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U.S. is studying military strike options on Iran
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2007 6:50 pm    Post subject: 70 punished in accidental B-52 flight Reply with quote

AP wrote:
70 punished in accidental B-52 flight

By PAULINE JELINEK, Associated Press Writer


The Air Force said Friday it would punish 70 airmen involved in the accidental, cross-country flight of a nuclear-armed B-52 bomber following an investigation that found widespread disregard for the rules on handling such munitions.

"There has been an erosion of adherence to weapons-handling standards at Minot Air Force Base and Barksdale Air Force Base," said Maj. Gen. Richard Newton, the Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations.

Newton was announcing the results of a six-week probe into the Aug. 29-30 incident in which the B-52 was inadvertently armed with six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles and flown from Minot in North Dakota to Barksdale in Louisiana without anyone noticing the mistake for more than a day.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2007 3:10 pm    Post subject: Admiral says US attack on Iran not 'in the offing': report Reply with quote


The United States is not about to launch pre-emptive strikes against Iran despite increasingly tense rhetoric between Washington and Tehran Admiral William Fallon,
Admiral says US attack on Iran not 'in the offing': report
Mon Nov 12, 10:04 AM ET


The United States is not about to launch pre-emptive strikes against Iran despite increasingly tense rhetoric between Washington and Tehran, the head of US Central Command was quoted as saying Monday.

Admiral William Fallon did not rule out strikes at some point, but said such military action was not "in the offing."

"None of this is helped by the continuing stories that just keep going around and around and around that any day now there will be another war, which is just not where we want to go," he told the Financial Times.

"Getting Iranian behaviour to change and finding ways to get them to come to their senses and do that is the real objective.

"Attacking them as a means to get to that spot strikes me as being not the first choice in my book."

He said the job of Central Command, which runs US military operations in the Middle East, was not helped by verbal sabre-rattling.

"Generally, the bellicose comments are not particularly helpful," he said, but added: "That said, we have to make sure that there is no mistake here on the part of the Iranians about our resolve in tending to business in the region."

"There has got to be some combination of strength and willingness to engage. How to come up with the right combination of that is the real trick."

The United States and several of its European allies believe Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon, a charge Tehran has repeatedly denied.

Key members of the United Nations Security Council are seeking to increase pressure on Iran to convince it to stop enriching uranium, which can be used to generate energy but also to make an atomic bomb.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 5:08 pm    Post subject: US says Iraq attacks down as Iran stems arms flow Reply with quote

AFP wrote:

US General James Simmons said Iran appears to be holding to its pledge to stem the flow of arms into Iraq, contributing to a sharp fall in roadside bomb attacks across the country in recent months.(AFP/Wathiq Khuzaie)

US says Iraq attacks down as Iran stems arms flow
by Byran Pearson
Thu Nov 15, 11:44 AM ET


BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iran appears to be holding to its pledge to stem the flow of arms into Iraq, contributing to a sharp fall in roadside bomb attacks across the country in recent months, a US general said on Thursday.

General James Simmons, a deputy corps commander, said that 1,560 IED (improvised explosive device) "events" had been recorded in October compared to 3,239 in March.

"There has been a decrease every month during that time," Simmons told a press conference in Baghdad, adding that the October figure was the lowest since September 2005.

He said Iranian weapons found recently in caches in Iraq appeared to have been brought into the country some time ago and there was no evidence that the flow of weapons across the border was continuing.

"We believe that this indicates the commitments Iran has made appear to be holding up," the general said.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 5:25 pm    Post subject: Who Are Iran's Revolutionary Guards? Reply with quote

The Wall Street Journal wrote:
Who Are Iran's Revolutionary Guards?

November 15, 2007
The Wall Street Journal
Amir Taheri


The scene is a board meeting of Bank Sepah, Iran's second-largest financial institution, in Tehran. The directors are waiting for the sardar (literally "head-owner") to arrive. But the sardar is in a changing room, shedding his uniform for a civilian suit. The man in question is Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the new commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which owns and controls the bank.

Most Americans already know more about the IRGC than they'd like to. In September the Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of a nonbinding resolution urging President Bush to label the IRGC a terrorist group. He did so a month later and has since implemented harsh new sanctions targeting the business interests of the IRGC. As Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson told the press recently, "It is increasingly likely that if you are doing business with Iran you are doing business with the IRGC."

Still, there is much about this organization that is misunderstood. The IRGC is a unique beast. It is an army answerable to no one but the "Supreme Leader" of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It is also a business conglomerate that controls over 500 companies active in a wide range of industries -- from nuclear power to banking, life insurance to holiday resorts and shopping centers. By most estimates, the IRGC is Iran's third-largest corporation -- after the National Iranian Oil Company and the Imam Reza Endowment in the "holy" city of Mashhad, northeast of Tehran.

The Islamic Republic established by the Ayatollah Khomeini after the ouster of the Shah in 1979, is often labeled a "mullahrchy" -- a theocracy dominated by the Shiite clergy. The truth, however, is that a majority of Shiite clerics never converted to Khomeinism and did not endorse the Islamic Republic. In the past few years, especially since the election of President Ahmadinejad in 2005, those mullahs who converted to Khomeinism have lost some of their power and privileges. Today, the IRGC is the dominant force within the ruling establishment in Tehran. It is not a monolith, and to label all of it a "terrorist" organization as the Bush administration has done, may make it difficult to strike deals with parts of it when, and if, the opportunity arises.

A thorough analysis of the IRGC must take into account a number of facts. First, the IRGC is not a revolutionary army in the sense that the ALN was in Algeria or the Vietcong in Vietnam. Those were born during revolutionary wars in which they became key players.

The IRGC was created after the Khomeinist revolution had succeeded. This fact is of crucial importance. Those who joined the IRGC came from all sorts of backgrounds. The majority were opportunists. By joining the IRGC, they could not only obtain revolutionary credentials, often on fictitious grounds, but would also secure well-paying jobs, at a time that economic collapse made jobs rare.

Joining the IRGC enabled many who had cooperated with the ancien regime to rewrite their CVs and obtain "revolutionary virginity." Membership of the IRGC ensured access to rare goods and services, from color TVs to more decent housing. As the years went by, IRGC membership provided a fast track to social, political and economic success. Today, half of President Ahmadinejad's cabinet ministers are members of the IRGC, as is the president himself. IRGC members hold nearly a third of seats in the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis), the ersatz parliament created in 1979. Twenty of Iran's 30 provinces have governors from the IRGC. IRGC members have also started capturing key posts in the diplomatic service. Today, for the first time, the Islamic Republic's ambassadors in such important places as the United Nations in New York and embassies in a dozen Western capitals are members of the IRGC.

But it is as an economic power that the IRGC weighs so heavily on Iranian politics. In 2004, a Tehran University study estimated the annual turnover of IRGC businesses at $12 billion with total net profits of $1.9 billion. The privatization package prepared by President Ahmadinejad is likely to increase the IRGC's economic clout. Almost all of the public-sector companies marked for privatization -- at a total value of $18 billion -- are likely to end up in the hands of the IRGC and its individual commanders.

The crown jewel of the IRGC's business empire is the Islamic Republic's nuclear program, which has cost the nation over $10 billion so far. This is part of a broader scheme of arms purchases and manufacture, which in total accounts for almost 11% of the annual national budget.

The IRGC also controls the lucrative business of "exporting the revolution" estimated to be worth $1.2 billion a year. It finances branches of the Hezbollah movement in at least 20 countries, including some in Europe, and provides money, arms and training for radical groups with leftist backgrounds. In recent years, it has emerged as a major backer of the armed wing of the Palestinian Hamas and both Shiite and Sunni armed groups in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The vehicle through which the IRGC "exports" revolution is a special unit known as The Quds (Jerusalem) Force. This consists of 15,000 highly trained men and women specializing in "martyrdom operations," a code word for guerrilla war, armed insurgency and terrorism. The Islamic Republic has invested some $20 billion in Lebanon since 1983. In most cases, the Lebanese branch of the Hezbollah is nominally in control. However, a closer examination reveals that in most cases the Lebanese companies are fronts for Iranian concerns controlled by the IRGC.

The IRGC is divided into five commands, each of which has a direct line to the Ayatollah Khamenei. To minimize the risk of coup d'etat, IRGC's senior officers are not allowed to engage in "sustained communication" with one another on "sensitive subjects." Of the five commands in question, two could be regarded as "terrorist" according to the U.S. State Department's definition that, needless to say, is rejected by the Islamic Republic.

One command is in charge of the already mentioned Quds Corps, which is waging indirect war against U.S. and allied forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Apart from Hezbollah and Hamas, it also runs a number of radical groups across the globe.

The second command ensures internal repression. It operates through several auxiliary forces, including the notorious Karbala, Ashura and Al Zahra (an all female unit) brigades, which are charged with crushing popular revolt. Many Iranians see these as instruments of terror.

As a parallel to the regular army, the IRGC has its ground forces, navy and air force. It also controls the so-called Basij Mustadafin (mobilization of the dispossessed), a fanatical, semi-voluntary force of 90,000 full-time fighters that could be built up to 11 million according to its commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad Hejazi. The IRGC's own strength stands at 125,000 men. Its officers' corps, including those in retirement, numbers around 55,000 and is as divided on domestic and foreign policies as the rest of society.

Some IRGC former commanders who did not share the Islamic Republic's goals have already defected to the U.S. Hundreds of others have gone into low-profile exile, mostly as businessmen in the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Turkey. An unknown number were purged because they refused to kill anti-regime demonstrators in Iranian cities.

Many prominent IRGC commanders may be regarded as businessmen first and military leaders second. Usually, they have a brother or a cousin in Europe or Canada to look after their business interests and keep a channel open to small and big "satans" in case the regime falls.

A few IRGC commanders, including some at the top, do not relish a conflict with the U.S. that could destroy their business empires without offering Iran victory on the battlefield. Indeed, there is no guarantee that, in case of a major war, all parts of the IRGC would show the same degree of commitment to the system. IRGC commanders may be prepared to kill unarmed Iranians or hire Lebanese, Palestinian and Iraqi radicals to kill others. However, it is not certain they would be prepared to die for President Ahmadinejad's glory. These concerns persuaded Ayatollah Khamenei to announce a Defense Planning Commission last year, controlled by his office.

A blanket labeling of the IRGC as "terrorist," as opposed to targeting elements of it that terrorize the Iranian people and others in the region and beyond, could prove counterproductive. It may, in fact, unite a fractious force that could splinter into more manageable parts given the right incentives.

Inside Iran, the IRGC is known as pasdaran (vigilantes) and inspires a mixture of intense hatred and grudging admiration. While many Iranians see it as a monster protecting an evil regime, others believe that, when the crunch comes, it will side with the people against an increasingly repressive and unpopular regime.

Mr. Taheri is author of "L'Irak: Le Dessous Des Cartes" (Editions Complexe, 2002).
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2007 11:43 pm    Post subject: Spring Will Be Crucial on Iran Reply with quote

International Herald Tribune wrote:
November 19, 2007
Spring Will Be Crucial on Iran
International Herald Tribune

Why doesn't the United States talk directly to Iran?

A partial, immediate and reasonable enough answer is that "everybody else" does already. No small detail, those direct conversations, involving allies like France, are producing zero results in getting Iran to back off from its drive towards nuclear weapons, according to a European who follows the exchanges in detail.

Another, equally plausible aspect to the response: An American sit-down with the Iranians wouldn't make tactical sense until additional sanctions against the mullahs reach a much more intense level.

But the explanations for why the United States hangs back just pitch the issue forward: Assuming that in a dreamy, best-case scenario, new, tougher sanctions are decided by the United Nations Security Council and the European Union, what happens next spring if a re-sanctioned Iran does not feel so isolated that it needs to grasp at reason and blubber uncle?

Nothing out there ensures a happy, near-term end.

Rather, the same European who says that direct bilateral talks with Tehran have produced nothing, and backs maximum sanctions, also has doubts about the sanctions' dissuasive effect. Beyond the dubious hope of Russia diminishing its role as Iran's protector, China, with strong commercial links and a need for Iranian oil, now looks willing to become the mullahs' go-to partner for practical sustenance and diplomatic cover.

The way things are set up now, if new sanctions are enacted against Iran, the United States, France and Britain will evaluate their possible non-effect sometime in the second quarter of 2008. It is then they would confront Nicolas Sarkozy's worst-case alternative: either an Iranian bomb or a bombarded Iran.

Why next spring?

Because by then, George W. Bush, who leaves office in January 2009, will have begun to seriously molt into lame-duck status in American public opinion.

Because Americans and Europeans in a position to know have privately told me Bush will ask himself by late spring if he bombs Iran.

Because last week's International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran confirms that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's clique actually has 3,000 centrifuges which, operating at capacity, could produce the uranium needed for a nuclear weapon in 12 to 18 months.

Considering the nasty alternative, the point next year when direct American talk with the Iranians might begin is between April and the presidential nominating conventions.

Who's in favor?
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 2:12 am    Post subject: US talk on Iran: tough, hint of outreach Reply with quote

US talk on Iran: tough, hint of outreach

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2007 3:54 pm    Post subject: Terrorism expert warns not to bomb Iran Reply with quote

MiamiHerald.com wrote:

Terrorism expert warns not to bomb Iran
Posted on Wed, Nov. 28, 2007Digg del.icio.us AIM reprint print email

TALLAHASSEE -- Richard Clarke, the former U.S. terrorism czar and outspoken Bush Administration critic, warned Wednesday that bombing Iran would be a ''strategic blunder'' because it would prompt a violent response and would deepen Muslim mistrust of the United States.

''We don't know whether Iran has a nuclear weapons program or not. I think that's the key. We don't know yet. And when people talk about a military option, they need to say what the outcome is going be,'' Clarke told reporters before giving a speech at Florida State University.

``Sure, you can bomb Iran, but they're going to do something the next day in response. And how do you know that you're going to have achieved anything by bombing?''

During his speech and question-and-answer forum at FSU, Clarke spent less time on Iran and more time criticizing the Bush Administration for waging war on both Iraq and on the U.S. Constitution, and for ''eroding'' civil rights at home and allowing ''torture'' interrogations of terrorism suspects.

Clarke said torture is immoral as well as counterproductive, and cited the case of terrorist Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi who falsely told his Egyptian torturers that Iraq trained al Qaeda members in the use of weapons of mass destruction -- a confession cited as a cause of war by the United States.

Clarke never mentioned Bush by name. And though he mentioned Republican candidate John McCain's opposition to torture, Clarke didn't speak the names of any presidential candidates, many of whom publicly advocate a hard-line when it comes to Iran. That's especially true among Republicans courting self-described evangelical voters who were the only group to favor attacking Iran in a recent Miami Herald poll.

Clarke's views on Iran contrast not just with the positions of Republicans, such as front-runner Rudy Giuliani or Mitt Romney, but that of Democrat Hillary Clinton, who chastised opponent Barack Obama when he said he'd negotiate with leaders of rogue nations.

''I have a prejudice that we ought to talk to our enemies. I think we ought to talk to Iran,'' said Clarke, noting his foreign policy experience that dated back to Republican Ronald Reagan's White House.

``You never know what can happen when you sit across the table from someone and negotiate. It's always better to try to talk out differences.''

Clarke gained widespread fame -- or notoriety -- when he began promoting his 2004 book Against All Enemies, which argued that terror-fighting wasn't a high enough concern in the Bush White House before 9/11. Clarke, when he testified before the 9/11 Commission, then personally apologized to the nation and victims of the terrorist attack, saying he and the ``government failed you.''

Administration officials struck back, suggesting he was trying to sell books. They also disputed his accounts of some of the meetings he said he had concerning the terrorist threat.

Clarke said Wednesday that the terrorist threat has grown even worse because the latest national intelligence estimates says al Qaeda is stronger now than it was in 2002. He said more Muslims are sympathetic to al Qaeda after the Iraq War, which Osama bin Laden all but predicted.

Before the Iraq War, even Iranians sided with the United States over 9/11, Clarke said.

''There were over 100,000 people in the street in a spontaneous demonstration of support for the United States -- a candlelight vigil . . . in Tehran, in the capital of Iran,'' Clarke said. Shortly before the Iraq War, Clarke resigned. And shortly after the conflict, he predicted the war would strengthen the hand of Iran. He said any attack would be a ''strategic blunder'' and is encouraged that U.S. Central Command Adm. William Fallon has spoken of the need for more dialogue, even as many presidential candidates -- excepting the likes of Republican Ron Paul and Democrat Mike Gravel -- have spoken more stridently. ''While some people are saber rattling, other people are keeping their sabers where they belong,'' Clarke said.

Mr. Richard Clarke "Your government failed you,"

Richard A. Clarke (born 1951) is a former U.S. government official who specialized in intelligence, cyber security and counter-terrorism. Until his retirement in January 2003, Mr. Clarke was a member of the Senior Executive Service. He served as an advisor to four U.S. presidents from 1973 to 2003: Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. During the September 11, 2001 attacks, Clarke was the chief counter-terrorism adviser on the U.S. National Security Council.


We can't remember any high-ranking member of US Government in past 28 years ever saying anything like what Mr. Richard Clarke said :
Mr. Clarke began his testimony before the bipartisan, 10-member panel, formally known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, with an apology to relatives of the 3,000 people killed on Sept. 11, 2001.
"Your government failed you," Mr. Clarke said, his voice close to breaking. "Those entrusted with protecting you failed you, and I failed you."
"We tried hard," Mr. Clarke went on, "but that doesn't matter, because we failed. And for that failure, I would ask -- once all the facts are out -- for your understanding and your forgiveness."
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2007 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Iran's response to Western threats.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2007 3:34 pm    Post subject: Shield needed against Iran missile threat: U.S. Reply with quote

Shield needed against Iran missile threat: U.S.
By Andras Gergely


The United States needs a shield against what it sees as a growing missile threat from Iran, despite a recent report showing it had halted its nuclear weapons program, a U.S. official said on Thursday.

Acting Undersecretary of State John Rood met Russian diplomats in Budapest on Thursday for a series of talks to allay Russian concerns about the radars and intercepting missiles Washington plans to place in the Czech Republic and Poland.

A U.S. intelligence report said last week that Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program four years ago, but Rood said Iran's ballistic missile capability was enough of a threat.

"We'd be concerned about the progression of that kind of capability regardless of the payload, whether that be conventional, nuclear, chemical or biological in nature," Rood told a news conference.

Russia, which has long cast doubt on U.S. President George W. Bush's warnings about Iran, considers the proposed missile shield in Europe a threat to its own
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2008 11:33 pm    Post subject: US will confront Iran if necessary: George Bush Reply with quote

US will confront Iran if necessary: George Bush
29 Jan 2008, 0632 hrs IST,AFP

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/rssarticleshow/msid-2739382,prtpage-1.cms

SMS NEWS to 58888 for latest updates
WASHINGTON: US President George W Bush has warned Iran that the United States will "confront those who threaten our troops" and defend its allies and interests in the Gulf.

Bush, in excerpts of his State of the Union speech provided by the White House, also urged Tehran to suspend its uranium enrichment programme, embrace political reforms, and "cease your support for terror abroad."

"But above all, know this: America will confront those who threaten our troops, we will stand by our allies, and we will defend our vital interests in the Persian Gulf," he said.

His message echoed US warnings about an early January face-off between US and Iranian ships in the Strait of Hormuz and came as Washington pushed for new UN sanctions against Tehran over its disputed nuclear programme.

"Our message to the people of Iran is clear: We have no quarrel with you, we respect your traditions and your history, and we look forward to the day when you have your freedom," said Bush.

"Our message to the leaders of Iran is also clear: Verifiably suspend your nuclear enrichment, so negotiations can begin. And to rejoin the community of nations, come clean about your nuclear intentions and past actions, stop your oppression at home, and cease your support for terror abroad," he said.

Bush was to deliver the speech at 9 pm (local time). The White House said it would be his final State of the Union address before leaving office in January 2009.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 1:08 am    Post subject: Stop Hyperventilating: Fallon Fired but Iran War Not Back On Reply with quote

bloomberg wrote:
Fallon's Exit Provokes Concern on Path of Bush's Iran Policy
By Janine Zacharia and Ken Fireman


March 12 (Bloomberg) -- Admiral William Fallon's resignation as U.S. commander in the Middle East provoked criticism that President George W. Bush won't tolerate dissent and fed speculation his Iran policy could become more confrontational.

``Congress needs to determine immediately whether Admiral Fallon's resignation is another example of truth tellers being forced to the sidelines in the Bush administration,'' said Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who lost to Bush in the 2004 election. ``His departure must not clear the way for a rush to war with Iran.''

Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that Fallon, 63, was resigning over perceived differences on Iran policy with the Bush administration as Fallon was starting an Iraq visit yesterday. Fallon will retire from the Navy at the end of March.

``Recent press reports suggesting a disconnect between my views and the president's policy objectives have become a distraction at a critical time and hamper efforts'' in his area of responsibility, known as Central Command, Fallon said in a statement.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, a U.S. senator from New York, called Fallon a ``sensible voice'' that supported ``engaging Iran.'' She urged her colleagues to back a bill requiring Bush to get congressional approval before taking any military action against Iran.

Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska lamented Fallon's departure, saying in an interview with Bloomberg Television that he was ``very concerned to see him go.''

Esquire Article

Fallon's resignation came after publication of an article in Esquire magazine, written by Thomas P.M. Barnett, a former professor at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, that portrayed the admiral as the bulwark against a U.S. offensive against Iran.

``If, in the dying light of the Bush administration, we go to war with Iran, it'll come down to one man,'' Barnett wrote. ``If we do not go to war with Iran, it'll come down to the same man. He is that rarest of creatures in the Bush universe: the good cop on Iran, and a man of strategic brilliance.''

Barnett's article said Fallon might be ousted. Gates described as ``just ridiculous'' the idea raised in the article that if Fallon leaves, it may mean the U.S. is going to war with Iran.

Fallon said while he doesn't believe a policy rift exists, ``the simple perception that there is makes it difficult for me to effectively serve America's interests there.'' Gates said Fallon ``reached this difficult decision entirely on his own.''

Effect of Article

A senior defense official said the Esquire article was the latest and most serious instance in which Fallon appeared to be partially out of step with the rest of the administration.

The official, who spoke with reporters on condition of anonymity, said the cumulative effect was to create a perception that Fallon was operating on his own -- even though his actual views weren't significantly different from those of others in the administration.

In an interview last month in Doha, Qatar, Fallon said Iran continued to supply lethal aid and training to extremist militias in Iraq and said the U.S. was looking for ``a long-term change'' in Iranian behavior, echoing the administration's goals.

Diplomatic, Banking Pressure

While the U.S. is pursuing a policy of diplomatic pressure on Iran at the United Nations and unilateral sanctions to weaken its access to the international banking system, the Bush administration hasn't ruled out military action as an option.

Still, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice struck a conciliatory note last week when she spoke of incentives for Iran should it limit its nuclear work.

The U.S. persuaded the United Nations Security Council this month to approve expanded sanctions against Iran for its failure to suspend uranium enrichment under its nuclear program.

Fallon's area of responsibility stretches from Lebanon all the way to Afghanistan and Pakistan, with the oil-rich Persian Gulf countries in between. Vice President Dick Cheney travels next week to the Middle East to confront a host of challenges that include record oil prices of more than $108 a barrel, Lebanon in a political crisis and a U.S.-backed Israeli- Palestinian peace effort at a standstill.

Fallon, Petraeus

The Esquire article wasn't the first to portray Fallon as out of step with the White House or with Army General David Petraeus, the top-ranking commander of U.S. forces in Iraq.

In September, the Washington Post reported that Petraeus and Fallon were privately split over whether a surge in troops in Iraq would have a long-term impact. Fallon once referred to tough White House rhetoric on Iran as ``not helpful and not useful.''

On March 7, Fallon's straight-talking tendencies came out in testimony to a House panel when he appeared to differ with administration policy on the PKK, the Kurdish militant group in northern Iraq that the U.S. and its ally Turkey define as terrorists.

Fallon said ``some kind of an accommodation'' needs to be reached with the group.

Bush, in a statement, said Fallon, a former naval aviator who went by his call sign ``Fox'' among friends, had served the U.S. ``with great distinction'' for 40 years. Fallon was the first Navy officer to head Central Command.

Stop Hyperventilating: Fallon Fired but Iran War Not Back On
March 11, 2008
The Washington Note
Steve Clemons


Admiral William "Fox" Fallon -- CentCom Commander -- has been fired for insubordination, for not stewarding his own views about war and peace privately and in a way that did not embarrass his commander in chief. By numerous accounts, President Bush was absolutely enraged by an Esquire article -- since amended noting Fallon's demise -- that posited that Admiral Fallon was not on the same page as President Bush and that he was the single military man standing between war and peace.

Rumors are running rampant now in the aftermath of Fallon's resignation today that Bush called a war room gathering on Saturday this past weekend -- and launched plans to hatch a strike of some sort on Iran this spring. Internet bulletin boards, listserves, and chatter among many on the left and the right are hyperventilating (and some excited) about the prospects of a hot conflict with Iran.

My sources in the intelligence arena, in various command staff operations, near Defense Secretary Gates, and even in the White House tell me that nothing structural has changed in America's stance towards Iran. The US is still engaged in an effort to get Iran to the negotiating table if it stops its nuclear enrichment activities. It is continuing to apply UN sanctions pressure via unanimous consent of the UN Security Council to bring Iran into compliance with international obligations. And as Bush, Gates and others have said -- other options can be on the table.

But the diplomatic course is still dominant and preferred -- and there has been no decision to launch a war despite the opportunistic bravado that will no doubt soon be uttered by Vice President Cheney, John Bolton, Richard Perle and others who have long pined for a conflict with Iran's mullahs.

But the pieces are not there to support a full conflict with Iran, or even a near term military strike. That is not where Bush is headed -- but he felt he needed to remove someone who was undermining his authority and direction.

As one source told me shortly ago, "if there was a real chance we were flipping into war mode, there would be six Fallons commenting -- and six fired."

This source said "Fallon's real mistake was going public with what was common banter among many of the senior military officials about America's engagement in the Middle East and with Iran. His views are not atypical -- no matter what the Esquire article asserts -- but he made the mistake of being publicly vain and indulgent about his own take on this."

From my reading of the situation, Bush had to fire Fallon for his comments. I admire Fallon's sense of America's strategic situation -- but the sad thing about this incident is that the combined efforts of Gates, Rice, Hayden, McConnell and others to bring a new direction to America's national security course had worked. Bush had bought in. Fallon had to brag about it -- and that was a mistake.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 9:46 am    Post subject: Cengiz Candar: Why is Cheney coming and what is he bringing? Reply with quote

hurriyet wrote:

Cengiz Candar: Why is Cheney coming and what is he bringing?

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney will be in Ankara in two days. He will be on a quick Middle East expedition covering Oman to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the West Bank and Turkey. The stops clearly suggest that it will be a trip to talk about Iran.

Cheney's being the visitor is all alone a topic of another article, as he is the “most hawkish” name of the Bush administration if the “Iran dossier,” in particular, is at issue. And the office of the U.S. vice president is frequently visited by the staunch advocates of Israel, primarily David Wurmser, demanding a “military strike against Iran.” These are the most hawkish figures among the “neo-cons.”

The Fallon affair:

The timing of Cheney's visit is as important as the guest himself. His expedition coincides with the resignation of Adm. William Fallon, head of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) stretching from the Middle East to Afghanistan. Adm. Fallon had described U.S. State Secretary Robert Gates as “one of the best strategic thinkers in uniform today." He was a panelist at the "U.S.-Islam World Forum” held in Doha, the capital of Qatar. And I had a chance to listen to the admiral. Mithat Bereket of CNN-Türk had also interviewed him and directed the panel Fallon attended.

“He must have been the world's most civil-minded military officer,” I thought by looking at his posture and words he chose. Fallon's resignation just a year after his appointment in place of Gen. John Abizaid came as a surprise. The reason for his resignation was announced to be differences of opinion with the President of the U.S. George W. Bush over the “Iran policy.” It was also argued that an article by Thomas P. M. Barnett published in Esquire magazine caused Fallon's resignation.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2008 11:36 am    Post subject: Excerpts of Petraeus' remarks before Senate hearing (focus o Reply with quote

washingtonpost wrote:

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Iran Problem

April 09, 2008
Washington Post
David Ignatius


The language that Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker used Tuesday to describe the Iranian role in Iraq was extreme -- and telling. They spoke of Tehran's "nefarious activities," its "malign influence" and how it posed "the greatest long-term threat to the viability" of the Baghdad government.

Iran was the heart of the matter during Senate testimony on the war. With al-Qaeda on the run in Iraq, the Iranian threat has become the rationale for the mission, and also the explanation for our shortcomings. The Iranians are the reason we're bogged down in Iraq, and also the reason we can't pull out our troops. The mullahs in Tehran loom over the Iraq battlefield like a giant "Catch-22."

The order of battle in Iraq isn't likely to change significantly for the rest of the year. That was Petraeus' implicit message when he was asked about additional troop withdrawals after July, when U.S. forces are to return to their pre-surge levels. He spoke opaquely about a 45-day period of "consolidation and evaluation," followed by an additional, open-ended period of "assessment." The translation was that he wants to keep the most robust possible force there, to prevent security from deteriorating on his watch. That's understandable for a commander, but it means the question of future troop strength will land squarely on the shoulders of the next president.

And inescapably, the issue of containing Iran will fall to the next American president, too. Can a new administration draw the malign adversary that Petraeus and Crocker described into a new security architecture for the region? Can America reduce its forces in Iraq, without creating a dangerous vacuum to be filled by Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Shiite militias?

Who will bell the Iranian cat? That was the question lurking behind Tuesday's testimony. U.S. officials, even the most sophisticated ones such as Petraeus and Crocker, sometimes speak as if Iranian mischief in Iraq is a recent development. "The hand of Iran was very clear in recent weeks," said Petraeus at one point. But it has a long history.

Iran's covert campaign to reshape Iraq has been clear since the U.S. invasion in March 2003. Iranian intelligence officers prepared lists of Iraqis for assassination in the weeks and months after the war; they sent Iranian-trained mullahs to take over the Shiite mosques of central and southern Iraq that had been smashed by Saddam Hussein; they pumped an estimated $12 million a week in covert financial support into their allies as the January 2005 election approached; they infiltrated all the major Shiite political parties, and many of the Sunni ones, too.

The Iranians have fixed the political game. They are on all sides at once. They have links to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his Dawa Party; they funnel money to the Badr organization of Shiite cleric Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, which is a key recruiting ground for the Iraqi army; they provide weapons, training and command and control for the most extreme factions of the Mahdi Army. Moqtada al-Sadr, the Mahdi Army's nominal leader, is actually living in the Iranian holy city of Qom, suffering from what intelligence sources believe may be clinical depression. A useful ploy would be to invite him to come home, and see if he can be drawn into negotiations.

The Iranians were able to start the recent trouble in Basra and Baghdad through one set of operatives, then negotiate a cease-fire through another. In short, they play the Iraqi lyre on all its strings.

Fighting a war against Iran is a bad idea. But fighting a proxy war against them in Iraq, where many of our key allies are manipulated by Iranian networks of influence, may be even worse. The best argument for keeping American troops in Iraq is that it increases our leverage against Iran; but paradoxically, that's also a good argument for reducing U.S. troops to a level that's politically and militarily sustainable. It could give America greater freedom of maneuver in the tests with Iran that are ahead.

Somehow, the next president will have to fuse U.S. military and diplomatic power to both engage Iran and set limits on its activities. A U.S.-Iranian dialogue is a necessary condition for future stability in the Middle East. But the wrong deal, negotiated by a weak America with a cocky Iran that thinks it's on a roll, would be a disaster.

Crocker has it right when he says, "Almost everything about Iraq is hard." That's especially true of the Iran problem. Petraeus and Crocker were taking the hard questions Tuesday, but soon enough it will be one of the presidential candidates who were dispensing sound bites Tuesday: John McCain, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.


Iran Focus wrote:

Charts accompanying Petraeus' remarks at Senate hearing
Wed. 09 Apr 2008
Iran Focus: London, Apr. 09 - Charts accompanying remarks on Tuesday by U.S. General David H. Petraeus, the commander of Coalition forces in Iraq, before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington DC: Click here for charts accompanying Petraeus' opening remarks


Excerpts of Petraeus' remarks before Senate hearing (focus on Iran)
Wed. 09 Apr 2008
Iran Focus


London, Apr. 09 - The following are excerpts of remarks on Tuesday by U.S. General David H. Petraeus, the commander of Coalition forces in Iraq, before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington DC:

Report to Congress on the Situation in Iraq

General David H. Petraeus
Commander, Multi-National Force–Iraq
8-9 April 2008


The recent flare-up in Basrah, southern Iraq, and Baghdad underscored the importance of the ceasefire declared by Moqtada al-Sadr last fall as another factor in the overall reduction in violence. Recently, of course, some militia elements became active again. Though a Sadr standdown order resolved the situation to a degree, the flare-up also highlighted the destructive role Iran has played in funding, training, arming, and directing the so-called Special Groups and generated renewed concern about Iran in the minds of many Iraqi leaders. Unchecked, the Special Groups pose the greatest long-term threat to the viability of a democratic Iraq.


The Nature of the Conflict


In September, I described the fundamental nature of the conflict in Iraq as a competition among ethnic and sectarian communities for power and resources. This competition continues, influenced heavily by outside actors, and its resolution remains the key to producing long-term stability in Iraq.

Various elements push Iraq’s ethno-sectarian competition toward violence. Terrorists, insurgents, militia extremists, and criminal gangs pose significant threats. Al Qaeda’s senior leaders, who still view Iraq as the central front in their global strategy, send funding, direction, and foreign fighters to Iraq. Actions by neighboring states compound Iraq’s challenges. Syria has taken some steps to reduce the flow of foreign fighters through its territory, but not enough to shut down the key network that supports AQI. And Iran has fueled the violence in a particularly damaging way, through its lethal support to the Special Groups. Finally, insufficient Iraqi governmental capacity, lingering sectarian mistrust, and corruption add to Iraq’s problems.

Together with the Iraqi Security Forces, we have also focused on the Special Groups. These elements are funded, trained, armed, and directed by Iran’s Qods Force, with help from Lebanese Hezbollah. It was these groups that launched Iranian rockets and mortar rounds at Iraq’s seat of government two weeks ago, causing loss of innocent life and fear in the capital, and requiring Iraqi and Coalition actions in response. Iraqi and Coalition leaders have repeatedly noted their desire that Iran live up to promises made by President Ahmedinajad and other senior Iranian leaders to stop their support for the Special Groups. However, nefarious activities by the Qods Force have continued, and Iraqi leaders now clearly recognize the threat they pose to Iraq. We should all watch Iranian actions closely in the weeks and months ahead, as they will show the kind of relationship Iran wishes to have with its neighbor and the character of future Iranian involvement in Iraq.


Upcoming Challenges


While security has improved in many areas and the Iraqi Security Forces are shouldering more of the load, the situation in Iraq remains exceedingly complex and challenging. Iraq could face a resurgence of AQI or additional Shia groups could violate Moqtada al-Sadr’s cease-fire order and return to violence. External actors, like Iran, could stoke violence within Iraq, and actions by other neighbors could undermine the security situation as well.




Last month I provided my chain of command recommendations for the way ahead in Iraq.
During that process, I noted the objective of retaining and building on our hard-fought security gains while we draw down to the pre-surge level of 15 brigade combat teams. I emphasized the need to continue work with our Iraqi partners to secure the population and to transition responsibilities to the Iraqis as quickly as conditions permit, but without jeopardizing the security gains that have been made.

As in September, my recommendations are informed by operational and strategic considerations.

The operational considerations include recognition that:

• the military surge has achieved progress, but that the progress is reversible;
• Iraqi Security Forces have strengthened their capabilities but still must grow further;
• the provincial elections in the fall, refugee returns, detainee releases, and efforts to resolve provincial boundary disputes and Article 140 issues will be very challenging;
• the transition of Sons of Iraq into the Iraqi Security Forces or other pursuits will require time and careful monitoring;
• withdrawing too many forces too quickly could jeopardize the progress of the past year; and
• performing the necessary tasks in Iraq will require sizable conventional forces as well as special operations forces and advisor teams.

The strategic considerations include recognition that:
• the strain on the US military, especially on its ground forces, has been considerable;
• a number of the security challenges inside Iraq are also related to significant regional and global threats; and
• a failed state in Iraq would pose serious consequences for the greater fight against Al Qaeda, for regional stability, for the already existing humanitarian crisis in Iraq, and for the effort to counter malign Iranian influence.

After weighing these factors, I recommended to my chain of command that we continue the drawdown of the surge combat forces and that, upon the withdrawal of the last surge brigade combat team in July, we undertake a 45-day period of consolidation and evaluation. At the end of that period, we will commence a process of assessment to examine the conditions on the ground and, over time, determine when we can make recommendations for further reductions.

This process will be continuous, with recommendations for further reductions made as conditions permit. This approach does not allow establishment of a set withdrawal timetable; however, it does provide the flexibility those of us on the ground need to preserve the still fragile security gains our troopers have fought so hard and sacrificed so much to achieve.

With this approach, the security achievements of 2007 and early 2008 can form a foundation for the gradual establishment of sustainable security in Iraq. This is not only important to the 27 million citizens of Iraq; it is also vitally important to those in the Gulf region, to the citizens of the United States, and to the global community. It clearly is in our national interest to help Iraq prevent the resurgence of Al Qaeda in the heart of the Arab world, to help Iraq resist Iranian encroachment on its sovereignty, to avoid renewed ethno-sectarian violence that could spill over Iraq’s borders and make the existing refugee crisis even worse, and to enable Iraq to expand its role in the regional and global economies.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 10:26 am    Post subject: Mullahs & Islamist In Iran Busted Iraq Bid Reply with quote

Mullahs & Islamist In Iran Busted Iraq Bid
April 10, 2008
New York Post
Amir Taheri

A gamble that proved too costly.

That's how analysts in Tehran describe events last month in Basra. Iran's state-run media have de facto confirmed that this was no spontaneous "uprising." Rather, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) tried to seize control of Iraq's second-largest city using local Shiite militias as a Trojan horse.

Tehran's decision to make the gamble was based on three assumptions:

* Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki wouldn't have the courage to defend Basra at the risk of burning his bridges with the Islamic Republic in Iran.

* The international force would be in no position to intervene in the Basra battle. The British, who controlled Basra until last December, had no desire to return, especially if this meant getting involved in fighting. The Americans, meanwhile, never had enough troops to finish off al-Qaeda-in-Iraq, let alone fight Iran and its local militias on a new front.

* The Shiite clerical leadership in Najaf would oppose intervention by the new Iraqi security forces in a battle that could lead to heavy Shiite casualties.

The Iranian plan - developed by Revolutionary Guard's Quds (Jerusalem) unit, which is in charge of "exporting the Islamic Revolution" - aimed at a quick victory. To achieve that, Tehran spent vast sums persuading local Iraqi security personnel to switch sides or to remain neutral.

The hoped-for victory was to be achieved as part of a massive Shiite uprising spreading from Baghdad to the south via heartland cities such as Karbala, Kut and al-Amarah. A barrage of rockets and missiles against the "Green Zone" in Baghdad and armed attacks on a dozen police stations and Iraqi army barracks in the Shiite heartland were designed to keep the Maliki government under pressure.

To seize control of Basra, Quds commanders used units known as Special Groups. These consist of individuals recruited from among the estimated 1.8 million Iraqi refugees who spent more than two decades in Iran during Saddam Hussein's reign. They returned to Iraq shortly after Saddam's fall and started to act as liaisons between Quds and local Shiite militias.

In last month's operation, Quds commanders used the name and insignia of the Mahdi Army, a militia originally created by the maverick cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, as a cover for the Special Groups.

Initially, Quds commanders appeared to have won their bet. Their Special Groups and Mahdi Army allies easily seized control of key areas of Basra when more than 500 Iraqi security personnel abandoned their positions and disappeared into the woodwork.

Soon, however, the tide turned. Maliki proved that he had the courage to lead the new Iraqi Security Force (ISF) into battle, even if that meant confronting Iran. The ISF showed that it had the capacity and the will to fight.

Only a year ago, the ISF had been unable to provide three brigades (some 9,000 men) to help the US-led "surge" restore security in Baghdad. This time, the ISF had no difficulty deploying 15 brigades (30,000 men) for the battle of Basra.

Led by Gen. Mohan al-Freiji, the Iraqi force sent to Basra was the largest that the ISF had put together since its creation five years ago. This was the first time that the ISF was in charge of a major operation from start to finish and was fighting a large, well-armed adversary without US advisers.

During the Basra battles, the ISF did call on British and US forces to provide some firepower, especially via air strikes against enemy positions. But, in another first, the ISF used its own aircraft to transport troops and materiel and relied on its own communication system.

The expected call from the Najaf ayatollahs to stop "Shiite fratricide" failed to materialize. Grand Ayatollah Ali-Muhammad Sistani, the top cleric in Iraq, gave his blessings to the Maliki-launched operation. More broadly, the Shiite uprisings in Baghdad, Karbala, Najaf and other cities that Quds commanders had counted upon didn't happen. The "Green Zone" wasn't evacuated in panic under a barrage of rockets and missiles.

After more than a week of fighting, the Iraqis forced the Quds commanders to call for a cease-fire through Sadr. The Iraqi commander agreed - provided that the Quds force directly guaranteed it. To highlight Iran's role in the episode, he insisted that the Quds force dispatch a senior commander to finalize the accord.

The Iran-backed side lost more than 600 men, with more than 1,000 injured. The ISF lost 88 dead and 122 wounded.

Some analysts suggest this was the first war between new Iraq and the Islamic Republic. If so, the Iraqis won.

To be sure, the Iranian-backed side lost partly because Iran couldn't use its full might, especially its air force. (That almost certainly would've led to war between Iran and the US-led coalition in Iraq.)

The battle for Basra showed that Iraq has a new army that's willing and able to fight. If the 15 brigades that fought are a sample, the new Iraq may have an effective army of more than 300,000 before year's end.

But the battle also showed that the ISF still lacks the weapons systems, including attack aircraft and longer-range missiles, needed to transform tactical victories into strategic ones. The Iranian-sponsored Special Groups and their Mahdi Army allies simply disappeared from the scene, taking their weapons with them, waiting for another fight.

Tehran tried to test the waters in Basra and, as an opportunist power, would've annexed southern Iraq under a quisling administration had that been attainable at a low cost. Once it became clear that the cost might be higher than the Quds force expected, Tehran opted to back down.

Yet this was just the first round. The struggle for Iraq isn't over.
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PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


Report: U.S. Will Attack Iran

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 12:40 PM

By: Newsmax Staff

Israel�s Army Radio is reporting that President Bush intends to launch a military strike against Iran before the end of his term.

The Army Radio, a network operated by the Israeli Defense Forces, quoted a government source in Jerusalem. The source disclosed that a senior official close to Bush said in a closed meeting that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney believed military action against Iran was now called for.

Bush concluded a trip to Israel last week, where he said, "The objective of the United States must be to . . . support our strongest ally and friend in the Middle East.�

The Radio report, which was quoted by the Jerusalem Post, disclosed that the recent turmoil in Lebanon, where the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah had seized virtual control of the country, was encouraging an American attack.

Hezbollah�s aggression in Lebanon is seen as evidence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad�s growing influence, and the U.S. official said that in Bush�s view, �the disease must be treated, not its symptoms,� according to the Post.

The White House on Tuesday denied the Army Radio report, saying in a statement: �As the president has said, no president of the United States should ever take options off the table, but our preference and our actions for dealing with this matter remain through peaceful diplomatic means. Nothing has changed in that regard.�

However, numerous signs point to a U.S. strike on Iran in the near future:

A leading member of America�s Jewish community told Newsmax in April that a military strike on Iran was likely and that Vice President Cheney�s March trip through the Middle East came in preparation for the U.S. attack.

The Air Force recently declared the B-2 bomber fleet � a critical weapons system in any U.S. attack on Iran � as airworthy again. The Air Force had halted B-2 flights after a February crash in Guam. As Newsmax reported, the Air Force has refitted its stealth bombers to carry 30,000-pound �bunker buster� bombs, needed to destroy Iran�s hardened nuclear facilities.

A second U.S. aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln, joined the carrier USS Harry S. Truman in the Persian Gulf in May, carrying far more weaponry and ammunition than on previous deployments.

Israel is gearing up for war. In April, it conducted its largest homeland military exercises ever. The Jewish-American source said Israel is �preparing for heavy casualties,� expecting to be the target of Iranian retribution following the U.S. attack.

Saudi Arabia is taking steps to prepare for possible radioactive contamination from U.S. destruction of Iran�s nuclear facilities. The Saudi government reportedly approved nuclear fallout preparations a day after Cheney met with the kingdom�s highest-ranking officials.

The USS Ross, an Aegis-class destroyer, has taken up station off the coast of Lebanon. Military observers speculate it is there to help defend Israel from missile attacks.

Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a recent Pentagon briefing that the Iranians are systematically importing and training Shiite militia fighters, who slip back across the Iraqi border to kill American troops.

And Israeli intelligence has predicted that Iran will acquire its first nuclear device in 2009, much earlier than previous U.S. estimates.

Iranians will welcome the strike by: Kenneth Timmerman
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