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IRAN CRISIS

"We are capable, if necessary, of continuing to pursue our aims
militarily in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere and, if necessary,
conduct a military attack on Iran." - Senator Joseph Lieberman, 22 Jan

MER - MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 25 January: This day was destined to come sooner or
later. With the Israelis having a considerable arsenal of
nuclear weapons and the ability to delivery them
tactically to the battlefield as well as strategically
by submarine and airplane a gross imbalance has
been there in the region for some time already.
Furthermore there should be no doubt that Israel's
apartheid and bloodletting policies toward the Palestinians
have been a major force enflaming Arab and
Muslim sentiments throughout the region; while
militant neo-imperialist U.S. policies on top of the
American-Israeli alliance and the rise of Christian Fundamentalism have fueled the raging
passions
and led to today's imbroglio.


The real meaning of the Iran Crisis however goes to a more basic historical reality -- that we are
coming to an
end of what has been for some time a near total Pax America. What the Russians and
the Chinese do at this point
at the United Nations to prevent major sanctions against Iran will just be
the public
face of what they much more importantly are doing geostrategically to redress and re-balance
the sole superpower status of the U.S.
By committing so many grievances, by squandering so much
prestige and credibility, by
draining so much if its finances and resources, the American Empire has
hastenened this time of
realignment as well as this particular Iran Crisis.

As for the Israelis, they have known for some time that they are in geostrategic trouble...not at the
moment but
in the future. If the Israelis do not now seriously reverse course (and it may well already
be too late) and allow a real -- rather than a
rump, stillborn, and totally controlled -- Palestinian State
they will be unable to deescalate their
isolation and they will escalate their target status as forces in the
Arab and Muslim worlds grow in power
and assertiveness. That too is what the Iran Crisis of today,
and where it could be leading tomorrow, is really all about.


Read this quick selection of short articles all from the past few days. And just try to put yourself in the
place of the Iranians and their various Muslim and Arab allies as they prepare politically, economically,
and militarily for what is being threatened so blatantly.


Iran hits back at veiled Israeli threats of attack

Defence minister says Islamic republic and its allies can put Israel in 'eternal coma like Sharon'.

TEHRAN - 25 January: Iran's defence minister hit back Wednesday at veiled Israeli threats of an attack, saying Iran and its allies could put the Jewish state "in an eternal coma" like that of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

"Israel does not have the courage to attack Iran, and if it commits such a big mistake, the defenders of Islamic Iran will put Israel in an eternal coma like Sharon," Mostafa Mohammad Najjar was quoted as saying by state television.

Najjar branded the United States and Israel as the "Great and Little Satan, who are using psychological wars to intimidate Iran." The United States has been branded the "Great Satan" since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The two countries are among a number that suspect Tehran of using its civilian atomic energy programme to hide efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Washington is pressing for Iran to be hauled before the UN Security Council.

Iran, a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, says its nuclear programme is legal under the NPT and merely designed to meet its energy needs.

Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz said Saturday that Israel, widely believed to possess nuclear arms, would not tolerate a "a nuclear option" for Iran, but reaffirmed his commitment to diplomacy over the escalating crisis.

"We are giving priority at this stage to diplomatic action ... but in any case we cannot tolerate a nuclear option for Iran and we must prepare ourselves," the Iranian-born Mofaz said.

But Najjar said the "vigilance of the Iranian people, regional and global nations will defuse their sinister plans against humanity."

Israel and Iran are arch-enemies, with Tehran refusing to acknowledge the Jewish state's right to exist. Tension between them has grown recently over a string of outbursts by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahamadinejad, including a call for Israel to be "wiped off the map."



Joe Lieberman: U.S. Prepared for Iran Strike


Sunday, Jan. 22, 2006 10:51 p.m. EST - Sen. Joe Lieberman said Sunday that the U.S. is prepared to deal with the Iranian nuclear crisis militarily - even if the war in Iraq continues to require a substantial American troop commitment.

"We have the most powerful military in the history of the world," Lieberman told CBS's "Face the Nation."

"We are capable, if necessary, of continuing to pursue our aims militarily in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere and, if necessary, conduct a military attack on Iran."

Lieberman said the he hoped an attack on Iran, if it should come, would be carried out "with the assistance of our coalition allies in Europe."

But he noted that any assault on Iranian nuclear facilities "would be primarily an air attack. It's not going to involve massive use of ground forces."

Asked about reports that the U.S. would let Israel take the lead in any attack against Iran, the Connecticut Democrat told CBS:

"The United States is a strong enough country that we never want to be in a position to have to essentially contract out protection of our national security, vis-a-vis Iran, to another country like Israel."

He noted also the Israelis "don't have the same aircraft capacity that we do, capable of doing it."

Lieberman said that while the military option remains a last resort for the U.S., "I want the people who lead Iran to understand that it is on the table. We deem their pursuit of nuclear weapons to be dead serious."


Newt Gingrich: Iranís President is the New Hitler


Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2006 9:58 a.m. EST: Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich says that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is as big a threat to global security as Adolf Hitler was in the 1930's - and he's urging President Bush to do everything possible to overthrow his regime.

"This is 1935 and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is as close to Adolf Hitler as weíve seen," Gingrich tells Human Events. "We now know who they are," he added. "The question is who we are -- are we Baldwin or Churchill?" - referring to the two British leaders at the time who disagreed over Hitler's intentions.

Like the top Nazi, Ahmadinejad has openly urged the extermination of the Jews, saying in October that Israel should be "wiped off the map." In recent weeks the Iranian madman has also repeated questioned historical reports on the Holocaust, claiming they were likely exaggerated.

Last Friday, President Bush predicted that Iran's nuclear program would be used to make weapons to destroy Israel.

<> Gingrich said the U.S.'s top priority should be overthrowing the government of Iran - using peaceful means if possible but through military force if necessary.

"I will just say flatly, our objective should be the systematic replacement of this regime," the former top House Republican told Human Events.

Gingrich said that the U.S. should immediately begin aiding dissident groups in Iran, starting with trade unions and student organizations, saying, "We should in every way we can get them resources."

Rather than operating surreptitiously, the U.S. should be open about it's intentions, the architect of the Republican revolution said.

"We should indicate without any question that we are going to take the steps necessary to replace the regime and we should then act accordingly," he told Human Events. "And we should say to the Europeans that there is no diplomatic solution that is imaginable that is going to solve this problem."

Gingrich invoked the example of Franklin Delano Roosevelt to justify a preemptive strike against Iran, recalling: "In September 1941, when we sank a German submarine while we were technically at peace, [FDR] did a nationwide radio address and said, 'If you are standing next to a rattle snake, you do not have an obligation to wait until it bites you before you decide itís dangerous.'"


West's Push to Refer Iran to U.N. Hits Snags

By STEVEN R. WEISMAN

NYTimes, 24 Jan = WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 - The American and European drive to rebuke Iran over its nuclear activities ran into new difficulties on Monday, raising doubts about whether the International Atomic Energy Agency would quickly refer Iran to the United Nations Security Council for possible punitive action, European diplomats said.

The diplomats said that Russian resistance to pressing the case against Iran, as the West wants, when the atomic energy agency board meets on Feb. 2, made it increasingly unlikely that the board would adopt the kind of resolution being sought by the United States and the Europeans.

President Bush said in a speech on Monday at Kansas State University that the West could be "blackmailed" if Iran were to get a nuclear weapon. But he also sought to address the Iranian people, telling them that the dispute was with their leaders, not them.

Another blow to Western efforts to press Iran came Monday from Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the atomic energy agency, the United Nations' nuclear monitoring body. Dr. ElBaradei rebuffed an American and European request to issue a sweeping "progress report" on Iran's case in the next few weeks, presumably condemning its nuclear activities.

In letters written to American and other ambassadors to the atomic agency, Dr. ElBaradei said that "a detailed report will only be available" in March, but that the agency would provide "an update brief in February on where it stands in its investigation of outstanding issues."

A European diplomat, who along with other diplomats spoke on the condition of anonymity because the agency's board of governors had not taken an official position yet on Dr. ElBaradei's letter, said that without a tough assessment on Iran from the director general, it would be very difficult to get the board to refer Iran to the United Nations Security Council, as the United States and Europe are seeking.

Taken together, Dr. ElBaradei's move and the Russian resistance to an early referral posed the threat of a major setback for the West in its efforts to isolate Iran diplomatically at an early date.

Mr. Bush's comment on Monday appeared to reflect a growing consensus in the West that if sanctions are eventually considered for Iran, they will not be likely to include an oil embargo or other steps that might cause resentment among Iranians or hardship in Europe and the United States.

He repeated the call for the atomic energy agency's board to refer Iran's case to the United Nations Security Council, but he said, "I also want the Iranian people to hear loud and clear, and that is, we have no beef with you."

Indeed, American officials say that if there are sanctions, they will not bar Iranians from traveling abroad for sports or cultural events.

An effort to persuade the agency's board to refer Iran's case to the Security Council has been American policy for more than a year, but the Bush administration has deferred to Britain, France and Germany, which continued until recently to negotiate with Iran over a suspension and an eventual permanent dismantling of its nuclear enrichment activities.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in Washington, however, that it remained administration policy to seek a referral vote at the board's meeting on Feb. 2.

"The Iranians have done plenty for a referral at this point in time," Ms. Rice said, citing Iran's decision earlier this month to end its moratorium on enrichment and reprocessing of uranium. "It seems to me that the case for referral is very strong and that's what we intend to seek at the I.A.E.A. board of governors meeting."

Iran defends its nuclear activities as legal, asserting that because they are part of a civilian energy program or normal research activities they are permitted under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. American and European diplomats, citing Iran's failure to disclose many of its activities, say they are part of a clandestine nuclear weapons program.

It would take a majority of the atomic energy agency's 35 board members to refer Iran formally to the Security Council. Secretary Rice reiterated Monday that the United States believes it has the votes. Some European and American officials say there could be 20 votes in favor of such a referral.

But some European diplomats argue that a referral without Russian and Chinese support would send a mixed message. As an alternative to a referral, Russia wants the agency merely to report Iran's activities at its meetings on Feb. 2 and 3, and let the Security Council consider them.

The difference between a report and a referral was described by diplomats as significant. "A referral implies action," said a European official. "It implies a request for action by the Security Council. It also implies handing the matter over to the Council for action. A report does not imply those things."

Then if other negotiations fail to secure Iranian cooperation on freezing its enrichment processes, Russia would be expected to bring Iran before a regular atomic energy board session in early March. The United States and its European partners do not want to wait that long, however.

But European diplomats said that the Russian formula was emerging as a likely alternative to the American-backed plan for early action.

"The decision of ElBaradei to not advance a report right away makes the Russian timetable more likely than the European timetable," said a European diplomat.

Dr. ElBaradei, in resisting requests for a formal report before the Feb. 2 meeting, said in his letter that "outstanding issues" related to Iran's earlier actions on its nuclear program were still "being pursued with the Iranian authorities." One of his deputies was going to Iran this week to discuss some of them, he said.

"Due process, therefore, must take its course before the Secretariat is able to submit a detailed report," he said, referring to his office at the atomic agency.

European and American diplomats said it was possible that Dr. ElBaradei could deliver an interim report to the board sufficiently condemnatory of Iran's activities to lead to a referral. But their bigger worry was that Iran would cooperate with international inspectors just enough to delay any action for months.


Iranian President Sees End of World Order
Kenneth R. Timmerman, NewsMax.com
Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2006

In a country of religious zealots, the extremism of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has even his own countrymen sounding alarms

Dissidents within Iran say their country's president is such a crazed fanatic that he will try to usher in the end of the world as we know it.

On Dec. 16, gunmen opened fire on the motorcade of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as he toured the southeastern province of Sistan, along Iran's border with Pakistan.

According to news reports, Ahmadinejad's personal bodyguard and driver were killed in the ambush, although the president was unhurt. The government-controlled media in Tehran attributed the attack to "bandits," a term used to denote a wide range of armed groups, from drug dealers to opposition guerrillas.

But in this case, the attack may have been part of a plot to remove the Iranian president by a faction within the ruling clergy. At least, so believes a Western source who has just returned from talks with top officials in Tehran.

The faction seeking to remove Ahmadinejad does not object to the substance of the Iranian president's repeated vows to "wipe Israel from the map" and destroy America. Nor do they believe Iran should abandon its secret nuclear weapons program, top Iranian government officials said, according to the source.

Rather, they object to the fact that he has made such comments openly and without ambiguity. They believe that his frankness dangerously exposes them to attack from the United States, Israel or both.

"This guy is not a politician," the source quoted one top Iranian official as saying. "He is certifiably insane. And he is obsessed with the Imam Zaman," the legendary 12th imam, or Imam Mahdi, whom many Shiite Muslims believe will return in the "end times" after a period of horrific battles, famine and pestilence.

Americans may find it curious that government officials in Tehran, who have actively supported the Islamic republic for years, object to Ahmadinejad's religious zealotry. After all, this comes in a regime whose constitution declares that the supreme leader is God's representative on earth whose edicts can not be challenged by elected representatives.

But for more than two decades, Iranian leaders such as former President Hashemi Rafsanjani have walked a fine line between openly defying the United States and conducting covert aggression through terrorists and sophisticated intelligence operations. Under Ahmadinejad, these officials believe, that fine line has been crossed.

Ahmadinejad's messianic beliefs and his obsession with the 12th imam have become an open subject of debate in Tehran. Meeting with his cabinet shortly after taking office last August, the new president reportedly had Cabinet members sign a loyalty oath to the 12th imam, which they dropped into a well near where the Shiite messiah is believed to be hiding.

In September, when Ahmadinejad took the podium to address the United Nations in New York City, he felt surrounded by light. It wasn't the stage lighting, he said. It was a light from heaven.

He related his otherworldly experience in a videotaped meeting with a prominent ayatollah in Tehran. A transcript of his comments and sections of the videotape wound up on a hard-line, pro-regime Web site, baztab.com

Ahmadinejad's "vision" at the United Nations could be dismissed as pure political posturing if it weren't for a string of similar statements and actions that clearly suggest he believes he is destined to bring about the return of the Shiite messiah.

The mystical 12th imam, who is venerated by many in Iran, disappeared as a child in the year 941. Shiite Muslims believe he will return and rule for seven years in perfect justice.

In a Nov. 16 speech in Tehran, Ahmadinejad said that the main mission of his government was to "pave the path for the glorious reappearance of Imam Mahdi (May God Hasten His Reappearance)."

Reports in government media outlets in Tehran have quoted Ahmadinejad as having told regime officials that the 12th imam will reappear in two years. That was too much for Iranian legislator Akbar Alami, who publicly questioned Ahmadinejad's judgment, saying that even Islam's holiest figures have never made such claims.

At the same time he has made such statements, the new president has repeatedly vowed to pursue Iran's nuclear programs, in open defiance of the International Atomic Energy Agency and European Union negotiators.

While many Shiite Muslims worship the 12th imam, a previously secret society of powerful clerics, now openly advising the new president, are transforming these messianic beliefs into government policies.

Led by Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, who frequently appears with Ahmadinejad, the Hojatieh society is considered by many Shiite Muslims as their own bona fide lunatic fringe. During the early years of the Islamic Revolution, even Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini found their beliefs too extreme for public commerce and sent them scurrying underground.

Since taking the reins of government in August, Ahmadinejad has placed Hojatieh devotees in his Cabinet and through the bureaucracy, where they are leading a crackdown on students, women, Western music and religious minorities.

On Nov. 22, a Christian pastor was murdered after the president told a gathering of some 30 provincial governors, "I will stop Christianity in this country." Other Christians have been arrested and Bibles confiscated in recent weeks.

The president's opponents within the regime believe that the widespread replacement of competent bureaucrats with Hojatieh supporters having little government experience could prove fatal to him. "The new guys don't know what they are doing, and the fired people are angry," said the source who just returned from Tehran. "So there is a window of opportunity."

But hints of "regime change from within," carried by emissaries to Washington, may not be enough to deter the United States and Israel from using military force to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

"The business community in Iran is afraid of two things," the source who just returned from Tehran told NewsMax. "They are afraid of international sanctions, and they are afraid of a military strike by the U.S. or Israel. And they believe Ahmadinejad is bringing both."

American Enterprise Institute scholar and former CIA operations officer Reuel Marc Gerecht agrees that the new president could be a blessing in disguise for those who would support regime change in Iran.

"The only way Iran is going to get better is for it to get a lot worse -- and Ahmadinejad may just possibly be the man to galvanize a broad-based opposition to the regime," he wrote recently.






Mid-East Realitieswww.middleeast.org

Source: http://www.middleeast.org/articles/2006/1/1328.htm