Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What will happen to Iraqi cities without US troops?

The Troop Drawdown Could Be Costly -Michael Rubin

Today is a milestone in Iraq. Under the terms of the Strategic Framework Agreement, U.S. troops will withdraw from Iraqi cities.

In retrospect, however, June 30 will likely mark another milestone: the end of the surge and [an end to] the relative peace it brought to Iraq. In the past week, bombings in Baghdad, Mosul and near Kirkuk have killed almost 200 people. The worst is yet to come.

Withdrawal from Iraq's cities is good politics in Washington, but when premature and done under fire it may very well condemn Iraqis to repeat their past.
[Wall Street Journal]

Monday, June 29, 2009

Will Mousavi rise to the occasion: on becoming Yeltsin

Iran: Desperately seeking Yeltsin -Charles Krauthammer

Iran today is a revolution in search of its Yeltsin. Without leadership, demonstrators will take to the street only so many times to face tear gas, batons and bullets.

They need a leader like Boris Yeltsin: a former establishment figure with credentials and legitimacy, who stands on a tank [holding papers in photo at right] and gives the opposition direction by calling for the unthinkable - the abolition of the old political order. Right now the Iranian revolution has no leader.

[T]he Khamenei-Ahmadinejad regime has shown the requisite efficiency and ruthlessness at suppressing widespread unrest. Its brutality has been deployed intelligently. The key is to atomize the opposition. Start with the most sophisticated methods to block Internet and cellphone traffic. Allow the massive demonstrations to largely come and go - avoiding Tiananmen-style wholesale bloodshed - but disrupt the smaller ones with street-side violence and rooftop snipers, the perfect instrument of terror. Death, instant and unseen, the kind that only the most reckless and courageous will brave.

Terror visited by invisible men. From rooftops by day. And by night, swift and sudden raids that pull students out of dormitories, the wounded out of hospitals, for beatings and disappearances.

The opposition needs a general strike and major rallies in the major cities - but this time with someone who stands up and points out the road ahead. Or to put it another way, can Mousavi become Yeltsin?

Revolutions are dynamic, fluid. It is true that two months ago there was little difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi. But that day is long gone. Revolutions outrun their origins. And they transform their leaders.

[T]he bloody suppression of his followers led him to make statements just short of challenging the legitimacy of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the very foundations of the regime. The dynamic continues: The regime is preparing the basis for Mousavi's indictment (for sedition), arrest, even possible execution. The prospect of hanging radicalizes further.

[T]he revolution hangs in the balance. The regime may neutralize him by arrest or even murder. It may buy him off with offers of safety. He may well prefer to let this cup pass from his lips.

But choose he must, and choose quickly. This is his moment and it is fading rapidly. Unless Mousavi rises to it, or another rises in his place, Iran's democratic uprising will end not as Russia 1991, but as China 1989.
[Jerusalem Post]

Protests in Iran return

Iran Arrests British Nationals as Protests Return -Michael Slackman

Iran's government said that it had arrested nine Iranian employees of the British Embassy for playing a significant role in organizing protests.

Meanwhile, [i]n spite of all the threats, the overwhelming show of force and the nighttime raids on private homes, protesters still flowed into the streets by the thousands on Sunday to demonstrate in support of Mr. Moussavi. [P]olice in Tehran beat and fired tear gas at protesters.

Mr. Moussavi, who has had little room to act but has refused to fold under government pressure, had earlier received a permit to hold a ceremony at the Ghoba mosque to honor Mohammad Beheshti, one of the founders of the 1979 revolution.

Mr. Moussavi used the anniversary as a pretense to call a demonstration, and by midday the streets outside the elaborately tiled mosque were filled with protesters, their arms jabbing the air, their fingers making a “V” symbol, for victory.

"[T]he train has left the station, and I don’t think even the leaders of the country know exactly where it is heading,” said Ali Ansari, a professor of Iranian history at St. Andrews University in Scotland.
(New York Times)

Iran Has Arrested 2,000 in Violent Crackdown -Martin Fletcher

More than 2,000 Iranians have been arrested and hundreds more have disappeared since the regime decided to crush dissent, the International Federation for Human Rights reported.

Prominent Iranian actors, actresses, writers and singers are believed to have been seized at the weekend for supporting the demonstrators. Several opposition bloggers have fallen silent, probably because they have been detained.

West Should Listen to Dissidents in Iran -Natan Sharansky

Once again, the world is amazed. The massive revolt of Iranian citizens has elicited the unmitigated surprise of the free world's army of experts, pundits and commentators.

Every totalitarian society consists of three groups: true believers, double-thinkers and dissidents. In every totalitarian regime, the majority undergo a conversion over time from true belief in the revolutionary message into double-thinking. They no longer believe in the regime but are too scared to say so. Then there are the dissidents - pioneers who articulate and finally act on the innermost feelings of the nation. More than once in recent years, former Soviet citizens returning from a visit to Iran have told me how much Iranian society reminded them of the final stages of Soviet communism.

Western governments are fearful of imperiling actual or hoped-for relations with the world's ayatollahs - partners, so it is thought, in maintaining political stability. But this is a fallacy.

Democracy's allies are the demonstrators in the streets of Tehran who, with consummate bravery, have crossed the line between the world of double-think and the world of free men and women. Listen to them, and you will hear what you yourself know to be the true hope of every human being on Earth.
(Los Angeles Times)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Chaim Weizmann's timeless wisdom

The Potency of Jewish Rights in the Land of Israel -Nadav Shragai

The built-up areas in the settlements occupy just 1.7% of the land area in the territories.

Our friends in the U.S. need to hear from us that the historic, religious, legal and sentimental links that bind the people of Israel with Hebron and Beit El are no less legitimate than those of the Palestinians; we are not occupiers in our own country.

Many years ago, a member of the British House of Lords asked Chaim Weizmann [pictured above] why the Jews insist on settling in the Land of Israel when there are so many undeveloped countries that could serve as a national home.

Weizmann responded with a question: Why do you drive 200 kilometers every Sunday to visit your mother when there are so many old ladies living on your street?

This elementary truth has not changed. From a moral standpoint, there is no difference between settling the Galilee, the Negev, and Petah Tikva - in areas where Arabs lived - and settling Judea and Samaria.

The real argument is about borders; it is certainly not about rights.

Iranian opposition: rudderless ship

Iran Tightens Grip -Nazila Fathi & Michael Slackman

Two weeks after Iran’s disputed presidential election, Mir Hussein Moussavi [pictured], the top challenger, issued an angry statement that underscored his commitment to press ahead — but also his impotence in the face of an increasingly emboldened and repressive government.

But there were also signs of continued resistance. A few conservatives have expressed revulsion at the sight of unarmed protesters being beaten, even shot, by government forces. Only 105 out of the 290 members of Parliament took part in a victory celebration for Mr. Ahmadinejad.

To avoid violent suppression of street protests, people are turning to other ways of expressing dissent. Echoing a symbol of defiance to the shah, the ritual of 10 p.m. rooftop shouts of “Death to the dictator” has been growing stronger by the day.

Some people have begun to identify and embarrass plainclothes agents by circulating photographs of those who beat demonstrators. And protesters have pledged to release thousands of green and black balloons on Friday in memory of those killed in the clashes.

The government continued arresting Mr. Moussavi’s supporters. His Web site reported that 70 university professors were detained after they met with him.
[New York Times]

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Netanyahu calls Arabs to task

The only state whose existence is deemed negotiable -Evelyn Gordon

To mainstream Israelis, Binyamin Netanyahu's demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state is self-evidently just. Yet many in the West [and] the Arab world reject it.

Opponents raise three main objections. First, Israel never demanded recognition as a Jewish state in its peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. Second, the Palestinians will never accept it, so it is an obstacle to peace. And third, the Palestinians should not accept it, because it would undermine the rights of Israel's Arab minority.

The flaw in the first two arguments is that they overlook a crucial distinction: Neither Egypt nor Jordan ever sought to eradicate Israel's Jewish character via their peace treaties; their demands were confined to mundane issues such as territory and water rights. The Palestinians, in contrast, are actively seeking to eradicate Israel.

Specifically, they demand the right to relocate 4.6 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants to Israel - a demand from which they have never budged in 16 years of negotiations. This influx, combined with the 1.5 million Arab citizens, would make its 5.6 million Jews a minority in their own country, effectively eradicating the Jewish state. Thus it is the Palestinians, not Israel, who have placed its Jewish character on the negotiating table.

If Palestinian recognition of Israel's Jewish character is so important, why did it not raise this demand in 1993, when talks began? The answer is that then, it assumed both sides were negotiating in good faith, making it unnecessary to spell out the obvious endgame of two states, one Jewish and one Palestinian.

Sixteen years later, however, [i]t has thus become increasingly clear that the real problem is not the refugees, but Palestinian unwillingness to accept the very existence of a Jewish state. And since Israel will not agree to commit suicide, further talks will be pointless unless this unwillingness changes.

No sane country would agree to make its very existence a subject of negotiations.

Netanyahu is belatedly trying to correct this fatal error, and he deserves the world's wholehearted support. And this is not merely because, practically speaking, no peace deal will be possible unless the Palestinians accept the Jewish state's existence.

[I]t is because the Jewish state cannot be the only state in the world whose very right to exist is subject to negotiations. And the Jewish people cannot be the only people in the world whose right to a nation-state of its own is deemed negotiable.
[Jerusalem Post]

Abrams fires back at Hillary

Hillary Is Wrong About the Settlements -Elliot Abrams

On Aug. 21, 2004, the New York Times reported that "the Bush administration...now supports construction of new apartments in areas already built up in some settlements, as long as the expansion does not extend outward."

In recent weeks, American officials have denied that any agreement on settlements existed.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that "in looking at the history of the Bush administration, there were no informal or oral enforceable agreements."

These statements are incorrect. Not only were there agreements, but the prime minister of Israel relied on them in undertaking a wrenching political reorientation - the dissolution of his government, the removal of every single Israeli citizen, settlement and military position in Gaza, and the removal of four settlements in the West Bank.

Regardless of what Mrs. Clinton has said, there was a bargained-for exchange. Sharon was determined to break the deadlock [and] withdraw from Gaza. He asked for our support and got it, including the agreement that we would not demand a total settlement freeze.

For reasons that remain unclear, the Obama administration has decided to abandon the understandings about settlements reached by the previous administration with the Israeli government. We may be abandoning the deal now, but we cannot rewrite history and make believe it did not exist.
(Wall Street Journal)

Obama Iran policy dead

Iran Events Affect U.S. Policy -Jonah Goldberg

President Obama's foreign policy agenda as it relates to Iran is over. The rule book he came in with is as irrelevant as a tourist guide to the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Even the most soulless realists will be repulsed by the blood on the regime's collective hands. Anyone who shakes hands with Ahmadinejad will have a hard time washing the blood off his own hands.
(Chicago Tribune)

What will happen to the Iranian revolt?

An Iranian Revolution That's Not Over Yet -Ramin Ahmadi

The divisions that are now appearing within Revolutionary Guard units are arguably most troubling for the regime. There are reports that the chief of the Tehran unit, Ali Fazli, is now under arrest.

Other reports point to a rebellion brewing within Revolutionary Guards forces. At least one report claimed that 16 leading Guard members were arrested for refusing to shoot protesters.

Iran's Opposition Vows to Go on

Iran's reformist opposition leaders vowed to press on with legal challenges to an election they say was rigged, although the hardline government appeared to have largely crushed mass protests, with police and militia flooding Tehran's streets.
(Reuters-Washington Post)

Bet on Neda's Side -David Ignatius

On one side you have all the instruments of repression in Iran, gathering their forces for a crackdown. On the other you have unarmed protesters symbolized by the image of Neda Agha Soltan, a martyred woman dying helplessly on the street.

Who's going to win?

In the short run, the victors may be the thugs who claim to rule in the name of God: the Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Basij militia and the other tools of an Islamic revolution that has decayed and hardened into mere authoritarianism.

But over the coming months and years, my money is on the followers of the martyred Neda. They have exposed the weakness of the clerical regime in a way that Iran's foreign adversaries never could. They have opened a fundamental split in the regime.
(Washington Post)

Neda Soltan's Family Forced Out of Their Home by Authorities

The Iranian authorities have ordered the family of Neda Agha Soltan out of their Tehran home after shocking images of her death were circulated around the world.

Neighbours said that her family no longer lives in the four-floor apartment building on Meshkini Street, in eastern Tehran, having been forced to move since she was killed. The police did not hand the body back to her family, her funeral was cancelled, she was buried without letting her family know and the government banned mourning ceremonies at mosques, the neighbours said.

The government is also accusing protesters of killing Soltan. [A] pro-government newspaper, has gone so far as to blame the recently expelled BBC correspondent, Jon Leyne, of hiring "thugs" to shoot her so he could make a documentary film.

Arab leaders pleased with Iran tumult

Arab States Aligned With U.S. Savor Iran Turmoil -Michael Slackman

With Mr. Ahmadinejad remaining in office, there is less chance of substantially improved relations between Tehran and Washington, something America’s Arab allies feared would undermine their interests. At the same time, the electoral conflict may have weakened Iran’s leadership at home and abroad.

The Iranian standoff may also serve as a cautionary tale for Arab leaders who have watched as modern technology, like the Internet, social networking sites and cellphones, has yet again undermined the ability of authoritarian states to control access to and distribution of information.

One gauge of how Arab leaders are reacting to the Iran crisis is their silence.
[New York Times]

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

No visable opposition leadership in Iran

Large contingents of Iranian security personnel brandished clubs, fired shots into the air and used tear gas to force back hundreds of people who, defying the regime's calls for a halt to protests, gathered outside parliament.

Armored vehicles moved in to arrest the demonstrators, "shoving them in like livestock," according to a source in Teheran.

Mir Hossein Mousavi, the defeated presidential candidate who says the vote was rigged, has not been seen since last Thursday and is widely believed to be in hiding.

But the protests were organized through his official Web site, and he has previously sent messages urging the demonstrators to continue their rallies.

From the rooftops and windows of Teheran apartment buildings, residents are keeping up their protest slogans, with reports of shouts of "Death to the Islamic Republic."

With Mousavi out of view, and all prominent reformist figures under arrest or also in hiding, the opposition had no visible leadership.
[Jerusalem Post]

Reflections on Iran: regime will fall sooner or later

Iran's Regime Will Never Be the Same -Edward N. Luttwak

The current protests could be repressed, but this is not a regime that can last many more years. The unity of the ruling elite established by Ayatollah Khomeini that allowed the regime to dominate the Iranian people for almost 30 years has now been shattered.

Huge numbers of Iranians haven't been demonstrating at risk of beatings and worse for the only marginally moderate Mousavi. His courage under pressure has certainly raised his popularity, but he is still no more than the accidental symbol of an emerging political revolution.

After years of humiliating social repression and gross economic mismanagement, the more educated and the more productive citizens of Iran have mostly turned their backs on the regime.

Had Mousavi won the election, modest steps to liberalize the system would only have triggered demands for more change, eventually bringing down the entire system of clerical rule. In the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev's cautious reforms designed to perpetuate the Communist regime ended up destroying it in less than five years.

Even if he remains in office, Ahmadinejad cannot really function as president.
(Wall Street Journal)

Tehran Suffers Image Damage Amid Turmoil -Yaroslav Trofimov

The turmoil in Iran is threatening to reshape the balance of power in the Middle East, denting the Islamic Republic's regional standing and spooking some Arab regimes with the specter of similar people-power uprisings.

Not long ago, Iran seemed to be inexorably rising as the major regional power, with Ahmadinejad's fiery rhetoric against America and Israel garnering him a devoted following on the Arab street.

But, over the past week, the vivid TV images have punctured Iran's carefully constructed image as a champion of the oppressed masses. "It's no longer the same Iran - Iran suddenly appears to everybody as not a very successful country internally," says Ilter Turkmen, a former Turkish foreign minister.
(Wall Street Journal)

Persian Paranoia -Christopher Hitchens

There is nothing at all that any Western country can do to avoid the charge of intervening in Iran's foreign affairs. It is a mistake to assume that the ayatollahs are acting rationally.

There is then the question of the Iranian theocracy and its continual, arrogant intervention in our affairs: its export of violence and cruelty and lies to Lebanon and Palestine and Iraq and its unashamed defiance of the UN, the EU, and the IAEA on nuclear weapons.

Coexistence with a nuclearized, fascistic theocracy in Iran is impossible even in the short run.

VideoBite: Iranian clerics seen in anti-government protests!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Confrontation: Mousavi calls for another rally

A fresh twitter message from opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, has called for a rally in Tehran, Wednesday afternoon, June 24th.

An earlier message called for a general strike if he is arrested.
[Bruce's MidEast Soundbites]

Sand transforms New York City into Tel Aviv

Thousands celebrate Tel Aviv at Central Park 'beach' -Elie Leshem

Thousands of New Yorkers turned out on Sunday to soak in the sun and celebrate Tel Aviv's centennial as Central Park was transformed into an authentic Israeli beachfront, featuring free beach games, tanning spots and a rock concert.

[A] a 1,300 square foot sand section with chairs and parasols was set up to give sunbathing fans "the most unique beach experience in Central Park history."

Rounding out the scene was a group of bikini-clad anti-war protesters from the women's group Code Pink, who shouted out anti-Israel slogans…
[Jerusalem Post]

Monday, June 22, 2009

"The Angel of Iran:" new symbol for Iranian uprising

Neda Agha-Soltan's photo [above] as provided by a man identifying himself to The Associated Press as Caspian Makan, her fiancé

Girl brutally killed in Iran, becoming symbol of rebellion

Her name is Neda and her death has become the central rallying cry of the Iranian rebellion. The fresh-faced teenage girl [pictured above] killed by a single sniper shot on the streets of Tehran Saturday is now a potent symbol for Iran's pro-democracy protesters.

Her shocking and quick death in the arms of her howling father was captured on closeup video, posted to Facebook and came to life on computer screens across the globe.

"RIP Neda, the world cries seeing your last breath," was one of a flood of messages on Twitter. "They killed Neda, but not her voice," read another. "Neda is everyone's sister, everyone's daughter, everyone's voice for freedom," said a third.

Within hours of her death, posters of the girl's face, open-eyed and bloody, were being brandished by demonstrators.

He identified her as Neda Soltani, a philosophy student. A Facebook group created to mourn her calls her "The Angel of Iran."

Tehran [is] bracing for more unrest today when thousands are expected to mourn the girl's death.
[New York Daily News]
[CONTENT WARNING: The serioiusly unsettling and graphic video of her death is viewable at this link:

The Fight over Iran's Future Is Only Beginning. -Amir Taheri

As the principal face of the opposition, Mir Hossein Mousavi has come under pressure to wind up the movement. On Saturday, the head of Iran's security council, issued a veiled death threat.

Mousavi's wife and principal campaign manager, Zahra Rahnavard, has retaliated by publishing a poem through Twitter and SMS sent to millions of Iranians:

"Let the wolves know that in our tribe / If the father dies, his gun will remain / Even if all the men of the tribe are killed / A baby son will remain in the wooden cradle."


A Death Seen Around the World -Nazila Fathi

A gunshot rang out, and the woman, Neda Agha-Soltan, fell to the ground. “It burned me,” she said before she died.

The video has made Ms. Soltan, a 26-year-old who relatives said was not political, an instant symbol of the antigovernment movement.

Only scraps of information are known about Ms. Agha-Soltan. Her friends and relatives were mostly afraid to speak, and the government broke up public attempts to mourn her. She studied philosophy and took underground singing lessons — women are barred from singing publicly in Iran. Her name means voice in Persian, and many are now calling her the voice of Iran.
[New York Times]


Coexistence rests on recognition of a permanent Jewish State

Who Cares If Arabs Accept Israel as a Jewish State?
-Alon Pinkas

The Arab world has de-facto recognized Israel's existence, but not its right to exist. The Arabs recognize Israel as a strategic fact of life, a military power that currently is invincible. But Israel, according to this paradigm, is not a permanent feature in the Middle East. Give or take 200 years and they will be driven out. So goes the Arab argument.

This is consistent with Netanyahu's basic argument that the root of the Arab-Israeli conflict is the Arab world's basic reluctance to recognize Israel, rather than a tractable territorial dispute or merely a clash of two national liberation movements. If that was the case, then partition should have been accepted by the Arabs on the numerous occasions it was offered.

Arab recognition of Israel as the state of the Jews is a monumental educational process that is a prerequisite to lasting peace. [Only then is a] durable coexistence attainable.
The writer is the former Israeli consul-general in the U.S.
(Jewish Chronicle-UK

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Iran Crackdown: VideoBite

Iran: crackdown begins

Violence Grips Tehran Amid Crackdown

Police officers used sticks and tear gas to force back thousands of demonstrators under plumes of black smoke in the capital, after Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said there would be “bloodshed” if street protests continued.

[S]tate-run media reported that three people were wounded when a suicide bomber attacked at the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in the southern part of the city, several miles from the scheduled protests.

The violence unfolded on a day of extraordinary tension across Iran. The opposition leader, Mir Hussein Moussavi, appeared at a demonstration in southern Tehran and called for a general strike if he were to be arrested. “I am ready for martyrdom,” he told supporters.
[New York Times]

Iran: how it will end

Protests aren't enough to topple the Islamic Republic -Michael Rubin

Street protests in Iran are important but are themselves not enough to force change. The supreme leader will not be swayed because he considers himself accountable to God, not to the people. Indeed, even the Islamic Republic's clerical establishment is irrelevant in this calculus.

Khamenei [pictured above] can weather the public's disdain so long as the Revolutionary Guard serves as his Praetorian Guard. Khomeini, the Islamic Republic's founder, formed the Revolutionary Guard to defend his revolutionary vision. It is more powerful than the army and answers only to the supreme leader.

Ultimately, the theocracy will fall only if servicemen in the Revolutionary Guard switch sides. The end will come only over Khamenei's dead body.

Certainly, Iran today is a tinderbox. The question is whether the regime is better at putting out fires than demonstrators are at starting them.
[Los Angeles Times]

Friday, June 19, 2009

Reflections on Iran: Sarkozy takes the lead

EU and US Congress condemn threats to Iranian demonstrators

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he hoped Iran's leaders "don't do anything irreversible" that could further endanger the country's stability. "We support the Iranian people, and today the Iranian people are on the street," he said.

The 27 EU leaders were unanimous in condemning violence against Iran's opposition protesters

In the strongest message yet from the US government, the House of Representatives voted 405-1 to condemn Iran's crackdown on demonstrators and the government's interference with Internet and cell phone communications.

The statement expresses support for "Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties and rule of law" and affirms "the importance of democratic and fair elections." It also condemns "the ongoing violence" by the government against demonstrators.

Rep. Howard Berman, a Democrat chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and co-sponsor of the resolution, said “we must reaffirm our strong belief that the Iranian people have a fundamental right to express their views about the future of their country freely and without intimidation."

The resolution was a veiled criticism of President Barack Obama, who has been reluctant to speak out against Teheran's handling of disputed elections. Rep. Mike Pence, who co-sponsored the resolution, said he disagrees with the administration that it must not meddle in Iran's affairs.
[Jerusalem Post]

Israel's rare opportunity –Caroline Glick

The revolutionary atmosphere building in Iran presents Israel with a prospect it has rarely confronted: a safe bet. To date, Israel has joined the US in rejecting the protesters. This should change.

In refusing to stick their necks out - and so effectively siding with the mullahs - US President Barack Obama, like Defense Minister Ehud Barak, have rightly pointed out that Mir Hossein Mousavi, Iran's former prime minister and the head of the protest movement, is just as radical and extreme as Ahmadinejad whom he seeks to unseat. The likes of Mousavi, Khatami and Rafsanjani don't want to overthrow the regime whose aims they share. They just want to restore their power within the regime.

There is no reason for Israel to believe that a Mousavi government will be more inclined to end Iran's race to the bomb or diminish its support for terror groups like Hizbullah and Hamas than Ahmadinejad's government is. As prime minister in the 1980s, Mousavi was a major instigator of Iran's nuclear program and he oversaw the establishment of Hizbullah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

While reasonable on their face, these arguments for doing nothing, all ignore the significance of recent developments.

The fact of the matter is that with each passing day, Mousavi's personal views and interests are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Whether he had planned to do so or not, a week ago Mousavi became an enemy of the regime. Mousavi tied his personal survival to the success of the protesters - and pitted his life against Khamenei's. In Ledeen's words, "Both Khamenei and Mousavi - the two opposed icons of the moment, at least - know that they will either win or die."

[B]y the end of this week, the protesters themselves had been transformed. If last week they were simply angry that they had been ignored, by Thursday they had become a revolutionary force apparently dedicated to the overthrow of the regime. This was made clear by a list of demands circulating among the protesters include[ing] Khamenei's removal from power, the dissolution of the secret police, the reform of the constitution, and the installation of Mousavi as president. These demands make clear where the protesters are leading. They are leading to the overthrow of one of the most heinous regimes on the face of the earth and its replacement by a liberal democracy.

As far as Israel is concerned, this is a win-win situation. If the protesters successfully overthrow the regime, they will have neutralized the greatest security threat facing the Jewish state. And if they fail, the Obama administration will be hard-pressed to legitimize their blood bath by embracing them as negotiating partners. Israel stands only to gain from the ayatollahs' discomfort.

If Israel extends a hand in friendship to these Iranian patriots, the worst that can happen is that they fail to overthrow the mullahs and we are left to acknowledge that we wished them well. There is no shame in that.

[I]f they fail to overthrow the regime, and Israel is compelled to attack their country's nuclear installations, it is hard to imagine that they will take it personally. Rather, recalling that it was Israel that stood with them first, they would no doubt understand why we were forced to act, and perhaps be inspired to try again to free themselves from the shackles of their hideous regime.
[Jerusalem Post]


Israel's Top Leaders Voice Support for Iran Demonstrators -Richard Boudreaux

After more than a week of massive protests by defiant Iranians alleging electoral fraud, Israeli leaders have joined the Israeli public in openly applauding the demonstrators. "It is a regime whose real nature has been unmasked, and it's been unmasked by incredible acts of courage by Iran's citizens," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."
(Los Angeles Times)


Looming confrontation

Supreme Leader Calls Iran Election Fair -Nazila Fathi & Alan Cowell

In his first public response to days of protests, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei [pictured at right], sternly warned opponents to stay off the streets and denied opposition claims that last week’s disputed election was rigged.

In a sermon in Tehran, he called directly for an end to the protests. “Street challenge is not acceptable,” Ayatollah Khamenei said. He said opposition leaders would be “held responsible for chaos” if they did not end the protests.

He blamed “media belonging to Zionists” for seeking to show divisions [in Iran].

Mr. Ahmadinejad, who has kept a defiant if low profile, made an unusual public concession. After insulting the huge crowds that poured into the street by dismissing them as “dust,” the president [said] "[e]very single Iranian is valuable. The government is at everyone’s service. We like everyone.”

Iranian Web sites have carried reports of violence in some other cities, but given the press restrictions now in place, those could not be verified.
[New York Times]

This Is for Real -David Ignatius

The willingness of hundreds of thousands of people to risk their lives to protest injustice is what overthrew the shah of Iran in 1979, and it is now shaking the mullahs.

This is politics in the raw - unarmed people defying soldiers with guns - and it is the stuff of which revolutions are made. Whether it will succeed in Iran is impossible to predict, but already this movement has put an overconfident regime on the ropes.
(Washington Post)

Iran's Leadership Divided Amid Unrest -Christiane Amanpour

Hamid Dabashi, a professor of Iranian studies at Columbia University, said: "I am absolutely convinced that what we are witnessing is a turning point in the history of the Islamic republic. Even if the Islamic republic survives this crisis, it will no longer be as it used to be."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Iran's Freudian Slip

Bombshell: Iran envoy in nuclear weapon slip

Iran's envoy to the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency caused a buzz among journalists when he said his country had the right to a nuclear weapon.

"The whole Iranian nation are united... on (the) inalienable right of (having a) nuclear weapon," the envoy said.

He later got back on track, concluding: "We will not deprive our great nation from benefitting from peaceful uses of nuclear energy."
[Associated Press]

Iranian actress reflects on popular uprising: VideoBite

Iranian protests swell: participant photos

While the press had been banned from covering the growing unrest, participants have successfully used the internet to highlight their protests to the world

Palestinians: "fantasy politics"

A Palestinian Choice -Editorial

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu delivered a detailed speech in which he hailed President Obama's "desire to bring about a new era of reconciliation in our region."

"In my vision of peace," he said, "there are two free peoples living side by side in this small land, with good neighborly relations and mutual respect, each with its flag, anthem and government, with neither one threatening its neighbor's security and existence."

To this, the Palestinian reaction was to say the speech was "worthless," "nothing but a hoax," that it had "destroyed all peace initiatives and [chances for] a solution," and that Mr. Netanyahu was "a liar and a crook." And that was the reaction among the Palestinian moderates.

The transformation of the Gaza Strip into an armed and hostile Hamas enclave is evidence enough of why any future Palestinian state would have to be demilitarized.

For too long the Palestinians have practiced a kind of fantasy politics, in which all right was on their side, concession was dishonor, and mistakes never had consequences. Mr. Netanyahu's speech now offers them the choice between fantasy and statehood. Judging from early reactions, they're choosing wrongly again.
(Wall Street Journal)

No sign of calm in Iran

Iran Treads Lightly in a Culture of Martyrs -Borzou Daragahi & Ramin Mostaghim

As new protests were planned in Tehran, unsuccessful presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi has asked backers to go to local mosques to pay tribute to those killed in the protests. Within a culture steeped in the Shiite Muslim mystique of martyrdom, each death may motivate rather than discourage activists.

Perhaps more perilous for the authorities is the possibility that some soldiers, security officials and Revolutionary Guardsmen might refuse orders to fire on protesters. "I would never do it," said Hossein, 23, a member of the security forces who said he and many of his friends at the military base where he serves support the marchers.
(Los Angeles Times)

Iran's Protests Are the Toughest to Stop -Neil MacFarquhar

This time, analysts say, the government will have trouble bringing about a swift end to the demonstrations in the same way it had shut down previous eruptions.

First, there is the sheer size of these demonstrations, with protests that are not limited to students, but cut across generations and economic classes.

Finally, there has been a critical shift in alliances. In the earlier uprisings, it was basically the reformists calling for change, opposed by both the religious hard-liners and the more pragmatic conservatives. This time, the pragmatists and the reformists have joined forces against the hard-liners, analysts said.
(New York Times)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Iran still boils: VideoBite

Iran still boils: photos

Political Tumult in Iran Continues -Nazila Fathi

Iran's leaders failed to halt a second day of huge demonstrations against last week's election results. Reformist politicians said they would accept only a new election...
(New York Times)

Mossad: Riots in Iran Will Die Down -Yossi Melman & Yuval Azoulay

Mossad chief Meir Dagan told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the riots in Iran over the election results will die out in a few days rather than escalate into a revolution.

The Mossad believe[s] that Iran [will] have its first nuclear bomb ready for action in 2014, "if the project continues at the present rate and is not interrupted."

Death of the Islamic Republic in Five Acts -Daniel Brumberg

Every revolution ends up devouring its children. In this case, the menu includes many grandchildren as well.

In the coming days we will probably see a systematic purge of anyone who opposes Iran's new Caesar.
(Washington Post)

Iran's Hidden Revolution -Danielle Pletka & Ali Alfoneh

[T]he elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps has effected a silent coup d'etat. Iran has evolved from a theocratic state to a military dictatorship.
(New York Times)

Carter goes to bat for Hamas

Carter Calls to Remove Hamas from U.S. Terror List

After a visit to Gaza, former President Jimmy Carter urge[d] the Obama administration to remove Hamas from the terrorist list.
(FOX News)


Double Standard for Israel's Peace Efforts - Editorial

Former President Jimmy Carter visited Gaza Tuesday, territory that the Palestinians had turned into a rocket-launching pad after the Israelis ceded it for self-rule.

He proclaimed that Palestinians there are being "treated more like animals than human beings."

There was a reason Israel staged strikes against Gaza last year. In fact, 7,000 reasons: missiles Hamas lobbed before Israel had to defend itself. And there's an excellent reason Israel imposes tight security on Gaza: suicide bombings sponsored by the Hamas terrorists who run the place. Carter didn't mention those.
(New York Daily News)

Monday, June 15, 2009

VideoBite: Tehran explodes

Iran erupts

Iranian police try to disperse demonstrators

Many Mousavi supporters don green

Mousavi [grey shirt with hands raised] encourages hundreds of thousands of fellow Iranians

Attack on Mousavi supporters leaves one dead

Hundreds of thousands of opponents of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defied an Interior Ministry ban and streamed into central Tehran to cheer their pro-reform leader [pictured above with grey shirt in crowd] in his first public appearance since elections that he alleges were marred by fraud. Gunfire from a compound used by pro-government militia killed one demonstrator.

The outpouring - swelling as more poured from buildings and side streets - followed a decision by Iran's most powerful figure for an investigation into the vote-rigging allegations.

[A]n Associated Press photographer saw one person shot and killed and several others who appeared to be seriously wounded in the square. The gunfire came from volunteer militia linked to Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard.

The chanting crowd - many wearing the trademark green color of Mousavi's campaign - was more than five miles long, was estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands. The prospect of spiraling protests and clashes is the ultimate nightmare for the Islamic establishment, [who] risks having dissidents directly target the ruling theocracy.

Overnight, police and militia stormed the campus at the city's biggest university, ransacking dormitories and arresting dozens of students. Tehran University was the site of serious clashes against student-led protests in 1999 and is one of the nerve centers of the pro-reform movement.
[Jerusalem Post]