Παρασκευή, 17 Ιουλίου 2009

Israeli warships rehearse for Iran attack in Red Sea

Saar class in the RED Sea
Israeli warships rehearse for Iran attack in Red Sea
Israeli warships have deployed to the Red Sea for what has been described as a rehearsal for a possible attack on Iran. Israeli warships have deployed to the Red Sea for what has been described as a rehearsal for a possible attack on Iran. While Iran denies this, saying its enrichment of uranium is for civlian purposes only, so that it can generate electricity. Israel has also deployed a submarine using the Suez Canal, but it has since returned to the Mediterranean. Defence experts in Israel said this week that the naval activity had been publicised with the intent of sending a message to Iran. The Israeli government has reserved the right to carry out a first strike on Iran's nuclear facilities if the country continues to defy the international community and spreads instability in the Middle East.
Israel "will attack" Iran if it continues to develop nuclear weapons, one of prime minister Ehud Olmert's deputies warned yesterday. Shaul Mofaz, a former defence minister and a contender to replace the scandal-battered Olmert, said military action would be "unavoidable" if Tehran proved able to acquire the technology to manufacture atomic bombs. Mofaz is Israel's transport minister, but he is also a former chief of staff, privy to secret defence planning as a member of the security cabinet, and leads regular strategic talks with the US. He implied that any attack on Iran would be coordinated with Washington. "If Iran continues with its programme for developing nuclear weapons, we will attack it," he told the Hebrew daily Yediot Aharonot. "The UN sanctions are ineffective." Mofaz was born in Iran, giving his remarks extra edge after repeated threats against Israel from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has also denied the Nazi Holocaust. Ahmadinejad "would disappear before Israel does", Mofaz said. Mofaz's remarks came at the end of a week of intense US-Israeli talks on Iran. They were also the most explicit threat yet against the Islamic Republic from a member of the Israeli government, which, like the Bush administration, has preferred to hint at force as a last resort should UN sanctions be deemed to have failed. Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, told pro-Israeli lobbyists this week that the military option against Iran remained on the table, though he also offered "meaningful concessions" if it bowed to international demands. Ehud Barak, the defence minister and Labour party leader, said Israel needed to do everything possible to ensure that the Iranians did not obtain nuclear power. Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, is shortly to lead a team of high-ranking diplomats from Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany, who will present a package of incentives to persuade Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment. Iran has rejected it in advance. Experts doubt whether Israel could destroy Iran's extensive and heavily defended nuclear facilities without American help. In 1981 Israel bombed and destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor. Last September its planes bombed a site in Syria that the US said was a nuclear reactor built with North Korean help. Syria denied having any such facility. Israel is believed to have an arsenal of 150-400 nuclear warheads. Unlike Iran, it has never signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
Report: Israel preparing Iran attack
LONDON (JTA) -- Israel's recent deployment of warships through the Suez Canal is “a clear signal that Israel was able to put its strike force within range of Iran at short notice,” a British newspaper reported. Two Israeli missile class warships on Tuesday sailed through the Suez Canal 10 days after an Israeli submarine capable of launching a nuclear missile strike in preparation for a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, The Times reported Thursday. The newspaper reported that Israeli officials confirmed the deployment. The Times article pointed out that Israel has strengthened ties with Arab nations that also fear a nuclear-armed Iran. In particular, relations with Egypt have grown increasingly strong this year over the “shared mutual distrust of Iran,” according to an Israeli diplomat quoted in the report. Israeli naval vessels would likely pass through the Suez Canal for a strike against Iran. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told the Times that his government explicitly allowed passage of Israeli vessels, and an Israeli admiral said the drills were “run regularly with the full cooperation of the Egyptians.” “This is preparation that should be taken seriously," an Israeli defense official said. "Israel is investing time in preparing itself for the complexity of an attack on Iran. These maneuvers are a message to Iran that Israel will follow up on its threats.”
Συνδέεται ή όχι η αιφνίδια παραίτηση του επικεφαλής της ιρανικής Υπηρεσίας Ατομικής Ενέργειας με τα αμφισβητούμενα εκλογικά αποτελέσματα και τις μετεκλογικές ταραχές; Το μόνο που γνωρίζουμε είναι πως ο Γκολαμρεζά Αγκαζαντέχ ήταν φίλος του μεταρρυθμιστή Μουσαβί. Όπως επίσης ότι οι Ισραηλινοί έχουν αρχίσει ήδη να προετοιμάζουν την επίθεση στο Ιράν.Δύο ισραηλινά πολεμικά σκάφη Saar με κατευθυνόμενους πυραύλους διέπλευσαν, σύμφωνα με τους «Τimes», τη Διώρυγα του Σουέζ και ακολούθησαν πορεία στην Ερυθρά Θάλασσα, πλέοντας στα χνάρια ενός ισραηλινού υποβρυχίου τύπου Dolphin- ικανού να μεταφέρει πυραύλους με πυρηνική κεφαλή- που είχε πραγματοποιήσει την ίδια διαδρομή δέκα ημέρες νωρίτερα. Η άσκηση αυτή, η οποία επιβεβαιώνεται από Ισραηλινούς αξιωματούχους, πραγματοποιήθη- κε στο πλαίσιο των προετοιμασιών για ενδεχόμενη επίθεση στις πυρηνικές εγκαταστάσεις του Ιράν. Στο πλαίσιο αυτό εντάσσονται από τη βρετανική εφημερίδα και η προγραμματισμένη συμμετοχή της ισραηλινής πολεμικής αεροπορίας σε γυμνάσια στη βάση Νέλις της Νεβάδας, στα τέλη του μήνα, καθώς και η δοκιμή ενός πυραύλου αναχαίτισης Αrrow, με την αρωγή των Αμερικανών, στον Ειρηνικό Ωκεανό. Η στρατιωτική συμμαχία Ισραήλ- ΗΠΑ, ωστόσο, δεν προκαλεί καμία έκπληξη· το πρωτότυπο είναι η αναδυόμενη συμμαχία Ισραήλ- Αιγύπτου. Σύμφωνα με τον Αιγύπτιο υπουργό Εξωτερικών Αχμέντ Αμπούλ Γκάιτ, η αιγυπτιακή κυβέρνηση έδωσε ρητή άδεια για τον διάπλου των ισραηλινών σκαφών από τη Διώρυγα του Σουέζ: μια απόδειξη πως το φάσμα του πυρηνικού Ιράν δημιουργεί μέχρι πρότινος απίθανες συμμαχίες.Πόσο κοντά βρίσκεται όμως η ισραηλινή επίθεση; Σύμφωνα με τους «Τimes», επί του παρόντος δυτικοί διπλωμάτες υπόσχονται στήριξη στο Ισραήλ προς αυτή την κατεύθυνση, ζητώντας για αντάλλαγμα παραχωρήσεις όσον αφορά τη δημιουργία παλαιστινιακού κράτους. Εφόσον επιτευχθεί συμφωνία, δήλωσε Βρετανός διπλωμάτης, «μια ισραηλινή επίθεση μπορεί να καταστεί ρεαλιστική εντός του έτους». Το βέβαιο είναι πωςπαρά τη χείρα φιλίας που έχει τείνει στην Τεχεράνη- ο Μπαράκ Ομπάμα έχει καταστήσει τελευταία σαφές πως δεν είναι διατεθειμένος να περιμένει εσαεί να «συμμορφωθεί» το Ιράν, εγκαταλείποντας τις πυρηνικές του φιλοδοξίες. Ο Μαχμούντ Αχμαντινετζάντ, από την άλλη πλευρά, δεν δείχνει καμία διάθεση υποχώρησης. Μόλις χθες διατράνωσε πως «οι μεγάλες δυνάμεις δεν θα καταφέρουν να αφαιρέσουν από το Ιράν ούτε μια σπιθαμή από τα δικαιώματά του» και πως το Ιράν «θα καταρρίψει την παγκόσμια αλαζονεία» και «θα χτυπήσει τους εχθρούς κατά πρόσωπο τόσο δυνατά που θα χάσουν τον δρόμο της επιστροφής». Παράλληλα, ο σκληροπυρηνικός Ιρανός πρόεδρος κατηγόρησε για μια ακόμα φορά τους εξωτερικούς «εχθρούς» ως υποκινητές των ταραχών που ακολούθησαν την αμφισβητούμενη εκλογική του νίκη.
Israel had planned to attack and "destroy" the bulk of the Iranian Air Force fleet during a maneuver on April 17, Israel's Debkafile claims. "Israel was planning to destroy all 140 fighter-bombers concentrated at the Mehr-Abad Air Force base for an air show over Tehran on Iran's Army Day the following day," read the Debka report. The air maneuver was cancelled due to severe and harsh weather conditions. "Due to poor visibility and the appearance of dust storms (over the city), we were forced to cancel the drill for an optimal output," said Air Force commander Brigadier General Hassan Shah-Safi. However, Debka, which has close links to the Israeli intelligence service Mossad, quoted intelligence sources as saying that the cancellation was announced after a tip-off from the Russians. "Moscow had informed the Iranians that its spy satellites and intelligence sources had picked up preparations at Israeli Air Force bases to destroy the 140 warplanes, the bulk of the Iranian air force, on the ground the night before the display, leaving its nuclear sites without aerial defense," Debka sources insisted. Israel, the sole possessor of a nuclear warhead in the Middle East -- according to former US President Jimmy Carter --, has long strived to portray Iran as a regime hell-bent on imminent nuclear war. Under the claim and a warning that Iran could gain nuclear weapons within "months", Israel regularly threatens to wipe out Iranian nuclear infrastructure militarily. Iran, a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), says its work is directed at the civilian applications of the technology. The country, meanwhile, continues to prep its military for deterring threats such as those originating from Israel.
Would MLK Back Iran's Protesters? Rostam Pourzal July 16, 2009
Combine Iran's post-election turmoil with the controversy over the nation's nuclear advances, and few Americans are likely to be unsympathetic toward the opposition movement there. Some bloggers have even
suggested that the reformist-led protests are inspired by the teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr. Several commentators have referred to the wave of anti-theocracy rallies as Iran's "civil rights movement, perhaps implying that the social conservatives who rule the country resemble Mississippi fundamentalists. Reese Erlich and others have reported that the insurrection now sweeping Iran spans class divisions. Middle East expert Stephen Zunes, in supporting the Iranian opposition, has written that "[h]istorically individuals and groups with experience in effective mass nonviolent mobilization tend to come from the left."But the Iranian reformist minority's proudly argued definition of anti-poverty action is a Reaganesque, business-friendly policy presumed to "lift all boats." Accordingly, the movement openly aims to overturn affirmative action programs and other "unfair benefits" enjoyed by less privileged Iranians. Judging by its literature, the opposition defends primarily the interests of Iranians who either aim for or already enjoy white-collar status. More often than not, this constituency has felt betrayed by the Islamic Republic for three decades. Since Ahmadinejad was first elected in 2005, Iran's investor, academic, and professional interest groups, including numerous clerics, have complained bitterly that the president has bypassed them to go straight to the grassroots on his wildly popular monthly provincial tours. Ahmadinejad's first provocation after he took office was to auction the luxury presidential jet ordered by his reformist predecessor, Mohammad Khatami.
Entitlements and Perceptions
Testimony that the current unrest is, among other things, a backlash against government services to have-nots comes from none other than the opposition's iconic leader himself. In gleeful remarks carried on July 5 online by the pro-reform daily Emruz, Mir Hossein Mousavi
told a gathering of sympathetic academics, "Our society is quite different from what it was six months ago…The middle class has achieved a consciousness that, if channeled properly, is very constructive…The current [Ahmadinejad] administration has no plans for this class and the situation is hopeless."In an opinion survey, funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund three weeks before the recent elections, pollsters Ballen and Doherty found that the "only demographic groups in which our survey found Mousavi leading or competitive with Ahmadinejad were university students and graduates, and the highest-income Iranians." Mousavi's most influential backer is industrialist and former president, Hashemi Rafsanjani, who is best known for pushing privatization and deregulation packaged as "citizen empowerment." Rafsanjani ran against Ahmadinejad and lost by a wide margin four years ago. Mousavi has not distanced himself from Rafsanjani's overt hostility to government spending on subsidies and social welfare, which is expressed in a language similar to right-wing denunciations of "welfare queens" in the United States. Martin Luther King, Jr. would not likely approve of such a position. Ervand Abrahamian, a world authority on modern Iranian history and known critic of the theocracy, recently attributed the longevity of the Islamic Republic to its constituent services and subsidies. In an article in Middle East Report, Abrahamian examined and dismissed other common explanations, including intimidation and the use of force against government opponents. If Abrahamian's analysis is accurate, it can explain the reluctance of a large sector of the Iranian society to throw away the baby (social programs) with the bathwater (morality police). Nevertheless, another candidate among the three who challenged Ahmadinejad this spring, Mohsen Rezaei, denounces the incumbent's spending on the infrastructure needs of common folks as "communism" and calls for "radical surgery" on the economy so as to please investors.The solution offered by a third candidate, Mehdi Karroubi, for the ever-growing cost of college education is only slightly less cold-hearted. Noting that tuition at private institutions is burdensome for most families, he promised student loans for all if elected. He could have instead called for an expansion of Iran's superior state university system, which costs students nothing. But that would have been politically unfeasible, because the opposition's patron saint, Rafsanjani, is a cofounder and fiercest defender of the country's largest chain of private colleges.The opposition's insensitivity toward less affluent Iranians has gone unnoticed in the Western media, including the left-leaning press. They often prefer characterizations like "fundamentalist" and "enlightened" in describing the candidates. That leaves our pundits free to describe the opposition as a civil rights movement. The stereotypes are pervasive as much as they are misleading. A major achievement of the U.S. civil rights movement was to teach African Americans that they were intelligent and "black is beautiful." King and his associates worked tirelessly to persuade people of color to believe in themselves as equals to whites. In Iran, the public hears this message of equality (with the West) over and over from the Ahmadinejad camp, as it celebrates Iran's industrial achievements and independent foreign policy. By contrast, the Iranian youth who notoriously opt by the thousands for aesthetic nose surgery for a Hollywood look are predominantly from the ranks of Mousavi supporters. In hundreds of conversations with this constituency, which includes virtually all of my Iranian friends, I consistently hear contempt for the blue-collar and rural voters courted by Ahmadinejad.Reformist leaders deserve credit for promoting equal opportunity for women. Mousavi has even distinguished himself by calling for cultural rights for Iran's numerous ethnic minorities. But since they don't target poverty and elite corruption and cost next to nothing, these sincere "civil society" initiatives are poor substitutes for Iran's welfare state. A true civil rights movement would demand expanded affirmative action for all marginalized Iranians.
Local Bully, Global Aggressors
The Iranians who risk arrest and worse to challenge social restrictions and the apparent re-election of President Ahmadinejad deserve praise for their dissent. The abuse they suffer has drawn support from Bon Jovi, U2, and Joan Baez. But they do not speak for the truly voiceless, as a civil rights movement by definition should. From a real counter-cultural perspective, Iran's jubilant "Green Wave" has deeply conformist values that do not portend liberation for all.I contend this not because tens of millions of oppressed Muslims, even in Sunni-majority nations like Egypt, regard Ahmadinejad as a beacon of hope and freedom. Nor do I describe Iran's opposition as conformist only because Mousavi's declared vision is a return to the unremarkable times preceding Ahmadinejad. Rather, Iran's protest movement should be considered unenlightened because it affirms, more than it contradicts, the worst aspects of globalization and global domination.Those of us who struggled unsuccessfully throughout the Bush years to draw Iranian Americans to antiwar protests are shocked to suddenly see thousands of them, bedecked in Mousavi green, protesting the Iranian elections on the streets of major U.S. cities. It is, of course, gratifying that Western peace and justice activists are finally able to connect with the expatriate Iranian community. But let us not assume that every newfound Iranian American friend belongs to a "civil rights movement" until we hear whether they also marched against U.S. and Israeli threats to bomb Iran.Mousavi and his top aides, too, are not on record criticizing U.S. and British aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan or the West's illegal threats against Iran. "Provocation is for the extremists," one of Mousavi's lieutenants explained to me, referring to the Ahmadinejad faction. By contrast, reformist publications regularly feature tirades against Iran's alignment with left-leaning governments in Latin America. If Erlich could read Farsi and speak directly to Iranians who cannot communicate in English, he might not have been so quick to criticize Hugo Chavez for siding with Ahmadinejad. Another reformist candidate in this year's election who practices moderation rather than speaks truth to (global) power is former parliament speaker, Mehdi Karroubi.During a series of first-ever televised debates that preceded the June 12 elections, Karroubi ridiculed Ahmadinejad's one-time claim that "the Americans" plotted to assassinate the incumbent in 2008 while he was on a state visit to Iraq. Before a television audience of record size, Karroubi then praised U.S. authorities for protecting him while he visited New York in 2000. One does not have to have faith in Iran's recent elections or see a Western hand in the ensuing protests to recognize that deference to, as Rev. King put it, the world's "greatest purveyor of violence" is improper for an aspiring civil rights leader. In another move sure to please Western elites, Karroubi made a campaign splash when he listed incremental de-nationalization of Iran's oil industry at the top of his promised economic reforms. In 1953, the CIA overthrew Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, Iran's best hope for secular democracy, because he nationalized Iranian oil. Thousands of Iranians sacrificed their lives or careers for the nationalization campaign to succeed. The widow of Mosadegh's nationalist foreign minister endorsed Ahmadinejad in this year's election. As Karroubi's top advisors, Massoud Nili and Abbas Abdi, have argued for years, the goal of the proposed privatization of oil is to take away the Ahmadinejad faction's ability to "buy" working class votes with social spending.If the opposition is to qualify as a genuine civil rights movement, it needs to change drastically. It must show a commitment to equality within Iran and in international relations as much as it champions freedom. With reformists siding with local and global privileged classes, it is naïve to dismiss Ahmadinejad as a demagogue relying on brute force to block a progressive mass movement.Judging from what I hear during frequent trips in Iran, citizens of nearly all backgrounds, including the president's supporters, want more social freedoms and political choices. But a great many are not willing to live without the services they have come to expect from their government or abandon the current leadership's foreign policy. The election of a person of color as president of the United States suggests that Americans have a renewed distaste for trickle-down economics and imperial conquests. It shouldn't be difficult to understand that a sizeable segment, perhaps a majority, of Iran's population shares those concerns and may vote accordingly to keep the reformists out of power. Reverend King would understand.

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