Consequences Of Attacking Iran And Why Tehran Is Not Worried

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Postby Armenian on Thu Aug 09, 2007 3:13 am

Israel's Jewish Problem in Tehran

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Israel's Jewish Problem in Tehran - So why hasn't Iran started by wiping its own Jews off the map?

Iran is the new Nazi Germany and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the new Hitler. Or so Israeli officials have been declaring for months as they and their American allies try to persuade the doubters in Washington that an attack on Tehran is essential. And if the latest media reports are to be trusted, it looks like they may again be winning the battle for hearts and minds: Vice President Dick Cheney is said to be diverting the White House back on track to launch a military strike. Earlier this year Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel's opposition leader and the man who appears to be styling himself scaremonger-in-chief, told us: "It's 1938 and Iran is Germany. And Iran is racing to arm itself with atomic bombs." Of Ahmadinejad, he said: "He is preparing another Holocaust for the Jewish state."

A few weeks ago, as Israel's military intelligence claimed – as it has been doing regularly since the early 1990s – that Iran is only a year or so away from the "point of no return" on developing a nuclear warhead, Netanyahu was at it again. "Iran could be the first undeterrable nuclear power," he warned, adding: "This is a Jewish problem like Hitler was a Jewish problem … The future of the Jewish people depends on the future of Israel." But Netanyahu has been far from alone in making extravagant claims about a looming genocide from Iran. Israel's new president, Shimon Peres, has compared an Iranian nuclear bomb to a "flying concentration camp." And the prime minister, Ehud Olmert, told a German newspaper last year: "[Ahmadinejad] speaks as Hitler did in his time of the extermination of the entire Jewish nation."

There is an interesting problem with selling the "Iran as Nazi Germany" line. If Ahmadinejad really is Hitler, ready to commit genocide against Israel's Jews as soon as he can get his hands on a nuclear weapon, why are some 25,000 Jews living peacefully in Iran and more than reluctant to leave despite repeated enticements from Israel and American Jews? What is the basis for Israel's dire forecasts – the ideological scaffolding being erected, presumably, to justify an attack on Iran? Helpfully, as George Bush defended his Iraq policies last month, he reminded us yet again of the menace Iran supposedly poses: it is "threatening to wipe Israel off the map."

This myth has been endlessly recycled since a translating error was made of a speech Ahmadinejad delivered nearly two years ago. Farsi experts have verified that the Iranian president, far from threatening to destroy Israel, was quoting from an earlier speech by the late Ayatollah Khomeini in which he reassured supporters of the Palestinians that "the Zionist regime in Jerusalem" would "vanish from the page of time." He was not threatening to exterminate Jews or even Israel. He was comparing Israel's occupation of the Palestinians with other illegitimate systems of rule whose time had passed, including the Shahs who once ruled Iran, apartheid South Africa and the Soviet empire. Nonetheless, this erroneous translation has survived and prospered because Israel and her supporters have exploited it for their own crude propaganda purposes.

In the meantime, the 25,000-strong Iranian Jewish community is the largest in the Middle East outside Israel and traces its roots back 3,000 years. As one of several non-Muslim minorities in Iran, Jews there suffer discrimination, but they are certainly no worse off than the one million Palestinian citizens of Israel – and far better off than Palestinians under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza. Iranian Jews have little influence on decision-making and are not allowed to hold senior posts in the army or bureaucracy. But they enjoy many freedoms. They have an elected representative in parliament, they practice their religion openly in synagogues, their charities are funded by the Jewish diaspora, and they can travel freely, including to Israel. In Tehran there are six kosher butchers and about 30 synagogues. Ahmadinejad's office recently made a donation to a Jewish hospital in Tehran.

As Ciamak Moresadegh, an Iranian Jewish leader, observed: "If you think Judaism and Zionism are one, it is like thinking Islam and the Taliban are the same, and they are not." Iran's leaders denounce Zionism, which they blame for fueling discrimination against the Palestinians, but they have also repeatedly avowed that they have no problem with Jews, Judaism or even the state of Israel. Ahmadinejad, caricatured as a merchant of genocide, has in fact called for "regime change" – and then only in the sense that he believes a referendum should be held of all inhabitants of Israel and the occupied territories, including refugees from war, on the nature of the government.

Despite the absence of any threat to Iran's Jews, the Israeli media recently reported that the Israeli government has been trying to find new ways to entice Iranian Jews to Israel. The Ma'ariv newspaper pointed out that previous schemes had found few takers. There was, noted the report, "a lack of desire on the part of thousands of Iranian Jews to leave." According to the New York-based Forward newspaper, a campaign to convince Iranian Jews to emigrate to Israel caused only 152 out of these 25,000 Jews to leave Iran between October 2005 and September 2006, and most of them were said to have emigrated for economic reasons, not political ones.

To step up these efforts – and presumably to avoid the embarrassing incongruence of claiming an imminent second Holocaust while thousands of Jews live happily in Tehran – Israel is now backing a move by Jewish donors to guarantee every Iranian Jewish family $60,000 to settle in Israel, in addition to a host of existing financial incentives that are offered to Jewish immigrants, including loans and cheap mortgages. The announcement was met with scorn by the Society of Iranian Jews, which issued a statement that their national identity was not for sale. "The identity of Iranian Jews is not tradeable for any amount of money. Iranian Jews are among the most ancient Iranians. Iran's Jews love their Iranian identity and their culture, so threats and this immature political enticement will not achieve their aim of wiping out the identity of Iranian Jews."

However, this financial gesture may not only be unwelcome but self-fulfilling too, if past experience is the yardstick. Israel introduced a similar scheme a few years ago, when Argentina's economy plunged into deep recession, broadcasting an offer of $20,000 to every Jew who settled in Israel. Months later the Israeli media reported a rise in anti-Semitic attacks in Argentina, only adding to the pressure on Jews there to leave. Of course, there was no mention of a possible causal connection between the attacks and Israel's generous offer to Jews to abandon their homeland as other Argentinians sank into poverty. But if financial enticements – and a possible popular backlash – fail to move Iranian Jews, there is good reason to fear that Israel may resort to other, more dubious ways of encouraging them to emigrate. That is certainly a path Israel has chosen before with other communities of Arab Jews, whom it has regarded either as a pool of potential spies and agents provocateurs to be used when needed or as "human dust," in the words of Israel's first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, to be recruited to Israel's "demographic battle" against the Palestinians.

In "Operation Susannah" of 1954, for example, Israel recklessly recruited a group of Egyptian Jews to stage a series of explosions in Egypt in a bid to discourage Britain from withdrawing from the Suez Canal zone. When the plot came to light, it naturally cast a shadow of disloyalty over Egypt's wider Jewish community. Following Israel's invasion and occupation of Sinai two years later, the government of Gamal Abdel Nasser expelled some 25,000 Egyptian Jews and, after others were imprisoned on suspicion of spying, the rest soon left. Even more notoriously, Israel went to greater lengths to ensure the exit of the Arab world's largest Jewish population, in Iraq. In 1950 a series of bombs targeted on Jews in Baghdad forced a rapid exodus of some 130,000 Iraqi Jews to Israel, convinced that Arab extremists were behind the attacks. Only later did it emerge that the bombs had been planted by members of the Zionist underground, supported by the Israeli government.

Now, Iran's Jews may find themselves treated in much the same manner – as simple human fodder. Stories are growing of Israel exploiting the free movement between Iran and Israel enjoyed by Iranian Jews and their Israeli relatives to carry out spying operations on Iran's nuclear program. Such reports have come from reliable sources such as the American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, citing US government officials. The fallout from such actions is not difficult to predict. Besieged by the US and the international community, Tehran is cracking down on dissent and minority groups, fearful that its own grip on power is shaky and that the well-publicized subversion being carried out by US and Israeli agents is likely only to be stepped up. So far most officials in Tehran have been careful to avoid suggesting that Iran's Jews have double loyalties, as has the local Jewish community itself, both of them aware of Israel's interests in provoking such a confrontation. But as the strains increase, and Israel's need to prove Tehran's genocidal intent grows ever stronger, that policy may end up being forfeited – and with it the future of Iran's Jews.

More important than the welfare of Iranian Jewish families, it seems, is the value of Iranian Jews as a propaganda tool in Israel's battle to persuade the world that coexistence with the Muslim world is impossible. For those who want to engineer a clash of civilizations, the 3,000-year-old Jewish legacy in Iran is not something to be treasured, only another obstacle to war.

Source: http://www.antiwar.com/orig/cook.php?articleid=11394
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Postby Armenian on Thu Aug 09, 2007 3:14 am

An Unreasonable U.S. Concern: Armenian-Iranian Cooperation

Recently, the United States Charge d’Affairs in Yerevan, Anthony Godfrey, indicated that Washington had concerns regarding the degree and direction of Armenian-Iranian cooperation, especially relating to energy resources. For the past 30 years Iran has been the principal adversary of the United States in the Middle East and its client state Israel. Its determination to develop nuclear technology for peaceful or alleged non-peaceful purposes or, again, its support of what is described in the Western media as radical Islamic groups is beyond the purpose of this discussion. However, what is important is that Armenia and Iran enjoy a symbiotic relationship that both nations have assiduously nurtured since Armenia’s independence. It should be noted that there are several hundred thousand Armenians in Iran; most having lived there for generations.

Although the United States has a right to question Armenia’s relationship with Iran, that concern must be evaluated within the context of the close economic and military ties Washington maintains with Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Both Turkey and Azerbaijan, which loom large in the strategic interests of the United States, have adopted policies whose sole purpose is to weaken Armenia. Georgia, a third recipient of United States military and economic largess, maintains a cooperative stance in its relations with Armenia, yet it does not hesitate to enter into agreements with Turkey and Azerbaijan that are inimical to Armenia’s economic interests. Far out weighing any economic and humanitarian aid Armenia receives from the United States are the close ties that bind Ankara, Baku and Tbilisi to Washington’s policy of challenging Russia and Iran for the energy resources of Central Asia and the Caucasus. As a result, Armenia has been left, literally, to its own devices. So much for that.

As one of 44 land-locked countries in the world, Armenia’s relationship with its neighbors must be placed in a special category. Georgia’s interest in Armenia is primarily pragmatic; the type and volume of trade, transit concerns, the degree and purpose of Armenia’s military cooperation with Russia and the political interaction between Yerevan and the Javakhk Armenians. Its economic and political viability does not depend on Armenian cooperation. Armenia, however, has a strategic interest in Georgia. That country represents the only land route to the Black Sea ports of Batumi and Poti through which most of Armenia’s imports and exports pass. Similarly the pipeline that delivers gas from Russia to Armenia transits Georgian territory. It is obvious that there is no parity in their relationship. This lack of symmetry emboldens Georgia to participate in economic ventures without regard for their adverse impact on Armenia. With Armenia excluded, Georgia’s strategic importance to Turkey increases exponentially as the only practical land connection to Azerbaijan and ultimately to Central Asia across the Caspian Sea. One only need look at the route of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline as well as the proposed Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railroad which will replace the existing line that passes through Gyumri in Armenia that Turkey boycotts. Both of these Turkish sponsored ventures were meant to harm Armenia and exclude her from the potential economic benefits that the region will experience.

Paradoxically, economic development in which all countries share is a goal that the United States claims is vital to creating political stability within the region. Yet the pipeline route was supported by the United States knowing that it would have an adverse impact on Armenia. As for the projected railroad, the United States again exerted no pressure on Turkey to reopen the existing line through Gyumri. The tepid response from Washington was that no financial aid would be provided if it by-passed Armenia. With the wealth that Turkey and Azerbaijan have at their disposal, financial support from the United States was never a determining issue.

The geostrategic interest of the United States in the Caucasus and Central Asia not only benefits Turkey and Azerbaijan, but paradoxically has elevated the importance and strategic role of Iran vis-à-vis Armenia’s national objectives. In March of this year, ceremonies were held at Agarak, Armenia, to inaugurate the opening of the gas pipeline from Iran to Armenia. From Agarak the pipeline connects to the Armenian gas distribution net at Kajaran. This is a major development that should have greater significance in the future. Presently, any gas that is imported from Iran must be used to generate electricity which will then be “sold” to Iran. An ancillary benefit is that the villages in the southern Syunik district will have access to gas for domestic purposes for the first time. In an emergency situation, should deliveries from Russia via Georgia be cut-off, Armenia will be able to draw on this new supply of gas.

On the main highway north from Megri in southern Armenia, any casual observer will notice a steady stream of Iranian trucks which carry an estimated 500,000 to 600,000 tons of goods annually. At an economic summit in Yerevan this July, Armenian and Iranian officials met to discuss a wide range of economic issues. As reported by Armenpress, Iran’s foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki indicated that several joint ventures were being considered. These included building a hydropower facility on the Arax River, a refinery in Armenia to process Iranian oil to gasoline for export to Iran, and a new railroad link between the two countries. He reported that trade between Armenia and Iran had reached $200 million annually with the potential for reaching $1 billion annually.

Although it doesn’t have a contiguous border with Armenia, its fifth neighbor is Russia. Both countries do depend upon each other, but Armenia is the “junior partner” so to speak in this relationship. Presently, Armenia is a “captive” of Russia’s Gazprom: a quasi-state run enterprise that supplies a significant part of its energy needs at prices that are not set at “arms length” negotiations. One can seriously question the desirability of join ventures by the two countries or, especially, the ownership of any segment of Armenia’s economic infrastructure by Russia. The Russian garrison in Armenia does provide a stabilizing influence along the Turkish-Armenian border. Armenia reciprocates by providing Russia with its last foothold south of the Caucasus.

In the long term, Russia and Iran are adversaries both in the Caucasus as well as in Central Asia. However, in the short term their objectives coalesce to prevent Turkey from dominating the Caucasus and extending its influence into Central Asia. Present United States policy seeks to exploit the energy resources of Central Asia and control its movement into international markets. For the present at least, Turkey and Azerbaijan are willing partners.

Armenia has a crucial if passive role to play in thwarting this expansion of Turkish influence. As mentioned earlier, Russian military units stationed in Armenia represent a major deterrent to any ill-advised Turkish military venture. The presence of Russian forces is a reminder that she has not abdicated her historic interests in the region or her support of autonomy for Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia. Additionally, Armenia represents the only route for a potential pipeline for the delivery of Iranian gas to Georgia—an important bargaining chip in future Georgian-Armenian cooperation. An alternative source of gas would lessen Georgia’s future dependence on Russia as well as on Azerbaijan, whose ability to meet her increasing demands is questionable.

Present United States policy is a direct response to the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the transformation of the several Soviet republics into independent nations. To fill the resulting political vacuum, the U.S. Congress passed the Freedom Support Act in 1992. Its underlying purpose, shorn of its altruistic rhetoric, was to challenge Russia in the Caucasus and to extend U.S. influence into Central Asia with its vast deposits of oil and natural gas. Turkey was a key component of this strategy. However, the official objective of the Freedom Support Act was to provide economic and humanitarian aid and to promote democratic institutions in these recently independent countries. This objective ran counter to Russia’s official policy, which was to regain hegemony over its Near Abroad, the former soviet republics.

In recognition of Armenia’s position vis-à-vis Azerbaijan, Title 9, Section 907 of the Act stated that “United States assistance…may not be provided to the government of Azerbaijan until the President determines and so reports to Congress that the government of Azerbaijan is taking demonstrable steps to cease all blockades and other offensive uses of force against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.”

In every year since its passage, President Bush has waived Section 907 which lifted restrictions on U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan. According to the Office of the Press Secretary, U.S. Department of State, the waiver was necessary “…to support United States efforts to counter international terrorism” [and] “…to support the operational readiness of the United States Armed Forces…to counter international terrorism; [it] is important to Azerbaijan border security; and will not undermine or hamper ongoing efforts to negotiate a peaceful settlement between Armenia and Azerbaijan or be used for offensive purposes against Armenia.”

Coupled with these annual waivers, it is instructive to look at President Bush’s latest recommendations for the fiscal year 2007 budget as reported in a press release by the ANCA. Contrary to an agreement struck with Congress in 2001 to maintain parity in U.S. military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan, the President proposed “…cutting…economic aid to Armenia from…[the 2006] appropriation of $74.4 million to $50 million, a nearly 33 per cent reduction.” For Azerbaijan, the figure was $28 million and $58 million for Georgia. The Foreign Military Financing proposals were $3.5 million for Armenia, $4.5 million for Azerbaijan and $10 million for Georgia.

With respect to the President’s recommendations for International Military Education and Training the figures are $790,000 for Armenia, $885,000 for Azerbaijan and $1,235,000 for Georgia. The President’s fiscal year 2008 budget seeks 20 percent more in military aid to Azerbaijan than to Armenia. So much for parity.

The Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues formed in 1995 has been instrumental in protecting Armenia’s interests. However, the role of the present administration should indicate the importance it places on the Turkish-Azerbaijan-Georgia triumvirate. United States influence within these countries is the key objective in its attempt to counter Russian influence and to achieve its goal to control the exploitation and movement of energy resources to global markets. The $1.5 billion in humanitarian and technical aid received by Armenia since 1992 from the United States masks the inequity between the aid given to the “triumvirate” and Armenia when Armenia is added to the equation.

During this same period, Armenia has endured the adverse economic effects caused by the blockade imposed by Turkey and its ally Azerbaijan, contrary to the requirement that the waiver will not be granted “…until the President determines…that the government of Azerbaijan is taking demonstrable steps to cease all blockades…against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.” Failure to meet this requirement has not dampened the President’s enthusiasm to waive this prohibition each year.

For the United States to ignore the effect of its pro-Turkish policy begs the question as to what should Armenia’s response be with respect to Iran? A key component of Armenia’s economic and political viability depends on maintaining a mutually beneficial relationship with its southern neighbor. Its cooperation with Iran in no way affects United States interests. It could well be that the ideological and strategic objectives of the United States and Iran are so great as to defy any immediate meaningful accommodation. However difficult that may be for the United States, Armenia must be left to develop its relationship with Iran in a manner that enhances its legitimate national objectives. Rather than question Armenian-Iranian cooperation, the United States should reconsider the aid given to Azerbaijan and Georgia and increase its support to Armenia if only because it is the one emerging democratic nation in the Caucasus region, a key objective of the Freedom Support Act.

Source: http://www.hairenik.com/armenianweekly/com08040701.htm
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Postby Armenian on Thu Aug 09, 2007 3:15 am

West Bugged By Iran’s Independence, Not Anti-Israel Stance

Arab Governments Helping Western Regional Domination

Hezbollah’s resistance against Israeli attacks during the 33-day war introduced a new model for other resistance groups in the region and the world. Unfortunately the Arab regimes, despite their affinities with the Lebanese people, did not help or support Hezbollah’s resistance during the war.

Iran and Syria were the two main supporters of the Lebanese people. Hence, it is necessary for Muslim states to boycott the Zionist regime whose main financial support, not considering the US financial support, is its exports to the regional and Western states. Iran Daily’s Amir Tajik interviewed Gabriel Ash and discussed different aspects of Israel’s boycott issue. Ash is a xxxish anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist activist and political writer who grew up in Israel. He writes because the pen is sometimes mightier than the sword and sometimes not. Excerpts:

Amir Tajik: Why did Israel support the Fatah movement during the current disputes in the Palestinian territories?

Gabriel Ash: The current reading of the situation in Israel is that the conflict cannot be solved; it can only be managed. Therefore, the mainstream international view of Fatah as a ‘pragmatic’ Palestinian faction with which the West and Israel can reach an acceptable agreement is simply false. The support for Abbas, not just from Olmert, but also from the US, Europe and the Arab League has three causes. First, there is the old “divide and rule”. The power struggle within the Palestinian political scene is weakening both Hamas and Fatah and is also very demoralizing for the Palestinian public. When you play “divide and rule”, the first rule is to support the weaker side in order to prolong the crisis as much as possible. This is exactly what Israel and the West are doing by supporting Fatah.

Second, supporting Abbas is good propaganda. Israel, the US and Europe are all able to describe their support for Abbas as working for the cause of peace and against the ‘militant’ Hamas. This is very important because Western publics expect their governments to be committed to peace. Even in Israel the prospect of eternal war is unwelcome to most. Third, Hamas provides a model of resistance that threatens all Arab governments in addition to Israel. Hence undermining Hamas is a common goal of the West, Israel and the client Arab states — chiefly Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Of course, the ‘peace’ strategy must look believable. So there might be a new ‘peace’ dynamic, but the conditions for peace are absent.

Amir Tajik: How will Europeans’ boycott of Israel harm the regime’s economic and political structure?

Gabriel Ash: Israel is a small country with large military expenses. In order to maintain relatively first-world living standards, Israel’s economy depends on exports, foreign investment and non-commercial support. Clearly, a full EU trade boycott of Israel will cause severe damage to the Israeli economy. The EU is Israel’s largest trading partner, and Israel exports to the EU are over $10 billion a year. Let us, however, not deceive ourselves. There is no chance for such a trade embargo to happen in the foreseeable future.

Nevertheless, grassroots boycotts can have a cumulative impact. Increased public awareness to Israel’s criminal politics can translate into lower sales for brands associated with Israel, lower investment in Israel, and pressure on EU governments to stop some of their more directly damaging involvement in the region, including buying Israeli weapon systems, selling weapons to Israel, subsidizing the Israeli occupation and helping Israel fight Palestinian resistance. The most important role of grassroots boycott initiatives is educational and moral. They expose Israel for the kind of country it really is: a racist, brutal colonial outpost. And they undermine the mainstream media whitewashing job. Grassroots boycotts can thus repeat the dynamics that made Western support for Apartheid South Africa untenable.

Amir Tajik: Could Israel get rid of the legal consequences of the boycott?

Gabriel Ash: Boycotts do not change the legal situation. Israel is in breach of every UN resolution that mentions it and then some. It is in breach of the UN charter, the Fourth Geneva Convention, The Fourth Hague Convention, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The International Court for Justice, etc. etc. Furthermore, all these breaches are not merely technical, but massive and substantial. With regards to international law, Israel is a major scofflaw.

International law, however, cannot simply be called upon for redress, because there is no world government with enforcement powers. International law represents the stage of the enlightened opinion of humanity with regards to how states should behave. But only the application of pressure by other states can force states to obey the law, should their own residents be unable or unwilling to demand such obedience.

Amir Tajik: Why don’t Arab regimes initiate a serious boycott against Israel?

Gabriel Ash: There is an expectation that Arab governments would support the Palestinians and be against Israel. It is historically baseless. Arab regimes are part of the problem. Their concern is how to maintain their power domestically. The major struggle in the Middle East is between the indigenous population and capitalist imperialist and colonialist enterprises, not between Arabs and xxxs. Arab governments are not on the side of the Arab indigenous people. Palestinians, for example, are not just oppressed by Israel. They are oppressed by many Arab states.

Arab governments are key elements of the Western domination of the Middle East. The very states most of them govern represent arbitrary lines drawn in the sand by colonial envoys. This is true of Israel, but equally so of Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, etc. These states exist by the grace of the colonial powers, and their local elites benefit from the plundering and killing of their people. Some of these states do make a show of boycotting Israel. But it is a charade. Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Israel are all on the same side. They are all US client states. So let’s not wait for salvation to come from Arab governments.

Amir Tajik: If Iran were to stop its anti-Israel policy, would the West stop bothering Iran?

Gabriel Ash: There might be an easing, but the West didn’t become the dominant force on the planet through a policy of non-interference.

There is an imperial world system, global capitalism. States must somehow fit in. The global system is the context within which every governing formation must choose its strategies for political survival and economic advancement. The system defines a number of generic templates that local elite can follow, adapt, negotiate or challenge. The most typical template for a third-world country, however, is the raw materials provider, a template that usually includes Western ownership of the means of production, an unemployed majority left to rot in slums, barely existing local industry and minimal domestic consumption, except for a small elite that consumes imported luxury goods and works mostly in government. With local variations, this is the typical template in South America and the Middle East.

Iran was squeezed into this template between 1953 and 1979. Then there is the outpost state, which is supported by the West for its role as a weapon platform and/or as a tool for putting pressure on other states to conform to a desired template. Israel, Taiwan, Japan, Apartheid South Africa, and Turkey are all local variants of this template. In many ways, this is the most enviable position, at least economically, since outpost states are often used as positive examples that advertise the benefits of submission, and are therefore allowed to attain relatively high levels of development.

Finally, there is the worse template of all, the battleground state. Battleground states are states that provide the West a place to destroy overcapacity and justify the existence of its military industry and repressive technologies. The battleground template can come about from the failure of local elites to impose a desired template, as in Colombia, Somalia or Vietnam, or it can come about as a deliberate choice, as in Iraq. Countries that refuse to follow an acceptable template are good candidates for the battleground category. Iran is one such candidate.

The West’s problem with Iran is not its anti-Israel rhetoric, but the general independence of its foreign policies and economy, which is particularly annoying given Iran’s size and strategic location. Regardless of the template, no country within the global order is supposed to have independent foreign policies, and the worse offense is helping other countries resist Western imposed integration, as Iran does. Iran is also a state created in a revolution against a Western imposed template. It is a reminder that Western domination can be rejected. Therefore, like Cuba, the destruction of Iran is never going to be completely off the table. They are afraid that defeat and withdrawal from Iraq would deal a severe economic blow to the arms industry in the US. A confrontational Iran serves them well.

Iran has two possible paths. Either it renounces its geopolitical independence and opens itself up to Western capital, or it prepares for escalation by building up its defenses, extending its alliances and strengthening its society. A crucial asset for Iran is the rise of newly balancing powers: China and Russia. But there is a danger of getting to the party too soon, as these emerging global powers are still unsure of their footing. Iran’s government’s verbal provocations against Israel are not the cause of Western hostility, but they are a wonderful excuse. Holocaust denial and other such inflammatory language help the West justify its ‘concern’ about Iran.

Source: http://www.dissidentvoice.org/2007/0...israel-stance/
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Postby Armenian on Thu Aug 09, 2007 3:18 am

Another serious political blow to Zionist and Globalist aspirations in Lebanon. The Syrian-backed opposition claims victory in the parliamentary elections in Lebanon. The margin of victory of the election, which essentially split the Christian vote, is said to have been small. Interestingly, Armenians of Lebanon under the leadership of the Dashnak party have played a pivotal role in helping elect the pro-Syrian Christian candidate, lead by Michel Aoun, by not participating in the elections. As a result, the Western/Israeli-backed Phalage party leadership has resorted to blaming the Armenians of Burjhamud, an Armenian enclave in Beirut, for loosing the election. Once again, Armenians of Lebanon, specifically the Dashnaktsutyun, have show political maturity by not falling victim to Western and Zionist manipulations. And I'm sure that this is welcome news both in Damascus and Tehran.

Armenian

Syrian-backed opposition claims victory in Lebanon poll

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Lebanon's Western-backed ruling majority was dealt a blow on Monday in by-elections that split the country's Christian camp in two and boosted the Syrian-backed opposition ahead of a presidential poll. Official results showed the candidate representing opposition leader Michel Aoun winning by a slim margin of 418 votes over former president Amin Gemayel, who was supported by the ruling Western-backed coalition.

Camille Khoury won 39,534 votes as against 39,116 for Gemayel. Aoun and Gemayel both made separate calls for unity after the results were announced but bickered over who has the mandate to represent their community. "These elections have shown that the solution to the Lebanese crisis is found in respect for institutions. This is why I am calling for reconciliation between Christians... so that presidential commitments can be respected," Gemayel told a news conference.

"These elections were effectively a test. They have shown that General Aoun's support is in broad decline in Christian regions because of the policies he has followed." Aoun seemed to strike a conciliatory note in a subsequent news conference of his own, but also claimed support from all Christian confessions as well as Sunni and Shiite Muslims. "Gemayel has spoken of a reconciliation under the aegis of the Maronite (Christian) patriarch. We are in agreement on this and I extend my hand," he said.

"But I dispute his analysis that I am not representative of Christians. Maronites are not the only Christians," he added. Aoun called the Metn region where Sunday's vote took place a "microcosm" of Lebanese society: "There are Maronites, Orthodox, Armenians, Shiites and Sunnis. We won in a diverse constituency, which means we are popular in all the communities."

The by-elections were to replace two murdered anti-Syrian MPs, the latest in a spate of politically linked killings that have rocked the country since the 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri. The outcome of the vote was important as it showed which way the country's divided Christian community was leaning ahead of a presidential election scheduled for next month. Lebanon's president is traditionally a Maronite Christian who is chosen by parliament.

Gemayel was vying to replace his son Pierre, a Christian cabinet member and lawmaker who was shot dead last November. In Beirut, the vote was to replace Walid Eido, a Sunni Muslim lawmaker who was killed in a car bomb in June. Eido's seat was easily won by pro-government candidate Mohamad Amin Itani. Several Lebanese newspapers on Monday said that although Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement emerged the winner in the weekend poll, the party had nonetheless been weakened politically as it only clinched a narrow victory.

"A difference of 418 votes: a fake victory," blared a headline in the pro-government French daily L'Orient Le Jour. The paper said that had it not been for the support of the Armenian community in one district, where Gemayel alleged vote-rigging, Aoun's party would have been xxxxxled in the polls. But the opposition newspaper Al-Akhbar said that although Aoun won by a slim margin, the results put to rest claims by the ruling majority that he no longer represented the Christian community.

"Even though his victory was not overwhelming, Aoun came out the winner," it said. "He has answered to those who pretend that he is no longer the leader of the Christian community."

The movement of Aoun, a declared presidential candidate, garnered most of the Christian vote in 2005 legislative polls, but his popularity has waned since he forged a shock alliance last year with the Iran- and Syria-backed Shiite militant group Hezbollah. Parliament's challenge now is to elect a new president to succeed pro-Syrian incumbent Emile Lahoud by a November 25 deadline. While the majority controls enough seats to elect a president, it needs the opposition to take part for the two-thirds quorum required for parliament to convene.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070806/ts_afp/lebanoncrisispolitics_11&printer=1;_ylt=Asc0OIbJCYOnk6I1XpykRqeGOrgF

Hoss: Metn polls prove democracy in Lebanon is an 'illusion' Politicians, newspapers continue to debate implications of by-elections'

BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Salim al-Hoss said Monday "the Metn by-election ended politically without a victor and a vanquished." "There was a loser, but there was no winner," Hoss said in a statement. "If the contest was a contest of sizes, then both competitors were effectively downsized," he added. Hoss said the polls had proven again that "democracy in Lebanon is an illusion where money and emotions rule." Higher Shiite Council Vice President Sheikh Abdel-Amir Qabalan said "the achievement of the Metn and Beirut by-elections showed that the Lebanese people are wide-awake while dealing with controversial national issues."

Qabalan called for the formation of a national-unity government which he said, "should be a good reference to all conflicts and problems." The Armenian Tashnag Party voiced regret Monday that an "electoral battle over one parliamentary seat has turned into an attempt to settle accounts with a party that has never known extremism." "The irrational and heated statements delivered by some Lebanese leaders are nothing but an outburst of anger that showed the hatred they have been hiding for decades," said a Tashnag statement. "Once they lost their temper they expressed their rancor very clearly."

Meanwhile, former MP Gabriel Murr clarified on Monday that his comments in a televised interview a day earlier were targeting the administration of the Tashnag Party and not the Armenian community. "My friendship with the Armenian community and my respect for it are unlimited," the former MP said. Murr urged Armenians to change the Tashnag administration, and the Tashnag to change the way it deals with elections.

Aram I, Catholicos of the House of Cilicia, said Monday the results of the by-elections are secondary while what is worrying are divisions among the Christians in Lebanon in general and the Metn in particular. "No one should be happy with his victory ... because the Christian unity has been defeated by partition [of its members]," he said in a statement. The catholicos also said "we do not accept at all unfounded accusations targeting the Armenian sect." "The Armenian community is an example of patriotism," he added.


Meanwhile, Loyalty to the Resistance bloc MP Hussein Hajj Hassan lashed out at the March 14 Forces for criticizing in their electoral campaigns in the past few days the agreement between Hizbullah and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM). "How did [their] 10 MPs win in Baabda-Aley [in 2005]?" Hajj Hassan asked during a Hizbullah rally in Baalbek. "Wasn't it for the votes of the members of the quadripartite alliance?" "If they blame the FPM for its agreement with Hizbullah then why don't they submit the resignation of their MPs in Baabda-Aley?" he added.

Separately, Hizbullah and the Amal Movement said Monday the establishment of a national-unity government is a "national right" and a "bridge" toward the solution of all problems. In a statement issued after a joint meeting in the South, both parties stressed the need to hold the presidential polls on time and in accordance with the Lebanese Constitution and laws. "Any link between the election of a new president and the formation of a national unity government is a cheap blackmail and waste of time," it said. March 14 Forces MP Butros Harb described Sunday's electoral battle in the Metn as a "victory for democracy."

"Lebanon is more important than any political post and the Lebanese people's interests are more important than winning a seat," Harb said after meeting with former President Amin Gemayel, calling on all parties to hold dialogue in a bid to solve the country's pending issues. Headlines in Lebanese newspapers on Monday reflected partisan interpretations of the result in the Metn. The pro-government Al-Mustaqbal newspaper, contending that Armenian voters had swung the vote Aoun's way, wrote Monday: "Two-thirds of Maronites vote for Gemayel, their seat goes to Aoun by 418 votes."

The pro-opposition As-Safir said "the Metn democratically defeats Amin Gemayel and with him the 'majority.'" Other newspapers said although Aoun's FPM emerged the winner in the weekend poll, the party had nonetheless been weakened politically as it only clinched a narrow victory. "A difference of 418 votes: a fake victory," blared a headline in the pro-government French daily L'Orient Le Jour. But pro-opposition Al-Akhbar said although Aoun won by a slim margin, the results put to rest claims by the ruling majority that he no longer represented the Christian community.

Source: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=84373#
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Postby Armenian on Thu Aug 09, 2007 3:24 am

Iran makes progress in military production

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Thunder warplane Iran has successfully tested a new fighter plane named Azarakhsh (Thunder), confirmed Minister of Defense Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar Monday morning. "Thunder" has been manufactured in cooperation with experts from the Army, Defense Ministry and HESA aircarft manufacturing industries in the central province of Isfahan, the minister told reporters on the sidelines of a ceremony held on the eve of 'Journalist Day' (August 8). "The Azarakhsh fighter plan is now at the stage of industrial production and its mass production will start in the future," said the minister, according to IRNA. He added that the fighter's successful test would lead to plans for "manufacturing of the fifth generation of Iranian aircraft." Army and Defense Ministry experts are currently working on the second type of Azarakhsh fighters called Sa'qeh (Lightning) which would be also tested in the near future, Mohammad-Najjar added. Referring to the manufacture of 'Sky-Guard' 35mm shells by the Defense Ministry experts, the minister said the experts have also succeeded in manufacturing 2000-km-range surface-to-surface rockets as well as various types of cruise sea rockets. He added that the ministry's experts have successfully managed to manufacture various types of air-defense missiles and anti-missile rockets too.

Source: http://www.albawaba.com/en/countries/Iran/215760

Note: As far as the combat capabilities of this aircraft is concerned, the so-called "thunder" does not seem to be a fearsome weapons platform. As a matter of fact, it seems far from it. Militarily speaking, it will most probably have little to no impact upon a battlefield. The aircraft in question is basically a remade version of the United States Air Force F-5 with some significant improvements in aerodynamics. The significance of the news, however, is the 'technological/industrial capability' of Tehran, the domestic ability of Iran to develop complicated weapons systems.
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Postby Immortal Persian on Thu Aug 16, 2007 11:52 pm

It is 80% bigger then the American F-5.We just reverse engineered it and fine tuned it.

It can be put to good effect on the battlefield.Our Air Force uses swarm attacks.These are ground attack aircraft and trainers.These can be used to fly in low below radars.Very easy maintenance and can land in small airfields in Iran re-arm and re-fuel in 10 minutes take off again and continue air attacks.
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Postby Armenian on Sat Aug 18, 2007 3:00 am

Immortal Persian wrote:It can be put to good effect on the battlefield. Our Air Force uses swarm attacks.These are ground attack aircraft and trainers. These can be used to fly in low below radars. Very easy maintenance and can land in small airfields in Iran re-arm and re-fuel in 10 minutes take off again and continue air attacks.


Thank you for the information. I more or less agree with you, in hands of competent individuals the aircraft in question can have a positive impact on a battlefield. However, knowing the complexity of modern warfare, and the military technology deployed by Globalist/Zionist forces in the region, I don't see the aircraft as being a serious threat to US forces.
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Postby Armenian on Sat Aug 18, 2007 3:03 am

British losses soar as they prepare to leave Basra city

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Two more British soldiers were killed in southern Iraq yesterday, raising the death toll in the UK's least successful military campaign since Suez in 1956. In both cases the British casualties were low but British forces wholly failed to achieve their objectives. Two Irish Guardsman were killed and two were seriously wounded in the early hours of yesterday when their convoy was hit by a roadside bomb near the Rumaila oilfields west of Basra. The deaths bring to 168 the number of British personnel who have died in Iraq since the invasion in 2003. British losses have increased as they prepare to abandon their last base in Basra city and retreat to their frequently attacked air base on the outskirts of the city. Here the contingent of 5,500 troops has been hit by mortars and rockets more than 600 times in the past four months.

"Basra's residents and militiamen view this not as an orderly withdrawal but rather as an ignominious defeat," according to a report by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) on Basra published in June. "Today, the city is controlled by militias, seemingly more powerful and unconstrained than before." British officials have privately echoed American claims that the Shia militias in Basra and in the rest of Iraq are being manipulated and supplied by Iran. But the three main Shia groupings in Basra, the Mehdi Army, the Badr Organisation and Fadhila, would control most of southern Iraq with or without Iranian aid.

"The British have basically been defeated in the south," a senior US intelligence official was quoted as saying in Baghdad. The final deterioration of the British position has become evident since the end of Operation Sinbad between September 2006 and March 2007 which sought to curb the militias and strengthen security in Basra. But from March on the militias have reasserted their hold on the city and killed 30 British soldiers between April and July, making it the deadliest period for British forces at any time since 2003.

The increase in attacks may be because the militias see the British as being on the run, but also because of the growing military friction between the Shia militiamen and the occupation forces in general. Lt-Gen Raymond Odierno, the US deputy commander in Iraq, says Shia militants were responsible for 73 per cent of the attacks that killed or wounded American soldiers in Baghdad in July. The increase in Shia attacks on British personnel may be part of the same pattern.

The US has been seeking to blame the escalation of Shia militia attacks on Iran but it is more likely that they are the result of growing frustration of the Shia, who make up 60 per cent of the Iraqi population, at what they see as increasing US support for the Sunni. The Pentagon and White House have launched a campaign to persuade the media that Iran's provision of sophisticated shaped charges is a decisive factor in the war and is causing numerous US casualties. The accusation is denied by Iran and, even if true, the provision of a single type of explosive device is unlikely to be of critical significance in such a complex struggle.

British forces have already withdrawn from three of the four provinces in southern Iraq saying they are turning over security to Iraqi government authority. But police and army in Basra and southern Iraq are largely under the control of militias. The outlook for the two million people in Basra, Iraq's second largest city, is not good. According to the ICG report, violence in the city has little to do with sectarianism or anti-occupation resistance but involves "the systematic misuse of official institutions, political assassinations, tribal vendettas, neighbourhood vigilantism... together with the rise of criminal mafias that increasingly intermingle with political actors."

Source: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/...cle2851431.ece
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Postby Armenian on Sat Aug 18, 2007 3:04 am

Cheney urging military strikes on Iran

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President Bush charged Thursday that Iran continues to arm and train insurgents who are killing U.S. soldiers in Iraq, and he threatened action if that continues. At a news conference Thursday, Bush said Iran had been warned of unspecified consequences if it continued its alleged support for anti-American forces in Iraq. U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker had conveyed the warning in meetings with his Iranian counterpart in Baghdad, the president said. Bush wasn't specific, and a State Department official refused to elaborate on the warning.

Behind the scenes, however, the president's top aides have been engaged in an intensive internal debate over how to respond to Iran's support for Shiite Muslim groups in Iraq and its nuclear program. Vice President xxxx Cheney several weeks ago proposed launching airstrikes at suspected training camps in Iraq run by the Quds force, a special unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to two U.S. officials who are involved in Iran policy. The debate has been accompanied by a growing drumbeat of allegations about Iranian meddling in Iraq from U.S. military officers, administration officials and administration allies outside government and in the news media. It isn't clear whether the media campaign is intended to build support for limited military action against Iran, to pressure the Iranians to curb their support for Shiite groups in Iraq or both.

Nor is it clear from the evidence the administration has presented whether Iran, which has long-standing ties to several Iraqi Shiite groups, including the Mahdi Army of radical cleric Muqtada al Sadr and the Badr Organization, which is allied with the U.S.-backed government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, is a major cause of the anti-American and sectarian violence in Iraq or merely one of many. At other times, administration officials have blamed the Sunni Muslim group al Qaida in Iraq for much of the violence. For now, however, the president appears to have settled on a policy of stepped-up military operations in Iraq aimed at the suspected Iranian networks there, combined with direct American-Iranian talks in Baghdad to try to persuade Tehran to halt its alleged meddling.

The U.S. military launched one such raid Wednesday in Baghdad's predominantly Shiite Sadr City district. But so far that course has failed to halt what American military officials say is a flow of sophisticated roadside bombs, known as explosively formed penetrators, into Iraq. Last month they accounted for a third of the combat deaths among U.S.-led forces, according to the military. Cheney, who's long been skeptical of diplomacy with Iran, argued for military action if hard new evidence emerges of Iran's complicity in supporting anti-American forces in Iraq; for example, catching a truckload of fighters or weapons crossing into Iraq from Iran, one official said. The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to talk publicly about internal government deliberations.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice opposes this idea, the officials said. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has stated publicly that "we think we can handle this inside the borders of Iraq." Lea Anne McBride, a Cheney spokeswoman, said only that "the vice president is right where the president is" on Iran policy. Bush left no doubt at his news conference that he intended to get tough with Iran. "One of the main reasons that I asked Ambassador Crocker to meet with Iranians inside Iraq was to send the message that there will be consequences for . . . people transporting, delivering EFPs, highly sophisticated IEDs (improvised explosive devices), that kill Americans in Iraq," he said. He also appeared to call on the Iranian people to change their government.

"My message to the Iranian people is, you can do better than this current government," he said. "You don't have to be isolated. You don't have to be in a position where you can't realize your full economic potential."

The Bush administration has launched what appears to be a coordinated campaign to pin more of Iraq's security troubles on Iran. Last week, Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the No. 2 U.S. military commander in Iraq, said Shiite militiamen had launched 73 percent of the attacks that had killed or wounded American troops in July. U.S. officials think that majority Shiite Iran is providing militiamen with EFPs, which pierce armored vehicles and explode once inside. Last month, Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner, a multinational force spokesman, said members of the Quds force had helped plan a January attack in the holy Shiite city of Karbala, which lead to the deaths of five American soldiers. Bergner said the military had evidence that some of the attackers had trained at Quds camps near Tehran. Bush's efforts to pressure Iran are complicated by the fact that the leaders of U.S.-supported governments in Iraq and Afghanistan have a more nuanced view of their neighbor.

Maliki is on a three-day visit to Tehran, during which he was photographed Wednesday hand in hand with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Unconfirmed media reports said Maliki had told Iranian officials they'd played a constructive role in the region. Asked about that, Bush said he hadn't been briefed on the meeting. "Now if the signal is that Iran is constructive, I will have to have a heart-to-heart with my friend the prime minister, because I don't believe they are constructive. I don't think he in his heart of hearts thinks they're constructive either," he said. Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai differed on Iran's role when they met last weekend, with Karzai saying in a TV interview that Iran was "a helper" and Bush challenging that view.

The toughening U.S. position on Iran puts Karzai and Iraqi leaders such as Maliki in a difficult spot between Iran, their longtime ally, and the United States, which is spending lives and treasure to secure their newly formed government. A senior Iraqi official in Baghdad said the Iraqi government received regular intelligence briefings from the United States about suspected Iranian activities. He refused to discuss details, but said the American position worried him. The United States is "becoming more focused on Iranian influence inside Iraq," said the official, who requested anonymity to discuss private talks with the Americans. "And we don't want Iraq to become a zone of conflict between Iran and the U.S."

Proposals to use force against Iran over its actions in Iraq mark a new phase in the Bush administration's long internal war over Iran policy. Until now, some hawks within the administration — including Cheney — are said to have favored military strikes to stop Iran from furthering its suspected ambitions for nuclear weapons. Rice has championed a diplomatic strategy, but that, too, has failed to deter Iran so far. Patrick Clawson, an Iran specialist at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said a strike on the Quds camps in Iran could make the nuclear diplomacy more difficult. Before launching such a strike, "We better be prepared to go public with very detailed and very convincing intelligence," Clawson said.

Source: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/story/18834.html
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Postby Armenian on Sat Aug 18, 2007 3:07 am

Bush to Karzai: Will You Just Shut Up About Iran?

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Things got a little testy at the Camp David Summit between Afghan President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and American President George Bush. Karzai, who when he is in the U.S. is expected to act as a puppet of the Bush administration, made the mistake of actually speaking his mind. In a CNN interview broadcast Sunday, the Afghan president said terrorism in Afghanistan is getting worse, that the hunt for al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is at a standstill and, then, he described Iran as a positive player -- "a helper and a solution" -- in the region.

All of these statements are objectively true. But George Bush does not deal in the realm of truth. And he certainly does not like his puppet presidents getting off their strings. On the eve of the summit, Karzai told CNN that:

1. "The security situation in Afghanistan over the past two years has definitely deteriorated. The Afghan people have suffered. Terrorists have killed our schoolchildren. They have burned our schools. They have killed international helpers."

2. "We are not closer (to catching bin Laden), we are not further away from it. We are where we were a few years ago."

3. "So far, Iran has been a helper (in the fight against terrorism)."

All of those statements, made by Karzai in an interview with Wolf Blitzer on the eve of his trip to Camp David, were corrected by Bush upon the Afghan president's arrival. On the security situation, Bush told Karzai not to believe what he was seeing on the ground in Afghanistan. "There is still work to be done, don't get me wrong," Bush said. "But progress is being made."

On the bin Laden search, Bush spoke of how the hunt is progressing and declared that, "With real actionable intelligence, we will get the job done." On Iran's positive role in the region, Bush again told Karzai not to believe his own experience but instead to accept the neoconservative version of events. "I would be very cautious about whether or not the Iranian influence there in Afghanistan is a positive force," the American president pointedly told the Afghan president. So there you have it, a meeting of the minds Bush-style.

A foreign leader from a region of supreme interest to the United States comes to Camp David to brief the American president on what is going on. The foreign leader speaks his mind, offering his best assessment of the experience he is living. Then the president tells the visitor from abroad that he is wrong. As Bush famously declared at a policy session in 2005, "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."

And it is just so damned inconvenient when a puppet who is supposed to help spread the propaganda instead messes everything up by talking about what is really happening.

Source: http://www.thenation.com/blogs/notion?bid=15&pid=220487
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Postby Armenian on Sat Aug 18, 2007 3:08 am

Iran president to visit Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan

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The president of Iran will set off on a foreign tour Tuesday, visiting Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan, Iranian media reported Monday. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will first visit Afghanistan where he will have negotiations with his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai, to discuss current international issues, the situation in the region and bilateral relations. It will be Ahmadinejad's first visit to Afghanistan since his election win in the summer of 2005. Tuesday afternoon, the Afghan president will arrive in Ashgabat where he will have talks with Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov. A number of bilateral trade and economic agreements are expected to be signed.

Ahmadinejad's final destination will be Kyrgyzstan, where he will participate in the seventh session of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). On August 16, ten heads of state will meet in Bishkek, including the presidents of Kazakhstan, China, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Pakistan's foreign minister and India's oil and gas minister will attend along with Mongolia and Iran which have SCO observer status. The president of Iran will address the SCO meeting and meet with a number of SCO heads of state. Iran has been at the center of international concerns over its nuclear program, which some countries, particularly the United States, suspect is geared toward nuclear weapons development. Tehran has consistently denied the claims, saying it needs nuclear power for civilian purposes.

Iran has come under pressure for rejecting three consecutive UN resolutions against its nuclear program since last year. The six countries negotiating the dispute - the UN Security Council permanent members plus Germany - have demanded that Tehran suspend all uranium enrichment before negotiating a solution to the nuclear program. Iran insists that it needs nuclear power purely to generate electricity. Ahmadinejad announced early April the start of uranium enrichment on an industrial level.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/world/20070813/71215526.html
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Postby Armenian on Sat Aug 18, 2007 3:10 am

President/Dictator of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf finally admits what has been common knowledge since the mid 90s, namely that Pakistani authorities have supported the Taliban in Afghanistan. What he did not admit, however, is also a well known fact that the Pakistani intelligence apparatus the ISI, along with the CIA, set up and financed the Taliban movement in Afghanistan during the mid 90s.

Was it done to fight the Soviets? Obviously no, for the Soviets were comprehensively defeated and withdrew several years prior, and by the mid 90s the Soviet Union did not even exists anymore. Nevertheless, upon expelling the Soviets in the late 80s Afghanistan had a chance to build a nation once again. This chance was destroyed when Pakistani ISI decided to set-up Al-Qaeda type organizations within Afghanistan's political vacuum. The Pashtuns of Afghanistan that had cultural/tribal ties with Pakistan were naturally used towards that purpose. Afghans today, especially the Tadjiks of northern Afghanistan, hate and fear Pakistani authorities.

The legendary Tadjik leader the late Ahmad Masood, a staunch Afghan nationalist known as the lion of Panshir, knew of the depth and severity of Pakistan's involvement in the Taliban movement and in the so-called "AL-Qaeda" organization. The Masood lead Tadjiks of the Northern Alliance were the only opposition the Taliban/Al-Qaeda had in Afghanistan. What's more, during the early part of the year 2001 Masood traveled to Western Europe and the United States to express his deep concerns about the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and Pakistan's involvement within the two, he attempted to warn officials of an impending disaster. However, he was ignored by the main-stream media and politicians alike. It is interesting to note here that Masood was assassinated in northern Afghanistan just two days prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US. It is also interesting to note that Masood was at the time moving closer to the Russian Federation and Iran, whom he had asked for direct support in fighting the Taliban.

Nevertheless, Afghan Tadjiks to this day claim that the assassination of the great nationalist leader was an operation conducted by Pakistani intelligence. It is also claimed that Massood was taken out so that he would not pose a challenge to what was to come, the invasion several months later of Afghanistan by the "Forces of Freedom."

Armenian

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Taliban backed in Pakistan

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General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s president, made a rare admission that Taliban fighters in Afghanistan were benefiting from support inside his country as Afghanistan and Pakistan on Sunday vowed to work harder to tackle extremism. The pledges came at the end of a four-day, US-backed meeting of Pashtun leaders from both countries. Dubbed the “Peace Jirga” after the name given to traditional meetings by the Pashtun tribes who live on both sides of the border, the meeting was conceived and pushed for by Washington as a way to secure better co-operation between Kabul and Islamabad. Gen Musharraf struck a blow to the meeting last week when at the last minute he abandoned plans to attend opening ceremonies. He and Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, have also had testy exchanges in the past about what some see as Taliban safe havens in Pakistan’s frontier provinces.

But Gen Musharraf – under increasing political pressure from Islamists at home – said yesterday the countries needed to do more to fight terrorism.

“There is no other option for both countries other than peace and unity, trust and co-operation,” he told the closing session of the jirga. Pakistan has in the past denied Taliban fighters were finding safe haven in its tribal areas. But Gen Musharraf said yesterday: “There is no doubt Afghan militants are supported from Pakistan soil. The problem that you have in your region is because support is provided from our side.”

The two governments have made similar pledges to work together in the past. However, supporters of the jirga said the difference this time lay in the involvement of elected and civil society representatives including tribal leaders and community elders. The governments’ promise to refuse to allow sanctuaries to terrorists was also endorsed by jirga representatives who recommended tribal communities in the affected areas become responsible for ensuring this. A joint declaration adopted by the jirga earlier recognised terrorism as a common threat, emphasised the need for a war on terror and pledged: “[The] government and people of Afghanistan and Pakistan will not allow sanctuaries/training centres for terrorists in their respective countries.”

The declaration emphasised mutual respect, non-interference and peaceful co-existence and called for a war against drug trafficking as well as for economic development of the affected areas.

Source: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2b8a8cd6-48e...0779fd2ac.html
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Postby Armenian on Sat Aug 18, 2007 3:17 am

Iran's disruptive hold over Afghanistan is rising

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The guardians of the Islamic republican system in Iran are continuing their quest to ensure the existence of Iran's clerical regime. To eliminate potential existential threats, these guardians have gradually entered yet another arena in which to confront their adversaries: Afghanistan.

Iran has played a positive role in increasing Afghanistan's economic and political development. However, its underhanded and multidimensional meddling in Afghanistan's internal affairs is increasing. A brief look at key recent events provides insight into the motivations behind the Islamic Republic's current support, as well as the unspoken threat of further support, for the myriad insurgent groups - the neo-Taliban - opposing the current state of affairs in Afghanistan.

The appearance of traceable sophisticated weapons and Iranian-produced assault rifles, mortars and plastic explosives in Afghanistan provides evidence of Iran's direct support to the neo-Taliban. Until recently, the explosively-formed penetrators had primarily been seen in Iraq. These weapons, capable of piercing armor, are now being used against NATO forces in Afghanistan, compliments of Iran. If Iran did not want its involvement known it could have supplied untraceable weapons. The introduction of marked weapons into the Afghan theater was purposeful, sending a message of Iran's ability to destabilize western Afghanistan.

Reports of territorial violations also began surfacing earlier this year. Afghan officials accuse their western neighbor of repeatedly violating Afghan airspace as well as of conducting armed incursions into Afghan territory. Furthermore, a former Afghan provincial governor alleges that the Islamic Republic has been hosting a training camp, identified as Shamsabad, for opponents of the Afghan government. These infringements on Afghan sovereignty challenge the efficacy of the central authority in Kabul and its international backers.

These two examples provide insight into the hold Iran has over Afghanistan and why it has sought this position of influence. While most consider Pakistan to be Afghanistan's most troublesome neighbor, one would be remiss if Iran did not enter into the equation. Amid persistent claims of Pakistan's fingerprints all over the neo-Taliban, Afghan President Hamid Karzai could hardly afford another blow to his central authority. Yet Iran, the "exemplary" neighbor, removed any subtlety in its message to both the Karzai administration and the international community by revealing its hand in arms shipments and territorial violations. Although Iran has denied all allegations and lamented the "unfortunate" resurgence of the Taliban, it knows the value of its actions.

One must remember that Iran's hold on Afghanistan is much stronger than Pakistan's. Iran has infiltrated much of the current power structure. In the 1980s, Iran cultivated strong political and military alliances with several fronts inside Afghanistan as well as with Afghan resistance groups based in Iran and Pakistan. Some of Iran's key Afghan assets hold principal posts in Karzai's administration, Afghanistan's Parliament and the intelligence community. Because of this, Iran is capable of exerting pressure when it suits its needs. The expulsion of approximately 100,000 Afghan refugees from Iran is an example of Iran's ability to apply political pressure. Iran claimed that it had the legal right to expel what it considered illegal refugees. This triggered a humanitarian nightmare for Afghanistan and prompted the Parliament to sack two of Karzai's loyal Cabinet ministers. After Karzai requested leniency, the Iranian authorities agreed to slow down repatriation efforts.

The refugee expulsion gave Iran three advantages. First, Tehran was able to demonstrate to Kabul that it could wreak havoc within reasonably legal grounds if it so desired; second, Iran was able to portray the refugee crisis as reflecting the inadequacy of Western-sponsored democracy in Afghanistan. And third and perhaps most dangerous in tactical calculations, Iran may have slipped any number of its own agents into the throngs of returning refugees. These refugees lacked identity papers because, as some Afghan refugees have claimed, the Iranian authorities ripped up their documents even though some had identity cards that allowed them to stay in Iran legally. The sea of refugees without identity cards constituted the perfect cover for Iranian agents to penetrate into Afghanistan.

Iran's actions in Afghanistan appear to be part of a calculated plan to give Tehran an advantage in its efforts to safeguard the regime and its aspirations. As international pressure has mounted against the regime's nuclear ambitions, Iran has ramped up its campaign in Afghanistan, selecting a strange bedfellow - the staunchly Sunni neo-Taliban. Yet Shiite Iran has frequently established political alliances based on expediency. Consider its relationships with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Ahmad Shah Massoud. These have proved useful in Iran's efforts to control its environment. The airspace violations, dispatch of traceable light weapons and EPFs to the neo-Taliban and possible presence of covert agents inside Afghanistan are further reminders to NATO and other international forces stationed in Afghanistan of Iran's ability to create instability. If Iran's nuclear facilities are attacked or if the country is brought under severe economic and political pressure because of its nuclear activities or other misdeeds, Iran can and will make life difficult for the foreign forces in Afghanistan.

In Iran's calculation, the current regime's security rests in having a nuclear capability. Until that time, Tehran has created pressure points to dissuade Western powers, especially the United States, and other perceived enemies from challenging the authority of the regime. Iran is using Afghanistan to showcase its might and its ability to create a scenario worse than Iraq for the US and others. If we are not careful, Afghanistan may once again find itself the pawn in a "great game."

Amin Tarzi is director of Middle East studies at the Marine Corps University, Quantico, Virginia. The opinions and conclusions expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of either the Marine Corps University or any other governmental agency. This commentary first appeared at bitterlemons-international.org, an online newsletter.

Source: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article....le_id=845 04#
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Postby Armenian on Sat Aug 18, 2007 3:18 am

How Neo-Cons Sabotaged Iran's Help on al Qaeda

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After the Sep. 11 attacks, U.S. officials responsible for preparing for war in Afghanistan needed Iran's help to unseat the Taliban and establish a stable government in Kabul. Iran had organised resistance by the "Northern Alliance" and had provided arms and funding, at a time when the United States had been unwilling to do so. "The Iranians had real contacts with important players in Afghanistan and were prepared to use their influence in constructive ways in coordination with the United States," recalls Flynt Leverett, then senior director for Middle East affairs in the National Security Council (NSC), in an interview with IPS.

In October 2001, as the United States was just beginning its military operations in Afghanistan, State Department and NSC officials began meeting secretly with Iranian diplomats in Paris and Geneva, under the sponsorship of Lakhdar Brahimi, head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. Leverett says these discussions focused on "how to effectively unseat the Taliban and once the Taliban was gone, how to stand up an Afghan government". It was thanks to the Northern Alliance Afghan troops, which were supported primarily by the Iranians, that the Taliban was driven out of Kabul in mid-November. Two weeks later, the Afghan opposition groups were convened in Bonn under United Nations auspices to agree on a successor regime.

At that meeting, the Northern Alliance was demanding 60 percent of the portfolios in an interim government, which was blocking agreement by other opposition groups. According to U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan James Dobbins, Iran played a "decisive role" in persuading the Northern Alliance delegate to compromise. Dobbins also recalls how the Iranians insisted on including language in the Bonn agreement on the war on terrorism. The bureaucracy recognised that there was an opportunity to work with Iran not only on stabilising Afghanistan but on al Qaeda as well. As reported by the Washington Post on Oct. 22, 2004, the State Department's policy planning staff had written a paper in late November 2001 suggesting that the United States should propose more formal arrangements for cooperation with Iran on fighting al Qaeda.

That would have involved exchanging intelligence information with Tehran as well as coordinating border sweeps to capture al Qaeda fighters and leaders who were already beginning to move across the border into Pakistan and Iran. The CIA agreed with the proposal, according to the Post's sources, as did the head of the White House Office for Combating Terrorism, Ret. Gen. Wayne A. Downing. But the cooperation against al Qaeda was not the priority for the anti-Iranian interests in the White House and the Pentagon. Investigative journalist Bob Woodward's book "Plan of Attack" recounts that Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen J. Hadley, who chaired an inter-agency committee on Iran policy dealing with issues surrounding Afghanistan, learned that the White House intended to include Iran as a member of the "Axis of Evil" in Bush's State of the Union message in January.

Hadley expressed reservations about that plan at one point, but was told by Bush directly that Iran had to stay in. By the end of December, Hadley had decided, against the recommendations of the State Department, CIA and White House counter-terrorism office, that the United States would not share any information with Iran on al Qaeda, even though it would press the Iranians for such intelligence, as well as to turn over any al Qaeda members it captured to the appropriate home country. Soon after that decision, hardliners presented Iranian policy to Bush and the public as hostile to U.S. aims in Afghanistan and refusing to cooperate with the war on terror -- the opposite of what officials directly involved had witnessed.

On Jan. 11, 2002, the New York Times quoted Pentagon and intelligence officials as saying that Iran had given "safe haven" to fleeing al Qaeda fighters in order to use them against the United States in post-Taliban Afghanistan. That same day, Bush declared "Iran must be a contributor in the war against terror." "Our nation, in our fight against terrorism, will uphold the doctrine of 'either you're with us or against us'," he said. Officials who were familiar with the intelligence at that point agree that the "safe haven for al Qaeda" charge was not based on any genuine analysis by the intelligence community.

"I wasn't aware of any intelligence support that charge," recalls Dobbins, who was still the primary point of contact with Iranian officials about cooperation on Afghanistan. "I certainly would have seen it had there been any such intelligence. Nobody told me they were harbouring al Qaeda."

Iran had already increased its troop strength on the Afghan border in response to U.S. requests. As the Washington Post reported in 2004, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Javad Zarif brought a dossier to U.N Secretary-General Kofi Annan in early February with the photos of 290 men believed to be al Qaeda members who already been detained fleeing from Afghanistan. Later hundreds of al Qaeda and Taliban detainees were repatriated to Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and other Arab and European countries, according to news reports. The hardliners would complain that the Iranians did not turn over any top al Qaeda leaders. But the United States had just rejected any exchange of information with the very officials with whom it needed to discuss the question of al Qaeda -- the Iranian intelligence and security ministry.

The same administration officials told the Times that Iran was seeking to exert its influence in border regions in western Afghanistan by shipping arms to its Afghan allies in the war against the Taliban and that this could undermine the interim government and Washington's long-term interests in Afghanistan. But in March 2002, Iranian official met with Dobbins in Geneva during a U.N. conference on Afghanistan's security needs. Dobbins recalls that the Iranian delegation brought with it the general who had been responsible for military assistance to the Northern Alliance during the long fight against the Taliban.

The general offered to provide training, uniforms, equipment and barracks for as many as 20,000 new recruits for the nascent Afghan military. All this was to be done under U.S. leadership, Dobbins recalls, not as part of a separate programme under exclusive Iranian control. "The Iranians later confirmed that they did this as a gesture to the United States," says Dobbins. Dobbins returned to Washington to inform key administration officials of what he regarded as an opportunity for a new level of cooperation in Afghanistan. He briefed then Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Rumsfeld personally. "To my knowledge, there was never a response," he says.

*Gareth Porter is an historian and national security policy analyst. His latest book, "Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam", was published in June 2005.

Source: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0222-07.htm
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Postby Armenian on Sat Aug 18, 2007 3:23 am

Learn from the fall of Rome, US warned

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The US government is on a ‘burning platform’ of unsustainable policies and practices with fiscal deficits, chronic healthcare underfunding, immigration and overseas military commitments threatening a crisis if action is not taken soon, the country’s top government inspector has warned. David Walker, comptroller general of the US, issued the unusually downbeat assessment of his country’s future in a report that lays out what he called “chilling long-term simulations”.

These include “dramatic” tax rises, slashed government services and the large-scale dumping by foreign governments of holdings of US debt. Drawing parallels with the end of the Roman empire, Mr Walker warned there were “striking similarities” between America’s current situation and the factors that brought down Rome, including “declining moral values and political civility at home, an over-confident and over-extended military in foreign lands and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government”.

“Sound familiar?” Mr Walker said. “In my view, it’s time to learn from history and take steps to ensure the American Republic is the first to stand the test of time.”

Mr Walker’s views carry weight because he is a non-partisan figure in charge of the Government Accountability Office, often described as the investigative arm of the US Congress. While most of its studies are commissioned by legislators, about 10 per cent – such as the one containing his latest warnings – are initiated by the comptroller general himself. In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Walker said he had mentioned some of the issues before but now wanted to “turn up the volume”. Some of them were too sensitive for others in government to “have their name associated with”.

“I’m trying to sound an alarm and issue a wake-up call,” he said. “As comptroller general I’ve got an ability to look longer-range and take on issues that others may be hesitant, and in many cases may not be in a position, to take on.

“One of the concerns is obviously we are a great country but we face major sustainability challenges that we are not taking seriously enough,” said Mr Walker, who was appointed during the Clinton administration to the post, which carries a 15-year term. The fiscal imbalance meant the US was “on a path toward an explosion of debt”.

“With the looming retirement of baby boomers, spiralling healthcare costs, plummeting savings rates and increasing reliance on foreign lenders, we face unprecedented fiscal risks,” said Mr Walker, a former senior executive at PwC auditing firm.

Current US policy on education, energy, the environment, immigration and Iraq also was on an “unsustainable path”.

“Our very prosperity is placing greater demands on our physical infrastructure. Billions of dollars will be needed to modernise everything from highways and airports to water and sewage systems. The recent bridge collapse in Minneapolis was a sobering wake-up call.”

Mr Walker said he would offer to brief the would-be presidential candidates next spring.

“They need to make fiscal responsibility and inter-generational equity one of their top priorities. If they do, I think we have a chance to turn this around but if they don’t, I think the risk of a serious crisis rises considerably”.

Source: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/80fa0a2c-49e...0779fd2ac.html
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