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Joined: 03 Aug 2004
|Posted: Sat Aug 14, 2004 12:54 pm Post subject: Newsletter 8/14/2004 By Dr. Etebar
|Rumsfeld in Russia for Talks
August 14, 2004
The US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, is in St Petersburg to meet his Russian opposite number, Sergei Ivanov. They are likely to discuss Iran, missile defence and Russian-Nato relations.
Donald Rumsfeld was last in Russia in May 2002.
Then the Bush administration was in the throes of withdrawing from the anti-ballistic missile treaty to pursue its plans for missile defence.
Since then much of the heat has gone out of that debate and talks now between Mr Rumsfeld and his Russian opposite number are more likely to focus on possible technical co-operation in this field.
But the Russian side may be looking for some new reassurances, with Washington about to announce an initial operating capability for its missile defence system.
Iran is likely to come up in the talks as well.
Already on this trip Mr Rumsfeld has again expressed his concern about Iran's nuclear development activities.
Russia is involved with Iran although, it insists, entirely innocently.
The Americans will be encouraging further Russian co-operation with Nato in the wake of Russian unease over the recent expansion of the alliance, as well as further developments in bilateral military ties.
The United States is also interested in recent changes in the Russian military structure and welcomes those that seem to enhance the role of civilian control over the military.
But Mr Rumsfeld's visit also comes against the backdrop of concerns in Washington about recent reported trends in wider economic and political developments in Russia.
Pettigrew Pledges to Work With U.S. to Stop Iran Acquiring Nuclear Arms
August 14, 2004
The Globe and Mail
WASHINGTON -- Canada and the United States will "work as partners" to increase pressure on Iran to scrap its clandestine nuclear-weapons program and end human-rights abuses, Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew said yesterday after his first official meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.
"We're very preoccupied by [Iran's] nuclear proliferation, and we're not pleased at all" with Tehran, Mr. Pettigrew said. "We need to co-operate and make sure that Iran respects international obligations."
But aside from agreeing to press the issue at the September meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the ministers offered no specifics on tightening the screws on Tehran.
With Canada-U.S. relations still on the mend after being frayed by Ottawa's opposition to President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq without explicit UN Security Council authorization, Mr. Pettigrew made it clear that going to Washington for his first official visit was no accident.
"It was absolutely appropriate that I have my first international visit here in Washington," he said.
However, observers in Washington who follow the Canada-U.S. relationship expect no substantive change until after the Nov. 2 election in the United States.
Mr. Pettigrew replacing Bill Graham in the Foreign Affairs portfolio "won't change the relationship," said Jim Leblanc, a senior associate in the Canada program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and former senior Canadian government policy adviser.
Damage control rests largely with the White House and the Prime Minister's Office, not with the foreign ministers who spent most of a working lunch talking about global problem spots, including Haiti and Sudan. No specific proposals were exchanged on either, officials said.
"Most of the major files will remain with the Prime Minister's Office, as they always have," Mr. Leblanc said.
Canadian officials stressed that Mr. Pettigrew had raised bilateral irritants, notably the continuing U.S. ban on Canadian beef and cattle because of a single instance of mad-cow disease in Alberta.
The former international trade minister seemed keen to keep pressing those issues with Mr. Powell. "I've expressed to the secretary the importance for us as foreign ministers that the trade issues get the best attention because in Canada they are, of course, very important. . . . It is, of course, always the 5 per cent that works less well that catches the attention," he said.
His meeting with Mr. Powell was a curtain-raiser to an event that attracted far more attention from the Washington media, accustomed to visits from foreign ministers.
It's not every day, including Friday the 13th, that the U.S. Secretary of State gets to greet a feline namesake.
After Mr. Pettigrew headed back to Ottawa, Mr. Powell posed for pictures with the cat of the year, a Bombay originally called Wolfman Jack that was renamed Colin Powell for "patriotic reason," said his owner, Sig Hauck.
"If you had a cat named after you that won the Cat Fanciers' Association cat of the year -- I mean that doesn't happen every day," a U.S. official said. "This is recognizing a cat of outstanding ability."
Iran's Sadr Strategy
August 13, 2004
National Review Online
This fight in Najaf is vital to victory.
The on-again, off-again military offensive to destroy Moqtada al-Sadr's "Mahdi militia" in the holy city of Najaf was on again Thursday. This outcome will be crucial to the competition between the conflicting goals for the future of Iraq: ours and Iran's. Ours is to defeat the insurgency and enable freedom to take root. Theirs is to prevent a stable democracy from governing Iraq, and to damage our tenuous relationship to half the Islamic world.
The Shia majority of Iraq, long oppressed under Saddam, was ripe for insurgency or even revolution long before Saddam fell. Iran's radical Shia kakistocracy has been funding, supplying — and in Sadr's case operating — the insurgency in Shia Iraq ever since Coalition forces began massing to attack Iraq in 2002. According to one estimate, there are at least 30,000 Iranian-funded insurgents in Iraq.
One of the Iranians' principal obstacles has been Ali al-Sistani, the most influential Shia mullah in Iraq. Al-Sistani has called on Sadr to stop the fighting, but his power over Sadr is limited, and Sadr's is expanded greatly by his Iranian backers. When al-Sistani left Iraq for medical treatment in London, Iran and Sadr began the latest round of fighting in Najaf and in the "Sadr City" area of Baghdad, the huge slum that used to be known as "Saddam City."
There is important dissention among the new Iraqi government about whether American forces should be allowed to take the fight to Sadr in the heart of Najaf. Early Thursday, Ibrahim Jaafari, head of the Dawa party and one of Iraq's two interim vice presidents, called for all American forces to leave Najaf. If we and the Allawi forces fail in Najaf, the internal dissention could cause a split in the interim government that won't be healed soon. Al-Sistani, speaking from London, called for another ceasefire. If these pressures split the new Iraqi government, that alone would be a significant victory for Iran, which will stop at nothing to prevent the Iraqi democracy from taking root.
The Iraqi go-ahead against Sadr was given some time Wednesday, within some well-understood limits. The holiest site in Shia Islam is the Imam Ali Shrine in Najaf, and it is from this mosque and other sites in Najaf that Sadr and his militia have been launching their attacks. Imam Ali — who is buried in the shrine — is revered as the founder of Shia Islam. Ali was the six-year-old who took Mohammed's place in his bed on a night when Mohammed expected an assassination attempt, and is believed by the Shia to have had divine guidance. But the Shia radicals — and I still believe that term isn't redundant — see no inconsistency in using their holiest site as a base for terrorist activity. We've all seen the television coverage of them running out of the mosque, RPGs, and other weapons in hand, to engage American troops.
The shrine/mosque is only part of the problem. The "Valley of Peace" cemetery — the largest in the world with perhaps five million graves — is another favorite of the militia to hide within and fire at Coalition forces. The city itself, with about 600,000 people, is the typical Iraqi city of narrow, winding streets. The Marines are running the show, backed by the Army and both Air Force and Navy aircraft on call. They all are aware of both the dangers and the necessity of protecting the mosque. It is already a touch-and-go fight, and is evolving into the kind of urban warfare that we managed to avoid last year. It's August, which means temperatures of 120 degrees during the day in Iraq. Kicking down doors, fighting sometimes room-by-room, the Marines, God bless 'em, are doing their usual superb job. I've heard several reports of wounded Marines getting patched up and running back into the fight.
At this writing, American troops with armored vehicles, attack helos, and heavier air support, are trying to close the circle around the mosque, crowding Sadr and his fighters into a smaller and smaller area, diminishing their strength and numbers to the point that the Allawi forces can finish the fight. If we can do that, we will succeed. All Sadr — and Iran — need to do to succeed is to maneuver us into damaging or destroying the mosque. Sadr and his men are perfectly willing to destroy the holy site themselves in some way that makes us appear responsible. Al Jazeera will be there to stage-manage and broadcast the finale.
If the Imam Ali shrine is destroyed in a Coalition operation, the Iranians will use that fact to divide and discredit the Allawi government. They will try to raise all of Shia Islam against the American occupiers in Iraq and American interests everywhere. The Shia are the second-largest Islamic sect, with about 700 million adherents in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Syria, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and parts of North Africa. It is quiet conceivable that the destruction of the Imam Ali mosque would trigger the clash of civilizations that Iran and Osama bin Laden have been working desperately to create. It could be a significantly destabilizing force in nations such as India and Pakistan where our influence and fragile alliances could easily wither and die. Too much hangs in the balance in Najaf. But the fight has to be made because Iran, and its Sadr proxy, are the two most significant obstacles to freedom in Iraq.
It is tempting, and wrong, to believe this fight is not worth the risk. Young Americans will die there in as important as any other fight has been for Iraqi freedom. Sadr's force is fighting for political advantage. It would be an easy fight for us to win if we weren't concerned with the repercussions from destroying the Imam Ali shrine or the number of civilians who might be killed. If we had somehow negotiated the cooperation of Ali al-Sistani in the year and a half since the Saddam regime fell, the fight wouldn't even be necessary. If we had been able to bring other Islamic forces in to join the Coalition forces, this fight could have been theirs if it had to be fought at all. But we didn't, and that risk and the cost is now ours.
The Najaf fight won't end today, tomorrow, or perhaps even next week. The Iraqi forces fighting with us against Sadr's men may not be sufficiently strong or dedicated to end the matter for days or weeks. Allawi, facing very strong opposition in his own government, may change his mind and demand we stop short of the necessary conclusion. But even if we win this fight without destroying Shia Islam's holiest site, even if the Iraqis manage to kill Sadr and defeat his force decisively, the Iranian interference in Iraq won't end. Until it does, there will be no peace in Iraq. The central point of the Iraqi insurgency is now — as it has been for more than a year — Tehran.
— NRO contributor Jed Babbin is the author of Inside the Asylum: Why the U.N. and Old Europe are Worse than You Think.
The Iran-Iraq War, Again
August 12, 2004
National Review Online
Listen to the Iraqis. (And, faster please.)
I can't say this any better than the wonderful Iraqi who blogs as hammorabi.blogspot.com, so I'll just let him speak for himself, and for a substantial number of informed Iraqis:
The news from some areas in Iraq indicates that at least thousands of Iranian crossed the border inside Iraq for support to MS [Moqtadah al Sadr] militia and as clandestine agents. The Iraqis now knew very well what the Iranian thugs trying to do inside Iraq. Today alone and only in one point the Iraqi Police arrested at least 40 Iranian sneaked into Iraq with out documents in one coach. All are young and probably armed with money and documents which will be kept secret for investigation.
The Iranians have succeeded to infiltrate the south and planning for the worst. The weakness of Iyad Alawi towards Sadr encouraged them to get more involvement.
The Middle East region now is biased towards Iran. With weak Iraq Iran considers itself now the regional super-power! For the balance of the Middle East it needs a strong Iraq to balance Iran. The Iranian by Muqtada Sadr and his thugs succeeded to transfer the war from their land to inside Iraq.
There are news of about 1000 Iranian crossed with guns to area of Salman Bak and were confronted by the IP and US troops and most of them killed! (Unconfirmed report from local residents in the area)...
Iraq needs a strong army and police to balance Iran and to take out its arrogance which is increased since Iraq become weaker due to the idiotic f***ing policies of the f***ing whore Saddam. This arrogance as superpower of ME will be soon augmented by a nuclear weapons.
Ibrahem Jafari calls for the foreign troops to leave Najaf is fool statement! This man who was appointed as (something for nothing) may be able to tell us, how he will solve the issue? His idiotic statement to Alarabyiah few days ago from London about Sadr was so foolish. He said that the government should not attack Sadr because he is a know person and his father was a known person and his family is a very well known family!! What bull***t! Killers; if they are well known should not be arrested!! Good for the Dawa party which supported Iran in its war against Iraq not only now [in fact it's funded by Iran — M.L.] but during the 8 years war with Khomeini! We don't know what this man is doing in London for long time though he was appointed to be the Vice President!
The Iranian leader of Qouds Revolutionary Guards Kasem Solaimani told in a lecture for the students of strategic defence studies in Tehran few days ago that Zarqawi and his leaders needs no permission to enter Iran from wherever they like to enter! In reply to one student about why Iran help Zarqawi yet he may be involved in killing the Shiite; Solaimani said the national security of Iran is served by what Zarqawi is doing now in Iraq. He added that a secular regime in Iraq friend of and supported by the US is more dangerous for Iran than the previous Baath regime!
Zarqawi was few months ago in Mehran city in one of its military camps of the RG, then he crossed the border to Baquoba!
Some of the members of Sadr militia have been trained in the same camp under the supervision of Ammad Moghanyiah a Lebanese [some Lebanese! The operational chief of Hezbollah, arguably the world's most dangerous man — M.L.] escaped from Lebanon while ago and submitted into several plastic surgery changes in his face. This man played a major link between Sadr militia and Qaeda leaders especially Aimn Dhawahiri! He visited Iraq and he assessed the ground for expanding the operations of Sadr militias and how to help its link with Falluja and Zarqawi groups. He also succeeded to get some Arab like Lebanese to enter into Najaf area.
So what ever happened to the Bush doctrine, anyway? And, doctrine or no doctrine, will the Western world really wait until Iran has the atomic bomb before doing anything?
It brings back a very unpleasant memory. Back in the mid-Eighties a Lebanese Christian leader stuck his head out of a trench and said "the Western world should either support us, or change its name."
Remember that one. It'll be back in vogue quite soon.
Rift Grows as Iranians Caught Fighting for Sadr
August 13, 2004
Michael Howard in Baghdad
Security officials in Baghdad were last night urgently investigating the background of 30 Iranians who were caught fighting for a rebel Shia cleric in Iraq, amid mounting concern over the involvement of the Tehran regime in the uprising.
The Guardian has learned that the most senior members of the Iraqi government were briefed about the capture of the men yesterday, and also told of other evidence that fighters and equipment have been crossing the border from Iran.
The 30 men were captured in the southern city of Kut on Wednesday and officials are trying to establish whether they have any links to Tehran.
"We are checking their identities but if they are found to have links to the Iranians then that would be tantamount to a declaration of war by them," said a senior Iraqi source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The source said members of Iraq's national security committee had yesterday been presented "with revealing information about the extent of Iranian involvement in Iraqi affairs", which was being taken seriously at the "highest echelons of government".
There was increasing frustration "at our neighbour's apparent indifference to cross-border security, despite promises of cooperation".
The source said two trucks laden with weapons destined for the fighters of the militant cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr, had been stopped at the Iranian border on Wednesday night.
Sabbah Kaddim, a senior adviser at the ministry of the interior, declined to confirm the seizure of the two trucks or the arrest of the Iranians. But he confirmed "there were a number of non-Iraqi elements" captured in Kut.
He added: "There has been a continuous stream of vehicles over the last few weeks trying to ferry arms across the border from Iran.
"We catch some, others must get through. The trouble is knowing who exactly is behind all this."
The violence between US and Iraqi forces and Mr Sadr's supporters has destabilised Shia areas of the capital and several cities across southern Iraq where Iranian influence is at its strongest.
Baghdad knows the unrest poses a critical test of strength for the interim administration of Ayed Allawi, whose success will be judged on the ability to deliver a secure environment in which to hold the country's first post-Saddam elections, scheduled for next January.
Iran denies stirring up violence in Iraq. It says it does not knowingly let fighters cross the long border between the two countries, but accepts that some might cross illegally.
Foreign fighters account for only a fraction of the insurgents in detention in Iraq.
Relations between Iran and Iraq, who fought a ruinous war from 1980-88, have plummeted in recent weeks. Iran yesterday summoned Iraq's top envoy in Tehran over the alleged arrest in Iraq of several reporters from Iran's state news agency and the fate of a kidnapped Iranian diplomat. Iran also denounced the assault by US marines and Iraqi forces in the holy Iraqi city of Najaf as "inhumane and horrible".
Foreign diplomatic observers in Baghdad have been alarmed by the "stoking up of tension" between the two neighbours. One senior diplomat said the Iranians were pursuing their activities in Iraq "more aggressively than three months ago, and they were hardly passive then".
Some foreign diplomats, however, question whether Iran would be able to do anything in Iraq than other than "stir things up a bit".
"Iranians will never be fully trusted by a majority of the Shia in Iraq," said one, suggesting there was not much the Iraqi government could do other than keep relations at a manageable level and allow the "game to play out in Iran, between those who want to help Iraq and those extremists who want to see the whole thing fail".
The differences among hawks and doves on the Iranian side are mirrored in the administration of Mr Allawi, some of whom represent political parties with ties to Tehran.
The Iraqi finance minister, Adel Abdel Mahdi, a senior member of the Supreme Council for Islamic revolution in Iraq, described cooperation between Iran and Iraq as "positive" after he led a large delegation to Tehran last week to attend a conference on reconstruction. Iran was one of the first to recognise the new Iraqi government and has also invited the interim prime minister Mr Allawi for an official visit.
An interior ministry official said yesterday: "We do have problems, but we believe that we can take the problems to the Iranian side and discuss them.
"The invitation was something of a surprise but it perhaps is an acknowledgment that Iran realises that things could get out hand in the south. It is not in their interests for there to be chaos. Many many Iraqi Shia are against what Moqtada al-Sadr are doing, and the sensible elements of the Iranian government know that. We believe we can develop better relations if we are honest with one another."
But one Iraqi diplomat, a former member of the Iraqi opposition who took part in the postwar planning, said: "You know we didn't misread the reaction of the Shia in postwar Iraq, as many analysts have suggested; our big failing was to misread the reaction from our neighbours. They really don't want to give us a chance."
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