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How We Lost Iraq July 13, 2014

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics.
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Carlton Palmer pointed out this fascinating  article, from a man who was intimately involved; as one of a few Arab-speaking US officials in Baghdad. Click on the link for the full article.

By the closing months of 2008, successfully negotiating the terms for America’s continued commitment to Iraq became a top White House imperative. But desperation to seal a deal before Bush left office, along with the collapse of the world economy, weakened our hand.

In an ascendant position, Maliki and his aides demanded everything in exchange for virtually nothing. They cajoled the United States into a bad deal that granted Iraq continued support while giving America little more than the privilege of pouring more resources into a bottomless pit.

With the Obama administration vowing to end Bush’s “dumb war,” and the continued distraction of the global economic crisis, Maliki seized an opportunity. He began a systematic campaign to destroy the Iraqi state and replace it with his private office and his political party, the most powerful man in Iraq and the Middle East, Gen. Qassim Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, warned that those Iraqi leaders who cooperated, would continue to benefit from Iran’s political cover and cash payments, but those who defied the will of the Islamic Republic would suffer the most dire of consequences.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-we-stuck-with-maliki–and-lost-iraq/2014/07/03/0dd6a8a4-f7ec-11e3-a606-946fd632f9f1_story.html

 

Syrian Conflict Goes Back 13 Centuries September 11, 2013

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, In The News, Religion.
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The eastern Roman Empire was half alive, half gobbled up by the Arabs. And Iran — well, it had been wiped out as an enlightened, ancient empire a century before, in 651. After that, the Arabs took a long rest on the borders of Sogd modern-day central Asia, with its capital in Samarkand, which they began to conquer only in 712.

Why the rivalry? Why did the conquerors the Arabs so loathe the conquered the Iranians? That’s where the eighth century comes in. A hundred years after the Arabs destroyed Iran, their own empire, which stretched from Spain to the Chinese border, was a teetering wreck, being devoured from the inside by rivalries and bad government.Then, in 747, a revolt began in Iran that would eventually overthrow the Umayyad dynasty, replacing it with the Abbasids. The Abbasids would go on to build Baghdad and rule the huge Islamic caliphate for 500 years — until the arrival of Genghis Khan and his Horde.Yes, the Abbasids were Arabs, but their scribes, builders and literati were Iranians and the Arabs who cared to learn from them. As a result, the Iranians gradually all but took over their conqueror’s empire from the inside

InfadelHere is the crucial bit: The Arab-Iranian divide is far more than cultural. In the eighth century, subjugated Iran was also abandoning its ancient religion — Zoroastrianism — and creating its own, unique strand of Islam, Shiite, that stood in opposition to the dominant Sunni strand favored by the Abbasids.

A historian would tell us to remember that today’s conflict in Syria can be traced back to an Arab-Iranian — Sunni-Shiite – – rivalry that is 13 centuries old

via Syrian Conflict Goes Back 13 Centuries – Bloomberg.

Predicting 2013 – Opportunities and Threats January 14, 2013

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This report is the synthesis of a 48-hour crowdsourced brainstorming exercise, where over 60 Wikistrat analysts from around the world collaboratively explored the issues that will dominate the foreign policy agenda in 2013..

The year 2012 helped bring answers to a few of the questions that loomed large for foreign observers when the year began. We now know who will lead the United States for the next four years. We have confirmation that the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliated branches across the Arab Middle East remain the dominant, if often struggling, political force in the countries where revolutions have toppled dictators. And we have learned, to little surprise, that the much-touted efforts by Washington to pivot towards Asia will remain constrained by the pullback from continuing crises in the Middle East, where major long-standing unresolved conflicts—notably the stand-off with Iran over its nuclear program and Israeli-Palestinian tensions—still occupy the front burner.

The distinction between threats and opportunities was not always clear, particularly because a well-managed threat can turn into an opportunity, just as the reverse is true. As expected, the ongoing developments in the turbulent Middle East occupied much of the analysts’ thoughts, suggesting numerous possible outcomes. But other areas of the world and other supranational trends also made the cut.

Here are some of the top negative & positive scenarios from Wikistrat’s simulation.

via Predicting 2013 – Opportunities and Threats.

Iran’s Secular Dictatorship October 3, 2010

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The latest salvo, via a Web site called Mashanews run by Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, didn’t mince words. “Iran needs to remove the mullahs from power once for all,” it read, “and return to a great civilization without the Arab-style clerics who have tainted and destroyed the country for the past 31 years.” The executive branch’s current stance on the Shiite clergymen who have shaped Iranian politics since 1979 is summed up as, “din (religion) should be distinct from dowla (state).” Indeed, Ahmadinejad’s supporters have begun comparing him to King Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire who kept those two institutions separate.

The shift is based on the political realities in Tehran. Having survived the last election thanks to his allies in the civil bureaucracy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, and the Basij paramilitary, Ahmadinejad now has little to fear from the mullahs and their supporters. So he has begun to insist that “the executive is the most important branch of government,” thereby challenging oversight by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Islamic political institutions.

WPR Article | Ahmadinejad’s Nationalist Attack on the Islamic Republic.

New Super Worm Attacks Infrastructure September 25, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Technology.
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Stuxnet works by exploiting previously unknown security holes in Microsoft’s Windows operating system. It then seeks out a component called Simatic WinCC, manufactured by Siemens, which controls critical factory operations. The malware even uses a stolen cryptographic key belonging to the Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturer RealTek to validate itself in high-security factory systems.

The worm then takes over the computer running the factory process – which for WinCC would be “mission-critical” systems which have to keep functioning under any circumstance – and “blocks” it for up to a tenth of a second. For high-speed systems, such as the centrifuges used for nuclear fuel processing being done by Iran, that could be disastrous, experts suggested.

“This is a very sophisticated attack – the first of its kind – and has clearly been developed by a highly skilled group of people intent on gaining access to SCADA [supervisory control and data acquisition] systems – industrial control systems for monitoring and managing industrial infrastructure or facility-based processes. In contrast to the bulk of indiscriminate cybercrime threats on the internet, this has been aimed at very specific targets. It’s different also because there’s no obvious financial motivation behind the attack – rather the aim seems to be to sabotage systems.”

via Stuxnet worm is the ‘work of a national government agency’ | Technology | guardian.co.uk.

Some in Congress Get Smart on Iran February 21, 2010

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Beyond smarter sanctions, though, the US needs to start exercising smart power in Iran. This means identifying areas in which our current policies are counterproductive — and getting out of our own way. For example, the world recognized what a crucial role social media services like Twitter and Facebook played in the events in Iran this summer, yet current US sanctions actually prohibit Americans from providing Internet communications software to the Iranian people. Microsoft and Google have both shut down instant messenger services because their programs are enabled by a download not authorized for export to Iran under US law. The same can be said for anti-surveillance software that allows Iranian users to surf the web free of government spying.

Just this summer, the Senate authorized $20 million for the development of software and other programs that allow users in Iran to bypass government censorship and monitoring efforts. But current laws still prohibit an American from sending these programs to Iran!

Did you know that after one of Iran’s most terrible natural disasters — the 2003 earthquake in Bam that killed over 25,000 people — the Iranian government sought advice from American engineers to reinforce thousands of primary schools around the country to make them more earthquake-proof? Sadly, that type of assistance was deemed “dual-use” under US sanctions, and the Americans were barred from making the trip. –Patrick Disney – Assistant Policy Director at the National Iranian American Council

via Patrick Disney: Some in Congress Get Smart on Iran.

Help Iran Become our Ally December 31, 2009

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The fracturing of the Islamic Republic’s traditional elite, and the persistence and power of Iran’s democratic awakening six months later, make clear that a regime change is under way in Iran–one that is indigenous, sustainable, democratic in spirit, and peaceful in its means. It is the most promising development in the broader Middle East in the past quarter-century. Rather than being viewed as a sideshow, the uprising should be at the core of every policy decision regarding Iran. Western leaders should ask themselves just one question whenever faced with a new set of measures toward Iran: Will they help or hurt the Green Movement?

For all the concern about a fitful and still highly vulnerable nuclear program, a far greater prize is now in sight: a freer society and an accountable government under the rule of law. An opportunity now exists to encourage the evolution of a democratic Iran–through careful, calibrated, and principled policies that refuse to be baited by the crude and bellicose behavior of a usurper president. The premise of Obama’s initial engagement approach seemed to reflect an understanding of this extraordinary potential. The question now is whether the shift to a policy of pressure, threats, and further isolation will trade the promise of transformative change for the illusion of a security arrangement with a regime built on an edifice of enmity with the West.

via Against The Green | The New Republic.

Secret U.S.Tests Fight Web Censorship August 14, 2009

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The U.S. government is covertly testing technology in China and Iran that lets residents break through screens set up by their governments to limit access to news on the Internet.

The “feed over email” (FOE) system delivers news, podcasts and data via technology that evades web-screening protocols of restrictive regimes, said Ken Berman, head of IT at the U.S. government’s Broadcasting Board of Governors, which is testing the system.

The news feeds are sent through email accounts including those operated by Google Inc, Microsoft Corp’s Hotmail and Yahoo Inc.

“We have people testing it in China and Iran,” said Berman, whose agency runs Voice of America.

via U.S. tests technology to break foreign Web censorship | U.S. | Reuters.

I married Iranian girls for their execution July 20, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Religion.
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In the Islamic Republic it is illegal to execute a young woman, regardless of her crime, if she is a virgin, he explained. Therefore a “wedding” ceremony is conducted the night before the execution: The young girl is forced to have sexual intercourse with a prison guard – essentially raped by her “husband.”

“I regret that, even though the marriages were legal,” he said.

Why the regret, if the marriages were “legal?”

“Because,” he went on, “I could tell that the girls were more afraid of their ‘wedding’ night than of the execution that awaited them in the morning. And they would always fight back, so we would have to put sleeping pills in their food. By morning the girls would have an empty expression; it seemed like they were ready or wanted to die.

via I married Iranian girls before their execution | Iran news | Jerusalem Post.

Iran’s Fascist Coup July 7, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, In The News, philosophy & politics, Religion.
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The economic role of the Revolutionary Guards has been much remarked on in recent years. The Guards themselves and companies run by the Guards have won major contracts in every corner of the economy, from airport construction to telecommunications to auto manufacturing. They have also allied themselves with some of the most conservative clerics, who view the revolutionary government not as an alliance of Islam and the people but as divinely ordained rule by a philosopher king who is to be regarded as absolute in his judgments—political as well as theological.

These elements combine to form an impenetrable core that arrogates to itself all authority in the Islamic republic. This is a formula for the kind of militarized and nationalist corporate state under a single controlling ideology that is not dissimilar to fascist rule in an earlier day. Like fascism, it defines itself not only in terms of its own objectives but even moreso by what it opposes: liberalism, individualism, unfettered capitalism, etc

via The Thugs Who Lead Iran’s Supreme Leader –  The Daily Beast.

Twitter Drives Iranian Revolt June 14, 2009

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twitterAs the regime shut down other forms of communication, Twitter survived. With some remarkable results. Those rooftop chants that were becoming deafening in Tehran? A few hours ago, this concept of resistance was spread by a twitter message.

The key force behind this is the next generation, the Millennials, who elected Obama in America and may oust Ahmadinejad in Iran. They want freedom; they are sick of lies; they enjoy life and know hope.

This generation will determine if the world can avoid the apocalypse that will come if the fear-ridden establishments continue to dominate global politics, motivated by terror, armed with nukes, and playing old but now far too dangerous games. This generation will not bypass existing institutions and methods: look at the record turnout in Iran and the massive mobilization of the young and minority vote in the US. But they will use technology to displace old modes and orders. Maybe this revolt will be crushed. But even if it is, the genie has escaped this Islamist bottle.

Maybe that’s what we’re hearing on the rooftops of Tehran: the sound of the next revolution.           Allah O Akbar!

via The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan.

A reality check on Iran and the ‘bomb’ February 27, 2009

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Much attention is paid, and rightly so, to the security of Israel and to the interests of the United States, but little attention has been given to Iran’s security needs – the regional problems facing Iran are indeed serious.

Not only does Iran have an ongoing Kurdish (Party For a Free Life in Kurdistan – PJAK) insurgency in its northwestern provinces and a growing Baloch insurgency in the southeastern border areas with Pakistan, the government in Tehran is also deeply concerned at being surrounded by countries that are in various states of collapse or conflict – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and the former Soviet Central Asian countries and by potentially hostile forces such as Saudi Arabia, Israel and the massive US military presence in the Gulf.

There can be little doubt that Iran is a potentially major destabilizing factor in the Middle East, it has a more than irrational foreign policy and quite openly supports groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas in Palestine, and it may indeed eventually become a nuclear threat.

But in the long run possession of nuclear weapons is unlikely to be of any tangible benefit to the mullahs, while their actual use would bring the quick and completely justified destruction of the state of Iran.

via Asia Times Online :: Middle East News, Iraq, Iran current affairs.

World-View- From Singapore February 10, 2008

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International Security – Emerging Threats – Analysis – UPI.com
Singapore is the model emulated by much of the developing world. People chose Prosperity and Security over Freedom and Rights. Read this insight, from the man, who was the brains behind their remarkable Economic rise. In an exclusive interview with United Press International, Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, long known as the Kissinger of the orient, took the Europeans to task for balking at casualties in Afghanistan. He blamed “short memories” that have forgotten that “America came to rescue them in two world wars,” which has rekindled the “appeasement” of the 1930s.

Now known as the “minister mentor” of Singapore, who turned a malarial island into a city of skyscrapers that thinks like a great power and is more important to the global economy than most big countries, Lee fears failure in Afghanistan will alter the world balance of power in favor of China and Russia. These two powers “would be faced with a much weakened West in the ongoing global contest.” (more…)

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