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April 29, 2006

Iran

Are The War Drums Beating?

By Craig Martelle | April 29, 2006

Seymour Hersh would have you believe that the United States has secret battalions, armed and waiting for black planes in the dead of night, or more appropriately, the nuclear missiles are fueled, warheads checked and ready to explode. Is this even remotely the case? And why would Hersh publish such an article? The result has been to discredit the administration, to call Bush's bluff regarding military action in Iran - inciting the peace-only crowd and sending politicians running for election-year cover...

Gerard Baker of the Times (UK) breaks down the situation from a perspective less inundated with political rhetoric than what one will see from within the borders of the big green machine.

Rightly or wrongly the Bush team is not remotely in the frame of mind it was in over Iraq four years ago. The political line-up is transformed — the collaborative strategy of Condoleezza Rice and Bob Zoellick at the State Department trumps all comers. The ambitious wings of the Pentagon’s civilian leadership have been clipped by setbacks in Iraq and infighting among the generals. Most important, even the hawks in the Vice-President’s office are far from convinced of the likely efficacy of pre-emptive strikes to take out Iran’s nuclear programme.

In the lead up to the war with Iraq, the outcry for armed conflict to remove Saddam's WMD capability was extensive and from both sides of the political aisle. Even John Kerry demanded action on Iraq.

"Those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein, and those who believe today that we are not safer with his capture, don't have the judgment to be President, or the credibility to be elected President. No one can doubt or should doubt that we are safer -- and Iraq is better -- because Saddam Hussein is now behind bars." Senator John Kerry (Democrat, Massachusetts), Speech at Drake University in Iowa, December 16, 2003

Not this time, though. How many politicians on Capitol Hill are giving more than half-hearted support for a military option? Not enough to convince the American public or the world. Although China and Russia's financial relations with Iran are similar to their relations with pre-war Iraq, it just feels different. Baker notes in his commentary the following.

China’s multilateral moment may have passed. At the White House last week President Hu Jintao offered little assurance of willingness to take action. Old worries are resurfacing about Europe. American diplomats look at France’s political paralysis and Germany’s costive coalition and wonder how big a priority either can make of nuclear Iran. Even from dependable Britain, they hear not the reassuring sturdiness of Tony Blair but the increasingly frantic shrieks of Jack Straw. Every time he shouts “War is nuts!” a little part of the wall of international resolution crumbles.

Without America's closest ally, the UK, there will be no military action against Iran. Without that possibility, Iran's bargaining position is vastly improved. North Korea has strung us along for years (and mislead the Clinton Administration masterfully) because we staunchly declared that we were not going to war with North Korea. War is a bad option - that is not in dispute. But when the bad guys know that it is not an option, the bad guys have a tendency to ignore any attempt at diplomacy.

North Korea can thumb its nose at us - we are still on the right side and the North Koreans are generally going to die off from starvation and lack of medical care. Their missiles and nuclear weapons will be sealed in their own tombs. The entire society is dying and is guaranteed to die without international aid. But Iran has already succesfully thrown out the infidels - do not forget history.

Jimmy Carter allowed the foundation to be built by the Islamists against the Shah and the ultimate overthrow of the Shah's Iran. American hostages, seized from our Embassy in Tehran and held for 444 days. Last time, the revolutionaries planned behind closed doors and caught the peace-loving world of Jimmy Carter off guard. Sorry, Jimmy, history has proven you wrong - peace is guaranteed through strength, not weakness.

But what of 2006 and the Bush Administration? When President Bush sends his message loud and clear, he has not wavered. What has his administration been saying on Iran?

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Thursday called for diplomatic action against Tehran, warning that the U.N. Security Council cannot permit the regime to "simply ignore its will and its word."

These sentiments are echoed across the board, even with the findings of the April 28th IAEA report. An analysis published yesterday seems to be right on target regarding the next steps that will happen - UNSC will discuss, China & Russia will veto any resolution regarding sanctions, more discussions and maybe added bluster, but still no real action.

Carpenter says the United States' next step will be to try to persuade China and Russia to agree to sanctions. If that doesn't work, he says, then Bush probably would bring pressure on Iran by making it clear that it would do everything in its power -- hinting at military force -- to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. After Iraq, Carpenter says, Iran would have to believe Bush is not bluffing.

Even if the threat of war is not a bluff, if Iran believes it to be so, then devastating consequences could result. The real threat of war is lost in diplomacy if it is not believed. Kennedy's nuclear brinksmanship with Cuba in 1962 resulted in a peaceful resolution, but only because the Soviet Union rightfully believed that Kennedy was ready to launch a nuclear war to stop the Soviet incursion into the western hemisphere.

Back in the early 1980's, as a young enlisted Russian crypto-linguist, I met an old crusty Marine who was a crypto operator in the early 1960's stationed overseas. He said that the countdown to nuclear war was under 30 seconds to launch when the "cancel" order was received.

Bluffing achieves nothing in diplomacy, unless the one bluffing is the lesser party. The U.S. should always be in the superior negotiating position. Period. When we concede that advantage, we allow tyrants, despots, and other anti-humanity types (let's call them Islamic Extremists for consistency's sake) move one step closer to taking the entire free world hostage. 1979 relived on a global scale.

Opposition politics have made Bush weak. This election year is resulting in massive information warfare gains for the bad guys. Al Qaeda is releasing videos as fast as Hot Air. But Al Qaeda receives global coverage and commentary - they are achieving their propaganda goals. Are we achieving our national interest goals? With the Republicans in full retreat on national security issues, who is left to protect us?

This is where the drums need to start beating. Bush himself has not ruled out military action against Iran, but because of political attempts by candidates to be all things to all people, no one believes that Bush will be able to act militarily if need be. Without this belief at home and without support from overseas, those aren't drums you hear beating - it's the sound of a bluff being called.

Legacy Media Takes Bait

By Craig Martelle | April 29, 2006

Although not completely hook, line, and sinker - the legacy media outlets have acted as we predicted yesterday in the RapidRecon post on the State Department's Annual Terrorism Report. The most biased bite was from the Washington Post - here is the title and the first two paragraphs.

Terrorist Attacks Rose Sharply in 2005, State Dept. Says

The number of terrorist attacks worldwide increased nearly fourfold in 2005 to 11,111, with strikes in Iraq accounting for 30 percent of the total, according to statistics released by U.S. counterterrorism officials yesterday.

Although only half of the incidents resulted in loss of life, more than 14,600 noncombatants were killed, a majority of them in Iraq alone and 80 percent in the Near East and South Asia. American nonmilitary deaths totaled 56.

The New York Times also took the bait and trumpeted the drastic increase in terrorist attacks.

Insurgent Attacks on Iraqis Soared, Report Says

WASHINGTON, April 28 — The number of insurgent attacks on civilians in Iraq skyrocketed last year, resulting in almost 8,300 deaths and accounting for more than 50 percent of those killed in terrorist attacks worldwide, according to a State Department report released Friday.

The figures for 2005, reported in the State Department's annual survey of global terrorism, showed a doubling from the previous year in both the number of major terrorist attacks in Iraq and the death toll from them. The overall tally of about 3,500 terrorist attacks in Iraq last year represented nearly one-third of such attacks around the world. The numbers do not include attacks against American or coalition troops.

Is the NY Times implying in that last sentence that attacks on U.S. soldiers should be included in the number? But note the sensational title - attacks on Iraqis soar! But those attacks were not counted for last year's report and they were in this year's report. That was the whole point. The Times editors didn't not the odd occurrence of how numbers can "soar" from zero when Iraq was substantially the same last year? And in the Times' conclusion, it notes that "Mr. bin Laden" has been marginalized and is generally ineffective. Mr. bin Laden?

Here's a quote from FoxNews.

Overall, the report tallied about 11,000 terror attacks around the world last year, resulting in more than 14,600 deaths. That is almost a fourfold increase in attacks from 2004, though the agency blames the change largely on new ways of tallying the incidents.

Like the twist? "The agency blames the change..." Not the cold hard fact that Congressional legislation forced inclusion of numbers that would necessarily increase the totals exponentially. CNN did not take the bait, and wrote a simple article on the data contained within the report. It did not mention numbers at all, except to note that any numerical comparison would be skewed because of new accounting methods - well done to CNN!

Here's a take from the Chicago Tribune, on an article published from an AP report.

Overall, the report tallied about 11,000 terrorist attacks around the world last year, resulting in more than 14,600 deaths. That is almost a fourfold increase in attacks from 2004, though the agency attributes the change largely to new ways of tallying the incidents.

The Chicago Tribune watered down the original AP report from "blame" to "attributed," at least. And Iran's national news agency has a completely different take.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said here Saturday Tehran gives no importance to the US State Department's annual report citing countries in support of terrorism.

"The US Administration names countries which are opposed to its policies and criticizes the crimes of the Zionist regime as supporters of terrorism," he said.

"But the United States is the main supporter of the (criminal) Zionist regime and is therefore not competent be a judge on this issue," adding that it (US) should instead account for the crimes committed by the Zionist regime.

He further said that the US' wrong policies and moves have intensified violence and increased acts of terrorism in different parts of the world.

The campaign to end terrorism will only succeed through cooperation among members of the international community and by addressing its roots such as discrimination, injustice and poverty," the spokesman further said.

Here, here for the Islamic Republic News Agency - never missing a chance for more anti-semitic, anti-West rhetoric. In regards to Iran - discrimination? And your women have what freedoms? Injustice? An Iranian woman was put to death for resisting a potential rapist. Poverty? The recession in Iran is deepening - the average Iranian construction worker in Tehran works two days out of the week instead of five. Actions not words - Iran has not missed the point of the propaganda campaign. They speak often and loudly in order to unite the Muslim world in a single cause - one Islamic world (with the Iranians at the top of they pyramid).

April 27, 2006

United States of America

Emergency Planning

By Craig Martelle | April 27, 2006

This is not a completely shameless plug for the Strategic Outlook Institute regarding emergency planning and crisis management, but the need is obvious, as shown over the past five years. Chertoff stated this need specifically in a speech in Orlando earlier this month.

I wrote an Op/Ed piece for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette just a few days after Katrina hit, when FEMA was under fire regarding the role of FEMA and who is really responsible for emergency planning and initial crisis management. Not surprisingly, Chertoff's comments eight months later mirror my own from back in September. Finger pointing went on right away, but that was because of the complete failure of the people in power - their welfare state mentality deprived them of the ability to make do for themselves.

Planning begins right at home. Whether liberal or conservative, do you really want to hand over everything to the government so that they can take care of you? Where is the ACLU in this one? We should not offer up our liberties so easily. An emergency begins before there ever is an emergency. Pilots spend more time learning what to do in case of an emergency than in actually flying the plane. There's a good reason for this.

Organizations like the Strategic Outlook Institute (shameless plug here) help businesses and small city governments in their planning, training, and managing a crisis. The initilal review includes identifying vulnerabilities and what is most important to the business/community. The golden rule applies that if you try to protect everything, you protect nothing. Cost-based analyses start the process of making the hard decisions. If you have enough money, then you can protect an awful lot, but very, very few can foot this kind of emergency plan. Then once the cost-based analysis is done, preparation begins (although these can and should be done concurrently to give the governmental budgeting process as much time as necessary to acquire essentials) by identifying the key players, communications, and resources. Neighbors make great resources as they will have something you need and vice versa. So sign some exchange agreements with your neighbors, to be activated in case of ab emergency. Then start planning an exercise regimen. FEMA recommends a 12-24 month training cycle with five different levels of exercises. I received weeks of FEMA training in exercise development and implementation at FEMA's Maryland training facility (not far from Camp David).

Chertoff probably could learn a thing or two by attending a FEMA course for executives. By the way, when I was in training at the FEMA facility, Brown showed up and was given the grand tour. This was well before Katrina - the bags under his eyes were not so-well developed at that point. And this should give you an indicator of what a lack of preparation will do to you.

April 26, 2006

Belarus

Chernobyl Remembered

By Craig Martelle | April 26, 2006

Although I have not been to Chernobyl, I have been to other northern areas of the Ukraine. Chernobyl is the elephant in the living room that no one wants to talk about, but when they start talking, you can see that they felt it was not safe - they were well aware of shoddy Soviet construction (almost like slave labor). They all know people who died miserable deaths from the radiation sickness. After the Northridge Earthquake in California, I worked in North Hollywood as an interpreter - one of the main areas affected by the quake was the Russian community.

These folks immigrated to the U.S. as soon as possible after the wall fell. They formed a tight community where they had no need to learn English. Everything they needed was provided by other bilingual immigrants. After the earthquake, they had to deal directly with FEMA themselves. So FEMA temporarily employed me as an interpreter (yes, I was simply reassigned from my USMC duties for a couple weeks). I met a couple Chernobyl survivors. One elderly woman, who had nothing, lost even that and was now homeless. The Social Security Administration (most of the immigrants were drawing SSI) had given her a card describing her complete disability due to complications from radiation exposure. She was a proud woman, but defeated. I remember hugging her and crying (yes, as a Marine 2nd Lieutenant). I walked her to the front of the lines and through the process in order to get her food and shelter as quickly as possible. I made sure that she always had a chair to sit on. She could not thank me enough in the end, but that's not why I took care of her - she was truly a victim of a government's failure to protect its people. That's why I have a problem with self-proclaimed "victim" groups here in the United States.

If you want some modern-day pictures of what's become of the area surrounding the Chernobyl reactor, go to this photo expose. The author at this site later admitted that much of her motorcycle trip ruminations were fabricated and declared them to be "poetry," however the pictures are all actual photos of the area around Chernobyl. They are chilling, to say the least.

Today is 20 years since the Chernobyl disaster. The survivors of the disaster still gather in remembrance.

Olexy Barankevich, a journalist who grew up in the town next to the plant, remembers how the group of children he was with when news spread decided to run down towards the plant to “have a look at the fire”. “I’m very glad I didn’t go,” he says.

Chernobyl stands as a monument to the failure of communism and to protect its people from the failures within.

April 24, 2006

United States of America

Stolen Honor Reclaimed

By Steve Schippert | April 24, 2006

There are days when a man feels compelled to reflect and self-evaluate. It is usually when surrounded by peers whose respectable accomplishments and character compels one to look up far more often than simply across. Saturday was one such day. One man in particular was inspirational beyond words. I will call him ‘John’.

John approached me barely a minute after my panel had left the stage in the first session of the MilBlog Conference 2006. John, whom I had never seen before, was quietly standing by the sink in the men’s room, almost motionless but for his bleary eyes following my movements as I approached the sink. “I just had to shake your hand and thank you,” he said. There seemed to be an urgency about him, perhaps explaining why he stood now in the men’s room, of all places, but leaving me completely perplexed as to why a man I had never before seen would want to thank me, of all people, with such apparent emotion.

“I want to thank you for what you have done for me.” He was now openly crying, without the usual concern one would expect with a small and unlikely room filled with men in and out of uniform, some pausing as they walked slowly by. John continued, “You and CJ restored my faith in service. You guys changed my life.”

John went on, explaining that he was a Vietnam-era veteran who had always been compelled to feel shame for his service, even though his service was spent thousands of miles from Vietnam. Only recently had he even spoken of his service directly to his own children. All of this change, apparently for something he attributed to CJ and I.

We had, through emails some time ago he reminded, convinced a reluctant John to join the MilBlog ring established by GreyHawk of The Mudville Gazette. It was for active duty soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. And it was also for veterans like me. Veterans like you, perhaps. But definitely for veterans like John.

I cannot recall a word said in response to John. All I can recall is having no idea what to say. My lips moved and something came out, probably questioning any significance of anything said or done on my part. With John sobbing, I just hugged him, fighting tears of my own...a fight lost during the solitude of a 7-hour drive home later in the day.

For the better part of this fine man’s life, his honor and the honor of his service to this country had been stolen from him. His honor was stolen by an entire culture and its media establishment.

I did not know John. Yet, I did. He was my father. He was my Uncle Pat. He was my Uncle Rick and Uncle Ed. He was my friends Steve and Bruce and others. He was a lot of people I know and a lot of people I do not know. He was John, a Vietnam veteran, an American, a brother in arms and an honorable man whose honor had been restored. Not by me, but rather by John himself.

You see, his honor had only been stolen from view. It had always truly been there. Whatever insignificant role I or CJ (A Soldier's Perspective) may have played, it was really simply a matter of acknowledgement on John’s own part.

No one, not even an entire culture, can steal a man’s character. They can only cast an illusion.

From the very first commentary I had ever written as a blogger:

Honor is the single most important aspect of character that defines military service. Honor transcends integrity. It transcends honesty, selflessness, compassion and duty. Indeed, honor encompasses them all. Honor is a pillar of military service.

Helping my daughter with her homework one day, she asked me, “Daddy, what is honor?” I told her simply, “Honey, honor is doing the right thing…even when no one is looking.”

She got it.

It’s really no more complicated than that.

No one can ‘take’ that. John’s stolen honor had merely been shrouded. For years and years. And that is a crime.

Speaking at the MilBlog Conference 2006, I offered what I saw as the most important value of MilBlogs and MilBloggers, drawing upon the Vietnam experience of trading military victory for political defeat. Walter Cronkite led a media offensive against not only the Vietnam War, but against the military service itself. Those who doubt that should consider Cronkite’s own description later in his career.

“In the 1960’s, we were still a country shaped by World War II and a thoroughly plausible conviction that America had helped rescue the world from evil. Now, a new evil loomed. If we had lost the peace once by failing to confront Nazi aggression in Europe, we would win it now by confronting communism everywhere. Many of us, who had been young war correspondents in World War II, at the beginning of the Vietnam involvement saw a clear continuity of American purpose. The debate over Vietnam became bitter because it challenged my generation’s most important assumption of World War II: That the American power was an unwavering instrument of moral good.”

Now, according to Cronkite and all those who shared his twisted view, the battle against communism was nonsense and the military was different.

The battle was not to be against communism, but clearly against America’s own military by the sole arbiters of information flow. The battle was engaged against John.

That offensive, launched in living rooms and coffee shops from coast to coast, went unchallenged from military service members in the field. There was no mechanism nor the technology for them to rebut or directly dispute the nonsense that the Tet Offensive of 1968 spelled doom for South Vietnam and American involvement there. For, if a credentialed member of the media did not report it, it was never heard or considered.

It was this single caveat that enabled an agenda-driven media establishment to dictate the course of a war, successfully snatching political defeat from the jaws of a military victory.

It was this single caveat that enabled an agenda-driven media establishment to shroud, obscure and effectively steal the honor of honorable men like John, forever altering the course of their lives.

MilBlogs, especially those written in-theater, changed that. Permanently.

Never again will the Walter Cronkites of another day or another war have a monopoly on communication of the ground situation that could lead to disastrous manipulation.

Growing up, my grandfather was my hero. To me, he embodied all that was honorable: Hard work, honesty and humility. In him I saw no failings, perhaps simply a young grandson’s admiration, perhaps aided by a thousand miles of separation. He was successful. He worked tirelessly. He was in many ways selfless. For my grandmother, a Cadillac. For himself, a Ford Maverick.

Yet he was, I am told, human. But, to this day, I often imagine him standing behind me watching me go about my day, confronted with choices. When I do, I rarely fail. What would he think of me if I choose X? What would he think of me if I choose Y? I dare not disappoint and I still strive to please him.

While I lay no claim to superior character, I battle every day to live my life in an honorable manner. And, while I do not always win, my battle is my victory. I will never give up.

John's battle has been his victory, too. John never gave up. John never stopped living his life honorably. He had simply been convinced to hang his head in shame without due cause.

No more. Not now. Not ever.

Welcome home, John.

April 21, 2006

Russia

Russia and Georgia Ready For War

By Guest Contributor, Craig Martelle | April 21, 2006

I had not been keeping up on Russia as there is far too much going on in the Middle East (where we are winning the war in Iraq, by the way). But Russia and Georgia are on the verge of a shooting war. First, Russia banned Georgian wines! Having lived in Russia for two years, I can tell you that Georgian wines were delicacies, right next to Moldovan wines (which are also embargoed, it seems). We still have a couple untapped bottles of Georgian wine in the rack. And Georgian food is some of the best on the planet - surprising that Georgian restaurants aren't everywhere. They have food that appeals to the American palate - baked cheese bread!

In any case, Russia is banning certain imports from Georgia. Russia has also been conducting operations into Georgia against so-called insurgents since the breakup of the Soviet Union. I guess it has gone too far - near and dear to my heart, Georgia is filing a lawsuit for damages against Russia! Jurisdiction will probably be an issue along with finding a court that isn't biased...

And no matter what, the U.S. should not interfere in Russian domestic issues. Russian internal domestic affairs have an ugly way of spilling over to the rest of the world - look at Russian involvement in Iran, Russian support for Hamas, and Russian agreements with China (not found in Russian papers, but located in western sources).

Russia is not working well with its neighbors. Russia wants to get back to a position at the top of the hill. Putin has not been kind to the democratic process. He has disbanded parliament and he has increased his own powers.

This is the first in a series of articles that will show how Russia has reasserted itself, the future in the old Soviet model, with new players and titles. The Soviet proxy war has begun afresh - through Iran and through Hamas. Who is really pulling the strings in these cases? The Russians have no love for Islamists - look at Chechnya. But the Russians also have no love for us. My first rule - the enemy of my enemy fits in quite nicely here and will be reiterated throughout the series.

Craig Martelle, founder of The Strategic Outlook Institute, is a retired Marine Corps Intelligence Officer who entered military service as an enlisted Marine in 1982. He earned a BA in Russian Language at the University of Arizona and is currently a second-year law student at William Howard Taft University. ThreatsWatch is pleased to welcome Craig Martelle and introduce him as our newest contributor.

April 20, 2006

Egypt

The Muslim Brotherhood and the Copts

By Guest Contributor, Magdi Khalil | April 20, 2006

Many have recently wondered about the Copts' evident concern over the Muslim Brotherhood's victory of 88 seats in the last parliamentary elections in Egypt. Why, exactly, are the Copts so upset, and would they stand against democracy if it works in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood?

Actually, the Copts are not the only ones to have serious misgivings about this latest development in Egypt's political life; women, liberals, civil society supporters, leftists, and other advocates of democracy share the same sentiment. The champions of civil society are haunted by the nightmarish vision of a religious government, and it goes without saying that the Copts, as a religious minority, are particularly concerned about the Muslim Brotherhood's agenda with regards to the creation of an Islamic state and Islamic nationalism.

In response to these concerns, the Muslim Brotherhood claims that it does not seek to establish a religious state, but rather a "civil state with an Islamic framework" or an "Islamic democracy." However, I am challenging if there is any person out there who can pinpoint the exact definition of those ambiguous terms, give accurate details as to what an Islamic democracy entails, or what it means to have a civil state with an Islamic framework.

Most importantly, the Muslim Brotherhood's history, actions, website statements and newspaper articles confirm the intent to establish a state that has a religious nature and not a civil one. To illustrate:

• Mustafa Mashour, the former supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, was quoted as saying that "Whoever stands against the Muslim Brotherhood is also standing against God and His Prophet." The implication here is that Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood are on an equal standing or are one and the same. The same feeling is reflected in the statement made by Hassan Hanafi: "What is so terrifying about the Muslim Brotherhood? The Western media is ruining their image in the same pattern it has been ruining the image of Islam and Muslims." (Al-Arabi, No. 989)

• Essam Al Erian: "The Muslim Brotherhood believes that a comprehensive reform will not have the power to inspire real public participation unless it is resting on an Islamic foundation... We seek to build an Islamic civilization under an umbrella of faith in God and in the after-life, a civilization that would re-establish man's psychological balance and restore his lost soul." (Al-Hayat, 30 Nov 2005). I wonder who told Mr. Erian that our souls are lost, and who can possibly determine the meaning of loss and restoration?

• The current supreme guide, Mohammed Mahdi Akef, responded to the civil society advocates' request for a constitutional amendment which would provide for a civil framework for the state by saying: "This is a futile and foolish request, and we will say no more about it, except to call on the people to protect their own faith." His deputy, Mohammed Habib, commented by saying, "This request crosses a line that shouldn't even be touched, because just touching it can trigger a civil war in Egypt."

• A spectacle that needs no comments: Members of Egypt's Parliament from the Muslim Brotherhood standing in line to kiss the hand of the supreme guide!

• Mustafa Mashour's declaration: "For now we accept the principle of party plurality, but when we will have an Islamic rule we will either accept or reject this principle" (in Refaat Al-Said's Against Islamization). The clear reference to an "Islamic rule," or in other words, a "religious state," is proof enough that our fears are well founded.

• Mohammed Mahdi Akef's statement: "The public opinion is ruled by Shari'a. We should not forget that the Egyptian Constitution states that 'the Islamic law is the principal source of legislation'" (Akher Saa, 20 Jul 2005).

• According to Mohammed Habib, even the separation of powers should be guided and inspired by the rules of Islamic Shari'a (Asharq Al-Awsat, 27 Nov 2005).

• The Muslim Brotherhood's main slogan is "Islam is the Solution," a mysterious slogan that excludes "infidels" such as the Christians and the Jews. The Brotherhood's flag pictures two swords and the Qur'an and a Qur'anic verse which states: "Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies of Allah and your enemies." (Spoils of War Surah - El-Ghanaem: 60)

• Their proclaimed purpose is to "restore the Islamic Caliphate (Islamic political system and rule).Their former supreme guide, Mustafa Mashour, has frankly stated: "We will not give up our mission to restore the lost Islamic Caliphate." (Asharq Al-Awsat, 9 Aug 2002)

• The professional syndicates in Egypt bear the mark of the Muslim Brotherhood's intrusion. For example, the solemn Hippocratic Oath was replaced by a Muslim oath in the Physicians' Syndicate; hard-earned Egyptian money is being donated to the "brothers" in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya and Kashmir; and the syndicates' funds are wasted on Islamic projects that belong to the Muslim Brotherhood.

When it is so obvious that public affairs have been turned into "holy" affairs, and the debate revolves around religious credentials and how to best abide by Islam's rule, it seems pointless to expect that their promised state would be a civil state.

When asked about the program of action for this alleged civil state, the Muslim Brotherhood usually refers to the reform initiative issued in March 2004 in the Journalists' Syndicate, and which is posted on the Muslim Brotherhood's website. A study of the initiative leads to the undeniable conclusion that this document is, in fact, a proposal for an Islamic state.

It plainly states: "Our mission is to implement a comprehensive reform in order to uphold God's law which is good for both secular and religious affairs." It goes on to state that "Our only hope, if we wish to achieve any type of progress, is to go back to our faith, and to apply the Shari'a," clearly confirming "our mission is to build a Muslim individual, a Muslim family, a Muslim government, and an Islamic rule to lead other Islamic states."

The document touches briefly on what we can expect if that mission is accomplished:

- Regarding the media: "The media will be cleansed of anything that disagrees with the decrees of Islam."

- Regarding the economy: "We believe in an economic system that is derived from Islam... usury should be outlawed as a source of funding."

- Regarding politics: "The state should have a democratic system that is compatible with Islam, and within Islamic boundaries."

- Regarding the social system: "The zakah (alms) institutions should be in charge of the distribution of income."

- Regarding education: "To increase the number of kuttab (a rudimentary religious school) and nurseries, and the focus of education should be on learning the Qur'an by heart."

- Regarding women: "Women should only hold the kind of posts that would preserve their virtue."

- Regarding culture: "Our culture has to be derived from Islamic sources." This would also impact television: "Improper drama and offensive TV shows should be banned."

The notion of a civil state is nowhere to be found in the sole document offered by the Muslim Brotherhood.

I have yet to meet anyone who knows what Islamic democracy means. As Ragaa ben Salama says: "If we have no doubt that a Muslim can live within a democracy, and remain a practicing believer, can we say the same about democracy surviving an Islamic label? Democracy basically means the supremacy of the people, a rule by the people for the people, so can we call democrats those who opt for an Islamic state which, according to Rashid al-Ghanoushi, is ruled by the highest legislative authority issued by God, the Qur'an and Sunna (the Prophet's traditions)?

How will we proceed in finding a middle ground between the Holy Texts and human rights principles, and do we have viable suggestions in that respect?
It seems that with that type of "democracy" we will only be trading one tyranny for another, to live under the rule of Shari'a is to experience the greatest level of tyranny, because every tiny detail in human life, whether public or private, is subject to the haram and halal (permissible and forbidden) rules (Middle East Transparent, 21 Dec 2004).

As we can see, the notion of a religious state is a scary one for all, particularly for the Copts, who have not, throughout the history of Islam, enjoyed equal treatment as full citizens while living under a religious Islamic state.

I have met Muslim Brotherhood leaders more than once in the course of television interviews, and it did not take me long to realize that we come from two different worlds and spoke different languages: our civil perspective versus their religious perspective. However, they have been strangely determined to force this delusion of a "common civil ground" on their audience by using a plethora of mysterious expressions and misleading theories. Needless to say, the "delusion" can only work until you discuss the details of their proposals, then their religious orientation will ultimately reveal itself.

The problem with the Muslim Brotherhood is that they are hard to pin down, with their elusive style, word play, taqiyya, contradictory statements, and double language. They are all-set to accommodate different clients: The West and Americans, the Copts, women, liberals, as well as Osama bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri. To this moment they refuse to condemn the writings of Said Kutb, the philosopher of terror and violence.

Meanwhile, the Copts have particular reasons to fear the Muslim Brotherhood:

First: The Muslim Brotherhood's racist declarations against the Copts.

• A famous fatwa (a legal pronouncement in Islam) prohibited the construction of new churches in Egypt. The fatwa was published in Al-Dawaa magazine, which speaks for the Muslim Brotherhood, in December 1980, and was issued by Mohammed Al-Khatib who was, and still is, a member of the guidance council of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. Twenty-five years later, the Muslim Brotherhood still acknowledges the validity of this fatwa.

• Another outrageous fatwa issued by Mustafa Mashhour stated that: "Islamic law, Shari'a, is the principal point of reference (authority) for governance. Copts must pay the jizyah instead of joining the army, lest they ally themselves with the enemy, if that enemy happens to be a Christian country" (Al-Ahram Weekly 13 April 1997). A calculated change was later made by Mashhour, who still would not deny the validity of his statement. Recently, on 22 December 2005, Mohammed Akef used the same tactic to contain the angry responses to his statement about the holocaust being a "myth," but he neither denied the statement nor offered an apology.

• In an interview with the newspaper Azzaman, Mohammed Habib said: "The Muslim Brotherhood rejects any constitution based on secular and civil laws, and as a consequence the Copts can not take on the form of a political entity in this country. When the movement will come to power, it will replace the current constitution with an Islamic one, according to which a non-Muslim will not be allowed to hold a senior post, whether in the state or the army, because this right should be exclusively granted to Muslims. If the Egyptians decide to elect a Copt for the presidential post, we will issue a protest against such an action, on the basis that this choice should be ours" (Azzaman 17 May 2005).

On another occasion he stated that the Copts should submit to Islamic law like the rest of Egyptians" (Mona Al-Tahawi, Asharq Al-Awsat 18 Aug 2005). Later, when it became obvious that his statements provoked an angry reaction, he wrote an article in Asharq Al-Awsat where he stated: "We consider the Copts as citizens who are entitled to the full rights of citizenship, and consequently they have the full right to hold all sorts of public positions except for the presidential post." (Asharq Al-Awsat, 27 Nov 2005)

The danger here lies in the reasoning behind such statements: the presidential post is considered welaya kobra (major governance) and in this case a non-Muslim is not allowed to govern a Muslim, which completely shatters the basic notion of citizenship. It is a given that a non-Muslim Egyptian will have serious obstacles to be elected president. But, the problem is if an obstacle is based on a religious rule advocated by the Muslim Brotherhood.

While Habib seems to be adjusting his original statement, he is in fact joining his fellows in making a tactical change, given that this principle applies not only to the presidential post but to all senior official posts, as previously mentioned by another Islamist, Dr. Neemat Ahmed Fouad: "Those who are making a big issue out of the fact that there are no Christian governors in Egypt forget that the governor is ruling his governorate on behalf of the president, who is Egypt's ruler...the same logic and same criteria are applicable" (Al-Ahram, 4 Aug 1992).

This explains Milad Hanna's prediction: "The Muslim Brotherhood will resort to taqiyya (deceit). They will claim that they believe in citizenship, but I know that the principle of their religious ideology has more power than the intentions of its followers" (Asharq Al-Awsat, 27 Nov 2005).

• In an interview with Sameh Fawzi in 1996, Mamoun Al-Hudaibi answered the question about whether the Copts were considered citizens or dhimmi by replying that they were both. When pressed for a specific answer, he clearly states: "They are dhimmi" (Al-Hayat, 30 Nov 2005).

Second: While the Muslim Brotherhood's statements and declarations inspire concern, what they have left unsaid is as much a source of concern as what they actually said.

In the reform document, their only one to date, there was not even an allusion to the issue of citizenship, no specific details about other issues, and much general talk. For instance, in talking about their vision, Mohammed Habib says: "To have open and strong relations with the Arab and Islamic regimes, and to achieve a high level of cooperation in the economic, cultural, information and defense fields" (Asharq Al-Awsat, 27 Nov 2005). He avoided mentioning Egypt's international relations, and its relation with Israel. They have followed that same pattern in dealing - or rather in not dealing - with critical issues, intent on hiding pertinent political and moral details.

Third: The Muslim Brotherhood's discourse bears a religious and superior tone, with constant references to the "other", often in a belittling and hurtful manner. Their frequent use of terms such as infidels, crusades, the triumph of the Islamic nation, and the armies of Muslims is guaranteed to antagonize Christians.
The discourse can turn downright hostile, as Hassan Al-Banna was quoted to literally say: "it is necessary to kill ahl el-ketab (Christians and Jews), and God will give a double recompense for those who fight them." Al-Banna also tackled the issues of employment for non-Muslims in a haughty tone: "It is alright to employ non-Muslims, but only when it is necessary, and in posts that do not deal with matters of public governance" (Messages of Hassan Al-Banna, The Legitimate Printing, 1990, p. 280 & 394 - Samir Morkos, Middle East Transparent, 24 Dec 2005).

At best, the Muslim Brotherhood resorts to vague conciliatory statements such as the famous quote which states: "They (Christians) have the same rights as we do and the same duties as we do." Yet, there is no way to reconcile the theory of peaceful coexistence on the basis of equality and citizenship and the prospect of a religious majority imposing its rules and perspective on the minority - in that case, we are no longer talking about a citizenship status but about dhimmi status."

Fourth: The Muslim Brotherhood and their allies insist that the Coptic population amounts to only 6% of Egypt's total population, in spite of a recent official declaration by Osama Al-Baz that the Copts constitute 12.5% of Egypt's population, and despite the fact that other organizations have estimated the number of Copts to be 15 millions, i.e., 20% of the population. Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood claims that the Shi'a amount to 30% of the total population of Iraq, while it is a well-known fact that they constitute 50-60% of the population (Mona Al-Tahawi, Asharq Al-Awsat, 8 Aug 2005). This purposeful twisting of numbers and percentages is a strategy used by the Muslim Brotherhood to deny the rights of their opponents, and on this point, they are worse in deceit compared to the current Egyptian regime.

Finally: Egyptian liberals, advocates of democracy, and the national movement strive towards the achievement of "national integration" for all elements of society, but the Muslim Brotherhood has in mind for the Copts a sort of "religious assimilation," and there is a large difference between the two. Islamization is the first enemy of national integration, it pushes for the religious assimilation of the Coptic minority through a gradual desertion of their faith, or at the very least through a loss of their cultural and religious identity as it melts into the majority's Islamic culture.

Evidently, Hassan Al-Banna and his followers have managed to sabotage the good work of the national movement. The Muslim Brotherhood is constantly praising the Copts who have accepted the idea of religious assimilation such as Rafik Habib, who promotes this idea among the Copts; Gamal Asaad, a candidate who adopted the slogan "Islam is the Solution" in his parliamentary campaign; and Hani Labib, who accepted a membership in the labor party under the same slogan, and whose books bear prefaces written by Islamic fundamentalists Tarek el-Beshri and Selim el-Awa. According to the Muslim Brotherhood, those Copts represent a commended Coptic ideal.

Throughout the history of Christianity, many martyrs have paid the price for resisting such religious assimilation, but none as much as the Copts.

The idea that religion should become the framework for the state is not acceptable to advocates of civil society in Egypt. It is not even open for debate or compromise. The Egyptians cannot be expected to live according to rules that are more than 1400 years old, and that are contradictory with those of modern civilization.

The Muslim Brotherhood is welcome to the political process if they share the values and principles of the modern world, but definitely Egyptians refuse to go back to those dark ages.
___
Magdi Khalil is a political analyst, researcher, author and Executive Editor of the Egyptian weekly Watani International. He is also a columnist for Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, London, a free-lance writer for several Arabic language newspapers, and a frequent contributor to Middle East broadcast news TV. Mr. Khalil has also published three books and written numerous research papers on citizenship rights, civil society, and the situation of minorities in the Middle East. E-mail: Magdikh@hotmail.com

Iran

U.S. Efforts To Bring Iran In Line

By Guest Contributor, Craig Martelle | April 20, 2006

How can the U.S. achieve any sort of victory in Iran, either for America or for world peace? The way foreign relations work is by making an alternative more appealing, either by "bribing" (trade concessions, joint ventures, etc.) or by making the primary, undesired course too expensive. Countries with good relations will choose the former to achieve compromise. Countries with rocky relations or countries who honestly think they are right in their course of action, will generally use the latter diplomatic method. When those methods fail, then either a third party steps in to attempt one of the diplomatic methods or war is likely.

What has George Bush done with Iran that he was criticized for with Iraq? He was criticized for not building a vast consensus of nations (later it was discovered that France and Russia were providing material aid to Iraq, resulting in millions of dollars in profit for key leaders in those countries). He was criticized for not going through the UN, although he did (the UN's oil for food program was the source of riches for far too many diplomats from far too many countries, ergo their innate opposition to any action against Iraq). And of course, the big one - Saddam did not have any WMD.

On this point, I was a member of CENTCOM's Intelligence Staff through the mid to late 1990's and I personally briefed General Tony Zinni that Saddam had the "capability" to produce WMD, along with limited hidden stockpiles. I personally know a few UNSCOM inspectors who know unequivocally that Saddam did not cooperate with UNSCOM. A lack of UN-mandated cooperation could only lead to one conclusion - Saddam was hiding something. Our intelligence coordination with European Intelligence officials supported only one conclusion - Saddam had both WMD and the ability to make WMD. Unfortunately, Monday morning quarterbacks find it too easy to connect dots that did not exist when the first picture was drawn. We did the best we had with what we could get and it appears that the conclusion we reached was the one Saddam wanted us to reach - if he believed that he had WMD (because that is what his "boys" told him), then how can one think that we would not also believe it? And it was confirmed that he had WMD - remember the ill-planned roadside IED using the nerve agent shell? According the UN and the "Bush lied" crowd, why was that shell in existence? Where are its mates? "Experts say weapon probably not part of a cache." That dismisses it? It should not be in existence at all if there was no WMD in Iraq. That is our background from which to start working a solution to our current issue.

First question - do we want Iran with a nuclear weapon or not? Iran claims its nuclear ambitions are for peace only. If that were the case, then they should have taken Russia up on its offer to enrich Iranian uranium - a compromise that would have defused tensions and returned the world to a relatively peaceful footing. But by retaining the option to enrich uranium, then actually claiming to successfully have done it, followed by Iran's own claim to ratchet up enrichment, there is only one reasonable conclusion - which Russia, France, Germany, UK, and the U.S. all come to - Iran is attempting to enrich uranium to produce a weapon.

How do we build a consensus?

First, what is a consensus? Is it a simple majority of nations? Is it a large majority, but only of nations that we "like?" Let's go with a combination of both definitions - we want as many countries as possible to agree with our position, definitely a majority, but we can discount positions from countries who have a stake in Iran. Right now, the majority of countries do not want Iran to have a nuclear weapon - that is clearly a majority all the way around. At this point, the diplomatic world goes its many separate ways.

Generally, Muslim countries support Iran in its efforts because they are united against Israel. Also, they may believe that Iran's pursuits are peaceful only (but peace for them may be a world where Israel was nuked, and "wiped off the map").

African countries? They have no "dog in the fight" as it may be, but if we get drug into a war with Iran, we'll have to get money to pay for it from somewhere - aid to Africa (in the billions of dollars) would be easy to cut - ahhh, our joint venture, bribing approach comes into play. Although note that a number of African countries attended Tehran's Al Qods conference and signed the declaration claiming Israel had no legal right to exist.

European countries? The Mohammed cartoon debacle is still ringing in their ears. They caved in, not willing to offend Islam. Maybe by calling Iran a liar regarding claims of its "peaceful" nuclear program, they will again offend Islam - will they remain stalwart allies?

What about Asian countries - do we have more influence or does China? I suspect Asian countries are split, although Indonesia will probably remain neutral or on Iran's side. And India, a soon-to-be full member of the SCO, expressed support for Iran in their Prime-Minister-to-President meeting.

Well, it looks like we will not be able to build a consensus, no matter which definition you use. We definitely cannot get a unanimous resolution through the UN Security Council - Russia and China will both veto it. So without other pressures, this leaves us without a general consensus and without a UN consensus. So what's next?

The IAEA - let the UN's watchdog agency, whose sole purpose for existence is to monitor and identify nuclear proliferation. Once identified, it reports to the UN and the UNSC. And in order to keep the issue at the front of all nations' agendas, we keep up diplomatic pressure and bang the drum loudly. Okay, we're banging the drum - listen to SecState Rice, or President Bush. We'll let the IAEA do their job (hopefully this time - they did not do such a good job with Iran over the past 20 years, by the way, otherwise we would not be at this point). This is a sound approach and really the only option we can actively pursue at this time. Building a consensus will be easier if the IAEA actually produces a report stating directly that Iran is attempting to produce weapons-grade uranium, inconsistent with any peaceful purpose.

With that report in hand, it will be hard for other countries to bury their heads or deny the truth, regardless of their relationship with Iran. We may get some fence jumpers. Unfortunately, the IAEA report will be watered down, ambiguous, and will not be convincing one way or another. Then what do we do? Try to build enough of a consensus to start some kind of sanctions. Unfortunately again, we need Iranian oil and we need other Middle Eastern oil that comes through the Straits of Hormuz (which Iran can shut down). Shutting down the Straits will result in military action - there is no other alternative. Overnight our gas would go to $10 a gallon. Maybe then, we'll be able to drill in ANWR, but there will be much pain and suffering until it produces, and we'll already be at war. Will Iran do this? We hope not, but hope is a really lousy plan. So we plan for all options. This includes diplomatic pressures, economic sanctions, a small-scale war to a nuclear conflict. We plan so we are ready and pray that we don't have to execute the plan. That is how the pragmatic world works. For those who would condemn us for planning, you condemn the U.S. to being unprepared. When you are not prepared, the other country holds the upper hand. We remain in the strongest position, but only because we are ready.

So what criticism can be leveled at the current administration? It appears to me that they are doing everything reasonable - not rushing to war, trying to build a consensus, letting the UN do what it is getting paid and chartered to do, planning for the worst, and hoping for the best. Has anyone else given us anything that sounds like a comprehensive strategy? Harry Reid has a plan - blame Bush (and do nothing)!

Craig Martelle, founder of The Strategic Outlook Institute, is a retired Marine Corps Intelligence Officer who entered military service as an enlisted Marine in 1982. He earned a BA in Russian Language at the University of Arizona and is currently a second-year law student at William Howard Taft University. ThreatsWatch is pleased to welcome Craig Martelle and introduce him as our newest contributor.

April 13, 2006

Iran

Confronting Iran: No Palatable Choices

By Steve Schippert | April 13, 2006

To continue to tap dance around the very real threat that Iran openly poses is a recipe for disaster, with consequences far more dire than most care to honestly acknowledge. America continues to be the ‘Great Satan’. Israel is an enemy that needs to be ‘wiped off the map’. Europe is still a continent that is regarded with content and manipulation.

First and foremost, Iran is, without possible debate, the world's premier State Sponsor of Terrorism. Iran owns Hizballah outright. It has always funded the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and through Hizballah training, funding and arming, also supports the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. They are currently in the process of leasing Hamas through influence gained via funding their freely elected (yet still terrorist) state operations. The influential foot is past the Palestinian door and Iran now stands firmly in the room.

Iran is cooperating with al-Qaeda by providing safe harbor for many of its leaders and operators who have fled Afghanistan. Iran has been sending arms (including advanced IED's) and IRGC operatives by the hundreds into Iraq to wage war with the American forces there as well as to foment the Sunni-Shiite bloodletting that destabilizes the emerging democracy elected by Iraqis.

That these facts do not serve as the foundation upon which unity among the West is built, let alone within the United States itself, is indicative of a loss of resolve among those who once had it and a continuing refusal to acknowledge the true threat of terrorism among those who have rejected it.

Forget what you may or may not think of President George W. Bush and consider the clarity in his message to the world after 9/11: “You are either with us, or you are with the terrorists.”

There was an eerie, still silence coming from important places and quiet nodding from others. Those words reverberated throughout the world. Not because of banter or tone. But because the world knew that behind them was a steel resolve in both the President of the United States and the citizens of the nation he led.

They were words said and words meant, and the world knew it. The world understood it. 3,000 people had been smote from our midst and, suddenly, the days of nuance and lobbing cruise missiles at inanimate objects such as aspirin factories were gone.

Fast forward nearly five years.

With renewed vigor, nuance is back. Nearly absent from the arena are clarity and resolve, replaced with bitter, self-destructive political debate and self-interest.

Lost is the focus on international terrorism and, thus, the West stand perilously close to debating ourselves into paralysis and therefore appeasement of the central command and chief state sponsors of global Islamic terrorism.

This is why confronting the nuclear ambitions of the Islamic Republic of Iran is absolutely critical and cannot be downplayed.

Vital Perspective offers great clarity today on this issue and warns against the ongoing downplaying of the obvious nuclear threat posed by Iran. They underscore a very important point in their analysis.

Many pundits have decided that this latest technological accomplishment is something to belittle (WP, NYT, Reuters). Unfortunately for them, and for the American public which relies in large part on their analysis, it is indicative of a fundamental misconception of the nuclear process. In fact, it's far more difficult to go from 0 to 3.5 percent than it is to go from 3.5 percent to 90 percent.

Iran has essentially managed to finally construct the basic block from which to build. Now, to somewhat oversimplify the process, it is simply a mater of duplicating this building block and connecting enough of them together to rapidly create their desired fissile material.

Another key paragraph from Vital Perspective exemplifies the current state of paralysis with regard to dealing with Iran (or, obviously, not).

Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, believes that America risks losing its global power in a war with Iran. We beg to differ. In this crisis, the issue is not what we can afford to do, but rather what we can afford not to do. This is one of those nightmares you don't wake up from. An Iranian-dominated Middle East threatens the future of the West.

It seems the resolve has shifted clearly to the Islamists, be they Sunni or Shi’ite.

In the beginning of the openly declared War on Terror, even Iran gave us some assistance, partly out of hatred for their regional enemy, the Taliban and their Sunni al-Qaeda guests. But what is sadly and frustratingly lost is the fact that Iran shook in their boots and wanted no part of the coming coiled American fist. Even they understood the resolve now seemingly evaporated.

We have collectively debated ourselves out of a position of strength, in the eyes of the Iranians, and reverted back and beaten ourselves into our customary form of conflict avoidance at any cost.

Fear the cornerstone of Islamist terrorism. Acknowledge that they are the most powerful enabler of proxies and aggressors through terrorism. Comprehend that the Iranian regime, with hands in some fashion on nearly all levers of power among terrorist organizations, is messianic in nature, led by mullahs and a president that seek to usher in the return of the 12th Imam, the Mehdi. Realize that he is prophesied to return only when the world is in utter chaos and turmoil, the conditions that define ‘paving the way for the return of the 12th Imam’. Acknowledge that this deeply religious messianic thinking dislodges those powerful men from the reasoned discourse and logic upon which we ourselves base our approach to negotiations.

Within that context, think of those powerful, devout men with nuclear weapons at their disposal. Dispose of them they clearly will. They, unlike the Soviets in the Cold War, do not hold the same sense of self-preservation. For, in their religious quest, destruction is their salvation and, in their eyes, the salvation of the entire world through the Mehdi.

Understand with clarity that there can be no victory in the War on Terror without the fall of the Iranian mullah regime, from within or without.

Vital Perspective concludes with an acknowledgement of this through the words of Senator John McCain.

"There's only one thing worse than using the option of military action, and that is the Iranians acquiring nuclear weapons."

Hopefully, through some miracle, both can be avoided. But the prospects are not good.

There simply are no palatable choices. None without much pain and sacrifice. There is one, however, that very well may not be survivable. That choice, through the decision of indecision, is too easily charted.

April 8, 2006

Iran

The Axis of Evil Rising Beyond Averted Eyes

By Steve Schippert | April 8, 2006

Much has been said in this space regarding the inexplicable reluctance on the part of the United States to directly confront Iran as the global lynch pin of terror (not to be confused with the predictable reluctance on the part of the rest of the world). In what looks more and more like the WMD side-argument placed center stage by the Administration in making the international case for the removal of Saddam Hussein, the nuclear crisis with Iran has been thrust forward as the sole precept for action (in any form) against the Tehran regime.

This is a mistake, and an unnecessary one at that. It is clear that the world will not unite against the nuclear threat posed by Iran. Partly of nations' own reluctance to confront and partly of nations' own refusal to lend support to the United States, it is also clear that America will stand nearly alone in any challenge to the Iranian march.

Accompanied by a handful of resolute allies, even those leaders are embattled with their own fiery domestic debates over what is often presented as capitulation and subservience to an 'American War Machine' and its evil Bush Administration pilots.

But even internally, both the American and Israeli leaderships seem intent on brushing aside the true threat in a reluctance that appears to suggest that they hope against hope that the coordinating, growing and ever-strengthening encroachment led by Iran will fade back to their origins in time.

Caroline Glick properly frames the sidelined and, by many, ignored rise of the Islamist axis spearheaded by Iran. She concludes with rarely noted clarity:

All of these recent developments demonstrate that the members of the Iran-led Islamist axis are actively pursuing and indeed progressing in their quest to encircle Israel and entrap the US. This they accomplish - both separately and together - while Israel and the US insist on doing everything they can to prevent any possibility of effectively meeting the rising threats. There is no doubt that the political leadership of at least one of these states has to snap out of its policy fog immediately. Our enemies have no consideration for our desire to ignore them.

With certainty, they bask and strengthen in our desire to ignore them. They laugh as the world argues over the known portion of the Iranian nuclear program. They huddle and unite under the umbrella of opportunity provided by the reluctance of their enemies to accept conflict.

Their enemies choose rather to either bury their heads in the sand or negotiate the non-negotiable, such as Iran’s nuclear ambitions or Hamas’ determination to maintain it’s ‘from the river to the sea’ charter. Both, notably Shi’a and Sunni, are intent on “wiping Israel” from their maps, as if this is the answer to their problems. They are joined in singularity of purpose, for now, by disparate religious terrorist sects, such as the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Islamic Jihad, al-Qaeda and, naturally, Iran’s child and long arm of foreign policy, Hizballah.

The sectarian violence presently on global display in Iraq is but a microcosm of the bloodletting that awaits a regional or global caliphate etched by this unlikely alliance of short term convenience. For should they ever achieve their aim of establishing a caliphate, there will be no ultimate peace under the unity of an Islamic Caliphate. The Battle Royale will only then commence from within, Shi’a killing Sunni and Sunni killing Shi’a.

While the Iranian nuclear crisis and the prospect of an apocalyptic Iranian leadership armed with nuclear weapons with which to ‘pave the way for the return of the 12th Imam’ is indeed frightening, the world should understand that this is simply a means to an end for them – not the only means and an ‘end’ without end once Sunni and Shi’a commence the slaughter of each other for control.

Without dismissing its danger, look beyond the distraction of the Iranian nuclear sprint and recognize the nature of the threat that fuels it: The rise of the Islamist Axis.

April 7, 2006

Iran

Rebutting Iran's UN Ambassador

By Steve Schippert | April 7, 2006

Iran's Ambassador to the United Nations, Javad Zarif, has written a defense of the Iranian nuclear program published in The New York Times titled 'We in Iran don't need this quarrel'. Ambassador Zarif writes at some length to persuade how and why Iran has proven their program purely peaceful in the spirit of cooperation. Quite frankly, it deserves rebuttal.

Ambassador Zarif opens, stating that ”Lost amid the rhetoric is this: Iran has a strong interest in enhancing the integrity and authority of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.” Iran has had a funny way of demonstrating this interest. Namely kicking out inspectors, removing observation cameras and breaking IAEA seals on equipment under direct protest of observing IAEA officials.

Zarif asserts that Iran wants regional stability and goes so far as to state that Iran has ” never initiated the use of force or resorted to the threat of force against a fellow member of the United Nations.” Are specially milled molten copper armor piercing IED’s not considered a use of force? They have been used to kill American and Iraqi soldiers in Iraq and have been intercepted while being shipped across the border from Iran. Perhaps Zarif chooses to cling to the non-existent degree of separation between the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah when denying attacking a UN member, namely the Israeli embassy bombing in Argentina for just one example.

Once getting to the nuclear specifics, Ambassador Zafir purports that Iran has gone above and beyond the call in efforts to abide by IAEA wishes, including allowing the IAEA “to repeatedly visit military sites - and to allow inspectors to take environmental samples.” Yet, in at least one instance, when inspectors went to take environmental samples from ‘green areas’ (which are within the complex buildings), inspectors were refused and relegated to soil samples outside as Iran clung to the terms ‘environmental’ and ‘green’ in defending this move. Such actions fly in the face of the ‘spirit’ of the level of cooperation claimed.

Ambassador Zarif continues on to list specific instances in a rapid-fire cooperation exclamation that falls short of full disclosure. His list with bulleted point-by-point rebuttal follows.

Over the course of negotiations, Iran volunteered to do the following within a balanced package:

Present the new atomic agency protocol on intrusive inspections to the Parliament for ratification, and to continue to put it in place pending ratification;

* Which Iran did before ripping the seals off and commencing enrichment to this day.

Permit the continuous on-site presence of IAEA inspectors at conversion and enrichment facilities;

* At some, but not all facilities, which still did not stop the removal of IAEA cameras.

Introduce legislation to permanently ban the development, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons;

* There is a religious decree stating such, but Iran’s actions belie the decree. It should be noted that only Iranian officials claim ‘nuclear power’. Even their supporters outside Iran have taken up the argument of ‘Why shouldn’t Iran have nuclear weapons?’ Perhaps the recent fatwa from religious scholars doesn't warrant consideration, such as that from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's mentor, Mohsen Gharavian, a disciple of the ultra-conservative Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi.

Cooperate on export controls to prevent unauthorized access to nuclear material;

* Yet this is precisely how Iran obtained the material, and now they are going to play by the rules? Ahmadinejad himself proclaimed that Iran intended to ensure that all Muslim countries have access to the technology. What gives, Mr. Ambassador?

Refrain from reprocessing or producing plutonium;

* Then why the continued construction of the Arak heavy water plant? It has one solitary purpose: Plutonium production.

Limit the enrichment of nuclear materials so that they are suitable for energy production but not for weaponry;

* Perhaps the Shahab-3 triconical nosecone development really is for aerodynamics? And the recently claimed MIRV efforts for military-grade plastic explosive multiple-warhead ambitions?

Immediately convert all enriched uranium to fuel rods, thereby precluding the possibility of further enrichment;

* See: Arak Heavy Water Plant logic.

Limit the enrichment program to meet the contingency fuel requirements of Iran's power reactors and future light-water reactors;

* See: Arak Heavy Water Plant. See Also: Rejection of Russian Proposal.

Begin putting in place the least contentious aspects of the enrichment program, like research and development, in order to assure the world of our intentions;

* To assure the world of Iran’s intentions, Iran intends to enrich uranium, steadily increasing the number of cascaded centrifuges.

Accept foreign partners, both public and private, in our uranium enrichment program.

* While considering the repeated rejection of the Russian Proposal and the purported acceptance of foreign partners, we might be inclined to consider the possibility that Iran is suggesting partnerships with foreign entitites in order to buy favor from their respective governments. Consider Chinese or French businesses partnered to construct nuclear facilities in Iran, and how they might be even less inclined to support sanctions or further attempts to contain Iranian efforts.

At the heart of his insistence is religious conviction, as referenced above, which he states early in his column, saying, ”Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the leader of the Islamic Republic, has issued a decree against the development, production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons.” Perhaps this is the same religious conviction that openly declares the quest for a global Islamic caliphate yet, ironically, castigates American imperialism on a regular basis.

Simply stated, many do not believe the Ayatollah, religious leader and dictator of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and epicenter of global terrorism. Nor do many believe Iran's Ambassador to the United Nations.

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