The Middle East on a Collision Course (3): The Lebanese-Syrian Front

The Middle East on a Collision Course (3): The Lebanese-Syrian Front
By: H. Varulkar


Since the demonstrations of January 23 and 25, 2007 ended, calm has prevailed in the Lebanese streets. In addition, opposition leaders have stressed in their statements the aspect of a nonviolent political resolution to the crisis, and have reiterated to the Lebanese people, and particularly to their own public, that they must not be dragged into civil war. Various sources reported that the calm that currently prevails in Lebanon was the result of Iranian influence. This influence is so great that Lebanese sources have argued that the Lebanon crisis is no longer an internal matter, but is now dependent upon a regional settlement that could impose a new reality on the forces in Lebanon and even force them to make certain concessions. [1]

The stumbling block for any regional settlement is Syria, which is vehemently opposed to an international tribunal for the Al-Hariri assassination. As noted in a previous MEMRI report, [2] it was Syria that thwarted the draft agreement for Lebanon drawn up a few weeks ago by Saudi Arabia and Iran. As a result of Syria’s refusal, violent clashes broke out in Lebanon. [3] However, after the clashes were stopped, Iranian-Saudi contacts were resumed and Lebanese sources reported that some progress had been made. The Saudi daily Okaz also reported that Iran would pressure Syriato accept a settlement that would include approval of the international tribunal. [4]

The difficulty in finding a solution for the Lebanese crisis is not only due to the Syrian position, but is also the result of the overall complexity of the situation in the region. The regional initiatives focus not only on Lebanon and Syria, but also on other issues, both regional and global, including: oil issues, Saudi-Iranian relations, Sunni-Shi’ite tensions, the insurgency in Iraq, Iran’s nuclear program, U.S.-Russia relations, and the struggle for influence in the Middle East and in the countries of the former Soviet Union.

In a February 5, 2007 article in the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, which is close to Hizbullah, the daily’s editor Ibrahim Al-Amin revealed that the talks between Saudi National Security Council Chairman Bandar bin Sultan and top U.S. officials had failed, and that the U.S. had rejected Iran’s and Syria’s conditions. According to Al-Amin, this meant that the fire would continue to rage and that no settlement was on the horizon. Al-Amin added that Lebanon was facing difficult days.

Developments in the Lebanese Arena in Recent Weeks

Following the violent clashes in Lebanon on January 23 and 25, the positions expressed by Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah clearly became more moderate. In a speech on January 30, 2007 marking the anniversary of the Karbala massacre, Nasrallah announced that a solution to the crisis must take the form of a political settlement: “We in the opposition believe that the solution and the settlement can only be a political [solution]…”

Recently, Nasrallah has devoted significant portions of his speeches to calling on the public supporting the opposition to be restrained and temperate, and under no circumstances to be dragged into violence and civil war. Nasrallah also warned the Lebanese not to take vengeance into their own hands, because the [unity of the] state and of the military had to be protected. He also said that the weapons of the Lebanese resistance must not be used in the domestic arena, and stressed that civil war and war between Sunnis and Shi’ites were lines that must not be crossed. [5]

On February 3, 2007, the Hizbullah website reported that “Lebanon has entered a stage of…cautious calm and undeclared hudna [temporary ceasefire], in anticipation of the results of the Saudi-Iranian efforts concerning the Lebanon crisis.” [6] The Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar also reported that the opposition leaders had decided to give these diplomatic contacts a chance to bring about a solution to the crisis. [7] Likewise, opposition leaders have issued no harsh statements or threats to again escalate the situation.

Continued Mediation Efforts Fail; Sources Close to Hizbullah and Syria: “The Region Will Continue to Burn”

At the same time, Saudi-Iranian contacts have been continuing, in attempts to find a solution to the Lebanese crisis. Al-Akhbar, representing the Syria-Hizbullah axis, reported that the main obstacle in these contacts was the issue of the international tribunal, and mentioned the possibility that this issue would be postponed until the investigation of the assassination was completed. [8]

Sa’d Al-Hariri, a leader of the March 14 Forces, who visited Russia to learn its position on the international tribunal, was informed by the Russian Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee chairman that Russia did not support “unnecessary haste” in investigating the assassination. Likewise, Russian National Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov said that “the establishment of the international tribunal must not be a source of instability in Lebanese society…” [9] Ivanov also rejected Al-Hariri’s request that the international tribunal be approved by the U.N. Security Council without the signature of either the Lebanese parliament or the Lebanese president, who is known to be Syria’s protégé. Moreover, Russia also refused to announce its support for the government of Fuad Al-Siniora, because Russia supports only a national unity government in Lebanon, which is Hizbullah’s position. [10]

Saudi National Security Council Chairman Bandar bin Sultan, who is conducting the contacts for Saudi Arabia, went to the U.S. to discuss the crisis. In a February 5, 2007 article, Ibrahim Al-Amin reported that during the visit bin Sultan had failed to obtain U.S. backing for the understandings reached by Iran and Saudi Arabia. He wrote that Iran and Syria know that only the U.S. can provide the guarantees that they want – namely, guarantees that they will not be attacked. Therefore, bin Sultan conveyed the following messages to his American hosts: If the U.S. wants Iran and Syria to help it reduce its losses in Iraq, Palestine, and Lebanon, it must agree to a ‘give and take’ deal. Likewise, the U.S. cannot demand that Syria and Iran hand over all their cards. Al-Amin also stated that the U.S. had told bin Sultan that it had no intention of giving up on either the Iranian nuclear issue or on the issue of the international tribunal. As a result, Al-Amin claimed, an agreement would not be reached any time soon, and the region would continue to burn. Al-Amin concluded by saying that “Lebanon is facing difficult days” and that the opposition forces had to decide, now more than ever, which path they would take in the next phase. [11]

In recent days, various sources have been reporting on the possibility that Arab League Secretary-General ‘Amr Moussa would return to Lebanon in order to renew his initiative for settling the crisis. Moussa, who is currently in Russia and who met there with top Russian officials, sent the director of his office to Lebanon on February 5 to begin talks with the various forces in Lebanon.

Lebanese opposition sources claimed that Moussa’s upcoming visit will be the last chance to discuss a solution that deals with the national unity government and with the international tribunal, but leaves the issue of early parliamentary elections for discussion by the future unity government. The sources added that were Moussa’s initiative to fail, the opposition would make an “irreversible” decision – to demand the establishment of a transitional government that would pass a new elections law and hold early parliamentary elections. The sources added that in such an event, all attempts by the March 14 Forces to intimidate the Lebanese public by invoking the specter of civil war would be useless, and that the opposition would be forced to escalate its activity to the maximum. [12]

A New Syrian Approach to the United States

In a February 5, 2007 interview for the American ABC TV, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad expressed his willingness to help broker peace, saying: “We [i.e. Syria] have credibility. We have good relations with the other factions. They should trust [us] to be able to play a role. We have [these] good relations with all the parties, including the parties participating in this government, and the others who oppose the political process. So that’s how we can help.” [13]

This new Syrian openness to U.S. apparently stems from the fact that Iranian-Saudi negotiations for a settlement are continuing, and Assad feels that Iran is about to waive his vital interest – that is, his demand to postpone the approval of the international tribunal.

* H. Varulkar is a Research Fellow at MEMRI.

[1]Okaz (Saudi Arabia), January 30, 2007.

[2] MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 320, “The Middle East on a Collision Course (1): Recent Saudi-Iranian Contacts to Resolve the Lebanon Crisis,” January 26, 2007,

[3] It should be noted that Syrian sources denied reports that Syria had thwarted the Saudi-Iranian agreement, saying that the reports were aimed at harming Syria. The sources added that Syria knew nothing about any Saudi-Iranian initiative, but only about an exchange of ideas between the two countries. According to these sources, Syria was not setting any conditions for efforts to resolve the Lebanon crisis, and supported anything acceptable to the Lebanese. Al-Akhbar, Lebanon, February 2, 2007.

[4] Okaz (Saudi Arabia), January 30, 2007.

[5] Website of the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon, , January 28, 2007; Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), February 1, 2007.

[6] Website of the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon, , February 3, 2007.

[7] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), February 1, 2007.

[8] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), February 1, 2007, February 2, 2007.

[9] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), February 1, 2007.

[10] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), February 2, 2007. The paper also reported that Al-Hariri had conveyed to Russia a Saudi request that after his visit to Saudi Arabia, Russian President Vladimir Putin would not visit Qatar, but the request was refused.

[11] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), February 5, 2007.

[12] Website of the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon,, February 5, 2007.

[13] ABC News, February 5, 2007,

MACON, GA — Mayor C. Jack Ellis, a practicing Christian throughout his life, on Thursday said he’s switched to the Islamic faith.

MACON, GA — Mayor C. Jack Ellis, a practicing Christian throughout his life, on Thursday said he’s switched to the Islamic faith.

The mayor said the conversion also means he’ll be going through the legal process of changing his name. His new name will be Hakim Mansour Ellis. The mayor said he kept his last name to maintain family ties.

“It’s a personal decision, a private decision as to how one worships. But I do understand that I’m not a private person,” Ellis said. “But being the mayor of the city, I think people have a right to know what I believe in, that I am a man of faith, and the faith I’m now a part of is the faith of Islam.”

He now calls himself a Sunni Muslim. He made the switch, Ellis said, during his December trip to Africa. Rather than call it a switch, Ellis said it was like returning home.

“I went back to my roots I guess you could say,” Ellis said. “I did convert to Islam in December of this past year in the country of Senegal. When I say, “back to my roots”, Islam was in Senegal prior to the Africans being brought here as slaves.”

Since converting, Ellis said he attends the Islamic Center on Bloomfield Road during Friday worship services. He also said he’s practicing the Islam doctrine of praying five times each day.

Ellis said he discussed his decision with his family and siblings before making it public.

“Now, I’m sharing with my broader family, the Macon community who supported me when I was a Christian and trust that they will now,” Ellis said. “I’m the same person even though I’ll be changing my name.”

Even though he switched religions, the mayor said he isn’t ranking them.

“I’m not saying that one is better than the other,” Ellis said. “We do believe that the prophet Mohammed was the last prophet as well as we believe Moses was a prophet.”

Prior to the conversion, Ellis said he attended Unionville Baptist Church on Houston Avenue and before that Harvest Cathedral on Rocky Creek Road.

The mayor completes his second consecutive four-year term in December and isn’t eligible for re-election. But Ellis said he might run for Georgia’s 8th District congressional seat in 2008.

In response to questions about whether Ellis would order new stationery and signs with his name, mayoral spokesman Ron Wildman today said, “We don’t forsee any cost to the city.”

Referring to signs and plaques around the city that bear the mayor’s name, Wildman said, “He was elected as C. Jack Ellis, and those signs reflect what he did as C. Jack Ellis.”

Fight against PKK unites Turkey, Iran

‘Fight against PKK unites Turkey, Iran’

Monday, February 5, 2007

ANKARA – Turkish Daily News

Neighboring Iran clearly seeks to lure Turkey away from its traditional moorings to the West and the Kurds may be just the wedge they need, a Turkish researcher said in an article published by the U.S. weekly Newsweek International magazine. “If you were a mullah in Tehran facing a new western ‘coalition of the willing,’ there’s one country you would try to get on your side: next-door NATO neighbor, Turkey. And lately, the Iranians have been doing this quite well,” Ömer Taşpınar, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, said in his article. He said Ankara and Tehran increasingly shared a cause that unites them, that’s to say, the fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq.

  Iran is fighting the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), the Iranian wing of the PKK.  “It is no coincidence that [Foreign Minister Abdullah] Gül and [Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar] Büyükanıt are going to Washington. The meetings should put an end to the Bush administration’s happy talk about the stability of Iraqi Kurdistan. Unless U.S. forces act decisively against the PKK, the Turks will warn and then Ankara will take matters into its own hands,” he said, apparently referring to Turkish threats over a cross-border operation against PKK bases in northern Iraq, if Washington and Baghdad fail to take action. “All this will inevitably push Turkey toward Iran and may even end up creating an unprecedented Sunni-Shiite axis of frustration against America,” said Taşpınar.

© 2005 Dogan Daily News Inc.

The Democrats’ hateful new imam

England: One Law for Muslims, one for the Rest —England’s Slippery Sharia Slope

England: One Law for Muslims, one for the Rest
By Warner Todd Huston (02/03/07)

England is fast becoming but simple a plot of land floating in the sea instead of a nation of culture guided by a rich legal tradition. It is a tail of warning for the USA, the moral of which is don’t allow minorities to set up a parallel culture or you will cease to be a nation of laws. You will, in fact, cease to be a nation at all.

England is on the verge of having a bifurcated legal system, one for their various religious peoples and one for the rest of the native population. Two recent stories show the degradation of the British legal system and the inequities that it creates.

In a BBC story by Innes Bowen, The end of one law for all?, the question is asked: “Ethnic and religious courts are gaining ground in the UK. Will this lead to different justice for different people?”

How could this be that hard to answer?

Naturally, the BBC strives to make it seem as if all is right and good with this destruction of the English legal system because, after all, these people are just doing what “their culture” requires that they do, neatly ignoring the fact that they are in England and NOT back in their own homeland.

Aydarus Yusuf has lived in the UK for the past 15 years, but he feels more bound by the traditional law of his country of birth – Somalia – than he does by the law of England and Wales.

“Us Somalis, wherever we are in the world, we have our own law. It’s not Islamic, it’s not religious – it’s just a cultural thing.”

Well, isn’t that nice?

A number of parallel legal universes have been quietly evolving among minority communities. As well as Somali customary law, Islamic and Jewish laws are being applied and enforced in parts of the UK.

Worse still…

While religious leaders in the UK’s Jewish and Muslim communities have not sought to enforce their own versions of criminal law, they have steadily built up their capacity to deal with civil matters within their own religious codes. What’s more, they are doing it with the help of English law.

Crucially, the legislation does not insist that settlements must be based on English law; all that matters is the outcome is reasonable and both parties agree to the process. And it’s in this space that religious courts, applying the laws of another culture, are growing in the UK.

Naturally, the BBC spends 90% of the piece saying how benign this bifurcation of the courts is and that Muslims wouldn’t wish to push their extreme Sharia laws for criminal matters in the UK. “That simply would never be acceptable”, they quote former judge Gerald Butler as saying… as if just saying it assures us all that these extremists wouldn’t push for it anyway.

Remember “There will be peace in our time”, England?

After all, to use a supposed Middle Eastern expression, once they get a nose under the tent it won’t take much to push on through. Once Sharia is accepted even in its lesser forms, Muslims will have every reason to expect that they can expand that usage of their own “courts” and to ignore the rightfully applicable English laws on any given subject.

In fact, the BBC seems in love with the idea of these wonderful religious “courts” supplanting their own. The Beeb barely gives us a word against the idea save one luke-warm warning by “Cassandra Balchin, a convert to Islam and spokeswoman for the group Women Living Under Muslim Laws” who is apparently “concerned”.

“Very often traditional forms of mediation can disadvantage vulnerable groups, such as women, within a community.”

Very often, Mz. Balchin?

Like most western news sources, the BBC seems completely ignorant of the abuse women and minorities suffer under Sharia laws the world over. Women are beaten, raped, murdered, mutilated and oppressed by Muslim “culture” and English law should never turn its back on these vulnerable members of their society. this would be a travesty and a direct refutation of western morals that posit that all people are created equal and stand the same in the eyes of the law.

After this rather benign BBC report on England’s dying legal system, the Telegraph published their report on Sharia invading England’s shores and they take a little more umbrage at the possibility of immigrant communities circumventing English law.

Sharia law is spreading as authority wanes

Islamic sharia law is gaining an increasing foothold in parts of Britain, a report claims.

However, the BBC Radio 4 programme Law in Action produced evidence yesterday that it was being used by some Muslims as an alternative to English criminal law. Aydarus Yusuf, 29, a youth worker from Somalia, recalled a stabbing case that was decided by an unofficial Somali “court” sitting in Woolwich, south-east London.

In any case, this is a sure sign that England is giving up on their own way of life and allowing just anyone to bring in just any kind of “legal” system they please merely because they are “culturally used” to it!

It makes one wonder why they fought so hard to prevent the American Colonists from leaving the Empire? The Americans were at least on another continent, after all, and not trying to change what was going on right in the Motherland itself!

-By Warner Todd Huston

Mr. Huston has a keen interest in American history in general and political history in particular and writes for several websites and magazines on both topics.

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Democrats and World War IV

Democrats and World War IV

By Ted Belman

Hillary Clinton recently said:

“If I had been president in 2002, I would not have started this war.”
“If we in Congress don’t end this war before January 2009, as president, I will.”

Both of these certitudes ignore the context and the realities. This may be because the Democrats by and large are in denial or believe that America is to blame for terrorism. If only America would stop oppressing the Arabs or stop favouring Israel, terrorism would greatly diminish.
Even if they are prepared to accept that we are in World War IV with Islamists, staying engaged in Iraq is counter-productive, they argue. It produces more terrorists than it kills. It is also costly to American lives and treasure.
Finally they argue that the war in Iraq was not prosecuted properly and that more troops should have been sent. While in hindsight, there is generally consensus on the errors but now the Democrats are against the surge and any attempt to correct the errors or the tactics or the strategy. Just bring the boys home and all will be well.

But what about World War IV? What are the causes of this war and how should it be prosecuted?
This war is a product of Islamic Jihad. Andre Bostom, author of the The Legacy of Jihad, writes,

The noted 19th century Arabic lexicographer E.W. Lane, who studied the etymology of the term, observed,

“Jihad came to be used by the Muslims to signify wag[ing] war, against unbelievers”. The origins of the Muslim institution of jihad are found in the Qur’an. Sura (chapter) 9 is devoted in its entirety to war proclamations. There we read that the Muslim faithful are to “slay the idolaters wherever you find them. . . . Fight against such as those who have been given the scripture as believe not in Allah. . . . Go forth, light-armed and heavy armed, and strive with your wealth and your lives in the way of Allah. That is best for you, if ye but knew.”

From such verses in the Qur’an and in the hadith, Muslim jurists and theologians formulated the Islamic institution of permanent jihad war against non-Muslims to bring the world under Islamic rule (Sharia law).
The consensus on the nature of jihad from major schools of Islamic jurisprudence is clear.
Summarizing this consensus of centuries of Islamic thought, the seminal Muslim scholar Ibn Khaldun, who died in 1406, wrote:

In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty because of the universalism of the mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force.

Clearly the actions of the west are not the cause of the war as claimed by the Left. It is not who we are or what we do. Its all about who they are and what they believe.
After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Arabs turned to socialism under the Baath Party and pan-Arabism under Nasser. Their massive defeat in ’67 at the hands of the Israelis gave rise to the resurgence of Islam lead by Khomeini. With it came the call to Jihad, fueled by the new found oil wealth.
On Feb 1, 1993, one month before the World Trade Centre bombing, a Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, reported,

Since the Fall of 1992, there has been a significant increase in Islamist terrorism, subversion and violence in such diverse countries as India, Pakistan, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Algeria, Nigeria, Somalia, and many others. Despite the different circumstances of these incidents, they do not appear to be isolated events. Rather, they are the first incidents in the escalation of an Islamic Jihad against the “Judeo-Christian world order”. Thus, the climax of this struggle could well be an increase in terrorism throughout the West. [emphasis added]

Muslims went on the attack all over the world giving rise to the expression “the margins of Islam are bloody”. Americans were often the victim of these attacks, the most egregious of which occurred on 9/11.
This was not a singular occurrence but it was a dramatic escalation in the war against the west promising more of the same.
What was America to do? In the past it “lobbed a few missiles” as it did in Afghanistan and Iraq or retreated as it did from Iran and Lebanon. 9/11 required more than tokenism. It required America to fight the war it had been avoiding for over twenty years.
Even the Democrats supported the war in Afghanistan and perhaps still do. But they question why Bush invaded Iraq. They argue it had nothing to do with the war on terror as if it was enough to invade Afghanistan only. They argue that terror must be treated as a matter of criminality and fought as such.
Given this history of the rise and growth of Jihad with its incumbent terrorism, how can Democrats suggest that it has anything to do with the invasion of Iraq.
When President Bush spoke to the Joint Session of Congress and the American People on Sept 20, 2001 he described al Qaeda thusly,

This group and its leader – a person named Osama bin Laden – are linked to many other organizations in different countries, including the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. There are thousands of these terrorists in more than 60 countries. They are recruited from their own nations and neighborhoods and brought to camps in places like Afghanistan, where they are trained in the tactics of terror. They are sent back to their homes or sent to hide in countries around the world to plot evil and destruction.

And continued,

Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. (Applause.) From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.

Bush was speaking not only to the American people but for them. Yet Hillary Clinton said if she were the president in 2002, she would “not have started this war”. Was she referring to the Iraq war which started in ’03 or the Afghanistan war which was started in ’02. In any event, what would she have done to protect America or American interests? Americans deserve an answer.
And now she says, if elected, she will end the war in 2009. What does she mean? Does she intend to pull out of Iraq entirely and allow Iraq to fall to Iran which certainly will happen. If so, Lebanon and Jordan will also fall to Iran and its proxies shortly thereafter. And so will the entire Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia included.
Or is she prepared to drawn the line of retreat somewhere in order to maintain American presence in the Middle East and to protect its allies and interests. If so, where? Would it not be easier by remaining in Iraq rather then to retreating from Iraq? Americans deserve an answer.
If Americans withdraw from Iraq then what purpose was served by invading Afghanistan in the first place? Certainly the Taliban were punished for harbouring al Qaeda and the training grounds for terrorists were eliminated. But what is the point of the latter if they are allowed to regroup in Pakistan or Iraq or anywhere else for that matter?
Either America wants to prevail or it will be defeated.
Michael Gaynor in his article, Churchill, Lincoln, and Bush: Win! wrote,

PM Winston Churchill First Statement in House of Commons, May 13, 1940 put it this way,

“Victory, at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.”

“We will have no truce or parley with you [Hitler], or the grisly gang who work your wicked will. You do your worst – and we will do our best.”

He did not pretend that war would proceed according to plan:

“No one can guarantee success in war, but only deserve it.”.

He was realistic and resolved:

“Death and sorrow will be the companions of our journey; hardship our garment; constancy and valor our only shield; we must be undaunted, we must be inflexible.”

He had faith in the ability of the British people, once awakened, to persevere:

“We have not journeyed all this way across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy.”

The same must be said of the American People
One must keep in mind that Great Britain declared war on Germany before she was attacked. Still Churchill understood what was at stake.
Many have compared the threat posed by Hitler and Nazism in the thirties with the threat posed by the Islamists of today and concluded that the later is a more formidable enemy.
Even so and notwithstanding his words, Bush is not yet prepared to see the Iraq War as a regional war and certainly not as a global war. His “surge” strategy speech included

Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of extremist challenges. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We’ll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.

To my mind this was not a very aggressive stance. Yet he has done little in this regard. USA Today reviewed the US policy with respect to Iran and reported

National security adviser Stephen Hadley said the administration plans to release a report detailing its evidence of Iranian involvement in Iraqi fighting but is withholding it “to try and put out the facts as accurately as we can.”
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said administration officials “want to make sure that the briefing … is dominated by facts: serial numbers, technology and so on. And so we just want to make sure that the briefing that is provided is completely reliable.

This suggests to me that the US policy with respect to Iran remains as it has been; not to take them on. Too bad.
Will Bush commit to preventing Iran from getting the bomb or expanding its influence and hegemony? Americans deserve an answer.
How will the global War on terror be fought? How will the spread of Islamism be stopped” Americans deserve an answer.
Ted Belman is the Editor of Israpundit.

The Temperature Also Rises

The Temperature Also Rises

By Selwyn Duke

With the issuing of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on February 2, waxing climactic about the climatic is the order of the day.  The esteemed, government-funded scientists with no agenda who rendered the study inform us that man is almost certainly responsible for rising temperatures and, furthermore, that dramatic climate change is unstoppable.  But, after seeing various luminaries sound the alarm, I think I can confidently say that, hell’s bells, we’re darn well gonna try anyway.
And it’s about time.  We’ve long known we were going to die unless we stopped spewing that plant-sustaining CO2 into the air.  The thing is, though, my botanical sources tell me the plants are fearful that they’ll die if they don’t stop spewing that human-sustaining oxygen into the air.  So our task is clear.
We must beat the plants.  
I’m tired of the lies.  I remember when I was a wee lad in grammar school and they warned us of an upcoming ice age.  That wasn’t as scary as the talk about the killer bees, but why, teach, oh, why did you hide the truth about melting glaciers, rising oceans and vicious hurricanes?  I suppose the ice age fiction was less unsettling to young minds.  At least we could look forward to extra snow days.
This is why I won’t sit idly by and watch today’s prevarications fobbed off on the next generation.
Can you believe I actually heard some craven, callous individuals try to rationalize away our destruction of the planet with the fancy that weather is cyclical (1500-year cycles of warming and cooling)?  So thick is the propaganda that now an elaborate fiction has been woven to convince us that Al Gore, inventor of the Internet, could actually be wrong about global warming.  Why, it just makes you hot under the collar.  Now I’ll share what I’ve uncovered about the machinations of malevolent manufacturers’ minions.
In a tale worthy of Hollywood, some “scientists” are peddling a story about a geological interval occurring between 750 and 600 million years ago, which they fancifully call the “Cryogenian Period.”  They tell us that during this time the Earth was completely covered by ice and snow.  Moreover, they’d have us believe there have been numerous ice ages since then, with the last major one ending about 12,000 years ago and causing glaciers to extend as far south as Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  Outrageously, their fiction involves the notion that these alleged events were followed by warming trends that sometimes initiated intervals in which glaciers were completely absent from our planet, all without industrialization, as if we’d believe this beautiful blue orb could experience such wrenching changes without man’s meddlesome hands. 
This is an insult to our intelligence.  We all know that before the curse of humanity – and especially prior to industrialization – the Earth was a pacific place, where birds sang and fish swam and there was love and liberty, serenity and solidarity, and the lion lay down with the lamb. 
Continuing with this weather cycle con, we’re also told that between 1550 and 1920 there was a “Little Ice Age,” a time that saw increased glaciation in the Alps.  We can easily put the lie to this, however, for during part of this period CO2 levels were rising, yet, we are to believe that temperatures were dropping? 
Conversely, it’s also said that there were times when CO2 levels dropped but temperature increased.  It is to laugh. 
Even the government is in on this charade.  We know that anthropogenic glacial melt-off will cause rising sea levels that will inundate Florida and other low-lying regions, such as the Netherlands (don’t you realize our inaction could result in the destruction of the prostitution and drug capital of the world?).  So, right on cue, the National Park Service claims that during glacial periods Florida’s sea level was as much as three-hundred feet lower than today, and during the peak of interglacial ones it was one-hundred feet higher.  This, all without man’s influence?  Poppycock!   I bet these are probably the same people who tell us 98 percent of Renaissance painters were white males and that the US wasn’t founded by anti-Christian, ACLU lawyers.
Then, I found pro-plant propaganda being disgorged by the odious Center for Global Food Issues.  These miscreants actually sing the praises of higher CO2 levels and say,

. . . a warmer planet has beneficial effects on food production. It results in longer growing seasons-more sunshine and rainfall-while summertime high temperatures change little. And a warmer planet means milder winters and fewer crop-killing frosts. . . .  Infrared satellite readings show that the Earth has been getting greener since 1982, thanks apparently to increased rainfall and CO2. Worldwide, vegetative activity generally increased by 6.17 percent between 1982 and 1999-despite extended cloudiness due to the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo and other well-publicized environmental stresses. . . .  When dinosaurs walked the earth (about 70 to 130 million years ago), there was from five to ten times more CO2 in the atmosphere than today. The resulting abundant plant life allowed the huge creatures to thrive. . . .  Based on nearly 800 scientific observations around the world, a doubling of CO2 from present levels would improve plant productivity on average by 32 percent across species.

And they’re not alone in this subterfuge.  The National Center for Policy Analysis echoes these sentiments and makes the bold claim that a desire for greater plant yield is why botanists pump CO2 into greenhouses.  Even more astoundingly, this organization states that until just recently plants might have been suffering from CO2 deprivation.  These people are so low they snidely remarked that our savior, Al Gore, believes in instituting “carbon taxes.”
Don’t you see what’s going on?  Those innocuous looking organisms you so lovingly nurture in their pots as you provide water, sunlight and fertilizer, have designs on our civilization.  Haven’t you ever watched Day of the Triffids?  I tell you, we’re locked in a battle for survival itself with the plants.
Let not your heart be troubled, though, my friends.  The great teacher, the man who really knows  vegetative activity, Al Gore, is on the case with his keen intellect and sage stewardship.  I hear he’s going to make a sequel to An Inconvenient Truth titled Presidential Aspirations in the Balance, in which he will illustrate the direness of our predicament by demonstrating how he can fry an organic egg on his head in Bangor, Maine, at sunrise. 
Of course, ardent apologists for industrialization try to put a happy face on the CO2 molecule, but even they can’t deny that the gas’ levels are rising.  So, lo and behold, they try to sell us the line that it’s the result of natural processes.
For instance, a vile propagandist named Phillip V. Brennan wrote a piece in which he claims we now know there is much more geothermal activity beneath the ocean floor than scientists had suspected previously.  Ostensibly, this process heats up the oceans, causing them to release more CO2 into the atmosphere.  Brennan even tries to explain away our more mercurial weather, quoting a colleague who maintains that,

“. . . it is not global warming that’s causing the oceans to heat, it’s heated oceans that are warming the globe and setting up a scenario that includes among its consequences more and increasingly violent hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards.”

Yeah, sure, next he’ll tell us tsunamis are caused by underwater earthquakes.
Anyway, this Brennan character has no credibility.  Despite the fact we know that every scientist agrees with the anthropogenic global warming thesis, he claims that a petition was signed by,

“. . . over 18,000 scientists who are totally opposed to the Kyoto Protocol, which committed the world’s leading industrial nations to cut their production of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels.”

Next, we hear the Earth destroyers’ answer to why our polar ice caps are melting.  They point out that the ice caps on Mars are probably melting as well, which is supposed to vindicate the idea that natural cycles are the cause.
But there’s something they won’t tell you, information I risk my life by divulging.
There’s actually a civilization of greedy little green industrialists on the red planet, who drive SUVs, heat their saucers with mahogany and teak, smoke fine cigars and are mean to children and old people.  And the only reason this is kept secret is that free traders want our shores inundated with their cheap goods, which are brought in through Area 51.
I now ask you to compare the dubious claims of the industrial apologists with the aforementioned facts.  I think it will be clear where the true sanity lies.
The truth is, as Mr. Gore would say, inconvenient.  We just don’t want to accept that we’ll have to radically alter our lifestyles; why, it’s ridiculous to think we can maintain our love affair with the combustion engine.  As Gore told us in Earth in the Balance, the automobile poses a most grave threat to mankind.  And, no, wise guys, it’s not because he spent time in a car with Ted Kennedy at the wheel. 
So I advise you all to follow the lead of French President Jacques Chirac, who found time between mistresses to warn us that “We are on the historic threshold of the irreversible,” as he called for a “revolution” to save mankind.  Besides, there is grave concern that Hillary Clinton’s personality may melt.
As for me, I’m going to go out and kill a plant.  Now, what will I wear?  Dang, the weatherman got the forecast wrong again….
Selwyn Duke is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. Contact Selwyn Duke.