Archive for June, 2011

A Coming Storm? Prospects and Implications of UN Recognition of Palestinian Statehood

June 30, 2011 Leave a comment

To judge from the wide-ranging speculation, United Nations recognition of Palestinian statehood—planned by the Palestinian Authority (PA) for this September—will be either a watershed moment or a largely symbolic piece of diplomatic theater. Israel’s defense minister Ehud Barak has referred to this development as a “diplomatic tsunami.” But others have argued that since UN General Assembly resolutions are nonbinding, recognition of Palestinian statehood will have little practical effect.

Barring a diplomatic breakthrough, Palestinian leaders plan to pursue a statehood resolution at the United
Nations in September. Yet, the most striking feature of the debate surrounding this development is how little attention is being paid to the context of this initiative and what may happen the day after the UN vote. The UN move is as much a symptom as it is a cause, and unless understood in this way, the policy response is likely to be inadequate.

Regardless of the outcome in New York, the downward spiral away from peacemaking seems to be intensifying at an alarming pace. In this Policy Note, former Israeli peace negotiator Tal Becker examines the scenarios most likely to unfold at the UN, the regional and domestic factors that have led the Palestinian leadership to pursue this course, and the various implications of potential UN recognition. The study examines different policy options available to the United States as it seeks a response that best balances conflicting interests and priorities, and best preserves the option of a negotiated solution in a volatile and changing regional environment.

Read full text here:

Tal Becker
June 2011
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy

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Israel’s Vice PM Speaks about Iran and the UN Recognition of Palestinian Statehood

June 30, 2011 Leave a comment
Moshe Ya’alon, Israel’s Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs, met and addressed on Wednesday the delegation of Jewish parliamentarians during their visit to Israel.

In his remark he added that the situation which exists in the region today is sustainable. “Of course, the conflict [between Israel and the Palestinian Authority] hasn’t been solved,” he said, “and I don’t think we should talk about solutions. We should talk about how to enhance our interests in the right way.”

Addressing the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, Ya’alon said that more sanctions are needed against the Islamic Republic, including what he termed “political isolation.”

“How come President Ahmadinejad of Iran, who calls to wipe Israel off the map, is welcomed in the General Assembly or in Columbia University?” he asked. “This is not political isolation. It hasn’t been implemented yet as a tool.”

He expressed hope that the economic sanctions against Iran also intensify, as they are “a very effective tool in a dilemma [of having to choose between] a nuclear bomb or survivability.

“We call for the intensification of the economic sanctions on Iran and to deal with those who help Iran to bypass these sanctions,” he said. “This tool hasn’t been exercised in the way that we believe it should be exercised.”

A military option against Iran, said Ya’alon, should be the last resort, but added that “in order to convince the Iranian regime that we are determined to deal with it, we should demonstrate a credible military option.”

He emphasized that by “we” he means the West and not just Israel. “It is not just Israel versus Iran,” he stressed. “It’s Iran versus the western world. They say that we’re only the minor Satan and that the great Satan is America. America is not just the United States.”

Ya’alon also addressed the Palestinian Authority’s plan to seek recognition of a state at the UN General Assembly, and said this idea will not serve the interests of Israel, the PA, and even the United States.

The reason for this, he explained, is that achieving recognition of a state would not give the PA any incentive to return to the negotiating table. He added that ultimately, establishing a Palestinian state unilaterally will result in the formation of a “failed and hostile entity” and noted that such a state is destined for failure since, as he explained, “you can’t talk about a viable Palestinian state without any strong economic connections to the State of Israel. Their economy is based on us.”

Dlad Beari & Hezki Ezra
6, 29, 2011
Israel National News

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NGO Urges UN Chief to Retract Blessing for Cynical Iranian Conference on Terrorism

June 27, 2011 Leave a comment
NGO Urges UN Chief to Retract Blessing for Cynical Iranian Conference on Terrorism

GENEVA — A watchdog organization is calling on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to retract his apparent endorsement of an Iranian government conference on terrorism that seeks to deny Iranian complicity, while instead blaming the US, Britain and Israel. See below the letter sent today to the UN chief by Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch. The non-governmental organization also called on US Ambassador Susan Rice to ensure that the UN refrains from endorsing such conferences in the future.

His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon, The Secretary-General                                                                                              
The United Nations
New York, NY 10017

Your Excellency,
Earlier this week, UN Watch warmly welcomed your deserved reelection as UN Secretary-General and applauded your principled leadership. It is in that spirit that we call upon you to distance yourself and the United Nations from a cynical conference now underway in Iran which claims to have your
blessing and that of the United Nations.

Organized by the Iranian government, the conference is entitled 
“International Conference on Global Fight Against Terrorism.” It began today
and ends tomorrow. The opening message by Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei
attacked “the United States, Britain and some Western governments, with a
black record in terrorist behaviors,” “satanic world powers,” and “terrorist
organizations such as the Zionism International Agency.”
The Iranian Supreme Leader further says on the conference website that “the
creation and growth of the wild and blind terrorism is basically the result
of the wicked policy of America and England,” and that “it is a duty for all
Muslims to confront and fight this inauspicious offspring which is the clear
example of corruption on earth and fighting with God.” 

Inflammatory cartoons abound on the conference website. Several depict the 
United States as a purveyor of terrorism. One image portrays innocent
Middle Easterners as the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Another
shows the Statue of Liberty, with Lady Liberty holding a stick of dynamite
in her hand. Still another shows an Israeli soldier as a devil with horns.

If this were not enough, the conference openly defied the United Nations by
prominently hosting Sudanese President Al-Bashir, against whom there is an
arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court on the charge of
genocide against the people of Darfur.

As you know, this conference is the height of cynicism. Iran is a leading
sponsor of terrorism, arming and training terrorist proxies such as
Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Iran has been accused of sponsoring
terrorist attacks in Iraq, and of now aiding the Syrian regime in the bloody
repression of its own population. Iran has been condemned repeatedly by the
UN General Assembly for severely violating the human rights of its own
citizens, and is under UN sanctions for violating international law in its
covert pursuit of a nuclear bomb. Last September, you rightly condemned
Iranian President Ahmadinejad when he used the UN podium to accuse the US of
perpetrating the 9/11 terror attacks.

In light of the above, we were alarmed to see that this Iranian propaganda
vehicle not only features the UN logo on the home page of its website,
implying UN sponsorship, but also appears to have received a special message
from you that was read out in person by a UN representative in Tehran. A
summary appears on the conference website under your photo
According to the Mehr News agency, “United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sent a message to the conference, which was read out by UN representative Muhammad Rafiuddin
Shah.” The report goes on to say that “Ban thanked the Islamic Republic of Iran for organizing the conference.”

Mr. Secretary-General, your good name and that of the United Nations should 
not be exploited in this way. It harms the credibility of the world body,
contradicts the principles of the UN Charter, and aids and abets the
sponsors of terrorism in their global propaganda. We urge you to publicly
distance yourself and the UN from this shameful conference.

Yours truly,
Hillel Neuer Executive Director

25 June 2011

UN Watch is a Geneva-based human rights organization founded in 1993 to monitor UN compliance with the principles of its Charter. It is accredited as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Special Consultative Status to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and as an Associate NGO to the UN Department of Public Information.

[Murdering Israelis is not Terrorism] Tehran Anti-Terror Conference Ends Work with Final Statement

June 27, 2011 Leave a comment
Anti-Terror Conference Hosted by the Terrorist IRI Regime, a Puppet of Western Powers, in Iran.
The laughingstock of the matter is that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has endorsed the Conference and furthermore UN CTITF (Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force) Representatives were among the Attendants in this conference. 
A Big Shame on United Nation! [DID]

[Dr. Aaron Lerner – IMRA: It was emphasized that legitimate struggles of peoples under colonial rule or foreign occupation for their inalienable right of self-determination should not be labeled as terrorism” = murdering Israelis is not terrorism.]

TEHRAN (FNA)- The International Conference on Global Fight against Terrorism ended up work here in Tehran on Sunday after issuing a final statement.The final statement was read by the Iranian Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, in the closing ceremony of the two-day conference this afternoon.The Tehran international anti-terrorism conference started work on Saturday with senior officials from at least 60 countries and representatives of several international bodies, including the UN, in attendance. The event, arranged under the slogan of “A World without Terrorism”, was aimed at increasing international convergence and coordination in fighting terrorism. According to the website of the conference, the full text of the final statement is as follows:

International Conference on Global Fight against Terrorism
Tehran, 25-26 June 2011

1) At the initiative of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the 
International Conference on Global Fight against Terrorism was held from 25 
to 26 June 2011 in Tehran, Iran. Heads of States and governments from 
neighboring countries Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan as well as Sudan, 
Tajikistan, Mauritania and the Vice-President of Cuba and Ministers and 
other high-level delegates from 60 States, representatives of the United 
Nations (Officer in Charge of CTITF), the OIC, and other regional 
organizations as well as distinguished scholars and researchers and peace 
activists from all around the world participated in the Conference;

2) The participants expressed their deep appreciation for the Government of 
the Islamic Republic of Iran for its constructive and timely initiative in 
organizing the International Conference on Global Fight against Terrorism, 
and congratulated the Islamic Republic of Iran for its successful 
organization of the event. The participants stressed the high importance of 
such gatherings in further mobilizing political will and strengthening 
international capacities in countering terrorism at national and 
international levels;

3) The participants reiterated their unequivocal condemnation of all acts of 
terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including State terrorism, 
economic terrorism wherever, against whoever and by whoever they may be 
committed. it was underlined that State terrorism has posed, for long, a 
real threat to the peace and stability of many nations across the globe 
through unlawful use or threat of force, aggression and occupation;

4) It was acknowledged that terrorism is a global challenge the elimination 
of which requires a globally approved approach under the United Nations’ 
auspices and through participation of all responsible members of the 
international community. It also requires the use of all potentials of the 
competent regional and international organizations in order to promote 
cooperation and coordination in countering terrorism;

5) It was underscored that considering terrorism in a holistic and 
comprehensive manner and in all its aspects is vital. In this context, the 
importance of addressing the historical and the continuing root causes of 
terrorism, including foreign aggression and occupation, poverty and 
discrimination as well as interventionist policies by some States, was 

6) The participants underlined, as also reiterated by Iran’s Supreme Leader, 
the need for providing a consensual definition for terrorism without 
prejudicing or affecting, in any manner, the recognized rules and principles 
of international humanitarian law. It was emphasized that legitimate 
struggles of peoples under colonial rule or foreign occupation for their 
inalienable right of self-determination should not be labeled as terrorism;

7) The importance of countering terrorism in a transparent, rule of law 
based, and non-discriminatory manner was emphasized. It was underlined that 
counter-terrorism measures shall be adopted and carried out in accordance 
with the Charter of the United Nations and international law, including 
international human rights and humanitarian law. The participants rejected 
selective or double-standard approaches in dealing with terrorism and 
terrorist groups and warned that such approaches could undermine 
international trust and cooperation in countering terrorism globally;

8) The distinctive role of the United Nations, especially the General 
Assembly, in building international consensus and promoting cooperation and 
coordination against terrorism was highlighted. In this context, the 
imperative of following the consensual approach in international 
counter-terrorism norm-making processes was underlined. Also the important 
status of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the need 
for its balanced implementation as well as its further reviews with a view 
to its strengthening was emphasized;

9) The participants underlined the need to extend cooperation and 
interaction among all States in countering terrorism, in all its aspects, at 
bilateral, regional and international levels. The participants reminded the 
responsibility of all States in taking the necessary measures to bring 
terrorists to justice, and requested all States to strengthen cooperation to 
this end;

10) The participants highlighted the unequivocal denunciation by all divine 
religions of acts of terrorism and indiscriminate violence against innocent 
people and the high importance these religions attach to human life and 
dignity as well as peaceful coexistence among nations. The participants 
rejected any vicious attempt to associate or attribute terrorism to a 
particular culture, religion or nationality and expressed their concern over 
certain circles’ attempts to associate intolerance, extremism, terrorism and 
violence to religions, particularly Islam, and condemned any offensive or 
provoking act against Divine values and religious sanctities;

11) The participants expressed their sympathy with victims of terrorism, 
including State terrorism. The participants expressed their deep concern 
over excessive and/or disproportionate use of military force in the name of 
countering terrorism which has claimed the lives of an increasing number of 
innocent civilians, and stressed the importance of addressing the plight of 
these victims. The participants applauded the initiative of the Conference 
to commemorate the victims of acts of terrorism.

The participants welcomed the Islamic Republic of Iran’s initiative to 
establish a standing headquarters for the Conference as a follow-up to 
further mobilize the international and regional political will and preserve 
the momentum in promoting cooperation and coordination in countering 
terrorism. In this context, the participants welcomed the offer made by the 
Republic of Iraq to hold the next Conference in Iraq at a date to be 
announced in due course.

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The Item 6 of the text says:

It was emphasized that legitimate struggles of peoples under colonial rule or foreign occupation for their inalienable right of self-determination should not be labeled as terrorism,

This condition fits the circumstance that undergo in Israeli-Palestinian dilemma, in which Palestinians do not recognize Israel as a legitimate government and furthermore they assume that Israelis has occupied their land and as a result they have to fight against Israelis to get their land back, and within the above statement context, then such fight and murdering Israelis are fine and should not be considered an act of terrorism, in other word, murdering Israelis is not terrorism.  [DID]

Syria Crisis Offers U.S. Opportunity to Break Axis with Iran, Expert Says

June 24, 2011 Leave a comment

The United States should see the political turmoil in Syria, not as a “confounding problem,” but as an opportunity to break at its weakest point the enduring and dangerous partnership between Syria and Iran, a Mideast expert told lawmakers on Thursday.

“At stake is the opportunity to strike a painful, perhaps decisive blow to the axis of anti-peace, anti-Western, anti-American regimes that is headquartered in Tehran, runs through Damascus, then on to Beirut and Gaza, and has aspirations to extend its reach to Baghdad, the Gulf and beyond,” Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee. Satloff was referring to the longstanding alliance between Shi’ite Iran and Alawite-ruled, Sunni-majority Syria, the Hezbollah and Hamas terrorist groups in Lebanon and Gaza respectively, as well as Iran’s maneuvering to extend its influence in Shi’ite-majority Iraq and Bahrain.
Syria’s ruling family has nurtured close ties with Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution, splitting with the rest of the Arab world by backing Iran in its long war against Iraq during the 1980s. The relationshiop deepened after Bashar Assad became president in 2000.
President Obama’s attempts to engage with Syria and lure it away from both Iran and Hezbollah were manifestly unsuccessful. Assad responded to Washington’s overtures by inviting his Iranian counterpart and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah to Damascus in March last year in a show of solidarity [2].
Satloff described the Damascus-Syria link as “the most resilient and enduring political alliance in the modern Middle East.”
“Breaking that alliance, and thereby severing a critical link in the Tehran-to-Beirut-to-Gaza chain that is vying with America and its friends and allies for regional influence and domination, would be a strategic achievement of immense proportion.”
Assad’s regime is facing its most serious challenge since his Baath Party seized power in a 1963 coup. His father, Hafez Assad, ruled from 1971 until his death in 2000.
Amid the three-month crackdown on anti-government protests, the U.S. and others have accused Iran of covertly providing support and weapons to Assad’s campaign. A meeting of European Union leaders on Friday is expected to announce new Syria sanctions, targeting among others Iranians linked to the repression.
When Obama in late April announced the first sanctions in response to the Syrian situation, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps–Qods Force was targeted along with Syria’s General Intelligence Directorate.
Hezbollah, which is sponsored by both Syria and Iran, has also been accused of sending operatives to support Assad’s forces.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem during a press conference in Damascus on Wednesday denied “categorically” that either Iran or Hezbollah were providing “military support” to the regime.
In his testimony, Satloff referred to other major issues at stake in the Syrian crisis – whether its citizens would win freedom “after four decades of dictatorial rule by the Assad family,” and whether “a regime that has been a consistent source of tension, threat, and challenge to U.S. interests on numerous fronts” would survive.

But he cited as the most crucial issue the chance to split the axis, describing Syria’s secular Allawite regime as “the weak link” in “an otherwise Shiite-led, radical Islamist coalition.”

Satloff dismissed the view that what succeeds the present government could be worse.

“No successor regime will be as committed as the Assad regime has shown itself to be to implementing a broad range of destabilizing and dangerous policies, from pursuing a clandestine and illegal nuclear weapons program, to arming and supporting radical Islamist militias in Lebanon and in the Palestinian arena, to facilitating attacks on U.S. troops via foreign fighters in Iraq.”

Even if what follows Assad falls short of the desired outcome – a pluralistic, representative, democratic and minority right-upholding government – it “will still constitute a substantial blow
to our strategic adversaries in the region and will therefore serve U.S. interests,” he said.

Characterizing Turkey’s rift with Syria [4] as even more significant than the Arab League’s decision to abandon Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi earlier this year, Satloff argued that the U.S. should capitalize on the situation and “take steps that hasten the demise of the Assad regime.”

He offered a range of recommendations to help achieve that end – none of them involving military action either alone or in concert with others. Among them:

— raise the level of consultations with key regional players on the Syrian issue;
— create an international contact group both to highlight the growing isolation of the regime and facilitate practical support for refugees and others;
— consider establishing “humanitarian relief zones” along Syria’s borders;
— find ways to support the Syrian opposition and help make it more effective;
— expand sanctions and targeting Syrian energy sector and supplies; and
— step up pressure at the U.N. on human rights and  weapons of mass destruction issues.

Satloff said Obama should also “adopt a clearer position on the urgency of political change in Syria.”

“I believe we can state with certainty and clear conscience that the Syrian people have spoken with as much clarity and determination as is humanly possible in one of the world’s most controlled and repressive states,” he said. “It is time for the United States to speak – and act – with similar clarity and determination.”

Friday, June 24, 2011
Patrick Goodenough

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IRI Distributing Condoms For Criminals To Rape Activists In Jail

June 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Smuggled letters allege authorities are using mass rape as a weapon inside Iran’s most notorious prisons. Prison guards in Iran are giving condoms to criminals and encouraging them to systematically rape young opposition activists locked up with them, according to accounts from inside the country’s jail system.

A series of dramatic letters written by prisoners and families of imprisoned activists allege that authorities are intentionally facilitating mass rape and using it as a form of punishment. Mehdi Mahmoudian, an outspoken member of Iran’s Participation Front, a reformist political party, is among those prisoners who have succeeded in smuggling out letters revealing the extent of rape inside some of the most notorious prisons.
Mahmoudian was arrested in the aftermath of Iran’s 2009 disputed presidential election for speaking to the press about the regime’s suppression of the movement and is currently in Rajaeeshahr prison in Karaj, a city 12 miles (20km) to the west of the capital, Tehran.
“In various cells inside the prison, rape has become a common act and acceptable,” he wrote in a letter published on, the official website of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi.
According to Mahmoudian and letters published on various opposition websites, political prisoners are locked up with some of the most dangerous criminals – murderers and ex-members of armed gangs.
Meanwhile, 26 prominent political activists who have been in jail since the 2009 election have written to an official prison monitoring body accusing the government’s intelligence ministry and the revolutionary guards of harassing inmates with unlawful tactics that included sexual assaults.
Mohsen Aminzadeh, a senior deputy foreign minister, Mohsen Mirdamadi, a leader of a reformist party and Behzad Nabavi, a veteran activist are among those who put their signatures on the letter.
Speaking to Jaras, a website run by opposition activists, families of political prisoners have alleged that prison guards are failing to protect them from rape or sexual assault.
“During exercise periods, the strong ask for sex without any consideration. Criminals are repeatedly seen with condoms in hand, hunting for their victims,” an unnamed family member told Jaras.
“If the inmate is not powerful enough or guards would not take care of him, he will be certainly raped. Prison guards ignore those who are seen with condoms simply because they were given out to them by the guards at first place,” the family member said.
The family members say prison guards are turning a blind eye to the systematic rape and have ignored complaints made by rape victims.
Amnesty International, which has documented rape inside Iran’s prisons and interviewed victims for a 2010 report, called on Iran to launch an investigation into the recent allegations.
Kristyan Benedict, Amnesty International UK’s Middle East campaign manager, told the Guardian: “Rape is a terrible crime and these allegations [mentioned in the letters] should be thoroughly investigated. Amnesty International has also documented the rape of male and female detainees by security officials. Many of those detained for taking part in post-election protests were tortured and did not receive fair trials. The Iranian authorities still continue to punish and persecute those who peacefully speak up against them.”
According to Mahmoudian, who has been transferred to a solitary confinement after his letter attracted attention, one young prisoner was raped seven times in a single night.
“In [Rajaeeshahr] prison, those who have pretty faces and are unable to defend themselves or cannot afford to bribe others are forcibly taken to different cells each night [to be raped],” he writes.
“The situation is such that those exposed to rape even have an owner and that owner makes money by renting him out to others and after a while selling him to someone else.”
Rape victims in Iran usually stay quiet in order to protect the honour of their family but at the time when journalists based in the country are facing strict restrictions, these letters have become one of the only sources of information about the situation of hundreds of imprisoned activists.

Saeed Kamali Dehghan
June 24, 2011

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War with Iran–and What it May Look Like

June 20, 2011 Leave a comment
The debate over what to do about an Iranian Islamist regime apparently bent on acquiring nuclear weapons has been on or near our front burner for at least six years, and is now almost a settled feature of the policy landscape. There is general agreement in the United States on two points. First, an Iranian nuclear weapons capability is “unacceptable”, as both the Bush and Obama Administrations have put it; and second, we prefer getting to an acceptable outcome without using force. The debate gets testy when we consider that means short of force, such as sanctions and covert technical sabotage, might not work.
It may be too simple to reduce the argument to just two sides—those who fear the regime’s acquisition of nuclear weapons more than the consequences of a war to prevent it, and those who fear the consequences of a war above all else—but in this case simplicity has the virtue of capturing the essence as observers ponder which set of unpalatable risks they would rather run.
What is remarkable, though hardly surprising, is that the two sides usually put forth very different assessments of what using force would entail. Those who fear Iranian nukes above all else tend to minimize the risks of using force, while those who fear war tend to exaggerate them. Neither side, however, has persuasively spelled out the reasons for their assessment, leading one to suspect that much of the argument rests on less than rigorous analysis.
What would an honest assessment of the risks of military conflict with Iran look like? How should we think about it? These are difficult questions even for those who are not partisans of one side or the other. Wars are notorious for yielding unintended and unexpected consequences; for reasons explained below, a war against Iran is even harder than usual to bound analytically.
Complexity, Uncertainty and War
Our first consideration in analyzing the likely course of war with Iran is that a U.S.-led attack would be merely the first phase of a war, the opening act of an extended drama whose scenes would unfold, not according to any script, but to an emergent logic of its own. Given the political context in which military engagement would rest, even a minor attack would likely become a major test of strength involving not only the United States and Iran but also a host of allies and associates. It is therefore disingenuous to try to frame military action against Iran as a simple “raid” or even a broader “operation.” We are talking here about war, with attendant potential high costs to all combatants in terms of military casualties, civilian damage and economic disruption.
At least three concepts are key to any coherent discussion of a U.S.-Iranian military engagement: complexity, uncertainty and war itself. By complexity we mean the number of moving parts in a given situation: actors, processes and the connections among them. By uncertainty we mean structural uncertainty—that is, not just ignorance of the magnitudes of agreed casual factors, but the ignorance of the causal factors themselves, and their mutual relations. For example, not only may the U.S. government not know, say, the technical status of the Iranian nuclear program, or the actual state of readiness of Iranian forces. It may not know (or worse, have wrong) the decision-making and implementation protocols of the Iranian government, how the Iranian people and military would react to an attack, what Tehran would ask its allies and proxies to do, and what in fact they will do.
Enemy disinformation, as well as simple error, can also set us on the wrong track. The enemy acts not just on the battlefield but also through an ability to influence our understanding of the situation by means of denial and deception. In this and other ways complexity reinforces uncertainty. The large number of actors involved in the Iranian situation would make it very difficult to discern clearly what is happening once the shooting starts, and the scene would remain very fluid as long as the fight persisted, and very likely for a good while afterward.
As to the meaning of war, it may hardly seem worthwhile to probe something so self-evident, except that it is not self-evident anymore, if it ever was. A simple definition of war is the waging of armed conflict against an enemy, but this is too limited a concept in the 21st century. War in our time involves simultaneous conflict in the military, diplomatic, economic and social domains on four levels: political, strategic, operational and tactical.3 While a war with Iran might begin in the military domain, it would likely expand to others, and while it might begin at the operational or tactical level it would soon encompass strategic and political levels as well.
How these twin expansions would take place has everything to do with context. All wars have one. Would a U.S.-Iran war break out during a protracted diplomatic process, or in the absence or abeyance of one? Would it happen during a period of increasing tension and military readiness, or out of the blue, after one party thinks that the dangers of war have subsided? Would the U.S. government assemble a broad “coalition of the willing”, just a few close allies-in-arms at the ready, or go it alone, even actively dissuading Israel from joining an attack? What would the domestic political situation be in the United States? Would there be an internal political consensus to act, or would there be an active, acrimonious debate? Would the American people be prepared for the aftermath of an initial attack, including rising oil prices and falling stock values? What would the economic situation be like in the United States and beyond? The answers to these questions would have a substantial impact on the war’s course, conduct and outcome.
Whose War, for What Purpose?
Perhaps the most critical contextual element concerns how senior U.S. decision-makers, the presumed initiators of war in this case, would construe their war aims. These aims must somehow affirm that force can be employed to achieve reasonable political and strategic objectives, but those objectives could range from the limited to the expansive. Three sets of objectives come readily to mind.
First, a war could aim to simply delay the Iranian nuclear weapons program through the physical destruction of key facilities and human assets: a Peenemünde option, so to speak. Second, war could aim to effectively end the Iranian nuclear program by inflicting broad damage on its components and other key regime assets, military, infrastructure and leadership, combined with the threat to re-strike as necessary: a submission option. Third, war could aim to topple the regime through a concerted campaign against its assets and supporting mechanisms, coupled with support to its presumably less WMD-desirous opponents: a regime change option.
The U.S. government has military options corresponding more or less to these aims. A Peenemünde option would presuppose a narrowly focused, short duration strike largely limited to nuclear facilities. It would aim to inflict serious damage, but also to restrict the scope of conflict. Such an attack would rely on U.S. stealth systems, electronic warfare, cruise missiles and air power. U.S. allies could play a supporting role, especially in dealing with an Iranian response, but American forces would carry the brunt of the action.
A submission option would call for a sustained air and naval campaign against nuclear associated facilities, air defense systems, command centers, offensive missile forces, naval forces and the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Republic (IRGC), the regime’s praetorian guard and shock troops. This campaign would aim to severely damage the nuclear program, limit Iran’s ability to defend against the attack (and subsequent restrikes, if necessary) and reduce its capabilities for post-attack retaliation.
A regime-change option would require a broad military offensive that could include nuclear facilities, air defenses, Iran’s retaliatory capabilities, leadership targets, regime supporters, and national infrastructure and economic targets. This could include putting some forces on the ground to collect intelligence and neutralize specific targets that are difficult to strike effectively with air power. No large-scale ground operations are likely, but they cannot be ruled out at some levels of conflict and in some scenarios, such as those that posit a need to open and secure passage through the Strait of Hormuz and Persian Gulf.
In general, the more expansive a war’s goals as a plan escalates from strike to campaign to broad offensive, the greater the force needed to achieve those goals, the greater the uncertainty in achieving them, and the greater the consequences of both success and failure. Moreover, a war’s goals at the outset of conflict may not remain stable. Early sudden successes or unanticipated failures can lead to the escalation of initially limited goals, particularly if terminating hostilities proves difficult. Lateral expansion as well as escalation is also possible: Iranian leaders might surrender or agree to a truce but be unable to enforce a similar decision on Hizballah leaders or terror agents around the world. This leads to yet another layer of complexity and uncertainty: Whose war would this be?
A U.S.-Iranian war would probably not be fought by the United States and Iran alone. Each would have partners or allies, both willing and not-so-willing. Pre-conflict commitments, longstanding relationships, the course of operations and other factors would place the United States and Iran at the center of more or less structured coalitions of the marginally willing.
A Western coalition could consist of the United States and most of its traditional allies (but very likely not Turkey, based on the evolution of Turkish politics) in addition to some Persian Gulf states, Jordan and perhaps Egypt, depending on where its revolution takes it. Much would depend on whether U.S. leaders could persuade others to go along, which would mean convincing them that U.S. forces could shield them from Iranian and Iranian-proxy retaliation, or at least substantially weaken its effects.
Coalition warfare would present a number of challenges to the U.S. government. Overall, it would lend legitimacy to the action, but it would also constrict U.S. freedom of action, perhaps by limiting the scope and intensity of military operations. There would thus be tension between the desire for a small coalition of the capable for operational and security purposes and a broader coalition that would include marginally useful allies to maximize legitimacy.
The U.S. administration would probably not welcome Israeli participation. But if Israel were directly attacked by Iran or its allies, Washington would find it difficult to keep Israel out—as it did during the 1991 Gulf War. That would complicate the U.S. ability to manage its coalition, although it would not necessarily break it apart. Iranian diplomacy and information operations would seek to exploit Israeli participation to the fullest.
Iran would have its own coalition. Hizballah in particular could act at Iran’s behest both by attacking Israel directly and by using its asymmetric and irregular warfare capabilities to expand the conflict and complicate the maintenance of the U.S. coalition. The escalation of the Hizballah-Israel conflict could draw in Syria and Hamas; Hamas in particular could feel compelled to respond to an Iranian request for assistance. Some or all of these satellite actors might choose to leave Iran to its fate, especially if initial U.S. strikes seemed devastating to the point of decisive. But their involvement would spread the conflict to the entire eastern Mediterranean and perhaps beyond, complicating both U.S. military operations and coalition diplomacy.
It seems fairly clear then that a conflict with Iran is unlikely to be an isolated event in which the U.S. strikes, Iran retaliates, and it’s over—with Iran either left with a viable nuclear program or not. War is far more likely to be a series of actions played out over time at varying levels of intensity and with a strong potential for escalation. Nor can war with Iran be limited to military action; it will extend to the diplomatic, economic and social domains. U.S. decision-makers might prefer a limited war that would privilege U.S. military and technical advantages, but Iran can force a broader conflict, where it can employ its own political, economic and social means of waging war, including terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and against U.S. interests abroad. The challenge for the United States would be to conduct the conflict so that the longer and broader the war, the more Iran would lose. That objective should affect how the U.S. government would fight in all four domains.
This means that even if the shooting starts at the military tactical or operational levels, the United States or a U.S.-led coalition must plan for all four levels of war and organize itself to ensure unity of command and purpose across those levels. It will, for example, find itself involved in a “secret war” of terrorist attacks and special counterterror operations outside the main theater of conflict. It will find itself in a “political war” involving Iranian and allied diplomatic and information operations to weaken support from other states and actors for the U.S. coalition and mobilize support for Iran. It will find itself in an “economic war” featuring Iranian efforts to disrupt the oil market. A “social war” would involve appeals to Islamic solidarity and attempts to weaken popular support for adversary governments through influence operations and attacks aimed at civilians. In such a broad and protracted contest, the United States might not enjoy a favorable balance of advantages. It is by no means clear, either, that the U.S. government is structured to effectively prosecute such a war, or that its intelligence capabilities are oriented properly toward supporting it.
Given these caveats and complexities, it seems to follow that if the United States chose to attack Iran, it would do so in ways that would prevent Iran from expanding the conflict into areas where it held an advantage. The reasoning might go something like this: Since the Iranian regime has many ways to widen a war into domains that do not favor the United States, the best option is to execute regime-change before the regime can open its bag of tricks. Or it might go like this: Start small, but if the Iranians escalate the war, shift immediately to a regime-change option before they can succeed. Almost needless to say, these are hard-to-control and high-risk approaches. A decapitation strategy, we know, did not fare so well in March 2003 against Iraq, and it would probably be harder to pull off against a more deeply institutionalized polity like Iran.
As for a “start small” approach, let’s suppose that the war begins with a limited air and naval operation. Iran could respond in a limited “tit-for-tat” way. But the regime might conclude that the operation is intended to remove it from power (or succeed in doing so unintentionally); if so, it might respond with a high level of violence along several axes of capability. There is simply no way to predict with confidence how radicals in Iran would respond to an initially limited U.S. attack. We must base our predictions largely on what the leadership says, the Iranian regime’s history and our limited intelligence on the regime’s internal dynamics. All this is subject to interpretation by experts employing various explicit or implicit models, the most prominent of which casts the regime as a “rational actor” that calculates risks and rewards like any Western state. In this model the highest goal is regime survival, a notion that doesn’t necessarily apply to the Iranian clerical regime. Clerics, even Christian ones from an earlier age, have been known to take their otherworldly prerogatives seriously.
All we can say, then, is that the regime would not try to martyr itself, nor would it be passive. Most likely, Iran would seek to prolong and expand the war, attrite U.S. forces and morale, and weaken the resolve of coalition members. Iran has the means, methods and allies with which to respond in this fashion, and it has made clear that it would use them.
Important Iranian conventional war assets include short- and medium-range missiles; strike aircraft; missile-equipped naval combatants and small boats; naval mine-laying capabilities; regular army and IRGC special forces; and air defense and coastal defense missiles. These conventional capabilities provide Iran a substantial ability for a local fight in the Strait of Hormuz, the Persian Gulf and along its borders.10 Iran “leans” on the Persian Gulf states from a military and political perspective. Shi‘a populations in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia could be a useful resource and environment for terrorist and irregular operations.
While the Iranian military is at its most dangerous close to its frontiers, we are not “safe” from it anywhere. Missile systems (principally the Shahab 3 variants and Sejjl types) allow Iran to strike targets throughout the Middle East, including population centers, military facilities, infrastructure and U.S. forces based in the region.11 Iranian missile numbers and launchers are limited, but Iran has other means of waging a global conflict, including its allies. For instance, Iran would likely attempt to induce Hizballah to attack Israel. Likewise, Hizballah would expect Iran to assist it and any conflict with Israel. Either case could eventually involve Syria.

Hizballah can now strike targets throughout Israel. Its missiles and rockets are also accurate enough to hit military installations and other important facilities, and it can fire as many as 500–600 per day. Hizballah also has the ability to conduct terrorist or special operations against civilian, military and infrastructure targets outside the immediate theater of war. Sheikh Nasrallah has plausibly threatened to attack shipping in the eastern Mediterranean in the event of a conflict with Israel.12 If Hizballah were to gain access to Syria’s P-800 Yakhont supersonic cruise missile system—a distinct possibility—it could potentially strike targets as distant as 300 kilometers from the Lebanese coast.

Syrian military forces are optimized and deployed for war with Israel, so it would have only a limited ability to directly assist Iran in a conflict with the United States. Syria’s missile systems could target military sites, logistics facilities and airfields in Israel. Syria’s Yakhont coastal defense cruise missile system gives it an enhanced capability to threaten naval and merchant vessels in the eastern Mediterranean.
Hamas is also part of this threat environment, although its offensive and defensive capabilities are much more limited than Hizballah’s. Hamas’s offensive capabilities rest on mortars and rockets of gradually increasing range, bringing more of central and southern Israel under threat with every upgrade. Hamas can now reach central Tel Aviv and beyond Beersheba in southern Israel.
Iran will likely supplement this proxy war by exploiting “images of victory”—such as sinking a U.S. naval unit or displaying U.S. casualties and prisoners to undermine support for the U.S. action and bolster its own supporters.
U.S. conventional military capabilities, especially combined with those of its likely allies, are of course far superior to those of Iran. In many recent years the size of the U.S. defense supplemental alone exceeded the entire Iranian defense budget. But a fight with Iran would not be a fair or clean fight. Winning in any meaningful sense might prove costly.
If Iran’s advantage lies in broadening and widening a conflict once begun, how might we expect its leaders to go about it? At least three types of escalation are open to Tehran: horizontal, vertical and domain.

Horizontal escalation involves the spread of hostilities from beyond the immediate area of conflict to additional geographic areas and political actors.13 Iran’s means and methods, as discussed above, give it the ability to escalate horizontally within the Middle East region and beyond to include Europe and the United States.

Vertical escalation involves the employment of new or increasingly potent weapons systems, attacking new types of targets, or introducing additional types of forces into the conflict.14 What begins as essentially a fight between U.S. and allied air and naval strike assets and Iranian air defense assets could be quickly expanded by Iran to the use of offensive missile systems and naval surface and sub-surface forces in retaliation. Iranian escalation to the employment of WMD (if a war occurred after an Iranian breakout) seems unlikely short of an imminent threat to the regime, but that threat would be hanging in the air as fighting escalated.
Domain escalation refers to the expansion of the conflict from the purely military domain to the diplomatic, economic and social domains, in which Iran has some advantages.
In summary, an attack on Iran could produce dynamics that would push either or both sides to escalate the conflict even if neither had an interest or an initial intention to do so. Iranian civilian casualties, for example, could provoke Iran to step up its response. This becomes more likely as the scale of a U.S. attack increases. Downed U.S. aircrews could lead to search and rescue operations that could become significant military actions in their own right. The need to restrike targets that were missed or inadequately damaged could also prolong the conflict and involve additional forces. As the conflict developed, internal and external political pressures could press both antagonists to escalate the fighting.
On the other hand, there may also be countervailing pressures. A very successful operation could cause Iran to seek a rapid exit, at least from the military aspect of the war. So, too, could increased domestic unrest within Iran. International political pressure brought about by economic disruption of the oil market and fears of military escalation could work to restrain the United States. But we cannot rule out the possibility of escalation, and that knowledge should reinforce the need for clarity of purpose and a full understanding of the risks involved before we pull the trigger.
How It Ends
Just as we cannot rule out escalation, we cannot rule out the harmful protraction of a war. Every war has to end, but how it does so is no simple matter. Even if it were soundly defeated, Iran could complicate the endgame. It’s not simply a matter of our declaring “mission accomplished” and bringing the troops home. As retired Brigadier General Huba Wass de Czege writes:
Although Sun Tzu warned statesmen and generals many centuries ago that long wars benefit no one, they continue to occur, and for some very fundamental human reasons. Statesmen and generals who start wars commit themselves to worthy war aims that are expressed far too specifically—and too soon—in order to get the polity on board. Then they conceive of a strategy based on what they think they know about their capabilities and the situation. They begin taking concrete steps along the path that they think will get them to that end. They learn far too slowly that what they initially thought they knew was in fact wrong or no longer relevant. . . . Things can get much more convoluted by adding allies, different influential actors among the polity, and multiple adversaries. This is why wars are easier to get into than out of.
Knowing when to end a war relates to war aims and measures of success. A war’s aims should be definitive enough so that success can be measured in some clear way. This is easiest to do where the aims concern discrete things such as the destruction of material targets. Measuring success becomes harder as aims become more political and psychological, such as weakening or toppling a regime, encouraging opposition or deterring further action. Then, too, war aims can expand as fighting escalates or broadens. In a situation in which Iran has retaliated strongly and managed to inflict losses (especially civilian losses) on the United States or its coalition partners, we should expect to hear calls to inflict more damage, to punish the regime and its forces, to bring a “decisive” end to the conflict.
Short of inflicting a total defeat on Iran, an outcome that seems scarcely conceivable, exiting the war could be challenging if Iran chooses to fight on in some form of asymmetric conflict. We might then have to compel Iran to quit, and that could potentially require the application of force well beyond what was originally agreed upon within the United States or with coalition partners. Even then, if the Iranian regime survives at all, it is likely to declare victory, and many of its supporters would believe it. How or when a war with Iran would actually end is therefore no easy topic to nail down. Any attack on Iran of sufficient scale to significantly damage its nuclear program would have rolling consequences both in the short and long term. After the last bomb falls there will be a new reality in the region and beyond.
In the short term, there would be consequences in the military, diplomatic, economic and social domains. The intensity and locus of these consequences would depend on the outcome of the attack and conflict, but there would be “battle damage” in all domains. Short-term consequences would likely include a tense and unstable military situation (unless the conflict ended cleanly) that would require the commitment of forces for monitoring and reacting to emergent threats; and also a potential political crisis in the region propelled by instability and uncertainty about the future, including residual Iranian capabilities to retaliate directly or indirectly.16 The oil market would remain in shock for some time after an attack. Naval mines, wartime damage to facilities and irregular attacks on facilities or tankers would see to that. Social turmoil would be likely as various population groups react to the attack and subsequent conflict. In short, there would be no bright line ending the war in the economic, diplomatic and social realms.
To turn to the long-term consequences, Iran would almost certainly remain a major player in its region. Its adjustment to the war and its outcome would have a major role in shaping regional realities. A beaten, humiliated but still defiant Iran with essentially the same political system and approach to the region and the world would be a long-term, growing danger similar to Iraq after the First Gulf War (or Germany after World War I). This would extend beyond the military to include dangers in the other domains.
The first conclusion we should draw from this exercise is that the U.S. government should be prepared for a long and difficult conflict if it ultimately decides it must attack Iran. An attack might end quickly with few complications if Iran acts “rationally.” We may not like what that means, however: One “rational” ending for the Iranians would be to accept their losses, declare “victory” because the regime survived, lick their wounds, prepare for indirect retaliation, and resume nuclear activities on a clandestine basis. But a war might not end cleanly, and the U.S. administration could find itself in a messy and protracted conflict. This suggests the need for both an expansive approach to net assessment and deep and broad preparation not just of the military but also of the “home front” and the economy, for Iran may choose to fight on these fronts as well as within its own borders and in the region.

How well prepared is the United States for this kind of fight? This is at least in part a question of national or societal resilience. If all options are on the table, as both Bush and Obama Administration spokesmen have insisted, are preparations for employing all options being made ready? If not, then Iran may decide that some of the options on the table lack credibility.

The second conclusion we should take from this discussion is that, in attacking Iran, we would be trading one set of risks for another. Any option we choose, even choosing not to choose, will have political as well as military-strategic consequences. As hard as it is to know the consequences of war, it is just as hard to know the consequences of a decision to “learn to live” with a nuclear-armed Iran. Both courses are fraught and logically open-ended. Thus the fear of potentially negative consequences from a war should not necessarily rule one out. Winston Churchill, reflecting on British policy before World War II, wrote:

If the circumstances are such as to warrant it, force may be used. And if this be so, it should be used under the conditions which are most favourable. There is no merit in putting off a war for a year if, when it comes, it is a far worse war or one much harder to win.
In any case, if the United States decides to attack Iran it should certainly look before it leaps and prepare itself for a hard landing. Above all, U.S. leaders should not underestimate the scope or misread the broad nature of war and should therefore organize the U.S. government in advance to prosecute it coherently. In light of how we have fared with whole-of-government approaches and unity-of-command issues in Iraq and Afghanistan, this is clearly a requirement we need to take seriously.
Jeffrey White of the Washington Institute of Near East Policy has written this analysis for The American Interest Magazine, from where the article is taken.
Jeffery White 
July-August 2011

Hollywood Actress Angelina Jolie Visits Syrian Refugees in Turkey

June 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie visits Syrian refugees in Turkey

HATAY PROVINCE, Turkey, June 17 (UNHCR)  UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie travelled on Friday to Turkey’s border with Syria, meeting with many of the refugees who have fled their country in recent weeks.
The flight of civilians from north-west of Syria has picked up considerably in the last two weeks. There are now more than 9,600 people living in four camps managed by Turkey with the Turkish Red Crescent.
Accompanied by UNHCR staff and Turkish government officials, Jolie visited the Altinozu camp in Hatay province, 20 kilometres from the Syrian border. Some 1700 Syrians have found shelter there. “The people in this camp have fled in fear for their lives, and many told me they were distraught about the safety of loved ones still in Syria,” Jolie said.
She met with one woman who managed to leave Syria heavily pregnant, and has since given birth to her child in the camp. The mother told how her husband had been killed.
Another distraught woman told Jolie she was sick with worry about the fate of her husband still in Syria and unable to cross the border. “The woman claimed her husband was one of many, too afraid to cross,” Jolie added.

The American actress praised Turkey for welcoming the refugees, saying it was critical in these situations that people have access to safety. “I am really grateful for the open-door policy of Turkey in allowing these people to enter and the assurances that there will be no forced returns.”
When Jolie arrived, a mob of excited children chanted “look who is here” and “welcome, welcome” as they pushed forward to shake her hand. Many had slogans such as “freedom” painted on their foreheads.
“I appreciate the opportunity to visit this camp and talk to these families,” Jolie said. “It is a really complex situation and everyone needs to be doing all they can for the innocent families caught in the crossfire. I will be following this situation very closely and doing everything I can,” she added.
“The government of Turkey and the Turkish Red Crescent have shown tremendous generosity to the thousands fleeing Syria. The Red Crescent has set up camps really quickly and provided medical and other care. And UNHCR stands ready to assist if the situation starts to escalate.”
Ahead of Jolie’s mission, UNHCR received dozens of e-mail messages thanking her for her planned visit to the Turkish-Syrian border and her support for the displaced. The refugees living in Altinozu camp greeted her with enthusiastic chanting.
Meanwhile the Goodwill Ambassador highlighted the relevance of UNHCR’s new global campaign dubbed “1 is too many”  to the unfolding crisis.
“In the campaign we highlighted the fact that one refugee without shelter is too many, and in this latest displacement crisis we are seeing thousands in need and there may be many more in Syria yet to receive help. These people deserve and need our help.” she said.
By Ariane Rummery in Hatay Province, Turkey

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Girl, nine, used as human bomb

June 20, 2011 1 comment

Monday June 20 2011

A girl of nine has told how she escaped Pakistani terrorists who tried to use her as a human bomb.
Sohana Jawed said she was kidnapped on her way to school in Peshawar, and forced to wear a remotely-controlled suicide jacket. But she escaped her captors as they prepared to send her towards a paramilitary checkpoint.
Sohana, wearing her a blue and white school uniform, recounted her ordeal during a news conference with police in Lower Dir district. Militants in Pakistan have often used young boys to carry out attacks, but the use of young girls is rare.
Sohana said she was going to school on Saturday when she was grabbed by two women and forced into a car carrying two men. One of the kidnappers put a handkerchief on her mouth that knocked her unconscious, she said in an interview with a local TV station.
“This morning, the women and men forced me to put on the heavy jacket and put me in the car again,” said Sohana.
The suicide jacket contained nearly 20lbs of explosives and seemed to be designed to be set off remotely, Lower Dir police chief Salim Marwat said.

“Most likely it had to be detonated through a remote control since a minor was wearing it,” he said.
The kidnappers took her to a checkpoint run by the paramilitary Frontier Corps about six miles outside Timergarah, the main town in Lower Dir district. When they got out of the car, she sprinted toward the soldiers to show them what she was wearing, said Mr Marwat.
By the time the paramilitary soldiers realised what was happening, the kidnappers had escaped, he said.

Press Association

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LAPD deputy chief admits partnering with the Muslim Brotherhood

June 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Nancy Kennon – June 17, 2011
LAPD Dep. Chief Michael Downing admits that the police force works with the Muslim Brotherhood, and that the Brotherhood should not be “demonized.”

LAPD Dep. Chief Downing: ‘We should not demonize the Muslim Brotherhood’
Tomorrow the House Homeland Security Committee will be holding a hearing on “The Threat of Muslim-American Radicalization in U.S. Prisons,” chaired by Rep. Peter King. One of those testifying is LAPD Deputy Chief Michael Downing, the commander of the LAPD’s Counterterrorism and Special Operations Bureau.
This is an odd choice for the committee in light of a video we are making exclusive here at the PJ Tatler of Chief Downing speaking at a town hall event co-sponsored by his department at the Islamic Center of Southern California on May 15th. Above is the video of Chief Downing’s comments.

Downing’s claims that “we should not demonize the Muslim Brotherhood” are particularly curious since the leader of the international Muslim Brotherhood declared war on the United States during a press conference last October (a transcript of his comments is available at MEMRI). It seems the Muslim Brotherhood does a good job of demonizing itself.
It is another case entirely when a government official such as Chief Downing attempts to deflect criticism of the Brotherhood and openly endorses MB front organizations in the U.S. as partners with law enforcement. From his remarks at the event it seems that Chief Downing can’t decide whether the Muslim Brotherhood are extremists on the fringe, or if they have “changed” over time and should be engaged. He can’t have it both ways.
The PJ Tatler & FSM
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The Definitive Scandal: ‘Gunwalker’ Much Worse Than ‘Iran-Contra’

June 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Nancy Kennon – June 17, 2011

On December 14, 2010, a special unit of the U.S. Border Patrol came across a group of heavily armed suspects near Rio Rico, Arizona. The Border Patrol team identified themselves as law enforcement officers, at which point the armed men open fire. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was hit in the pelvis by a single bullet and died the next morning. One of the suspects was captured, and two AK-pattern semiautomatic rifles recovered at the scene were identified by serial number as weapons that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) – acting in concert with and with the blessing of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) – allowed weapons smugglers to purchase at U.S. gun shops. The weapons were just two of more than 2,000 firearms that ATF supervisors and the highest levels of DOJ management allowed to be “walked” across the border to narco-terrorist drug cartels in Mexico, in a scandal that promises to be more damning and deadly than Iran-Contra.

The ATF named their operation Fast and Furious, but it will go down in history by its more descriptive title: “Gunwalker.”…Gunrunner was an attempt to develop enough gun-running evidence to bring down a cartel, and instead supplied thousands of arms to drug cartels locked in a life-or-death struggle with a key U.S. ally and trading partner…

Family Security Matters
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Mounting Threats

June 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Too few key players in the international community fully appreciate the kind of alarming dangers facing Israel that those items indicate.

Three recent news items serve to underscore our challenging reality. Iran last week launched an “observation satellite,” the infrastructure for which could easily be deployed to deliver nuclear or other warheads. An Israeli civil defense exercise is scheduled to start today and continue for five days. It will simulate massive rocket barrages. Finally, we are informed that a huge underground shelter – designed to safeguard thousands from incoming missiles – has been inaugurated under the refurbished parking lot between the Habimah Theater and the Mann Auditorium in the very heart of cosmopolitan Tel Aviv.

Too few key players in the international community fully appreciate the kind of alarming dangers facing Israel that those items indicate.

Certainly no country anywhere in the Western world is exposed to anything remotely resembling the threats Israel faces – be they of nuclear attack from the ayatollahs of Tehran or a rain of conventional rockets from Iran’s proxies, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. Syria, too, possesses a terrifying weapons arsenal, and the current instability in Damascus only heightens the potential threat.

Nonetheless, hardly any international attention was paid to the fact that Iran has just demonstrated, yet again, that it assiduously upgrades its rocketry. The technology that propels satellites into space can be adapted and used for intercontinental ballistic missiles.

In theory these could be aimed against any country, certainly in Europe. Yet since the Iranian regime principally directs it vitriol and invective against Israel, it is assumed that the Jewish state constitutes the primary target, and that appears to mitigate international angst.

Still greater indifference greeted the first glimpses of the massive underground shelter constructed and outfitted to offer protection to thousands of Israelis in a variety of doomsday scenarios – nuclear, chemical and conventional.

In ordinary times the 3,740 square-meter shelter space would serve as a four-story underground parking facility, yet each of the four floors is also outfitted with such seemingly incongruous features as decontamination showers for use in the event of a chemical attack, filters against an assortment of unconventional WMDs and emergency medical clinics for triage and first aid to casualties. The very fact that such a complex is at all deemed necessary in the 21st century speaks volumes.

The same goes for the civil defense drill this week that is aimed at preparing us for the dangers of rocket onslaughts from Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Gaza – throughout the country and at all hours of the day and night. Air raid sirens will sound mid-morning on Wednesday to test preparedness in workplaces and schools. Another siren in the evening will gauge preparedness in the homes. In both cases, the public will be asked to locate the closest secure room and/or bomb shelter.

The very fact that such dry-run rehearsals are indispensable, to say nothing of their specificities and scope, attests all-too palpably to the fact that we live in a highrisk zone and must unfortunately prepare for circumstances far from the normalization to which we aspire.

Were Israel surrounded by sincere peace partners, of course, no such dire maneuvers would be required, while genuine compromises and coexistence would be eminently attainable.

This should be patently obvious to all truly objective observers overseas. Were the family of nations really as high-minded as it professes to be, it would direct its righteous indignation against the undisguised menacing of a geographically tiny democracy whose civilian population is vulnerable like no other.

Instead, too often, a blind eye is turned to the lethal stockpiles amassed against Israel, even as unconscionable efforts are intensified to tarnish Israel, ostracize it and turn it into a global pariah.

Within the Israeli consensus, we agonize as to whether there is more that our leadership could and should be doing to advance the goal of normalization.

But attaining that goal ultimately requires genuine partners, truly interested in reconciliation.

Bitterly, in the summer of 2011, daily developments in this region, where we had forged ties with Egypt and Jordan and anticipated widening the circle of normalization, suggest that the momentum has been shifting in the very opposite direction. Primarily blaming Israel for this reversal, though it might be convenient, simply does not square with an objective assessment of what is unfolding in today’s Middle East.