Tag: Ahmadinidjad

IRAN: SAME OLD SAME OLD TOMORROW’S “ELECTION” WILL CHANGE NOTHING —SAME “SUPREME LEADER”, SAME REPRESSION, SAME NUCLEAR DRIVE…


Contents:                          
Download a pdf version of today's Daily Briefing.

 

Ahmadinejad 2.0? Conservatives Dominate Iran Presidential Lineup: Reese Erlich, Global Post, June 12, 2013—With Iran’s presidential elections Friday, Tehran is in full campaign mode. Political posters are hanging from city walls, and enthusiastic rallies and informal marches are taking place across the capital. Six major candidates approved by the Guardian Council, a government religious body, are running to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iran’s head of state.

 

Ayatollah Khamenei Is Iran’s Supreme Investor: Meir Javedanfar, Bloomberg, June 12, 2013—The best way to understand Iran’s elections this week is to think of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the regime’s supreme investment manager. Like Warren Buffett, or any other top fund manager, Khamenei is answerable to his shareholders when making a big investment pick. Both men enjoy enormous personal authority, but if they keep hurting the interests of their shareholders by getting the big choices wrong, that authority will erode.

 

Another Iran Crisis Is Looming: Yaakov Lappin, Gatestone Institute, June 12, 2013—At a time when news headlines from the Middle East are dominated by battles in Syria, growing Sunni-Shi'ite conflict in Iraq and Lebanon, and mass disturbances in Turkey, it is easy to forget about Iran's nuclear program; but early warning indicators are signaling an impending, explosive crisis over Iran's refusal to halt its covert nuclear weapons program.

 

On Topic Links

 

Who Brought Iran Close to a Nuclear Bomb?: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, JCPA, June 12, 2013

Iran’s Apocalyptic Policy Makers: Saeed Ghasseminejad, Times of Israel, June 10, 2013

Days Before Vote, Huge Majority of Iranians Favor Sharia Law: Haviv Rettig Gur, Times of Israel, June 12, 2013

Hardliners Split As Iran Election Campaign Ends: Jerusalem Post, June 13, 2013

Analysis: Iran Election Won't Impact Nuclear Policy: Ariel Ben Solomon, Jerusalem Post, June 13, 2013

Missing Mahmoud: Reza Aslan, Foreign Policy, June 12, 2013

Iran’s Deep-Rooted Terror Networks Pose ‘Real Risk’: David Horovitz, Times of Israel, June 13, 2013

 

 

AHMADINEJAD 2.0? CONSERVATIVES
DOMINATE IRAN PRESIDENTIAL LINEUP

Reese Erlich

Global Post, June 12, 2013

 

With Iran’s presidential elections Friday, Tehran is in full campaign mode. Political posters are hanging from city walls, and enthusiastic rallies and informal marches are taking place across the capital. Six major candidates approved by the Guardian Council, a government religious body, are running to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iran’s head of state.

 

This year's contest is a far cry from four years ago, when tens of thousands of Iranians took to the streets in spontaneous protests prior to the presidential election. That activism is missing this year as voters focus on a stalled economy. The lineup of mostly conservative candidates are unlikely to take on the ruling establishment.

 

Several weeks ago, the Guardian Council eliminated two of the strongest candidates who might have challenged Iran’s religious and military leaders, including former President Ali Hashemi Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad ally Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei.

 

The contenders are now mostly conservative supporters of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s highest-ranking political and religious authority. None of the candidates suggest major shifts in Iran's pursuit of nuclear power. The government is also working hard to prevent mass demonstrations similar to those that broke out both ahead of and following the 2009 polls against what demonstrators said was a fraudulent vote. The state is also encouraging voters to head to the polls in a bid to boost its legitimacy after the last vote’s fallout.

 

High turnout in Friday’s elections “would show [the government’s] popularity,” said Mohammad Sadegh Jananansefat, a prominent economist and editor of Industry and Development, an economic and political magazine. As part of the government effort to pique voter interest ahead of the June 14 polls, the candidates were featured in three televised debates last week. Powerful rhetoric flowed, and even some personal invective, but candidates discussed few specific policy issues. None offered detailed suggestions for ending Iran’s diplomatic isolation due to its nuclear program, nor for improving the country’s economic situation.

 

Official unemployment now stands at 13 percent, and inflation hit 31 percent last month, with food prices jumping a staggering 50 percent over the past few months. Analysts here attribute the economic problems to the impact of US sanctions, along with government mismanagement of the economy. "The US sanctions on oil exports means less hard currency and higher inflation, which mostly hurts ordinary Iranians," Janansefat said. Former nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rohani has gathered some popular momentum since a successful showing during the third television debate last Friday.

 

He is largely viewed as a moderate, and some who participated in the 2009 protests — which later became known as the "Green Movement" — are rallying behind him, including at his public campaign events in Tehran. Rafsanjani, who champions better international ties, endorsed Rouhani for president on Tuesday.

“Rohani is a moderate who will support people’s rights,” said one supporter, Maryam, who asked that her full name not be used. At a Rohani campaign rally in Tehran on Saturday, which thousands attended, she wore a Green Movement plastic wristband. “It’s important to vote for him, even if he loses — to show popular support for reform,” she said. But Rohani faces an uphill battle against a league of strong conservative contenders with the implicit backing of Ayatollah Khamanei. Iran has a weak presidential system with all real power resting with the Supreme Leader. He makes key decisions about foreign policy and the nuclear power program, for example.

 

Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf, a leading conservative candidate, is the former police chief and mayor of Tehran. He recently bragged of his participation in a brutal crackdown on students at the University of Tehran in 1999. "We were part of the group that beat people," he said at a campaign event. "And I am proud of it.”

 

At a small grocery in central Tehran, owner Mocher Odaj has plastered his windows with Ghalibaf posters. “He brought law and order to Tehran,” Odaj said. Iran’s current chief nuclear negotiator is Saeed Jalili, who maintains a hard-line position when it comes to talks with the US. He has criticized both the Green Movement the moderate politicians who questioned the 2009 crackdown as “promoting sedition.” hat endears him to many conservative voters. "He didn't compromise during the nuclear negotiations," said Saeed Mohammad Husseini, a Jalili supporter who works at a store selling religious CDs.

 

The third major conservative candidate is Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Khamenei, former foreign minister and former nuclear negotiator. Velayati's deputy Tehran campaign manager, Naeim Alinaghi, stressed his candidate's diplomatic background. "Velayati will skillfully negotiate with the West," Husseini said. However, Western powers — not Iran — will have to shift positions "because we shouldn't change our nuclear power program, which is for peaceful purposes only," he said.

 

If no candidate wins 50 percent plus one vote, then the top two contenders will participate in a runoff on June 21.

Contents

 

 

AYATOLLAH KHAMENEI IS IRAN’S SUPREME INVESTOR

Meir Javedanfar

Bloomberg, June 12, 2013

 

The best way to understand Iran’s elections this week is to think of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the regime’s supreme investment manager. Like Warren Buffett, or any other top fund manager, Khamenei is answerable to his shareholders when making a big investment pick. Both men enjoy enormous personal authority, but if they keep hurting the interests of their shareholders by getting the big choices wrong, that authority will erode.

 

Khamenei’s shareholders consist mainly of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Principalists, a broad coalition of conservative politicians. Where Buffett is judged by the companies and stocks in which he invests, Khamenei is judged by the politicians he picks or supports for positions of authority, and how those people further the economic and political interests of the supreme leader’s supporters. And the most important pick Khamenei has to make this year is Iran’s next president.

 

Khamenei’s last presidential investment, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, didn’t work out so well. Instead of uniting Iran’s conservative elite, Ahmadinejad’s antics and leadership style created infighting and division. He ravaged the regime’s standing abroad with inflammatory speeches, such as his denial of the Holocaust. At home, his populist economic policies caused extensive damage, which today can be witnessed in Iran’s high level of inflation — which the nation’s official statistics agency put at 30 percent in May — and 12 percent unemployment, according to International Monetary Fund data.

Appalling Record

 

Coupled with international sanctions triggered by Iran’s alleged nuclear-weapons program, this appalling economic record has hurt not only the Iranian people, but also the business interests of the revolutionary guard. Today, the guard has major business interests in the construction, oil-and-gas, and automotive industries, as well as in the manufacture and importing of electronic goods. To give just one example, the U.S. administration last year named National Iranian Oil Co., Iran’s state oil company, as an “agent or affiliate” of the revolutionary guard.

 

As powerful as the guard is, however, its companies rely on the Iranian population to buy their products. The less money consumers have, and the more inflation erodes their purchasing power, the less they can spend on goods that the revolutionary guard makes and imports. Compounding the stakes for Khamenei is that, despite Ahmadinejad’s damaging antics and policies during his first term as president, the supreme leader backed him again for a second term in 2009. Khamenei asked his stakeholders to support that decision, which they did.

 

This makes it even more important that Khamenei invests his political capital and reputation in the right candidate this time. The next president needs to strengthen the regime’s cohesion, its domestic- and foreign-policy performance, and the economy. If Khamenei makes another poor choice, his credibility and even authority may suffer as important regime stakeholders begin to doubt his ability to secure their interests. Khamenei’s top priority right now is to promote cohesion in the regime’s increasingly divided ranks, a major concern for the Principalists. Infighting has increased at an unprecedented rate during Ahmadinejad’s second term, a phenomenon that is more and more difficult to conceal.

 

Even Khamenei’s family has been affected. The supreme leader’s ultraconservative older brother, Sayyed Mohammad Khamenei recently attacked former President Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, who was planning to run for the office again, but was disqualified by the Guardian Council. Khamenei’s younger brother Hojatoleslam Hadi Khamenei then publicly defended Rafsanjani by stating that those who attack the former president “want to destroy the Islamic Republic.”

 

Infighting is one of the main reasons why the supreme leader had Rafsanjani’s candidacy disqualified. Economics played an even bigger role. Rafsanjani and his backers want to open Iran’s economy to new investors, both domestic and foreign, to promote growth. This would create competition for the revolutionary guard, hurting its business interests. Forced to choose between the guard and Rafsanjani, Khamenei had little choice — he couldn’t afford to risk alienating the revolutionary guard, a vital pillar of support for his rule.

 

Presidential candidates, such as chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf look like better investment options for the supreme leader. Both are close to the revolutionary guard and to the conservative circles that surround Khamenei.

 

The major difference between these two conservative candidates is that Qalibaf has more genuine grass-roots support, especially in Tehran, where he has spent eight years as mayor and is fairly popular. That also gave him valuable experience in managing domestic affairs, giving him an edge over some of the other candidates. This support base makes it more likely that, as president, Qalibaf would be willing to criticize or oppose the supreme leader’s policies, whereas Jalili has proved himself to be a yes-man. Unlike Ahmadinejad, however, Qalibaf would probably air his differences in private.

 

The widespread use of election fraud in 2009, when the Iranian regime went so far as to fake ballot papers for Ahmadinejad in Jerusalem — 48 voters produced 79 ballots — shows that the supreme leader doesn’t care much about whom the majority of Iranian voters would like to see as their leader. The whole system has been designed to narrow choices and tilt the process to ensure that a candidate approved by the supreme leader wins.

 

Still, a low voter turnout this time could also damage Khamenei’s image as the supreme investor, exposing low levels of public faith in his leadership. To address this challenge, it seems that Khamenei hopes the three election-campaign debates — between the eight candidates the Guardian Council permitted to stand (out of 686 hopefuls) — will create the impression that the elections will be fair.

 

In 1989, Warren Buffett wrote in a letter to shareholders that: “It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.” That’s good advice for Iran’s Khamenei, too. He needs to back a convincing candidate for the presidency this week, even if that means paying a higher price in terms of choosing someone who won’t always toe the line. The Iranian regime’s shareholders are watching and judging. After a bad investment in Ahmadinejad, Iran’s supreme investment manager needs to show his worth.

 

(Meir Javedanfar is an Iranian-Israeli Middle East analyst. He teaches the contemporary Iranian politics at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel. Follow him on Twitter.)

 

Contents

 

 

ANOTHER IRAN CRISIS IS LOOMING

Yaakov Lappin

Gatestone Institute, June 12, 2013

 

At a time when news headlines from the Middle East are dominated by battles in Syria, growing Sunni-Shi'ite conflict in Iraq and Lebanon, and mass disturbances in Turkey, it is easy to forget about Iran's nuclear program; but early warning indicators are signaling an impending, explosive crisis over Iran's refusal to halt its covert nuclear weapons program.

 

At enrichment facilities in Natanz and Fordow, Iran is continuing to inch closer to the point of nuclear breakout, as a report by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently noted.

 

The report confirmed what defense analysts had been saying for months: that Iran installed hundreds of additional centrifuges for uranium enrichment, enhancing its nuclear program, while continuing enrichment activities. Tehran has also taken steps to create a parallel path to nuclear weapons through its plutonium plant at Arak. Iranian engineers are constructing a reactor at the heavy water plant at Arak, which could enable the production of a plutonium-based atomic bomb.

 

Meanwhile, Iran continues to deny IAEA inspectors access to its suspected nuclear trigger facility at Parchin, and has been busy shifting earth around the site to cover its activities. At this point, the IAEA said, even if inspectors were allowed to visit, the cover-up would mean they may not find a thing. These developments have led leading Israeli defense experts at the Institute for National Security Institute in Tel Aviv to conclude that unless the White House soon adjusts its policy on Iran, the U.S. may end up adopting a policy of nuclear containment rather than prevention.

 

The analysts, Emily Landau, director of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at the INSS, and Ephraim Asculai, a senior research associate, questioned President Barack Obama's assertion that the US will know ahead of time if Iran took a decision to produce nuclear weapons. They cited historical failures by intelligence agencies, and cautioned that relying on the IAEA to identify the danger in time could prove disastrous. Even if a timely warning were received, they said, it remains unclear that there would enough time to reverse Iran's trajectory, or that the White House would be willing to employ force.

Most importantly, their paper said that it is now "blatantly apparent" that the diplomatic approach for solving the Iranian crisis has failed, "even though the US administration has yet to admit this. Their stance was echoed on Monday by the United Nation's top nuclear diplomat, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano. Amano told the IAEA's board of governors that talks with Iran are simply "going around in circles," and described the past ten rounds of negotiations as failures. Using unusually blunt language to underscore the dead-end situation, Amano said: "To be frank, for some time now, we have been going around in circles. This is not the right way to address issues of such great importance to the international community, including Iran."

 

Iran's intransigence, and its unwillingness to cooperate or provide assurances about the absence of nuclear material and activities were all to blame, he said. "These activities are in clear contravention of resolutions adopted by the Board of Governors and the United Nations Security Council," Amano added. Israel, which is more threatened by Iran's nuclear program than is the U.S., as well as militarily weaker than Washington, has less time to make its up mind on how and when to proceed to avert a threat to its existence.

 

Israel's Minister for Strategic Affairs, Yuval Steinitz, reflected the urgency of the situation in a warning he sent out to the public last week. "Time is running out," he said. "We have only a few months. The danger is a global one, which will change the face of history. Iran could have hundreds of atomic bombs and hundreds of long-range missiles." He added: "The danger is many times bigger than North Korea."

 

Against this background, the Israeli military's former intelligence chief, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, and former Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. James Cartwright USMC (ret.), published an analysis in the Atlantic examining what would happen if either Israel or the US launched military strikes on Iran's nuclear program. Yadlin and Cartwright simulated a classified phone call between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama, which would take place later this year. During the call, the two leaders agree that the diplomatic-sanctions route to stopping Iran has failed. Their starting position is the current situation, and the timing of their piece is not coincidental. Their envisaged phone call may well occur sooner rather than later.

A central conclusion reached by the defense figures is that Israel has the highest moral authority to launch military action, as it faces the greatest threat. Practically, an Israeli strike might also safeguard the U.S.'s ability to act as a broker and negotiate a permanent diplomatic solution to the crisis after a strike – a role the U.S. could not undertake if it carried out the strike itself. Nevertheless, the U.S. enjoys superior military capabilities to launch such an operation.

 

Iran's response to an attack from either side could range from a limited retaliation to launching a regional war. The other day, an Israeli defense official said the production of Arrow-3 anti-ballistic missile defense systems – which intercept incoming long-range missiles in space – have been fast-tracked.

 

Eight months ago, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the international community at the United Nations that the clock was ticking for a resolution to the Iranian crisis, and that time could be up by the spring or summer of 2013. A growing number of alarms are ringing.

 

Contents

 

Who Brought Iran Close to a Nuclear Bomb? : Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, JCPA, June 12, 2013—With a few days remaining before the June 14 presidential elections in Iran, the most fraught, sensitive issue in the campaign concerns Iran’s foreign policy – its relations with the West in general and the nuclear talks in particular. Whereas the “principalist” [hard-line] candidates take a dogmatic, uncompromising line on Iran’s foreign relations and its stance on the nuclear issue, the “pragmatic” candidates show a readiness to open a new chapter in Iran’s dealings with the world and conduct the nuclear talks in a calmer atmosphere.

 

Iran’s Apocalyptic Policy Makers: Saeed Ghasseminejad, Times of Israel, June 10, 2013—Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, the Iranian nuclear scientist who was killed in a bomb blast, was not only a man of science but also a man of faith. He had a master, Ayatollah Azizollah Khoshvaght, a little-known but highly-ranked cleric.

 

Days Before Vote, Huge Majority of Iranians Favor Sharia Law: Haviv Rettig Gur, Times of Israel, June 12, 2013—2

Iranians favor implementing Sharia law in Iran by a huge majority — 83 percent to just 15 opposed — according to a new survey of Iranians published Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. A majority of Iranian Muslims already believe that is the case in the country.

 

Hardliners Split As Iran Election Campaign Ends: Jerusalem Post, June 13, 2013 —Campaigning in Iran's presidential election ended on Thursday, a day before the vote in which the sole moderate candidate has an unlikely chance to steal victory from his hardline rivals. Hardliners have failed to agree on a unity candidate, potentially splitting their vote and improving the chances of moderate cleric Hassan Rohani to progress to a run-off poll.

 

Analysis: Iran Election Won't Impact Nuclear Policy: Ariel Ben Solomon, Jerusalem Post, June 13, 2013—Is the Islamic Republic a rational actor and could it be deterred if it gets nuclear weapons, as the Soviet Union was during the cold war? And is the presidential election in Iran this Friday a significant event that could alter the trajectory of events and negotiations with the West?

 

Missing Mahmoud: Reza Aslan, Foreign Policy, June 12, 2013—What's that saying? You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone? Well, after eight long years of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president of Iran, I'm willing to bet that even those of us who loathe the man are going to end up missing him — not just because of the comedy he provided with his bellicose rhetoric and his inane populism, but because he may have been the last, best hope of stripping the clerical regime of its "God-given" right to rule Iran. Don’t snicker. Once President Ahmadinejad is gone, there’ll be no one left to stand up to Iran's mullahs.

 

Iran’s Deep-Rooted Terror Networks Pose ‘Real Risk’: David Horovitz, Times of Israel, June 13, 2013—There are “clear signs” that terrorist networks first established by Iran in several South American countries in the 1980s and 1990s are still in place, and there are indications that Iran has similar networks in Europe, the Argentinian prosecutor who investigated the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires told The Times of Israel. In a telephone interview a week after he issued a 500-page report on the bombing and Iran’s wider terrorist infiltration of South America, Alberto Nisman said that Tehran had established its terror networks for the strategic long term, ready to be used “whenever it needs them.”

 

Top of Page

 

 

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

ISRAEL NUDGES U.S. TO SUPPORT ATTACK AS IRAN ELECTIONS HEAT UP; IRAN AIR THREAT CREDIBLE?

Download a pdf version of today's Daily Briefing.

 

Contents:                          

 

Israel Tries to Sell U.S. on Iran Attack: Haviv Rettig Gur , Times of Israel, May 6, 2013— If American worries about the fallout could be assuaged, if the regime in Teheran could be shown to be militant in rhetoric but either incapable or unwilling to turn such an attack into a full-blown war, then the most significant barrier to an Israeli strike — the lack of American support — would be removed.

 

Ahmadinejad Shows no Signs of Going Quietly: Geneive Abdo, CNN, May 7th, 2013—As Iran’s election draws near, powerful figures within the ruling establishment seem more worried about the future of the incumbent than they are about the potential for violent protests. resident Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is prevented from running for a third term.

 

Everything You Wanted to Know About Iran's Air Power : Michael Elleman, Iran Primer, March 11, 2013—Iran has the largest and most diverse inventory of long-range artillery rockets and ballistic missiles in the Middle East. It is estimated to have between 200 and 300 Scud-B and Scud-C missiles, which Iran has renamed the Shahab-1 and Shahab-2. It also owns hundreds of Zelzal rockets and Fateh-110 semi-guided rockets.

 

On Topic Links

 

Understanding the Current State of the Iranian Nuclear ChallengeDore Gold, Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, May-June 2013

High Stakes in Iranian Election: Ephraim Dardashti, Gatestone Institute, May 3, 2013

Tehran to Decide Who Can Run for President: Mehdi Khalaji, The Washington Institute, May 7, 2013

Libyan and Korean Examples Guide Iran's Nuclear Plan: Majid Rafizadeh, The National, Apr 19, 2013

Inflation Takes Its Toll on Iran: Bijan Khajehpour, Al-Monitor Iran Pulse, May 8, 2013

 

 

ISRAEL TRIES TO SELL U.S. ON IRAN ATTACK

Haviv Rettig Gur

Times of Israel, May 6, 2013

   

On a visit to the Pakistani capital Islamabad in 2006, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, then a Republican senator from Nebraska, warned that “a military strike against Iran, a military option, is not a viable, feasible, responsible option.”  Hagel reiterated that view in November 2007 in a speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. “The answer to dealing with Iran will not be found in a military operation,” he cautioned. And it isn’t just then-senator Hagel.

 

“We’ve thought about military options against Iran off and on for the last 20 years,” former top White House counterterrorism official Richard Clarke admitted that same year, “and they’re just not good, because you don’t know what the endgame is. You know what the first move of the game is, but you don’t know what the last move of the game is.”

 

That was six years ago, but it’s a view that hasn’t changed in much of Washington. American politicians regularly threaten Tehran with severe consequences for its pursuit of nuclear weapons, and habitually announce that “all options are on the table.” But privately, many concede there is little stomach in the US for yet another Middle Eastern war that could sink the country down a rabbit hole of unintended consequences and commitments.

 

It’s not that American leaders and planners, even the “realists” among them, disagree with Israel about the dangers posed by a nuclear Iran.

 

As Hagel himself noted in that 2007 speech, during what may have been his most skeptical and realist period, “In the Middle East of the 21st century, Iran will be a key center of gravity… and remain a significant regional power. The United States cannot change that reality….

 

“[But] to acknowledge that reality in no way confuses Iran’s dangerous, destabilizing and threatening behavior in the region. Our differences with Iran are real. Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism and continues to provide material support to Hezbollah and Hamas. The president of Iran publicly threatens Israel’s existence and is attempting to develop the capacity to produce nuclear weapons. Iran has not helped stabilize the current chaos in Iraq and is responsible for weapons and explosives being used against US military forces in Iraq.”

 

Iran is bad news, American leaders acknowledge. But so is the possible fallout from any military strike.

 

And they’re right. A military strike against Iran’s nuclear program could elicit a massive retaliation and drag the region into one of the uglier wars it has known in a while. If that happens, the US expects to face hundreds of Iranian rockets smashing into US naval vessels and bases in the Persian Gulf; terror attacks by Iran’s proxies, especially Hezbollah, on US and allied targets around the world; a costly disruption in the global oil supply, both because Iran’s oil would be knocked off the market and because Iran would likely try to target oil production around the Gulf; and massive efforts by Tehran to inflame and destabilize regional allies and governments, from the Gulf states to Iraq to Lebanon and Gaza.

 

That’s a worst-case scenario, to be sure, but American defence planners state openly that they do not know what Iran’s reaction might be, and a regime so attacked might feel both the need and the political opportunity — domestic opposition would likely evaporate in the face of an attack on the Iranian homeland — to respond forcefully.

 

Yet even that terrible scenario emphasizes to Israeli leaders — who largely believe that diplomatic efforts can delay but ultimately not replace the need for a military solution — that the roots of American resistance to a strike are not principled or strategic; they’re tactical. If American worries about the fallout could be assuaged, if the regime in Teheran could be shown to be militant in rhetoric but either incapable or unwilling to turn such an attack into a full-blown war, then the most significant barrier to an Israeli strike — the lack of American support — would be removed.

 

Over the past few years, Israel has planned, trained, and implemented – according to foreign sources, of course – audacious and sophisticated strikes against Iranian assets, from the “Karine A” weapons ship, to armaments convoys in Sudan (at a distance from Israel farther than many potential Iranian targets), to Syria’s nuclear reactor and the latest strikes against Syrian installations and weapons convoys. In Iran itself, Israel is widely credited with infiltrating and repeatedly sabotaging the nuclear program, with centrifuges breaking down, computer viruses disrupting operations on a vast scale, installations suffering damaging explosions, and key nuclear scientists being mysteriously assassinated.

 

After each alleged Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear program and weapons smuggling, global expert opinion declares in unison that besides the obvious military benefits, the operation carries a “message” for Iran.  But these operations also carry a message for the uneasy West, and especially the United States: Iran is vulnerable to attack, and the consequences are minimal.

 

After a daring, 1,800-kilometer (1,100 mile) strike in Sudan in 2009, a few Arab states complained — quietly — about Israeli trespassing. After the 2007 strike against the Syrian reactor, the loudest condemnation came from North Korea, inadvertently drawing attention to itself as the source of the expertise and equipment for the Syrian installation.

 

Israel would be hard-pressed to carry out a strike on a target as distant, well-protected and widely scattered as the Iranian nuclear program without US knowledge and assistance. A successful operation might require not only American willingness to absorb the blowback, but active American help, or at least coordination.

 

For the Israel Air Force and special ground forces that conducted the long-range operations of recent years, a strike in Syria amounts to a 100-meter sprint. Iran’s nuclear program, 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) away and with several major and dozens of minor potential targets, is a marathon. As with a marathon, success will require special training, special logistical capabilities and an especially high tolerance for pain.

 

The strikes in Syria won’t be enough to convince the Americans that a viable military option exists for Iran. Iran’s failure to lash out over strikes on Syria or Sudan is not indicative of its response to attacks on its own soil. But as Israel continues to demonstrate it has the military capability, the intelligence and the will to carry out dramatic operations, American confidence in the potential success of such operations may grow, and American willingness to take the heavy risk of war may grow with it.

 

This weekend’s strikes on Syria, beyond their immediate military benefit and the obvious message to Assad, Hezbollah and Iran, are a message to Washington as well. To quote a different leader who once delivered a rather similar message to a sceptical American ally: “Give us the tools and we will finish the job.”

 

Top of Page

 

 

 

AHMADINEJAD SHOWS NO SIGNS OF GOING QUIETLY

Geneive Abdo

CNN, May 7th, 2013

 

As Iran’s election draws near, powerful figures within the ruling establishment seem more worried about the future of the incumbent than they are about the potential for violent protests. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is prevented from running for a third term. But this does not appear to have diminished his ambitions to remain a political force after leaving office, a goal he hopes to achieve by hurting his political opponents and pushing his top aide, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, as the best candidate in next month’s poll.

 

Alarmed by both of these prospects, Ahmadinejad’s many influential foes are working to stop him – and they are leaving no stone unturned in their efforts (including, according to the Iran News Network site, the blocking of text messages containing the family name Mashaei – a filter that was reportedly removed once the story broke.)

 

Ahmadinejad has for his part been positioning Mashaei as a presidential candidate for years. The two are not only like minded in their nationalism and shared disdain for the clerical establishment, but they are also relatives – Ahmadinejad’s son is married to Mashaei’s daughter.

 

But despite the support of a popular incumbent, Mashaei is no shoo-in to the presidential palace. After all, the Guardian Council, which is under the control of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, vets candidates and decides who is allowed to run for president, and is not expected to allow anyone from the so-called “deviant faction” of Ahmadinejad supporters to run. Indeed, on April 12, Ayatollah Mohammad Momen – an influential member of the 12-member Guardian Council – reportedly warned: “Don’t have any doubt. If we just sense a little deviation from a [candidate], we will disqualify him.”

 

Yet despite the Council being seen as unlikely to approve Mashaei’s candidacy, opponents worry that he will somehow still find a way to become a serious contender. And his campaign, although not officially announced, looks in practical terms to be under way already anyway.

 

This will worry Iran’s leadership – and with good cause. Ahmadinejad has on more than one occasion indicated his willingness to publicize confidential documents that expose his opponents’ past indiscretions. And he is no doubt aware that most presidents under the Islamic Republic have been cast aside and politically marginalized after they have left the presidency, leaving them with no access to the state-controlled media.

 

Ultimately, Ahmadinejad appears keen not to let the same fate befall him that has his predecessors. Former reformist President Mohammad Khatami and his allies, for example, were deprived of continued national prominence due to Khatami’s calls for political reform and his criticism of the system. When he complained about violence and repression after the protests that followed the disputed 2009 presidential election, he was marginalized even further. Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani was for his part ousted from influential assemblies, while Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, former regime members and 2009 presidential election candidates, are still under house arrest.

 

But Ahmadinejad’s concerns likely extend past his future political influence – he also appears to fear being physically harmed after leaving office. He has already claimed to have been threatened, reportedly noting during a trip to Khuzestan Province last month that: “They have sent a message saying that if I become any bolder, they will try to hurt me. I will fight in the service of justice, revolution, people…”

 

Helping Mashaei become president might therefore be the only way Ahmadinejad can ensure his own survival – politically or otherwise. Yet it’s hard to gauge the potential success of his all-or-nothing strategy, an approach epitomized in his showdown on the floor of the parliament in February during a confrontation with Ali Larijani, the speaker of the parliament.

 

During the incident – unprecedented even in Iran’s sometimes rough and tumble politics – Ahmadinejad played a tape of what he claimed was a recording of a conversation between Tehran’s chief prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi, and Fazel Larijani, the speaker’s brother. According to the tape, the Larijani family had used its prominence for economic gain (a claim disputed by Larijani, who described the tape as blackmail).

 

More recently, during a trip to Semnan Province last month, Ahmadinejad turned on Supreme Leader Khamenei and the ruling establishment. “Some say that the leader’s opinion dictates that this person should run and that person should not [campaign]. How is this any of your business? The people should decide. All [political] types should run,” Ahmadinejad reportedly announced in apparent reference to Mashaei.

 

Right now, despite his maneuvering, the odds seem stacked against Ahmadinejad remaining a political force post-election. But whatever his chances, no one seems likely to convince the president to go quietly into the political wilderness.

 

 Geneive Abdo is a fellow in the Middle East Program at the Stimson Center and a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution and  author of the recent paper The New Sectarianism.

 

 

 

EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT IRAN'S AIR FORCE

Michael Elleman

Iran Primer, March 11, 2013

 

Iran has the largest and most diverse inventory of long-range artillery rockets and ballistic missiles in the Middle East. It is estimated to have between 200 and 300 Scud-B and Scud-C missiles, which Iran has renamed the Shahab-1 and Shahab-2. It also owns hundreds of Zelzal rockets and Fateh-110 semi-guided rockets.

 

These systems allow Iran to threaten targets throughout the Gulf littoral, but they are not accurate enough to be decisive militarily. Iran would need at least 100 missiles armed with 500-kg conventional warheads – and potentially many more – to destroy a specific target with a moderate level of confidence.

 

If fired in large numbers, Iranian missiles might be able to harass or disrupt operations at large U.S. or GCC military targets, such as airfields, naval ports or fuel depots. But such attacks are unlikely to not halt activities for a significantly long time. Iran is also unlikely to be able to improve the accuracy of its short-range missiles for at least the next five to ten years. The addition of more sophisticated inertial guidance units – or Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers – could improve accuracy by only 25 percent if properly incorporated into a Shahab or Fateh-110 missile, and then thoroughly tested.

 

To further enhance its accuracy, Iran would have to develop the capacity to terminate missile thrust precisely or add correction systems for the post-boost phase. But adding these mechanisms would also require flight testing likely to take four years or longer.

 

Iran's longer-range missiles – the Shahab-3 and Ghadr-1 – are capable of striking targets throughout the Middle East, including Israel, as well as portions of south-eastern Europe. But these missiles are highly inaccurate. And Iran's stockpile likely totals less than 100.

 

This could change once Iran completes development of the solid-fuelled Sajjil-2 missile. Iranian engineers are widely believed to have the capacity to manufacture this system, although they still rely on foreign sources for fuel-production ingredients. Development may have stalled, however, since Iran has conducted only one flight test since 2009.

 

The utility of Iran's ballistic missiles is likely to remain weak for years, yet they could be used effectively as a psychological weapon on population centers. The most vulnerable cities are Baghdad, Kuwait City and Dubai, since they are within range of the Zelzal rockets that Iran has in large quantity. Abu Dhabi, Manama, Doha and Saudi coastal cities are far enough to require the longer-range Shahab-1 and -2 missiles, which are in shorter supply.

 

What are Iran's air force capabilities? And how do they compare to the U.S. air forces in the Gulf? The Islamic Republic's air forces and ground-based air defence systems offer limited protection of Iranian air space. They are no match for the combined capacity of the United States and its six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) allies. In a prolonged and intensive conflict involving the United States, Iran would have difficulty protecting its strategic assets, including its nuclear facilities, air bases, and command-and-control centers.

 

An integrated U.S. air defence network would probably prevent Iranian pilots from reaching many military targets within GCC territory, although limited air raids might have some success in the opening days of a conflict. (The GCC includes six sheikhdoms – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman – that make up most of the Arabian Peninsula.)

 

Most of Iran's aircraft were purchased before the 1979 Islamic Revolution and are widely considered obsolete. Even Iran's Russian-made MiG-29 and Su-24 fighter-jets, acquired more recently, lack the modern avionics and air-to-air missiles needed to compete with the U.S. and GCC air forces.

 

In January, Iran unveiled a new stealth fighter-jet. But the presented craft is clearly a model, or mock-up. It is quite small as well, judging from the size of the pilot seated at the controls. The Qaher F-313 appears to be an aspirational system, which is many years from reality. But it does indicate Iran's ambitions.

 

Iran also lacks sophisticated airborne command-and-warning assets, as well as the secure communications network needed to relay vital threat and targeting information. These deficiencies place Iranian pilots at a severe disadvantage when engaging hostile air forces armed with a complete picture of the airspace.

 

Perhaps Iran's most significant shortcoming is its limited capacity to maintain airplanes and generate anything beyond one sortie per day for each fighter jet. Iran has a very limited ability to surge its air forces. It would probably be quickly overwhelmed by a combined attack by U.S. and GCC forces.

 

Despite these and other shortcomings, Iran's air forces and air defenses can still inflict loses on allied air forces, albeit at a minimal rate. Tehran also claims to have mated C-701 and C-801 anti-ship cruise missiles to its F-4 aircraft. If true, these stand-off weapons would allow Iran to attack U.S. warships and commercial vessels in the Gulf with some success. If Iran modified anti-ship missiles for land attacks, it could target key infrastructure assets located along the Gulf littoral, although the small warheads carried by these missiles would limit the damage.

 

What are the defence options against Iran's missiles? Theatre missile defences flooding into the region could blunt the political and psychological effect of Iran's offensive-missile threat. The United States already deploys Patriot, SM-3 and other missile interceptors in the region. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have older-generation Patriot batteries. Both countries are in the process of upgrading their defenses with more capable systems. The United Arab Emirates leads in acquisition of missile and air defense; it is currently procuring a sophisticated suite of systems, including advanced Patriot and THAAD batteries.

 

No defensive system is leak-proof. But the anti-missile capabilities acquired by the United States and its GCC allies have proven their efficacy during development and testing. They should help minimize public fear. Iran might try to overwhelm these defences by firing missiles in large salvos, as it does during annual military exercises. This tactic might allow a few warheads to reach their destinations, but interceptor missiles would probably protect the most critical targets. An integrated missile defence architecture, if implemented across the GCC in a coherent way, would further reduce vulnerability to salvo tactics.

 

Iran is developing a wide-range of unmanned aerial vehicles. Most of the systems seen so far are slow, have limited manoeuvrability, and carry small payloads, so are used primarily as reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering platforms.

 

One notable exception is the Karrar, also known as the "ambassador of death." The Karrar is based on target-drone technology, which was originally used for training air-defence crews. Nonetheless, it carries 500-kg gravity bombs and presents yet another means of delivery that American and GCC forces must track and, if necessary, defeat.

 

The larger concern, however, is Iran's large arsenal of anti-ship cruise missiles acquired from China. These weapons pose a significant threat to Gulf shipping as well as navies operating near the Strait of Hormuz. Iranian use of anti-ship missiles would significantly escalate any conflict, so Tehran would probably use them only if the regime felt threatened. But their mere existence – and the threat they pose – offers Tehran an effective component for deterring attack by others.

Top of Page

___________________________________________________________

 

Understanding the Current State of the Iranian Nuclear Challenge: Dore Gold, Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, May-June 2013—Over the last decade, a clear international consensus has slowly emerged that Iran was not just pursuing a civilian nuclear program, as Tehran argued, but rather was seeking nuclear weapons. True, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty guarantees the right of signatories, like Iran, to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but that did not include a right to enrich uranium in order to produce indigenous nuclear fuels that could be employed for nuclear weapons.

 

High Stakes in Iranian Election: Ephraim Dardashti, Gatestone Institute, May 3, 2013—In Iran almost nothing is what it seems to be. Iranian culture is formal; it places a premium on politeness and manners. By violating both principles, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been mesmerizing Iranians, to the delight of the masses and the embarrassment of the few.

 

Tehran to Decide Who Can Run for President: Mehdi Khalaji, The Washington Institute, May 7, 2013—On May 12, Iran's Guardian Council will begin deliberations on which candidates can participate in the June presidential election, perhaps the most important step in selecting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's successor.

 

Libyan And Korean Examples Guide Iran's Nuclear Plan: Majid Rafizadeh, The National, Apr 19, 2013—Two years of tumult, revolt and change in the Arab world have emboldened Iranian leaders, intensifying their determination to gain access to nuclear capabilities. This explains why Iran has resisted sanctions, failed to take recent western-led talks seriously and even threatened to pull out of the 1970 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, known as NPT.

 

Inflation Takes Its Toll on Iran: Bijan Khajehpour, Al-Monitor Iran Pulse, May 8, 2013—It is not easy to get a reliable figure for inflation in Iran. Two official sources are tasked with this issue and they have continuously produced confusing statistics. Based on the latest statistics of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), the annual inflation for the period ending on March 20, 2013, was 32.3%, whereas the Statistical Center of Iran (SCI) puts the figure at 28.8%.

 

Top of Page

 

 

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Ber Lazarus, Publications Editor, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org