Archive for February, 2010

News and Analysis (2/17/10)

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

The U.S. led forces hedge on their apology as Afghan Interior Minister claims the the civilians killed were hostages of the Taliban:

Accusations of Mossad involvement in the assassination are boosted by the discovery:

Commissioner Nina Shea defends the agency’s de-emphasis of discrimination in places like Western Europe and Israel with the claim that “the alleged persecution isn’t as extreme as in places like Saudi Arabia or Pakistan”:

The influence of women in Iraqi politics is particularly important given that “Iraqi women have higher rates of poverty and unemployment than men, and lower levels of education”:

Ahmadinejad’s difficult task in attempting to adhere to domestic pressure while meeting the international community’s demands:

Signs of renewed diplomatic relations, Robert Ford awaits Senate confirmation:

From an operational standpoint, the arrest of Baradar was much more important; however, Bin Laden remains a powerful symbol for Al Qaeda and its self-styled global jihad:

News and Analysis (2/16/10)

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

As Iran and the US continue their war of words…

… Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Al-Faisal believes sanctions will not  solve the short-term threat and any effort to remove nuclear weapons from the Middle East must also apply to Israel:

The U.S. hopes the capture of Baradar, described as second in influence to Mullah Omar, will lead to valuable intelligence and a turning point in the war:

Progress remains slow in Obama’s promise to close Guantanamo even after the  largest commitment by a European country:

Although the involvement of Mossad has not been ruled out, the manhunt begins for 11 suspects with EU passports:

“The lawyers’ movement — which two years ago was a massive, mostly unified groundswell of protest — now appears fractured. Key leaders from that period have stayed out of the fray, and the gathering in Islamabad on Monday had a far lower turnout than organizers had predicted”:

News and Analysis (2/15/09)

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Hanniyyah proposes to counter the militants who threaten to impose their oppressive interpretation of Islam on Gaza and reignite violence across the region with “discussions and meetings”…

… Meanwhile, PA president Abbas finally attempts to deal with a particularly lurid case of corruption involving his chief of staff, Rafiq Husseini:

Highlighting the extreme mistrust between the two nations, India has accused Pakistan of involvement in a deadly blast, despite the fact no group has claimed responsibility and no evidence linking Pakistani to the attack:

“Clinton acknowledged concerns in the region ‘that the U.S. commitment is insufficient or insincere’ … But she said such changes ‘cannot happen overnight or even in a year. It takes patience, persistence and hard work from us all'”:

Violence plagues Iraq as secular leaders attempt to appeal the ban on several Sunni candidates:

“… how it resolves its current problems will mean a great deal for the Dubai brand, its reputation and how it secures investment from overseas in the future,” — UK Business Secretary Lord Mandelson:

In the face of unexpectedly stiff resistance, marines are told not to alienate the locals:

News and Analysis (2/13-14/09)

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

Compared the final years of the Bush Administration, Obama’s policy favors kills over captures:

An ambiguous Pakistani law that states the president has the right to appoint justices to the Supreme Court, but must consult with the chief justice has sparked another power struggle between Zardari and Chaudhry:

Property titles promised to Palestinians families relocated to East Jerusalem  in 1948 were never delivered, and more than a half-century late, the residents face eviction:

Detailing the horrors of five days in the Kahrizak prison:

Reconciling the Iraq’s political system with its Baathist routes will be the major challenge of this election:

Secretary Clinton hopes to strengthen US relations with Arab allies while providing Saudi oil guarantees for China:

News and Analysis (2/12/10)

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Threats against protesters make unclear the degree to which the overwhelming pro-government presence reflects popular support of the regime:

Ahmadinejad claims, and White House spokesman Robert Gates denies, the capability of producing medical grade uranium …

… as the IAEA accuses Iran of a technical policy violaion, potentially creating a strong ally for US designs:

A breakthrough for peace between Yemen and the Shia Houthi rebels:

After ignoring the law for two years, Afghanistan attempts to implement a peace and reconciliation over the protests of foreign human rights activists …

… as local leaders in support of military operations against the Taliban remain concerned about their aftermath:

An anti-wall activist said that “the partial re-routing had effectively frozen the settlement’s expansion”:

News and Analysis (2/11/10)

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Maliki’s use of the military in a political dispute does not bode well for the coming elections:

“At stake is who are the true heirs of Iran’s revolution and its first promises of ‘Independence, freedom, [and] Islamic Republic’”:

Jon Elmer report arrests that “are part of a wider plan being executed by Palestinian security forces – trained and funded by American and European backers – to crush opposition and consolidate the Fatah-led government’s grip on power in the West Bank”:

In the war against Shi’a rebels in the north, Yemen leaders have utilized radicalized Sunni fighters who share al-Qaeda’s rhetoric and intolerance:

The ironically named Center for Human Dignity, the Museum of Tolerance, would be built over a century-old Muslim cemetery:

As new revelations pour out of Blackwater misbilling the U.S. …

… Iraq has ordered the company’s personnel out of the country by Monday:

As Obama pushes forward on his missile shield over the Persian Gulf states:

U.S. Missile Umbrella Over the Persian Gulf

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

[Farspress has interviewed me about the aims and consequences of the U.S. expansion of missile defenses in the Persian Gulf area. Here are my answers to their questions.]

Q. How do you see the U.S. missile defense shield in Persian Gulf?

A. Iran flexed its muscles, demonstrating an ability to launch missiles in a target range that would include a number of states that are U.S. allies, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel. This has evoked concern in those nations that they are within reach of any potential nuclear arsenal that Iran might develop. By its deployment of land- and sea-based missiles to a number of allied Gulf states, the United States has demonstrated that it is willing and able to place these countries under its defense umbrella. The sales of anti-missile systems to a number of Gulf states serve the same purpose. The professed intention is to preserve the fragile stability that a scramble for a defensive posture by the endogenous powers might jeopardize. The actual consequences will depend heavily on other developments that are independent of any defense posturing.

Q. What aims do the U.S. pursue?

A. The U.S.  professes to want to avoid the instability associated with a nuclear arms race among the various Muslim states in the region and with any unilateral Israeli preemptive attack on Iran. The theory is that Arab fears of Iranian regional hegemony and Israeli fears of existential threat can be kept from boiling over into regional warfare if America demonstrates that it can be policeman for the region through its missile defense capabilities. Whatever the future may hold, Iran has no nuclear weapons at this time. The implementation of a missile shield now would seem to be premature, unless its aim is to counter missiles with conventional warheads. However, modern Iran, neither the Islamic Republic, nor its predecessor regimes, has ever initiated any war with its neighbors. The strategic impact of the missile defense umbrella goes beyond the superficial purpose of deterring a conventional first-strike by Iran. An American shield could, for example, be used to prevent a retaliatory conventional strike against Israel should it bomb Iran with conventional weapons as it bombed Iraq. The U.S. has made no secret of its opposition to Iran’s support of resistance movements such as Hezbollah and Hamas. The real danger that concerns the United States and Israel is not an Iranian invasion of its Sunni majority neighbors, but Iran’s involvement in liberation movements in the region. If Iran can be made to feel more vulnerable, by tilting conventional military advantages to rival states, Iran might be more easily intimidated from assisting liberation movements in the future.

Q. What consequences will the missile defense shield have on the region?

A. The actual consequences are difficult to predict and will no doubt depend on independent events, many of which cannot be foreseen. One needs only to recall how the similar planned build-up of missile defenses in Europe were cut back when the Russians responded with threats to buildup their own missile defenses in kind. The START talks have been threatened and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov has stated that “it is impossible to talk serious[ly] about the reduction of nuclear capabilities when a nuclear power is working to deploy protective systems against vehicles to deliver nuclear warheads possessed by other countries.” Future developments could have serious consequences. When the U.S. inevitably pulls out of Iraq, will future Iraqi governments view the missile umbrella as enhancing or threatening their security? A recent test failure against the type of weapons Iran might develop raises questions as to their efficacy. If the shift in the balance of power is successful in suppressing Iranian support of liberation movements, will radicalized al-Qaeda-style elements take over the liberation movements? If the Sunni-controlled states in the region choose to interpret the American action as a green light for persecution of their Shia minorities, will the current instability in Yemen spread throughout the region? And what if one of the Gulf states falls to an anti-American regime? Will their possession of these systems embolden them and make their anti-Americanism more militant? While specific predictions of consequences are dangerous, history has shown that foreign interventionism is a risky and costly business that brings about the end of empires.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute
www.minaret.org

News and Analysis (2/10/2010)

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Attorney General Holder decision to send Khadr, who was 15 when captured, to a military tribunal has gone largely unnoticed:

What can we learn from Sun Tzu about America’s techniques to win wars in Afghanistan and Iraq:

“‘I think that we have bent over backwards to say to the Islamic Republic of Iran that we are willing to have a constructive conversation,’ But, he added, ‘the door’s still open'”- President Obama…

Meanwhile, Russia and China split on condemning Iran’s nuclear ambitions:

Pakistani officials position themselves to be an integral part of any negotiation with the Taliban:

Clutching at a straw?

Do the neighboring monarchies have a strategy to bring effective governance to the Yemeni republic?

News and Analysis (2/09/10)

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

“Rather than reflecting a major change in the country’s nuclear capabilities, Mr. Leyne says the announcements are most likely Mr. Ahmadinejad politicking before anti-government protests begin this Thursday on the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Republic”:

Divisions emerge in the best strategy for Afghanistan, whether US troops should improve governance and populated areas or pursue Taliban fighters into the country side …

… Meanwhile, Gates lobbies for more foreign troops bringing the total troop surge numbers in at 50,000:

Examining the crucial election issues, “basic services, economic development, security — all seem to stem from identity as much as politics. ‘First ethnicity, second political party’”:

For those who believe Afghanistan can only be won through improving national security forces, there is, shockingly, only one institution doing the training:

The opening occurred in spite of a serious economic crisis, but now unexpectedly,

News and Analysis (2/8/2010)

Monday, February 8th, 2010

In a move designed to cripple the Brotherhood’s leadership ahead of Parliamentary elections, ten officials are arrested over five provinces overnight:

The Afghan president says his people’s priority is “ending raids at night on Afghan homes, … ending the arrests of Afghans in their homes and their villages,” and “gaining judicial independence completely and rather very very soon”:

Terrorism experts say the group has adjusted its tactics to incorporate smaller scale attacks that are increasingly difficult to prevent:

An offensive to take down the Taliban Stronghold in Marja is being used as a litmus test illustrating how difficult it will be to train Afghan troops to be self sufficient…

… Meanwhile, pressure mounts for reconciliation negotiations with Taliban:

Confirming Ahmadinejad’s intentions of enriching uranium as nuclear negotiations move forward: