Posted by Joshua on Sunday, September 2nd, 2007
More and more pundits are coming to the view that Bush might actually strike Iran, although, many suspect that US military leaders will revolt if he should be so foolhardy. Nevertheless, the US forces are in place for a major strike. Iran will have to lie low for some time.
Study: US preparing 'massive' military attack against Iran Say SOAS professors
| The United States has the capacity for and may be prepared to launch without warning a massive assault on Iranian uranium enrichment facilities, as well as government buildings and infrastructure, using long-range bombers and missiles, according to a new analysis. The paper, "Considering a war with Iran: A discussion paper on WMD in the Middle East" was written by well-respected British scholar and arms expert Dr. Dan Plesch, and Martin Butcher, a former adviser to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament.
"We wrote the report partly as we were surprised that this sort of quite elementary analysis had not been produced by the many well resourced Institutes in the United States," wrote Plesch in an email to Raw Story on Tuesday.
Plesch and Butcher examine "what the military option might involve if it were picked up off the table and put into action" and conclude that based on open source analysis and their own assessments, the US has prepared its military for a "massive" attack against Iran, requiring little contingency planning and without a ground invasion.
The study concludes that the US has made military preparations to destroy Iran's WMD, nuclear energy, regime, armed forces, state apparatus and economic infrastructure within days if not hours of President George W. Bush giving the order. The US is not publicising the scale of these preparations to deter Iran, tending to make confrontation more likely. The US retains the option of avoiding war, but using its forces as part of an overall strategy of shaping Iran's actions…
Syria, home to as many as 1.5 million Iraqi refugees, has decided to require visas for Iraqis entering the country for economic, trade and educational purposes, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said Thursday.
The new rules take effect Sept. 10, the ministry said in a statement on its Web site.
Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari was informed about the Syrian decision by his counterpart Walid Moallem in a telephone conversation Thursday, the ministry said.
Syria's move is seen as an attempt by the Arab state to reduce the flow of more than 30,000 Iraqi refugees every month.
Syria is one of the easiest countries for Iraqis to visit because they can stay up to six months then simply leave any border crossing and enter the same day to start a new six months. It was unclear how the rules would affect Iraqis who try to enter Syria simply to take refuge.
BEIRUT (AFP) — Lebanese President Emile Lahoud said Thursday he would name army chief General Michel Suleiman as his provisional successor if the country's competing political camps fail to agree on a permanent one.
He was speaking ahead of a planned parliamentary vote this autumn to elect a new president, with the country's pro- and anti-Syrian blocs in a deadlock that threatens to exacerbate ongoing political paralysis.
A successful vote requires the 128-seat house to muster a quorum of 86 MPs but this will require a compromise, as the ruling coalition of Western-backed Prime Minister Fuad Siniora has just 69 MPs.
Only once a quorum is reached can the legislature proceed to electing a president, but even then the only hope for success is a compromise candidate.
General Suleiman has recently made statements suggesting that he might be prepared to be that person.
"The constitution is clear and so are our constitutional norms: a president can be elected only if two-thirds of the number of deputies attend the session," the pro-Syrian Lahoud said in a statement issued by his office.
"Otherwise I have already made a suggestion to appoint a transitional cabinet headed by army commander General Suleiman and comprising six or seven civilians.
"The goal of this cabinet would be to draft a new electoral law, hold parliamentary elections and pave the way for the holding of presidential elections."
Lahoud said he would not 'hand over power to the cabinet of Siniora, simply because I consider it unconstitutional and inexistent."
Granted, mutual loathing between Saudi Arabia and Syria is nothing new, but last August as well, it was Lebanon that soured their relations anew. Speaking in support of Hezbollah in a speech delivered after the Second Lebanon War, Assad annoyed King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia by calling the Arab leaders "half-men" for failing to back the Shi'ite militia. Since then the relations appear to have been mended and Assad was welcomed with all due respect at the Riyadh summit in March. But their mutual mistrust has not abated.
Saudi Arabia, which has itself entered into an agreement with Iran, is angry about the Syrian-Iranian axis and dislikes Syria's close relations with the Shi'ite leadership in Iraq, and the government headed by Nouri al-Maliki. Saudi Arabia views al-Maliki as an Iranian stooge who's turning Iraq into a direct threat to Saudi Arabia.
Syria, on the other hand, received al-Maliki with fanfare last week. Damascus also opened an embassy in Baghdad, something Saudi Arabia so far hasn't done, and is seeking to reopen the Iraqi oil pipeline passing through Syria. In Saudi Arabia's opinion, with these moves Syria is making itself into an integral member of the Shi'ite circle in the Middle East, and is thus acting against the interests of most of the Arab countries.
Saudi Arabia is no paragon of virtue either. It is suspected of aiding Sunni organizations that are undermining the government in Baghdad, and of frustrating the establishment of a unity government in Iraq. Terrorists apparently operating alongside extremist Sunni organizations pass undisturbed into Iraq from Saudi Arabia. But unlike Syria, which is suspected of much the same, Saudi Arabia is a dear friend of Washington.
Now Syria is trying to take revenge on Saudi Arabia through Lebanon. It isn't just a question of any personal umbrage Assad may harbor over Saudi Arabia heading the political group that caused Syria's expulsion from Lebanon in 2005, nor is it just because Saudi Arabia vigorously advocated convening an international court to judge Hariri's killers.
Saudi Arabia has ousted it from every possible body in the Middle East, Syria thinks, and even sabotaged the possibility of its renewing negotiations with Israel. Now Saudi Arabia is supporting the international conference that President George Bush is promoting, to which Syria isn't even invited. Syria, which threw its support behind the Saudi Arabian initiative at the last moment — and is now using that support as leverage to negotiate for the return of the Golan Heights — is discovering that the international conference won't be addressing it as an issue at all. The conference mandate is confined to the Palestinians. Lebanon is the only arena left where Syria can flex its muscles.
On his first official visit to Syria, Maliki met President Bashar Assad and other officials.
Insisting he brought a message from his government alone, Maliki said: “We have found support for the political process, national reconciliation and the efforts deployed by Iraqi forces to stabilize [Iraq].”
At a press conference after his talks with Assad, he linked future economic cooperation between Syria and oil-rich Iraq with “the security file in Iraq, which is the key to all the positive developments we hope for. Talks continue between the two sides to find a mechanism aimed at controlling the borders and prevent infiltration of terrorists which target both countries”.
He also pledged to cooperate with Syria to deal with the problem of refugees, but put Iraq’s problems first. “We must guarantee stability in order to ensure their return to their country”.
Bush's Lost Iraqi Election By: David Ignatius | The Washington Post
Ayad Allawi, the former interim prime minister of Iraq, hinted in a television interview last weekend at one of the war's least understood turning points: America's decision not to challenge Iranian intervention in Iraq's January 2005 elections….
As recounted by former U.S. officials, the story embodies the mix of hubris and naivete that has characterized so much of the Iraq effort. From President Bush on down, U.S. officials enthused about Iraqi democracy while pursuing a course of action that made it virtually certain that Iran and its proxies would emerge as the dominant political force.
The CIA warned in the summer and fall of 2004 that the Iranians were pumping money into Iraq to steer the Jan. 30, 2005, elections toward the coalition of Shiite religious parties known as the United Iraqi Alliance.
To counter this Iranian tide, the CIA proposed a political action program, initially at roughly $20 million but with no ceiling. The activities would include funding for moderate Iraqi candidates, outreach to Sunni tribal leaders and other efforts to counter Iranian influence. A covert-action finding was prepared in the fall of 2004 and signed by President Bush. As required by law, senior members of Congress, including Pelosi, were briefed.
But less than a week after the finding was signed, CIA officials were told that it had been withdrawn.
Ethically, that was certainly a principled view. But on the ground in Iraq, the start-stop maneuver had the effect of pulling the rug out from under moderate, secular Iraqis who might have contained extremist forces.
Allawi, in a telephone interview Tuesday from Amman, Jordan, confirmed that the United States had shelved its political program. "The initial attitude of the U.S. was to support moderate forces, financially and in the media," he said. "This was brought to a halt, under the pretext that the U.S. does not want to interfere." Allawi said the American decision was "understandable" but ceded the field to Iran and its well-financed proxies.
Allawi said he is trying to gather support for a new coalition …