Tag: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

OBAMA’S IRAN POLICY: OBFUSCATING TEHRAN’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM, CONTAINING JERUSALEM

Yesterday, the White House announced that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will meet with US President Barack Obama in Washington on March 5.

 

The encounter between the two leaders will take place against the backdrop of a flurry of reports about the possibility of an Israeli military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

 

To date, senior American officials ranging from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey have publicly warned Israel against taking such action. Coupled with the Obama administration’s apparent downplaying of Iran’s nuclear progress, the question arises: Is Obama focused more on containing Tehran or Jerusalem?

 

Mr. Netanyahu is about to find out.

 

CONTAINING ISRAEL ON IRAN
Editorial

Wall Street Journal, February 21, 2012

Is the Obama Administration more concerned that Iran may get a nuclear weapon, or that Israel may use military force to prevent Iran from doing so? The answer is the latter, judging from comments [last] Sunday by Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey.

Appearing on CNN, General Dempsey sent precisely the wrong message if the main U.S. strategic goal is convincing Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions. He said the U.S. is urging Israel not to attack Iran—because Iran hasn’t decided to build a bomb, because an Israeli attack probably wouldn’t set back Iran by more than a couple of years, and because it would invite retaliation and be “destabilizing” throughout the Middle East.

“That’s the question with which we all wrestle. And the reason we think that it’s not prudent at this point to decide to attack Iran,” the General said, referring to a possible Iranian response to an attack. “That’s been our counsel to our allies, the Israelis. And we also know or believe we know that the Iranian regime has not decided that they will embark on the capability—or the effort to weaponize their nuclear capability.”

In a single sound bite, General Dempsey managed to tell the Iranians they can breathe easier because Israel’s main ally is opposed to an attack on Iran, such attack isn’t likely to work in any case, and the U.S. fears Iran’s retaliation. It’s as if General Dempsey wanted to ratify Iran’s rhetoric that the regime is a fearsome global military threat.

If the U.S. really wanted its diplomacy to work in lieu of force, it would say and do whatever it can to increase Iran’s fear of an attack. It would say publicly that Israel must be able to protect itself and that it has the means to do so. America’s top military officer in particular should say that if Iran escalates in response to an Israeli attack, the U.S. would have no choice but to intervene on behalf of its ally. The point of coercive diplomacy is to make an adversary understand that the costs of its bad behavior will be very, very high.

The general is not a free-lancer, so his message was almost certainly guided by the White House. His remarks only make strategic sense if President Obama’s real priority is to contain Israel first—especially before the November election.

This might also explain General Dempsey’s comments that the U.S. doesn’t believe Iran’s regime has decided to build an atomic bomb and that it is a “rational” actor, like, say, the Dutch. This would be the same rational Iran that refuses to compromise on its nuclear plans despite increasingly damaging global sanctions, and the same prudent actor that has sent agents around the world to bomb Israeli and Saudi targets, allegedly including in a Washington, D.C. restaurant.

Iran doesn’t need to explode a bomb, or even declare that it has one, to win its nuclear standoff. All it needs to do is get to the brink and make everyone believe it can build a bomb when it wants to. Then the costs of deterring Iran go up exponentially, and the regime’s leverage multiplies in the Middle East and against American interests. General Dempsey’s assurances obscure that military and political reality.

Like most of Mr. Obama’s Iran policy, General Dempsey’s comments will have the effect of making war more likely, not less. They will increase Israel’s anxiety about U.S. support, especially if Mr. Obama is re-elected and he has a freer political hand. This may drive Israel’s leadership to strike sooner. Weakness invites war, and General Dempsey has helped the Administration send a message of weakness to Israel and Iran.

OBFUSCATING IRAN’S NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM
Thomas Joscelyn

Weekly Standard, February 15, 2012

During an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer shortly before the Super Bowl on February 5, President Obama was asked about Iran’s nuclear weapons program and the possibility of an Israeli airstrike. “I don’t think that Israel has made a decision on what they need to do,” Obama said. “I think they, like us, believe that Iran has to stand down on its nuclear weapons program. Until they do, I think Israel rightly is going to be very concerned, and we are as well.”

At least the president spoke candidly of Iran’s “nuclear weapons program…” [as] this is something the U.S. intelligence community has a difficult time doing. America’s top spooks prefer to obfuscate the issue.

Here is how Director of National Intelligence James Clapper described Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons in written testimony given to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on January 31—less than one week prior to President Obama’s interview: “We assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons, in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so. We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.”

So while the president openly discusses Iran’s “nuclear weapons program,” his spy chief isn’t sure if Iran has even decided to build the world’s most deadly weapons.… Clapper and the analysts who helped craft his testimony are relying on an illogical premise: that Iran would do everything in its power to pursue the components necessary to build nukes without having decided to actually put those pieces together. This makes no sense.

Iran would not go out of its way to enrich uranium beyond what is necessary for civilian purposes, construct covert uranium enrichment facilities (as it did at Qom), continue to pursue various means of constructing a warhead (as confirmed by the IAEA, and contrary to the intelligence community’s 2007 National Intelligence Estimate), and engage in sundry other nuclear weapons efforts without making a political decision to build nuclear weapons.

The purpose of Clapper’s testimony was not to provide a clear-eyed intelligence assessment, however, but to advance a specific policy agenda. Clapper insists (emphasis added): “We judge Iran’s nuclear decision making is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which offers the international community opportunities to influence Tehran. Iranian leaders undoubtedly consider Iran’s security, prestige, and influence, as well as the international political and security environment, when making decisions about its nuclear program.”

The intelligence community’s message is clear: We’d prefer for policymakers to continue to try everything short of a military strike. But it is not Clapper or the intelligence community’s place to advocate such an approach. That is a political decision.…

More importantly, what evidence is there that Iran can be dissuaded from pursuing nuclear weapons? The Obama administration’s outreach to the mullahs failed. The Europeans’ efforts failed before that. The Obama administration’s sanctions regime…has not convinced the mullahs to foreswear nukes. And various other American efforts at rapprochement on a range of issues dating back decades (i.e., terrorism)…have similarly fallen short.

There is simply no evidence that the international community has discovered any diplomatic, financial, or other means for bringing an end to what President Obama accurately calls Iran’s “nuclear weapons program.”

Even taking Clapper’s argument about Iran’s “cost-benefit approach” on its own terms is far from convincing. Iran has already suffered substantial costs in terms of international “prestige” and “influence”—economic and otherwise—and has unquestionably decided that the benefits of acquiring nuclear weapons are worth it. We know this because Iran has borne these costs even while making significant strides toward building nuclear weapons.

Clapper himself writes: “Iran’s technical advancement, particularly in uranium enrichment, strengthens our assessment that Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons, making the central issue its political will to do so. These advancements contribute to our judgment that Iran is technically capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium for a weapon, if it so chooses.”

Iran’s rulers, therefore, have acquired the “capacity” to make nuclear weapons. The U.S. intelligence community is simply hoping that there is one last imaginary line for them to cross before they do so.

(Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.)

THE U.S.-ISRAELI TRUST GAP ON IRAN
Editorial

Washington Post, February 14, 2012

Two months ago we questioned a decision by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to spell out publicly his objections to an Israeli military strike against Iran’s nuclear program—a speech that must have cheered the commanders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Now Mr. Panetta has indirectly caused a similar stir: After a conversation with Mr. Panetta this month, The [Washington] Post’s David Ignatius reported that the Pentagon chief “believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June.”

What could explain this public undercutting of one of America’s closest allies? The unfortunate answer seems to be a lack of strategic agreement or basic trust between the Obama administration and the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu. A senior U.S. intelligence official recently said that Israel has grown reticent about discussing a possible attack on Iran and had declined to offer an assurance that it would consult Washington before acting. That leaves the administration facing the possibility that it will be presented with an Israeli-Iranian conflict that could expand to encompass U.S. forces and allies in the Persian Gulf.…

While the Obama administration suggests that only a clear Iranian attempt to produce a nuclear weapon would justify military intervention, Israel believes that Iran’s acquisition of the capacity to do so—achieving the status of a threshold nuclear power, like India and Pakistan before 1997—would also be intolerable. That’s understandable for a country within missile range of a regime that has called for the extinction of the Jewish state.…

Israeli commanders judge that in a few months, once Iran has fully prepared a new nuclear facility located under a mountain, Israel’s capacity to disable the program with air strikes will be greatly reduced. The United States would retain a military window of opportunity for longer. But can the Netanyahu government count on the Obama administration to act if a moment of truth arrives?

For now, several top Israeli officials are skeptical. That is where Mr. Panetta and Mr. Obama should be making an effort. Rather than publicly arguing with Israel, they should be more clearly spelling out U.S. willingness to take military action [against] Iran.… Saying “all options are on the table” is not enough; the Obama administration should be explicit about Iranian actions that will violate its red lines—and what the consequences will be.

ON IRAN, A STARK CHOICE
Benny Morris

LA Times, February 14, 2012

Most people in the Arab world, according to opinion polls, believe that the Holocaust never happened, that it’s a Jewish invention and trick to win the world’s sympathy and support. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran is similarly minded; he has said so countless times.

In the West, speaking of the Holocaust, most leaders and commentators concede that it did, indeed, occur. But, privately and sometimes publicly, some tell the Israelis: “Get over it.” They mean that the murder of 6 million Jews during World War II should not dominate, or perhaps even strongly influence, Israel’s policies today.

But is this reasonable or even moral? Should Israel set aside the memory and reality of what happened to its people, and conduct its life as a nation as if nothing happened?

The fact is that Israel’s leaders, reflecting Israeli public opinion, take very seriously Iran’s oft-repeated threat to create a second Holocaust, to wipe the Jewish state—”the Zionist entity” or “Zionist regime,” as the Iranians call it—off the map. They take equally seriously Iran’s nuclear program.… Israelis, at least those who don’t bury their heads in the sand, believe that if the Iranians get nuclear weapons they will, in the end, use them—or at a minimum, cannot be relied on not to use them—and that Israel’s very existence is at stake.

After years of Israeli cajoling and blandishments, the United States and the European community have at last started to impose serious sanctions against Tehran, targeting its oil industries and central bank. But the sanctions have come too late—and, besides, many in the international community, meaning Russia, China, India, Turkey, the Arab states and some other countries, are not on board or are actively subverting these sanctions, rendering them ultimately ineffective. The Iranians have said as much: They will not abandon their nuclear program, even if the sanctions bite into their citizens’ living standards.…

Yet America’s and Europe’s leaders tell Israel: Wait, give the sanctions time.

But time has almost run out. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has publicly stated that Iran…could have the bomb within a year.… And perhaps Panetta is wrong—perhaps there is less time than he thinks. Or, as Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak put it earlier this month, those who advise Israel to wait till later may end up discovering that “later is too late.”

The choice is clear and stark. Either Iran, led by fanatical, brutal and millenarian leaders, will get the bomb, or it will be prevented from doing so by military assault on its nuclear installations, by America or Israel. If the Americans, who have the capability to do a thorough job, don’t do it…then the Israelis, with their more limited capabilities, will have to. How Washington, which has repeatedly and more or less publicly vetoed the idea, would react to an Israeli strike deeply worries policymakers in Jerusalem. But it worries them far less than a nuclear-weaponized Iran.…

The Israelis may have the capability, using conventional weapons, only to delay the Iranian nuclear program and only by a few years. But any delay is good; perhaps the international community…will wake up to the danger of a nuclear Iran and take effective measures to halt the Iranian nuclear weapons program definitively.…

FROM BUCHAREST KRISTALLNACHT TO TEHRAN’S NUCLEAR TERRORISM—AS ISRAEL FACES GENOCIDE, WILL OBAMA ACT?

THE BUCHAREST KRISTALLNACHT ATTROCITIES
21-23 JANUARY, 1941
Baruch Cohen

In memory of beloved Malca z’l

 

The persecution and the fascist terror directed against the Jewish population within the borders of Romania were just as violent and destructive as those in other countries under Nazi domination or influence.… Romanian fascism has its own original methods for the extermination of Jews.”—Victor Eskenazy, The Tragedy of Romanian Jewry (Columbia University Press, N.Y., 1994.), p. 177.

 

In hindsight, Bucharest’s Kristallnacht was not merely  a tragic, horrific event—it was also a harbinger of the horrors to come. The ensuing violence and crimes perpetrated against the Jews remain with me to this very day.

 

Remember! Zahor!

 

Too often, historians ignore Romania’s involvement in the Nazi-led Holocaust—we are told that the Germans were the sole perpetrators of the Jewish genocide. This erroneous view is changing, however, as the true history of the Holocaust is increasingly exposed, and Romanians become more familiar with their active participation in it.

 

“The fascist terror and persecutions exerted on the Jewish people within the boundaries of Romania were as violent and destructive as they were in all other countries under Nazi domination.… In three days—January 21-23, 1941—over one hundred and thirty Jews were brutally murdered.”—Matatias Carp, The Black Book—Cartea Neagra (Biogene Publishing, 1946 [rept. 1966.]), p. 263

 

Dr. Emil Dorian, a witness like myself, recalls the Romanian Kristallnacht in his book, The Quality of Witness: A Romanian Diary (The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1982): “What happened in Vacaresti Dudesh (Jewish populated areas) and surrounding areas remains indescribable. Suffice is to list the destruction, the looting and the bestial crimes. But even that is impossible. The fury of the looters has not spared anybody anything. The great and beautiful Sephardic synagogue has been completely destroyed. The list of beaten and tortured people is endless.” (pp. 138-139.)

 

In his book, The Holocaust in Romania: The Destruction of Jews and Gypsies Under Antonescu’s Regime, 1940-1944 (Chicago, Loan R. Dee and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2000), Radu Ioanid writes: “Most of the murders during the three days took place in Jilava forest, the rest at the slaughter house at the intersection of the roads of Fendari and Pantelimon, in Bucharesti Noui, and streets and houses of various residential districts. They drove the Jews in the basements up to the attic under a rain of blows with truncheons and iron bars.” (pp. 57-58.)

 

“Other [Iron Guard] legionaries trucked the second group of more than 90 Jews via Giurgiu Road to Jilava forest [where, on January 25, 1941, I went to search for my missing father—he was not there! Helped by a righteous gentile, he only came out of hiding two days later.—Baruch Cohen]. At Jilava, the Jews were most of them shot, generally one to three times, mainly in the head. After which, the murderers stole gold, teeth, clothes and shoes from the sixty-six corpses that they left under the trees.” (Radu Ioanid)

 

The Chief Rabbi of Romania at the time, Dr. Alexander Safran, recalled in his memoirs: “During these days, the Iron Guard also occupied the beautiful Malbim synagogue and tortured and killed.”

 

I was 21 years old. I was there. I will never forget those days and nights! I was there!

Zahor! Remember!

 

In hindsight, Bucharest’s Kristallnacht was not merely a tragic, horrific event—it was a prelude of horrors to come. The horrors are with me to this very day! Zahor! Yes, I remember Jewish corpses simply dumped in the street. Corpses were hung in the Bucharest abattoir from meat-hooks.

 

Today’s anti-Semitism—hatred against the Jewish people and the Jewish state of Israel—requires all Jews to form a unified front to ensure that Never Again will there be a “Night of Broken Glass.” The murder of Jews must never, ever occur again!

 

Am Yisrael Chai! The Jewish People Lives!

 

(Baruch Cohen is Research Chairman for the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.)

 

PLANNING GENOCIDE IN PLAIN SIGHT
Lawrence Kadish

NY Post, January 20, 2012

When a group of high-ranking Nazi bureaucrats sat down 70 years ago (Jan. 20, 1942), they didn’t plot the death of 6 million Jews; they aimed at 11 million.

Dubbed the Wannsee Conference, after its location, it was chaired by SS Obergruppenfuhrer Reinhard Heydrich, who brought together some of the most efficient managers of mass murder history has ever seen. The 90-minute agenda was direct, having been transmitted by Hitler to his deputy, Reich Marshal Herman Goering, and then on to Heydrich: “Make all necessary preparations” for a “total solution of the Jewish question” in all territories under German influence, coordinate the role of all government organizations in accomplishing that goal—and then submit a “comprehensive draft” for the “final solution of the Jewish question.”

In other words, for the first time, the administrative, industrial and transportation resources of an entire nation would be deployed for the purpose of genocide.

While history records that a staggering 6 million Jews would ultimately be destroyed as a result, one of the more chilling documents retrieved from the massive archives of the Nazi regime is a simple list of all European nations with Jewish populations as small as 200. Prepared for the Wannsee meeting by Heydrich’s notorious SS assistant, Adolf Eichmann, it assumed that at some point soon the Nazis would control countries from Ireland to Turkey.

The genocidal census was designed to anticipate the organizational structure required to retrieve and ship those 11 million Jews to the Nazi murder factories, regardless of how distant they were from Auschwitz or Treblinka. The Wannsee conferees met to ensure that all participants would meet their quotas (under Heydrich’s centralized authority) to complete “the final solution.”

It would take untold blood, treasure and sacrifice from the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union to bring the Third Reich to an end. Seventy years later, the ruthless, brutal and unrelenting struggle against one of the darkest regimes ever to plague mankind serves as an eternal reminder that there remain forces that would destroy humanity.

Much the way the Nazis assigned their strategic national assets to the destruction of a people, the rulers of Iran are focusing their considerable national resources on creating and fielding nuclear weapons. They do so while publicly embracing time and again a foreign policy that calls for literally wiping Israel off the map.…

On this grim 70th anniversary of Wannsee, let us contemplate how a disbelieving world can stand idly by as evil regimes coolly harness their bureaucracies to methodically achieve horrendous goals. Whatever the double speak (as the Wannsee crowd used the phrase “final solution” to mask its program of mass extermination), the outcome is clear to all who wish to see it. Had they been invited, the Iranian regime…would have been [an] enthusiastic participant in the Wannsee Conference.…

History consistently reminds us that indifference in the face of an implacable enemy invariably leads to disaster. Further, more often than not, our enemies tell us exactly what they mean to do before they do it. Acting on their warning requires our collective insight, personal courage and national will.

THE MORTAL THREAT FROM IRAN
Mark Helprin

Wall Street Journal, January 18, 2012

To assume that Iran will not close the Strait of Hormuz is to assume that primitive religious fanatics will perform cost-benefit analyses the way they are done at Wharton. They won’t, especially if the oil that is their life’s blood is threatened. If Iran does close the strait, we will fight an air and naval war derivative of and yet peripheral to the Iranian nuclear program, a mortal threat the president of the United States has inadequately addressed. A mortal threat when Iran is not yet in possession of a nuclear arsenal? Yes, because immediately upon possession all remedies are severely restricted.…

In the absence of measures beyond pinpoint sanctions and unenforceable resolutions, Iran will get nuclear weapons, which in its eyes are an existential necessity. We have long known and done nothing about this, preferring to dance with the absurd Iranian claim that it is seeking electricity. With rampant inflation and unemployment, a housing crisis, and gasoline rationing, why spend $1,000-$2,000 per kilowatt to build nuclear plants instead of $400-$800 for gas, when you possess the second largest gas reserves in the world? In 2005, Iran consumed 3.6 trillion cubic feet of its 974 trillion cubic feet of proven reserves, which are enough to last 270 years.…

Accommodationists argue that a rational Iran can be contained. Not the Iran with a revered tradition of deception; that during its war with Iraq pushed 100,000 young children to their deaths clearing minefields; that counts 15% of its population as “Volunteer Martyrs”; that chants “Death to America” at each session of parliament; and whose president states that no art “is more beautiful…than the art of the martyr’s death.” Not the Iran in thrall to medieval norms and suffering continual tension and crises.…

Inexpert experts will state that Iran cannot strike with nuclear weapons. But let us count the ways. It has the aerial tankerage to sustain one or two planes that might slip past air defenses between it and Israel, Europe, or the U.S., combining radar signatures with those of cleared commercial flights. As Iran increases its ballistic missile ranges and we strangle our missile defenses, America will face a potential launch from Iranian territory. Iran can [also] sea-launch from off our coasts.… And if in 2007, for example, 1,100 metric tons of cocaine were smuggled from South America without interdiction, we cannot dismiss the possibility of Iranian nuclear charges of 500 pounds or less ending up in Manhattan or on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The probabilities of the above are subject to the grave multiplication of nuclear weapons.… Cost drastically changes the nature of risk, although we persist in ignoring this. Assuming that we are a people worthy of defending ourselves, what can be done? Much easier before Iran recently began to burrow into bedrock, it is still possible for the U.S., and even Israel at greater peril, to halt the Iranian nuclear program for years to come. Massive ordnance penetrators; lesser but precision-guided penetrators “drilling” one after another; fuel-air detonations with almost the force of nuclear weapons; high-power microwave attack; the destruction of laboratories, unhardened targets, and the Iranian electrical grid; and other means, can be combined to great effect.

Unlike North Korea, Iran does not yet possess nuclear weapons, does not have the potential of overwhelming an American ally, and is not of sufficient concern to Russia and China, its lukewarm patrons, for them to war on its behalf.…

It is true that Iranian proxies would attempt to exact a price in terror world-wide, but this is not new, we would brace for the reprisals, and although they would peak, they would then subside. The cost would be far less than that of permitting the power of nuclear destruction to a vengeful, martyrdom-obsessed state in the midst of a never-subsiding fury against the West.

Any president of the United States fit for the office should someday, soon, say to the American people that in his judgment Iran—because of its longstanding and implacable push for nuclear weapons, its express hostility to the U.S., Israel and the West, and its record of barbarity and terror—must be deprived of the capacity to wound this country and its allies such as they have never been wounded before.…

He should order the armed forces of the United States to attack and destroy the Iranian nuclear weapons complex. When they have complied, and our pilots are in the air on their way home, they will have protected our children in their beds—and our children’s children, many years from now, in theirs. May this country always have clear enough sight and strong enough will to stand for itself in the face of mortal threat, and in time.

OBAMA: IRAN HAS NUCLEAR RIGHTS;
I DID NOT WANT TO SANCTION ITS BANK

Reza Kahlili
Pajamas Media, January 23, 2012

The threat by the Islamic regime in Iran to close down the Strait of Hormuz and of Revolutionary Guards Navy boats harassing U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf has caused President Obama to send secret messages to the regime stating his concerns over the closure of the strait and the possibility of an accidental war.

Since then, Iranian officials have been revealing the contents of President Obama’s letter to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which indicates a deep desire by the U.S. president for a dialogue with the radical leaders of Iran. However, on Saturday, Iranian officials also claimed that an oral message by Obama delivered through the Swiss ambassador in Tehran is even more revealing than the letter delivered to the Iranian supreme leader.

According to Fars News Agency, which is close to the Revolutionary Guards, Hossein Ebrahimi, the vice chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, alleged that in a meeting between Swiss Ambassador Livia Leu Agosti and Iranian Foreign Ministry officials, Agosti informed the Iranian officials that Obama recognizes Iran’s right of access to and use of nuclear technology. Ebarhimi also disclosed another important point that the Swiss diplomat delivered: Obama said that “I didn’t want to impose sanctions on your central bank, but I had no options but to approve it since a Congress majority had approved the decision.”

Last month, the Obama administration pressed key Democrats on the defense bill conference committee to get their colleagues to water down the strong sanctions language against Iran, which passed the Senate by a 100-0 vote as part of the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill. The administration, threatening a veto, managed to delay the implementation of sanctions and penalties from 60 to 180 days in the final draft, also allowing the president to waive those penalties for national security reasons or if it would harm the global economy.

President Obama [nonetheless] boasted [last] Thursday that U.S.-led sanctions had reduced Iran’s economy to a “shambles,” defending his policy towards Iran following sharp Republican attacks.…

Ebrahimi for the first time [has] disclosed the contents of Obama’s letter in which the U.S. president had mentioned that cooperation and negotiation are based on the mutual interests of the two countries, and assured Iran that America will not take any action against the Islamic regime. This is not the first letter sent to the leaders of Iran by Obama, Ebrahimi said. “He has repeatedly spoken in a soft tone about the Islamic Republic of Iran.…”

(Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.)

IT’S TIME TO LIST IRAN’S
REVOLUTIONARY GUARD AS TERRORISTS
Irwin Cotler

National Post, January 21, 2012

Iran’s Supreme Court has now confirmed the death sentence of Iranian-born web programmer Saeed Malekpour, a Canadian permanent resident. Malekpour was convicted of “crimes against Islam” and “spreading corruption on Earth”—which have emerged as classic trumped-up charges in the Iranian pattern of the criminalization of innocence. For supposedly creating pornography websites in Iran, Malekpour is set to receive the death penalty.

Malekpour maintains his innocence, insisting that image-uploading software he developed as a web programmer was used by an illicit site without his knowledge or consent. The international community spoke out against his death sentence when it was first handed down, and Iran moved to suspend it; however, with the escalation of rhetoric between the West and Iran —and the case disappearing from the radar screen—Malekpour [first arrested in 2008] is back on death row.…

Writing from prison, Malekpour says his initial confession to the charge had been “extracted under pressure, physical and psychological torture” as well as threats.… He described his detention in similarly horrific terms: “While I remained blindfolded and handcuffed, several individuals armed with cables, batons, and their fists struck and punched me. At times, they would flog my head and neck.”

It should be known that Iran has been on an execution binge. This past December, Amnesty International reported on the escalation of Iranian executions, even by wonton Iranian standards. Six hundred people were put to death between the beginning of 2011 and November alone.…

According to Malekpour’s family, the death sentence was reinstated under pressure from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).… The IRGC plays a central role in Iran’s domestic repression, international terrorism, incitement to genocide, and nuclear proliferation.… The IRGC is responsible for the murder of political dissidents both inside and outside of Iran.

This case should serve as the wake-up call that the Canadian government needs to sanction the IRGC and list it as a terrorist entity.…

(Irwin Cotler is the Member of Parliament for Mount Royal
and the former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.
)

IRAN’S BOMB NO LONGER HYPOTHETICAL: FOR ISRAEL, THERE’S NO MARGIN OF ERROR

IRAN’S ATOMIC COUNTDOWN

Peter Brookes
NY Post, September 14, 2011

Can anyone give me some good news on how the Obama administration’s doing (after 2 1/2 years) on preventing the Islamic Republic of Iran from developing nuclear weapons and the ballistic missiles that’ll carry them?

Didn’t think so.

The latest news suggests that, despite all the bloviating, finger-wagging and sloppy United Nations sanctions, there doesn’t seem to be much—if anything—holding back the ayatollahs’ atomic aspirations.

The always-cautious-and-slow-to-accuse International Atomic Energy Agency has come out with some startling info about Iran’s nuclear know-how recently: Iran is installing a new generation of centrifuges at its facility at Natanz, equipment that reportedly will allow Tehran to enrich uranium three times faster. Plus, Iran is outfitting its newnuclear facility at Qom with newcentrifuges—which experts believe will permit it to furtherincrease uranium-enrichment levels far beyond what’s needed for peaceful nuclear-reactor fuel.

The “fissile fortress” at Qom—located on a Revolutionary Guard base and securely tucked into the side of a mountain—is pretty clearly meant to produce the highly enriched uranium needed for the making of Iran’s first bombs.

It’s been estimated Iran already has enough low-enriched uranium on hand to produce enough highly enriched uranium for two to three bombs in relatively short order. And the IAEA…has “increasing concern” that Iran’s peaceful nuclear program has a military angle. That is, the IAEA fears Tehran is working on a nuke warhead to put that uranium in.

Courtesy of Russia, Iran’s first nuclear plant is also online now.… Tehran claims the Bushehr reactor is for power only, but many see a second use for the facility. At some point, the 1,000-megawatt nuclear plant—perhaps the first of many—could help Iran build a plutonium-based bomb, quickly pumping up the muscle of a nuclear arsenal.

Meanwhile, Tehran’s burgeoning ballistic-missile program is building the capacity to deliver those nuclear payloads. A number of countries, including [the US], claim Iran is violating a ban on its missile activities. UN Security Council Resolution 1929 bars Tehran from “any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology.” Iran has been as busy as a beaver with its satellite program, which allows it to develop—under cover of a seemingly-innocent civilian space program—the same missile technology needed for long-range military missiles.

From all accounts, the various pieces for a nuclear Iran are rapidly falling into place, should the regime decide to cross the atomic threshold: sufficient fissile material, a warhead to put it in and a vehicle to deliver it to a target. And all of this atop other recent troubling tales, such as word that Tehran is facilitating al Qaeda operations, including the movement of operatives, money and (probably) arms into Pakistan and Afghanistan. Not to mention its…political and social repression at home; meddling in Egypt and Bahrain; supporting Syria’s bloody crackdown—and its arming of the Taliban and anti-US militias in Iraq.

Bottom line, there’s nogood news regarding Iran. The situation is getting worse on a number of fronts, especially concerning the mullahs’ drive to build an arsenal of nuclear missiles. It should be plain to even the most casual observer that what we’re doing isn’t moving us in a direction of increased security, but the exact opposite. We need a new game plan for Iran now, Mr. President—before it’s too late.

(Peter Brookes is a Heritage Foundation senior fellow
and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense.)

NO MORE HYPOTHETICALS:
IRAN ALREADY IS A NUCLEAR STATE

Greg Jones

New Republic, September 9, 2011

The question of Tehran’s status as nuclear power is a genuine matter of concern for international policymakers, but they have become far too accustomed to treating it as a perpetual hypothetical. The assumption has always been that Iran would never get a nuclear weapon, because the West would have enough advance warning to prevent that from happening, whether by means of diplomacy or force.

Unfortunately, the time for hypotheticals has passed. Given the latest advances in Iran’s enrichment program, and the weaknesses of the international community’s existing monitoring, we must reckon with the fact that we likely won’t have time to preempt Tehran’s efforts to build a nuclear bomb. The international community has no choice but to already treat the Islamic Republic as a de facto nuclear state.…

Indeed, it’s indisputable that Iran already has sufficient infrastructure in place to make highly enriched uranium (HEU). Iran would not even need to expand the centrifuge enrichment facilities it has used to make low and medium enriched uranium. It could simply continue the process and produce HEU using its existing centrifuges by a method known as “batch recycling”.

Given Iran’s current enrichment capacity and its current stockpile of low and medium enriched uranium—information acquired through inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)—I estimate that Iran can produce enough HEU for a nuclear weapon in about eight weeks from the time it decided to do so. That timeframe will shrink to only about four weeks by the end of next year, as Iran’s enriched uranium stockpiles and enrichment capacity continue to increase.…

It’s important to note that we can not reliably depend on the IAEA to warn us of Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon. As much as the IAEA claims that its safeguards are intended to provide “timely detection of the diversion” of nuclear material sufficient to produce a nuclear weapon, they are not designed with nearly enough immediacy given the current state of nuclear enrichment science. HEU can now easily be converted into a nuclear weapon within a week’s time—a period that renders IAEA safeguards entirely toothless, as it’s hardly enough for “timely” warning to be delivered and effective measures to be developed to prevent a bomb’s manufacture.…

That’s not to say that…Iran [will] divert nuclear material from IAEA safeguards anytime soon. After all, why should it? It can continue to move ever closer to the HEU required for a nuclear weapon with the blessing of the IAEA. Iran would only need to divert nuclear material from safeguards when it would want to test or use a nuclear weapon. Recall that the U.S. was unable to certify that Pakistan did not have nuclear weapons in 1990, but it was only in 1998 that it actually tested a bomb.…

We should accept that Iran already represents a…nonproliferation policy failure.… Sanctions on Iran and sternly worded U.N. Security Council resolutions have not slowed, let alone stopped Iran’s enrichment effort. Nor does there appear to be any realistic military options to stop Iran.…

As a nonproliferation failure, it is not, of course, the first of its kind, resembling as it does the failures that allowed Pakistan and North Korea to ascend to the status of nuclear powers. But the fact that it is not unprecedented does not diminish the risks involved. As the United States’ policies towards Pakistan and North Korea illustrate, now that Iran is a de facto nuclear weapon state, there is little that can be done except to hope that these countries can maintain control over their nuclear weapons. The costs we face if something goes wrong—a nuclear detonation in cities such as Tel Aviv or New York—are horrific, even unimaginable. But one thing that’s already clear is that naive optimism doesn’t do us any good.

(Greg Jones is a defense analyst and a senior researcher
at
The Nonproliferation Policy Education Center in Arlington, VA.)

ISRAEL HAS NO MARGIN FOR ERROR WHEN IT COMES TO IRAN

National Post, September 3, 2011

The following is excerpted from Hirsh Goodman’s
The Anatomy Of Israel’s Survival

Of all the existential threats Israel faces…common wisdom has it that Iran is at the top of the list. Iran is maniacally dedicated to Israel’s destruction, and says so on every occasion, in every language, and at every opportunity. By now even the parrots in the Tehran zoo can repeat the mantras of hatred calling for Israel to be wiped off the map, its people sent back to Poland, Palestine liberated, for the cancer to be removed from Arabia, and the West’s agent of evil, Israel, crushed and expelled.

Not since Hitler have the Jewish people theoretically faced such a threat. Half of the world’s Jewish population currently lives in Israel. Now, like then, the Jews actually have very little to do with the problem, but provide a convenient whipping boy for the Iranian regime and its aspirations of regional hegemony and control of the Gulf. Israel has no unavoidable disputes with Iran once you get past its right to exist—no common borders or contested resources. The two countries’ armies have never clashed. Yet it is ostensibly because of Israel that Iran is rushing to attain nuclear weapons and expending considerable amounts on missile and satellite programs, among the other weapons it is amassing for its day in the field with the Jewish state. Or so Tehran says.

A nuclear Iran, it is now recognized, is not Israel’s problem alone. It possesses missiles that bring the Gulf states, Egypt, Turkey, Europe and Russia all within reach. A nuclear Iran would be transformative, a country not easily gone to war against, and one that will have considerably more power on the regional stage. And if Iran goes nuclear, it is almost certain that Turkey and Egypt will accelerate their own programs and Saudi Arabia would buy an off-the-shelf bomb from Pakistan. Libya agreed to dismantle its nuclear program in December 2003. The international crisis that broke out with Colonel Gaddafi’s regime in March 2011 would have looked very different had Gaddafi had the bomb.

A nuclear Middle East is in no one’s interest; therefore, opposition to the prospect is wide. The United States, China and Russia have imposed sanctions on Iran in the hope of impeding the bomb. Israel and Saudi Arabia find themselves on the same side of the fence.

But Iran is Israel’s problem most of all. No other country is existentially threatened by Iran, in a position to suffer irreparable damage if attacked with nuclear weapons. Those imposing sanctions and locked in diplomacy to try to resolve the problem are involved in global power play, not a life-and-death situation. Iran is not calling for the destruction of Turkey or Saudi Arabia, and if America, China or Russia loses the game, as they indeed might, it is not their heads that will be on the chopping block.

For Israel, there is no margin for error. Over 70% of Israel’s population, one-third of all the Jews in the world, and its ports, airports, refining capacities and industry are located along the coastal plain, 161 miles long from north to south and some 10 miles deep, about the size of an average game park in Africa. I took a helicopter ride recently, taking off from the Herzliah airfield just north of Tel Aviv. Hardly 600 feet in the air and you see it all in the palm of your hand, from Ashkelon shimmering in the south to the Haifa bay and Acre in the north, the cities of Holon, Rehovot, Nes Tsiona, Petah Tikva, Netanya, Ramat Gan, Kfar Saba, all packed together like eggs in one basket. Along the coast are the chimneys of power stations and desalination plants, ports and tourist areas. The highways to either side are packed with afternoon traffic and the new office and residential towers that have sprouted up between Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan, glowing in the sunset. In one glance you can see five of the country’s major universities, all of its ports, its major international airport, highways, railways, and the centre of its business life. I remember the pictures from Hiroshima and Nagasaki and think of what happened there. Imagine the devastation of a bomb five, 10, 100 times more powerful in an area as dense as this one…would be, to use a phrase attributed to Moshe Dayan, “the destruction of the Third Temple.” Everything would be lost. There would be no second chance.

The Iranians know this; hence the temptation, the dream, that it could be done, even knowing that Iran would suffer terribly as a result. But with a population 10 times that of Israel and a country 75 times as large, Iran reckons that no matter how harsh the punishment meted out in return for attacking Israel, it would be mauled, not killed. In this context, none of the symmetry and deterrence that kept the Cold War cold applies.… Iran’s regime is based on brute power; its calculations cannot be put into a rational context. From Israel’s point of view, they must be taken at their word. To do otherwise would be to invite catastrophe.…

COLUMBIA STUDENTS VS. AHMADINEJAD

Arnold Ahlert
FrontPage, September 23, 2011

On September 10th, an article was published in the Columbia Spectator, Columbia University’s student newspaper, announcing that 15 members of the Columbia International Relations Council and Association (CIRCA) would be attending a private dinner with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It was supposed to take place on September 21st, while the Iranian despot was in New York to deliver a speech before the United Nations General Assembly. CIRCA vice president of academics, Tim Chan…noted that the prospect was well received by group members. “Everyone was really enthusiastic,” Chan said. “They’re thrilled to have this opportunity.” Other Columbia students, notably Jacob Snider, David Fine, Eric Shapiro, and Sam Schube, were far less enthusiastic. They mobilized against the event, and after Iran’s mission to the United Nations rescinded the invitation to CIRCA due to the adverse publicity, the group held a rally protesting the Iranian tyrant anyway.

“A group of like-minded friends and I decided to initially protest a private off-the-record dinner between [CIRCA students] and Ahmadinejad,” explained rally organizer Jacob Snider.… After reading the news of the dinner in the Spectator, [Snider] was compelled to act: “I sat with [the news] for a couple of hours.… I was walking on campus and looking around, and I saw people having normal conversations, and it just wasn’t sitting well with me.…”

Snider then contacted his friend David Fine.… “I called and asked him if he’d heard about the dinner. He said yes and thought it was ridiculous, but he didn’t know what was going on or what to do about it. I said ‘consider me your ally and let’s do something together.…’ We used the power we had at our disposal and did something.” That something turned into a rally in which the original name, “Just Say No To Ahma(dinner)jad” gave way to “Just Say No to Ahmadinejad.…”

Fox Newsoriginally reported that Columbia president Lee Bollinger would attend the dinner and that the university itself had sponsored it. This apparently was not the case, but the news prompted the Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center in Tel Aviv to send a letter to Bollinger condemning the invitation and threatening legal action. “Hosting Ahmadinejad at a banquet is not merely morally repulsive: it is illegal and likely to render Columbia University and its officers both criminally and civilly liable,” said the letter from the center.…

In 2007, Bollinger had in fact invited the Iranian president to speak at the university, despite much controversy. “It should never be thought that merely to listen to ideas we deplore in any way implies our endorsement of those ideas, or the weakness of our resolve to resist those ideas, or our naiveté about the very real dangers inherent in such ideas,” Bollinger said at the time. “It is a critical premise of freedom of speech that we do not honor the dishonorable when we open the public forum to their voices. To hold otherwise would make vigorous debate impossible.”

And while Bollinger was critical of Ahmadinejad in his opening remarks, calling him a “reprehensible and dangerous figure who presides over a repressive regime,” there were times during the speech when Columbia students applauded the Holocaust-denying Iranian president. Reflecting on the 2007 event, Snider conceded that there was a “distinct difference between an open forum, or a public sighting or speaking, versus a private dinner.… You have dinner with family and friends. You don’t have dinner with hated world leaders and people who commit crimes against their own citizens.”

When the CIRCA invitation was revoked, the group of protesters decided that this was not the time to abandon the campaign. “Once we realized the dinner had been canceled, we moved to continue the rally under the premise of a more general protest of the human rights violations that take place every day in Iran—perpetrated by Ahmadinejad,” said Snider.…

Those attending the rally heard from former Iranian political prisoner Shirin Nariman, who addressed the crowd that had gathered in front of East Campus. “When I was 17, I had a 13-year-old friend who was arrested and killed,” she said. “This is the oppressive Iranian regime, and we need to reject such a regime and their representatives, which is Ahmadinejad.” She then honed in her opposition on the dinner and the focal point of the rally. “It’s morally wrong. It shouldn’t be done,” Nariman said. “Many people were killed for a dictator to come to power. Is this what Columbia wants to associate with?…”

Jacob Snider was proud of what he and his fellow organizers accomplished.… Noting the reality of student apathy, Snider was moved by the recognition and the knowledge that other students had been reached by the group’s message. He concluded: “I think it’s good for the spirit of saying what you believe.… We wanted to put our beliefs into action, not just go back to class and “say yeah, well.…”

Indeed. The success of this counter-campaign demonstrates that a few courageous voices, who make the effort to be heard, can become a powerful tool for truth.

IRAN MARCHES ON… AND AROUND THE CORNER AWAITS THE BOMB

 

 

 

IRAN NUCLEAR PROGRESS REPORT
Editorial

Wall Street Journal, June 11, 2011

 

For six months, global attention has fixed on the historic upheavals roiling the Arab world from Tunisia to Bahrain. But the biggest Middle Eastern story continues to be the steady progress Tehran has made toward acquiring the components of a deliverable nuclear weapon. The most recent news is disquieting, to say the least.

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency “de-restricted” its most recent report on Iran’s nuclear progress. Despite hopes that the 2009 Stuxnet computer virus had slowed or even crippled Tehran’s efforts, the IAEA reports that in the last six months Tehran had enriched some 970 kilos of uranium to reactor-grade levels, or LEU, bringing its total stockpile of LEU to 4,105 kilos.

Iran has also enriched 56.7 kilos of uranium to a 20% level, ostensibly to produce medical isotopes but bringing it measurably closer to the 90% level needed for a bomb. Iran also announced that it will begin installing a more efficient type of centrifuge to enrich uranium at its once-secret facility near the city of Qom.

The IAEA devoted considerable space to what it calls the “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear program, noting that “there are indications that certain [undisclosed nuclear-related activities] may have continued beyond 2004.” This further discredits the flawed and politicized 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate that suggested Iran had halted its nuclear weaponization efforts after 2003. The authors of that estimate, which undermined Western efforts to stop Iran, have a lot to answer for.

Iran’s suspected activities, says the IAEA, include “producing uranium metal…into components relevant to a nuclear device”; “multipoint explosive initiation and hemispherical detonation studies”; and “missile re-entry vehicle redesign activities for a new payload assessed as being nuclear in nature.”

Perhaps there’s an innocent explanation for all this, like Iran wanting to achieve technological independence in the manufacture of a new generation of refrigerators. And there will always be credulous Western reporters who will take Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s word that Iran’s intentions are peaceful.

We wonder what those reporters think of an article that appeared in April on the website of the regime’s Revolutionary Guards Corps and talks openly about the prospect of an Iranian nuclear test—a break from the usual Iranian policy of denying any interest in a bomb. “The day after [the] Islamic Republic of Iran’s first nuclear test will be an ordinary day for us Iranians but in the eyes of some of us there will be a new sparkle,” reads the article. The author goes on to imagine that “the strength of the explosion was not so great as to cause severe damage to the region nor so weak that Iranian scientists face any problems running their test.”

The day of that test may not be far off. In an analysis this month for the Non-proliferation Policy Education Center, Rand scholar Gregory S. Jones writes that even in the absence of a clandestine nuclear program, “Iran can now produce a weapon’s worth (20 kilograms) of HEU [weapons-grade uranium] any time it wishes. With Iran’s current number of operating centrifuges, the batch recycling process would take about two months.”

Rand later issued a press release saying that Mr. Jones’s analysis was not an official Rand study, which suggests to us how reluctant members of America’s foreign policy elite are to hear the truth about Iran’s ambitions. If we admit the danger, then we might have to do something about it before Iran becomes a nuclear power.

The Obama Administration has begun to take the nuclear threat from Iran more seriously after squandering a year in the fruitless pursuit of a negotiated settlement. The Administration also seems to have gotten wise to Iran’s efforts to shape this Arab Spring to its own purposes, not least by backing the Assad regime in its repression of Syrians and providing support to radicals in Lebanon, Gaza and elsewhere.

Yet so far, neither American nor U.N. sanctions have been much of a brake on the mullahs’ nuclear pursuits. If President Obama is serious when he says a nuclear Iran is “unacceptable,” he’ll need to do more than arrange another round of sanctions and wag a stern finger at a regime that’s grown emboldened by the perception of American weakness.

 

RAND CORP: IRAN 8 WEEKS FROM THE BOMB
James Lewis

American Thinker, June 8, 2011

 

According to a RAND report, the United States and the world have blown the chance to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon. Half a year ago, U.S. air strikes and a no-fly zone might have prevented a nuclear bomb in the hands of the martyrdom ideology of Khomeinist Iran. That window has now slammed shut. In about 8 weeks, the RAND report concludes, Iran will have the nuclear material for its first bomb.

RAND Corporation’s Gregory S. Jones believes that Iran has produced almost 40 kilograms of uranium enriched near 20% percent. Jones suggests that air strikes can no longer stop Ahmadinejad’s rush to nuclear weapons. It appears that the Obama administration knowingly allowed the optimal window of opportunity against Iranian nuclear weapons to pass. As a result, the world has suddenly become immensely more dangerous.

The slogan “Death to Israel! Death to America!” has been chanted on a daily basis by mass meetings in Iran. It is sheer wishful thinking to believe that after 30 years of daily threats they don’t really mean it. The Obama Administration either believes there is no looming nuclear threat, or that it’s willing to live with it.…

Thirty years after Jimmy Carter allowed Iran to be conquered by the Ayatollah Khomeini, a proponent of martyrdom war to spread Shiite Islam, Iran has the means to strike countries it has threatened directly, including Saudi Arabia and Israel. Iran’s ballistic missile program, with major North Korean help, may be able to reach the United States by 2015. ICBMs only require a flight time of about half an hour.

It is likely that Saudi Arabia and possibly Egypt will import their own nuclear weapons from Pakistan, which is now rushing to build an advanced plant for uranium production. An American nuclear scientist who visited a North Korean centrifuge plant recently reported that the plant he saw was so advanced it could only have been built with Chinese help. North Korea therefore seems to have been working as a Chinese proxy to promote worldwide proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Iran is dominated by a martyrdom ideology. Ahmadinejad was likely involved in mass suicide charges in the Iran-Iraq war, in which boys wearing green plastic “Keys to Paradise” were ordered to drive their motorcycles into Saddam Hussein’s minefields. Ahmadinejad is thought to be a “Twelver,” a devout believer in the Shiite Mahdi (messiah), who will bring Armageddon to infidels and victory to an extremist sect of Shi’ism.

No nuclear war has occurred in the last sixty years since Stalin’s (stolen) atom bomb explosion. Rational nations do not commit suicide. The Iranian Twelver regime is the first openly suicide-promoting regime since the Japanese Imperial cult of World War II. Ahmadinejad is a religious fanatic who claims to have direct conversations with Allah and the Twelfth Imam, a claim that has led to internal struggles between Ayatollah Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guard factions. Khamenei recently arrested Ahmadinejad supporters accusing them of practicing witchcraft against the dominance of the religious elite.…

The world has had 30 years to prepare for this moment. Only the United States has the military power to knock down Iran’s nuclear industry and impose a no-fly zone that will keep Iranian missiles and aircraft from being launched. Israel is motivated to do it, but cannot sustain a long air campaign.…

Dr. Jones’ eight-week estimate for the first Iranian Bomb may be off by weeks or months. Nobody can doubt that we will be facing a nuclear Iran some time soon. George W. Bush was mercilessly mocked for launching a preemptive war against Saddam Hussein because Bush did not want to take the risk that Saddam might have WMD’s. It now appears that Obama has failed to preempt Iran’s nuclear breakout. We will therefore have an opportunity soon to find out what happens when the United States does not try prevent rogue regimes from getting nukes.

 

IRAN TO TEST FIRST NUCLEAR BOMB BY 2012?
Reza Kahlili

Pajamas Media, June 9, 2011

 

According to sources in the Revolutionary Guards of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei has ordered them to proceed immediately with the completion of the Iranian atomic bomb project, including testing and arming of missiles with nuclear payload.

Ayatollah Khamenei’s decision is based on a belief by the Islamic regime’s strategists that both America and Israel lack the courage and the ability to dismantle the Iranian nuclear facilities. The Iranian regime believes that America and Israel fear Iran’s retaliation, and that it has had them frozen in place and confused as to what action to take next. They have concluded that this presents a great opportunity for the Iranian regime to become a nuclear-armed state without any interference from the outside.

Khamenei offered the same message on June 1 at the Imam Hussein Military Academy: “The Great Satan, since the early days of the Revolution, has mobilized its military, financial, propaganda, and political empire to defeat the Islamic Revolution and the Iranian nation, but the political realities in Iran and the region show that the U.S. has been brought to its knees by the Islamic Revolution.”

He further stated that the failure of the U.S. policies in the Middle East and the promising revival of Islam in the region are the realization of the divine promises to the Iranian nation—and that the recent events herald the realization of God’s promise that Islam and the Muslims will ultimately triumph.

The authorization for nuclear weapons by the supreme leader has been followed by the recent announcement by the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Fereidoon Abbasi, that Iran will start the installation of more advanced centrifuges at the previously secret site, the Fordo plant near the city of Qom. He also said that this will triple Iran’s production of 20 percent enriched uranium.

A chilling article titled “The Next Day after the Iranian Nuclear Bomb Test Will be a Normal Day” recently appeared on an Iranian website, Gerdab.ir, which is run by the Revolutionary Guards. This is the first time that an outlet belonging to the Iranian government openly talked about a nuclear bomb—Iran has insisted repeatedly that their nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

The commentary states that after the Iranian nuclear bomb test, everyone will be able to go about their business as usual. The explosion will not be so strong as to bring destruction to the neighboring areas, though not so weak that the Iranian scientists have difficulties with their test. But it will be a day for Iranians to be filled with pride. The article even predicts playfully how Western media will cover the event.

Most chilling is how the article ends with a quote from the Quran (Al Enfal 60): “And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah.…”

America and its European allies have continuously tried to change the behavior of the regime with incentives and negotiations. The Iranian leaders refused every time to accept any offer, buying time in order to get to the point of no return. The jihadists in Iran will have their nuclear bomb, and we have only ourselves to blame.

 

IRAN’S SYRIA STRATEGY: HEAVY MEDDLE
Michael Singh

Wall Street Journal, May 27, 2011

 

Mohsen Chizari gets around.

A top commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Chizari was hit with sanctions last week by the Obama administration. Given his nationality, one might assume that he was sanctioned in relation to the Iranian regime’s nuclear pursuits or its crackdown on dissidents. In fact, Chizari, the Quds Force Chief Qasem Soleimani, and the organization itself were targeted for abetting oppression somewhere else: Syria.

According to the U.S. government, the Iranians are complicit in the Assad regime’s “human rights abuses and repression of the Syrian people.”

If Chizari’s name sounds familiar, it may be because he was arrested by U.S. troops in Baghdad in December 2006. According to media reports, Chizari was detained while inside the compound of Iraqi Shiite leader Abdel Aziz al-Hakim with another Quds Force commander. The two men were reportedly in possession of detailed reports about weapons shipments into Iraq, including of so-called explosively formed projectiles, which were responsible for the deaths of scores of U.S. soldiers. Chizari was subsequently expelled into Iran by the Iraqi government.

It should come as little surprise that Chizari has shown up in both hot spots. Wherever there’s trouble, he’ll be there to aid the troublemakers or stir things up himself.

The Quds Force reports directly to Iran’s leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and it serves as the linchpin in Iran’s regional strategy. Iran funds and arms groups like Hezbollah to threaten Israel and thwart democracy-building in Lebanon. And it equips terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan to stymie U.S. efforts to establish peace and security in those places. In all of these cases, the Quds Force is the regime’s instrument of choice.

Iran’s leaders crowed when popular uprisings unseated their old foes Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. But the travails of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad have clearly caused concern in Tehran. Assad is a long-time ally of Iran, and under his rule Syria has served as a conduit eastward for foreign fighters to enter Iraq to fight U.S. troops, and for Iranian weaponry to flow westward to arm Hezbollah and Hamas. Damascus is essentially the bar scene from “Star Wars” for terrorists in the Middle East, providing a locale where Iranian allies such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad can coordinate unperturbed.

Were Assad to fall, a key link in Iran’s strategic chain across the region would be broken. While Iran could possibly find work-arounds to supply Hezbollah, such as by sea or air, it would lose both strategic depth and an eager ally. Furthermore, if protesters in Syria were to inspire Iran’s own democracy activists to redouble their efforts, the Iranian regime would find itself in serious peril. Thus it is unsurprising that it has dispatched the Quds Force to help Assad stop the Arab Spring at his doorstep.

Iran’s latest involvement in Syria should be a wake-up call. Iran’s direct assistance in the Syrian regime’s crackdown has attracted criticism from many quarters; it’s even put Tehran at odds with erstwhile allies such as Turkey. Iran’s actions have also contributed to a shift in the Obama administration’s approach toward Tehran. In addition to imposing sanctions on Chizari and his ilk, on April 22 President Obama said that Assad was mimicking Iran’s “brutal tactics.”

Ultimately, tough words and sanctions will not be enough. Chizari and his exploits in Iraq and Syria represent one facet of the threat posed by Iran. If our hopes for freedom and stability in the region are to be realized, we must defeat Iran’s efforts to expand its power and influence—above all by denying it the nuclear weapons that would further its destabilizing designs.

(Mr. Singh is the managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
He was senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council
during the George W. Bush administration.
)

 

CONFRONTING AHMADINEJAD
Editorial

Jerusalem Post, June 17, 2011

 

While on assignment in Astana, Kazakhstan, Herb Keinon, [the Jerusalem Post’s] diplomatic correspondent, had the harrowing experience of attending a conference of heads of state that featured as an honored guest-speaker a man “who, if he just could, would love to incinerate me and mine and all that is dear to me.”

Particularly discomfiting for Keinon was the fact that the man, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was received with a remarkable equanimity as he spouted his vicious verbal abuse of Israel, the U.S. and the West. His statement to the effect that 60 plus years of Zionism has brought only humiliation and destruction to the Palestinians and the region evoked no more of a response than his harangue blaming the US and the West for, among other things, 9/11, which, he said, was the pretext for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The forum of heads of state—known as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization—was hardly a global leadership gathering. Representatives of countries such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan were in attendance. But so were international heavyweights such as Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who both sat impassively as Ahmadinejad ranted.

The outrage in Astana is a minor precursor to the really big show, which has been repeating itself annually since Ahmadinejad was first elected president in 2005. Come September, the head of the Islamic Republic will likely attend—and address—the UN General Assembly in New York. If he hasn’t already, Ahmadinejad will soon apply for a U.S. visa.

Though the U.S. should in principle deny Ahmadinejad entry to a country which he devotes so much of his time in public appearances to disparaging…it is highly unlikely that this will happen, just as it has not happened in the past. Under its treaty with the UN, the U.S. must grant heads of UN member states entry to attend UN assemblies. And Iran is a member state.

If justice reigned in the UN, Iran’s violation of a UN Security Council declaration that demands a halt to the country’s nuclear program, or its president’s outspoken Holocaust denial, a violation of a UN General Assembly resolution dating back to January 2007, would be reason enough too for special censure. Ahmadinejad’s public declarations to “wipe Israel off the map,” combined with his push for nuclear capability and Holocaust denial, produce a truly frightening result.

Here is a country whose leadership has rejected the lessons of the Holocaust and openly incites genocide of the Jewish people living in Israel while actively seeking the means to perpetrate such a genocide. Instead of being allowed to traipse around the world attending respectable conferences and forums and being received with honor, Ahmadinejad should be arrested.

As former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler has pointed out, Ahmadinejad is in clear breach of the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. International legislation passed in December 1948 in the shadow of the Holocaust, the convention was designed precisely to prevent the repeat of the kind of mass-murder that was carried out against the Jewish people during World War II, which Iran’s president has publicly encouraged. “Persons committing this crime shall be punished,” states the convention, “whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals.”

None of this is likely to happen. However, unlike the equanimity with which Ahmadinejad was received in Astana this week by the presidents of China and Russia, Western countries that have maintained their moral bearings can be counted on to stage a major walk-out should Ahmadinejad address this September’s General Assembly.

Last year, when the Iranian president claimed during his annual speech to the assembly that the U.S. government had “orchestrated” 9/11, representatives from the U.S. and the EU’s 27 member-states left the hall. A similar walk-out was staged by British and EU officials in April 2009 at a UN summit against racism in Geneva dubbed “Durban II” during Ahmadinejad’s speech there.

Representatives from the U.S., Israel, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand had boycotted the entire conference, which attempted, like the 2001 Durban I summit, to single out Israel and equate Zionism with racism.

These walk-outs, which contrast so sharply with the indifference that rightly appalled Keinon, are essential if basic moral distinctions are to be made between good and evil. The moral lesson taught by German Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed by the Nazis for plotting to assassinate Hitler, is no less relevant today. Silence in the face of evil is itself evil.

OBAMA GETS OSAMA.

 

 

 

THE MUSLIM WORLD AFTER BIN LADEN
Editorial
Wall Street Journal, May 3, 2011

 

The killing of Osama bin Laden comes at a propitious moment in the history of the Middle East. The “Arab Spring” [threatens to] remake the region in [new] ways.… The best hope is that the Mideast will use this moment to take the region past the ideology of Islamist terror, but this can only happen if its new leaders take it there. On that score, the jury is out.

Certainly the wave of popular upheavals had already signalled al Qaeda’s waning appeal among Muslim masses. Starting in Tunisia and spreading to Egypt, Syria and elsewhere, demonstrators have been energized by opposition to corruption and repression and a keen desire for jobs.… As such, these movements contradict the aims of bin Laden and al Qaeda, whose goals are harsh and immovable…Islamic societies.…

Yet al Qaeda’s decline doesn’t mean Muslim countries will embrace a recognizable form of liberal democracy or resist the pull of politicized Islam. Egypt offers an unsettling preview of what could emerge.

Less than three months after the fall of the Mubarak regime, the caretaker government in Cairo has surprised with its radical shifts in foreign policy. Egypt has extended its hand to Iran and to the Palestinian terror group Hamas. Its relations with the U.S. and Israel have cooled markedly.

Last week, the Egyptians brokered a surprising deal on a unity government between Tehran-backed Hamas in the Gaza strip and its rivals in Fatah, which rules over the West Bank. Cairo didn’t bother to inform either the U.S. or Israel about the talks. The foreign ministry abruptly announced plans to reopen the Egyptian border crossing into Gaza, an easy supply point for arms for Hamas. Cairo also plans to establish diplomatic relations with Iran. Indeed, an Iranian destroyer recently was allowed to pass through the Suez Canal for the first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution.…

A budding Arab democracy that wants the world to take it seriously should have little time for Hamas, much less the world’s leading terror sponsor in Tehran. Hamas showed its true, if predictable, colors yesterday in its leader Ismail Haniyeh’s response to bin Laden’s killing: “We condemn the assassination and the killing of an Arab holy warrior.” The Muslim Brotherhood, the best organized political group in Egypt, also condemned the bin Laden killing.…

The U.S. most likely will face some tough choices [in Egypt]. If Cairo’s desire for a more “independent” foreign policy translates into warmer ties with terrorists, America’s own long-standing support for the Egyptian military may eventually need to be reconsidered. We trust that the U.S. has sent this blunt message to the ruling military council and to Egypt’s politicians.

The death of bin Laden disrupts but doesn’t bring the death of bin Ladenism.… While bin Laden’s death at least raises the possibility of the most extremist forms of Islam fading in the region, the early signs out of bellwether Egypt show how much close attention an interested world must still pay to these volatile nations.

 

BIN LADEN IS DEAD AND HIS CAUSE GOES MARCHING ON
Barry Rubin
Pajamas Media, May 2, 2011

 

Osama bin Laden is dead. But revolutionary Islamism is very much alive and stronger than ever. Thinking that bin Laden is the main problem and his death is the solution is very dangerous indeed and might well intensify the policies that have been leading toward the victory of his cause, though not his specific movement.

It is easy to forget that when bin Laden came on the scene revolutionary Islamism was in retreat. True, Iran was ruled by a revolutionary Islamist regime but that government had failed to extend the revolution overseas very much despite its best efforts. Another such regime, the Taliban, came to power in remote Afghanistan.

But by the end of the 1990s, revolutionary Islamism wasn’t doing so well. The reason was that its strategy was to overthrow Arab governments from within. There had been civil wars in Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, and to a lesser extent in other places. The existing dictatorships, however, had repressed them.

So bin Laden came along with a different approach. If direct attacks on non-Islamist governments in Muslim-majority countries didn’t work, he proposed an international movement that would raise revolutionary enthusiasm by attacking the West.… The West represented democracy and modernity, a licentious freedom and secularism that bin Laden and his comrades detested. They also hated Western policies, especially the support of Middle Eastern regimes to which these Islamists attributed their own inability to win.…

So bin Laden formed al-Qaida and took the road to September 11. It is important to understand that al-Qaida failed as a movement but succeeded in the broadest sense as an idea. Since al-Qaida was relatively small and eschewed political action and base building for the sole tactic of terrorism it was relatively easy to repress, though not to eliminate entirely.

The U.S.-led attack on Afghanistan drove it from its home base and killed or captured many of its leaders. Al-Qaida scattered but that was not such a great disadvantage given its strategy. From Morocco to Somalia, from Indonesia to Western Europe it continued to stage…bloody attacks. Yet that was the most it could do. In revolutionary terms, al-Qaida was equivalent to the terrorist’s of late nineteenth century Europe, the assassins and bomb throwers of anarchism and Russian social revolutionary tradition.

Ah, but who, then, is the Lenin of our day? Just as the anarchist bomb-throwers were a sideshow—however horrific, bloody, and needing to be repressed—the same is true of today. Al-Qaida stages individual acts of terrorism. Hamas, Hezbollah, the AKP in Turkey, and the Muslim Brotherhoods seize state power. And they do so with the help of Iran and Syria.

That’s power that…far exceed[s] blowing up of a café or embassy. To take control over the lives of millions of people, to hold assets amounting to billions of dollars, to rule over whole territories and launch full-scale wars, that is [real] power. That is a threat to Western interests, to world stability.…

Since September 11, 2001 we could [explicitly] list the terrorist attacks [undertaken] by al-Qaida, [as well as] the [resulting] casualties. Or we can list the following not by al-Qaida:

–An Islamist regime rules Turkey and has seized control of most institutions and is gradually crushing democracy. This regime has aligned itself with Hamas, Hizballah, Iran, and Syria.

–An Islamist regime rules the Gaza Strip and has already set off one war and will no doubt do so again. Its patrons are Iran, Syria, and now Egypt. This government now exercises veto power over any Israel-Palestinian peace which means there won’t be an Israel-Palestinian peace.

–An Islamist-oriented regime rules Lebanon, backed by Iran and Syria. It has already set off one war and will no doubt do so again.

–The Iranian regime has weathered a major internal upheaval and is heading full-speed ahead toward nuclear weapons.

–With Western help the regime in Egypt—one of the main bulwarks against revolutionary Islamism has fallen—and whether or not Islamists there take over they will be a lot stronger, able to act freely, and direct a movement of millions seeking to Islamize and eventually make Islamist the largest Arab country of all.

–Revolutionary Islamism is also a serious threat…in countries like Yemen, Iraq, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan while in other parts of the world it has spread to places like Chechnya, the northern Caucasus, the Balkans, Nigeria, Somalia, southern Thailand and the southern Philippines, and Indonesia. The resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan seems far from impossible as does a revolutionary Islamist upheaval in Pakistan.

–Serious Islamist movements have gained political hegemony over growing Muslim communities all over the West. While many Muslims are indifferent to the movement and a few courageous dissidents combat it, Western governments and elites often blindly favor the Islamists. In fact, the degree that Western governments, elites, and societies are blind to the actual threat defies belief. The far left—which is a lot nearer than it used to be—often makes common cause with revolutionary Islamism.

Many of these other movements are “smarter” than bin Laden, which is to say they know how to be more tactically flexible. They can smile, and smile and be a villain. They understand far better how to be patient, conceal their plans, use elections, sponsor social services to win supporters, run youth camps to train suicide bombers, take Western aid and assistance, hang out with Western journalists to prove they’re cool guys, produce satellite television networks, and play Western democracies for all they are worth. Oh, and they can still throw bombs with the best of them.

Or, to put it in Iranian terms, bin Laden was the “little Satan” and the “big Satan,” the real revolutionary Islamist movement, couldn’t care less about his death. Indeed, his death serves a useful purpose. If the West thinks the “war on terror” is over and it’s time to celebrate, all the better. Countries can go on trading with Iran, engaging Syria and Hezbollah, and acting as if there’s no big threat in Egypt. All the better to eat you up.

So bin Laden is dead and September 11 is, in a sense, avenged. But his cause goes marching on. It is marching forward. And as the West cheers at the good news of bin Laden’s death it may go back to sleep thereafter, snoring as the bin Laden’s of the world advance.

(Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center,
and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal.
Mr. Rubin will be a featured speaker at the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research’s
upcoming Gala, scheduled for June 15, 2011.)

 

TARGETED KILLING VINDICATED
Alan Dershowitz
Huffington Post, May 2, 2011

 

The decision to target and kill Osama Bin Laden is being applauded by all decent people. Approval to capture or kill this mass-murdering terrorist leader was given by Presidents Obama and Bush. It was the right decision, both morally and legally.

Although Bin Laden wore no military uniform and held no official military rank, he was an appropriate military target. As the titular and spiritual head of Al Qaeda, he was the functional equivalent of a head of state or commander in chief of a terrorist army.… Yet there are those who claim that all targeted killings are immoral and illegal. These critics characterize such actions as “extrajudicial executions” and demand that terrorist leaders and functionaries be treated as common criminals who must be arrested and brought to trial.

The operation that resulted in Bin Laden’s death was a military action calculated to kill rather than to “arrest” him.… Indeed, a U.S. national security official has confirmed to Reuters that “this was a kill operation” and there was no desire to capture Bin Laden alive.… Nonetheless, our government felt it necessary to announce that Bin Laden was shot after he allegedly resisted thus suggesting he was not killed in cold blood. But it is clear that he would have been killed whether or not he resisted…and it is unlikely he was ever given the opportunity to surrender.…

Accordingly, those who have opposed the very concept of targeted killings should be railing against the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

Among others, these critics include officials in Britain, France, Italy, Russia, the EU, Jordan, and the United Nations. Former British Foreign Secretary once said, “The British government has made it repeatedly clear that so-called targeted assassinations of this kind are unlawful, unjustified and counterproductive.” The French foreign ministry has declared “that extrajudicial executions contravene international law and are unacceptable.” The Italian Foreign Minister has said, “Italy, like the whole of the European Union, has always condemned the practice of targeted assassinations.” The Russians have asserted that “Russia has repeatedly stressed the unacceptability of extrajudicial settling of scores and ‘targeted killings.’“ Javier Solana has noted that the “European Union has consistently condemned extrajudicial killings.” The Jordanians have said, “Jordan has always denounced this policy of assassination and its position on this has always been clear.” And Kofi Annan has declared “that extrajudicial killings are violations of international law.”

Yet none of these nations, groups or individuals have criticized the targeted killing of Osama Bin Laden by the U.S. The reason is obvious. All the condemnations against targeted killing was directed at one country. Guess which one? Israel, of course.

Israel developed the concept of targeted killings and used it effectively against the “Osama Bin Laden’s” of Hamas, who directed terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, killing and wounding more Israelis, as a percentage of its population, than the number killed by Bin Laden. It was when Israel managed to kill the head of Hamas, that the international community, with the striking exception of the United States, decided that targeted killing was illegal and immoral.

But now that it has been used against an enemy of Britain, France, Italy and other European nations, the tune has changed. Suddenly targeted killing is not only legal and moral, it is praiseworthy.… Well the truth is that when used properly, targeted killing has always been deserving of approval—even when employed by Israel, a nation against which a double standard always seems to be applied.

Indeed, in Israel, the use of targeted killings has been closely regulated by its Supreme Court and permitted only against terrorists who are actively engaged in ongoing acts of terrorism. In the United States, on the other hand, the decisions to use this tactic is made by the President alone, without any form of judicial review. So let the world stop applying a double standard to Israel and let it start judging the merits and demerits of military tactics such as targeted killing. On balance, targeted killing, when used prudently against proper military targets, can be an effective, lawful, and moral tool in the war against terrorism.

 

THWARTING BIN LADEN AMID MEMORIES OF SHOAH
Dovid Efune
Jerusalem Post, May 3, 2011

 

On Sunday evening in the presence of survivors, I attended a stirring Holocaust memorial service at a prestigious New York synagogue that included video footage of Nazi crimes, testimonies, prayers and the recital of harrowing poetic works.

Following the service I approached one of the survivors, whom I have known for quite some time, and remarked on the moving nature of the ceremony. “This is nothing,” he responded with torment in his eyes. “One moment in the camps could not be captured by a thousand such events.”

Shortly afterward, President Barack Obama announced that American troops in Pakistan had killed Osama bin Laden in a covert operation earlier in the day. While I listened to the TV pundits updating viewers on the emerging details, and watched images of jubilant and triumphant crowds gathering in Washington and New York, I couldn’t help but think of the event within the wider context of world peace and the eternal Jewish promise, “Never Again.”

Of course, the obliteration of evil and its perpetrators is a profoundly Jewish concept, as it is also an American one. This is yet another ideal that intimately binds the fabric of American society with the Judaic moral code and its keepers. The Holocaust prayers and literature are riddled with calls to avenge the blood of the slain innocents and extend the arm of justice where it is due.… Yet while justice and vengeance may have their place, it is the eradication of evil as the path to securing our safety and our future that serves as the greatest Jewish motivation for hunting down the Osamas of this world and systematically destroying them.

What is therefore a matter of great concern is that it appears Israel is by no means afforded the same enthusiastic moral support in its effort to hunt down its own bin Ladenesque enemies. Of course Osama bin Laden was as much an enemy of Israel as he was of all the free world. However, the aggression of Israel’s local enemies, with similar maniacal dispositions, necessitates that Israel act firmly, decisively and swiftly to protect its citizens and secure its future.

Yet it was only last week that international leaders, including the secretary-general of the United Nations, accepted a new amalgamation of the Palestinian leadership, which placed a local al-Qaida-style incarnation, Hamas, in a position of quasi-diplomatic acceptance. The hands of Hamas’s leaders are drenched with innocent blood; the terrorists they have dispatched have sought to rival bin Laden in the killing of innocents. Yet they enjoy if not international impunity, then at least a certain tolerance.

President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s regime in Iran, meanwhile, has murdered many, and is developing the tools to cause unthinkable devastation. Yet much of the world continues to look on in placid apathy and indifference.…

Bin Laden embodied the face of evil, but he was by no means alone; his ideology survives him. Even as the jubilant crowds gathered to hail his demise, there was talk of heightened security alerts. Dozens of fanatical groups have made their wretched mark on countries, communities and families since September 2001 and show little promise of ceasing. The leader is dead, but his perverse legacy lives on.

The juxtaposition of Holocaust Memorial Day and the killing of Osama bin Laden should be seen as no coincidence. The lesson is clear; the free world must be consistent in supporting the eradication of such evil, in all its forms, wherever it is found. The efforts of the West must be uniform and relentless. Justice and vengeance will not suffice, only continuous striving to eradicate this depraved inhumanity. Never again.

(Dovid Efune is the director of the Algemeiner Journal—www.algemeiner.com.)

IRAN’S ‘NEW MIDDLE EAST’

 

 

 

MAKE NO MISTAKE: IRAN STILL SEEKS NUCLEAR WEAPONS
Maseh Zarif
Weekly Standard, March 7, 2011

 

U.S. and allied efforts to curb Iran’s developing nuclear capabilities are failing. Today, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) convenes its quarterly meeting, where Iran’s nuclear activities will once again be a key agenda item. The IAEA reported in its latest assessment that Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium hexafluoride stands at 3,606 kilograms—enough to fuel three bombs once converted to highly-enriched uranium.

The language in the IAEA’s latest report signals the growing concern over Iran’s nuclear weapons activities and the agency’s frustration with Iran’s obfuscation. The agency’s findings, based on inspectors’ work and analysis of intelligence provided by IAEA-member nations, are the basis for its declaration that Iran is failing to cooperate with the watchdog. The IAEA reported that…“Iran is not providing access to relevant locations, equipment, persons, or documentation” to facilitate the agency’s oversight work. For the first time, the report includes an annex itemizing each area in which Iran is failing to respond to IAEA inquiries. This annex contains references to experimentation with nuclear payload and high explosives development—activities directly related to a nuclear weapons program.

IAEA head Yukiya Amano has also rejected the assessment that recent technical problems significantly disrupted Iran’s uranium enrichment. In response to a question about the extent of damage that a malware virus inflicted on Iran’s centrifuges, Amano said, “Iran is somehow producing uranium enriched to 3.5 percent and 20 percent. They are producing it steadily, constantly.” The IAEA report and Amano’s comments indicate that Iran continues to develop and refine its capabilities, including in uranium enrichment, which is the most technically complex element of a nuclear weapons program.

Iran’s leadership has recently affirmed its commitment to remaining on its current nuclear path. Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei proclaimed in February that the regime would not retreat from its current stance on the nuclear issue. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in January that “in the Iranian nation’s point of view, the nuclear issue has ended.” These statements are an explicit rejection of U.S. and international efforts to bring about a change in the regime’s policies.

Iran’s leadership is committed to pursuing a nuclear weapons capability and continues to support terrorist proxies in the greater Middle East. Its hard-line foreign and nuclear policies remain immune from disputes within Iran’s ruling elite. The regime has violently suppressed the only potential tempering force on those policies—the Green Movement opposition—thereby entrenching the current leadership for the time being. Moreover, an aggressive Iranian regime will seek to exploit the recent wave of unrest across the Middle East that has unsettled its neighbors.

The war in Afghanistan and the revolutionary shifts across the broader Middle East have, rightly, consumed significant attention. Today’s IAEA meeting will bring the Iran nuclear issue back into focus, and should serve as a reminder of the mounting Iranian threat to [global] security.

(Maseh Zarif is research manager
at the American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project.
)

 

THE NEW MIDDLE EAST
Caroline B. Glick
Jerusalem Post, March 4, 2011

 

A new Middle East is upon us and its primary beneficiary couldn’t be happier. In a speech Monday in the Iranian city of Kermanshah, Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Politburo Chief Gen. Yadollah Javani crowed, “Iran’s pivotal role in the New Middle East is undeniable. Today the Islamic Revolution of the Iranian nation enjoys such a power, honor and respect in the world that all nations and governments wish to have such a ruling system.”

Iran’s leaders have eagerly thrown their newfound weight around. For instance, Iran is challenging Saudi Arabia’s ability to guarantee the stability of global oil markets. For generations, the stability of global oil supplies has been guaranteed by Saudi Arabia’s reserve capacity that could be relied on to make up for any shocks to those supplies due to political unrest or other factors. When Libya’s teetering dictator Muammar Gaddafi decided to shut down Libya’s oil exports last month, the oil markets reacted with a sharp increase in prices. The very next day the Saudis announced they would make up the shortfall from Libya’s withdrawal from the export market.

In the old Middle East, the Saudi statement would never have been questioned. Oil suppliers and purchasers alike accepted the arrangement whereby Saudi Arabian reserves—defended by the U.S. military—served as the guarantor of the oil economy. But in the New Middle East, Iran feels comfortable questioning the Saudi role. On Thursday, Iran’s Oil Minister Massoud Mirkazemi urged Saudi Arabia to refrain from increasing production. Mirkazemi argued that since the OPEC oil cartel has not discussed increasing supplies, Saudi Arabia had no right to increase its oil output.

True, Iran’s veiled threat did not stop Saudi Arabia from increasing its oil production by 500,000 barrels per day. But the fact that Iran feels comfortable telling the Saudis what they can and cannot do with their oil demonstrates the mullocracy’s new sense of empowerment. And it makes sense. With each passing day, the Iranian regime is actively destabilizing Saudi Arabia’s neighbors and increasing its influence over Saudi Arabia’s Shi’ite minority in the kingdom’s Eastern Province where most of its oil is located.…

In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged that Iran is deeply involved in all the anti-regime protests and movements from Egypt to Yemen to Bahrain and beyond. “Either directly or through proxies, they are constantly trying to influence events. They have a very active diplomatic foreign policy outreach,” Clinton said.

Iranian officials, Hezbollah and Hamas terrorists and other Iranian agents have played pivotal roles in the anti-regime movements in Yemen and Bahrain. Their operations are the product of Iran’s long-running policy of developing close ties to opposition figures in these countries as well as in Egypt, Kuwait, Oman and Morocco. These long-developed ties are reaping great rewards for Iran today. Not only do these connections give the Iranians the ability to influence the policies of post-revolutionary allied regimes. They give the mullahs and their allies the ability to intimidate the likes of the Saudi and Bahraini royals and force them to appease Iran’s allies.

This means that Iran’s mullahs win no matter how the revolts pan out. If weakened regimes maintain power by appeasing Iran’s allies in the opposition—as they are trying to do in Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Algeria, Bahrain, Oman and Yemen—then Iranian influence over the weakened regimes will grow substantially. And if Iran’s allies topple the regimes, then Iran’s influence will increase even more steeply.

Moreover, Iran’s preference for proxy wars and asymmetric battles is served well by the current instability. Iran’s proxies—from Hezbollah to al- Qaida to Hamas—operate best in weak states. From Hezbollah’s operations in South Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s, to the Iranian-sponsored Iraqi insurgents in recent years and beyond, Iran has exploited weak central authorities to undermine pro-Western governments, weaken Israel and diminish U.S. regional influence. In the midst of Egypt’s revolutionary violence, Iran quickly deployed its Hamas proxies to Sinai. Since Mubarak’s fall, Iran has worked intensively to expand its proxy forces’ capacity to operate freely in Sinai.

Recognition of Iran’s expanded power is fast altering the international community’s perception of the regional balance of forces. Russia’s announcement last Saturday that it will sell Syria the Yakhont supersonic anti-ship cruise missile was a testament to Iran’s rising regional power and the U.S.’s loss of power. Russia signed a deal to provide the missiles to Syria in 2007. But Moscow abstained from supplying them until now—just after Iran sailed its naval ships unmolested to Syria through the Suez Canal and signed a naval treaty with Syria effectively fusing the Iranian and Syrian navies. So, too, Russia’s announcement that it sides with Iran’s ally Turkey in its support for reducing UN Security Council sanctions against Iran indicates that the U.S. no longer has the regional posture necessary to contain Iran on the international stage.…

Unfortunately, the Obama administration has failed completely to understand what is happening. Clinton told the House of Representatives and the Senate that Iran’s increased power means that the U.S. should continue to arm and fund Iran’s allies and support the so-called democratic forces that are allied with Iran.

So it was that Clinton told the Senate that the Obama administration thinks it is essential to continue to supply the Hezbollah-controlled Lebanese military with U.S. arms. Clinton claimed that she couldn’t say what Hezbollah control over the Lebanese government meant regarding the future of U.S. ties to Lebanon. So, too, while Palestinian Authority leaders burn President Barack Obama in effigy and seek to form a unity government with Iran’s Hamas proxy, Clinton gave an impassioned defense of U.S. funding for the PA to the House Foreign Relations Committee this week.

Clinton’s behavior bespeaks a stunning failure to understand the basic realities she and the State Department she leads are supposed to shape. Her lack of comprehension is matched only by her colleague Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ lack of shame and nerve. In a press conference this week, Gates claimed that Iran is weakened by the populist waves in the Arab world because Iran’s leaders are violently oppressing their political opponents.

In light of the Obama administration’s refusal to use U.S. military force for even the most minor missions—like evacuating U.S. citizens from Libya—without UN approval, it is apparent that the U.S. will not use armed force against Iran for as long as Obama is in power. And given the administration’s refusal to expend any effort to protect U.S. interests and allies in the region lest the U.S. be accused of acting like a superpower, it is clear that U.S. allies like the Saudis will not be able to depend on America to defend the regime. This is the case despite the fact that its overthrow would threaten the U.S.’s core regional interests.

Against this backdrop, it is clear that the only way to curb Iran’s influence in the region and so strike a major blow against its rising Shi’ite-Sunni jihadist alliance is to actively support the prodemocracy regime opponents in Iran’s Green Movement.… In the face of massive regime violence, Iran’s anti-regime protesters are out in force in cities throughout the country demanding their freedom and a new regime. And yet, aside from paying lip service to their bravery, neither the U.S. nor any other government has come forward to help them. No one has supplied Iran’s embattled revolutionaries with proxy servers after the regime brought down their Internet communications networks. No one has given them arms. No one has demanded that Iran be thrown out of all UN bodies pending the regime’s release of…the thousands of political prisoners being tortured in the mullah’s jails. No one has stepped up to fund around-the-clock anti-regime broadcasts into Iran to help regime opponents organize and coordinate their operations. Certainly no one has discussed instituting a no-fly zone over Iran to protect the protesters.

With steeply rising oil prices and the real prospect of al-Qaida taking over Yemen, Iranian proxies taking over Bahrain, and the Muslim Brotherhood controlling Egypt, some Americans are recognizing that not all revolutions are Washingtonian.…

We are moving into a new Middle East. And if the mullahs aren’t overthrown, the New Middle East will be a very dark and dangerous place.

 

IRAN LOOMS LARGE IN LIBYA DECISIONS
Gerald F. Seib

Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2011

 

As debate escalates over whether to intervene militarily to help Libyan rebels oust Muammar Ghadafi, the specter lurking in the background—both for those who want to intervene and those wary of doing so—is Iran. The Iranian factor is little discussed but omnipresent. Understanding how it forms the backdrop is crucial to understanding the argument unfolding this week, in Washington, in Europe and at the United Nations, about whether to impose a no-fly zone over Libya.

Those pushing for intervention worry that the lesson Iran will take away if Mr. Gadhafi survives is that leaders who give ground to democracy protesters (see Hosni Mubarak) are swept away. Meanwhile, those who brutally crush protesters (Libya’s strongman) are the ones who hang on. For Iranian leaders already disposed to crushing their own pro-democracy dissidents, the message will be clear.

Those wary of intervening, including many in the Obama administration, worry that Western intervention will play directly into the narrative Tehran’s leaders have been spinning to justify cracking down on their own dissidents: that the U.S. and its Zionist allies are waiting to take advantage of any Mideast unrest to seize control of the region and its oil assets.…

With Iran in position to make trouble by fomenting unrest among its Shiite brethren in nearby Bahrain, the question of how Mideast turmoil might advance Tehran’s interests already loomed large. Now it figures to play more directly into the Libya debate, for Tehran is trying to play both sides of the argument, rhetorically supporting the Libyan rebels while opposing Western help for them.… In the twisted logic of Iran, popular uprisings in the region are admirable examples of Mideast peoples throwing off oppressive regimes, except in Iran itself, and are worthy of support, except from the West.

Hence, Major Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, the Iranian military’s chief of staff, declared last week: “The reality is that the U.S. wants to stage a military intervention to find control over Libya’s oil wells as it did in Iraq with the Iraqi oil.” That’s why U.S. national security adviser Tom Donilon, in talking with journalists late last week, [responded by] using the term “indigenous” four times to describe dissidents in Libya and elsewhere in the region. The U.S. wants rebels in both Libya and Iran to succeed without acquiring a made-in-America label.

Unfortunately, the world may not work so neatly.

 

IRAN’S GOING NUCLEAR
Charles A. Duelfer

National Interest, March 4, 2011

 

Amidst the landscape of Middle East tumult, there remains the prospect of Iran—and its blatant evolving nuclear capability.

In retrospect, Iran circa the presidential protests of 2009, may be seen as the first in the series of popular rebellions we’re witnessing today—though the leadership there successfully beat down the protests. Indeed, the Tehran regime now appears to be relatively stable in the region. Suddenly almost every other government in the Middle East is viewed with greater uncertainty. Which ones can withstand internal dissent? These mobs of newly empowered individuals will shake and perhaps remove standing governments. And there seems to be a tendency in the White House to celebrate these expressions of popular will on the one hand, but on the other there is no vision of where all this leads.…

[So] how does the world now look from Tehran? Is it better or worse? Is there more incentive or less to push on the nuclear front? Is the Iranian economy going to get stronger or weaker with oil prices topping $100 a barrel?

The leaders in Iran must be pretty happy. They are probably reinforced in their decisions to crack down hard and continuously on the green movement. They did not lose control of their country. Tehran probably does not see the contagion of uprisings in countries like Bahrain, Oman, or Saudi Arabia as something that undermines their position. They have already inoculated themselves against the effects of the Internet and rapid dissemination of dissent. And the higher price for oil may help them economically.

The prospect for a nuclear capable Iran amidst a collection of states that are suddenly focused inwardly on internal threats may be a dominant feature of the new reality over the next year or two. Last week while headlines addressed the chaos of Libya, the IAEA released its latest report on Iran’s nuclear activity. It is not good news.

The IAEA inspectors report that Iran continues to expand its activities and, in particular, its uranium enrichment seems to be continuing with plans for expansion. Tehran has not complied with requirements to explain suspected military nuclear work and seems unfazed by Security Council sanctions. Moreover, the IAEA reports that the output of the declared facilities continues—despite the affects of the Stuxnet cyber attack. The evidence is that despite increased sanctions, the effects of cyber attacks (and reportedly the sabotaging of imported equipment) and the assassinations in Iran of top scientists, the program marches on…to the point where it is beginning to look inevitable rather than unacceptable as previous White House statements have declared.

[Despite this], the prospect of a nuclear Iran is no [longer] so close to the top of the agenda. The New York Times quoted a spokesman for the National Security Council commenting on the IAEA report of Iran’s obstruction and failure to cooperate as “troubling”. Well that talking point could probably be applied to several hundred issues that waft through the White House.

The combined actions to thwart Iran’s nuclear program may have complicated or possibly slowed it. But, if ultimately the only way of ending the program is through military action, that option has recently become even tougher given the ferment in the region.… Our approach of trying to buy time may curiously be congruent with Iranian interests. The longer we put off an increasingly inevitable assessment that Iran has nuclear weapons within its grasp, the better it is for Iran to develop its capability and take advantage of the weakened state of its neighbors.

Over thirty years ago on New Year’s Eve, 1977, President Jimmy Carter visited Tehran. In his toast at the state dinner he said, “Iran, because of the great leadership of the Shah, is an island of stability in one of the more troubled areas of the world.” In less than a year, our embassy had been taken over and he was consumed with the hostage crisis. It would be sadly ironic if, today, the net effect of U.S. regional policies was that Iran is a relative island of stability in one of the more troubled areas of the world—and with nuclear weapons.

DEMOCRACY IN EGYPT?—LEST WE FORGET…

 

 

IRAN: PRECONDITIONS AND PROVOCATIONS
Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall

Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, February 10, 2011

 

The January 21-22 meeting in Istanbul between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (the P5+1), aimed at reaching at least some understandings regarding Iran’s nuclear program, concluded in a resounding failure. To understand why is to shed light on the larger question of Iran’s regional role.

In the course of the meeting, the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, head of the Iranian delegation, laid down two preconditions: a cessation of the sanctions against Iran, and recognition of its right to nuclear fuel and enrichment. In practice, the insistence on such preconditions rendered the meeting superfluous. “These preconditions are not a way to proceed,” EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton noted at the end of the meeting. But they came as no surprise. As Tehran had declared both before and during the talks, it did not want to deal with the nuclear issue at all but with the “entire range of regional and international problems.”

It was a small, if telling, example of how Iranian behavior prior to, during, and following the talks attested to Iran’s sense of supreme self-confidence. Western pressure notwithstanding, Iran draws encouragement from its progress on the nuclear program, from regional developments in Lebanon and Iraq, and from the frozen negotiations in the Palestinian arena. It senses that it can persist in its provocations against the West without paying any price whatsoever.… Indeed, last month’s talks in Turkey offered Iran an opportunity to show how the center of power has shifted from Western dominance to Islamic hegemony under Tehran’s leadership.…

Upon the conclusion of the talks, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad hastened to emphasize that…the West had to reconcile itself to a nuclear Iran as a fait accompli. Western behavior towards Iran must take this fact as its point of departure, the Iranian leader insisted. “Conditions are now prepared for reaching good agreements in future sessions,” Ahmedinejad said, “if the opposite side complies with justice and respect (for Iran’s nuclear rights).” He boasted that the world powers had failed to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state, that even hundreds of superpowers could not budge Iran from its positions.…

Iran now has sufficient low-level enriched uranium to manufacture a nuclear bomb or two. If the Iranian leadership should decide, on the basis of strategic considerations at home or abroad, to do so, it could enrich uranium to the high level requisite for nuclear weapons. (Iran currently claims that it can already enrich to a level of 20 percent to supply the research needs of the Tehran reactor.)

A recent study by the Federation of American Scientists warned of complacency and a dulling of the sense of urgency on the part of the West. Inter alia, the report concluded that “despite a drop in centrifuge numbers during 2010, the total enrichment capacity of Iran’s main facility has increased relative to previous years.… It would take Iran anywhere from five months to almost a year to produce enough highly enriched uranium for a single crude bomb.…”

Reports of a delay in Iran’s nuclear progress due to the damage inflicted by the Stuxnet computer virus only reinforce Iran’s position, and at the same time allow the country to continue making progress on its clandestine military nuclear program. In their current scope, the sanctions may damage the Iranian economy and may impede the nuclear program’s pace, but are not likely to induce Ahmadinejad and the Revolutionary Guards to forgo the military nuclear program, vital for anchoring regime stability. For the moment, then, Iran only derives encouragement from the West’s persistent haplessness.

Iran today is demonstrating that it is capable of detrimentally influencing regional politics (the Israeli-Palestinian peace process) and regional stability (in Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Afghanistan). Iran also sees itself as inspiring the democratic awakening in the Arab world (Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan), viewing events in Egypt as the direct continuation of Khomeini’s revolution.… Therefore, we must restore a sense of urgency and once more put a credible military threat on the agenda. (According to the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, in 2003 such a threat caused Iran temporarily to abandon the military track of its nuclear program due to apprehensions about an American attack.)

American President Barack Obama has the opportunity to “correct” the line that he adopted at the start of his term vis-à-vis Iran, a line that allowed Iran to harden its position on the nuclear issue and intensify its influence in Middle Eastern affairs.… The alternative is grim: a weakening of the moderate Arab camp, a strengthening of the “resistance camp” (Iran, Syria, Hizbullah, Hamas, and the other Palestinian terror organizations influenced by Iran), and a steep decline in American influence in the region. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said, “We have time. But not a lot of time.”

 

BEIRUT CALLING
John R. Bolton
LA Times, February 3, 2011

 

Despite the media’s recent focus on Egypt, events in Lebanon may well tell us more about the troubled prospects for Middle Eastern democracy. The fall of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s government, replaced by a Hezbollah-dominated coalition, dramatically imperils Beirut’s democratic Cedar Revolution.

Financed and dominated by Iran, terrorist Hezbollah has consistently refused to disarm and become a legitimate political party. Instead, it enjoys the best of both worlds, contesting elections while retaining the military ability to enforce its will against uncongenial results. History will rightly blame the West for the tragedy of the takeover in Beirut, because of its unwillingness to stand against Hezbollah and its Iranian puppet masters.…

In mid-January at The Hague, the prosecutor for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon submitted long-awaited indictments regarding the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Although the indictments are not yet public, they are widely expected to finger top leaders in Hezbollah, Syria and potentially Iran, and they are doubtless behind Hezbollah’s decision to assert itself by collapsing the government of Hariri’s son.

Rescuing Lebanon from radicals and terrorists will require strong action, noticeably absent in recent U.S. policy. We can no longer pretend that the special tribunal’s existence is an adequate response to the real problem in Lebanon: Tehran’s long-standing drive for regional hegemony. It was always a mistake to confuse the effectiveness of an international criminal court with courts of real constitutional governments, and harmfully naive to think that the special tribunal could operate in a vacuum, as the events in Lebanon make painfully clear.…

For years before Hariri’s February 2005 murder, the West explained away or ignored Hezbollah’s clear role as an active agent of Syrian and Iranian influence. Western dupes and sympathizers noted Hezbollah’s support for schools and hospitals among Lebanon’s Shiite Muslims as if it were a different Hezbollah from the one terrorizing Israel and subverting and intimidating Lebanon’s faltering efforts at representative government. Hezbollah’s diaphanous justification for its military capability—expelling Israel from Lebanon—in effect ended in 2000 when Israel complied with U.N. Security Council resolutions by withdrawing its forces from southern Lebanon. Of course, protecting Lebanon is legitimately the responsibility only of the Lebanese armed forces, which in fact Syria and Hezbollah have also been working to bring under their control.

Western support for Lebanese democracy has been for the most part limited to a series of Security Council resolutions, particularly Resolution 1559, calling for Syria to withdraw its forces from Lebanon, and Resolution 1595, creating an international investigation commission to assist Lebanon in prosecuting the Hariri assassination. But Hezbollah foiled these efforts in 2006 by provoking war with Israel. The Security Council ultimately imposed a cease-fire and called for “the disarming of all armed groups in Lebanon,” for an embargo against rearming Hezbollah and for Lebanon’s government to take control of its entire territory, in order to eliminate Hezbollah’s state within a state.

But, as so often before, the West did not follow through. Instead, Iran and Syria rearmed and restored Hezbollah to greater strength (unequivocally demonstrating that Hezbollah was their proxy).

The West must insist on enforcing the Security Council resolutions in support of Lebanese sovereignty and peaceful, representative government, or stop engaging in meaningless gestures. This is our last opportunity before Hezbollah’s armed capabilities swallow democracy in Lebanon, perhaps permanently, and dramatically increase the risk of renewed hostilities throughout the region.…

Unlike Washington’s repeated prior failures, we must refuse to recognize any Hezbollah-dominated government as legitimate.… The White House has been obsessed for two years with pressuring Israel to make concessions to Palestinians instead of focusing on the manifestations of Iran’s menace. Perhaps the humiliation of Hezbollah’s collapsing of Saad Hariri’s government as Hariri was meeting in the Oval Office will help spur Obama into meaningful action. If not, the lights will be going out in Lebanon for a long time to come, with devastating consequences in the broader Middle East.

 

(John R. Bolton is a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.)

OBAMA AND [THE] SYRIAN TRAP
Matthew RJ Brodsky

Ynet News, January 5, 2011

 

…The Obama administration is eyeing an opportunity to make headway with Syria. The theory is nothing new: If the regime in Damascus can make peace with Israel, end its sponsorship of terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, distance itself from Iran, and reorient itself toward the West, then the U.S. would further isolate Tehran’s rulers while giving a critical boost to peace efforts around the region.

To that end, President Obama confirmed the new U.S. ambassador to Syria and reports have surfaced of a recent back channel opened between the White House and Syrian officials in Damascus. While Team Obama may see such a development as a panacea for what ails the Middle East, the reality is that Syria will simply use the opportunity to play all sides against each other and pocket concessions, while preserving the very status quo that Washington seeks to alter.

The timing could not be any better for the Assad regime. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon tasked with investigating the string of assassinations in 2005 including that of the pro-freedom, former Lebanese premier, Rafik Hariri, is set to hand down indictments in a matter of weeks. Hezbollah will likely be held responsible with the support and orders coming from Assad’s inner circle. Moreover, just last month U.S. satellite imagery revealed a compound in Western Syria with hundreds of missile-shaped items, functionally related to the North Korean-designed nuclear reactor destroyed in September 2007. For more than two years, Syria has blocked International Atomic Energy Agency access to the remains of the al-Kibar nuclear site and similar installations.

The pattern is already familiar. Damascus makes tactical choices for diplomatic engagement without making the strategic decision to change its worldview in a manner consistent with a state seeking either peace or a regional realignment. By engaging with Syria now, the U.S. not only ensures that Damascus will not be held to account, but it rewards their rogue behavior and emboldens America’s enemies.…

The Assad regime always benefits from the process of peace, but it is the process and not the peace that interests Damascus. That is because Syria has no intention of trading alliances or stopping its support for terrorists as its regional importance rests solely on its capacity to light fires around the region.… President Assad still considers Hamas to be a legitimate resistance group and preserving Hezbollah’s strength is a strategic imperative for the regime whose first foreign policy priority is regaining and retaining its domination over Lebanon. Simply put, for Syria, the rewards for a peace agreement acceptable in Jerusalem and Washington are far outweighed by the benefits provided by its strategic and longstanding alignment with Tehran.

[The Obama administration’s] current flirtation with Damascus, then, only provides benefits to Syria. This distraction points to an American foreign policy in the Middle East that for two years has been built on a fundamental misreading of the region. Indeed, it still rests upon the belief that the problem is one of communication, rather than the decisions and strategic calculations of states and actors such as Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas.

President Obama came into office with engagement as his mantra, seeking to reset U.S. relations around the globe. One can only hope the White House finds the reset button quickly when it comes to its current approach to the Middle East.

(Matthew RJ Brodsky is Director of Policy of the Jewish Policy Centerin Washington, DC.)

 

WE WILL NOT BE TURKEY’S PUNCHING BAG
Avigdor Lieberman

Jerusalem Post, January 5, 2011

 

Contrary to popular assertions, the current crisis [between Israel and] Turkey did not begin yesterday and certainly not after the events surrounding the flotilla in May.… The exact genesis of the current crisis can be traced to the moment in January 2009 when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan verbally attacked and humiliated [Israeli] President Shimon Peres, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Everyone who saw this unsettling scene was left in no doubt that this outburst was not improvised or reactive, but part of a carefully thought-out strategy.…

The completely unilateral change in [Israeli-Turkish] relations is not reflective of [Israel’s] actions; rather it is the result of Turkey’s internal politics. Turkey’s relations with Israel are only a small reflection of what is occurring in Turkish society. The best example of this is Ankara’s decision not to vote for sanctions against Iran in the UN Security Council, in direct opposition to its allies in NATO.

Unfortunately, recent events in Turkey are reminiscent of Iran before the Islamic Revolution led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei. Like Turkey, Iran was among Israel’s closest allies and the two nations held good relations between both governments and people. Similarly, the Khomenei revolution was the result of internal factors and had absolutely no connection to Israel.

During the last couple of months, the incitement against Israel has reached new heights. During Erdogan’s visit to Lebanon in late November, he said that Turkey will not “remain silent” while Israel will “kill women and children using modern aircraft, tanks…phosphorus munitions and cluster bombs.” It is important to note that Erdogan’s visit followed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon a month prior. It was difficult for us to perceive any differences in the vitriol of the two.…

The hatred and incitement reached its peak during the dreadful spectacle when a crowd of 100,000 welcomed the terror ship Mavi Marmara back to Istanbul chanting jihadist slogans and “Death to Israel.” The lack of condemnation for these outrageous scenes from any official Turkish sources makes it extremely hard for us to show restraint. We will not be a punching bag and will react, as any other sovereign nation, to such insults and abuse.

If the Turkish government is truly honest about seeking to normalize relations with Israel, it needs to stop looking for excuses and attaching preconditions.… We are seeking a return to a frank and honest dialogue with Turkey, and I invite my counterpart, Foreign Minister Davutoglu, to Jerusalem, or any other location, where we can discuss all issues of relevance to both nations and the wider region. Allies can have disagreements; it is how we deal with these disagreements that is the true mark of any relationship.

(Avigdor Lieberman is the Israeli deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs.)

 

WE COULD STILL ‘LOSE’ IRAQ
Max Boot
LA Times, February 13, 2011

 

…Remember Iraq? That country we [the U.S.] invaded in 2003? The one where more than 4,400 American soldiers have lost their lives and more than 32,000 have been wounded? The one where we’ve spent nearly $800 billion?

As recently as 2008, Iraq dominated American politics. But now it’s a nonstory. Other subjects have pushed it off the front page, from the economy and healthcare to Afghanistan, Tunisia and Egypt. In a way, Iraq has been a victim of its own success. Because it seems to be doing relatively well, policymakers have shifted their attention to more urgent concerns. But there is a danger that our present inattention could undo the progress that so many have struggled so hard to attain.

Iraq has made impressive gains since 2006, when it was on the brink of all-out civil war. Violence is down more than 90% even as the number of U.S. troops has fallen to 50,000 from 170,000. The Iraqi political system continues to function with the recent inauguration of a new coalition government led by returning Prime Minister Nouri Maliki. And the economy is picking up steam, as contracts are signed with foreign companies that can tap the country’s vast oil reserves.

But there remain disquieting reminders of darker days. More than 250 Iraqis died in terrorist attacks in January, up from 151 in December, with most of those attacks attributed to Al Qaeda in Iraq, a group whose obituary has been written more than once. Roughly as many civilians died in Iraq last year as in Afghanistan—about 2,400. Remind me again which country is at peace?

The political situation [in Iraq] remains as uncertain as the security situation; indeed, the two are closely connected. The formation of a new government occurred only after an agonizing nine-month deadlock in 2010. Iyad Allawi, who won the most votes, lost the prime minister’s office and accepted as a consolation prize leadership of a new strategic policy council with undefined powers. His primarily Sunni Muslim backers remain convinced they will be frozen out of power by the Shiite prime minister. Maliki, in turn, is deeply suspicious of Sunni groups such as the Sons of Iraq, as well as of his Shiite rivals in cleric Muqtada Sadr’s movement and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. Shiites and Sunnis are united chiefly by their desire to curb Kurdish autonomy, a prospect that fills the Kurds with understandable dread.

In short, Iraq remains a volcano. It has been capped for the moment but could erupt again. Especially because the most effective cap—a U.S. military presence—is due to be removed at the end of the year. Prospects of a security accord that would keep American forces in Iraq past 2011 are rapidly dimming. Maliki, who spent long years of exile in Syria and Iran—no fans of the United States—has always been suspicious of America. He would certainly prefer not to have tens of thousands of U.S. troops under a four-star general looking over his shoulder. President Obama, for his part, came to office pledging to withdraw from Iraq and, judging by his State of the Union address, appears determined to do just that.

Unless both men change course and soon, the mission now performed by 50,000 U.S. troops will be left to about 1,000 diplomats and perhaps 100 soldiers in an Office of Security Cooperation, with thousands of mostly non-American contractors providing security and logistical support.…

This is worrisome because if there is any lesson in American military history, it is that the longer U.S. troops stay in a post-conflict area, the greater the odds of a successful transition to democracy. The iconic examples are Germany, Japan and South Korea. When U.S. forces leave prematurely, on the other hand, the odds of a bad outcome greatly increase, whether in the post-Civil War South, post-World War I Germany, Haiti in the 1930s and 1990s, or Somalia in the 1990s. Foreign peacekeepers are still in Bosnia and Kosovo long after the end of their conflicts. Does anyone think that Iraq is more stable than those postage-stamp-size countries on the periphery of Europe?

Iraq may very well muddle through no matter what. It has so far. But I would be a lot more confident about its future if we were making a bigger commitment. It would be a tragedy if, after years of struggle and sacrifice, we were to lose Iraq now…because of our own attention deficit disorder.

(Max Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.)