Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for the ‘Iran’ Category

Read these

Posted by Charles II on August 13, 2014

Blame Turkey for arming ISIS.

[This is not to say Turkey is primarily to blame. This sounds like a narrative to blame Turkey for something the US either approved or acceded to.]

How US destroyed Iraq

Patrick Cockburn on ISIS.

And especially this:

In the face of these failures Iraq’s Shia majority is taking comfort from two beliefs that, if true, would mean the present situation is not as dangerous as it looks. They argue that Iraq’s Sunnis have risen in revolt and Isis fighters are only the shock troops or vanguard of an uprising provoked by the anti-Sunni policies and actions of Maliki. Once he is replaced, as is almost certain, Baghdad will offer the Sunnis a new power-sharing agreement with regional autonomy similar to that enjoyed by the Kurds. Then the Sunni tribes, former military officers and Baathists who have allowed Isis to take the lead in the Sunni revolt will turn on their ferocious allies. Despite all signs to the contrary, Shia at all levels are putting faith in this myth, that Isis is weak and can be easily discarded by Sunni moderates once they’ve achieved their goals. One Shia said to me: ‘I wonder if Isis really exists.’

Unfortunately, Isis not only exists but is an efficient and ruthless organisation that has no intention of waiting for its Sunni allies to betray it. In Mosul it demanded that all opposition fighters swear allegiance to the Caliphate or give up their weapons. In late June and early July they detained between 15 to 20 former officers from Saddam Hussein’s time, including two generals. Groups that had put up pictures of Saddam were told to take them down or face the consequences. ‘It doesn’t seem likely,’ Aymenn al-Tamimi, an expert on jihadists, said, ‘that the rest of the Sunni military opposition will be able to turn against Isis successfully. If they do, they will have to act as quickly as possible before Isis gets too strong.’

It would be a really good time to cut a deal with Putin, Assad, Abbas, and Rouhani, and get back to the business of repressing the really dangerous people in that part of the world. Too bad we don’t have a Congress intelligent enough to see this.

Posted in Conflict in the Middle East, Iran, Iraq war, Russia, Syria, terrorism | 6 Comments »

Hint: when they’re laughing at you, you’re probably not convincing them

Posted by Charles II on September 28, 2012

So, here’s the original:

(Image from Jethro Mullen, CNN)

Here’s how they see you:

(Images from Umberto Bacchi, IBT)

(Image from DeSwiss)

Posted in Iran, israel, Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

Sanity pays a visit to Likud. Will this place Iran war on hold?

Posted by Charles II on April 29, 2012

Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian:

Israel’s former security chief has censured the country’s “messianic” political leadership for talking up the prospects of a military stike on Iran’s nuclear programme.

In unusually candid comments set to ratchet up tensions over Iran at the top of Israel’s political establishment, Yuval Diskin, who retired as head of the internal intelligence agency Shin Bet last year, said he had “no faith” in the abilities of the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and the defence minister, Ehud Barak, to conduct a war.

“They are misleading the public on the Iran issue. They tell the public that if Israel acts, Iran won’t have a nuclear bomb. This is misleading. Actually, many experts say that an Israeli attack would accelerate the Iranian nuclear race.”

Diskin’s remarks followed a furore over comments made on Wednesday by Israel’s serving military chief, Benny Gantz, which starkly contrasted with Netanyahu’s rhetoric on Iran. Gantz said he did not believe the Iranian leadership was prepared to “go the extra mile” to acquire nuclear weapons because it was “composed of very rational people” who understood the consequences.

For the first time in a long time, I’m starting to feel a glimmer of optimism that there might not be an attack on Iran.

Posted in Conflict in the Middle East, Iran | 5 Comments »

Democracy where? Hersh on US-MEK ties

Posted by Charles II on April 10, 2012

Amy Goodman: … Although the revelation that the U.S. government directly trained the MEK comes as a surprise, it’s no secret the group has prominent backers across the political spectrum. Despite it’s designation as a “terrorist” organization by the State Department for 15 years, a number of prominent former U.S. officials have been paid to speak in support of the MEK. The bipartisan list includes two former CIA directors, James Woolsey and Porter Goss; former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge; New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani; former Vermont Governor Howard Dean; former Attorney General Michael Mukasey; former FBI Director Louis Freeh; former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton; and former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell.

Seymour Hersh:…there’s no question, this sort of training that was going on. It was going on at a place called the Nevada Nuclear Security or National Security Test Site. It’s a former site for World War—post-World War II nuclear testing of weapons, testing of nuclear weapons. And it’s off-limits to people. And it’s—there’s an air base there. God knows what went on there. My own guess is rendition flights also flew into that air base in ’02, ’03. There’s some evidence for it. But certainly, the groups of MEK were flown in secretly by, I presume, the Joint Special Operations Command.

We’ve been actively involved, beginning in the Cheney-Bush days, of encouraging insurrection inside Iran—whether it’s aimed at regime change or not isn’t clear; I doubt that—but basically, blowing up things, etc.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the bombs that were used in the assassinations?

SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, they’re most interesting bombs. They’re limpet bombs, Marine limpet bombs. They’re designed—they have a special charge, and they’re designed to go inside. … if you want to blow up something underwater, you have to have a charge that explodes inward to cause water to rush in, etc. And these kind of very sophisticated charges have been used by the MEK in the assassinations.

… It’s a very sophisticated shape charge. And there’s no question that some of the best mines in the Navy mine-making business were—some of that information was obviously passed on, whether directly to the MEK or through Israeli assets, or explicitly how. (emphasis added)

The latter point is interesting, because shaped charges are what we accused the Iranian government of giving to Iraqi insurgents.  Is it possible that the information we gave the MEK ended up as quite literal blowback against American troops? That’s one of the possible eventualities of supporting terrorists… just as happened in Afghanistan with the Mujahedeen, which was the precursor to Al Qaida.

Howard Dean has been remarkably reckless in supporting the MEK. Ed Rendell has been shameless. (And, as the interview with Hersh illustrates, Romney has been clueless). But this illustrates the “there aren’t two political parties” problem. Senior figures associated with both parties have supported what the government has designated as a terrorist group. While there’s no evidence that Obama has continued to train the MEK, and there’s no evidence to show that the US is supplying hit lists to it, there’s no question that the US is not dealing with the MEK as it would deal with any other terrorist group. It may be funding it and it is even possible that it is directing its activities.

And, of course, it illustrates the problem with our media, where the government can be engaged in covert warfare, and the only journalists who notice are old school journalists, who won’t be with us forever, from The New Yorker and Democracy Now.

Posted in Conflict in the Middle East, Iran, media, Media machine, terrorism | 6 Comments »

How better to polish off a meal of financial disaster than with a little war?

Posted by Charles II on November 2, 2011

Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian:

War with Iran is the last thing Barack Obama needs …

But while the Obama administration is desperate to avoid another conflict…the drumbeat from Israel has been growing louder.

The Israeli cabinet was reported on Wednesday to be debating whether to launch air strikes on Iranian nuclear sites in the coming weeks. The prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and the defence minister, Ehud Barak, are lobbying in favour of action, but other senior ministers are urging caution.

“I do not think the US has the stomach for it,” Sam Gardiner, a retired air force colonel who taught strategy at the National War College and who has specialised in carrying out war games targeting Iran, said. But if Israel went ahead, it would be difficult for the US to stay out. …

A congressional hearing on Iran last week was told that the Pentagon has a series of contingency plans for military action, ranging from all-out war to limited operations. Obama had signed off on these, the hearing was told.

Israel test-fired a “rocket propulsion system” capable of striking Iran on Wednesday…

And the poodle wags its tail. Nick Hopkins, The Guardian:

Britain’s armed forces are stepping up their contingency planning for potential military action against Iran amid mounting concern about Tehran’s nuclear enrichment programme, the Guardian has learned.

The Ministry of Defence believes the US may decide to fast-forward plans for targeted missile strikes at some key Iranian facilities. British officials say that if Washington presses ahead it will seek, and receive, UK military help for any mission, despite some deep reservations within the coalition government.

In anticipation of a potential attack, British military planners are examining where best to deploy Royal Navy ships and submarines equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles over the coming months as part of what would be an air and sea campaign.

A war would almost certainly immediately plunge the world into renewed recession severe enough to trigger Italian and Spanish default.

Posted in Conflict in the Middle East, Iran, wrong way to go about it | 4 Comments »

I didn’t want to say anything, but… (the Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador)

Posted by Charles II on October 13, 2011

Juan Cole is apparently not completely convinced that the alleged plot by Iranian Manssor Arbabsiar to hire a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador was for real:

I am frankly shocked that Eric Holder should have brought us this steaming crock, which is now being used to make policy at the highest levels. That a Mexican former drug runner being paid by the US taxpayers might have thought he could advance his career by playing mind games with a somewhat crazy Iranian expatriate is no surprise. That you could put fantastic schemes in Arbabsiar’s mind if you worked at it seems obvious. That anyone in the DOJ or the US foreign policy establishment would take all this seriously is not plausible. I conclude that they are being dishonest, and that this is Obama’s turn to wag the dog as he faces defeat at Romney’s well-manicured hands next year this time.

I was skeptical about this, as I am of any news that portrays Iran as a threat. Iran, because of its geographical position in between the Russian, Ottoman, and Babylonian empires (not to mention miscellaneous Romans, Macedonians, British etc.), tend to be cautious. To a fault. Yes, they did seize the American embassy 30 years ago. Yes, some of their politicians are nutty (though they’d blend in well at a GOP debate). But it’s very uncharacteristic of the Iranians to do anything likely to provoke a serious response, especially over relatively small stakes like an ambassador, especially when there’s such a high probability of being caught.

Now that Juan Cole has said it, I think the question ought to be on everyone’s lips: is this yet another example of our Justice Department entrapping marginal people into crimes they would never have contemplated without substantial coaxing?

Posted in Department of Injustice, Iran, Obama Administration, terrorism | 4 Comments »

Trading with the enemy: Lying, cheating, stealing is “the Koch method”

Posted by Charles II on October 3, 2011

Asjylyn Loder and David Evans, Bloomberg:

In May 2008, a unit of Koch Industries Inc., one of the world’s largest privately held companies, sent Ludmila Egorova-Farines, its newly hired compliance officer and ethics manager, to investigate the management of a subsidiary in Arles in southern France. In less than a week, she discovered that the company had paid bribes to win contracts.

“Those activities constitute violations of criminal law,” Koch Industries wrote in a Dec. 8, 2008, letter giving details of its findings.

Egorova-Farines wasn’t rewarded for bringing the illicit payments to the company’s attention. Her superiors removed her from the inquiry in August 2008 and fired her in June 2009, calling her incompetent, even after Koch’s investigators substantiated her findings.

A Bloomberg Markets investigation has found that Koch Industries — in addition to being involved in improper payments to win business in Africa, India and the Middle East — has sold millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment to Iran, a country the U.S. identifies as a sponsor of global terrorism.
The ‘Koch Method’

Internal company documents show that the company made those sales through foreign subsidiaries, thwarting a U.S. trade ban. Koch Industries units have also rigged prices with competitors, lied to regulators and repeatedly run afoul of environmental regulations, resulting in five criminal convictions since 1999 in the U.S. and Canada.

From 1999 through 2003, Koch Industries was assessed more than $400 million in fines, penalties and judgments. In December 1999, a civil jury found that Koch Industries had taken oil it didn’t pay for from federal land by mismeasuring the amount of crude it was extracting. Koch paid a $25 million settlement to the U.S.

Phil Dubose, a Koch employee who testified against the company said he and his colleagues were shown by their managers how to steal and cheat — using techniques they called the Koch Method.

Posted in corruption, frauds, impunity, Iran, koch brothers | 1 Comment »

Hersh on Iran

Posted by Charles II on June 3, 2011

Seymour Hersh published yet another important article in The New Yorker. Unfortunately, most of that is behind a paywall. However, he was interviewed on Amy Goodman. Bottom line is that Iran is not making nuclear weapons and the US knows it; also, a NY Times story claiming that there is new evidence of Iranian intentions is a complete phony. Some excerpts from the interview:

JUAN GONZALEZ: Sy Hersh, your article details some extraordinary efforts by the United States. You talk about the special forces operations actually replacing street signs in Tehran with radiation detectors and replacing bricks in buildings.

SEYMOUR HERSH:… the latest study, was actually supposed to be promulgated—is the word they use in the community—last fall, and it was delayed because the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon intelligence agency, had an assessment that was—knocked everybody’s socks off. Their assessment was, the only reason Iran even looked at weaponization—and we’re not talking about building anything, we’re talking about doing studies, paper studies—was because they were frightened of Iraq.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And Sy Hersh, one of the things you say in your article is that these latest intelligence assessments—that a lot of the career intelligence people in the government now have pushed back a lot more against political pressure, after the debacle with Iraq and the pressure on the intelligence community to skew intelligence assessments about weapons of mass destruction, that now the career people are a lot more willing to buck any political pressure.

[One part of the phony “evidence” cited by the NY Times involves a magic laptop] SEYMOUR HERSH: And there’s been some evidence that some of the material—particularly there’s a famous laptop incident, where there was material given to us, the providence of which wasn’t known, that we made a big fuss about, allegedly a laptop belonging to an Iranian scientist, nuclear scientist. There were very crude drawings in it. They weren’t at all near the level of anything serious. And that, for years, back about four or five years ago, fueled all sorts of debate.

[Al Jazeera’s coverage of the Arab Spring is slanted to cover for Sunni elites] SEYMOUR HERSH:…You have the Gulf states in a state of sort of controlled panic now. They’re all sort of locally owned oil combines, owned by various one-time Bedouin—you know, Bedouin desert livers, now suddenly owners of huge complexes of oil billionaires, all of them, and they want to stay in power in the Gulf—Oman, even Qatar. You can see a lot of problems with Al Jazeera’s coverage, particularly of Bahrain. Al Jazeera, for example, is always calling me, didn’t call me for this story because everybody wants to point fingers at Iran.

So you have the American response to—you have this GCC, the Gulf Cooperation Community or Committee. It’s probably the only defense organization in the world that’s designed for all the countries getting together to ward against internal dissent, not external threat, but internal threats. And so, we have this amazing institution. …

And what we do is we focus on Iran as the bad guy…

And so, you have the Saudis in full panic, refusing—in anger at us, refusing to increase the oil output, so the price of oil stays—gasoline is $4 or more a gallon.

They’re worried about—what’s going on in Bahrain is, I’m telling you, it’s a sensationally underreported story. The brutality there is beyond—it’s shocking. And again, the Saudis are directly involved, sort of with our OK.

So, Arab Spring is being undercut enormously. There’s still some hope in Egypt, because the kids are so strong, the movement there is so strong. But I can tell you, Suleiman, the leader of the intelligence service, is still there.

SEYMOUR HERSH:… meanwhile the real crisis is going to be about Iraq, because, whatever you’re hearing, Iraq is going bad. Sunnis are killing Shia. It’s sectarian war….there are Sunni Baathist groups in Damascus, in various places, in the United Kingdom—Leeds is one place—ready, as soon as we get out, to declare an alternative government, a provisional government, and announce that they’re going to retake Iran from the Shiites and from—Iraq from the Shiites, who they believe are totally tied in to the Iranians, which probably isn’t true, but that’s always been the fiction we have, or the fear we have: Iran controls Iraq….But there’s going to be a holy hell there. It’s going to be probably the biggest problem the President has next year, along with gas, along with the crazy Republicans that are running against him. He’s going to—and along with Afghan and along with Iran, it’s going to be Iraq. We’re going to be back looking at Iraq, as that country goes berserk.

Yes, he’s Mr. Happy News.

Posted in Iran, Iraq war | 3 Comments »

No nukes is good nukes

Posted by Charles II on May 14, 2011

McClatchy, some time ago:

The U.S. intelligence community has completed a new National Intelligence Estimate for President Barack Obama and Congress on Iran’s nuclear program. The key judgements, however, aren’t being released like those of a November 2007 NIE that concluded that Iran had halted the development of a nuclear weapon four years earlier.

So, now the line is that Iran has stopped developing nukes (as of 2003, if I recall), but could decide to restart any time, and we might not know if they do re-start, so…. You get the drift.

Posted in Iran, nukes | 4 Comments »

Is the US back in the assassination game?

Posted by Charles II on December 5, 2010

Julian Borger and Saeed Kamali Dehgan, The Guardian:

At 7.40am last Monday, in north Tehran’s Aghdasieh district, a motorcycle threaded its way through the long lines of cars on Artesh Boulevard. It edged up to a silver Peugeot 405, hesitating alongside for moment, before moving off into the maze of vehicles. A few seconds later there was a bang from the side of the Peugeot, as a small bomb stuck on to the window detonated, killing one of the men inside. The driver and a woman passenger were wounded.

At the same time, a few kilometres to the west, an identical attack was under way. …

The dead man was Majid Shahriari, a senior Iranian nuclear scientist. …

The wounded man, Fereydoun Abbasi, was a 52-year-old nuclear scientist working for Iran’s defence ministry, one of “Iran’s few experts on fissile isotopes and the ministry’s laser expert”….

The attacks had clear echoes of the unsolved assassination in January this year of one of their colleagues, particle physicist Masoud Alimohammadi. …

there were any doubts after Alimohammadi’s killing back in January, there could be none after last week’s double attack. Someone is trying to kill nuclear scientists linked to Iran’s defence establishment – the people most likely to be involved in the covert side of Iran’s nuclear programme, the making of nuclear weapons.

In the febrile atmosphere of Iranian underground politics, speculation quickly spread that the dark forces of the state were at work against would-be dissidents, leakers or defectors, but those rumours quickly evaporated. The Islamic Republic has many other ways of taking people it suspects out of circulation. It has little to gain by sacrificing the nation’s must strategic asset – its nuclear know-how, the teachers of a new generation of atomic scientists.

Yes, Mossad contractors may be doing the work. But does the responsibility for these murders rest closer to home?

Posted in Iran, israel, nukes | Comments Off on Is the US back in the assassination game?

%d bloggers like this: