The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing -- Edmund Burke
Saturday, January 13, 2007
"In the Middle East, Iran and its neighbors see a strategic shift: Irans influence is rising in waysthat go beyond the menace of its nuclear program. The fall of the Taliban and Saddam,increased oil revenues, HAMASs electoral victory, and Hizballahs perceived recent success in fighting against Israel all extend Irans shadow in the region. Our Arab allies fear Iransincreasing influence, are concerned about worsening tensions between Shia and Sunni Islam, and face heightened domestic criticism for maintaining their decades-old strategic partnerships with
Washington. Irans growing influence has coincided with a generational change in Tehrans leadership.Iranian President Ahmadi-Nejads administrationstaffed in large part by second-generation hardliners imbued with revolutionary ideology and deeply distrustful of the UShas stepped upthe use of more assertive and offensive tactics to achieve Irans longstanding goals.
However, Ahmadi-Nejad’s supporters suffered setbacks in the recent Assembly of Experts and local council elections. Moreover, ethnic tensions in Iran’s Baloch, Kurdish, and, to a lesser extent, Arab and Azeri areas continue to fester, creating concern in Tehran about the potential for broader ethnic unrest to generate large-scale anti-regime activity. While record oil revenues and manageable debt suggest that Iran is capable, for now, of weathering shocks to the economy, inflationary pressures, exacerbated by Ahmadi-Nejad’s expansionary fiscal and monetary
policies, are harming Iran’s consumer and investment climates and causing employment
opportunities to decline.
Regarding Tehran’s regional policies, Iran continues to be active in Iraq, seeking to influence political, economic, religious, and cultural developments to ensure a non-threatening, cooperative, and Shia-dominated regime to its west.
• Iran uses radio, television, and print media to influence Iraqi public opinion and help promote pro-Iranian individuals in the Iraqi government at all levels. It has offered financial and other support to its political allies in the United Iraqi Alliance, but its electoral impact appears to have been marginal, given the likelihood that Shia voters would have voted for the unified Shia ticket anyway.
Iranian conventional military power threatens Persian Gulf states and challenges US interests.
Iran is enhancing its ability to project its military powerprimarily with ballistic missiles and naval powerwith the goal of dominating the Gulf region and deterring potential adversaries. It seeks a capacity to disrupt the operations and reinforcement of US forces based in the region potentially intimidating regional allies into withholding support for US policyand raising the political, financial, and human costs to the US and our allies of our presence in Iraq. Tehran
views its growing inventory of ballistic missiles (it already has the largest inventory of these missiles in the Middle East), as an integral part of its strategy to deterand if necessary retaliate
againstforces in the region, including US forces.
We assess that Iran regards its ability to conduct terrorist operations abroad as a key element of its national security strategy: it considers this capability as helping to safeguard the regime by deterring US or Israeli attacks, distracting and weakening Israel, enhancing Irans regional influence through intimidation, and helping to drive the US from the region.
At the center of Irans terrorism strategy is Lebanese Hizballah, which relies on Tehran for a substantial portion of its annual budget, military equipment, and specialized training. Hizballah is focused on its agenda in Lebanon and supporting anti-Israeli Palestinian terrorists, but, as I indicated earlier, it has in the past made contingency plans to conduct attacks against US
interests in the event it feels its survivalor that of Iranis threatened.
Syria has strengthened ties with Iran and grown more confident about its regional policies, largely due to what it sees as vindication of its support to Hizballah and HAMAS and its perceptions of its success in overcoming international attempts to isolate the regime. Damascus has failed to crack down consistently on militant infiltration into Iraq and continues to meddle in Lebanon. Lebanon remains in a politically dangerous situation as Damascus, Hizballah, and other pro-Syrian groups attempt to topple the government of Prime Minister Siniora........
More at Doug Farah's site
Evan Coyne Maloney is a political commentator based in New York City. More of his work can be found on the website Brain Terminal, at
"A number of specific threats may be deduced from the contradictory statements made by leading figure in Tehran, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The first threat, made through the media, is that, the Islamic Republic would damage the global economy by manipulating oil supplies. President Ahmadinejad has threatened to push crude oil prices to $200 per barrel"
"Maybe the Americans aren't running away after all," said the resident, a Sunni Arab, over the phone moments after President Bush unveiled his new plan. "The message seems to be that the United States will remain committed as long as Bush is in the White House"."
"Almost five years ago, George Bush announced he would help establish a Palestinian state as quickly as possible. His one demand: It must not be a terrorist state. Subsequently, Palestinians chose Hamas, a terrorist organization, to lead them.
Despite this history, during meetings of the “expert” advisory group of the Baker/Hamilton Commission on Iraq, the Arab-Israeli conflict was a frequent topic of debate. Many of the retired diplomats, ex-CIA operatives and other assorted members of the Foreign Policy Establishment were adamant: Bush must do whatever it takes to persuade Israelis and Palestinians to settle their differences, once and for all. As a member of that advisory group, I would ask: Even were such efforts to succeed, by what wizardry would that impel Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites to stop killing each other over power and petroleum?
I received no adequate answer and the final Baker/Hamilton Iraq Study Group Report asserts: “The United States will not be able to achieve its goals in the Middle East unless the United States deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict.” Until now has the United States been dealing indirectly with the conflict?"
"Montreal police recently busted two independent credit card fraud operations and what they found was alarming enough to send a clear message yesterday: Keep a close eye on your personal information.
Among the items taken during the two seizures were fake Canadian residency cards and other items that could be used to create fake passports."
"The world's public expects that frightening problems, whether an earthquake in Pakistan, an Indonesian tsunami or a war in Darfur, will be resolved as quickly as a cell phone can transmit a digital photograph or a computer can retrieve information from the Internet. And fingers are pointed at the U.S. when, inevitably, this doesn't happen.
Yet no one, not even the all-powerful United States, can easily foster democracy in a country that suffered from 30 years of atrocities -- and is now bitterly divided as a result of those atrocities. There is no super-ray that knocks down Korean or Iranian nukes with the touch of a finger. And the tragedy in Darfur sadly may remain a bloody mess whether the U.S. pre-empts, goes it alone or brings in an enormous coalition"