Sunday, August 1, 2010

Catching Up With Iran And The Middle East

Mark McKinnon
Mohamad Bazzi
"History was made two years ago when Obama was elected with 53 percent of the vote, more than any Democratic president except Andrew Jackson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson. Now, his approval rating mirrors the public’s spiraling pessimism on the economy." - Mark McKinnon
"Congress’ approval rating has hit an all-time low of 11 percent. To give you an idea of how bad that is, the BP oil spill is at 12 percent." – Jay Leno
"Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Paul the Octopus is a symbol of decadence and decay in the western world. Which is exactly what Paul the Octopus predicted he would say." – Jimmy Fallon

"He said Paul the Octopus is a symbol of decadence and decay in the Western world. You have to lose some dictator credibility when you pick a fight with an octopus." – Jimmy Kimmel

Every time I take a day off it seems that the world goes crazy. It could be that I've had time off to relax, and come back seeing the same old politics in a different light. The war of words and propaganda published in the papers as true stories makes me wonder just how gullible we all are, or our leaders think we are... We know that the sanctions against Iran is to punish them for not being truthful, and to force them to sit down and negotiate with us. It is an aggressive way to get what you want, meant to humiliate, and makes certain commerce illegal and go underground. But they probably won't work in the long run, Iran will just dig in and do just the opposite of what the US and the EU wants, like some willful child. Refined gasoline is being trucked in daily from the Kurdish region of Iraq, natural gas is being piped to turkey, and China has spend $29 billion developing their oil fields, and pledging $10 billion more.

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larjani lashed out and said that the sanctions were having just the opposite effect inside Iran,  saying that: "Iran can obtain nuclear and missile technology is the closest any Iranian official has come so far to admitting his country is within reach of acquiring a nuclear weapon... The admission warns Washington that while Iran has not yet begun building bombs, it has the technology available and more pressure through sanctions or covert operations will only tip Tehran over into warhead production." And to prove they mean business, the Iranian parliament approved upping the uranium enrichment program to 30%, and to further smack the US they are putting those three hikers on trial for espionage!

Then, the Iranian ambassador to the UN issued a warning while he was vacationing in Iran and bragging to some small town newspaper: "If the Zionist regime commits the slightest aggression against the Iranian soil, we will set the entire war front and Tel Aviv on fire," Whoa, dude, you've been eating too many camel's milk chocolates! It may be a sign of how freaked out the right wingers in the Iranian government are, that they have to make bragging and dismissive statements towards the US and Israel: "Iranian officials have frequently warned of a crushing response in the event of an attack either by Israel or the United States, which has led international efforts to bring a halt to Tehran's uranium enrichment work."

The Pentagon's gaming computers have worked out several different scenarios if the US/Israel end up striking Iran. An Israeli helicopter that crashed in Romania was practicing making assaults on tunnel openings in the Iranian mountains, using the Carpathian mountains as a staging and practice area... "Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said he has a plan to attack Iran if needed to prevent it from getting nuclear weapons, but is "extremely concerned" about the possible repercussions of such a strike. Mullen said military action against Iran could have "unintended consequences that are difficult to predict in what is an incredibly unstable part of the world."

But, speaking on Sunday's "Meet the Press" program on NBC, Mullen said allowing Iran to develop a nuclear weapon was also unacceptable. "Quite frankly, I am extremely concerned about both of those outcomes," he said."

Iran is also financing the Hezbollah forces that have been gathering along the Lebanese border with Israel, and is now bankrolling the new Hamas effort to conscript all males from 18 - 34 in Gaza and create a new army. This is where they would set the Israeli borders aflame. Hamas would rather play games of intimidation according to an Iranian playbook instead of supporting negotiations for a Palestinian state, using the poor, uneducated Gaza youth as fodder... They purposely fired another missile into Israel, knowing that there would be a response from Israeli jets. A martyr was created when it was revealed by Hamas that a military leader was killed by the jets, so sign up now for retribution, all of you outraged 18 year-old boys...

Obama finally warned Mahmoud Abbas that if he doesn't enter into direct talks with Israel, Washington may not recognize any final Palestinian state and that the international donations that keep the Palestinian authority afloat may dry up, so someone must have read my previous posts...

In another instance of blatant propaganda, the NY Times ran the story of Neda Soltani, who was mistaken for the poor woman shot down during the Green protests in Tehran, then martyred. The woman who was shot was named Neda Agha-Soltan, but somehow the Facebook photo of Zahra Neda Soltani was lifted and mistakenly used on television and the Internet. She got to see reports of her death while watching the news with her mother. Ouch!

"Soon, Ms. Soltani said, she found herself swept up in the government’s efforts to counter any suggestion that its security forces had been involved in the shooting — and to deny that the woman in the video had died. Iranian intelligence officials, Ms. Soltani said, pressured her to come forward publicly to show that she was alive and denounce the shooting as faked, and threatened her when she did not comply.

Before the demonstration, Ms. Soltani, a 33-year-old English-literature teacher at a campus of Islamic Azad University who had not been active in politics, had been preparing for a presentation at a conference in Greece. Just days after the protest march, she fled Iran, ending up as a refugee in Germany, where she was granted political asylum in March after the authorities investigated her story.

“I never planned to leave my country and my family, but I was forced to,” Ms. Soltani said."

I admit that I didn't know this until now, and the living Neda has been given asylum in Germany, where she has been living for about a year now. Unfortunately she's unemployed and still looking for a job. The propaganda part of the story is in retaliation to the Iranian physicist who escaped from the US and went back to Iran. This story tells about a more sympathetic person to he average Iranian and illustrates how evil Iranian intelligence really is: "Agents from the intelligence service picked her up from her home outside Tehran and took her for questioning, Ms. Soltani said.

“They asked me to say on camera that I was still alive and that the Greek Embassy in Tehran had leaked my picture to the media and that the story was wrong,” Ms. Soltani said. (Her Facebook picture was identical to the one that she had given to the embassy weeks before in seeking a visa to the academic conference.)

“They wanted to use me to denounce Neda’s death,” she said. “They wanted to draw attention to me to show the world, look this is a lie.” They also wanted her to blame conspirators from the West for the episode.

Ms. Soltani said that some of the men, who were armed, threatened her. “They said it would be better for my safety if I did what they wanted me to do,” she said.

They picked her up and continued to press her in another session several days later, Ms. Soltani said. Ms. Harrison of Amnesty International said Ms. Soltani’s description of her interrogation was consistent with others they had received. “There is a long practice of the Iranian authorities coercing people to make videotaped ‘confessions’ or statements — which are sometimes shown on national TV or sometimes are held in reserve as a means of maintaining pressure on an individual,” she said."

Iran has responded by announcing that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will now be in charge of the Iranian News Service, so I can hardly to see if he will be writing anything or just be editor in chief. Iran is already denying that sections of the revolutionary Guard are sneaking into Pakistan and Afghanistan to give training to the Taliban, give medical supplies, and to pay off bribes to members who kill an Afghan army soldier... Finally, I have heard the rumor that the top Taliban, Mullah Omar, is captured and under guard by Pakistani Intelligence, but haven't been able to find mention of this anywhere in the Pakistani or Afghan Press... Well, off to dinner and the series premier of Rubicon...

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