. "People were bused in (to protest), but in spite of the tension it was like a party. One man was selling Arab-style kaffiyehs and John Wayne jeans. When the TV lights went on they'd chant `Death to America' in a rather jolly way. Then they'd go back to asking if you wanted to buy their stuff."
Inside the embassy, where journalists were allowed to attend news conferences, things were far from lighthearted. "The students in charge were intense, earnest and slightly frightening. They meant business."
The "Canadian caper" sparked a fast and furious response, said Jerome, one of a handful of Canadian journalists in Tehran at the time. "We came out of our hotel one morning and found a sign saying: `Death to the CBC.' So we pretended to work for Irish television."
Canadian diplomats had lived in the shadow of danger for weeks before the escape. But when the embassy doors were closed, Taylor said, he underestimated the gravity of the siege. "We thought we'd go to Kuwait, then come back and open again. It didn't happen for eight years."
For Western diplomats, the hostage-taking was a shrill wake-up call, Taylor added. It heralded a new and more difficult era in diplomacy.
"After that, embassies, especially American ones, became fortresses. The security considerations restrict the movement of diplomats, and also hinder their effectiveness. As a diplomat you have to move around the community, not just sit in an office mapping out grand strategies. The worst example is in Iraq, where the U.S. diplomats are completely surrounded by walls. Who can they see or talk to?"
`One thing the hostage crisis demonstrated was the vulnerability of the West'
Ken Taylor, former Canadian ambassador to Iran
Taylor resigned from the foreign service in 1984, four years after the Tehran rescue made him an international celebrity. Since then he has served as chancellor of Victoria University and as a director on the boards of companies in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.
He believes the decision to aid American diplomats would be more difficult for a Canadian government today.
"The political will hasn't changed fundamentally," he says. "But what would be a concern is the kind of retribution that Canada would receive. At the time, the Iranian foreign minister said Canada would pay. But that was largely a cover, because we knew he was really a sympathetic individual who wanted a rational relationship with the West. He was merely venting the frustration of some Iranian elements."
Today, the rescue "would be more than an issue between Iran and Canada. It could mean that we would see anti-Canadianism in the Muslim world."
Although the "basic instincts" of Canadian diplomacy haven't changed, Taylor says, "I could agree that Canada is more cautious and deliberate at the moment. It's prepared to work through the traditional multilateral agencies rather than taking an individual stand."
Still, he says, "if something like that happened again, I think the government would back our crazy scheme."
Ottawa's foreign policy agenda has become more tied to domestic politics, Taylor points out: "It affects a number of issues, such as Ukraine, Israel and Palestine, Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers. This is the heavy side of, `How is it going to play at home?'"
For Canada, the hostage rescue raised relations with the U.S. to a zenith never equalled since: Across the U.S., Canadians were toasted as heroes, and Americans had no doubts about what nation was their closest friend.
Now, says Taylor, "the U.S. is more border- and security-conscious. And there is a sense that people felt let down when Canada didn't join the invasion of Iraq. But our relations with the U.S. are always cyclical and coloured by the personalities and egos of the leaders. In Canada, we have fits of moral superiority to the U.S. That may be good for our own egos, but not for our national relations."
For Iran, the hostage crisis wrecked relations with much of the West for decades. "It fuelled the fantasy life of Iran, the belief that the West was an enemy and all Westerners were spies," says Mark Bowden, the Philadelphia author of the forthcoming Guests of the Ayatollah, about the lives of the hostage-takers since the crisis. "Now the more educated people understand more about the West, but they're caught in a bind, and the country is badly divided."
Bowden found the hostage-taking was a slapdash affair that lurched from one debacle to another as the students improvised ways of caring for dozens of captives while sitting at the centre of an international political crisis.
"Their motives weren't really ideological; it was just a protest against the U.S. But very quickly the mullahs saw it as an opportunity to leverage power, and the students found themselves being used. They were excited and elated, but they found themselves not in control."
Some of the hostage-takers now regret their actions. Some have become dissidents, beaten and jailed. But 25 years ago, events moved too fast for them to ponder the implications.
Buoyed by worldwide publicity from holding a symbolic gun to the head of America, Khomeini used the hostage-taking to defeat the struggling moderates. He installed a theocracy that alienated the U.S. and other Western countries. That hostility to Iran emboldened Saddam Hussein to attack it, launching a disastrous eight-year war in which 1 million people perished.
Crippled by the war and an economic embargo, the mullahs' regime grew increasingly isolated and radical. Over two decades it has failed to redistribute wealth, to rein in corruption, introduce democracy or rejoin the world community. Despite wide support for change, the democracy movement has been hobbled and repression continues.
"It's a disaster in the eyes of most Iranians," Bowden says. "Iran is an example of what happens to a country that falls into the hands of fanatics."
However, says Rahnema, the radical regime is unlikely to survive long. "Despite all their efforts, they're faced with a population where 60 per cent of people are under 20. Even though those young people were born under the regime, they oppose it. If there's a genuine election, they would vote against it."
While Iranians cope with the results of the hostage crisis, its reverberations echo in new confrontations between the West and Islamic extremists, who learned from the drama of 25 years ago.
"One thing the hostage crisis demonstrated was the vulnerability of the West," Taylor says. "The ayatollah might have failed in his aims, but his influence was far-reaching."
Straw says Iran nuke talks the only way forwardWed Jan 19, 2005 03:46 AM GMTLONDON (Reuters) - Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says there is no alternative to Europe's approach of using diplomacy to try to persuade Iran to give up any technology that could be used make nuclear weapons.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Straw defended the policy of Britain, France and Germany to talk to Iran rather adopt Washington's more hardline stance.
The European Union's so-called "Big Three" have sought to persuade Tehran to stop technology that could be used to make atomic weapons in return for incentives such as trade deals and help with a civilian nuclear programme.
"Those who said we'd be split apart by the Iranians are wrong," said Straw.
"Those who said we would not be able to negotiate any substantial text are wrong. Those who said we could not build up a degree of trust with Iranians, at the same time as building up a strong consensus with the U.S. and the non-aligned countries, are wrong.
"It has taken a phenomenal amount of work, but so far so good. And it is a better strategy than the alternative."
U.S. President George W. Bush said on Monday he would not rule out military force against Iran over its nuclear programme.
Washington accuses Tehran of trying to produce nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear programme is designed solely for generation of electricity.
In a wide-ranging interview, Straw said Iraq's elections on January 30 would be "imperfect" because of an insurgency.
"But obviously, the higher the turnout, the greater the legitimacy of the whole process," said Straw.
Khatami says Iran will stand by ZimbabweJanuary 18, 2005, 18:00
Iranian leader Mohammad Khatami said his country would stand by Zimbabwe in its battle against international isolation over President Robert Mugabe's rule.
Mugabe's government is cultivating relations with Asian and Muslim countries under a 'look east' policy. The aim is to revive an economy in recession for the last 5 years and to ease sanctions imposed by Western powers over accusations of vote-rigging and human rights abuses.
Khatami arrived in Zimbabwe yesterday for a three-day visit, and today held meetings with business executives and top government officials to discuss trade ahead of talks with Mugabe tomorrow.
Khatami told Mugabe at a state banquet last night that Iran, accused by the US of sponsoring terrorism and being part of an "axis of evil," would stand by Zimbabwe through its own problems with the West, Zimbabwe state media reported.
"I share your historical suffering and grief ... on our part we stay next to you and shall stay longer," Khatami said.
Zimbabwean officials said today Khatami had pledged at several meetings to help Zimbabwe lift an economy which Mugabe charges has been sabotaged by Western and domestic opponents seeking to overthrow him.
"President Khatami has pledged that the Republic of Iran is going to help us in a number of areas, including in establishing farming machinery plants," said one Zimbabwean official.
The official said Iran and Zimbabwe would sign some trade and business co-operation agreements before Khatami's departure tomorrow.
The state-controlled Herald newspaper said Mugabe told Khatami that he regarded Iran as "a critical partner" in his 'look east' policy and had praised Tehran for assisting his government with fertiliser, seed, tractors and irrigation equipment as it implemented its controversial farm seizures.
"We cherish your unwavering support during the land reform process and look forward to its continuation ...," he said.
Lovemore Madhuku, a political commentator, said Khatami's visit was about building political ties between two states who both face troubled relationships with the West.
"The Iranians see in Mugabe a person who can be an ally in their fight against the Western world and in turn they also have a lot of tips for Zimbabwe," Madhuku said.
"Of course the Iranians see a lot of opportunities to exploit Africa on the economic front," he added of Khatami's Africa visit, which has included stops in Mali and Benin. - Reuters
Yep... Dictators stand by each other!
Pro-democracy Iran rally in Paris to highlight abusesWed. 19 Jan 2005
Paris, France, Jan. 18 Iranians are planning a massive rally in Paris on the twenty-sixth anniversary of the 1979 Iranian revolution to call for an end to theocratic rule in their country.
Organisers are expecting a huge turnout in the event scheduled for February 10 at Place Trocadero in central Paris.
We are going to call every man and woman of conscience in the world to join us on February 10, said Elham Parsafar of the Paris-based Committee in Defense of Human Rights in Iran. What the mullahs are doing in Iran public hangings, floggings, stoning women to death are an affront to humanity, not just Iranians.
Demonstrators will call for an end to diplomatic and economic ties between European governments and the clerical regime, so long as human rights violations in Iran persist.
The rally has already received strong support from a broad array of French political and social personalities and human rights groups.
I do as my conscience tells me, Henri, a French sociology student helping the organisers, said, when asked why he had volunteered for this effort. I suppose if I had lived seventy years ago, I would have done something against the Nazis. You cant remain indifferent if sixteen-year-old girls are being hanged somewhere.
Organizers are putting up a list of prominent French and international political figures to address the rally.
The worsening human rights situation in Iran is coming under increasing international scrutiny. Last week, the European Parliament adopted a resolution by majority vote censuring human rights violations in Iran in the second such move over the past six months.
The toughly-worded resolution denounced practices such as execution of juveniles and stonings carried out by the Iranian regime.
Iran was also censured by the United Nations General Assembly last month for its flagrant violations of human rights. Human rights agencies report that at least 174 forms of torture such as flogging, limb amputation, and eye gouging are used in Iranian prisons.
The Paris rally is expected to highlight these violations and call on the EU to develop a new policy to induce genuine change in Iran by supporting the Iranian peoples democratic aspirations.
More sticks, and the odd carrotJan 18th 2005
From The Economist Global Agenda
As Condoleezza Rice attends hearings that should lead to her being confirmed as Americas new secretary of state, a report suggests America may be preparing to attack Iran. What will be the dominant theme of George Bushs second-term foreign policy?
LOVE it or loathe it, the Bush administration wins full points for foreign-policy boldness. Entering his second term on Thursday January 20th, President George Bush, many think, should feel chastened by his record in his first four years. In particular, he has embroiled America in a conflict in Iraq that has become bloodier and more difficult than anyone in the administration imagined.
But a report this week in the New Yorker magazine by Seymour Hersh, an investigative journalist, suggests that Mr Bush and those close to him are feeling far from gun-shy going into his second term. Mr Hersh alleges that the Pentagon, usurping a role formerly held by the CIA, has begun a series of covert operations of which it will report only the most general details to Congress. Most explosively, the article alleges that America already has commando teams operating inside Iran, scouting targets for a potential strike on the Islamic republics nuclear facilities. America is convinced that Iran has a secret nuclear-weapons programme, though Iran insists its nuclear dabblings are for civilian purposes only.
The Pentagon was quick to issue a press release saying that Mr Hershs article was riddled with errors. But it did not deny the central claim of stepped-up covert activity run from the Pentagon. And Iran seems to be taking the threat seriously: its defence minister talked up the deterrent power of Irans conventional military in comments published in a newspaper on Tuesday.
This storm broke just as Condoleezza Rice, Mr Bushs national-security adviser during his first term, was beginning confirmation hearings to become the new secretary of state. Ms Rice, who is almost certain to be confirmed, will replace the doveish, multilateral-minded Colin Powell. Mr Powell was seen as getting on poorly with other cabinet members, especially Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, and Dick Cheney, the vice-president, and he often seemed to have little influence on Mr Bush. Ms Rice, by contrast, has for some time been the presidents closest adviser and is a personal friend.
How will she affect foreign policy? Before Mr Bush was elected, she was known as a realist, more concerned with power and security than with using American might to democratise other countries. It is hard to know if she has changed her views in office, as her advice is given to the president behind the scenes. But in her opening statement in her confirmation hearings, she spoke out strongly for Mr Bushs vision of spreading democracy. She said that the president had broken with the habit of excusing and accommodating the lack of democracy in the Middle East, and that pushing democracy would be a big part of relations with Russia.
So, Ms Rice has made clear that she intends to back Mr Bushs neo-conservative-inspired dream of democratic transformation in strategically important countries that are currently run by autocrats. But the hard-headed realists, strong believers in the notion of credible threats, also have reason to be pleased. Only this week, Mr Bush refused to rule out military action against Iran. America also intends to keep up the pressure on North Korea, another nuclear renegade which, the realists believe, understands nothing but power.
Even the multilateralists are hopeful, despite Mr Powells departure. Robert Zoellick, Americas trade representative, who has extensive experience negotiating with the European Union and other key trading partners, has been nominated to be Ms Rices deputy secretary of state. And Mr Bush himself has praised the Europeans painstaking negotiations with Iran over its uranium-enrichment programme.
But can the realists, neo-conservatives and multilateralists all be made happier in a second Bush term? There are numerous internal inconsistencies. The internationalist types will note that credible reports of secret raids into Iran are sure to irritate the Europeans, who will feel that their diplomacy is being undercut. The neo-conservatives must resign themselves to the fact that, in the next four years as in the past four, America will need to cosy up to non-democracies, such as Pakistan and Uzbekistan. And the realists no doubt worry that any strikes on Irans nuclear facilities could embroil America in a larger conflict with that countryat a time when Americas forces are already heavily committed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and facing down a threat from Kim Jong Il's Hermit Kingdom.
Ms Rice has indicated that she will seek to bring the State Departments worried diplomats peacefully round to Mr Bushs way of thinking, rather than seeking to break their backs. But they may be sobered by seeing what has happened at another unruly agency, the CIA. Its new boss, Porter Goss, has signalled that no more will the agencys spies and analysts undermine Mr Bushs policies with pessimistic reports or self-justifying leaks to the press.
A forthcoming review will recommend whether the CIAs covert paramilitary operations should be given to the Pentagon. According to Mr Hersh, the result is a foregone conclusion: the indefatigable and apparently unsackable Mr Rumsfeld will see his empire grow at the expense of the CIA. Last-minute changes to the wording of a new intelligence-reform bill, signed by Mr Bush last month, have been taken by many to mean that the Pentagon will keep ultimate control over roughly 80% of the intelligence budget. No wonder morale at the CIA is said to be in the pits.
What does all of this say about the shape of foreign policy in the second Bush term? The president seems to hope that by promoting both Ms Rice and Mr Goss and by shepherding through the intelligence-reform bill, he can make the State Department and the CIA more loyal to the White House; and that this, combined with offering countries like Iran and North Korea a bunch of sticks and a few carrots, will make American policy towards the outside world more coherent and effective. Will it work? From Paris to Pyongyang, the answer is awaited with bated breath.
Iran, Calling Bush's Words 'Threats,' Says It Is Not IntimidatedBy NAZILA FATHI
Published: January 19, 2005
EHRAN, Jan. 18 - A number of Iranian officials declared Tuesday that Iran would not be intimidated by threats, a day after President Bush refused to rule out military action against Iran if it continued to pursue nuclear weapons.
"We are not afraid of foreign enemies' threats and sanctions, since they know well that throughout its Islamic and ancient history, Iran has been no place for adventurism," Iran's former president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, told the state news agency, IRNA.
Iran's defense minister, Ali Shamkhani, made some vague threats of his own, saying, "We have developed a might that no country can attack us because they do not have accurate information about our military capabilities," according to the Mehr news agency. "We have produced equipment at a rapid pace with the minimum investment that has resulted in the greatest deterrent force."
Mr. Rafsanjani announced in October that Iran had successfully increased the range of its missile, Shahab-3, to 1,200 miles, putting Israel, American bases in the Persian Gulf and even parts of Europe in range.
Mehr news agency, which reportedly has close ties to the office of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, boasted in non-specific terms about Iran's ability to retaliate against any attacks. "Today, the Islamic Republic has acquired massive military might, the dimensions of which still remain unknown, and is prepared to attack any intruder with a fearsome rain of fire and death," it said, according to Reuters.
Iranian officials also had more to say about an article in The New Yorker that said United States commandos have been operating inside the country since mid-2004, selecting sites for future airstrikes. The chief spokesman at Iran's national security council scoffed at the report, dismissing it as a "ridiculous bluff" and "psychological warfare against Iran."
"The entry of American commandos is not that easy, and believing this story would be naïve," state radio quoted the spokesman, Ali Aghamohammadi, as saying.
Iran's judiciary retreated on Tuesday from its threat to arrest Shirin Ebadi, the human rights lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize winner, for defying a summons to appear before a security court and said the summons was an error, a rare acknowledgment.
A judiciary spokesman, Kamal Karimirad, said Tuesday that the clerk who wrote the summons "was not experienced enough" and had failed to state the reason for the summons. The clerk also mistakenly called Ms. Ebadi to the hard-line Revolutionary Court, the branch that deals with national security, Mr. Karimirad said at a weekly news conference, ISNA, a news agency, reported.
Ms. Ebadi had described the summons as illegal.
On Monday, Ms. Ebadi boldly called on the Iranian Judiciary authorities to abolish solitary confinement. Mr. Karimirad answered that Iran no longer had solitary confinement cells.
Ms. Ebadi, 57, has had conflicts with the authorities in the past for defending political dissidents. In this case she was representing the family of an Iranian-Canadian journalist, Zahra Kazemi, who died during detention by the Iranian judiciary in 2002.
In another matter where Iran apparently shifted, the chief of the judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahroudi, met last week with more than a dozen journalists and bloggers recently released from long solitary confinements. He promised to follow their cases and end their harassment.
In Europe, Fears Grow of a Coming Iran Conflict
Remarks by United States President George W. Bush on Tuesday that he would not rule out the possibility of war against Iran have generated serious criticism in Germany. Leading German foreign policy experts have warned that a diplomatic solution is the only one for Iran.
Claudia Roth, chairwoman of the Green Party, has called on the US to support Europe's negotiations with Iran. Germany, France and England are seeking a deal with Tehran that would guarantee the mullah rulers would abandon their nuclear ambitions in exchange for assistance in building a legitimate nuclear power plant. In an interview with the Berliner Zeitung newspaper, she said: "What we need is a diplomatic solution -- not the threat of force." Roth insisted there could be no escalation of the situation in the region.
A report released this week in the New Yorker magazine by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh over apparent preparations for a US military strike against Iran has sparked worry worldwide that Iran is the next country after Iraq on the US war agenda. Secretary of State designate Condoleeza Rice included the country on the list of six "outposts of tyranny" she described during her confirmation hearing Tuesday before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington, D.C.
Rice refutes Hersh article
Rice also refuted the contents of the Hersh article, which alleged that US commandos -- in preparation for possible future strikes -- have been scoping out sites in Iran where the country may be developing nuclear and chemical weapons. "The article is inaccurate and does not represent U.S. policies toward Iran or its expectation of policies toward Iran," she told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Neither, she said, had Washington engaged in any secret dealings with Pakistan over the apparent activities in Iran as the article alleges.
But in Europe, many politicians and newspaper editorials are giving Hersh, a dogged investigative reporter with an award-winning track record, the benefit of the doubt.
On Wednesday, the leading foreign policy coordinator for German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democratic Party, Gernot Erler, joined the Greens in warning against any escalation. "If the reports about the corresponding US plans are cofirmed, it would have a ricochet effect on Europe's policy of negotiating with Iran," he told the Berliner Zeitung. The EU, he said, has adopted a specific plan for pulling Iran out of the margins without using military threats. He described the US government's denial of the Hersh article as "tepid" and said this raises concerns that Washington may be continuing with its "disastrous" Iraq policies.
Hans-Christian Stroebele, a member of parliament from the Green Party, described the signal being sent from Washington was "highly alarming." I fear, he told the newspaper, "that through his re-election, the American president sees his Iraq policies as validated and legitimate -- and that he's now on track toward a new war with Iran."
He said Europeans must speak out decisively against the use of military force. "It is the duty of German politics and it has to be discussed during the American president's visit to Germany." Bush is expected to briefly meet with Schroeder at a stopover in Mainz, Germany, on Feb. 23.
The Iran expert in the conservative opposition Christian Democratic Union's parliamentary group, Ruprecht Polenz, also criticized the fact that Washington hasn't made any political offers in its negotiations with Tehran. "We could achieve results a lot faster if the Americans wouldn't just sit their with their arms folded across their chests watching the Europeans."
Straw: "Nuclear dispute can only be solved diplomatically"
Britain has also come out strong in saying that a diplomatic solution is the only way to stop the Iranian nuclear program. In an interview with the Financial Times, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw defended its joint diplomatic strategy with France and Germany against the US's hard-line stance. "It's a better strategy than the alternative," he said.
"Those who said we'd be split apart by the Iranians are wrong," he told the paper. "Those who said we would not be able to negotiate any substantial text (with the Iranians) are wrong. Those who said we could not build up a degree of trust with the Iranians -- at the same time as building up a strong consensus with the US and non-aligned countries -- are wrong."
Both the US and Europe see Iran's nuclear program as potentially one of the most dangerous international conflicts in the crisis-plagued Middle East. The US has accused the country of seeking to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of its civilian nuclear energy program -- a charge Tehran has disputed. Under a European Union mandate, Germany, France and Britain have reached a preliminary deal with Tehran putting a stop to important elements of the nuclear program, and now they are negotiating a guarantee from the ruling mullahs that they will not use their civilian nuclear program for military purposes. But the US has viewed the negotiations skeptically.
Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations's nuclear watchdog, is requesting to search another Iranian military complex the US has fingered as a possible site where tests are being conducted in the development of nuclear weapons. Last week, inspectors from the IAEA took samples at the site in the city of Parchin, but access to some parts of the facility was restricted. Diplomats have told the Associated Press they want to take further samples and visit other sites at the facility.
January 19, 2005, 7:49 a.m.
Setting Sights on SyriaHow to win in Iraq, and regionally.
The carnage from terrorist attacks in Iraq is discouraging many, and unless we make some unexpected new move, no one expects it to stop, even after a successful election on January 30. The Islamofascists who are blowing us up and butchering Iraqis won't quit, as long as they believe that if they keep it up long enough they can drive us out and gain control of the country. Our main attackers, after all, are Baathist thugs and Islamist jihadis. Together, branches of these two groups succeeded in driving us out of neighboring Lebanon in the pre-9/11 years. They control it still, and they boast that they will drive us from Iraq too.
President Bush's answer is that in the post-9/11 world, we must prove them wrong by staying the course, before and after the Iraqi election, doing more of what we are already doing, but doing it better, every day, making steady progress in spite of all obstacles toughing it out until an elected Iraqi government commands Iraqi forces that are capable of maintaining their own security. Most of our troops agree. It's the true-grit answer, and they see it as right and necessary for America's long-term security. Despite their losses, morale remains high. Our guys are determined to defeat the Islamofascists in Iraq as they did in Afghanistan, pushing back the tide of terror that struck us on 9/11 until it no longer threatens our safety or the peace of the world. That's the president's basic plan; our troops support it, and in the long run, it's what most Americans and Iraqis want.
But in the short term, what majorities in both countries want most is a more effective response to the ongoing carnage, some new action we can take that will seriously de-grade the enemy's ability to kill and maim us. Is this just an impossible dream, or is there in fact some new move we can make that will weaken our enemies, sap their confidence in ultimate victory, and cut way down on our casualties?
A Regional WarOur Defense secretary thinks there is such a move, and he has been seeking a go-ahead to make it since at least mid-2003. But the camera-hogging chorus of Rumsfeld critics has no clue. More armor? The last few pieces were being hammered into place before the criticism started, and while they give our troops a slight defensive edge, they do nothing for the embattled Iraqi people. More troops? Wrong again, and chutzpah besides. Chutzpah, because the same congressmen who cut divisions from our military in the 1990s are berating Rumsfeld now for not overwhelming the enemy with those vanished divisions. Wrong, too as active generals like Richard Myers, retired generals like Thom-as McInerney and Paul Vallely, military historians like Victor Davis Hanson, and intelligence experts like Herbert Meyer keep telling us because the best defense is a good offense. The bottom line is that it's not how many troops we have, but how aggressively we use them. And in its first term, the Bush administration was divided about the aggressive use of offensive military force.
Rumsfeld and others wanted to bring down Saddam Hussein's regime without first spending months telegraphing our punches in the U.N. That would have given us the advantage of surprise, making it much harder for Iraq's Baathists and jihadis to set up bases in neighboring countries and transfer billions of dollars and large loads of unknown weapons and supplies there before the war. Key players in the State Department and the CIA opposed the invasion of Iraq altogether, and passionately opposed doing it without U.N. approval. Tony Blair was also passionate about the U.N., and President Bush split the difference. He gave the go-ahead for General Tommy Franks's daring shock-and-awe offensive for the liberation of Iraq, but not before he gave the U.N. every chance to take effective action first. When it came to running Iraq in the interim between the liberation and a new, elected, and empowered Iraqi government, control of American policy once again reverted, for the most part, to State and CIA. Key players there favored a long, slow transition, a major effort to woo hostile elements in both the Shiite and Sunni communities, and a conciliatory stance toward Iraq's predatory neighbors. Threats to arrest Muqtada al-Sadr with no follow-through; the aborted attack on the Iraqi terror-center of Fallujah in April 2004; and the long resistance to imposing sanctions on Syria: All these are examples of State-CIA policy in action. At Fallujah especially, our troops chafed under it. It was the site of the first gross, triumphant, in-your-face public lynching of American civilians, and our fighting men did not want to negotiate with the lynchers' frontmen. They wanted to crush them, to send the life-saving message: If you butcher Americans, you die. Their orders, instead, were to withdraw. In all these instances and more, Rumsfeld differed with his colleagues at State and CIA, and with a clique of military officers who agreed with them.
But perhaps the most important, least-recognized difference between Rumsfeld and his opponents has to do with our stance toward the countries that surround Iraq. Rumsfeld recognized, early on, that the terror war in Iraq is sustained by the critical support it gets from terror-sponsoring neighboring states, and he wanted to take offensive action against them, too. He focused especially on Iraq's western neighbor, asking for approval to pursue terrorists across the border, into the heart of today's terror network in Syria. Once again, major players at State and CIA were opposed, and they prevailed; we continued to fight what is, in fact, a regional war in one country only.
Bush's DecisionThat was then; this is now. After giving both camps a fair chance to show what their methods could accomplish, President Bush appears to have made a far-reaching decision. In November, he gave our military the green light to go back on the offensive against the terrorists in Fallujah and finish the job. Since then, we have stayed on the offensive inside Iraq, pursuing terrorists aggressively throughout Anbar province and in Mosul. Most of the top anti-offensive players at CIA and State are gone now, or about to go, and an offensive against Syria may be next, because now, evidence that Syria and Syrian-controlled Lebanon provide the critical support that sustains the terror war in Iraq is overwhelming.
For starters, leaders of both the Iraqi Baathists and the foreign jihadis use Syrian-controlled turf as a safe haven and base of operations. Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, the Iraqi general who directs the Baathist butchers, lives there; Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Palestinian terrorist who runs the foreign jihadis, flits back and forth across the border. Both men rely on the terror-training camps in Syria and Syrian-controlled Lebanon, camps that have replaced the ones al Qaeda maintained in Afghanistan as the places hate-crazed Muslims go to learn to kill Westerners and moderate Muslims. Hezbollah, the Iranian-run terror group that killed 241 of our marines, still controls large parts of Lebanon and runs some of these training camps; Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization that assassinated Anwar Sadat and spawned al Qaeda and a host of other terrorist groups, runs other camps. Some, like Ain al-Hilwe, are heavily infiltrated by al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists. Iranian agents brought them there, after we defeated them in Afghanistan. Syria and Iran both control other, less-well-known terror groups and training camps. Whatever changing names they use, all of these groups act as proxies for Syrian and Iranian aggression against us and against Iraq. Only Hezbollah and Hamas are out front, hiding in plain sight, under a false flag that reads: We're not a threat to America or the West; we have nothing to do with Iraq or al Qaeda we only attack Israel.
Much of the money that sustains the jihadis' war in Iraq money from Saddam Hussein's illicit oil-deals; from terrorist financiers in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Gulf states; and from terrorist drug gangs is parked in Syria and Lebanon too. Every once in a while, when State Department diplomats turn up the pressure on Syria to stop being the terror world's most convenient ATM, Syria turns a little of this money over to us, like a parent distracting a child with a sweet. But these little fiscal treats do nothing to change the fundamentals. Tougher sanctions? Even if we could get enough other countries to go along to do noticeable damage to Syria's basket-case economy, Iran has already promised to compensate Syria, and the usual terror-financiers in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf will also pony up. All pay, because all have major stakes in the continued existence of terror-central in Syria. The rise of a Shiite-dominated Arab democracy in Iraq is a threat to all the region's dictators and terrorists, Sunni and Shia alike, and Alawite-run Syria-Lebanon is the regional center, the place where all their interests merge and combine to wage and sustain the terror war against us in Iraq. Recruitment of terrorists to fight in Iraq is an open secret in Syria; and, although the volunteers come from all over the Muslim world, most of them get their training in these camps and enter Iraq from Syrian-controlled turf.
Syria, in sum, is terror central, not because it is the only Middle Eastern nation that threatens us or even the most powerful one it's the weakest but because Syria rents space to them all, playing a critical enabling role for all of the Islamofascist terrorists who are attacking us in Iraq and threatening our interests in a host of other places. As long as we permit this terrorist mecca to operate unmolested, the terror war in Iraq can probably sustain itself indefinitely, taking its bloody toll, year after year. That's why Secretary Rumsfeld has been arguing, all along, for cross-border attacks, and why the president is likely to approve such attacks soon. Pursuing terrorists across the border into Syria is the idea Rumsfeld expressed in mid-2003, but it is unlikely to be his only idea about how America should deal with Syria.
Handling SyriaMy own idea for Syria was spelled out in NRO over a year ago, and it seems to me even more relevant now. I argued that we should pound home the message that diplomatic pressure failed to deliver by launching a sudden and new shock-and-awe campaign, aimed at demolishing all the terror training camps on Syrian-controlled turf. No ground troops would be needed because:If ever a task was tailor-made for air power alone, this is it. Syria has no oil...and no significant air defense system. What it does have in places like the Bekaa Valley and the parts of Lebanon that Syria leases out to Hezbollah and its many subleasees is a super-abundance of terrorists from many groups, massed together in places where there are few or no innocent civilians. Here, we don't have to limit ourselves to hunting down terrorists one by one, inevitably losing American lives and the lives of our friends in the process. Here, our bombs can take out large numbers of Islamofascist terrorists all at once, scoring another victory in the war against terror... a victory that will dry up the flow from Syria, and make Saudi Arabia and the mad mullahs who misrule Iran understand at last that they, too, must stop funneling terrorists into Iraq [and otherwise aiding the insurrection there]. It will give new hope to the millions of Iranians who are dying to overthrow the corrupt clerics who oppress them and dishonor their religion, and it will have a sobering effect on all those who harbor terrorists, anywhere in the world.
If President Bush decides to do this, it would, of course, be wishful thinking to expect all the carnage in Iraq to stop immediately afterwards. It won't, but without a never-ending supply of money, training camps, fresh recruits, and safe havens, it is reasonable to expect that terrorist attacks inside Iraq will diminish significantly, along with terrorist morale, allowing Iraqi forces to establish control of their own security in a year or two, and allowing our troops and those of our Coalition partners to come home, leaving behind a freer Iraq and a safer world.
Will Turtle Bay and Brussels resound with denunciations of America's reckless unilateralism? Of course, but not as loudly or with as much unity as professional doomsayers like Brent Scowcroft and Michael Moore predict. They won't get the message, but it will be received, loud and clear, on the Arab street and in Arab palaces alike: Uncle Sucker is no more, and the price to pay for treating George W. Bush's America like one is more than they can afford. As for opinion at home, whenever this president made a bold military move in the past, big majorities of Americans rallied around him, strongly. Americans don't run from a battle, as long as we believe our leaders are clear about what it will take to win and determined not to stop short of it.
Barbara Lerner is a freelance writer in Chicago.
January 19, 2005
Peace Requires Action on Iran and Syria TooBy Senator Jon Kyl
Last week's Palestinian elections, which I had the privilege to observe, were universally regarded as a great success. But they are only the first step in establishing real democracy for Palestinians. The question now is whether the victorious Mahmoud Abbas will use his mandate to turn the Palestinian Authority into a governing body that genuinely represents its people, and strive to lay the groundwork for negotiations with Israel that could lead to the creation of a Palestinian state.
Some have called on President Bush to "seize the moment," and quickly broker some kind of a deal. But a better approach is to give Abbas time to demonstrate himself whether he will do what is necessary to achieve lasting peace. The United States should instead focus its efforts on areas that the Israelis and Palestinians simply cannot, namely the external factors that could influence whether Palestinian.
Israeli and Palestinian leaders I spoke with agreed that Iran and Syria would continue to use terrorists in the disputed territories and along the Lebanon-Israel border to engage in a proxy war against the Jewish State. While Abbas can do much to stop terror in the territories, the U.S. can help with Iran and Syria.
Since its revolution in 1979, Iran has never ceased its calls for the destruction of Israel. Now, it has become the primary ideological, financial and logistical supporter to the terrorists attempting to translate ideology into practice. According to Israeli sources, Iran now spends, on average, $40,000 per terrorist. This money is sent from Iran to Damascus, Syria - the home of the operational headquarters for almost all Palestinian terror groups. From there the money flows to a special unit in Beirut, Lebanon - a country virtually occupied by Syria - charged with operating Palestinian terrorists.
Using banks and even Western Union, the money makes its way to the local terror groups in the West Bank and in Gaza. Eventually money and training from Iran are used to launch a suicide bomber, set off a truck or car bomb, or plant an improvised explosive device (IED) designed to kill civilians and soldiers alike, and sabotage efforts at peace.
However, an even more lethal threat is growing along Israel's northern border. Estimates put the current number of rockets and short-range ballistic missiles deployed by the terrorist group Hezbollah in southern Lebanon at 11,000-13,000. These rockets are flown from Iran to Syria, and then make their way to the Israeli border by truck. Israeli towns have long suffered under attack from short-range rockets. The threat has eased somewhat since October 2003 when Israel retaliated for one attack by destroying a terrorist camp north of Damascus, but the proliferation of the rockets and missiles has continued.
While large-scale terrorist attacks in Israel may be less frequent - thanks in part to Israel's security barrier - 15-20 terrorists are arrested daily. If Iran and Syria believe that the Palestinians may finally be ready to make peace by dismantling the terrorists groups, jeopardizing their proxy war, we can expect increased attacks both inside Israel and from Lebanon attempting to destabilize the Palestinian leadership and force the Israelis into a potentially broader war.
The Palestinian Authority must take the lead in stopping terrorism from its people and territory. But the United States and the rest of the international community can help by holding Iran and Syria accountable for their continued low-intensity warfare in Israel. For too long the world has demanded action only from Israel and the PA.
Senator Kyl serves on the Senate Finance and Judiciary committees and chairs the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security as well as the Senate Republican Policy Committee. He recently led a bipartisan congressional delegation to Israel and Turkey.
Ayatollah labels Rushdie an apostate who can be killed
Wed Jan 19, 8:50 AM ET
TEHRAN (AFP) - Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has labelled author Salman Rushdie an apostate whose killing would be authorised by Islam, according to message carried by Iranian media.
Khamenei's reference to Rushdie was made in a message to Muslims making the annnual pilgrimage to Mecca, and was part of a lengthy tirade against "Western and Zionist capitalists" and the US-led "war on terror".
"They talk about respect towards all religions, but they support such a mahdour al-damm mortad as Salman Rushdie," Khamenei said.
In the Sharia, or Islamic law, "mortad" is a reference to someone who has committed apostacy by leaving Islam while "mahdour al-damm" is a term applying to someone whose blood may be shed with impunity.
In his hajj message, the full transcript of which was carried by the state news agency IRNA, Khamenei made no further reference to Rushdie.
In February 1989 Iran's revolutionary founder and Khamenei's predecessor, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa, or religious edict, calling for Rushdie's execution because of alleged blasphemy and apostasy in his novel "The Satanic Verses".
Under reformist President Mohammad Khatami (news - web sites), who was elected in 1997, Iran's leadership has distanced itself from the order to kill Rushdie, who was born in Bombay, India, to a Muslim family.
In 1998, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi promised his then British counterpart Robin Cook that Iran would do nothing to implement the fatwa, despite a 2.8 million dollar (1.5 million pound) bounty placed on Rushdie's head by a parastate foundation in Iran.
The pledge eased nearly a decade of torn relations with the European Union (news - web sites) but sparked a chorus of protest from hardliners, and a year ago the 15th of Khordad Foundation -- the charitable trust that initially offered the bounty -- issued a statement saying the fatwa was still valid.
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