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PostPosted: 02 Aug 2011 20:21 
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NYTimes Op-Ed Contributor AVI JORISCH does another hatchet job on Iran:
To Punish Iran, Seize Its Embassy


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PostPosted: 05 Aug 2011 09:24 
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Iraq moving against Mojahedin e Khalq at Iran's behest...
Iran's PressTV: Iraq orders MKO to return occupied land
Quote:
An Iraqi court has mandated the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) to return thousands of hectares of land that the terrorist group occupied to set up its military base in eastern Iraq.

Sheikh Ali al-Zahiri, head of the support council of the Iraqi city of Khalis, said on Tuesday that the Diyala Province court has ordered the terrorist group to return 5,000 hectares of land inside Camp Ashraf, where the MKO terrorists are located, to the original Iraqi owners, IRIB reported.

The outlawed MKO fled to Iraq in the 1980s, where it enjoyed the support of executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and set up Camp Ashraf in the northeastern town of Khalis, Diyala.

The court ruling also required the MKO to pay compensation to 150 Iraqi families for the terrorist group's illegitimate use of the land over the past three decades.

The development comes as hundreds of Diyala residents staged a demonstration last Tuesday, calling for the expulsion of the MKO elements in Iraq. The Iraqis also demanded the return of more than 36,000 hectares of their land occupied by the notorious terrorist organization.

The MKO -- listed as a terrorist organization by much of the international community -- has committed numerous terrorist acts against Iranian officials and civilians as well as the people of Iraq.

The MKO cooperated with Saddam in the massacres of Iraqi Kurds and in suppressing the 1991 uprisings in southern Iraq.

Since Saddam was deposed in 2003, the Iraqi government has set numerous deadlines for the terrorist group to leave the country but the MKO has managed to maintain its base with US support.


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PostPosted: 07 Aug 2011 05:46 
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There's been some politics around the appointment of Iran's new Oil minister...

Blaze at Iran oil pipeline
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Firefighters have extinguished a massive fire that raged for more than ten hours after an oil pipeline exploded in Iran's southwestern province of Khuzestan.


An explosion broke out at the pipe transporting crude oil from Qale Naar town to the provincial capital Ahvaz, located 874 kilometers (543 miles) southwest of Tehran, at 1:30 a.m. local time on Friday (2100 GMT on Thursday), IRNA reported.

Hundreds of firefighters and engines worked through Friday morning to deal with the fire, which spread 300 meters wide with flames that leapt 40 meters into the sky.

The blaze was eventually quenched 10 hours after the explosion.

Luckily, no one was hurt by the inferno that produced a massive orange glow that could be visible from hundreds of meters away.

An extensive investigation has been launched into the cause of the Friday incident.

The pipe transporting crude oil from Qale Naar town to Ahvaz is one of the longest pipelines in Iran. The pipeline has the capacity to transfer up to 4,000 barrels per day.

Iran is the world's fourth-largest oil producer and sits on the world's second largest natural gas reserves.


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PostPosted: 10 Aug 2011 07:18 
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Text of interview of Seyed Mehdi Nabizadeh, Ambassador of Iran to India by Richa Mishra of The Hindu:

‘India has to act fast on oil, gas imports from Iran'


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PostPosted: 16 Aug 2011 20:18 
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Tehran and Moscow cheek by jowl
An important week in Russia-Iran relations is underway as they engage in talks based on a warm reception of the Lavrov plan to end the nuclear impasse. Tehran foresees long-term strategic synchronicity with Moscow on a range of external issues, including Syria.


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PostPosted: 17 Aug 2011 09:55 
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Iranian ship with arms, contraband seized off Mumbai
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The Indian Navy on Monday captured an Iranian cargo ship off the Mumbai coast carrying arms, ammunition and contraband, officials said. The vessel, MV Nafis-1, that set sail from Iran to an undisclosed location in July was reportedly hijacked and was being used for smuggling contraband.

Two AK-47 rifles and a pistol concealed in an empty fuel tank of the ship were also recovered from the vessel. The nine people on board — five Yemenis, two Tanzanians, one Kenyan and one Somalian — have been apprehended and will be handed over to the police for questioning.

During the preliminary interrogation the crew told the marine commandos that the ship had been drifting for nearly 20 days following mechanical problems.

“However, there are discrepancies in their accounts and they will be thoroughly questioned once they reach land,” said a Navy officer on condition of anonymity.

Usually, merchant vessels alert the closest maritime rescue co-ordination centre in case of mechanical problems.

“But despite rough weather, the persons onboard did not alert any of the rescue centres, which raises suspicion,” the officer said. MV Nafis-1 was spotted by a maritime reconnaissance aircraft on Friday, around 250 nautical miles of the Mumbai coast, and was kept under continuous surveillance.

Subsequently, INS Mysore, a guided missile destroyer, was sent to intercept the hijacked vessel along with two helicopters and 24 marine commandos, officials said.

The vessel is being towed to the closest port at Porbandar in Gujarat, where the crew will be handed over to the police.

“It is impossible to conduct a full-fledged investigation in the sea as it is extremely choppy, with waves rising as high as 12 to 15 feet,” said captain Manohar Nambiar, chief defence spokesperson.


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PostPosted: 18 Aug 2011 00:59 
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Updates on possible US resuscitation of Mojahedin e Khalq:
Anti-MEK Lobbies within the US seem to be turning the tide against those who want to patronize the org:

Article in the NYTimes:
An Iranian Cult and Its American Friends
Quote:
...Howard Dean, on March 19 in Berlin, at his most impassioned, extolling the virtues of a woman named Maryam Rajavi and insisting that America should recognize her as the president of Iran.

[...]

Mr. Dean’s speech stunned me. But then came Rudolph W. Giuliani saying virtually the same thing. At a conference in Paris last December, an emotional Mr. Giuliani told Ms. Rajavi, “These are the most important yearnings of the human soul that you support, and for your organization to be described as a terrorist organization is just simply a disgrace.” I thought I was watching The Onion News Network.

[...]

...an unlikely chorus of the group’s backers — some of whom have received speaking fees, others of whom are inspired by their conviction that the Iranian government must fall at any cost — have gathered around Mujahedeen Khalq at conferences in capitals across the globe.

This group of luminaries includes two former chairmen of the joint chiefs of staff, Gens. Hugh H. Shelton and Peter Pace; Wesley K. Clark, the former NATO commander; Gen. James L. Jones, who was President Obama’s national security adviser; Louis J. Freeh, the former F.B.I. director; the former intelligence officials Dennis C. Blair and Michael V. Hayden; the former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson; the former attorney general Michael B. Mukasey, and Lee H. Hamilton, a former congressman who was co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission.

Indeed, the Rajavis and Mujahedeen Khalq are spending millions in an attempt to persuade the Obama administration, and in particular Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, to take them off the national list of terrorist groups, where the group was listed in 1997. Delisting the group would enable it to lobby Congress for support in the same way that the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 allowed the Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi to do.


Also...Kalemeh, a leading "Green Movement" newspaper run by supporters of Iran's opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, has a very strongly worded editorial today warning foreign governments (ie, the U.S.) not to support the Mojahedin-e Khalq.


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PostPosted: 21 Aug 2011 21:10 
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Ahmadinejad's economic savvy

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From the White House to London's House of Commons and beyond...few Westerners have anything nice to say about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
But there's one group that has glowing words of praise for Iran's President - and it's based not in Tehran, but in Washington.
The International Monetary Fund's latest report paints a pretty picture of Iran's economy.
It says growth has hit 3.2%, and will accelerate still further. Inflation has dropped from 25% to 12% in just two years.
And Tehran has managed to do what every major oil exporter can only dream of accomplishing: It's slashed subsidies on gas to recoup 60 billion dollars in annual revenue. That one-sixth of Iran's entire GDP.
Why is this happening? And how can it be despite years of economic sanctions?
What in the world is going on?
Some say the IMF's numbers can't be right.
But we have no reason to doubt their work. The fund reasserted this week that its projections were independent of the government.
The real story here is that Iran has actually begun implementing some economic reforms. For decades now, Iranian leaders have tried to wean its people off cheap oil - oil that is subsidized by the government.
Cheap oil that has no connection to real market prices is not sustainable. Iran knows it, and so does every country from Saudi Arabia to Venezuela. But in the same way that any talk of tax increases here in America is considered heresy, people in oil-rich countries believe as an article of faith that they deserve cheap oil.
So how did Iran finally cut out the freebies?
The backstory is a complex game of chess between Ahmadinejad and someone much more powerful - the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
One theory goes like this: The Ayatollah thought cutting subsidies would make Ahmadinejad deeply unpopular. An ensuing revolt would then remove the one man who's come to challenge the Supreme Leader's power.
Another theory is that Ahmadinejad felt confident enough to go ahead with the reforms because he's crushed the opposition Green Movement.
Either way, he's played a smart hand. He's giving back half of the 60 billion dollars in savings directly to the people in monthly deposits. So every Iranian, man woman and child, is eligible to receive the equivalent of 40 dollars a month.
That kind of money won't make any difference to Tehran's upper classes. But that's not Ahmadinejad's constituency.
On the other hand if you're poor, if you have many children, and if you make sure the whole family signs up for the deposits, you'll probably be saying "Thanks, Mr. President".
The key thing to note here is that President Ahmadinejad had no choice, and neither did the Ayatollah.
Iran could not afford the subsidies anymore. Its economy is highly dysfunctional with many massive distortions and subsidies. And Washington's recent targeted sanctions are beginning to bite.
It is now harder than ever before for Iran to do business with the world. Most of the major international traders of refined petroleum have stopped dealing with Iran. Tehran now has to rely on much costlier overland shipments for its exports.
And it is now almost impossible to conduct dollar-denominated transactions with Iran. So we were left with the bizarre case last month of China resorting to the barter system to pay Iran for 20 billion dollars worth of oil.
The IMF has a point. Iran is implementing some needed reforms and as a result its economy is doing better. The irony is that it's happening - in some part - because of our sanctions. Talk about unintended consequences.


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PostPosted: 25 Aug 2011 01:58 
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^^^ The benefits Iran gains by the necessity of self-reliance and socio-economic reform will stand them in good stead if Iran can get by without being invaded or severely compromised for the next 20-30 years, as the Mid-East is reshaped. They would also need to cross the Rubicon and develop nukes or some deterrent in that time. That's a longish time given the speed of events these days. In order to be able to do that, Iran needs to create a network of friendly alliances that provides it an ideological and political context in which to recede and focus on development while staying out of other peoples' wars. We used the NAM. Iran needs to find that sort of sweet spot. Instead, Iran is embroiled in a pitted adversarial relationship with the Western bloc, and its trying to define itself by taking leadership of Arab politicla causes and wars. If they decide to become more discrete, India could offer them that geopolitical context in which to recede, but only if they re-orient themselves ideologically and culturally. In which case they could even help midwife an independent Kurdistan, the way we did with BD.


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PostPosted: 25 Aug 2011 08:15 
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Iran: The martyr state myth


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PostPosted: 25 Aug 2011 23:45 
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EU slaps sanctions on Iran force accused of enabling Assad
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BEIRUT - The European Union imposed sanctions yesterday on the elite unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, saying the Quds Force is providing equipment and other support to help Syria’s president, Bashar Assad, crush the five-month-old uprising against him.

[..]
Iran has offered unwavering support for Damascus, and there has been speculation it is providing funds to cushion Assad’s government as it burns through the $17 billion in foreign reserves that was on hand at the start of the uprising.


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PostPosted: 26 Aug 2011 21:49 
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Israel wages war on Iranian scientists
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Startling and detailed revelations by Majid Jamali Fashi, the confessed killer of a top Iranian scientist, heighten suspicions of at least a dozen Israeli-trained lone operatives active inside Tehran. This brings into question the weaknesses in Iranian protective security measures, which in turn increases the pressure on Iran to strike back.

[...]

The London-based Daily Telegraph ran a story on Israel's secret assassination war against Iranian scientists in February 2009, nearly a year before Ali Mohammadi's assassination.

If Massoud Ali Mohammadi was typical of the type of scientist being targeted by the Israelis, then his confessed killer Majid Jamali Fashi is also typical of the type of agent and saboteur recruited by the Israeli secret service Mossad. Young, versatile and physically daring, he is not known to have been involved in politics. By his own admission, he had received US$120,000 for his services to Israeli intelligence, and that he was promised a further sum of $30,000 for killing Ali Mohammadi, but Fashi claims the Israelis failed to honor their debt.

From the early stages of the trial it appears that Fashi, an Iranian, was recruited at the Israeli consulate in Istanbul (Turkey) and that much of his early tasking and indoctrination took place there. However, he had also met Israeli intelligence officers in Baku (Republic of Azerbaijan) and Thailand. At one stage, he was smuggled into Israel for intensive training and preparation for his assassination campaign inside Iran.

[...]

From the evidence presented at his trial, it appears that Fashi was a lone operative bereft of a support network inside Tehran. Tasking appears to have been conducted via mobile phone and e-mails to an encrypted laptop. Fashi appears to have received instructions on the assassination immediately before the event. He claims he wasn't aware of the identity of his target until after the assassination.

His claim that he regretted his actions and that he became depressed after he discovered his target's true identity and subsequently refused to carry out more assassinations, thus prompting his Israeli masters to abandon him, must be taken with a pinch of salt. According to the available evidence, Fashi's murderous exploits only came to an end following his identification and arrest by the Iranian authorities.
[...]

Asia Time Online's sources in Tehran have confirmed the account presented at the trial, stressing that Israeli intelligence is using highly trained lone operatives to attack Iran's scientific human resources.

Communication methods are kept as simple as possible in the belief that as the operatives are not known to Iranian intelligence, public modes of communication (such as tasking by mobile phone) will not trigger detection, and by the same token more covert methods of communication are likely to alert Iranian intelligence to the activities of these agents.

According to Asia Time Online's sources, Iranian intelligence believes that at least another dozen agents fitting Fashi's profile have been trained by the Israelis and are active inside Tehran.

While maximum efforts are being expended to identify and intercept these agents before they strike, it is virtually inevitable that more Iranian scientists will be killed before Iranian intelligence either gets on top of the problem or more likely manages to deter the Israelis from continuing with the assassination campaign.

[...]

...the detailed information that guides these assassinations is believed to come from a variety of sources, effectively representing the combined intelligence-gathering efforts of major Western intelligence services.

The Israelis appear to know all the pertinent details about their targets, and much more besides, including the type and color of their household furniture. While few doubt the efficiency and determination of Israeli intelligence services, the type, extent and scale of the information collected points to the combined efforts of several national intelligence services and appears to suggest that these services have deployed the full extent of their intelligence capability against Iran's scientific infrastructure, especially those components that are linked to national security projects.


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PostPosted: 30 Aug 2011 17:54 
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MKB with some interesting tidbits in this blog entry:
The Iran-Russia tango over missiles
Quote:
Strange are the ways of Persian diplomacy. Two things struck me this morning. First, the case of the Russians breaking the contract for sale of S-300 missiles to Iran. Moscow came under sustained American pressure in the heydays of the US-Russia ‘reset’ to jettison its military ties with Tehran. Although UN sanctions didn’t prohibit the S-300 deal worth several hundred millions of dollars, Moscow caved in. Tehran understood it became a ‘victim’ of US-Russia reset. It had the option to sue Moscow for damage, but it didn’t. For, that would have accelerated the ‘cooling’ of Iran’s ties with Russia.

So, Tehran waited - until ties with Moscow improved. As Moscow made overtures to Tehran to improve relations, Iranians feel encouraged to sue the Russians at the International Court of Justice. This might seem theatre of the absurd. But it has a greater logic. If Iran wins the case, it opens the way to ‘liberate’ Russia from the bondage of the ‘reset’ with the US. Moscow will be left with the choice to pay heavy damages to Tehran or take the easy course of reviving the S-300 deal. In short, as Iran’s ambassador to Russia put it, Tehran hopes that ICJ ruling “would help Russia carry out the supplies.”

What a subtle use of Persian language to hint Iran’s ICJ suit is a joint Russian-Iranian venture. It comes after FM Ali Akbar Salehi’s visit to Moscow ten days ago. The crisis over Syria has brought about Russian-Iranian proximity. The two countries have common viewpoints on Syria. Again, who do you think President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad had at home last evening in Tehran to break the Ramadan fast?

The Qatari emir, Sheikh Hamad Khalifa Al Thani! Yes, the same gentleman who is bankrolling the Libyan operations by the european countries and who is burning midnight oil to bring democracy to Syria by overthrowing the regime of Bashar Al-Assad, Iran’s closest ally in the region. Could Hamad be the harbinger of tidings from the opposite camp?


Hamad is perfectly capable of selling the same camel to two buyers simultaneously and then keeping it to himself at the end of the day. The big question is whether he brought some conciliatory message from Saudi Arabia. After all, with Turkey finding itself in a quagmire in the Kurdish mountains, it would have no appetite for an intervention in Syria. That would give Assad a breather and the Saudis an itch to do some rethink.

Is Iran's use of the PKK to intimidate Erdogan working?


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PostPosted: 31 Aug 2011 19:41 
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Iran makes a u-turn on Syria
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Iran has adjusted its policy by referring to the "legitimate demands" of protesters in Syria and the need for the embattled regime of Bashar al-Assad to respect "people's right to elect and achieve freedom". This places Tehran in league with Turkey and other regional powers pushing for democratic reform, but now the danger is that Assad might survive.

[...]

"Iran's reading of the crisis situation in Syria has turned a leaf toward political realism, that is, the knowledge and realization that Assad's regime may crumble in the not too distant future and Iran should not be hooked to a sinking ship," said a Tehran University political science professor who spoke to the author on the condition of anonymity.

He added, however, that Iran's ruling elite was still optimistic that with "due changes and reforms", the embattled Syrian government could survive and "in essence Iran has not advocated anything that President Assad himself has not already accepted in principle".

The million dollar question, though, is whether or not Assad's reform initiatives, such as adopting a more liberal press law, reflect a remedy too late, in light of the climbing death toll in the streets of various cities and the likely prospect of the capital city's imminent infection by the virus of popular protests.

Behind Tehran's decision to alter its approach to the Syrian political crisis are a number of important regional as well as internal considerations. As masters of survival who have successfully weathered the torrents of war, armed opposition and mass protests over the past 32 years, the leaders of the Islamic Republic are political pragmatists who rarely allow the rather thick lens of ideology or dogma to obliterate their grasp of political dynamics. They prefer to be ahead rather than behind political curves.

In essence, that means a dualistic approach toward Syria from now on, one track being in league with Turkey and other regional powers pushing for democratic reform, the other still in sync with alliance politics dictating discrete support for Assad's regime and opposing any Libyan-style foreign intervention.

According to various media reports in Iran, last week's Tehran visit by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, was an important catalyst in shifting Iran's policy away from a blind support for Assad and in favor of a more nuanced approach that emphasizes genuine political reforms.

There are those in Tehran who think that Iran has decided to move closer to its Arab neighbors in the Persian Gulf by distancing itself from the moribund Assad regime, which may experience serious cracks in its political, administrative and military institutions in the immediate future as a result of the growing mass discontent.

In turn, this raises a fundamental question: how valuable is Syria's alliance to Iran today, and is it worth risking a major cognitive dissonance, in light of Iran's overt support for the Arab Spring?

Indeed, the instant result of Iran's new approach toward Syria is that it closes the previous gap, between Iran's support for political transformations in other parts of the Arab world and Iran's non-support for the similar process underway in Syria, thus allowing Tehran to declare that it pursues a consistent and logical policy with respect to the current Middle East upheavals.

Perhaps equally important, the new Tehran policy toward Syria is bound to reward the regime by also bringing Iran and Turkey closer together, in light of Ankara's recent announcement that it has "lost confidence" in the Assad regime. (See Iran draws the line with Turkey on Syria Asia Times Online, July 26, 2011.)

Iran's primary concern is the vital Persian Gulf, and despite all the talk of "strategic depth" as a result of the alliance with Syria, the principal concern of Iran is to improve its standing in the immediate region that has vast geo-economic value.

No longer menaced by Iraq, as it was during the bloody eight-year war during the 1980s, Iran is fundamentally less beholden to Syria acting as a "vital bridge to the Arab world", particularly since the gates of diplomacy with the Arab world's biggest power, Egypt, have begun to slowly open, given the prospect of normalization between Tehran and Cairo.

In addition, Tehran's leaders have not forgotten recent statements from Damascus of support for Saudi intervention in Bahrain, in the name of Arab nationalism, which truly surprised and even dismayed Tehran.

"There has always been a nagging concern that Assad's regime would sell out Iran in no time if the price was right, but that never happened and Assad we may recall solidly supported Iran during the upheaval of 2009 following the presidential elections," says the Tehran professor.

As a result, Tehran has nuanced itself rather than come out too strongly against Damascus, thus protecting itself from the charge of hypocrisy and double standards, this while harvesting the gained ability to push for reform in neighboring Bahrain, where the simmering protests have met the iron fist of Saudi-backed official repression. Said otherwise, Iran can now have a greater say in Bahraini affairs, by opting to recognize the legitimacy of the Syrian opposition.

But, as with any major policy shift, there are also unintended consequences, such as a cooling in relations with Damascus in the event that Assad survives. Damascus would then look at Iran as a half-loyal friend that cannot be fully trusted.

There is, in other words, an inevitable element of risk in Iran's new policy that could adversely affect its regional fortunes, depending on the dynamic of political change in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.


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PostPosted: 01 Sep 2011 00:51 
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For some reason BBC Persian has been highlighting the following everytime it comes up. This one yesterday:
اعتراض مولوی عبد الحمید به جلوگیری از برگزاری نماز عید اهل سنت
A prominent Iranian Baluch Maulavi takes objection to the government's prevention of Eid Prayers by the Sunni community
Quote:
Maulavi Abdul Hamid Esmaeel Zahi, Friday prayer leader of the Sunnis of Zahedan (Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchistan), has requested the Supreme Guide of the Islamic Republic to disallow government agents from preventing communal Eid prayers in big cities in which Sunnis are a minority.

According to an article on the website Sunni Online, media headquarters for Iran's Sunnis, he expressed regret that in most cities where members of the Sunni community are a minority, they face problems in organizing Eid and regular Friday prayers as a separate community. He added: "It is heard that in Tehran the police have extracted promises from the Friday prayer leaders of Sunni worship-houses not to conduct communal prayers on the most auspicious Eid e Fetr."

These statements from the Maulavi have come a day after 14 Sunni members of parliament handed over a letter addressed to Mahmud Ahmadinezhad requesting permission for Sunnis to organize communal gatherings for Eid and Friday prayers.

In spite of the fact that big cities in Iran have churches and synagogues, the minority Sunni community are not given permission to have separate mosques for Friday prayer.

The Maulavi of Zahedan had made the same appeal last year to the agents of Ayatollah Khamenei as well as government servants to allow separate Eid and Friday prayers for Sunnis in Tehran, Esfahan, Kerman and Yazd, requesting him to "abolish this prohibition."

[...]

This Sunni cleric added in a speech he made in the Mecca Masjed of Zahedan, "Shi'a and Sunni are two sects of Islam which have kindred and brotherly relations amongst themselves, ... but their mosques and community halls are separate and their questions of fiqh (religious doctrine and law) are separate and differ from one another. There is no possibility for their mosques to be merged and they both be made to line up behind a common Imam (prayer leader)."

He continued, "The basic law gives permission to members of all religions to freely conduct their prayers according to their own customs and ideological viewpoints. Prohibition of this is against the law and uncivil, and is a cause for heartbreak and hopelessness."

According to article 12 of Iranian Law Codex, Sunnis are free to conduct their own customs and train and educate themselves according to their own doctrine.


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PostPosted: 02 Sep 2011 00:46 
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Catching the Internet's spies in Iran and elsewhere
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In August, Google introduced a new, if rather obscure, security feature to its Chrome web browser, designed to be triggered only under extreme circumstances.

If you were talking to Google's servers using the web's secure "https" protocol, your browser makes a number of checks to ensure that you are really talking to Google's servers. Like an overly obsessive bouncer, the new code double-checks the identity of any supposed Google site against a Chrome-only list of valid Google identities hardwired into the browser.

The feature was experimental, so Google only included checks for its own websites. This week, a handful of Chrome users visiting Gmail and other Google sites triggered the warning, and contacted Google. According to Google's later reporting, the affected users were "primarily located" in Iran.
Quote:
What does this mean? It means that somebody in Iran had gone to great lengths to intercept supposedly secure Internet traffic, including Gmail messages.

This was not a trivial undertaking. The Iranian users' reports reveal what must have happened. The snoopers' associates had either broken into or defrauded the Dutch Internet security firm DigiNotar, and obtained from them a fake digital identity document, an https certificate, in the name of Google. They then redirected Google traffic within Iran, and used the certificate to masquerade as Google. With those capabilities, the party would be able to intercept and collect any private communications between Iranians and Google, including supposedly highly secure Gmail messages.


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PostPosted: 05 Sep 2011 08:44 
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Hackers steal SSL certificates for CIA, MI6, Mossad
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"Now that someone (presumably from Iran) has obtained a legit HTTPS cert for CIA.gov, I wonder if the US gov will pay attention to this mess," Christopher Soghoian, a Washington D.C.-based researcher noted for his work on online privacy, said in a tweet Saturday.


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PostPosted: 13 Sep 2011 07:53 
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The long wait for Iran's first nuclear power plant is finally over. It's now online, but is it ready?


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PostPosted: 14 Sep 2011 03:26 
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Reports in Iranian and Paki media about getting cozy, as TSP's Islamic colonial elite pay a visit home away from the converted mawali masses whom they rule in Pakiland:
Iran, Pakistan to establish joint airline company
Quote:
* PM visits shrine of Imam Raza (AS), and ancestral province

* Gilani suggests Multan and Rasht be declared sister cities {Rasht is capital of Gilan province}

TEHRAN: Iran and Pakistan have agreed to set up a joint airline company to facilitate visits by the two countries’ nationals, Iranian First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi announced on Tuesday.

“We have decided to establish Iran-Pakistan joint airline company in a bid to increase and facilitate exchange of visits by the two countries’ people,” Rahimi said during a joint press conference with visiting Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani here in Tehran.

He further underlined that an all-out expansion of ties between the two neighbouring states required preparing the needed grounds, including construction of roads and rail links.

“Today, Iran and Pakistan are moving hand in hand to attain their specific goals, and we can link the Far East to South Asia, Africa and Europe.

“We can take our first step in the Middle East and a second step in intercontinental transiting,” the Iranian vice president added.


Earlier this month, Iranian and Pakistani officials signed several agreements on mutual cooperation at the end of their 18th Joint Economic Cooperation Commission meeting in Islamabad.

During the 18th meeting of the Iran-Pakistan Joint Economic Cooperation Commission, officials of the two sides evaluated progress in the implementation of decisions taken during the previous session in Tehran in 2008.

At the meeting the two sides endorsed three agreements on Economic and Technical Cooperation, establishment of Iran-Pakistan Investment Company and cooperation in electronic media between Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation and PTV and the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).

The MoUs were signed by Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi and Pakistani Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh.

Analysts say that strong bilateral relations between Iran and Pakistan are vital for the stability of the region. Gilani proposed that Multan in Pakistan and Rasht in Iran be declared sister cities.

The prime minister made the proposal in a meeting with Gilan province Governor General Mehdi Sa’adati in Lahijan.

Referring to the history of Lahijan, Gilani said that Multan also enjoyed a 5,000- year-old civilization.

He also described his recent negotiations with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and First Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi as fruitful.

Gilani also visited the shrine of Hazrat Imam Raza (AS) in Mashhad and travelled to the city of Rasht, capital of Gilan province, the homeland of his ancestors. :roll:

The prime minister offered prayers at the shrine and expressed keen interest in its architectural features.

The prime minister was accompanied by Minister for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, Minister for Textile Makhdoom Shahabuddin, Minister for Professional and Technical Training Riaz Hussain Pirzada and Senator Sughra Imam.

Mashhad is the second largest city in Iran and one of the holiest cities in the Muslim world.

On his arrival in Rasht, the prime minister was warmly received by high-ranking Iranian officials.

The prime minister went around the city of Rasht, known as a place of attraction for domestic tourists of Iran. Gilan is the north western province of Iran along the Caspian sea. Gilani left on Tuesday night for home at the conclusion of his official visit to Iran.

Code:
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011%5C09%5C14%5Cstory_14-9-2011_pg7_21


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PostPosted: 14 Sep 2011 17:36 
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>>Iran, Pakistan to establish joint airline company

Probably offering only direct flights to the US :)


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PostPosted: 14 Sep 2011 18:21 
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Chabahar port development is being placed on fast track. A GoI technical team is visiting to see what they can do to speed up work. This was after it was discussed heavily in the JCM with Iran FM. This is our access to Afghanistan and Central asia - so its quite crucial - even for those mines that we are bidding for.

Incidentally Chabahar is also where some of the iranian navy fleet are based.


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PostPosted: 14 Sep 2011 21:31 
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shyamd wrote:
Chabahar port development is being placed on fast track. A GoI technical team is visiting to see what they can do to speed up work. This was after it was discussed heavily in the JCM with Iran FM. This is our access to Afghanistan and Central asia - so its quite crucial - even for those mines that we are bidding for.

Incidentally Chabahar is also where some of the iranian navy fleet are based.

Chabahar port plan on fast-track
Quote:
Chabahar port — 72 km from Pakistan's deep-sea Gwadar port built with Chinese assistance — holds immense strategic and economic significance for India.

New Delhi maintains the port is in the common interest of “India, Iran Afghanistan, as well as Central Asia”. Chabahar is also closer to India than the existing port at Bandar Abbas.


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U.S. making India-Iran trade a hard struggle: envoy

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With the U.S. making it difficult for Asian countries including India to make payments for oil imported from Iran, it has been a “hard struggle” to channelise the funds through other routes, according to the Iranian Ambassador to India Syed Mehdi Nabizadeh.

Iran is a major source of oil for India, accounting for about 10 per cent of its energy imports.

Pointing out that the transfer of money from India to Iran for oil imports was one of the most important aspects of Indo-Iranian ties, the Iranian envoy said the two countries were facing difficulties on this front for two years, with last year being the hardest.

“Some countries have been acting out of context of the U.N. resolutions against Iran. For example, banking relations is out of the framework of U.N. resolutions, but unfortunately some countries do not think so. First, American influence in Europe affected the easy flow of oil money. Later they tried to push Asian countries to follow this trend. It culminated in affecting the Asian Clearing Union,” he told The Hindu.

On December 31 last year, the Reserve Bank of India barred Indian companies from using the ACU to process current account transactions for oil and gas imports — a decision that has affected Indian energy imports from Iran. India began using the ACU to avoid being targeted by U.S. extra-territorial sanctions. But since the U.S. is unable to monitor ACU transactions, it had been insisting on shutting down this route.
--------------------------
However, Government sources said companies can't deal with the American and European companies if they have invested over $20 million in Iran. They said India and Iran had tried out several options but few have been effective for long. The first was to emulate the Turkish-Iranian model of making payments but was rejected because of the asymmetry of trading patterns. They then tried to route the payments via the United Arab Emirates but the “conditionalities” attached to the transactions made the option a non-starter. After the Moscow route was given up under pressure, South Korea (another major oil importer from Iran) was tried but it didn't work out. So far India is understood to have paid half of the outstanding dues.


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Khamenei throws gauntlet at the West
- by Mahan Abedin
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The weekend speech by the leader of Iran, Grand Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, is one of the most important he has made in many years. His description of the underlying motivations behind the Arab Spring protests is synonymous with the Islamic Republic's understanding of the most important mission of Islamization, namely the quest to remake the geopolitical map of the region with a view to expelling all uninvited or coercive foreign influences, chiefly the massive United States military presence in the Persian Gulf.

[...]

The timing of the "Islamic Awakening" conference and Khamenei's speech are important, as they coincide with the visit of Western leaders to Libya and the regional tour of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the highlight of which was his visit to Cairo.

Quote:
Attended by hundreds of intellectuals, spiritual leaders and political activists from the Islamic world and beyond, and addressed foremost by the leader of the Islamic Revolution Grand Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei and President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, the conference was a major event and can be viewed as a significant statement of intent.

The inaugural speech by Khamenei is of prime importance in so far as it clearly and succinctly sets out the Islamic Republic's view on the political upheavals sweeping across the Arab world and the extent to which Iran is determined to frame those changes in an Islamic revolutionary paradigm.

It is important to examine Khamenei's words in detail as this was his most important public speech since June 2009, when he addressed Friday Prayers a week after the disputed presidential elections that triggered unprecedented demonstrations and riots in Tehran.

The quality of that speech, marked foremost by the subtle and complex messages it transmitted, enabled the Islamic Republic and its loyalists to systematically dismantle the political, intellectual and organizational infrastructure of the country's emerging protest movement, widely referred to as the Green movement.

Before examining the speech it is worthwhile to outline the foundational concepts that guide this debate. Khamenei's speeches over the past 21 years, since he assumed the leadership of the Islamic Republic, are essentially designed to outline and expand the ideological understanding and framing of key issues such as economic, social, cultural, political and foreign policies.

These speeches can be considered a statement of intent inasmuch as their ideological underpinnings are concerned, but they are rarely (if ever) implemented without sufficient regard for other key considerations, such as pragmatism and practicability.

In the sphere of foreign policy, Khamenei's speeches are designed foremost to set out the ideological guidelines and goals that should direct the pursuit of external relations. While Khamenei's ideological input is an important element of foreign policy conception in the Islamic Republic - and he has the final say on all important matters of state - it is crucial to note that Iran's foreign policy cannot be defined in ideological terms alone.

The Islamic Republic's views and discourse on Islamization rest on three essential planks. First and foremost, at the deepest level of self-identification Iran's Islamic Revolution draws the roots of its identity and its perennial driving force from Shi'itism and more specifically the real or imagined historical experience of Twelver Shi'ite Muslims.

Second, at the intellectual and political levels, the Islamic Revolution critiques Western modernity not with a view to complete rejection but rather to highlight the divergence of historical experiences separating the Western Judeo-Christian realm from the Islamic world. The result is a profound critique of Western-style secularism, but a qualified acceptance of Western-style democracy, albeit one stripped of its liberal overtones. {IMHO this is where India has an entry point into the Iranian discourse on the semantics of secularism and liberal democracy}

Third, in the external relations sphere, the Islamic Revolution adopts the vision and politics of pan-Islam and ultimately aspires to the political unity of the world of Islam.

The third factor is arguably the most important in so far as it directs the bulk of the Islamic Revolution's energy onto the geopolitical sphere and frames its world view and policies in direct opposition to that of the prevailing Western powers. This is a striking point of departure between Iran's Islamic vision and other notable examples, such as that of the Turks, whose "soft" Islamists, embodied foremost by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), entrench Islamization in the paradigm of deeper democratization and economic development.

Similar to the Turkish AKP, the reformist wing of the Islamic Republic prioritizes democratization and the development of civil society and economic resilience at the expense of foreign policy innovation and radicalism.

But the key point to note is that while the Islamic Republic's reformists have been successful in embedding their ideas and vision on politics and civil society in the fabric of Iran's political and intellectual society, their views and ideas on foreign policy have been judged to be lacking in sufficient conceptual clarity, and subsequently largely excluded from the decision-making processes of the country's foreign policy institutions.

[...]

Both events are perceived as a threat by Tehran, albeit to different degrees of intensity and consequence. British Prime Minister David Cameron's and French President Nicolas Sarkozy's triumphant visit to Tripoli is widely viewed as a statement of intent by the major Western powers to directly intervene - through military force if necessary - in the political processes that are shaping the convulsions across the Arab world with a view to renewing and consolidating Western political and economic influence in the region.

Erdogan's whistle-stop tour of the region is viewed in Tehran as an attempt by Ankara to not only safeguard key Turkish political and economic interests but also to expound on Turkey's vision of indigenous democracy and economic development for the region, one that markedly (but not fundamentally) contrasts with the Western vision.

[...]

In his speech (the full text of which was released by his office and carried by the major Tehran-based news agencies) Khamenei elaborates on three key factors pertaining to what Iran views as the Islamic Awakening. These are the historical roots and ideological identity of the Arab protest movements; the dangers and threats facing these embryonic revolutionary movements; and his suggestions, based on the direct experience of Iran's Islamic Revolution, on ways to counter and neutralize these threats.

In regard to the character of the protest movements, Khamenei links them to the 150-year Islamic revivalist movement in the Muslim world. He distinguishes them from the immediate post-colonial political changes in countries like Egypt, Algeria and Libya which were led by small military elites who merely assumed public support for their actions, by drawing attention to the "mass" nature of these movements and the fact that they involve millions of people clamoring for political change. In this sense, majority public support for change is not only assumed but is visible to the naked eye.

It is in the spirit of celebrating the power of mass movements that Khamenei strongly condemns the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO's) military intervention in Libya and interprets it as a blatant attempt by major Western powers to gain a foothold in the Arab revolutionary movement with a view to derailing it in a manner that suits Western ideological, political and economic interests.

[...]

By linking mass movements to the 150-year modern quest for Islamic revival, Khamenei is attempting to define the Arab protest movements as closely as possible to the model of Iran's Islamic Revolution. This modeling is taken to a deeper level when Khamenei pontificates on the deepest aspirations of the Arab protesters.

According to Khamenei, the protesters are motivated by four core aspirations; to revive national honor after decades of tyrannical rule often characterized by subservience to the West; to hold aloft the Islamic standard while pursuing the quest for authentic social justice and economic development, which according to Khamenei is only possible within the framework of the Islamic sharia; to resist American and European political and cultural influence; to join the battle against Israel which he describes as an "usurping regime" and a "bogus Zionist government" that the West has implanted in the region in the form of a Crusader Kingdom to displace an entire people from their historic homeland and to keep a knife permanently embedded in the body politic of the region.

Khamenei's description of the underlying motivations behind the protest movements, and presumably his vision of the resulting political effects, is synonymous with the Islamic Republic's understanding of the most important mission of Islamization, namely the quest to remake the geopolitical map of the region with a view to expelling all uninvited or coercive foreign influences, chiefly the massive American military presence in the Persian Gulf.

Khamenei reveals to his audience that immediately after the victory of the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the new revolutionary leaders (including himself) expected Egypt to quickly follow suit in view of that country's potential for revolutionary change premised on the deep roots of Islamic revivalism in Egypt and the numerous major Islamic thinkers and leaders produced by that country.

Khamenei explains away the delayed process of revolution in Egypt by claiming that change is coming at a "suitable" moment. The specific focus on Egypt may be incidental, reinforced by the reality of that country's central role in Arab affairs and the common Arab destiny.

However, most likely Khamenei's singling out of Egypt is an expression of the delayed expectations of Iranian leaders and a direct appeal to pro-Iranian sentiments within Egypt's vast Islamic movement, embodied foremost by the Muslim Brotherhood.

The second and third topics, namely the threats posed to the Arab revolutions and the means to combat these threats, reflect the direct experience of the Iranian Revolution and the new revolutionary power's struggle against its internal and external enemies.

Khamenei divides the threats into two broad categories; those that emanate from within the ranks of the revolutionaries and those that are carefully planned by the revolution's external enemies.

In regard to the former, Khamenei warns against general complacency about the progress of the revolution and personal ambition on the part of some tentative revolutionary leaders. He also warns against moderating the demands and objectives of the revolution in the face of real or perceived threats or bribes by the "arrogant" powers, which refers to America and her allies.

In regard to external factors, the Iranian leader identifies the West's quest to penetrate the revolution at all levels as the most pernicious threat. Khamenei claims that after the "inevitable" fall of its stooges, the West will try to keep the "systems" in place and to prevent the fruition of fully-fledged revolutions that will presumably yield entirely new systems.

Khamenei warns against religious extremism and calls for the recognition and management of religious differences in the Islamic world. {The main concern here is with Sunni-Shi'a differences, not non-Moslems} He counsels that Islamization must not be accompanied by reactionary tendencies and religious bigotry and chauvinism, which he says are capable of producing "blind" violence.

This is an expression of the fear by Iranian leaders that one of the immediate effects of the instability caused by the collapse of the Arab order may be to deepen sectarian divides in the region and escalate existing sectarian conflicts.


Beyond listing individual threats, Khamenei advises that the greatest task facing the Arab revolutionaries is designing and building new "systems", which he argues are the surest guarantee against intellectual and political contamination by other ideological-political systems, chiefly Western liberalism and secularism, nationalism and left-wing ideologies.

Finally, he advises that the creation of a unified Islamic umma (community) and the efflorescence of a new Islamic civilization based on "religion, logic, science and ethics", should be regarded as the ultimate aims of the revolutionary movements. The stress on Islamic unity as the ultimate aim is an attempt to harmonize the long-term political trajectory of the Arab revolutions with the aspirational dimension of Iranian foreign policy.

Khamenei's speech is a significant event and should be considered by all concerned as a major statement of intent. Beyond the immediate audience, it is directed foremost at official Iranian institutions and Islamic Republic loyalists in the region and beyond and instructs them, in general terms, on how to interpret the political changes in the Arab world and subsequently how to adjust their engagement with the actors involved.

Beyond its inspirational and ideological aspects, Khamenei's speech implicitly engages with key strategic issues, namely anxiety on the part of major non-Western powers such as China and Russia, and even lesser powers such as Brazil and India, about the potential for increased Western influence in the region, especially in the wake of the NATO intervention in Libya.

By placing Iran in direct opposition to Western views and plans, Khamenei skillfully exploits the rampant anxiety in Moscow and Beijing and increases these countries' incentive to support Iran in its intensifying diplomatic, political and potentially military conflict with the West.


So Iran's Islamists insert their narrative into the Arab Spring's poltical discourse, by...
1. Organizing symposia
2. Creating a historical narrative to contextualize current events
3. Identifying and opposing an enemy
4. Rhetorically pre-empting sectarian categories that could undermine their strategic goals
5. Defining their own categories, posing problems and proposing solutions

Etc, etc. When will India do this more forcefully?


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PostPosted: 21 Sep 2011 01:28 
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Iran to finish off Kurd rebels in 'days': commander

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Tehran's forces will finish off armed Kurdish rebels who are based in Iraq in the "coming days", a top commander said Monday, while the separatist group claimed it was now located in Iranian territory.

Tehran has since July been carrying out a major offensive against the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), halting only during the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, while the rebel group called for a truce two weeks ago.

"The scroll of the terrorist group PJAK will be rolled up in the coming days and full security shall be restored to the border areas," Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, Iran's ground forces commander, told Vatan Emrouz newspaper.

PJAK rebels "are now in a weak position and their activities have been greatly reduced," Pourdastan said, adding the group was no longer considered a "threat."

Saeed Khan, a senior PJAK official, told AFP the separatist group had left Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region because it had issued a call for a ceasefire and did not want to put local civilians in danger.

"That does not mean we are afraid of Iran, and we are ready to repel any attacks," he said. "We are now located in Iranian land."

Khan claimed PJAK had killed 600 Iranian soldiers since the July offensive began, but this could not be independently confirmed.

In July, Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards launched its offensive against PJAK, shelling districts near the border in northern Iraq for weeks and killing dozens including the rebel's deputy commander.

Dozens of casualties have also been reportedly inflicted on the Guards.

The Guards, supported by the army's ground forces, halted the operation during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, but resumed it on September 2.

The elite force has rejected a ceasefire call by PJAK, saying the Kurdish rebels have no choice but to lay down arms or leave the border areas.

Iran accuses Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region of providing the PJAK with a vast safe haven along the border.

Despite protests from Baghdad, Iranian military officials have declared their intention to keep up the offensive, until Iraqi forces are deployed to the border area to prevent the rebels from launching attacks against Iran.

The PJAK, labelled as terrorists by Tehran, has often clashed with Iranian forces in recent years, drawing retaliatory bombing of their rear-bases in mountainous border districts of Iraqi Kurdistan.


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PostPosted: 25 Sep 2011 01:45 
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In search of Afghan peace, India reaches out to Iran
Quote:
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has accepted an invitation to travel to Iran, opening the way for the first visit to the country by an Indian head of government in a decade.

Quote:
Last year, the U.N. Security Council voted 10-2 to impose harsh sanctions on Iran to punish its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The U.S. separately passed a law imposing wide-ranging sanctions that targeted Iran's banking, energy and export sectors.

Even though India backed the sanctions vote, it continued to engage Iran diplomatically. National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon visited the country in March, while both External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and the former Foreign Secretary, Nirupama Rao, did so in 2010.


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Iran to export natural gas to India

Quote:
TEHRAN: India and Oman are considering the import of natural gas from Iran via an under-sea pipeline, an Iranian official said Sunday.

The caretaker of the National Iranian Gas Export Company, Hossein Bidarmaghz, said an Indian delegation will travel to Tehran for talks on building an independent undersea gas pipeline, said the official IRNA news agency reported.

"New Delhi has a plan to build an under-sea gas pipeline between Iran and India, in order not to pay any transition fee for delivery of gas," Bidarmaghz was quoted as saying.

If an under-sea gas pipeline is built by India to Oman, Iran can build a similar pipeline in deep waters to join that pipeline for exporting gas to New Delhi, Bidarmaghz added.

There have been some agreements between Iran and Oman on making the project operational in cooperation with a third country, Xinhua quoted him as saying.

According to the report, based on a trilateral agreement between Iran, Oman and a third country, Tehran will provide natural gas to an Omani liquefied natural gas (LNG) factory in order to convert it into LNG and sell it to the customers.

The South Pars/North Dome field is a natural gas field located in the Persian Gulf. It is the world's largest gas field, shared between Iran and Qatar.



To me it appears to be the most viable alternative to tapping energy resources in Iran and CAR without having to go through TSP and endure eternal trouble while also saving millions every year in transit fees to TSP which will come back to bite us only.


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US 'US terrified of confronting Iran navy',say the Iranians!

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/202213.html


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PostPosted: 03 Oct 2011 18:53 
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Nihat wrote:
To me it appears to be the most viable alternative to tapping energy resources in Iran and CAR without having to go through TSP and endure eternal trouble while also saving millions every year in transit fees to TSP which will come back to bite us only.

Yes, but we also need to build up deep-sea exploration submarine fleet to watch over this infrastructure. We also need to develop the necessary technology to stop the gas leaks and to repair the pipeline if some power damages this infrastructure.

Whereas on land, not many may have access to pipelines, in the sea, everybody has access, provided he has the technology.


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Iran envoy says PJAK terrorist acts drop in border areas
Quote:
PJAK terrorist acts in Iranian border districts have fallen, said Iranian ambassador to Iraq Hassan Danaei-Far.

"Iranian military forces cleared all areas in which PJAK terrorist used to carry out terrorist activities and now the areas have been all cleared," Danaei-Far told ISNA.

"Iraqi central government and Kurdistan regional governments have vowed to take necessary measures to keep the areas peaceful." ...


پژاک با 180 کشته و 300 زخمی تسلیم شد
"PJAK surrenders with 180 dead and 300 wounded"


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PostPosted: 04 Oct 2011 19:10 
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Interesting piece in WSJ making several insinuations about Iran's internal kashmakash...
Iran Rejects Proposed U.S. Military Hot Line
Quote:
WASHINGTON— Iranian military leaders have rebuffed a plan championed by senior Obama administration officials to establish a military-to-military hot line between Washington and Tehran, increasing U.S. fears about the potential for clashes between American and Iranian planes and ships operating in the oil-rich Persian Gulf.

The snubbing of the U.S. idea by Iranian naval and Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps commanders also appears to further undercut the political position of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The Iranian leader made receptive comments about the potential hot line during a visit to New York last month to attend the annual United Nations General Assembly meeting. But U.S. and European officials believe Mr. Ahmadinejad is being increasingly marginalized in a power struggle with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other hard-liners in Tehran. Many of the president's top aides have been arrested in recent months.

The officials noted Mr. Ahmadinejad in the past has appeared among the most willing of Tehran's leadership to strike some compromise with the West over Iran's nuclear program, but has been thwarted by Mr. Khamenei and the IRGC.

"The Americans should make requests which have something to do with realities," Adm. Ali Fadavi, commander of the IRGC's naval unit, told Iranian state media last week in reference to the hot line idea. "In the view of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the illegitimate presence of the U.S. in the Persian Gulf makes no sense."

The Pentagon and State Department studied establishing a direct hot line to Iran as a means to prevent an inadvertent clash between American and Iranian military forces from escalating into a full-blown war, according to U.S. officials. U.S. defense officials have said there have been a number of near-misses in the Persian Gulf in recent months involving IRGC speed boats challenging U.S. and allied war ships.

U.S. officials said Tehran appears to be taking a more aggressive posture in the Persian Gulf, in part as a response to the scheduled drawdown of American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran and Saudi Arabia also have been engaged in a contest for influence in the Persian Gulf following the political uprisings that spread across the Middle East this year, according to these officials.

Adm. Mike Mullen, who retired last week as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called during his final days in office for greater communication with Iran, noting the potential for a serious clash.

"Even in the darkest days of the Cold War, we had links to the Soviet Union," Adm. Mullen told a Washington think tank last month. "If something happens [with Iran], it's virtually assured that we won't get it right, that there will be miscalculations, which would be extremely dangerous."

The U.S. Navy has maintained bridge-to-bridge communications with regular Iranian naval vessels that operate in the Strait of Hormuz and in the southern Persian Gulf. But U.S. officials said they have almost no ability to communicate with the IRGC, Iran's elite military unit, which operates under a separate chain of command. The U.S. severed diplomatic relations with Iran in 1980 after the fall of the pro-U.S. Shah Reza Pahlavi.

The day after Adm. Mullen's comments, Mr. Ahmadinejad told reporters in New York: "It's good for us to have warning systems to mitigate unwanted clashes" in the Persian Gulf.

In addition to rejecting the hot line, Iranian military officers have threatened to deploy Iranian naval forces in the Western Hemisphere, including potentially the Gulf of Mexico. They described this stance as a tit-for-tat response to the American military's presence in the Persian Gulf.

"Like the arrogant powers that are present near our marine borders, we will also have a powerful presence close to American marine borders," said Adm. Habibollah Sayyari, commander of the Iranian navy, according to the official IRNA news agency.

Senior U.S. officials quickly discounted Tehran's ability to project its naval power so far from the Persian Gulf. But they said there are concerns about Iran's unwillingness to respect maritime laws and the red lines the Pentagon has tried to lay down for operations in the Persian Gulf

"Given the limited size and capability of the Iranian navy, they would be far better off focusing on the challenges closer to home, including reducing the potential for naval incidents in the Gulf," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.


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X-posting MKB's article on Karzai's visit. Quoting the sections relating to Iran here:

India promises to prop up Karzai
Quote:
Third, India's main challenge with regard to a trade and transit route to Afghanistan needs to be addressed in priority terms and Karzai's visit provided a timely opportunity to have consultations. Delhi has vaguely spoken for over a decade regarding the importance of a Silk Route via Iran, but a new criticality has arisen. The point is, India cannot hope to have an effective Central Asia policy in the absence of a viable and dependable access route to the region.

Delhi views Iran as the obvious choice as a partner in this regard. Despite the improved climate in India-Pakistan relations and notwithstanding the stirrings of a more relaxed trade regime between the two countries, no one in his senses in Delhi quite expects that Islamabad would facilitate an access route for India's trade and investment ties with Afghanistan where the two countries are locked in rivalry.

Pakistan is dragging its feet with regard to the implementation of the trade and transit treaty it signed with Afghanistan under sustained American prodding. India does not see any prospect of Pakistan agreeing to include it in this treaty, as propagated by US officials.

Equally, India is far from optimistic about the US's grandiose Silk Road project connecting the Central Asian and South Asian regions, which is likely to be presented as a major regional initiative at a forthcoming conference in Istanbul on November 2.

Iran gets two suitors
Thus, finally, after some five years of neglect, Delhi has begun dusting up the framework of India-Iran strategic cooperation. This is no easy task, as Tehran harbors a deep sense of hurt that Delhi succumbed to US (and Israeli) pressures to atrophy India's ties with Tehran. But a beginning has been made in a dramatic manner recently with Delhi seeking a bilateral meeting with Tehran at the highest level of leadership and the latter promptly agreeing.

The fact that last month's meeting between Indian Prime Minister


Manmohan Singh and Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad took place in New York - on American soil - was in itself invested with great political symbolism. Clearly, Delhi was preparing the ground for Karzai's forthcoming visit.

At any rate, Manmohan seems to have taken a personal interest in breathing life into the India-Iran strategic partnership, which many hold him as responsible for stifling in recent years in deference to American wishes.

India's rapprochement with Iran coincides with an upswing in the latter's ties with Pakistan. Iran is going to be assiduously courted by the two South Asian rivals. Pakistan's efforts will be to forge a matrix of commonality of interests with Iran over the Afghan situation and India's attempt will also be orientated in the same direction. How Iran balances its multiple choices will form an absorbing template of regional politics.

Pakistan will strive its utmost to avoid a replay of the 1990s when Iran shared common interests with India to resist the Taliban regime. This can only be done by Islamabad accommodating Iran's interests in Afghanistan, while, on the other hand, Delhi will strive to reinforce its shared concerns with Tehran over the prospect of the ascendancy of Islamist forces with a Wahhabi slant in Kabul who enjoyed established links with al-Qaeda in the past.

Pakistan will factor in that the key to keeping India out of Afghanistan and the Central Asian chessboard will depend on its ability to "neutralize" Iran. On the contrary, India will view Iran's cooperation as integral to its strategy toward Afghanistan and Central Asia.

This curious turn to regional politics gives Iran much strategic space to maneuver vis-a-vis the US. Washington's "containment" strategy toward Iran will be virtually rendered ineffectual if India and Pakistan ignore it and forge strategic links with Tehran.

The US will inevitably come to view Indian "proactivism" in Afghanistan with a sense of disquiet, just as it hopes to work with Pakistan to reconcile the Taliban and to bring on board the intransigent Haqqanis.


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X-posting link from West Asia and Kurdistan threads:

From Turkish Gulenist newspaper Zaman:
PKK-Iran axis


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PostPosted: 06 Oct 2011 00:29 
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It's good to see that there is some initiative towards reviving India-Iran relations, IMHO opinion it's vital for us to know which way the winds are blowing in Iran and weather not Ahmadinejad is likely to hold any significance in Iran in the medium term or is it heading for a theocratic state, because either ways we can take advantage of the situation.

Engaging Iran should be among our top foreign policy objectives alongside US and China. Aside from energy security , Iran also provides us access to Afghanistan , CAR , ability to watch Gwadar closely and also monitor any alternate supply routes China may develop via TSP. In future I hope we can also make the united states see some sense as to why they should engage Iran and dump TSP rather than the other way round. For it's people, Iran is the polar opposite of TSP , the people (society) are intelligent, innovative, tolerant and have a backbone and it's precisely the kind of nation we should be able to call a friend.


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PostPosted: 06 Oct 2011 01:03 
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Nihat wrote:
In future I hope we can also make the united states see some sense as to why they should engage Iran and dump TSP rather than the other way round. For it's people, Iran is the polar opposite of TSP , the people (society) are intelligent, innovative, tolerant and have a backbone and it's precisely the kind of nation we should be able to call a friend.

Strangely, it seems that even Iran-friendly, anti-Israeli people are advising the same.
Does America Need More Enemies? Can America Afford More Enemies? And, Where Would Iran Fit In All This?
Quote:
Here are the facts on the ground:

1- America cannot break its ties with Israel, regardless of the harm this blind attachment to the Zionist regime is causing to America's national interest. It is similar to a tumor that has penetrated so deeply into America's organs that removing it might be fatal to the host - until better cures could be found, hopefully in the future not too far away!

2- Acknowledging this unpleasant fact necessitates two inseparable factors to be brought to play their roles in order to preserve this bond and continue the unequivocal support for the Zionist state, in money, arms, military and diplomatic shield, etc.
a- is to find or create a believable enemy that might supposedly be capable of doing some serious harm to the Jewish state.
b- is to portray this entity, real or imagined, as not just the enemy of Israel, but also the enemy of the United States, based on the fictitious, almost embarrassingly stupid, premise that Israel and the United States share the same values and interests.

Iran has been playing the role of this bogeyman quite effectively for far too long. It is high-time for a change, and I believe the American administration is fully aware of that.

There is a new candidate on the scene that is looming increasingly larger and more capable to replace Iran as a conveniently believable "existential" threat to the Jewish state, and as a potential danger to the United States. This candidate is already in possession of nuclear weapons, and its government is not even capable of exercising control over major segments of its huge population.

I have been predicting for some time that Pakistan will ultimately take Iran's place as the regional bad boy
(refer here, the last paragraph, and here, the last four paragraphs), with a great deal of justification and believability.

It can no longer be denied, resisted or overlooked that Iran is the sole powerhouse of the region in every aspect of the word. In today's multi-polar world, Iran is going to play the role of the superpower in its neighborhood, a force to be reckoned with by United State and its allies, as well as by China, India or any other evolving spheres of global influence.

...It is perhaps time to change the centuries-long axiom of Divide and Conquer, and start on the new path of Cooperate and Prosper If the United States is to retain its superpower status and be successful in managing its strategic interests in the Middle East region, dealing with a counterpart that commands authority over a united, rather than a fragmented, front would be the ideal path. Iran can play that role and seems to be clearly on the way of achieving the status of the region's superpower.


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PostPosted: 06 Oct 2011 19:32 
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India, Iran evolve tool to clear exporters’ dues
Quote:
"Both sides agreed on the mechanism to be put in place for the purpose, including for the payment to Indian exporters and project exporters. Both sides agreed to continue their engagement in the matter," the finance ministry said in a statement.

India has cleared the oil dues through an alternative payment mechanism under which RBI routes its payment through Union Bank of India. In turn, Union Bank transfers the funds to a Turkish bank which pays the money to the Iranian central bank.


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PostPosted: 06 Oct 2011 23:28 
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X-posting from India-afghanistan thread

Some thoughts on the afghan intervention

I think we cant get militarily tangled in Afghanistan yet.
Pakis have to be starved of finances first and for that it has to be declared a "Terrorist state" by USA.
After stewing under sanctions for 2-3 years , the tactically brilliant brains in Pakbarian army will have little juice at their disposal to maintain taleb fighters on payroll (presently 300$ per footsoldier per month).

In such a scenario we will be left with hardcore Jihadis onlee (theoretically). Then the fight will be even.

Further Iran has to be 100% on board for ensuring our supply lines through zahedan at minimal cost. That is Iran should'nt pull a PakUnkil on us .. working for a grand objective (checkmating USA) against the objective at hand (snuffing out Taleban).
Right now both Pak and India are courting Iran.
We have to ensure and make sure it is understood that the payoff to Iran with a quick demise of Taleban is many times high but will exponentially decrease as the fight drags on (which will be Paki grand strategy ). So Iran must not play both sides.

Russia has to be given a fair piece of pie for Tajik support . Better if they can provide military support themselves.

Hence to prop up afghanistan, we need a tripartite pact between Iran-India-Russia with US support in mutinational fora and CIA support in Intelligence gathering in Pak and drone ops.
End game could be a constitutionally sanctioned "confederation" in Afghanistan with its Pasthuns up in arms against a motheaten pakistan for a greater Pakthoonwa province.
This should be the ideal state of affairs in 2025 for all parties concerned.

Downside: (purely hypothetical - put here only to get a measure of whats in store)
4000 Indian Army casualities over a 15 year period
2000 Iranian Army
500 Russian Army
20000 ANA casualities.
100000 Afghan civilian casualities .
2000 Indian civilian casualities in India from terror attacks.
30 basis points shaved off GDP growth rate in India due to the security premium.

Result:
Pakjabi rump state.
"Greater Afghanistan" open for business with its mineral wealth and markets for trade with India,Iran,Russia.
Better access to India for central asian stans.


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PostPosted: 08 Oct 2011 17:17 
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To quote Bismark who said this of the Balkans,"Afghanistan is not worth the life of one Indian Jawan!" It would be a catastrophe for India to get involved in a ground war inside Afghanistan.Remember what the British Raj found out after their Afghan Wars? "You can't buy an Afghanmyou can only rent him". Even "renting" the Afghans has cost the US a figure estimated to be $3 trillion!!! It is in our interests however to see that whatever govt. takes charge/is in charge in Kabul,it does not spread the rot into India.I do not think that either Russia,Iran or the northern states want to see a return of the fanatical fundamentalist Taliban in power who are nothing but a Paki proxy.With the US quitting the scene, we need to network amongst like-minded regional powers and foil such plans of the Pakis.

Iran already is heavily involved in Iraq and would not want a "two-front" war.Iraq is a far more important matter for Iran than Afghanistan.Some of the holiest Shiite shrines are in Iraq and with a Shiite majority,Iran's influence runs high there.However,as this report says,Iran has wide ambitions especially fr its navy and is even thinking of carriers for it! I think that the size of carrier that the Iranians are thinking of would be that similar to the Japanese and Korean amphib carriers of around 20-25,000t .Iran would be hard tasked to find naval strike aircraft (perhaps from Russia-MIG-29Ks?) and would most likely use it for helos in an ASW/amphib role instead.

Iran Touts Carriers, New Subs, Raising Temperatures in the Gulf
http://defense.aol.com/2011/10/07/iran- ... -the-gulf/

Quote:
Sea
Iran Touts Carriers, New Subs, Raising Temperatures in the Gulf

By Carlo Munoz

Published: October 7, 2011

Text Size 160001 Washington: Iran has big, big plans for its future naval fleet, which could mean big trouble the United States and the region if Tehran can pull it off.

Last week, a senior Iranian naval officer announced his country was moving forward with plans to build a new aircraft carrier, along with a number of other advanced warships,

The Iranian navy has approved initial designs for the new carrier and will begin initial research and testing for the vessel soon, the official Iranian news agency IRNA reported.

The announcement comes almost two months after China's surprising announcement that it had begun sea trials for its new aircraft carrier.

While it's unknown whether Iran has the means or the know-how to see the carrier development through, it is latest move by the country to put some very dangerous teeth into its naval forces, according to a recently released report by the Washington-based defense think tank the Institute for the Study of War.

The Iranian navy already has carried out missions as far as the Red Sea and the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea with its fleet small, fast-attack vessels and Soviet-era subs.

But if Tehran can pull this massive naval expansion plan together, it will be able to push its forces to "the Caspian Sea, the Gulf of Oman, and the area from Bandar Abbas, near the Straits of Hormuz, near Pakistan," according to the report.

That expansion, and its its impacts, will be felt first and foremost by the Navy's Fifth Fleet -- the biggest U.S. naval force in Central Command.

Aside from some flare ups near the Straits of Hormuz and elsewhere, Fifth Fleet commanders have kept the Iranian navy in check for the most part, due to its relatively small size.

But Iran's maritime plans -- which include new warships, ballistic anti-ship missiles and possibly a new aircraft carrier -- could force the Navy to pour more money and manpower into operations to contain that bolstered force.

Fifth Fleet already has its hands full with counterpiracy and counterterrorism operations. Adding a expanded Iranian navy into that mix may prove to be a difficult juggling act for the Navy, especially in light of the extreme fiscal pressure the service and DoD is facing back in Washington.

This naval expansion could also affect American interests in Iraq. With combat operations now winding down, Iran has sought to expand its influence in the country that it fought a long, bloody war with in the 1980s.

Iran is already providing weapons and support to Islamic militants looking to destabilize the Iraqi government as a way to gain a foothold in the country.

A strong naval presence -- a traditional sign of a country's power and influence -- could be another way Tehran shows Iraqi leaders that an alliance with Iran, and not the United States, is the way to go.

While this naval expansion may make Iran a much bigger headache for the Pentagon, American allies in the region, namely Saudi Arabia, could provide a much-needed counterbalance.


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PostPosted: 12 Oct 2011 14:15 
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U.S. Charges Men in Saudi Ambassador Plot --- Bloomberg Dated 12-Oct-2011

It does appear that a section of Iranian government, namely the "Qods Force", had hatched this plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to US. C-4 was supposed to have been used and it assumed that there would have been massive collateral damage, i.e. fatalities other than the intended target.

The plot was like this, an American-Iranian contacted a person who was allegedly working for Mexican cartels, but was actually an informer for US DEA. The American-Iranian wanted this allegedly Mexican cartel guy to murder the Saudi ambassador with C4, irrespective of the number of deaths it caused. The Iranian-American also said that his sponsors in Iran controlled drug smuggling and could provide opium. The supari was fixed at 1.5 million USD.

But one thing missing from the entire piece is the reason, or as the yanks call it motive. Why did the Iranians want to murder the Saudi Ambassador to US. Why did they want to blow up the Saudi Embassy in Argentina?

This brings us to another important point. It does appear, if this story is true, that Qods Force is being financed by drug money. Makes sense Iranian government can claim that it is not financing any activities of Qods Force. After 1990 in the era of Pressler amendment, the Paki army and other cohorts were also financed by drug money. It is rumored that along with Paki, Saudi and UAE money the Taliban were also financed significantly with drug money. Some people have claimed that Taliban actually banned the production of opium or shall we say harvesting and growth of poppy. But this ignores the fact, that by this time they did not need the money provided by drug lords. Further this was done with one eye towards influencing US perception of Taliban. So in the area from Turkey to the Durrand line we have entities which use narcotics trade as the financial basis of their nefarious activities.


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PostPosted: 12 Oct 2011 14:41 
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^^^^
No motive given either in Washington post or New york times or UK's Telegraph or BBC.

Washington post did speculate on the motive though
Quote:
But it is not clear what motive Iran might have had for trying to kill the Saudi official. An assassination might have ignited anti-American sentiment in Saudi Arabia and beyond by highlighting the close relationship, which is one explanation for Iran’s alleged involvement. Yet Iranian fingerprints on the killing surely would have meant retribution that Iran’s military is ill-prepared to meet.


New York times is also speculating that it might have been done to derail the so called reconciliation of Iran and US
Quote:
Rasool Nafisi, an Iranian-American scholar who studies the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, said he thought it unlikely that the plot was approved at a high level by Iranian officials. “It’s not typical of the Quds Force or the I.R.G.C. to operate in the U.S., for fear of retaliation,” Mr. Nafisi said. Iran’s last lethal operation on American soil, he said, was in 1980, when a critic of the Islamic government was murdered at his Bethesda, Md., home.

Mr. Nafisi said it was conceivable that elements of the Revolutionary Guards might have concocted the plot without top-level approval, perhaps to prevent reconciliation between Iran and the United States.


Again no clarity on the motive.


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