Consequences Of Attacking Iran And Why Tehran Is Not Worried

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Postby Armenian on Mon Jun 04, 2007 2:23 pm

No way war in Iraq can be won: ex-UK general

Former British Army commander

There is “no way” the war in Iraq can be won by the United States and its allies, a former British Army commander said yesterday as he called for the troops to be withdrawn. General Sir Michael Rose, who commanded the United Nations Protection Force in Bosnia-Hercegovina from 1994 to 1995, said coalition forces in Iraq were facing an impossible situation.

“There is no way we are going to win the war and (we should) withdraw and accept defeat because we are going to lose on a more important level if we don’t,” he said. Though the coalition could not simply “cut and run,” Rose said announcing a withdrawal date would help to dampen the violence between Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions.

“Give them a date and it is amazing how people and political parties will stop fighting each other and start working towards a peaceful transfer of power,” he said. Rose was speaking at the annual Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts in Hay-on-Wye, on the Welsh border with England.

Last edited by Armenian on Mon Jun 04, 2007 2:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Armenian on Mon Jun 04, 2007 2:24 pm

US can’t win in Iraq: General

Retired Army Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez

The man who led coalition forces in Iraq during the first year of the occupation says the United States can forget about winning the war.

“I think if we do the right things politically and economically with the right Iraqi leadership we could still salvage at least a stalemate, if you will — not a stalemate but at least stave off defeat,” retired Army Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez said in an interview. Sanchez, in his first interview since he retired last year, is the highest-ranking former military leader yet to suggest the Bush administration fell short in Iraq. “I am absolutely convinced that America has a crisis in leadership at this time,” Sanchez said after a recent speech in San Antonio, Texas.

“We’ve got to do whatever we can to help the next generation of leaders do better than we have done over the past five years, better than what this cohort of political and military leaders have done,” adding that he was “referring to our national political leadership in its entirety” — not just President George W Bush.

Sanchez called the situation in Iraq bleak and blamed it on “the abysmal performance in the early stages and the transition of sovereignty.” He included himself among those who erred in Iraq’s crucial first year after Saddam. Sanchez took command in the summer of 2003 and oversaw the occupation force amid an insurgency that has sparked a low-grade civil war in Iraq. The general was speaking out amid a bitter debate in the United States over the future of their military commitment in Iraq, where more than 140,000 GIs are battling to quell sectarian violence and defeat a violent insurgency. Their current commander, General David Petraeus, hopes this year’s so-called surge in US troop numbers will eventually tamp down the violence enough to allow Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki to kick-start a political peace process.

14 more US soldiers killed

US command reported a total of 14 more soldiers killed in action in Iraq in a series of bomb attacks and clashes with insurgent fighters over three days. In the most deadly single attack, four soldiers were killed in Baghdad yesterday when a makeshift bomb exploded as they were conducting an operation to seal off a neighbourhood and search it for enemy fighters. Bomb attacks elsewhere in the war-torn capital accounted for two more soldiers yesterday and two on Saturday, while similar incidents and ambushes outside Baghdad saw six more deaths. The latest fatalities brought the number of US servicemen to have died in combat and from other causes in Iraq to 3,488.

Մեր ժողովուրդն արանց հայրենասիրութեան այն է, ինչ որ մի մարմին' առանց հոգու:

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Postby Armenian on Tue Jun 05, 2007 1:52 am

Gates: Taliban Fighters Are Using Iranian Weapons

Karzai: No They Are Not


Gates raises concerns about Iran arms

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates raised concerns about Iranian arms coming into Afghanistan with President Hamid Karzai yesterday, but the Afghan leader said relations with Iran had never been better.
“The president and I discussed this morning—there have been indications over the past few months of weapons coming in from Iran,” Gates told a press conference at the presidential palace in Kabul.

“We do not have any information whether the government of Iran is supporting this, or is behind it, or whether it’s smuggling,” he added.
“But there certainly is information that there are some weapons coming into Afghanistan destined for the Taliban but perhaps also for criminal elements involved in the drug trafficking coming from Iran.”

Karzai, asked whether the Iranian government could be involved, said: “We don’t have any such evidence of the involvement of Iran in supplying the Taliban.

“We have a very good relationship with the Iran government. Iran and Afghanistan have never been as friendly as they are today.”
He said that Iran had contributed heavily over the past five years to Afghanistan’s reconstruction, and trade between the neighbours had increased.

“It has been possible for Afghanistan to be so close to Iran because partners in the international community, especially the US, understood and supported this relationship.

“And because Iran also understood and supported our strategic relationship with America,” Karzai said. “Therefore it is in the interest of our brothers in Iran to have a stable, prospering Afghanistan.”
Gates, who arrived Sunday on an unannounced visit, said he believed the fight against the Taliban was “winnable” but also a long-term undertaking.
The efforts to contain the Taliban’s “spring offensive” put them “off their game and it’s been an important success this spring. The key is to sustain that.”

Karzai went on to say that the “the war against the Taliban, against terrorism, against Al Qaeda, has been won.”

Earlier in the day he visited Camp Morehead, south of the capital, to watch the Afghan National Army’s (ANA) first commando battalion being trained.
General Bismillah Khan Mohamadi, the ANA’s chief of general staff, said the army was on track to field a fully trained and equipped 70,000-member force by December 2008 but would not be able to operate independently until 2011.

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Postby Armenian on Tue Jun 05, 2007 2:01 am

Iranian missile threat to Europe 'joke of the year'

Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani

Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani says a claim by the United States that Iran poses a ballistic missile threat to Europe is laughable.

"It's the joke of the year," he said. "These days, the Americans tell a lot of jokes. "Iranian missiles are incapable of reaching Europe and it is very unlikely that they [the Americans] do not know it. "What is more, Europe is our biggest commercial partner. What reason would we have to do such a thing?"

The United States wants to deploy elements of its anti-missile defence system in the Czech Republic and Poland, despite the objections of Russia. The US says it is designed to defend against a missile attack from the Middle East - notably Iran. Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that Russia would point missiles at European targets if the US expands its nuclear defences near its borders.

Source: ... 941324.htm
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Postby Armenian on Wed Jun 13, 2007 4:46 am

Russia 'surrounded by NATO and ice'

A senior Iranian official says Russia has been surrounded by NATO forces and the Arctic ice, despite long negotiations with the US. Ali Akbar Velayati, the former Iranian Foreign Minister and Advisor to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, said Sunday that Russia had been negotiating with the US since the Soviet era.

"Now, Russia is surrounded by NATO forces and the Arctic ice and the ex-superpower has turned into a Russia whose boundaries are violated by outsiders," he added. Velayati made the remarks at a conference held in northeastern city of Mashad that was attended by a number of military commanders.

"Some people think negotiations with the US would simply be a solution to all problems. But it's not," he said, adding that Washington is trying to take the control of the Islamic world by putting pressure on Iran to recognize the Israeli regime and accept the American version of democracy and Western norms. He said as long as the US dictates 'the rules of the game', negotiations with Washington will be a defeat.

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Postby Armenian on Wed Jun 13, 2007 4:47 am

Ապշեցուցիչ յայտարարութիւն Լևոն Մելիք-Շահնազարյանի կողմից:

An astounding statement by Levon Melik-Shahnazaryan

ԱՄՆ-ի ռազմական ներխուժումն Իրան անխուսափելի է, իսկ Թեհրանում մշակվում է Բաքվի գրավման ծրագիր

ԱՄՆ-ի ռազմական ներխուժումն Իրան անխուսափելի է: Այդ մասին Երեւանում կայացած մամլո ասուլիսում հայտարարել է քաղաքագետ Լեւոն Մելիք-Շահնազարյանը: Նրա խոսքերով, ԱՄՆ-ն չափազանց մեծ կորուստներ ունեցավ վերջերս եւ չի նահանջի: «Ամերիկյան բանակը պարտվում է Իրաքում, որը զենքով է մատակարարվում սահմանակից երկրներից եւ դա բավականին ծանրակշիռ պատճառ է պատերազմ սկսելու համար: Այդ դեպքում Հայաստանը պետք է չեզոք մնա: Ճիշտ է, կա ռադիոակտիվ վարակի վտանգը: Իրանում 4 ատոմակայան կա՝ Բուշերը, որը բավականին հեռու է Հայաստանի սահմաններից, երկուսը Թեհրանի մերձակայքում եւ մեկը՝ Թավրիզում: Անբարենպաստ քամիների դեպքում Թավրիզի կայանին հասցված հարվածը կարող է լրջորեն անդրադառնալ նաեւ Հայաստանի վրա: Ինչ վերաբերում է Ադրբեջանին, ապա Իրանի առաջին պատասխան հարվածն ուղղված կլինի հենց նրա կողմը: Իմ տվյալներով, իսկ դրանք բավականին ճշգրիտ են, Թեհրանում մշակում են Բաքուն գրավելու ծրագիր»,-ընդգծել է Լ.Մելիք-Շահնազարյանը:


Analyst: In case of military operation against Iran, Baku will be struck first

“We shall be witness of the US operation in Iran; the only thing that halts the United States now is a complicated condition of the US Armed Forces in Iraq,” political analyst Levon Melik-Shakhnazaryan announced at a news conference yesterday, expressing his bewilderment by the fact that the has not started yet.

As a REGNUM correspondent reports, according to him, the USA is pursuing geopolitical targets and has done too much by now to crawfish. As the political analyst said, in case the military operation is started, Armenia will have to take a neutral position, as on the one hand, Iran is counterweighed by a very strong Western influence, on the other hand, “the USA comes and goes, but neighbors are always here.” Elaborating on the subject of the USA-Iran military confrontation, Levon Melik-Shakhnazaryan noted that Baku will suffer most from the war, as Azerbaijan will be struck first. “If the United State use the Azerbaijani territory for attacking Iran, Tehran will unconditionally discuss the question of seizing Baku,” the political expert said. In this case, the question of rescuing Azerbaijan will become acute. At least, Washington’s military action must be expected before the presidential election, the analyst believes.

Մեր ժողովուրդն արանց հայրենասիրութեան այն է, ինչ որ մի մարմին' առանց հոգու:

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Postby Lernakan on Thu Jun 14, 2007 8:50 am

Sergey Shakaryants: Political false start of Azerbaijan and Azeri nationalists of Iran (old article)

Azeri demonstration in Tabriz

For over ten days already there has been serious destabilization in the Azeri-populated areas of Northern Iran. The first thing that may occur to one who tries to compare what is happening in Northern Iran now with what happened in the world after the appearance of Mohammed cartoons in a Danish newspaper is that the appearance of an insulting cartoon about the “Azeri ethnicity” in one of the leading Iranian dailies might have well been a provocation. It may as well occur to him that both cartoons were “orchestrated” (as a political provocation) by either one hand or two different hands moved by one and the same brain.

In this particular case, everything is seemingly harder. In order to grasp the logic of the whole chain of events, one will have just to remember what preceded the cartoon by the “Iran” daily and the following mass protests by Iranian Azeri-Turks and to compare this with the slogans they are pushing now – now, they are already protesting against Iran’s foreign policy rather than against those who mocked their sacred Azeri language — as they explained at first. In fact, they have no more reason for protesting – it has already been a week since the Iranian authorities arrested the author of the cartoon and the chief editor of the daily and closed the daily itself for an indefinite time.

To a certain extent, we can already see the true motives of the Iranian Azeris. Both the Iranian authorities and the spiritual leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (Azeri by nationality) have openly and harshly said what the protesters are actually after and who is behind them. Now that American and British media have begun to actively speculate on how the US might “shake the boat” of internal political stability in Iran before its possible aggression against that country – and quite unambiguously hinting that the Iranian Azeris might well be the key “shaker” – and that the US parliamentarians have already decided to allocate $75 mln for “the fight for democracy in Iran,” there is hardly anybody in Tehran who still believes that the Azeris scanning in the streets actually want their mother tongue to become the second state language in Iran – in fact, everybody understands that pushing them into the streets are US dollars.

We still remember the anti-Iranian calls and slogans made during the 2nd World Azeri Congress and the following conflict between the Azeri and Iranian authorities. Then, Tehran demanded apology and account for the open “Southern Azerbaijan’s independence” calls by some of the participant Azeris. We can also remember the April 25 press-conference by Jahandar Bayogly, the chairman of the Committee for the Protection of the National Liberation Movement of “Southern Azerbaijan,” presently residing in Baku, when he urged the US to start a war against Iran and noted that “only Southern Azeris can curb terrorism in Iran.” He, in fact, admitted that they in Washington are planning to use the anti-Persian circles of the Iranian-Azeri community for destabilizing the internal situation in Iran.

At the same time, Bayogly tried to mislead the journalists by saying that “many European countries are beginning to despise Iran” i.e. he made a primitive attempt to convince them that some “anti-Iranian international force” is taking shape in the world, who is ready to use “the Southern Azeris” in its war against Iran and that the US is not alone in its desire to start a war against Iran. “The West-Iran relations must be viewed as relations between the West and Azerbaijan. Nobody, including the US, will succeed in the anti-Iranian campaign if he ignores the role and importance of millions of Azeris living in Iran. The only force that can curb terrorism in Iran is Southern Azeris,” Bayogly said. He also pointed to the “fragments” of Turkey’s interest in both the activities of his committee – especially its relations with US official and “unofficial” circles – and the start of the war against Iran: “The West should regard Turkey and Azerbaijan as guarantors of stability in the region and if they start to strike Iran without understanding the attitude of Turkey and Azerbaijan towards the problem, they will face destabilization in a fuel-rich region.” In order to make himself convincing, Bayogly tried to blackmail his audience a bit: “If the West interferes in Iran against the will of Azerbaijan and Turkey, it may face their confrontation. The negligence of the interests of the Turkish and Azeri peoples, including the Iranian Azeris, will lead to even more deplorable results than in Iraq.”

Quite a strange coincidence – appearing in Baku, exactly before “the second phase” of the Azeri protest wave in Iran, was Mahmudali Chehraganly, one of “the key fighters for Southern Azerbaijan’s independence,” the leader of the Movement of the National Awakening of Southern Azerbaijan – a person who was long “removed” from Azerbaijan by the Alievs clan and has lived for a long time in nowhere but London and Washington. Today Bayogly and Chehraganly are the key mouthpieces for those in the Azeri community of Iran and the Azeri Republic who are constantly speaking about growing anti-Azeri repressions in Northern Iran. Meanwhile, Iranian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Afshar Suleymani (Azeri by origin) has officially said that nobody was killed during the first protest action in Tabriz (an action that caused the present instability in Northern Iran).

The world community is already saying that the Iranian authorities shoot at “peaceful demonstrators fighting for their civil rights,” that they recruit some “Kurdish armed groups” against Azeris and so on. The Kurdish factor mentioned by Bayogly and Chehraganly is not just a tribute to fashion. It is also an own political “serve” to the US and Turkey for them to later ask what “Kurdish armed groups” the Iranian authorities exactly use against the anti-Persian Iranian Azeris. And we are almost sure that the US and Turkey may even accuse Iran of playing up with PKK fighters – the selfsame fighters Ankara recently attacked in Iraqi Kurdistan (with the US’ permission). It should be noted that involved in that punitive action were special purpose troops of two countries – Turkey and Iran – who moved towards each other via the territory of Northern Iraq. And now this “mysterious” Turkish-Iranian operation is followed by a “sudden” conflict in Northern Iran — one more strange coincidence.

What is this the Iranian authorities and the international community are actually dealing with? In the last 5-6 days the Azeri protest actions in Iran have turned into thoroughly planned propaganda against Iran’s policy in the world and in the South Caucasus, in particular. Things are beginning to clear up. Even if some cartoon against Iranian Armenians or Arabs might cause some outburst of displeasure, we dare say that neither Armenians nor Arabs nor even the more “disobedient” Turkmens or Belujis would risk doing the same the Iranian Azeris are doing — as they would know that nobody outside Iran would support them.

Meanwhile, those “protesting” in Tabriz went to loot government offices with the flag of a foreign state – neighboring Azeri Republic – and scanned not only “Long Live Azerbaijan!” but also “Down with Armenia!”, “Karabakh Is Ours!” and so on. And what they in Tabriz burned down on May 27 was not Iranian but Armenian flag. Let’s admit that the anti-Armenian “fragments” of the Azeri protests are already a direct sign that they on top in the US, Israel, Turkey and Azerbaijan are getting increasingly annoyed not only with Iran’s international policies but also with its political line in the South Caucasus – with Azerbaijan and Turkey frequently appearing with open charges that Iran “supports” Armenia in the Karabakh and other issues. The decisions of the 2nd World Azeri Congress made just a month ago are also part of this chain.

Now let’s add all this to the open efforts Washington has been making in the last two-three months to get rid of “the Karabakh headache” and to as much open displeasure of the Americans with Armenia’s efforts to diversify its energy sources with the help of Iran and its reluctance to “get connected” to the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum pipes. And then we will find a clue to the hidden motives of the allegedly purely anti-Persian actions in Northern Iran, which are nothing but just new ways to keep tensions high there.

Meanwhile, the Azeri authorities are trying hard to pretend they have nothing to do with what is going on. “The attitude of Azeri Embassy towards the disorders in Tabriz and other Iranian cities may be exaggerated,” Azeri Ambassador to Iran Abbasali Gasanov said to Azeri-Press on May 25. “The statements of the Azeri ambassador about the events may cause problems. That’s why, Azerbaijan prefers to regard the events as Iran’s internal affair. Azerbaijan will not comment on the clashes between Azeris and the police. Azerbaijan does not interfere in Iran’s domestic affairs and there are no problems between the two countries,” Gasanov said. The American friends and lobbyists of Azerbaijan and anti-Persian Iranian Azeris are much more sincere. On May 26 the American-Azeri Society urged the UN to take measures against the murders and arrests committed by the Iranian authorities in Southern Azerbaijan. The Society informed the UN that Iranian special service agents opened fire at peaceful ralliers and killed many people: “In Iran peaceful Azeri ralliers are attacked by police, those trying to protect themselves are annihilated.” In Iran Azeris have no rights and freedoms and can’t get education in their native language: “Those who try to protect the rights of Azeris are arrested on charge of Pan-Turkism and anti-national activity. The present Iranian authorities are a devilish regime, who can kill its citizens every minute. The UN Security Council must condemn these actions and pass a severe verdict against the devilish regime in Iran.”

That is, in principle, those people still hope that international forces will interfere in the internal affairs of Iran – at least, like they did in Iraq. In other words, they still believe in “a united anti-Iranian coalition.”

The problem is that the Iranian authorities have already suppressed the protests in the northern provinces and have arrested everybody who “at some American X hour” was supposed to be ready for mass actions of active protest or civil disobedience – for something that could actually blow up the internal political stability in Tehran or even in the whole Iran. Meanwhile, 10 days have already passed but neither the US nor Turkey have done anything to “help out” their fifth pillar in Iran.

It turns out that the Iranian authorities may have been timely warned that there might be some mass anti-national actions by specially trained “pan-Turkic” activists and, well aware that they might have no other chance to show them up, cold-bloodedly allowed the Iranian Azeris to “show themselves off” from May 17 to May 28. In this light, one can’t but agree with the view of the representatives of the Movement of Southern Azerbaijan – Bayogly and Chehraganly – who say that the Iranian authorities are far from panic or confusion. One proof is the warning by the command of the Islamic Revolution Guards that all of their 5 million guards are on high alert, which means that the anti-Persian circles of the Iranian Azeris (and in fact the Azeri Republic itself – if it is privy to the events in any slightest way) have run across the powerful wall of Iran’s “internal defense.” In fact, those who spurred the Iranian Azeris into a fight with the present Iranian authorities have made a gross false start.

Sergey Shakaryants – expert of Caucasus analytical center

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Postby Armenian on Fri Jun 15, 2007 1:44 am

Regardless of who performed the shrine bombing in Samarra Iraq, Tehran will in the longterm benefit from the act. Generally speaking the majority Shiites of Iraq have thus far been calm due to the mere fact that they control the central government and the police/military force of the country. These anti-Shiite acts are meant to drive a permanent wedge between the Shiite and Sunni population of Iraq, forcing the Shiites into the Iranian camp. Having said that, I would not be surprised if Iranian intelligence services conducted the bombing, for it does not serve the interests of Western forces nor does it serve the interests of the Sunnis.


Iraq shrine bombing a 'serious blow'

The al-Askari shrine's two minarets collapsed following explosions. The dome of the same mosque, one of the most important sites in Shia Islam, was destroyed in a bombing in 2006

The head of US forces in Iraq has called the bombing of a revered Shiite shrine a "serious blow" to military efforts. In an interview on US television, General David Petraeus says there is little doubt the attack on the Al-Askari mosque in Samarra was an Al Qaeda operation. The bombing brought down two slender minarets that had stood above the mosque's golden dome, which was destroyed in an attack early last year. That assault unleashed a wave of sectarian violence that continues to this day. The latest attack in the largely Sunni town north of Baghdad has raised fears of a resurgence in intercommunal violence, with indefinite curfews imposed in Samarra and Baghdad.

"This is a serious blow," General Petraeus told America's ABC News from Baghdad. "But frankly, it is our hope that this can galvanise the Iraqi leaders to unite against this form of extremism."

In a joint statement released earlier, General Petraeus and the US ambassador in Iraq, Ryan Crocker, said the blast was an attempt by Al Qaeda to divide Iraqis.

"This brutal action on one of Iraq's holiest shrines is a deliberate attempt by Al Qaeda to sow dissent and inflame sectarian strife among the people of Iraq," the statement said.

"It is an act of desperation by an increasingly beleaguered enemy seeking to obstruct the peaceful political and economic development of a democratic Iraq."

General Petraeus told ABC that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has already ordered measures to prevent any sectarian reprisals and that US forces are helping.

"When we met earlier today, a number of provisions were immediately ordered by Prime Minister Maliki," he said.

"Our forces have helped Iraqi forces put those in place. We're helping to move reinforcements to Samarra from the Iraqi national police."

A full investigation will be launched to determine who planned the bombing. Mr Malki is urging Iraqis to stay calm but hours after the Samarra attack, Iraqi police say four Sunni mosques were attacked in Baghdad and the town of Iskandiriyah south of the capital in apparent retaliation. Meanwhile, the White House has seemed to back off previous statements, including some by US President George W Bush, that September will be a critical time to assess the US-led security crackdown in Baghdad.

"It is humanly impossible to solve all this before September," spokesman Tony Snow said. Mr Snow says September will be "the first opportunity" to judge the plan, rather than "a pivotal moment".

Meanwhile, a coalition of non-governmental organisations, the Global Policy Forum, has released a report condemning the UN Security Council for its "shocking silence" on alleged violations of international law by US-led forces in Iraq and urged an early end to their mandate.

Source: ... 950787.htm
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Postby Armenian on Fri Jun 15, 2007 1:51 am

Iran to build five refineries in Asia


Kuala Lumpur, June 12 (Xinhua) Iran is finalizing details on five proposed refinery projects in Asia, with a total capacity of 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd), Iranian Petroleum Minister Seyed Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh has said.

The refineries would be built in China, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia, the New Strait Times reported Tuesday, quoting the minister. Some of the project details have been finalized, while others are still being discussed, Seyed Kazem said. 'There is no specific timetable,' he told journalists after delivering a keynote address on the political and economic scenario facing the energy industry at the 12th Annual Asia Oil and Gas Conference in Kuala Lumpur. The partnerships are 'to bring to the Asian countries the synergy for mutual relationships as we provide them with the crude oil', he said. Earlier in his keynote address, Seyed Kazem called on oil-consuming countries from Europe and Asia to invest in Iran's energy sector.

'With 136 billion barrels of reserves and 28.2 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, we are the second largest world producer and capable of playing an important role in the world energy industry,' he said. He added that Iran's oil production is expected to reach 5.3 million bpd. 'We aim to maintain our position in the international energy market and play a greater role in ensuring supply,' he said, adding that Iran will need $93 billion dollars foreign investment 'as we cannot meet this on our own'. Iran currently has a refining capacity of 1.65 million bpd and will grow to 2.9 million in five years. This will require an estimated investment of $12 billion, he said.

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Postby Armenian on Fri Jun 15, 2007 4:05 am

If attacked, Tehran will strike US and Israeli interests worldwide, says an Iranian official. Oil may hit $250


Iran’s deputy interior minister on security, Mohammad Bager Zolghadr, issued this warning Sunday, June 10, with an eye on the joint US-Israel air maneuver which began the same day in the Negev. The unusually explicit threat by a senior Iranian official was prompted, say DEBKAfile’s Tehran sources, by his government’s interpretation of the seven-day Negev exercise as a preparatory step for a US-Israeli air attack on their nuclear sites. His threat to send oil prices skyrocketing to $250 a barrel hinted that Iran could block the Strait of Hormuz to oil exports from the Gulf. Last week the American carrier USS Stennis and its strike group practiced fending off small fast boats carrying explosives, torpedoes and missiles in the strategic strait, after Tehran announced the expansion of its fleet of small vessels.

Exercise commander Lt. Kevin Ralston said the threat was real. “We all remember the USS Cole [rammed by suicide bombers in a fast explosives-laden boat in Aden Port seven years ago]. Speaking to a gathering of Iranian internal security units, Zolghadr remarked that Iran had spread sabotage networks across the world capable of striking US and Israel interests at any point on the globe. They may take the offensive, he said, but they will not keep control up until the end, and the damage they suffer will be harsh and painful.

Iranian leaders have also taken to heart transport minister Shaul Mofaz’s remark after his strategic talks in Washington last week that no options can be ruled out, including the military option. DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources have learned add that the Islamic Republic’s rulers have been sounding out “revolutionary” Latin American governments about creating joint anti-US terrorist cells for attacks in North and South America. The subject came up in talks with Nicararagua’s Daniel Ortega when he arrived in Tehran Sunday and in discussions with Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

Neither is enthusiastic about getting involved in violent terrorist activity against the United States, although not averse to stepping up anti-US propaganda. Before Ortega took off for Tehran, Israeli parliamentarian Effie Eytam visited Managua and cautioned Nicaraguan lawmakers about the detrimental implications of close relations with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Iran. However, Ortega is angling for economic aid from Tehran. On arrival at Khomenei airport, he said he is looking forward to fruitful ties of cooperation with Iran in the war on poverty.

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Postby Lernakan on Sun Jun 17, 2007 1:28 pm

U.S.: 60 pct of Baghdad not controlled


By KIM GAMEL, Associated Press Writer
Sat Jun 16, 7:36 PM ET

BAGHDAD - Security forces in Baghdad have full control in only 40 percent of the city five months into the pacification campaign, a top American general said Saturday as U.S. troops began an offensive against two al-Qaida strongholds on the capital's southern outskirts.

The military, meanwhile, reported that paratroopers had found the ID cards of two missing U.S. soldiers at an al-Qaida safe house 75 miles north of where they were captured last month, but there was no sign of the men. The house contained computers, video equipment and weapons.

Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno said American troops launched the offensive in Baghdad's Arab Jabour and Salman Pac neighborhoods Friday night. It was the first time in three years that U.S. soldiers entered those areas, where al-Qaida militants build car bombs and launch Katyusha rockets at American bases and Shiite Muslim neighborhoods.

The overall commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, said during a news conference with visiting Defense Secretary Robert Gates that the operation would put troops into key al-Qaida-held areas surrounding Baghdad.

Odierno said there was a long way to go in retaking the city from Shiite Muslim militias, Sunni Arab insurgents and al-Qaida terrorists. He said only about "40 percent is really very safe on a routine basis" — with about 30 percent lacking control and a further 30 percent suffering "a high level of violence."

The U.S. ground forces commander discussed the new offensive and the security situation in an interview with two reporters as he visited an American outpost near the main market in the capital's southern Dora district, a major Sunni Arab stronghold.

"There's about 30 percent of the city that needs work, like here in Dora and the surrounding areas," Odierno said. "Those are the areas that we consider to be the hot spots, which usually have a Sunni-Shiite fault line, and also areas where al-Qaida has decided to make a stand."

With Baghdad and Basra — the country's second largest city and gateway to the Persian Gulf — under curfew, violent deaths were down dramatically Saturday. Only three people were reported to have been killed or found dead in sectarian violence.

That did not include the discovery of 13 bodies of a tae kwon do team kidnapped last year in western Iraq while driving to a training camp in neighboring Jordan. The bodies were found 65 miles west of Ramadi, police and hospital officials said.

The U.S. military revealed that identification cards belonging to the two missing soldiers were found June 9 near Samarra but said no one was in the safe house. Troops approaching the building came under fire from nearby trees, suffering two wounded before air support intervened, the statement said.

Spc. Alex R. Jimenez and Pvt. Byron Fouty were snatched in a raid on their 10th Mountain Division unit on May 12 near Youssifiyah. The body of a third soldier taken in the raid, Pfc. Joseph Anzack Jr., was found floating in the Euphrates River. Four other U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi translator were killed in the May 12 ambush.

The Islamic State of Iraq, a front group for al-Qaida, claimed in a video posted on the Internet this month that all three missing soldiers were killed and buried. The militants showed images of the military IDs of Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence, Mass., and Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Mich., but offered no proof they were dead.

Fouty's stepfather found hope in the ID find. "I take it as they keep moving him, and that he's alive," Gordon Dibler Jr. said. "I was happy that they found something tangible. I'm going to keep hoping."

Wendy Luzon, a friend of the Jimenez family, had a similar response. "It's better than not getting any news for weeks," she said. "Getting this news is something good. We keep hoping that he's alive. We have nothing that tells us differently."

The military announced that a U.S. soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in southern Baghdad and an Ohio National Guard pilot died when his F-16 fighter crashed shortly after takeoff from Balad Air Base in central Iraq. The two deaths Friday raised to at least 3,522 the number of U.S. personnel who have died since the Iraq war began in March 2003, according to an AP count.

In Baghdad, aides to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told The Associated Press that talks Saturday between the U.S. defense secretary and the Iraqi leader were difficult.

Two top advisers to the prime minister said al-Maliki, a Shiite, objected vigorously to the new U.S. policy of arming and training Sunni militants in the fight against al-Qaida.

A third said Gates told al-Maliki that political and legislative action sought by the U.S., including a new law to share oil revenues among all Iraqis, must be complete by September when the defense secretary has to report to Congress on progress in Iraq.

Gates also met with President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, and expressed concern that the security situation nationwide might be spiraling out of control, a presidential aide said.

All the Iraqi officials agreed to discuss the talks only if not quoted by name because they were not authorized to release details. They said they were briefed on the talks by officials who attended the meetings.

The top U.S. commander in the Middle East, Adm. William Fallon, delivered a similar message to Iraqi leaders on June 10, and John Negroponte, the No. 2 State Department official, reinforced it in a visit at midweek.

Underscoring the challenges, Gates arrived in Baghdad on Friday to find a city all but shut down by a security lockdown imposed after the bombing of an important Shiite shrine north of the city. The explosion at the Askariya shrine in Samarra destroyed the mosque's minarets and prompted at least two retaliatory attacks — both in southern Iraq.

On Saturday, attackers blew up the al-Ashrah al-Mubashra mosque in Basra at dawn, residents in nearby houses said. As they were leaving, the bombers wrote graffiti on the complex's outer wall with the names of revered Shiite saints, witnesses said. No injuries were reported.


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Postby Lernakan on Mon Jun 18, 2007 5:48 am

Desperation grows. Is this just another way to try to put an halt to the growing Iranian influence?

Arming Sunni militias undercuts Iraqi government, critics say
By Nancy A. Youssef and Leila Fadel
McClatchy Newspapers


WASHINGTON - A U.S. program to combat al-Qaida in Iraq by arming Sunni Muslims undercuts the Iraqi government and years of U.S. policy, and is a tacit acknowledgment that the country's violence is really a civil war, some U.S. military officials in Washington and foreign policy experts say.

The program, which Bush administration officials have hailed as a sign of progress in Iraq, has sparked heated debate among military and foreign policy analysts. It is opposed by the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Supporters see it as a welcomed change in the American approach in Iraq, one whose benefits have been obvious in the drop in violence in Iraq's Anbar province, where al-Qaida formerly held sway. They say it could give impetus to the Shiites and Kurds to make political concessions.

But others contend the program has long-term repercussions that can only be guessed at now. By giving weapons and training to Sunnis in Anbar and Baghdad who've been previously associated with Sunni insurgent groups, the program endorses unofficial armed groups over official Iraqi forces as guarantors of Iraqi security, military officers who oppose the program say.

Those officers also say it abandons the long-stated U.S. goal of disarming militias and reinforces the idea that U.S.-trained Iraqi forces cannot control their country.

At the Pentagon, at least six officers who served in Iraq shook their heads when asked about the idea of arming the Sunnis. They said they had little faith in a Sunni community that was aggressively killing their comrades just months ago.

"Why did we spend all that capital disarming them last year?" asked one military officer who served in Iraq last year under former Iraq commander Gen. George Casey. "As a military man, I cannot fathom the logic of putting more weapons out there." The officer declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak about the matter.

By specifically aiding Sunni groups, it also seems to be an acknowledgement that Iraq is mired in a civil war that pits Sunnis against better-armed Shiite militias, some say.

"It is the U.S. basically acknowledging that Iraq is in a civil war," said Vali Nasr, an expert on Shiism at the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonpartisan foreign policy organization. "And that the (Iraqi) government is irrelevant."

In Baghdad, the mostly Shiite government already is saying it cannot be expected to disarm militias if Sunni groups are receiving arms from the Americans.

Maliki, a Shiite, voiced his opposition to the program directly to Petraeus, according to Sami al-Askari, a close adviser to Maliki.

"It's a sort of militia, when we are trying to get rid of the current militias," Askari said. "By arming these tribes we'll make it worse."

In the western Baghdad neighborhood of Amariyah, U.S. forces are working with the Islamic Army and local residents, an anti-American insurgent group that considers itself a resister of the "occupation." In recent months the group that once worked with al-Qaida has severed ties, blaming al-Qaida for destruction of infrastructure and suffering of Sunnis in their neighborhoods.

But Maliki told Newsweek that U.S. forces are making "mistakes by arming tribes sometimes." He said coalition forces don't know the backgrounds of tribes they're backing. Askari, his aide, said Maliki has given orders to Iraqi Security Forces to treat the U.S.-armed groups as "outlaws."

U.S. officials say they want to build on the momentum spurred in the once-restive Anbar province. In a matter of months, residents turned on al-Qaida after years of considering it an ally in their battle to expel U.S. troops. Since then, U.S. troop deaths in Anbar have dropped precipitously.

They insist Iraq's mostly Shiite government backs their plan.

"There is risk, but we are at a point in this endeavor where we think, and the government of Iraq generally thinks, that some risk must be taken. You cannot just continue to do what we were doing, in some areas, and expect to have different results," said Lt. Gen. Graeme Lamb, deputy commander for Multi-National Force-Iraq in an e-mailed statement.

"It's about getting the local population to reject the extremists and to embrace the legitimate processes of government. And that's what the coalition, together with the government of Iraq, is trying to do."

But Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the No. 2 commander in Iraq, acknowledged that the government was worried about the new plan.

"Sure they are concerned," he said. "They want to make sure that we are not forming a Sunni militia that will fight the government."

Odierno said that the Sunnis working with U.S. forces are checked closely and are asked to sign a statement that they will not fight U.S. forces or the government.

But in Amariyah Abu Bilal, a leader of an Islamic Army cell working with the U.S. military there, said he is committed to expelling the "occupation."

"We fight the occupation to liberate our lands," he said.

He added that his was a legitimate resistance group, not killers of civilians like al-Qaida.

"Have we ever put a car bomb in a market?" he asked. "We don't do things like this."

Outside Iraq some military officials see the decision as a sign of desperation after an increase in U.S. troops in Iraq triggered little improvement in overall rates of violence.

"The specter of defeat opens the ground to new ideas," said Loren B. Thompson, a military analyst for the Lexington Institute, a think tank in the Washington, D.C., area. "We are at the end" of options.

Since the United States began adding troops to Baghdad as part of a surge intended to cut violence in Baghdad and Anbar, the number of attacks and civilians killed has not changed, according to the Defense Department's quarterly report to Congress last week.

One retired Army general who communicates regularly with current military leadership came to a dispiriting conclusion: "It could be the only thing we can do now."

Iraq's Sunni leaders defend the U.S. arming of their sect by noting that Shiite militias operate openly, often displaying their arms on the streets and setting up checkpoints where they search cars. In contrast, U.S. and Iraqi forces have disarmed the Sunnis over the past 18 months, leaving them unable to defend themselves.

"Why not make use of (the Sunnis) in such a situation?" said Alaa Makki, a Sunni legislator. "If you want al-Qaida out you have to push and encourage these groups to face al-Qaida."

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Postby Lernakan on Mon Jun 18, 2007 5:51 am

What Every American Should Know About Iraq
by David Michael Green


Some people think that anyone who disagrees with the American invasion and occupation of Iraq is either a bleeding-heart liberal appeaser, a George W. Bush hater, a blame America firster, an underminer of the troops, a traitor, or a geopolitical naif.

To those who see opponents of the war as fitting into one, several, or all of these categories, I say read this page. I will make no arguments herein, nor even commentary. I will twist no data nor spin any tales. I will even include some of the comments and arguments made by the administration and its supporters.

Instead of arguing against the war, I will try to offer a fairly complete account of the relevant facts one might wish to consider when evaluating America’s policy in Iraq. Especially for those who continually claim that they, more than others, have the best interests of the troops at heart - but actually for all citizens in a democracy - it is incumbent upon us to educate ourselves about this most important of national policies.

Those troops are being maimed and are dying on our behalf every day. The very least we can do is spend a brief amount of our time learning about this question so that we can decide whether their continued sacrifices are justified.

So, in that spirit - and as the Founders themselves said - “let Facts be submitted to a candid world”.

* Mesopotamia has long been a playground for great powers. The British invaded the area in 1917, causing a widespread revolt of the Iraqi people. Britain later ruled under a League of Nations mandate that produced the artificial creation of the country Iraq (and Kuwait), and continued to control oil production in the region. Foreign Minister Arthur Balfour said at the time, “I do not care under what system we keep this oil, but I am quite clear it is all-important for us that this oil should be available”.

* Saddam Hussein started his career as a political thug, on the payroll of the CIA during the 1950s and 1960s, torturing and murdering Iraqi leftists whose names were provided by American intelligence, and participating in an armed coup against the Iraqi government.

* In 1972, the United States conspired with Iran and Israel to support a revolt of the Kurdish people within Iraq against their government.

* In 1980, the United States provided encouragement, weapons, intelligence, satellite data and funding for Saddam’s Iraq to invade Iran, launching an eight year war - the longest and probably the bloodiest of the post-WWII era.

* During this war, Ronald Reagan dispatched Donald Rumsfeld to Iraq to improve relations with Saddam. The United States then restored full diplomatic relations with Iraq, despite the administration’s clear awareness that Saddam was using chemical weapons at the time.

* The Reagan administration also knew that Saddam had used chemical weapons against Iraqi Kurds rising up again against Baghdad (this was the incident George W. Bush would later repeatedly invoke, saying of Saddam, “He gassed his own people”), but nevertheless authorized expanded sales to Iraq of highly sophisticated equipment that could be used to manufacture weapons, only two months after the Halabja incident.

* George H. W. Bush equated Saddam to Hitler. But, in the wake of the 1990-91 Gulf War, after the elder Bush had encouraged Kurds and Shiites to rise up against the regime, he abandoned them, leaving them to be slaughtered by Saddam’s military, in many cases right before the eyes of US forces who were ordered not to intervene.

* The senior Bush had a chance after that war to occupy Iraq and topple Saddam. He chose not to because, in his own words and those of his National Security Advisor, Brent Scowcroft, “Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq … would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. … We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. …furthermore, we had been self‑consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post‑cold war world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the U.N.’s mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the U.S. could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different - and perhaps barren - outcome.”

* The younger Bush, George W., never asked his father for advice on Iraq. Instead, he said: “You know he is the wrong father to appeal to in terms of strength. There is a higher father that I appeal to.” Bush has also stated, “I’m driven with a mission from God. …God would tell me, ‘George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq…’ And I did.”

* George W. Bush gave twenty interviews in 1999 to Mickey Herskowitz, a friend of the Bush family contracted at the time to ghostwrite his autobiography. Bush was thinking about invading Iraq at that time, saying “‘One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander‑in‑chief. My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it. If I have a chance to invade, if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it. I’m going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I’m going to have a successful presidency.” Herskowitz said that Bush’s beliefs on Iraq were shaped by Dick Cheney’s ideas, based on the power and glory Margaret Thatcher earned from her Falklands War: “Start a small war. Pick a country where there is justification you can jump on, go ahead and invade.” Herskowitz also reports this interesting note from his interviews with Bush: “He told me that as a leader, you can never admit to a mistake. That was one of the keys to being a leader.”

* During the presidential campaign of 2000, candidate Bush said very little about Iraq, and certainly never suggested the need for urgent action. Somehow, though, in just two years time - during which, if anything, Iraq actually got weaker, not stronger - Saddam and his country became a perilous and imminent threat that had to be addressed immediately.

* Former members of his own cabinet have revealed that Bush planned to invade Iraq from the very beginning of his administration, well before 9/11. All discussions were about the how of doing it, never about the why, the justification, the costs or the wisdom.

* Bush claims he is fighting a war on terror in response to 9/11. But in the first eight months of his administration, his own top terrorism advisor, Richard Clarke, could not get a meeting of cabinet-level security officials to discuss terrorism. They finally met, one week before 9/11, and then the meeting was ‘hijacked’ into discussing Iraq instead. In 2004, Clarke said “Frankly, I find it outrageous that the president is running for re‑election on the grounds that he’s done such great things about terrorism. He ignored it. He ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11.” Clarke is a Republican who voted for Bush in 2000, and also served in the administrations of Bush’s father, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

* Right after 9/11, according to Clarke, “The president dragged me into a room with a couple of other people, shut the door, and said, ‘I want you to find whether Iraq did this.’ Now he never said, ‘Make it up.’ But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did this. I said, ‘Mr. President. We’ve done this before. We have been looking at this. We looked at it with an open mind. There’s no connection.’ He came back at me and said, ‘Iraq! Saddam! Find out if there’s a connection’. And in a very intimidating way. I mean that we should come back with that answer. We wrote a report. It was a serious look. We got together all the FBI experts, all the CIA experts. We wrote the report. We sent the report out to CIA and found FBI and said, ‘Will you sign this report?’ They all cleared the report. And we sent it up to the president and it got bounced by the National Security Advisor or Deputy. It got bounced and sent back saying, ‘Wrong answer. … Do it again’.”

* Iraq was not in league with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, whom the administration blamed for the 9/11 attacks. As Richard Clarke put it, “There’s absolutely no evidence that Iraq was supporting al Qaeda, ever”. Indeed, the opposite is true. Al Qaeda is a Muslim fundamentalist organization dedicated to the violent overthrow of the secular regimes ruling Islamic countries, precisely what Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was. Indeed, even the highly religious Saudi Arabia (from which 15 of the 19 alleged hijackers came, none of them being Iraqis) is under violent pressure from al Qaeda for not being theocratic enough.

* Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Even George Bush has now admitted this. However, over the last six years, and still to this day, Bush constantly conflates the two in almost every speech he gives, to the point where in 2003 sixty-nine percent of Americans came to believe that Saddam had been behind the 9/11 attacks. There can be little doubt that the administration used 9/11 to justify the invasion of Iraq, though they had nothing whatsoever to do with each other.

* According to the internal top secret documents later leaked as the Downing Street Memos, we know that the administration itself realized that “the case was thin” for war against Iraq, because “Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.”

* Nevertheless, the administration made an internal decision that the war would be marketed around the supposed WMD threat, despite knowing it was false. The allusions to mushroom clouds, centrifuge tubes and all the rest were gross exaggerations and outright lies, and were known to be at the time by the people making them. As the Downing Street Memos reveal, a decision for war had already been made, and the public case for it was fabricated afterwards: “The intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy”.

* The president claimed in a state of the union speech that Saddam had gone to Africa to get uranium, seriously alarming the American public. Before the speech, the CIA had told the White House to remove that comment because it was transparently false, based as it was on a crude forged letter. Ultimately, the ‘mistake’ of including this lie was blamed on Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, who was later punished for this grave ‘error’ by being promoted to National Security Advisor. His former boss, Condoleeza Rice, was punished by being promoted to Secretary of State.

* When Joseph Wilson came home from a trip to Niger and told the truth about the forged letter, the administration revealed the identity of his wife, undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame, thus potentially jeopardizing the lives of all her contacts overseas. Eight witnesses recalled nine conversations with Vice President Cheney’s Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby, in which Libby blew Plame’s cover - an act of treason - in order to punish a political ‘enemy’ for telling the truth. Libby claimed not to remember these nine conversations. Both the jury and the judge in the case thought Libby was unquestionably lying and convicted him of obstructing justice, with jurors commenting that they felt sorry for him because he was obviously taking a fall for Cheney.

* The case regarding Saddam’s chemical weapons capability was similarly trumped up. It was based on the rantings of a single source, code-named “Curveball”, whose handlers in the German intelligence service had repeatedly warned the administration that he was a drunk and a liar.

* The administration continually relied upon Iraqi exiles, many of whom had not set foot in the country for decades, as sources for information about Iraq and as mouthpieces to justify the invasion. But it is unclear who was using whom. Ahmad Chalabi, the most prominent of these, intended to use the US military as a vehicle to become leader of Iraq. Despite being wanted for massive bank fraud in Jordan, Chalabi convinced neoconservatives that he was the “George Washington of Iraq”. His Iraqi National Congress was the primary source for Bush administration claims that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaeda, neither of which was true. Chalabi gloated about how his influence led the Bush administration to war, and the Pentagon immediately flew him into Iraq following the invasion. The army of followers that he had promised would rally around him never materialized, and his party won zero parliamentary seats in the December 2005 elections. Ultimately, the United States accused him of providing intelligence secrets to the Iranian government and raided his offices.

* Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN Security Council sealed the deal for most Americans regarding the case for war. It later became apparent that almost everything Powell said that day was false, and he has described this episode as the low point in his career.

* The Downing Street Memos reveal that the purpose of authorizing UN weapons inspectors to go to Iraq was never actually to assess the threat and destroy any weapons found. Instead, the purpose was to “wrongfoot” Saddam by getting him to reject the inspectors, thus giving the American and British governments a pretext for war. Tony Blair said “It would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. If the political context were right, people would support regime change.”

* To this day Bush claims that Saddam kicked out the inspectors. That had been true five years previously, but not before the war. Hans Blix, the head of the 2002-03 weapons inspection team reported that they were getting good cooperation from the Iraqis, despite the fact that - as revealed by one of the former team members - the US had inserted American spies into prior international weapons inspection teams in Iraq.

* At the time of the invasion in 2003, the weapons inspectors were nearly done with their work, and only asked for a month or two more to finish. The Bush administration claimed that the threat of Saddam and his WMD was too grave and too urgent to wait. Bush’s claim that Saddam kicked out the inspectors is not only false, but masks the actual truth, which is that the administration told the inspectors to leave because of the looming attack, before they could finish their work and by so doing remove the rationale for that attack.

* As war loomed, Iraq made broad overtures to the United States to prevent an invasion, offering to allow full, on-the-ground, American weapons inspections, anti-terrorism cooperation, oil concessions, and even backing for the US position in an Israeli/Palestinian peace plan. The only thing Saddam balked at was regime change, but even then he offered to hold elections within two years’ time. The Americans were also informed by the Iraqis at the time that there were no existing WMD. The Iraqi representatives “could not understand why the Americans were focused on Iraq rather than on countries, like Iran, that have long supported terrorists”. The Bush administration rejected their offer, despite that it met every demand that Bush was publicly making.

* Saddam had never attacked the United States, nor even threatened to do so.

* In March of 2003, when the invasion was launched, Iraq was a gravely weakened military and economic power which could not seriously threaten its neighbors, let alone the United States. International sanctions had seriously damaged its economy and killed vast numbers of its citizens, including about 500,000 children. It had no serious weapons capability. It had lost control over two-thirds of its own airspace to American and British flyers.

* In November of 2002, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1441, requiring that Iraq declare its WMD, disarm, and allow inspections to verify that this has occurred. One week later Iraq announced that it would accept the resolution, and the weapons inspectors were simultaneously deployed.

* Iraq submitted a report to the UN, as required, indicating that it possessed no weapons of mass destruction. The Bush administration immediately and definitively asserted that Saddam was lying. In fact, since Iraq had no WMD, and since Bush claimed that Saddam was unquestionably lying in saying so, it was Bush who lied, not Saddam.

* Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said of the supposed Iraqi WMD, “We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat”. But the United States government had never informed the UN weapons inspectors - a team that Bush had demanded be sent - of where to find those weapons.

* Two subsequent reports from teams sent to Iraq by the Bush administration itself revealed that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, though some people continue to this day to say there were some found there. Moreover, these teams scientifically confirmed that such weapons are neither missing nor hidden nor deported, but never existed after the mandated weapons destruction which followed the Gulf War.

* At one point Bush claimed that two small trailers found in the desert were mobile “biological laboratories” and thus declared, “We have found the weapons of mass destruction”, seemingly vindicating his decision to go to war. But even before he spoke, it was known by the Pentagon that these trailers had nothing to do with WMD production, and that fact was reported to Washington two days before the president’s statement. Bush and other administration officials continued to make the claim for nearly a year, despite an unequivocal report filed from the field stating that the trailers were not, and could not be, weapons labs. Scientists and engineers on the investigating team referred to the trailers as “”the biggest sand toilets in the world”.

* Added all together, what emerges from the above-listed facts is that all the carnage and destruction that has ensued was based on the case that Iraq was so imminent a threat - despite in fact being a very weak military power - that America could not wait four to six more weeks for the weapons inspectors to finish their work and reveal that it was no threat whatsoever.

* All the world, including the Bush administration, clearly understood that Security Council Resolution 1441 did not authorize an invasion of Iraq. Thus, in March 2003, the US drafted a second resolution which would explicitly do so. It needed nine out of fifteen votes, with no permanent member vetoes, to pass. In a press conference, Bush was asked whether he would call for a vote regardless of anticipated outcome. He responded, “No matter what the whip count is, we’re calling for the vote. We want to see people stand up and say what their opinion is about Saddam Hussein and the utility of the United Nations Security Council. And so, you bet. It’s time for people to show their cards, to let the world know where they stand when it comes to Saddam.” But after extensive American pressure, lobbying and even spying on Security Council members, only four countries were prepared to vote in favor of the resolution, with three of the five permanent members opposing. The president quietly withdrew the resolution he had promised “no matter what”.

* To this day Bush says in his speeches that Saddam did not comply with the UN, that Saddam kicked the inspectors out of Iraq, and that Bush had Security Council authorization to invade. None of those statements are true.

* In 2004, after saying that the Iraqi threat of WMD was urgent, Bush was asked by a reporter whether he had concerns about North Korea’s nuclear weapons development program, which - unlike Iraq’s - was quite real. In response, the president just opened his palms and shrugged. North Korea has since actually tested a nuclear warhead. Yet there is little expressed concern, the president almost never mentions it, there is no invasion being planned and no war drums being beaten.

* For that matter, there never was when the Soviet Union had more than 20,000 nuclear warheads mounted on ballistic missiles targeted on the US and set to a hair trigger. Bush never explained why nuclear deterrence worked against the Soviets with all their weapons for forty years, but couldn’t have had the same effect against Iraq today.

* Bush also never explained why Iraq had to be invaded, even though more than thirty countries had greater WMD capability at the time.

* When the WMD and al Qaeda link rationales for the war were exploded, the administration began arguing that its central purpose in invading Iraq was to bring democracy to the country and to the Middle East. At the same time, however, it has done next to nothing about Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have been murdered in a clear case of ongoing genocide. Since the first requisite for being able to vote is to be alive, it is unclear how invading Iraq in the name of democracy could be so urgent, yet saving lives in Darfur of little concern and no action.

* The administration was told in advance by American intelligence agencies that there was a very high danger that Iraq could explode into ethnic chaos following an invasion. It chose to attack anyhow.

* According to former US diplomat Peter Galbraith, Bush was startled to learn - in January 2003 - that there was a difference between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. Responding to the three Iraqi exiles whom he had invited as guests to the Super Bowl, Bush looked at them and said, “You mean…they’re not, you know, there, there’s this difference. What is it about?” As Bush often likes to brag, he governs based on gut feelings, not on intelligence or analysis. Those who know him state that he doesn’t read books, and he himself admitted he doesn’t read newspapers.

* Before the war, General Eric Shinseki testified to Congress that several hundred thousand troops would be needed to govern this country of 25 million people during a post-war occupation. But since the administration was insisting that the war could be handled with far fewer troops and at far less expense, General Shinseki and at least one other general who made the same argument were publicly humiliated and had their long and prestigious military careers terminated for political reasons. Four years later, Bush is now ‘surging’ in Iraq by adding troops to the 140,000 or so that were already there, in addition to the 80,000 or so highly expensive mercenaries the taxpayers are funding. With the total now nearing 250,000 soldiers occupying the country, it is still transparently not enough to keep the peace.

* To say that there was never a plan for the post-war occupation of Iraq is technically incorrect. There was an extensive plan which the State Department had put together, working with experts and Iraqi exiles. But Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld didn’t want the State Department to have the credit and control for the occupation, so he and Bush threw State’s document in the garbage. Then there was no plan.

* Most of the Americans sent to staff the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) had no technical or professional training or experience in the work to which they were assigned. Rather, they were chosen because they were Republican Party loyalists.

* One of the most significant blunders the United States committed during the occupation was to dismiss the entire Iraqi Army, sending them home unemployed and armed, along with anyone associated with the Ba’ath Party, despite the fact that everyone who wanted to work at a professional level anywhere in Iraqi society had been forced under Saddam to join the Party. The first Chief Executive of the CPA, General Jay Garner, refused to purge all Ba’athists from Iraqi governing institutions, and instead sought to maximize Iraqi control of the post-war government as much as possible. He was quickly fired.

* As a result of this war, over 3,500 Americans are dead, and perhaps 20,000 or so are gravely wounded. Americans have not been allowed to see the caskets returning to Dover Air Force Base.

* The best, most scientific, and least politicized estimate of Iraqi dead suggests that probably close to one million have now perished in the country’s post-war chaos, out of a population of 25 million.

* Nearly four million Iraqis have been forced to leave their homes as refugees from the violence, flooding Jordan and Syria, especially. The United States allowed all of 202 refugees - many thousands of whom have been targeted for death for having cooperated with the US occupation - to settle in America in 2006. America’s major ally in the region, Saudi Arabia, is building a wall to keep them out.

* The United States has spent half a trillion dollars on the war, so far. Estimates suggest that the number could rise to two trillion dollars before the war is over and the continuing costs of medical care and economic displacement are fully accounted for.

* America’s army has been described by Colin Powell as “broken”. Almost all our land forces are deployed in Iraq - a war of choice - leaving none for use in a real foreign crisis.

* Similarly, our National Guard and Reserve troops have been used in ways that were never intended to fight this war - along with about 80,000 highly expensive mercenaries - so that the president could avoid an unpopular draft. This means that Guard and Reserve troops and their equipment are unavailable for use in national emergencies such as Hurricane Katrina.

* As a result of the war, America is far more hated today throughout much of the world, especially the Mid-East, and is seen as a imperialist power. The Iraq invasion thus played directly into the hands of Islamic radicals like Osama bin Laden.

* America’s own intelligence agencies concede that Iraq has become a giant factory for the minting of new terrorists, where almost none existed prior to the invasion.

* Terrorist incidents worldwide have gone up seven-fold since, and largely because of, the invasion of Iraq.

* Iran, a country whose government truly does despise the United States, has been an enormous beneficiary of the war. Prior to 2003, Iran was a natural check on Iraq among Middle East powers, and vice versa. Now Iran is enormously influential in Iraq and throughout the region, its growth in power alarming its neighbors.

* A very real possibility exists that the civil war now raging within Iraq will become a regional war, perhaps drawing in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Jordan, Syria, Israel and others.

* Gas prices have doubled since the war began. The potential also exists for a global depression should further conflict limit the flow of oil to industrialized countries, just as these economies were damaged by OPEC doing the same thing in the 1970s.

* To this day, American troops in Iraq do not have sufficient body or vehicle armor, leading to hundreds of unnecessary deaths. Communities across America have literally held bake sales to raise funds for purchasing armor for their own kids. When confronted by a soldier about this, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld replied, “You go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time”.

* Companies like Halliburton, meanwhile, in which the Vice President still maintains financial interests, have received multi-billion dollar contracts for work in Iraq, without having to competitively bid for them, and with the internal influence of Cheney’s office in winning the assignments. Numerous scandals have emerged from these contracts, including billing for work never completed. Eight billion dollars in cash, entrusted to the Coalition Provisional Authority, has gone missing in one incident alone.

* Before the war, when they were marketing it to the public and Congress, administration officials hinted that it would be quick, easy and cheap. After the invasion, George Bush declared, under a “Mission accomplished” banner, that fighting had ceased before the war had really even begun. It has now lasted longer than America’s involvement in World War Two, and the administration has begun to talk about Iraq using the Korean model of a fifty-year occupation.

* The invasion of Iraq was supposedly part of an American ‘war on terrorism’. But, today, the United States is protecting Luis Posada from extradition to Venezuela or Cuba, despite that Posada has bragged about blowing up an airliner and killing seventy-three people on board, as well as a string of other bombings of Cuban hotels and nightclubs. The government claims that Posada cannot be extradited to Venezuela because he might be tortured, even though Venezuela has no such reputation - but after Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib and the Attorney General’s renouncing of the Geneva Conventions, the United States now does.

* None of the principals who decided to go to war in Iraq had ever seen combat themselves. George W. Bush used his father’s influence to avoid service in Vietnam. John Ashcroft got seven draft deferments. Dick Cheney got five deferments, and later said “I had better things to do in the Sixties than fight in Vietnam”. Neither Paul Wolfowitz nor Richard Perle nor Condoleeza Rice ever served, and Donald Rumsfeld never fought in a war. The only senior member of the administration who had was Colin Powell. Powell advised Bush to be cautious about invading Iraq, and was thus sidelined from discussions leading up to the war. George Bush’s Secretary of State was not informed of the decision to invade Iraq until after Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador, had been told by the president.

While many can imagine political leaders making mistakes, most Americans find it inconceivable that an American president could actually put personal or political interests ahead of the national interest or the welfare of the troops, especially on so grave an issue as war and peace.

But such individuals would do well to remember that there is a long history of this sort of behavior, and that it is an unfortunate part of human nature. The Europeans used to have an expression for this, which was all too well earned from their own experiences. They noted that “War is the sport of kings”.

This is precisely why America’s Founders so feared the concentration of political power that they created a system devoted to spreading that power out, through checks and balances, through federalism, and through guaranteed civil liberties. Often those institutional obstacles have been successful at preventing presidents from acting like kings, but sometimes not. During the George W. Bush presidency, Congress has been a side-show, and many of America’s Bill of Rights-provided civil liberties have been shredded.

Some Americans may believe that, while Europeans have been unfortunate enough to have suffered under warring governments, that could never happen here. The truth, alas, is that it already has, many times. We know today that the stories we were told by our government to justify US involvement in the Mexican war, the Spanish-American War and the Vietnam War, for instance, were complete and knowing fabrications, as the secret internal history of the latter war - the Pentagon Papers - definitively proved in that case.

Today, Americans will have to decide for themselves whether George Bush’s invasion of Iraq to protect the United States from the threat of terrorism was legitimate, or yet another example of a president sporting like a king, at the expense of the American people, the troops, the Iraqis, and the world.

Personally, I think the evidence above does exactly what I had intended it would do in assembling it for this article. On the question of the motivation and justification for George Bush’s invasion of Iraq, it speaks for itself.

David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers’ reactions to his articles (, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website,

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Postby Lernakan on Tue Jun 19, 2007 3:12 pm

Iraq becomes prime training ground for export of Jihadists


AMMAN (AFP) - Iraq has overtaken Afghanistan as an ideal training ground for Jihadists to export their battle across and beyond the Middle East, experts say.

The new generation of Islamist militants in Iraq are more battle-hardened than their veteran anti-Soviet counterparts from Afghanistan, and the export of their Muslim "holy war" to calmer Arab countries has become a phenomenon.
The presence of Saudi, Jordanian and Yemeni volunteers in the besieged Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared in north Lebanon, as well as arrests in Jordan and Saudi Arabia of Jihadists coming from Iraq illustrate this.

"The Iraqi resistance doesn't need people inside, they have more than they need, freeing up foreign fighters to fight elsewhere," said Marwan Shehadeh, an expert in radical movements with the Vision Research Institute in Amman.
"They are in contact with each other because Salafi (strict Muslim) ideology is spread all over Arab and Islamic countries," he said.
"They're ready to work, they're well trained and ready to start a global war against their enemies, not only the United States and Israel but also Western-backed Arab regimes."

A Western diplomat said he could not see how the spread of Jihadist ideology could be contained.
"Jihadists (spreading their ideology) are already in the region. Things are well advanced. It's a huge fear of Jordan," said the diplomat posted in Amman, requesting anonymity.

Last year, a Jordanian military tribunal condemned to death three Syrians and an Iraqi over a rocket attack on US warships in August 2005 that killed a Jordanian soldier.
Three other Iraqis, a Syrian and a Saudi-born Jordanian were also handed prison terms for their role in the attack on American ships moored in the Red Sea port of Aqaba. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility.
In November 2005, Iraqi suicide bombers targeted three luxury hotels in Amman, killing 60 people, including foreigners. The attack was also claimed by Al-Qaeda.
In April this year, Jordan sentenced an Iraqi and a Libyan to life imprisonment over an abortive bomb plot against Amman airport in June 2006 on behalf of Al-Qaeda.

"The road to Baghdad was a one-way road, it has become a two-way highway," said Mohammed al-Masri, a researcher at Amman's Centre for Strategic Studies.
"There are still people going inside to join the fight but now there are people going out. Iraq is exporting terrorists," he said.
The intensity of fighting, the stockpiles of arms and explosives, the sophistication of car bombs used by insurgents all make Iraq an outstanding training ground, experts said.

In a report released in April by the US government, Dennis Pluchinsky, a former intelligence expert in the State Department, said Iraq veterans were the most dangerous because they were better trained than their Afghanistan counterparts.

"There are some operation parallels between the urban terrorist activity in Iraq and the urban environments in Europe and the United States," Pluchinsky wrote.
"More relevant terrorist skills are transferrable from Iraq to Europe than from Afghanistan to Europe."
In the Al-Qaeda camps of Afghanistan, volunteers almost never see real fighting, according to those who have passed through.
In Iraq, if he survives, a Jihadist will have acquired unbeatable experience having been pitted against the world's best army.
"If Afghanistan was a Pandora's box which when opened created problems in many countries, Iraq is a much bigger box, and what's inside much more dangerous," said Masri.

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Postby Lernakan on Wed Jun 20, 2007 7:09 pm

Iran is America's best hope for stability in the Gulf
By Selig Harrison


Iran is ready to help the US stabilise both Iraq and Afghanistan, but only for a price: a gradual accommodation between Washington and Tehran, starting with the complete cessation of CIA and Pentagon covert operations designed to promote "regime change". "The United States is like a fox caught in a trap" in Iraq, said Amir Mahebian, editor of the conservative daily Reselat, in a recent Tehran conversation. "Why should we free the fox so he can make a dinner out of us?"

In the most widely reported covert operations under way in Iran, the US is smuggling weapons and money to disaffected non-Persian ethnic minority factions. But at the recent Iran-US talks in Baghdad, Iranian delegates focused on less publicised sabotage and espionage missions in the Persian heartland of Iran by a US-backed militia of Persian exiles known as the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK). The MEK backed Saddam Hussein in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war and its 3,600 fighters stayed on in Iraq afterwards. Since the invasion of Iraq, US intelligence agencies have disarmed the fighters but have kept the base camps intact and have used MEK operatives for missions in Iran, even though the State Department lists it as a terrorist organisation.

In the Baghdad talks, Iran rejected a US offer to transfer the camps to Morocco, aides to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, told me. What Tehran wants is a complete dismantling of MEK paramilitary forces, starting with a screening process in which the Red Cross would arrange reunions between MEK members and their families. Members opting to return to Iran would get an amnesty.

Dismantling the MEK would be the best way to signal US readiness for an accommodation with Tehran, since it is the only militarised exile group seeking to overthrow the Islamic Republic and is the darling of the Washington "regime change" lobby. Alireza Jafarzadeh, chairman of an MEK front group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, appears regularly on Fox News and is playing a role like that of Ahmad Chalabi in the run-up to the Iraq invasion, rallying congressional and media support for bombing the Natanz nuclear site.

The dominant impression emerging from a week of high-level conversations in Tehran cutting across the ideological spectrum is that Ayatollah Khamenei and the pragmatists in his National Security Council, not the fire-breathing president, Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, control foreign and defence policy; and that most outstanding issues, including the nuclear issue, can be defused over time if the US moves towards recognition of the Islamic Republic and keeps out of the internal Iranian struggle between hardliners and moderates.

It was a naive blunder for George W. Bush, US president, to announce that $75m was being funnelled to Iranians "seeking to promote openness and freedom for the Iranian people". This gave hardliners their excuse for the unconscionable recent arrests of four Iranian-American dual citizens. Similarly, hardline elements are strengthened by pressure tactics on the nuclear issue, such as United Nations sanctions, harassing Iranian banks and stationing two aircraft carriers equipped with nuclear-capable aircraft off Iran's coast.

What, specifically, is Iran prepared to do in Iraq and Afghanistan? The quickest pay-off would come in intelligence-sharing, help in training security forces and reconstruction assistance. In Iraq, Iranian officials say, they would help in breaking up Sunni terrorist networks and, as relations with Washington improved, in moderating the role of the Shia militias. Iran agrees with the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, they say, that a timetable for the departure of US combat forces is necessary to calm the nationalist passions that fuel insurgent activity. In Afghanistan, said Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of the Majlis (parliament) foreign affairs commission, Iran is ready to expand its economic aid, accelerate anti-narcotics operations and intensify co-operation against the Taliban. What he did not say is that, if US covert operations continue, Iran can retaliate by helping the Taliban.

Even with Iranian help, the future in both Baghdad and Kabul is likely to be tempestuous, but co-operation between Washington and Tehran offers the best hope for damage limitation. This is especially true in Iraq, where the destruction of the Sunni-dominated Saddam regime predictably set the stage for an Iran-tilted Shia majority regime and has made the search for a US-Iranian accommodation throughout the Persian Gulf region an increasingly unavoidable geopolitical necessity.

The writer is director of the Asia programme at the Center for International Policy in Washington

Source: ... -gulf.html

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