War Blog

War Blog
By FrontPage Magazine
FrontPageMagazine.com | March 26, 2007

BAN KI-MOON HONORS YASSER ARAFATBy Charles Johnson

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said today that “the time is not ripe” for him to talk to Hamas.

But don’t jump to the conclusion that refusing to talk to Hamas (for now) means he’s opposed to Palestinian terrorism. Here he is respectfully laying a wreath on the grave of one of history’s most notorious mass-murdering terrorists:

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon lays a wreath at the grave of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat during his visit in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Sunday, March 25, 2007. The visiting U.N. secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, said Sunday that the time is not ripe for meetings with Hamas officials in the new Palestinian government. (AP Photo/Loay Abu Haykel, Pool)

OUR FRIENDS THE SAUDIS

By Charles Johnson

The hatred never stops: Saudi Arabia Bars Israeli Journalist Traveling With UN Chief.

CAIRO, March 24 — Saudi Arabia has barred entry to a Washington-based Israeli journalist traveling with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on his current Middle East tour, the United Nations said today.

Mr. Ban is going to Riyadh on Tuesday for two days of the summit meeting of the League of Arab States.

Orly Azoulay, the Washington bureau chief of Yediot Aharonot, was unable to obtain a visa to Saudi Arabia despite assurances the Saudi mission in New York gave the United Nations last week, said Michéle Montas, Mr. Ban’s spokeswoman.

Ms. Montas said that both Lebanon and Saudi Arabia initially refused to grant Ms. Azoulay a visa, but that Lebanon had dropped its objections last week and given her the needed stamp.

Ms. Azoulay, 53, an Israeli-born dual citizen of France and Israel, sought the visa on her French passport. She said she had traveled during the past two years to Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon, Iraq and Pakistan and had gone to Saudi Arabia in 2000 with correspondents covering then-Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright.

When the Saudi consulate in New York returned the passports of the 11 news reporters and broadcasters to United Nations headquarters on Friday afternoon, only Ms. Azoulay’s bore no Saudi visa. Ms. Montas said this occurred despite repeated appeals to the Saudis during the week from Vijay Nambiar, Mr. Ban’s chief of staff.  Sunday, March 25, 2007

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog*

DO AS I SAY…

By Sam Ryskind

http://web.mac.com/ryskind

*

AL QAEDA’S CHLORINE WAR CONTINUES IN RAMADI

By Bill Roggio

Ramadi police seize a truck rigged with explosives and chlorine cannisters

The truck cargo area reveals containers filled with chlorine and explosives. Picture courtesy of MNF-West PAO. Click to view.

Al Qaeda in Iraq is pressing forward with its dirty war in Anbar province. On March 23, police in Ramadi’s Jazeera district seize a truck filled with “five 1000-gallon barrels filled with chlorine and more than two tons of explosives,” according to Multinational Forces West. The truck was parked outside the Jazeera police station. “The police approached the truck for further investigation and detained the driver when they discovered the truck was rigged with explosives and the driver was attempting to detonate the vehicle.” The driver was captured and an Explosives Ordnance Demolition team destroyed the truck.
The driver will be interrogated in an attempt to break the al Qaeda network of chlorine bombers.

Al Qaeda in Iraq has escalated its suicide campaign to include attacks with chlorine gas, and Anbar province has been the focus of these attacks. This is the sixth chlorine suicide attack in the province since this mode of attack begun this winter.

On January 28, 16 were killed in the first such attack in Ramadi. On February 19, al Qaeda struck again in Ramadi, killing two members of the Iraqi security force and wounding 16. On March 17, al Qaeda hit with a three pronged attack in Ramadi, Fallujah and Amiriya. Two were killed and over 360 were poisoned in the aftermath of the attacks.

Al Qaeda also conducted two deadly chlorine attacks outside of Anbar province. On February 20, five were killed and 140 sickened after a chlorine attack in Baghdad. On February 21, a chlorine attack in Taji killed 9 and made 150 sick.

The U.S. and Iraqi security forces have been hunting for clues behind the chlorine attacks and are seeking to dismantle the networks behind them.
Two chlorine bomb factories were discovered in Karma and Fallujah by Coalition forces on February 21. Karma has increasingly become a hot spot in Anbar province. A Marine CH-46 was
shot down with an al Qaeda anti-aircraft missile in Karma, and the follow on task force of U.S. Army engineers sent to secure the wreckage lost three soldiers in a sophisticated IED strike. On March 22, U.S. and Iraqi forces found a chlorine supply in a bomb factory in Baghdad.

Al Qaeda in Iraq, through its political mouthpiece the Islamic State of Iraq, has issued a denial of its involvement with chlorine suicide attacks. “The group calls accusations of their involvement in the attack part of an information campaign aimed at tarnishing the jihad of the Islamic State, and more broadly, the image of the ‘blessed global jihad,'” according to the SITE Institute. “The group asks how any ‘sane’ person can believe that the Islamic State is targeting its own people as so many move to join their military ranks.” The attempt to distance itself from such attacks is a clear indication the backlash they have received from using such devices, however this did not stop the latest attempt in Ramadi.

Al Qaeda has issued instructions and implored its operatives to use chemical weapons in the past.  Saturday, March 24, 2006

http://billroggio.com

 

*

MISFIRE

07.03.25.Misfire-X.gif

From FOX News: Iran to Suspend Cooperation With Nuke Watchdog Over Sanctions.

Iran isn’t backing down after a unanimous vote by the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions, announcing Sunday that it will partially suspend cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency and will be adjusting relations with those nations who voted for sanctions. Iranian officials called the vote by the U.N. Security Council in response to Tehran’s refusal to stop enriching uranium “illegal and bullying.”

“The Security Council has to be aware of its own position and status. Actions that are illegal, unwarranted and unjustified will reduce the credibility of the Security Council,” Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said through a translator while in New York.

“A few select countries don’t have the right to abuse the Security Council,” Mottaki added.

In response to the vote, the Iranian Cabinet also decided to stop informing U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency of any new steps or decisions in its uclear weapons program, Gholam Hossein Elham, a government spokesman said on state television.

Sunday’s decision is a response to “Saturday night’s illegal and bullying resolution by the Security Council,” Elham said. The suspension of cooperation “will continue until Iran’s nuclear case is referred back to the IAEA from the U.N Security Council.”

While Iran stands firm against the world, international pressure continues to mount for Tehran to release 15 British soldiers who Iranian officials say had crossed into Tehran’s territory. Accused of trespassing, Britain says the sailors and marines were conducting a routine inspection of a merchant ship in the disputed Shatt Al-Arab waterway between Iran and Iraq when they were captured Friday by Iranian forces.  Sunday, March 25, 2007

Read more

http://frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=27547

Wrong on Timetables

Wrong on Timetables
By William Kristol & Frederick W. Kagan
The Weekly Standard | March 26, 2007

Let’s give congressional Democrats the benefit of the doubt: Assume some of them earnestly think they’re doing the right thing to insist on adding to the supplemental appropriation for the Iraq war benchmarks and timetables for withdrawal. Still, their own arguments–taken at face value–don’t hold up.

Democrats in Congress have made three superficially plausible claims: (1) Benchmarks and timetables will “incentivize” the Maliki government to take necessary steps it would prefer to avoid. (2) We can gradually withdraw over the next year so as to step out of sectarian conflict in Iraq while still remaining to fight al Qaeda. (3) Defeat in Iraq is inevitable, so our primary goal really has to be to get out of there. But the situation in Iraq is moving rapidly away from the assumptions underlying these propositions, and their falseness is easier to show with each passing day.

(1) The Iraqi government will not act responsibly unless the imminent departure of American forces compels it to do so. Those who sincerely believe this argument were horrified by the president’s decision in January to increase the American military presence in Iraq. It has now been more than ten weeks since that announcement–long enough to judge whether the Maliki government is more or less likely to behave well when U.S. support seems robust and reliable.

In fact, since January 11, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has permitted U.S. forces to sweep the major Shiite strongholds in Baghdad, including Sadr City, which he had ordered American troops away from during operations in 2006. He has allowed U.S. forces to capture and kill senior leaders of Moktada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army–terrifying Sadr into fleeing to Iran. He fired the deputy health minister–one of Sadr’s close allies–and turned a deaf ear to Sadr’s complaints. He oversaw a clearing-out of the Interior Ministry, a Sadrist stronghold that was corrupting the Iraqi police. He has worked with coalition leaders to deploy all of the Iraqi Army units required by the Baghdad Security Plan. In perhaps the most dramatic move of all, Maliki visited Sunni sheikhs in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province and formerly the base of al Qaeda fighters and other Sunni Arab insurgents against his government. The visit was made possible because Anbar’s sheikhs have turned against al Qaeda and are now reaching out to the government they had been fighting. Maliki is reaching back. U.S. strength has given him the confidence to take all these important steps.

(2) American forces would be able to fight al Qaeda at least as well, if not better, if they were not also engaged in a sectarian civil war in Iraq. The idea of separating the fight against al Qaeda from the sectarian fighting in Iraq is a delusion. Since early 2004, al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) has sought to plunge Iraq into sectarian civil war, so as to critically weaken the government, which is fighting it. AQI endeavors to clear Shiites out of mixed areas, terrorize local Sunnis into tolerating and supporting AQI, and thereby establish safe havens surrounded by innocent people it then dragoons into the struggle. Now, heartened by the U.S. commitment to stay, Sunni sheikhs in Anbar have turned on AQI. In response, AQI has begun to move toward Baghdad and mixed areas in Diyala, attempting to terrorize the locals and establish new bases in the resulting chaos. The enemy understands that chaos is al Qaeda’s friend. The notion that we can pull our troops back into fortresses in a climate of chaos–but still move selectively against al Qaeda–is fanciful. There can be no hope of defeating or controlling al Qaeda in Iraq without controlling the sectarian violence that it spawns and relies upon.

(3) Isn’t it too late? Even if we now have the right strategy and the right general, can we prevail? If there were no hope left, if the Iraqis were determined to wage full-scale civil war, if the Maliki government were weak or dominated by violent extremists, if Iran really controlled the Shiites in Iraq–if these things were true, then the new strategy would have borne no fruit at all. Maliki would have resisted or remained limp as before. Sadr’s forces would have attacked. Coalition casualties would be up, and so would sectarian killings. But none of these things has happened. Sectarian killings are lower. And despite dramatically increased operations in more exposed settings, so are American casualties. This does not look like hopelessness.

Hope is not victory, of course. The surge has just begun, our enemies are adapting, and fighting is likely to intensify as U.S. and Iraqi forces begin the main clear-and-hold phase. The Maliki government could falter. But it need not, if we do not. Unfortunately, four years of setbacks have conditioned Americans to believe that any progress must be ephemeral. If the Democrats get their way and Gen. Petraeus is undermined in Congress, the progress may indeed prove short-lived. But it’s time to stop thinking so hard about how to lose, and to think instead about how to reinforce and exploit the success we have begun to achieve. The debate in Washington hasn’t caught up to the realities in Baghdad. Until it does, a resolute president will need to prevent defeatists in Congress from losing a winnable war in Iraq.

Click Here to support Frontpagemag.com.

It’s almost official… Fred Thompson Could Be the New Ron Reagan!

It’s almost official… Fred Thompson Could Be the New Ron Reagan!
By JB Williams (03/20/07)

Liberal cheeks are puckering all over this country, including at RNC headquarters, at the prospects of a Fred Thompson presidential campaign. The last good-ole-boy conservative actor turned presidential candidate became the most universally beloved US President of the 20th century!

In my own unofficial not-so-scientific regular reader poll, which asked my mostly conservative regular reader mail list one simple question, Who would you feel best about supporting for President in 2008?, the answer could not have been clearer…

Fred Thompson 43%
Newt Gingrich 17%
Duncan Hunter 10%
Rudy Giuliani 10%
Ron Paul 8%
John McCain 6%
Mitt Romney 4%
Tom Tancredo 3%
Sam Brownback 0%

I can only guess why the results are what they are. But my readers are not alone in their search for an unapologetic no-nonsense plain-spoken conservative leader who shares their conservative values.

After six years of “compassionate conservatism”, which turns out to be more compassionate than conservative, the conservative core of the Republican Party seems finally in the mood to force a seismic shift in party leadership, from recent liberal RINO control back to the conservative values that founded and built not only the Grand Ole Party, but this nation.

Traditionally liberal rags like the NY and LA Times are talking about the conservative quake underway at the RNC on a daily basis. RNC leadership seems baffled at the news that their hand-chosen liberal frontrunners are meeting with a less than exuberant welcome from the party faithful. They just aren’t used to constituents telling them what to do and they are not so sure they like it.

Even Republican talk show hosts like Sean Hannity, seem agitated that they are unable to anoint Rudy Giuliani, who is having trouble connecting with conservatives over his liberal social values.

For a change, conservatives seem awake and engaged in the primary process of selecting themselves a real “people’s” candidate for ’08, instead of waiting for RNC leadership to anoint another lackluster RINO, compassionate towards liberal values and policies. As a result, there appears to be a growing national conservative movement to recruit Fred Thompson.

Other conservative sites are asking readers the same question and getting very similar results.

From the web-site GOPNation.com with almost 5000 voters…

Who is your choice for ’08? [4608 votes total]

Former Sen. Fred Thompson (2685) 58%
Rep. Duncan Hunter (766) 17%
Rep. Ron Paul (574) 12%
Former Rep. Newt Gingrich (139) 3%
Former Mayor Rudy Guiliani (110) 2%
Rep. Tom Tancredo (101) 2%
Sen. Sam Brownback (98) 2%
Former Gov. Mitt Romney (59) 1%
Former Gov Tommy Thompson (26) 1%
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (20) 0%
Sen. John McCain (18) 0%
Former Gov. Jim Gilmore (7) 0%
Sen. Chuck Hagel (5) 0%

And from conservative web-site RedState.com with almost 1500 voters…

Should Fred Thompson Run for President?

Selection

Votes

Yes 77% 1,122
No 18% 267
Undecided 4% 59

1,448 votes total

Conservatives also seem to be thinking about both conservative leadership qualities and electability. Newt Gingrich has some support because he has a track record of good leadership via his Contract with America that hoisted Republicans into control of congress for the first time in 40 years and balanced the federal budget for the first time in 60 years. But conservatives also seem to sense an electability problem with Newt, a result of the cloud under which he left congress not so long ago.

From the second JB regular reader poll… with the voting not complete yet.

Which RNC ticket would you feel best about supporting in ’08?

Thompson – Hunter 36%
Thompson – Gingrich 33%
Thompson – Giuliani 12%
Hunter – Thompson 5%
Gingrich – Giuliani 4%
Gingrich – Thompson 3%
Hunter – Giuliani 2%
Hunter – Gingrich 2%
Gingrich – Hunter 2%

Conservatives seem to love Fred Thompson. They also seem to like and respect one of the most honest and decent real conservatives in the race, Duncan Hunter, though they also seem to recognize that he has yet to demonstrate the leadership qualities of a Commander-in-Chief, or even an ability to mount a serious national campaign.

They seem not so impressed with John McCain, who has made a serious mistake by repeatedly snubbing the conservative core of his party, as if he can run a successful campaign not only without them, but at ideological odds with them. He must have missed the headlines – Bush at lowest approval ratings in history after torching his conservative base.

But what is it about Fred Thompson that gets conservatives so excited? Could he really be the new Ronald Reagan so many Republicans still love and admire? Is he cut from the same cloth and does he have the same no-nonsense leadership ability that can not only unite a divided party, but a divided nation?

Before one can answer this question, we must ask a question so obvious that it would be completely dishonest, or at least disingenuous to not ask it.

Are conservative voters buying into the public prosecutor persona of the Hollywood Fred Thompson, or is he the real deal conservative leader they have been searching for? Is he the new Ronald Reagan who can reunite the Republican Party around real conservative American ideals, or is he just a mirage in the conservative mind hungry for true leadership?

Before analyzing Thompson’s “Reagan” factor, allow me to throw a few facts at the sometimes selective memory of Ronald Reagan. This phrase “Reagan Republican” seems to get bantered about with little recognition of the fact that Reagan was not really all that conservative.

Reagan was a Democrat throughout most of his life. Only when the Democrat Party fell under the command and control of 60’s radical secular socialists did Reagan jump ship, claiming the Republican Party as his new home after the DNC left him and all other pro-American morally conscious capitalist freedom lovers out in the cold.

Reagan was most conservative in the arena of national security and firm foreign policy. Reagan understood that America was the only nation in the world with the power and moral authority to defend freedom and liberty around the globe, in defense of freedom and liberty here. Reagan commanded respect across the political aisle at home and abroad and remains one of the most loved US Presidents in US history even today.

But he was somewhat liberal on social issues. Or, like Thompson, he was at least an anti-federalist who sought to return private assets and personal liberty to the states and the people at every chance. He was “compassionately conservative” so-to-speak, though not nearly as compassionate towards modern secular socialist principles as either Bush administration since.

Thompson might indeed be more ideologically similar to Reagan than either Bush. He too is very strong on national sovereignty and security, with firm views regarding Americas roll in the world and the need for strong national defense and foreign policy initiatives. But he is not a believer in any world order under UN control and one must wonder about both Bush Presidents in this regard.

He clearly understands what’s at stake in the current international war against terrorism networks with world-wide reach and he seems to be much more willing than Bush to call a spade and spade when addressing the current crop of anti-American leftists working to undermine American interests in congress right now.

Combined with the fact that Thompson is a great communicator, unlike Bush, these are very valid reasons for the current excitement surrounding the prospects of a Fred Thompson candidacy. It also explains the clear conservative comfort with good men like Duncan Hunter and Newt Gingrich, as well as the utter disdain for faux conservatives like John McCain.

It’s almost official. Fred Thompson is looking more and more like the new Ronald Reagan of the 21st century that the Republican Party has been without since 1988. The groundswell of independent efforts to draft him into the ’08 race is also looking more like a real grassroots movement to elect the first “people’s” President in decades.

All of this explains the current fear atop the RNC leadership committee and within the ranks of Democrat Presidential hopefuls who are only pretend “people’s” candidates, ordained by their party leadership and the press.

2008 may turn out to be the most interesting Presidential race in modern history and it could mark the first time in a half century that the average American voter got fed up enough to dictate a “people’s” candidate against the will of both national committees and the press, who have become far too accustomed to telling the people how to vote with appalling results.

Finally…the American people seem prepared to wrestle control of their nation from the two national committees who have spent the last several years wrecking their country.

Now that a “peoples” frontrunner may soon emerge, I must remind you of a recent column that tells you what to do about it… Conservatives Gotta Get Real! America must save herself.

Not a moment too soon!

China Strengthening Ties to Anti-US Venezuela

China Strengthening Ties to Anti-US Venezuela

The Monroe Doctrine is dead, as shown by China’s strengthening ties to oil-rich Venezuela. The two countries are negotiating major new “energy diplomacy” deals to build refineries and expand crude output–for sale to China.

Beijing will invest in Venezuela’s oil infrastructure in connection with entering into long-term, preferential supply agreements with the South American nation, which is in the grip of the Castro-admiring, anti-American populist demagogue Hugo Chavez.

And China Confidential has learned that Beijing will also help Venezuela to unlock the awesome heavy oil wealth of the Orinoco River region. Important agreements are in various stages of development.

“As a power, the United States is going down, while China is moving up,” Chavez told reporters after meeting with an official from the China National Petroleum Corporation, the state-owned parent parentt of China’s largest oil producing company, PetroChina.

After the United States, China is the world’s second largest oil importer. Venezuela is the fifth-largest oil exporter.

It is also Latin America’s largest weapons buyer. Venezuela’s military spending has climbed to more than $4 billion through the past two years, placing it ahead of other major purchasers such as Pakistan and Iran in international arms markets. The arms acquisitions by Caracas include dozens of Russian-made fighter jets and attack helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles.

Back to energy. Chavez said Venezuela plans to boost oil exports to China to a million barrels a day by 2012, “nearing the level of Venezuelan supplies to the United States.”

He added: “We do not deny what a big market the United States is, one we have maintained and are resolved and interested in maintaining, as well as our refineries there and our great company, Citgo. But now Venezuela is diversifying.”

There is a self-defeating aspect to China’s alliance with America’s energy-rich adversaries–namely, Venezuela, Iran, and Russia (China’s partner in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization that was set up by Beijing to counter US power and influence in Central Asia). In contrast with China, the exporters have an inherent interest in ever-escalating energy prices. Resurgent Russia is impossibly corrupt and increasingly authoritarian; and Islamist Iran and leftwing Venezuela are both conducting imperialist foreign policies that seek to radically alter the power relations among nations regionally (in Venezuela’s case) and globally (in Iran’s case).

Post Script: Named for US President James Monroe, who first stated it in 1823, the Monroe Doctrine proclaimed that European powers should no longer colonize or interfere with the affairs of the nations of the Americas. Certain pro-Chinese Bush administration officials have actually argued that the doctrine is not applicable to China–because (a) it is not a European power, and (b) its economic rise is in the US national interest.

Editorial: At the End of the Day, Islam is the Enemy

Editorial: At the End of the Day, Islam is the Enemy

Put rising China to the side, in spite of its ominous military buildup. For the moment, at least, look away from resurgent Russia and its eager, oil-rich arms buyer, vehemently anti-American Venezuela. It is becoming increasingly difficult to deny that Islam–not Radical Islam or Islamism–is the enemy of civilization as we know it. As continued Muslim immigration and overpopulation pushes European nations to the brink of civil war, a world war with the Muslim Menace seems inevitable.

Shiite Iran and Sunni Al Qaeda will make every effort possible to destroy or at least subdue the West. If the turbaned tyrants and terrorists are not stopped–that is, killed–they will sooner or later attack Israel, the United States, and European nations with nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction.

Our leaders counsel patience and speak of protracted war. They are wrong. Time favors the enemy, works for, not against, the Muslim Menace.

Five-and-a-half years after the Muslim terror attacks of 9/11, more than four years after the invasion of Iraq, the West needs to shake the miserable Muslim world to its very foundations–to truly terrorize the terrorists and their sponsors–by scoring a series of victories likely to trigger a major crisis of faith in enemy nations leading to the ultimate collapse, or crackup, of Islam itself.

Any and all weapons, including tactical nuclear arms, should be used to win the war against Islam–now. The Iranian regime and its proxy, Hezbollah, and the mass murdering Al Qaeda and Hamas must be annihilated. Muslim immigration must cease. Muslim clerics who preach hatred and violence and sympathy for terrorists … these so-called spititual leaders must be detained and deported. Their support for terrorism can no longer be tolerated in the name of tolerance, can no longer be rationalized and explained away by the idiotic, multicultural mumbo-jumbo of traitors and cowards and advocates of appeasment and national suicide.

More than all that, the enemy … the monster that dared to strike the US on 9/11 … needs to know that Islam’s holiest places will literally go up in smoke … will be wiped off the face of the earth … if Muslim fanatics of any sort … Sunni or Shiiite … dare to launch another mega-attack against a Western nation.

This–the language of the gun–and nuclear fire–is the only language that the Muslim Menace understands.

Why Iran Seized British Marines (Updated)

Why Iran Seized British Marines (Updated)

Posted by John at 4:56 pm on March 23rd, 2007

Update 4: It doesn’t surprise me that lefty reporters at The Independent have already started telling their readers that this pre-planned kidnapping might not be a clear cut act of provocation, but you’d think editors would at least try to avoid publishing  contradictory accounts in the same paper on the same day. This leading article says:

The rights and wrongs of yesterday’s incident may, of course, be less clear-cut than they appear. It is reported that the British had just “successfully” completed the inspection of an Iranian merchant ship. Under what authority, and to what end? And while the British insist they were in Iraqi waters, local maritime borders can be contentious.

While this first hand account, also from the Independent today says:

15 Royal Marines and Navy personnel, including one woman, approached a Japanese merchant ship suspected of smuggling second-hand cars into the country without paying tax…

[snip]

Commodore Lambert denied his men had strayed into Iranian waters, insisting they were half a mile inside Iraq around Marakkat Abd Allah.

Update 3: Iran is going all out. They’ve already whipped up a demonstration:

Some 500 Iranian students demonstrated against the “British aggression” on Saturday on the Iranian side of the Shatt al-Arab, the narrow waterway known as Arvand Roud in Persian, that divides it from Iraq.

Some have suggested that the goal is to thwart the UN resolution relating to Iran’s nuclear program. If so, it doesn’t seem to be working:

The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved on Saturday new arms and financial sanctions against Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment.

Update 2: The Iranians are lying about the situation, which I guess means they aren’t planning to back down:

Royal Navy personnel seized at gunpoint by Iran in the Gulf have admitted being in the country’s waters, an Iranian general has claimed.

That’s going to be a problem since both the UK and the US have already said the captured soldiers were in Iraqi waters. How do we know? According to Former Royal Navy chief Admiral Sir Alan West:

They have GPS and they have a system which allows communications. It means they know where the mother ship is and the mother ship knows where they are. GPS means they know their position exactly.

But here’s the possible blockbuster in this situation. A friend of Ahmedinejad threatened kidnappings six days ago. From the London Times March 18th:

IRAN is threatening to retaliate in Europe for what it claims is a daring undercover operation by western intelligence services to kidnap senior officers in its Revolutionary Guard.

We’ve got the ability to capture a nice bunch of blue-eyed blond-haired officers and feed them to our fighting cocksAccording to Iranian sources, several officers have been abducted in the past three months and the United States has drawn up a list of other targets to be seized with the aim of destabilising Tehran’s military command.

In an article in Subhi Sadek, the Revolutionary Guard’s weekly paper, Reza Faker, a writer believed to have close links to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, warned that Iran would strike back.

“We’ve got the ability to capture a nice bunch of blue-eyed blond-haired officers and feed them to our fighting cocks,” he said. “Iran has enough people who can reach the heart of Europe and kidnap Americans and Israelis.”

This article was published March 18th. Now look at the next update below which says:

the decision to capture the soldiers was made during a March 18 emergency meeting of the High Council for Security…

So the picture that’s coming together is this. Iran’s support of terror in Iraq is an open secret. The US is secretly trying to help Iranian generals defect and the Iranians decide to kidnap some “blue-eyed blond-haired officers” to send a message. The message is this: Stop undermining our military or we kill your soldiers on state TV.

The ball is now our court.

marines.jpg

Update (Sat.): Well, it’s official. The 15 captured British marines weren’t part of a misunderstanding. Their abduction was planned last week:

The sailors, taken at gunpoint Friday by Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Al Quds soldiers were captured intentionally and are to be used as bargaining chips to be used for the release of five Iranians who were arrested at the Iranian consul in Irbil, Iraq by US troops, an Iranian official told the daily paper Asharq al-Awsat on Saturday.

In addition, a senior Iranian military official said Saturday that the decision to capture the soldiers was made during a March 18 emergency meeting of the High Council for Security following a report by the Al-Quds contingent commander, Kassem Suleimani, to the Iranian chief of the armed forces, Maj.Gen. Hassan Firouz Abadi. In the report, according to Asharq al-Awsat, Suleimani warned Abadi that Al Quds and Revolutionary Guards’ operations had become transparent to US and British intelligence following the arrest of a senior Al Quds officer and four of his deputies in Irbil.

According to the official, Iran was worried that its detained people would leak sensitive intelligence information.

BBC has a good backgrounder on the global situation leading up to the abduction here. It notes the following:

Earlier this week the Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned Western countries that if they continued to issue “threats and enforcement of coercion and violence, then undoubtedly they must know that the Iranian authorities will use all their capacities to strike enemies that attack”.

But it also seems there is an intense debate going on between different factions inside the Iranian government about how far it is really in the country’s interests to push confrontation.

So perhaps, as I suggested yesterday, Ahmadinejad was taken by surprise and cancelled his UN appearance to deal with the internal crisis at home.

Finally, here’s a map of the area from the BBC page linked above:

british-marines.gif

[End update]

Time Magazine has the best piece I’ve seen today on possible reasoning behind the seizure of 15 British Marines this morning:

The most ominous detail about Iran’s seizure of 15 British Royal Marines in the Shatt-al-Arab waterway on Friday morning is that the servicemen were reportedly taken into custody by the navy of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The IRGC is a powerful, separate branch of the Iranian armed forces. Soaked with nationalist ideology, it has grown into a state within a state in Iran, with its own naval, air and ground forces, parallel to official government institutions. The IRGC is directly controlled by Supreme Leader Ayatullah Ali Khamenei, the ultimate font of religious and political power in Iran. The IRGC also has its own intelligence arm and commands irregular forces such as the basij — a voluntary paramilitary group affiliated with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — and the Quds force, which has been accused by the U.S. of supplying material to Iraqi insurgents bent on killing American soldiers.

As it happens, on the same day a British commander in the south gave an interview to the BBC in which he claimed that most insurgent attacks in the area were being funded by Iran:

Insurgents in southern Iraq are being funded by Iran to stage attacks on British forces stationed in Basra, a senior army officer said in a BBC interview Friday.

Lieutenant-Colonel Justin Maciejewski conceded, however, that he had “no smoking gun” to prove Iranian interference in Basra, where British troops come under regular mortar and rocket attack.

But he said local community leaders informed him that Iranian agents were paying local men 500 dollars a month to carry out attacks and providing them with sophisticated modern weapons.

Maciejewski, the commanding officer at the British base at Basra Palace, the British Army headquarters, said he had “no reason to disbelieve the reports. “

If, as Time suggests, this seizure is the work of a separatist force run by Ayatullah Ali Khamenei that might also explain Ahmedinejad’s sudden decision not to leave Iran to speak to the UN:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad canceled his plan to visit the United Nations, and he and the U.S. dispute the reasons.

`Any suggestion that visa issues are the cause of President Ahmadinejad’s decision not to travel to New York is false,” Casey [U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey] said in an e-mail to reporters.

It’s just speculation on my part, but maybe Ahmedinejad didn’t authorize the seizure and was suddenly faced with an internal power struggle at home. The Time article concludes:

An Arab surce [sic] in the gulf believes that the incident may have been an Iranian political message to the U.S. and the world — a reminder that Iran has assets in the gulf to threaten American and its allies there.

Maybe. Or maybe the pressure is starting to crack Iran’s fragile leadership to pieces.

Bomb Iran Now

Bomb Iran Now

China Confidential

Islamist Iran is preparing for war with the West–a conflict Tehran’s turbaned tyrants are confident they can win.

Sea-launched missile strikes from Iranian controlled, foreign flagged cargo ships, and sponsored mega-terrorist attacks are among the weapons in Iran’s arsenal, along with batteries of ballistic missiles that can reach Israel, American bases throughout the Middle East, and parts of Europe.

The monstrous regime may not yet have nuclear warheads to put on its missiles; but it can deploy radioactive dirty-bombs and chemical and biological weapons in a showdown with the United States and its allies.

With the help of Hezbollah and Syria, Iran can reduce every Israeli city and town to rubble.

This level of confidence explains Iran’s continued defiance of the United Nations Security Council–the mullahocracy yesterday rejected a repeated demand by the 15-nation body to suspend uranium enrichment work after it imposed arms and financial sanctions on Iran–and provocative kidnapping of British sailors and marines. The 15 naval personnel, including at least one woman, were captured in Iraqi waters, contrary to Iranian claims that they had illegally entered Iranian territory.

Intelligence experts are seriously concerned about the fate of the prisoners. They have certainly been subjected to harsh interrogation methods, possibly including torture, and have probably been moved to a secret, secure location in order to be used as hostages and human shields. CONTINUE

Posted by Ted Belman @ 3:10 pm |

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers