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In the Name of God بسم الله

Photi

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  1. Lest we all forget...

    Preparing the Battlefield

    The Bush Administration steps up its secret moves against Iran.

    by Seymour M. Hersh

    July 7, 2008

    Operations outside the knowledge and control of commanders have eroded “the coherence of military strategy,” one general says.

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    ate last year, Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources. These operations, for which the President sought up to four hundred million dollars, were described in a Presidential Finding signed by Bush, and are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership. The covert activities involve support of the minority Ahwazi Arab and Baluchi groups and other dissident organizations. They also include gathering intelligence about Iran’s suspected nuclear-weapons program.

    Clandestine operations against Iran are not new. United States Special Operations Forces have been conducting cross-border operations from southern Iraq, with Presidential authorization, since last year. These have included seizing members of Al Quds, the commando arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and taking them to Iraq for interrogation, and the pursuit of “high-value targets” in the President’s war on terror, who may be captured or killed. But the scale and the scope of the operations in Iran, which involve the Central Intelligence Agency and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), have now been significantly expanded, according to the current and former officials. Many of these activities are not specified in the new Finding, and some congressional leaders have had serious questions about their nature.

    Under federal law, a Presidential Finding, which is highly classified, must be issued when a covert intelligence operation gets under way and, at a minimum, must be made known to Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and the Senate and to the ranking members of their respective intelligence committees—the so-called Gang of Eight. Money for the operation can then be reprogrammed from previous appropriations, as needed, by the relevant congressional committees, which also can be briefed.

    “The Finding was focussed on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” a person familiar with its contents said, and involved “working with opposition groups and passing money.” The Finding provided for a whole new range of activities in southern Iran and in the areas, in the east, where Baluchi political opposition is strong, he said.

    Although some legislators were troubled by aspects of the Finding, and “there was a significant amount of high-level discussion” about it, according to the source familiar with it, the funding for the escalation was approved. In other words, some members of the Democratic leadership—Congress has been under Democratic control since the 2006 elections—were willing, in secret, to go along with the Administration in expanding covert activities directed at Iran, while the Party’s presumptive candidate for President, Barack Obama, has said that he favors direct talks and diplomacy.

    The request for funding came in the same period in which the Administration was coming to terms with a National Intelligence Estimate, released in December, that concluded that Iran had halted its work on nuclear weapons in 2003. The Administration downplayed the significance of the N.I.E., and, while saying that it was committed to diplomacy, continued to emphasize that urgent action was essential to counter the Iranian nuclear threat. President Bush questioned the N.I.E.’s conclusions, and senior national-security officials, including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, made similar statements. (So did Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee.) Meanwhile, the Administration also revived charges that the Iranian leadership has been involved in the killing of American soldiers in Iraq: both directly, by dispatching commando units into Iraq, and indirectly, by supplying materials used for roadside bombs and other lethal goods. (There have been questions about the accuracy of the claims; the Times, among others, has reported that “significant uncertainties remain about the extent of that involvement.”)

    Military and civilian leaders in the Pentagon share the White House’s concern about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but there is disagreement about whether a military strike is the right solution. Some Pentagon officials believe, as they have let Congress and the media know, that bombing Iran is not a viable response to the nuclear-proliferation issue, and that more diplomacy is necessary.

    A Democratic senator told me that, late last year, in an off-the-record lunch meeting, Secretary of Defense Gates met with the Democratic caucus in the Senate. (Such meetings are held regularly.) Gates warned of the consequences if the Bush Administration staged a preëmptive strike on Iran, saying, as the senator recalled, “We’ll create generations of jihadists, and our grandchildren will be battling our enemies here in America.” Gates’s comments stunned the Democrats at the lunch, and another senator asked whether Gates was speaking for Bush and Vice-President Richard Cheney. Gates’s answer, the senator told me, was “Let’s just say that I’m here speaking for myself.” (A spokesman for Gates confirmed that he discussed the consequences of a strike at the meeting, but would not address what he said, other than to dispute the senator’s characterization.)

    The Joint Chiefs of Staff, whose chairman is Admiral Mike Mullen, were “pushing back very hard” against White House pressure to undertake a military strike against Iran, the person familiar with the Finding told me. Similarly, a Pentagon consultant who is involved in the war on terror said that “at least ten senior flag and general officers, including combatant commanders”—the four-star officers who direct military operations around the world—“have weighed in on that issue.”

    The most outspoken of those officers is Admiral William Fallon, who until recently was the head of U.S. Central Command, and thus in charge of American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. In March, Fallon resigned under pressure, after giving a series of interviews stating his reservations about an armed attack on Iran. For example, late last year he told the Financial Times that the “real objective” of U.S. policy was to change the Iranians’ behavior, and that “attacking them as a means to get to that spot strikes me as being not the first choice.”

    Admiral Fallon acknowledged, when I spoke to him in June, that he had heard that there were people in the White House who were upset by his public statements. “Too many people believe you have to be either for or against the Iranians,” he told me. “Let’s get serious. Eighty million people live there, and everyone’s an individual. The idea that they’re only one way or another is nonsense.”

    When it came to the Iraq war, Fallon said, “Did I [Edited Out] about some of the things that were being proposed? You bet. Some of them were very stupid.”

    The Democratic leadership’s agreement to commit hundreds of millions of dollars for more secret operations in Iran was remarkable, given the general concerns of officials like Gates, Fallon, and many others. “The oversight process has not kept pace—it’s been coöpted” by the Administration, the person familiar with the contents of the Finding said. “The process is broken, and this is dangerous stuff we’re authorizing.”

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    enior Democrats in Congress told me that they had concerns about the possibility that their understanding of what the new operations entail differs from the White House’s. One issue has to do with a reference in the Finding, the person familiar with it recalled, to potential defensive lethal action by U.S. operatives in Iran. (In early May, the journalist Andrew Cockburn published elements of the Finding in Counterpunch, a newsletter and online magazine.)

    The language was inserted into the Finding at the urging of the C.I.A., a former senior intelligence official said. The covert operations set forth in the Finding essentially run parallel to those of a secret military task force, now operating in Iran, that is under the control of JSOC. Under the Bush Administration’s interpretation of the law, clandestine military activities, unlike covert C.I.A. operations, do not need to be depicted in a Finding, because the President has a constitutional right to command combat forces in the field without congressional interference. But the borders between operations are not always clear: in Iran, C.I.A. agents and regional assets have the language skills and the local knowledge to make contacts for the JSOC operatives, and have been working with them to direct personnel, matériel, and money into Iran from an obscure base in western Afghanistan. As a result, Congress has been given only a partial view of how the money it authorized may be used. One of JSOC’s task-force missions, the pursuit of “high-value targets,” was not directly addressed in the Finding. There is a growing realization among some legislators that the Bush Administration, in recent years, has conflated what is an intelligence operation and what is a military one in order to avoid fully informing Congress about what it is doing.

    “This is a big deal,” the person familiar with the Finding said. “The C.I.A. needed the Finding to do its traditional stuff, but the Finding does not apply to JSOC. The President signed an Executive Order after September 11th giving the Pentagon license to do things that it had never been able to do before without notifying Congress. The claim was that the military was ‘preparing the battle space,’ and by using that term they were able to circumvent congressional oversight. Everything is justified in terms of fighting the global war on terror.” He added, “The Administration has been fuzzing the lines; there used to be a shade of gray”—between operations that had to be briefed to the senior congressional leadership and those which did not—“but now it’s a shade of mush.”

    “The agency says we’re not going to get in the position of helping to kill people without a Finding,” the former senior intelligence official told me. He was referring to the legal threat confronting some agency operatives for their involvement in the rendition and alleged torture of suspects in the war on terror. “This drove the military people up the wall,” he said. As far as the C.I.A. was concerned, the former senior intelligence official said, “the over-all authorization includes killing, but it’s not as though that’s what they’re setting out to do. It’s about gathering information, enlisting support.” The Finding sent to Congress was a compromise, providing legal cover for the C.I.A. while referring to the use of lethal force in ambiguous terms.

    The defensive-lethal language led some Democrats, according to congressional sources familiar with their views, to call in the director of the C.I.A., Air Force General Michael V. Hayden, for a special briefing. Hayden reassured the legislators that the language did nothing more than provide authority for Special Forces operatives on the ground in Iran to shoot their way out if they faced capture or harm.

    The legislators were far from convinced. One congressman subsequently wrote a personal letter to President Bush insisting that “no lethal action, period” had been authorized within Iran’s borders. As of June, he had received no answer.

    Members of Congress have expressed skepticism in the past about the information provided by the White House. On March 15, 2005, David Obey, then the ranking Democrat on the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee, announced that he was putting aside an amendment that he had intended to offer that day, and that would have cut off all funding for national-intelligence programs unless the President agreed to keep Congress fully informed about clandestine military activities undertaken in the war on terror. He had changed his mind, he said, because the White House promised better coöperation. “The Executive Branch understands that we are not trying to dictate what they do,” he said in a floor speech at the time. “We are simply trying to see to it that what they do is consistent with American values and will not get the country in trouble.”

    Obey declined to comment on the specifics of the operations in Iran, but he did tell me that the White House reneged on its promise to consult more fully with Congress. He said, “I suspect there’s something going on, but I don’t know what to believe. Cheney has always wanted to go after Iran, and if he had more time he’d find a way to do it. We still don’t get enough information from the agencies, and I have very little confidence that they give us information on the edge.”

    None of the four Democrats in the Gang of Eight—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Intelligence Committee chairman John D. Rockefeller IV, and House Intelligence Committee chairman Silvestre Reyes—would comment on the Finding, with some noting that it was highly classified. An aide to one member of the Democratic leadership responded, on his behalf, by pointing to the limitations of the Gang of Eight process. The notification of a Finding, the aide said, “is just that—notification, and not a sign-off on activities. Proper oversight of ongoing intelligence activities is done by fully briefing the members of the intelligence committee.” However, Congress does have the means to challenge the White House once it has been sent a Finding. It has the power to withhold funding for any government operation. The members of the House and Senate Democratic leadership who have access to the Finding can also, if they choose to do so, and if they have shared concerns, come up with ways to exert their influence on Administration policy. (A spokesman for the C.I.A. said, “As a rule, we don’t comment one way or the other on allegations of covert activities or purported findings.” The White House also declined to comment.)

    A member of the House Appropriations Committee acknowledged that, even with a Democratic victory in November, “it will take another year before we get the intelligence activities under control.” He went on, “We control the money and they can’t do anything without the money. Money is what it’s all about. But I’m very leery of this Administration.” He added, “This Administration has been so secretive.”

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    ne irony of Admiral Fallon’s departure is that he was, in many areas, in agreement with President Bush on the threat posed by Iran. They had a good working relationship, Fallon told me, and, when he ran CENTCOM, were in regular communication. On March 4th, a week before his resignation, Fallon testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, saying that he was “encouraged” about the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Regarding the role played by Iran’s leaders, he said, “They’ve been absolutely unhelpful, very damaging, and I absolutely don’t condone any of their activities. And I have yet to see anything since I’ve been in this job in the way of a public action by Iran that’s been at all helpful in this region.”

    Fallon made it clear in our conversations that he considered it inappropriate to comment publicly about the President, the Vice-President, or Special Operations. But he said he had heard that people in the White House had been “struggling” with his views on Iran. “When I arrived at CENTCOM, the Iranians were funding every entity inside Iraq. It was in their interest to get us out, and so they decided to kill as many Americans as they could. And why not? They didn’t know who’d come out ahead, but they wanted us out. I decided that I couldn’t resolve the situation in Iraq without the neighborhood. To get this problem in Iraq solved, we had to somehow involve Iran and Syria. I had to work the neighborhood.”

    Fallon told me that his focus had been not on the Iranian nuclear issue, or on regime change there, but on “putting out the fires in Iraq.” There were constant discussions in Washington and in the field about how to engage Iran and, on the subject of the bombing option, Fallon said, he believed that “it would happen only if the Iranians did something stupid.”

    Fallon’s early retirement, however, appears to have been provoked not only by his negative comments about bombing Iran but also by his strong belief in the chain of command and his insistence on being informed about Special Operations in his area of responsibility. One of Fallon’s defenders is retired Marine General John J. (Jack) Sheehan, whose last assignment was as commander-in-chief of the U.S. Atlantic Command, where Fallon was a deputy. Last year, Sheehan rejected a White House offer to become the President’s “czar” for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “One of the reasons the White House selected Fallon for CENTCOM was that he’s known to be a strategic thinker and had demonstrated those skills in the Pacific,” Sheehan told me. (Fallon served as commander-in-chief of U.S. forces in the Pacific from 2005 to 2007.) “He was charged with coming up with an over-all coherent strategy for Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and, by law, the combatant commander is responsible for all military operations within his A.O.”—area of operations. “That was not happening,” Sheehan said. “When Fallon tried to make sense of all the overt and covert activity conducted by the military in his area of responsibility, a small group in the White House leadership shut him out.”

    The law cited by Sheehan is the 1986 Defense Reorganization Act, known as Goldwater-Nichols, which defined the chain of command: from the President to the Secretary of Defense, through the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and on to the various combatant commanders, who were put in charge of all aspects of military operations, including joint training and logistics. That authority, the act stated, was not to be shared with other echelons of command. But the Bush Administration, as part of its global war on terror, instituted new policies that undercut regional commanders-in-chief; for example, it gave Special Operations teams, at military commands around the world, the highest priority in terms of securing support and equipment. The degradation of the traditional chain of command in the past few years has been a point of tension between the White House and the uniformed military.

    “The coherence of military strategy is being eroded because of undue civilian influence and direction of nonconventional military operations,” Sheehan said. “If you have small groups planning and conducting military operations outside the knowledge and control of the combatant commander, by default you can’t have a coherent military strategy. You end up with a disaster, like the reconstruction efforts in Iraq.”

    Admiral Fallon, who is known as Fox, was aware that he would face special difficulties as the first Navy officer to lead CENTCOM, which had always been headed by a ground commander, one of his military colleagues told me. He was also aware that the Special Operations community would be a concern. “Fox said that there’s a lot of strange stuff going on in Special Ops, and I told him he had to figure out what they were really doing,” Fallon’s colleague said. “The Special Ops guys eventually figured out they needed Fox, and so they began to talk to him. Fox would have won his fight with Special Ops but for Cheney.”

    The Pentagon consultant said, “Fallon went down because, in his own way, he was trying to prevent a war with Iran, and you have to admire him for that.”

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    n recent months, according to the Iranian media, there has been a surge in violence in Iran; it is impossible at this early stage, however, to credit JSOC or C.I.A. activities, or to assess their impact on the Iranian leadership. The Iranian press reports are being carefully monitored by retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner, who has taught strategy at the National War College and now conducts war games centered on Iran for the federal government, think tanks, and universities. The Iranian press “is very open in describing the killings going on inside the country,” Gardiner said. It is, he said, “a controlled press, which makes it more important that it publishes these things. We begin to see inside the government.” He added, “Hardly a day goes by now we don’t see a clash somewhere. There were three or four incidents over a recent weekend, and the Iranians are even naming the Revolutionary Guard officers who have been killed.”

    Earlier this year, a militant Ahwazi group claimed to have assassinated a Revolutionary Guard colonel, and the Iranian government acknowledged that an explosion in a cultural center in Shiraz, in the southern part of the country, which killed at least twelve people and injured more than two hundred, had been a terrorist act and not, as it earlier insisted, an accident. It could not be learned whether there has been American involvement in any specific incident in Iran, but, according to Gardiner, the Iranians have begun publicly blaming the U.S., Great Britain, and, more recently, the C.I.A. for some incidents. The agency was involved in a coup in Iran in 1953, and its support for the unpopular regime of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi—who was overthrown in 1979—was condemned for years by the ruling mullahs in Tehran, to great effect. “This is the ultimate for the Iranians—to blame the C.I.A.,” Gardiner said. “This is new, and it’s an escalation—a ratcheting up of tensions. It rallies support for the regime and shows the people that there is a continuing threat from the ‘Great Satan.’ ” In Gardiner’s view, the violence, rather than weakening Iran’s religious government, may generate support for it.

    Many of the activities may be being carried out by dissidents in Iran, and not by Americans in the field. One problem with “passing money” (to use the term of the person familiar with the Finding) in a covert setting is that it is hard to control where the money goes and whom it benefits. Nonetheless, the former senior intelligence official said, “We’ve got exposure, because of the transfer of our weapons and our communications gear. The Iranians will be able to make the argument that the opposition was inspired by the Americans. How many times have we tried this without asking the right questions? Is the risk worth it?” One possible consequence of these operations would be a violent Iranian crackdown on one of the dissident groups, which could give the Bush Administration a reason to intervene.

    A strategy of using ethnic minorities to undermine Iran is flawed, according to Vali Nasr, who teaches international politics at Tufts University and is also a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Just because Lebanon, Iraq, and Pakistan have ethnic problems, it does not mean that Iran is suffering from the same issue,” Nasr told me. “Iran is an old country—like France and Germany—and its citizens are just as nationalistic. The U.S. is overestimating ethnic tension in Iran.” The minority groups that the U.S. is reaching out to are either well integrated or small and marginal, without much influence on the government or much ability to present a political challenge, Nasr said. “You can always find some activist groups that will go and kill a policeman, but working with the minorities will backfire, and alienate the majority of the population.”

    The Administration may have been willing to rely on dissident organizations in Iran even when there was reason to believe that the groups had operated against American interests in the past. The use of Baluchi elements, for example, is problematic, Robert Baer, a former C.I.A. clandestine officer who worked for nearly two decades in South Asia and the Middle East, told me. “The Baluchis are Sunni fundamentalists who hate the regime in Tehran, but you can also describe them as Al Qaeda,” Baer told me. “These are guys who cut off the heads of nonbelievers—in this case, it’s Shiite Iranians. The irony is that we’re once again working with Sunni fundamentalists, just as we did in Afghanistan in the nineteen-eighties.” Ramzi Yousef, who was convicted for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is considered one of the leading planners of the September 11th attacks, are Baluchi Sunni fundamentalists.

    One of the most active and violent anti-regime groups in Iran today is the Jundallah, also known as the Iranian People’s Resistance Movement, which describes itself as a resistance force fighting for the rights of Sunnis in Iran. “This is a vicious Salafi organization whose followers attended the same madrassas as the Taliban and Pakistani extremists,” Nasr told me. “They are suspected of having links to Al Qaeda and they are also thought to be tied to the drug culture.” The Jundallah took responsibility for the bombing of a busload of Revolutionary Guard soldiers in February, 2007. At least eleven Guard members were killed. According to Baer and to press reports, the Jundallah is among the groups in Iran that are benefitting from U.S. support.

    The C.I.A. and Special Operations communities also have long-standing ties to two other dissident groups in Iran: the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, known in the West as the M.E.K., and a Kurdish separatist group, the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan, or PJAK.

    The M.E.K. has been on the State Department’s terrorist list for more than a decade, yet in recent years the group has received arms and intelligence, directly or indirectly, from the United States. Some of the newly authorized covert funds, the Pentagon consultant told me, may well end up in M.E.K. coffers. “The new task force will work with the M.E.K. The Administration is desperate for results.” He added, “The M.E.K. has no C.P.A. auditing the books, and its leaders are thought to have been lining their pockets for years. If people only knew what the M.E.K. is getting, and how much is going to its bank accounts—and yet it is almost useless for the purposes the Administration intends.”

    The Kurdish party, PJAK, which has also been reported to be covertly supported by the United States, has been operating against Iran from bases in northern Iraq for at least three years. (Iran, like Iraq and Turkey, has a Kurdish minority, and PJAK and other groups have sought self-rule in territory that is now part of each of those countries.) In recent weeks, according to Sam Gardiner, the military strategist, there has been a marked increase in the number of PJAK armed engagements with Iranians and terrorist attacks on Iranian targets. In early June, the news agency Fars reported that a dozen PJAK members and four Iranian border guards were killed in a clash near the Iraq border; a similar attack in May killed three Revolutionary Guards and nine PJAK fighters. PJAK has also subjected Turkey, a member of NATO, to repeated terrorist attacks, and reports of American support for the group have been a source of friction between the two governments.

    Gardiner also mentioned a trip that the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, made to Tehran in June. After his return, Maliki announced that his government would ban any contact between foreigners and the M.E.K.—a slap at the U.S.’s dealings with the group. Maliki declared that Iraq was not willing to be a staging ground for covert operations against other countries. This was a sign, Gardiner said, of “Maliki’s increasingly choosing the interests of Iraq over the interests of the United States.” In terms of U.S. allegations of Iranian involvement in the killing of American soldiers, he said, “Maliki was unwilling to play the blame-Iran game.” Gardiner added that Pakistan had just agreed to turn over a Jundallah leader to the Iranian government. America’s covert operations, he said, “seem to be harming relations with the governments of both Iraq and Pakistan and could well be strengthening the connection between Tehran and Baghdad.”

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    he White House’s reliance on questionable operatives, and on plans involving possible lethal action inside Iran, has created anger as well as anxiety within the Special Operations and intelligence communities. JSOC’s operations in Iran are believed to be modelled on a program that has, with some success, used surrogates to target the Taliban leadership in the tribal territories of Waziristan, along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. But the situations in Waziristan and Iran are not comparable.

    In Waziristan, “the program works because it’s small and smart guys are running it,” the former senior intelligence official told me. “It’s being executed by professionals. The N.S.A., the C.I.A., and the D.I.A.”—the Defense Intelligence Agency—“are right in there with the Special Forces and Pakistani intelligence, and they’re dealing with serious bad guys.” He added, “We have to be really careful in calling in the missiles. We have to hit certain houses at certain times. The people on the ground are watching through binoculars a few hundred yards away and calling specific locations, in latitude and longitude. We keep the Predator loitering until the targets go into a house, and we have to make sure our guys are far enough away so they don’t get hit.” One of the most prominent victims of the program, the former official said, was Abu Laith al-Libi, a senior Al Qaeda* commander, who was killed on January 31st, reportedly in a missile strike that also killed eleven other people.

    A dispatch published on March 26th by the Washington Post reported on the increasing number of successful strikes against Taliban and other insurgent units in Pakistan’s tribal areas. A follow-up article noted that, in response, the Taliban had killed “dozens of people” suspected of providing information to the United States and its allies on the whereabouts of Taliban leaders. Many of the victims were thought to be American spies, and their executions—a beheading, in one case—were videotaped and distributed by DVD as a warning to others.

    It is not simple to replicate the program in Iran. “Everybody’s arguing about the high-value-target list,” the former senior intelligence official said. “The Special Ops guys are pissed off because Cheney’s office set up priorities for categories of targets, and now he’s getting impatient and applying pressure for results. But it takes a long time to get the right guys in place.”

    The Pentagon consultant told me, “We’ve had wonderful results in the Horn of Africa with the use of surrogates and false flags—basic counterintelligence and counter-insurgency tactics. And we’re beginning to tie them in knots in Afghanistan. But the White House is going to kill the program if they use it to go after Iran. It’s one thing to engage in selective strikes and assassinations in Waziristan and another in Iran. The White House believes that one size fits all, but the legal issues surrounding extrajudicial killings in Waziristan are less of a problem because Al Qaeda and the Taliban cross the border into Afghanistan and back again, often with U.S. and NATO forces in hot pursuit. The situation is not nearly as clear in the Iranian case. All the considerations—judicial, strategic, and political—are different in Iran.”

    He added, “There is huge opposition inside the intelligence community to the idea of waging a covert war inside Iran, and using Baluchis and Ahwazis as surrogates. The leaders of our Special Operations community all have remarkable physical courage, but they are less likely to voice their opposition to policy. Iran is not Waziristan.”

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    Gallup poll taken last November, before the N.I.E. was made public, found that seventy-three per cent of those surveyed thought that the United States should use economic action and diplomacy to stop Iran’s nuclear program, while only eighteen per cent favored direct military action. Republicans were twice as likely as Democrats to endorse a military strike. Weariness with the war in Iraq has undoubtedly affected the public’s tolerance for an attack on Iran. This mood could change quickly, however. The potential for escalation became clear in early January, when five Iranian patrol boats, believed to be under the command of the Revolutionary Guard, made a series of aggressive moves toward three Navy warships sailing through the Strait of Hormuz. Initial reports of the incident made public by the Pentagon press office said that the Iranians had transmitted threats, over ship-to-ship radio, to “explode” the American ships. At a White House news conference, the President, on the day he left for an eight-day trip to the Middle East, called the incident “provocative” and “dangerous,” and there was, very briefly, a sense of crisis and of outrage at Iran. “TWO MINUTES FROM WAR” was the headline in one British newspaper.

    The crisis was quickly defused by Vice-Admiral Kevin Cosgriff, the commander of U.S. naval forces in the region. No warning shots were fired, the Admiral told the Pentagon press corps on January 7th, via teleconference from his headquarters, in Bahrain. “Yes, it’s more serious than we have seen, but, to put it in context, we do interact with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and their Navy regularly,” Cosgriff said. “I didn’t get the sense from the reports I was receiving that there was a sense of being afraid of these five boats.”

    Admiral Cosgriff’s caution was well founded: within a week, the Pentagon acknowledged that it could not positively identify the Iranian boats as the source of the ominous radio transmission, and press reports suggested that it had instead come from a prankster long known for sending fake messages in the region. Nonetheless, Cosgriff’s demeanor angered Cheney, according to the former senior intelligence official. But a lesson was learned in the incident: The public had supported the idea of retaliation, and was even asking why the U.S. didn’t do more. The former official said that, a few weeks later, a meeting took place in the Vice-President’s office. “The subject was how to create a casus belli between Tehran and Washington,” he said.

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    n June, President Bush went on a farewell tour of Europe. He had tea with Queen Elizabeth II and dinner with Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni, the President and First Lady of France. The serious business was conducted out of sight, and involved a series of meetings on a new diplomatic effort to persuade the Iranians to halt their uranium-enrichment program. (Iran argues that its enrichment program is for civilian purposes and is legal under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.) Secretary of State Rice had been involved with developing a new package of incentives. But the Administration’s essential negotiating position seemed unchanged: talks could not take place until Iran halted the program. The Iranians have repeatedly and categorically rejected that precondition, leaving the diplomatic situation in a stalemate; they have not yet formally responded to the new incentives.

    The continuing impasse alarms many observers. Joschka Fischer, the former German Foreign Minister, recently wrote in a syndicated column that it may not “be possible to freeze the Iranian nuclear program for the duration of the negotiations to avoid a military confrontation before they are completed. Should this newest attempt fail, things will soon get serious. Deadly serious.” When I spoke to him last week, Fischer, who has extensive contacts in the diplomatic community, said that the latest European approach includes a new element: the willingness of the U.S. and the Europeans to accept something less than a complete cessation of enrichment as an intermediate step. “The proposal says that the Iranians must stop manufacturing new centrifuges and the other side will stop all further sanction activities in the U.N. Security Council,” Fischer said, although Iran would still have to freeze its enrichment activities when formal negotiations begin. “This could be acceptable to the Iranians—if they have good will.”

    The big question, Fischer added, is in Washington. “I think the Americans are deeply divided on the issue of what to do about Iran,” he said. “Some officials are concerned about the fallout from a military attack and others think an attack is unavoidable. I know the Europeans, but I have no idea where the Americans will end up on this issue.”

    There is another complication: American Presidential politics. Barack Obama has said that, if elected, he would begin talks with Iran with no “self-defeating” preconditions (although only after diplomatic groundwork had been laid). That position has been vigorously criticized by John McCain. The Washington Post recently quoted Randy Scheunemann, the McCain campaign’s national-security director, as stating that McCain supports the White House’s position, and that the program be suspended before talks begin. What Obama is proposing, Scheunemann said, “is unilateral cowboy summitry.”

    Scheunemann, who is known as a neoconservative, is also the McCain campaign’s most important channel of communication with the White House. He is a friend of David Addington, Richard Cheney’s chief of staff. I have heard differing accounts of Scheunemann’s influence with McCain; though some close to the McCain campaign talk about him as a possible national-security adviser, others say he is someone who isn’t taken seriously while “telling Cheney and others what they want to hear,” as a senior McCain adviser put it.

    It is not known whether McCain, who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, has been formally briefed on the operations in Iran. At the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, in June, Obama repeated his plea for “tough and principled diplomacy.” But he also said, along with McCain, that he would keep the threat of military action against Iran on the table. ♦

    *Correction, August 7, 2008: Abu Laith al-Libi was a senior Al Qaeda commander, not a senior Taliban commander, as originally stated.


  2. I did say liberals too and I wouldn't rule out the possibility that most of the Greens are liberals. By liberals I mean those who are not so strict with implementing or following Islamic law. 13.3 million voted for Mousavi and how do you know that they are all green?

    Being politically unaware does not stop them from being his supporters. Why is this even an issue that deserves to be raised? Dont these green people keep going on about democracy? So they should let these poor people support who they want to. How do you know that ALL these people are not politically aware?

    One of the biggest problems of the green leaders is the fact that they keep going on about how the election was a fraud. This totally discredits them and puts their honesty into question. With this untruth they have caused so many problems; it has emboldened the enemies of the IRI and has lead to the deaths of many people. The leadership of the IRI has a duty to serve Allah and protect the Islamic state above all other priorities. If there are others who are jeopardising this, then the state must at least do something about it. I am not saying that people should not be allowed to voice their concerns (and I don't say that the authorities have definitely never been heavy handed) but considering how the IRI is being targeted by its enemies, it doesn't help if insincere and perhaps even naive people cause so much disruption. Imam Ali [a] did not accept the offer of Abu Sufiyan to support him [a] in order to protest and rise up against Abu Bakr because he [a] considered it bad for the state even though the Imam [a] was with the truth. Are these Green protests not bad for the state? Isn't it detrimental that the Greens have amongst them many insincere people?

    +1000. Speaking truth to power requires speaking the truth.


  3. Iran is independent, it has been so since the revolution, whether you admire the Islamic republic or not, Iranians from all sides do recognize that the revolution has brought Iran independence. UN sanctions became irrelevant ages ago, US corporate sanctions have suffered the same fate more recently. Apart from avid Shah supporters which are an extreme minority, most opposition supporters still hold Iranian independence as a primary condition and are in no way interested in selling out to foreign interests. I am not a fan of Dabashi, he seems like one of those intellectuals who refuses to on purpose acknowledge the complexity of the situation given the urge to stand firm within the narrow confines of political extremes, but you tend to find that with most intellectuals deemed Ivy league material, one would begin to think something has gone horribly wrong if one was to observe otherwise. He did however comment on wanting the US to stay away from the green movement. In any case, the Iranian people (those who aren't the most fervent fans of the IR) know better than to waste their time condemning the sanctions, they wisely call for a more representative and open society in Iran. They are a diverse lot, it is quite naive to label them all green, a lot of them do not even support the lauded opposition leader or call for a total dismantlement of the current regime but there are commonalities among all these groups, which should be the basis for unity in Iran and subsequent reform. I mean when grown and mature men in parliament of all places are calling for peoples heads, something just isnt right.

    if the young protesters could overturn those sanctions, they would gain much credibility when it comes to influencing reforms. if they could get the CIA out of Tehran, they would become the symbol of the new generation, a 'changing of the guard' so to speak.. To say those sanctions will never be overturned is indicative of the defeatist attitude i have noticed in you before.


  4. Watch Professor Dabashi of Columbia University sell out his own people. No mention of CIA activities directly aimed at government destablization efforts in Iran? No mention of absurd US and UN sanctions against Iran? No mention of the genuine will of the people?

    If the Professor had any integrity he would have mentioned these highly important issues. If I was a Greenie in Iran i would be protesting for the US and its CIA to quit trying to destabilize the Iranian state and I would also be protesting the UN to end their oppressive sanctions. Wouldn't that be a more effective approach to political activism? First get the state secure, and then reform it. I thought Dabashi was "Ivy league material?"

    Transcript of the same interview above:

    ...

    Related Links

    Hamid Dabashi's Official Website

    "Iran, The Green Movement and the USA: The Fox and the Paradox" By Hamid Dabashi (Zed Books, 2010)

    Democracy Now! Complete Coverage of Political Unrest Across the Middle East and North Africa

    "Harvard University Press Shi'ism A Religion of Protest" By Hamid Dabashi (Harvard University Press, 2011)

    Related Democracy Now! Stories

    Noam Chomsky: “This is the Most Remarkable Regional Uprising that I Can Remember” (2/2/2011)

    “The Genie Is Out of the Bottle”: Assessing a Changing Arab World with Noam Chomsky and Al Jazeera’s Marwan Bishara (2/17/2011)

    AMY GOODMAN: On Sunday anti-government protesters gathered in different parts of Iran to mark the deaths of two men killed during demonstrations last Monday. For the second time in a week, supporters of the opposition Green Movement clashed with security forces in the capital Tehran and elsewhere. According to witnesses, in some places, police officers and baton-holding mercenaries outnumbered the protesters. Also on Sunday, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, accused Iran of “exploiting” the current political unrest in the Arab world. He emphasized the Israeli government’s concern over a plan to send two Iranian warships into the eastern Mediterranean.

    BENJAMIN NEYANYAHU: I think that today we can see in what an unstable region we live, a region in which Iran is trying to take advantage of the situation and broaden its influence by transferring two warships via the Suez Canal. Israel views this Iranian step with gravity."

    AMY GOODMAN: To discuss the situation in Iran and the region, we have with us Professor Hamid Dabashi from Columbia University. His most recent book is "Iran, the Green Movement and the USA". Also he has written the book Shiism. We welcome you to "Democracy Now!"

    HAMID DABASHI: Thanks for having me.

    AMY GOODMAN: Its great to have you. Tell us what is happening. What do you understand took place in Iran over the weekend?

    HAMID DABASHI: I think beginning with the 14th of February in solidarity with the revolutions in Tunisia and in Egypt, we’ve entered a new phase of the green movement. Green Movement went through at least two phases. The first phase was phase of mass street demonstrations that began back in June of 2009 and continued all the way until February 2010. The second phase, when Mousavi began to write a series documents culminating in a charter of the Green Movement which are extraordinary documents in the history of democratic movements in Iran. But in the aftermath of this massive, massive democracy movement in North Africa to Afghanistan, in fact, these events galvanized the Green Movement in Iran. And as a result, we have entered a new phase. There are two aspects to be noticed in this new phase. Number one, the Green Movement has initiated its own calendar that is the 14th of February coincides with nothing, that is simply in solidarity with the revolutions in Tunisia and Cairo, in Egypt. And in the course of which two young demonstrators were killed by security forces, their corpses were stolen, their identities were falsified. And they were pretended to be part of the Basij organization.

    On the seventh day anniversary of the death of these two young demonstrators, again the Green Movement called for a demonstration, but this time around, because the entirety of the major highways and streets and major squares of the cities were occupied by the military, by in fact the entire country was turned into a garrison, the demonstrators opted to do their work in a specific neighborhood. And also remember, the galvanizing force of Al Jazeera in the case of Tahrir Square in Cairo, Al Jazeera does not have that kind of presence in Iran. As a result, what the kids were doing, they would gather in a specific neighborhood and their mobile phones, they shot 30 seconds to a minute and a half minute of video of demonstrations and sent it to YouTube, and as a result asserted their presence.

    AMY GOODMAN: And the response of the Iranian government?

    HAMID DABASHI: The response has been not only massively, massive cracking down, but also hypocrisy. Because on one hand, the Iranian authorities are expressing solidarity with the democratic movement in Tunisia and Egypt and throughout the region, and then they denied that very principle to their own people. So with one move, the Green Movement has in fact achieved two ends. It reasserted itself in public space and forced the empty hand of the Islamic republic in terms of its rhetoric for democratic changes in the region.

    AMY GOODMAN: You wrote a book about the Green Revolution. The whole Green Movement. But you thought it was dead in the last year.

    HAMID DABASHI: I never thought it was dead. I thought it was a standstill. Because what we have is the power of Islamic Republic in the region, not because of how smart they are, but because of the horrors of the Bush administration and war in Afghanistan, war in Iraq. And as a result, the Islamic republic had emerged as a very powerful broker, peace broker. President Obama could do nothing in Afghanistan without the help of the Islamic Republic. The same in Iraq. So while Islamic Republic was very weak weak domestically inside Iran, and whatever it did it strenghened the Green Movement in the region, it was in a negotiating position if President Obama wanted to deliver on his promise to come out of Iraq, it needed the support of the Islamic Republic, particularly with the Shiite community in the south. That stand still has now changed to the benefit of the green movement because of the democratic uprising in the region.

    AMY GOODMAN: And on the one hand, you had the President Ahmadinejad congratulating the protesters in Egypt and in cracking down on his own.

    HAMID DABASHI: Of course. That is the hypocrisy of it. The minute the Egyptian revolution was happening, Mr. Khamenei sent a message to Egyptians in Arabic congratulating them for the revolution there were about to have. Within minutes, the Muslim Brotherhood issued in a statement this is not an Islamic revolution this is an Egyptian revolution, for Egyptians Muslims, Christians and any other person, so the rise of democratic revolutions in the region is is exposing the hypocrisy of the Islamic Republic.

    AMY GOODMAN: Benjamin Minister Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister accused Iran of exploiting the current political unrest in the Arab world, highlighting his government’s concern over planned to send two Iranian warships into the eastern Mediterranean, talk about that.

    HAMID DABASHI: First of all, it is not unrest Mr. Netanyahu should recognize this is a democracy movement, this is a massive revolutionary uprising for democracy. Mr. Netanyahu is used to dealing with Arab dictators, so when he sees democratic uprising, he calls it unrest. Number two, in my judgment, those were very wary of what is happening in the Arab and Muslim world are the United States, Isreal, and the Islamic Republic. Because they have entered into old tiring politics of dispare, and they cannot tolerate the rise of democratic movements in the region. The sending of two warships through the Suez Canal...

    AMY GOODMAN: ...First time since 1979...

    HAMID DABASHI: ..Since 1979, is an attempt by Islamic Republic to divert attention from the democratic movement both inside Iran and in the region. And lo and behold, Israel that doesn’t like the democratic movement either and calls them unrest, response immediately. I would put that exactly next to Obama’s administration’s obscene vetoing of this UN Security Council draft resolution against expansion of settlements in Palestine. Precisely because these three acts of the Islamic Republic, Israel continuing expansion into Palestine and the United States, they are trying to pull back the politics of the region into the politics of despair because what they’re witnessing they don’t like.

    AMY GOODMAN: Professor Dabashi, you have a very quick response on the part of the United States against the Iranian government for cracking down on the protesters. President Obama, Secretary State Hillary Clinton, not as quick response when Bahrain attacked the protesters there, the home of U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, though eventually Obama did call. Talk about that.

    HAMID DABASHI: Its hypocrisy.

    AMY GOODMAN: And Libya as well.

    HAMID DABASHI: It is absolute hypocrisy Amy. In fact every time American administrations, neo conservatives, even President Obama’s administration comes near the Green Movement supporting it and so forth, it discredits it. And the Green Movement has actually restored its dignity by coming close to Egyptian and Tunisian revolution. So the best thing the Obama administration can do for the Green Movement, please, don’t come near it. The hypocrisy is so palpable, the young Tunisian who set themselves on fire in desperation because of this neoliberal economics that Ben Ali was known for, the State Department even did not know, let alone express solidarity with the Tunisian people. President Obama did not come to even address the issues of the masses of millions of Egyptians in Tahrir Square until Mubarak was about to leave. The hypocrisy is what is exposed here. And as a result, the best thing that Mr. Obama and Secretary Clinton can do for the green movement, don’t come close to it. Thank you.


  5. After a few days of using it, I'm incredibly impressed at the potential of it as a tool. In terms of pushing out content, it can be a fantastic companion to an organization's blog or website (new article on www.blahblah.org, check it out). In terms of finding and reading content, it's like a super RSS reader that brings in real time news from traditional news sources like papers and magazines, as well as from organizations, bloggers, business owners, and average individuals.

    Previously, I had the picture in my head that it's some stupid time waster site where celebrities and average losers post irrelevant updates about what they had for breakfast, but I am actually quite blown away after wading into it a bit.

    lol. that's kind of the way i thought about facebook. I had tried out myspace years ago and absolutely hated it, so much cr@p loading on your screen all the time. i finally got around to opening a facebook account in December and I find myself amazed at its potential. I am still learning the facebook ropes, but I can see where it is a quite useful and powerful tool.

    Photi@Facebook if anyone wants to friend me. Maybe send a message so I know your Shiachat ID.


  6. of course the americans are partially behind this but there wouldn't be so many demonstrating on the streets unless they didnt like the situation in their country. there has to be discontent in order to foment agitation.

    Protests for reform and accountability are one thing. Protests for regime change are another. The US continually tries to encourage regime change in Iran when it is clear the will of the people is with the government. It would be like an external country covertly operating in Wisconsin to turn those peaceful protests into something much more than what they are.

    Edit: Please note that the protests in Bahrain were not initially aimed at bringing down the government. That rhetoric by the protesters only began after the current repression.


  7. ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!!!! polls conducted by whom, the revolutionary guard? "agree with us or be hanged!" lol

    click the link and you will find out. another interesting thing, watch the video below. Clinton says there was much the US was doing behind the scenes during the 2009 protests. Who, if not the CIA, is in charge of the US's subversive activities? also, if much was going on then, then i think it is relatively safe to say that much is going on now.

    CNN Fareeed Zakria with Hillary CLinton


  8. For all those who think the current government in Iran, including President Ahmadinijad, is illegitimate:

    Analysis of Multiple Polls Finds Little Evidence Iranian Public Sees Government as Illegitimate

    Indications of fraud in the June 12 Iranian presidential election, together with large-scale street demonstrations, have led to claims that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not actually win the election, and that the majority of Iranians perceive their government as illegitimate and favor regime change.

    An analysis of multiple polls of the Iranian public from three different sources finds little evidence to support such conclusions.

    The analysis conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland (PIPA), was based on:

    • a series of 10 recently-released polls conducted by the University of Tehran; eight conducted in the month before the June 12 election and two conducted in the month after the election, based on telephone interviews conducted within Iran

    • a poll by GlobeScan conducted shortly after the election, based on telephone interviews conducted within Iran

    • a poll by WorldPublicOpinion.org (managed by PIPA) conducted August 27--September 10, based on telephone interviews made by calling into Iran

    The study sought to address the widely-discussed hypotheses that Ahmadinejad did not win the June 12 election and that the Iranian people perceive their government as illegitimate. It also sought to explore the assumption that the opposition represents a movement favoring a substantially different posture toward the United States. The analysis of the data found little evidence to support any of these hypotheses.

    Steven Kull, director of PIPA, said, "Our analysis suggests that it would not be prudent to base US policy on the assumption that the Iranian public is in a pre-revolutionary state of mind."

    On the question of whether Ahmadinejad won the June 12 election, in the week before the election and after the election, in all polls a majority said they planned to or did vote for Ahmadinejad. These numbers ranged from 52 to 57% immediately before the election and 55 to 66% after the election.

    Steven Kull comments, "These findings do not prove that there were no irregularities in the election process. But they do not support the belief that a majority rejected Ahmadinejad."

    The analysis did reveal factors that could have contributed to the impression that Ahmadinejad did not win. University of Tehran polls show that in the first few weeks of the campaign his support dropped precipitously and he did not enjoy majority support in the city of Tehran. But in the week before the election, his support recovered outside the capital.

    Going into the election 57% said they expected Ahmadinejad to win. Thus it is not surprising that, in several post-election polls, more than seven in ten said they saw Ahmadinejad as the legitimate president. About eight in ten said the election was free and fair.

    The polls did reveal some reservations about the government. Less than a majority expressed full confidence in the Guardian Council (42%) and the Ministry of the Interior (38%). While over eight in ten said they were satisfied with the current system of government, in June less than a majority (49%) said they were very satisfied and this number dropped to 41% in July.

    However none of the polls found indications of support for regime change. Large majorities, including majorities of Mousavi supporters, endorse the Islamist character of the regime such as having a body of Islamic scholars with the power to veto laws they see as contrary to sharia.

    To address the possibility that the data collected within Iran may have been fabricated, PIPA compared the patterns of responses, including within subgroups, in data collected inside Iran to those collected by calling into Iran from the outside. Steven Kull comments, "The patterns of responses at many levels are so similar, whether the data was collected inside Iran or by calling into Iran, that it is hard to conclude that these data were fabricated."

    Another concern is that Iranian respondents were not answering candidly out of fear of some type of reprisal for making statements in support of the opposition or critical of the regime, particularly in the post-election environment. As noted above, on some questions majorities expressed views that were less than fully laudatory of the government.

    Still there was the fact that after the election, the numbers expressing support for Mousavi diminished suggests that some self-censoring may have been occurring. Thus PIPA put special emphasis on analyzing the responses of those who felt bold enough to say that they voted for the opposition on the assumption that they would be frank on other issues as well. While Mousavi supporters are less affirmative of the legitimacy of the regime than the public as a whole, still a majority says that they believe that Ahmadinejad is the legitimate president and affirm the Islamist nature of the regime.

    Some analysts have suggested that if the opposition were to gain power this would lead to fundamental changes in the Iranian posture toward the US. Focusing on those respondents who said they voted for Mousavi, as an approximation of the opposition,

    PIPA found that a majority were ready to negotiate with the US on a number of issues, while the Iranian public as a whole was more divided. However, Mousavi supporters, like the general public, were quite negative in their views of the US government and were strongly committed to Iran's nuclear program.

    A majority of Mousavi supporters did favor diplomatic relations with the US, and were ready to make a deal whereby Iran would preclude developing nuclear weapons through intrusive international inspections in exchange for the removal of sanctions. However, this was equally true of the majority of all Iranians.


  9. Photi said " Of course the Iranians have the same rights as the Egyptian protesters,

    Thank you very much.

    okay, but don't quote me out of context, i also said the situation in egypt is not the same as the situation in Iran. Syed Ali Khamenai is not a billionaire. the corruption in Iran is not endemic as it is/was in Egypt. The leadership in Iran is not corrupt. the middle ranks might be a different story, but the leadership works for the good of the people (even if i disagree with what is "good" for the people). Egypt had at least 30 years of sanctionless security in which to reform the totalitarian nature of the Republic, Iran has not had such a luxury. They've been embattled by an imposed war and decades of CIA and Mossad sabotage and support for terrorists. We don't know what the Iranian leadership will do once the spies are recalled, so until that time the leadership is legitimate in my eyes.

    You appear to fond of nitpicking and cherrypicking... re-read his entire post with an open mind. Then come back and thank him, you terrorist-sympathizer.

    salams, thank you brother. best wishes to you and yours.


  10. Who here thinks the Iranian protesters do not have the same rights as the Egyptian protesters so glorified by the IRI. No name calling please.

    The claim about foreign elements and domestic traitors trying to influence events in Iran is much more credible than the same claim when Egypt made it a couple of weeks ago. Of course the Iranians have the same rights as the Egyptian protesters, but there is so much more to the story than an apples to apples comparison.

    The Muslim Brotherhood renounced violence years ago. When has the MKO (a US funded terrorist organization) ever made the same renunciation? The Iranian security concerns are well founded so don't go pretending like the situations are the same in the several protesting Arab countries as it is in Iran.

    Furthermore, there was no doubt about the Egyptian protests being the will of the people, whereas in Iran there is much doubt about that. I have not looked at all the pictures, but all the pics i have seen coming from Iran are all close-up camera shots not giving us any indication of the size of these protests. Why is that? (if you have verifiable pictures showing these "tens of thousands of protesters" then please show them; i read one article from the Huffington post which claimed "hundreds of thousands of protesters in Iran" and then linked to the source; the source itself said there was only tens of thousands of protestors spread across Iran)


  11. Lots of anti-Bahrain government comments here, e.g.:

    http://www.guardian....art-of-comments

    White house press sec:

    MR. CARNEY: Look, what the President believes and the administration believes is that Bahrain, like all the countries in the region, needs to respect the universal rights of its citizens, their right to protest, the right to have their grievances heard, and that they should refrain from violence on both sides. And we are obviously watching events in Bahrain and around the region very closely, but our position on all the countries is the same at the universal-rights level.

    it is disingenuous to say the Obama administration is not saying anything about what is going on in Bahrain other than 'we are monitoring it.'. The quote above is from yesterday the 16th of feb. still waiting on the transcripts of today's press briefings from both the State dept. and the White house.

    I am not trying to argue that the response is the same towards the Iranian and Bahraini governments, but to say the US President has no opinions about the unrest in Bahrain is not true.


  12. As has been mentioned, hundreds of millions of US dollars are funneled into the CIA to conduct covert and black operations inside Iran. The only thing we should assume right now is that the US is trying to cash in on its investment. There is an international bias against the Ulema of Iran. The aggressive bias exists in the media and it exists all throughout the western governments. Everybody needs to chill out and quit fearing Islam. Islam is not going away in Iran, and Islam is not going away in Egypt.

    The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton disgusts me in her opportunistic comments towards Iran when only days ago she was an open supporter of the criminal Mubarak regime. She knows damn well the US has agents on the ground there in Tehran and elsewhere who can quickly and ruthlessly turn these protests into a bloodbath. Is the legitimate government of Iran not supposed to defend themselves against these terrorists? You, Mrs. Clinton, need to ask yourself who is the hypocrite.

    It is quite clear to me that the US must first call off their dogs before meaningful reform towards universal human rights can happen in Iran. Only after the US recalls its spies and stops supporting terrorist organizations such as the MKO will the Iranian state have the internal security which will allow the sorts of reforms we would all like to see happen in Iran.

    Internal security is paramount to the survival of any state and so to ask the IRI to overlook this fundamental need of security is not only morally wrong but futile and delusional as well.


  13. Not having access to the internet means you are much more likely to be getting your information from the government, and all governments create propaganda. This applies to Iran and the US. Americans who grew up in the 50s and 60s (baby boomers) were totally brainwashed by our government, but younger generations, with access to more information, are learning the truth. It's not perfect, but it's a definite improvement. The same is true for Iranians.

    One of the methods of "successful" colonialism is to make the victimized population feel as if everything about their culture and religion is backwards and ignorant. Once all this doubt is created, the ruling order is decimated and replaced with a bunch of lackeys faithful to their colonial masters. Partha Chatterjee is probably the man to read about that subject. When you speak of the "ignorant generation" in Iran, they know quite well their "ignorance" gave them their independence from servitude. I am sure you can find a much less insulting way to describe the Information Age.


  14. America should withdraw monetary support to all of Egypt to avoid accusations of exerting undue influence and power. After Egypt has a new constitution or an amended one and an elected govt in place then the issue can be revisited by the US.

    except most of that money goes to buying US weapons. if you stop monetary support, soldiers' salaries cannot then be paid. does Egypt really want the military discontented as well?

    God I hate Obama.

    Uncle Barack is even more of a doosh than I ever suspected (and I didn't have very high expectations from him to begin with).

    in my neck of the woods, calling someone a douche is vulgar. Every time I disagree with President Ahmadinejad, can I call him a douche?


  15. From the Guardian UK:

    Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has released a curious statement about its intention during and after a transition of power. The group announced that it will not compete in any presidential elections or seek to gain a majority in parliament.

    "The Muslim Brotherhood ... are not seeking personal gains, so they announce they will not run for the presidency and will not seek to get a majority in the parliament and that they consider themselves servants of these decent people. We support and value the sound direction that the Higher Military Council is taking on the way to transfer power peacefully to create a civilian government in line with the will of the people."

    Thank you Haji. This is taking place everywhere unfortunately. Many indian farmers have committed suicide because neo-liberalization of their country has stripped them of their already humble income.

    In Pakistan as well, Monstano is rearing it's ugly head.

    http://www.tradingma...ton-912899.html

    It's time developing nations realize how devastating neo-liberalism can be. The IMF, WTO need to be kicked out of every country. They wipe out the middle class, push the poor further into misery, while the few rich that remain amass greater wealth. It's happened in so many Latin American nations, and failed miserably every time, yet they still have an aura of credibility.

    is the problem with the large agricultural conglomerates, or is the problem that farmers no longer have any viable economic options once the mega-firms take-over? i find it odd that egypt does not grow enough grain for its population--wasn't the Egyptian Civilization founded on the ability to produce surplus grain? What does the Nile delta produce these days, 100% cotton?

    Photi:

    "are you saying the US mid-east policy makers do not have an obsession with Israel?"

    Let me be the first to inform you that there is a range of possibilities between an interest and an obsession. For instance Ahmadinejad would be unknown and have nothing to say if he were not obsessed with Israel.

    Obsessions fuel delusions and i think Iran and the United States have plenty of those.


  16. The BBCs opinion is not as eloquent as the way I put it, but close to the mark I think.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk...e-east-12438007

    it will be a smoother transition all around if the Egyptian people begin in the same direction as the Egyptian military as far as foreign policy matters are concerned. the leadership should establish domestic policies that allow retired military men to enter into Egyptian politics (by election or by appointment) so that there is a correct symbiosis established between the military leadership and the civilian leadership.


  17. I don't know about Islamic law on that issue, but from my perspective (that of a westerner who believes in the concept of honor and decency) A treacherous "peace" treaty like the one at Camp David should be renounced.

    A re-negotiated peace with Israel seems to be in order considering the current 'treacherous' peace we now have. First and foremost of the Egyptian demands should be a one-state solution where Palestinian rights are recognized and guaranteed. Another demand needs to be Palestinian appeasement and a negotiated settlement regarding the crimes of the past.

    Egypt needs to say to Israel "No peace with us until you make peace with Palestine." Egyptian demands will be much more appealing and potent if Turkey and Iran are involved in the negotiations along with Hamas, Hizbollah and Syria. Instead of relying on the US to be a fair and honest "mediator,", let the US government be completely on the side of Israel. This would free the US from the need to speak out of both sides of its mouth. The negotiating table will have the US, the EU, and Israel on one side, and Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hizbollah, and what is salvageable of the PLO (if anything is salvageable) on the other side.

    The goal needs to be a Middle East Peace Treaty that will last through the centuries. Any agreement would be international in character and, if these states and groups are involved, the peace will be seen as a legitimate peace in the Muslim world and in the Western world as well.

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