Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Two top Honduran coup leaders trained in the School of the Americas

This blog entry was originally posted at AllVoices.

Two important military leaders of the coup are graudates of the School of the Americas: Gen. Romeo Vasquez head of the armed forces and Gen. Luis Suazo head of the Air Force. Zelaya had earlier clashed with Vasquez over distributing ballots for a referendum and ended up dismissing him.
As this article notes the School of the Americas as it used to be called was infamous for training Latin American dictators. Several graduates of the School had earlier been military dictators of Honduras responsible for many human rights abuses.
I notice that so far there has not been much coverage on CNN and Fox news of demonstrations against the regime. On CBC the one shot I saw of a demonstration was of a pro-coup crowd! There have been a number of injuries as the pro-Zelaya demonstrations have been broken up but very little is being reported and certainly there is not the twittering that one heard during the demonstrations in Iran.

This is from Southernstudies:

Over the last week, Zelaya clashed with and eventually dismissed General Romeo Vasquez -- who is now reportedly in charge of the armed forces that abducted the Honduran president.According to the watchdog group School of Americas Watch, Gen. Vasquez trained at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation at least twice -- in 1976 and 1984 -- when it was still called School of Americas. The Georgia-based U.S. military school is infamous for training over 60,000 Latin American soldiers, including infamous dictators, "death squad" leaders and others charged with torture and other human rights abuses.
According to SOA Watch, the U.S. Army school has a particularly checkered record in Honduras, with over 50 graduates who have been intimately involved in human rights abuses. In 1975, SOA Graduate General Juan Melgar Castro became the military dictator of Honduras. From 1980-1982 the dictatorial Honduran regime was headed by yet another SOA graduate, Policarpo Paz Garcia, who intensified repression and murder by Battalion 3-16, one of the most feared death squads in all of Latin America (founded by Honduran SOA graduates with the help of Argentine SOA graduates).General Vasquez isn't the only leader in the Honduras coup linked to the U.S. training facility. As Kristin Bricker points out:
The head of the Air Force, Gen. Luis Javier Prince Suazo, studied in the School of the Americas in 1996. The Air Force has been a central protagonist in the Honduran crisis. When the military refused to distribute the ballot boxes for the opinion poll, the ballot boxes were stored on an Air Force base until citizens accompanied by Zelaya rescued them. Zelaya reports that after soldiers kidnapped him, they took him to an Air Force base, where he was put on a plane and sent to Costa Rica

Afghan anti-terrorist group act like terrorists!

This entry has also been submitted to AllVoices:


The group that killed the police chief of Kandahar and other officers was a US trained unit that was employed by the US in counter-terrorism work. The song and dance performed by US authorities is truly pathetic. Everyone wants to distance themselves from the group but clearly the US hired them and trained them. One would expect that the Afghan government should have been aware of the unit but perhaps not. The guards were actually arrested and disarmed on a military base just outside of Kandahar according to another report. One wonders if they operated out of that base.
Surely these criminals should be handed over to Afghan authorities. If they have no connection to the operation of coalition forces why on earth would they face a military trial. They should be handed over to Karzai authorities immediately. In this case Karzai is right and has a legitimate complaint against the occupation authorities.
These criminals are hired by the US to engage in shadowy counter-terrorist operations. If they kill police chiefs in the clear light of day imagine what they do at night while engaging in counter-terrorist operations.
Officials in Washington and Kabul distanced themselves from the shootings by pointing fingers at one another. Within hours, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the gunmen were U.S.-employed private security contractors. Pentagon spokesmen claimed the shooting was “purely an Afghan-on-Afghan incident.”
The Canadian military characterized the gunmen more precisely: “An Afghan special unit that supports U.S. counterterrorism” but which acted “on their own volition, without orders.”
That portrayal speaks to a clandestine squad trained to operate in the shadows, but that ended up achieving global notoriety for gunning down police in public.
Now, the world will be watching to find out more about these men, how they were trained and why they may have acted so contemptuously toward law enforcement. None of the suspects have been identified. It is anticipated they will face a military trial.
In the aftermath of the shootout, Kandaharis slyly gossiped that the gunmen were likely denizens of “Mullah Omar’s house,” a reference to a compound that used to belong to the fugitive Taliban leader, but now is populated by Western intelligence agencies
The U.S. military took pains to say it had no direct involvement in the shootings, even though spokesmen refused to spell out any relationship with the gunmen.
The Canadian Forces, which NATO placed in charge of Kandahar Province, reacted in several stages. First, officials imposed an unexplained but short “communications lockdown” on reporters as soldiers secured the crime scene and helped make arrests.
Then, the Canadian commander, Brigadier-General Jonathan Vance, made a statement: “These were not [NATO] security guards in any way, shape or form,” he said, adding they didn’t fall under the U.S. military umbrella, nor were they private security.
Brig.-Gen. Vance simply called them “Afghan security forces.”
Hours later, his officials clarified that the suspects were “41 members of an Afghan special unit that supports U.S counterterrorism.”

Monday, June 29, 2009

Rafsanjani makes peace with Khameni

While Mousavi continues to challenge the establishment and demand a new vote altogether, Rafsanjani one of his richest most powerful supporters has distanced himself from him and even moreso from the protesters. Some of Sanjani's relatives were involved in the demonstrations and were even briefly arrested. The family patriarch has no doubt laid down the law rather than joining them in a direct confrontation. None of the defeated candidates have chosen to bring their complaints before the official body.

These quotes are from PressTV.

"The developments following the presidential vote were a complex conspiracy plotted by suspicious elements with the aim of creating a rift between the people and the Islamic establishment and causing them to lose their trust in the system," Rafsanjani said Sunday. "Such plots have always been neutralized whenever the people have entered the scene with vigilance."


Hashemi-Rafsanjani urges fair vote probeSun, 28 Jun 2009 18:22:44 GMTHead of Iran's Expediency Council Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani has called for a "fair and thorough" study of the legal complaints made about the disputed presidential election. "The developments following the presidential vote were a complex conspiracy plotted by suspicious elements with the aim of creating a rift between the people and the Islamic establishment and causing them to lose their trust in the system," Rafsanjani said Sunday. "Such plots have always been neutralized whenever the people have entered the scene with vigilance." Following the June 12 election, which saw President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad re-elected to a second four-year term, Iran became the scene of rallies with defeated candidates Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi rejecting the result as fraudulent and demanding a re-run. In his Sunday remarks, Rafsanjani praised the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei for extending by five days the Guardian Council's deadline to review issues pertaining to the elections and removing the ambiguities surrounding it. "This valuable move by the Leader to restore the people's confidence in the election process was very effective," he said. He expressed hope that "those who are tasked with this issue (election) can thoroughly and fairly review and study the legal complaints." On Saturday, the Expediency Council called on all defeated candidates in the disputed presidential election to legally pursue their complaints through the proper channels. “As the best and most appropriate way, the Expediency Council asks all to observe the law and resolve conflicts and disputes [concerning the election] through legal channels,” the council said in a statement. The statement came after the Guardian Council on Thursday announced that it would form a special committee to investigate the June 12 election. Mousavi has rejected the offer of a partial recount, refusing to cooperate with the Guardian Council's special commission. Karroubi has also refused to send a representative to the commission. He has criticized what he considers the "lack of impartiality" among the group's members, some of whom have publicly supported President Ahmadinejad. The third candidate, Mohsen Rezaei, will not be sending a representative to the commission either. SF/HGH

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Over one third of Americans think that Jews are partly responsible for the economic crisis.

It would seem that even though the US political establishment bends over backward to support Israel and Israel receives lots of US taxpayer money, over a third of U.S. citizens see Jews as partly causing the economic crisis. Pro-Israel groups spend a lot of time and effort in providing positive information on Israel and criticising critics but a lot of Americans still hold views which one can only describe as not just critical of Jews but anti-semitic prejudices. One thing is sure Madoff is responsible for the financial crisis of many Jewish organisations that invested with him! Although it could very well be that many Jews are involved in institutions that were partly responsible for the crisis this does not mean that Jews as a group were responsible for it.

This is from the jewishweek.

An online poll on anti-Semitic attitudes in the wake of the Bernard Madoff scandal suggests more than a third of Americans blame “the Jews” to some degree for the economic crisis.The poll, by two professors at Stanford University, did not distinguish between financiers, corporate CEOs, economists, government officials or others who are Jewish, but simply inquired “How much to blame were the Jews for the financial crisis?” Five answer categories ranged from “a moderate amount” to “a great deal,” with 24 percent giving the strongest answer, and a total of 38.4 percent attributing at least some blame for the biggest financial crisis since the Depression on “the Jews.”

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Iran claims FBI blocking Web Sites.

This is from UPI.

I have tried to find other articles about this with little success. Any search seems just to bring up articles about the Iranians blocking web sites! However, it is quite possible that the Iranian claims are true but it would be good to get some confirmation or disconfirmation.

Iran claims FBI blocking Web sites
Published: June 26, 2009 at 3:25 PM
Iranian broadcasters claim the FBI ordered the disruption of Internet servers that host Iranian Web sites in the wake of Iran's election fallout.The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting network claims the FBI ordered Washington to disconnect 80 news, social networking and other Web sites, including the Beirut bureau of Press TV, because of depictions of government protesters.IRIB claims the FBI disconnected the servers because one of the Web sites had published photos of demonstrators in a manner that those involved were readily identifiable.IRIB counters that this comes as amateur Web resources and unverifiable accounts published thousands of pictures in which individuals are easily identified.The Iranian broadcaster complains international regulations require advance notification of any disruption to allow owners to provide for backups.The FBI had no information on Iranian Web activity.Several of Iran's English-language news services were either overwhelmed or otherwise affected in the wake of the disputed June 12 presidential election.Bloody demonstrations followed official determination that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won a second term in office. Iranian authorities claimed foreign media outlets were misrepresenting the situation on the ground in the wake of the election, making any claims difficult to verify.Foreign media are banned from covering the demonstrations.Tehran also blames the CIA and foreign dissidents for stoking the violence in Iran.© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Manila selling land to foreigners: Philippines

Unlike many countries the Philippines has long reserved the right of land ownership to its own citizens. However with the rise of globalisation and integration of the Philippines with the world market, many of the Philippine business and governing elite such as Arroyo the president would like to remove those restrictions. She would be well rewarded no doubt. This article shows how the Arroyo govt. is already at work trying to please foreign investment by alienating Philippine land.

This is from this site:

Manila selling land to foreigners
By Gerry Albert CorpuzColumn: Politics in Command
Published: June 22, 2009
Font size: Manila, Philippines —
Last week Philippine President Gloria Arroyo announced that her government will allow the Japanese investor Pacific Bio-Fields Holdings to acquire 400,000 hectares of land in northern Luzon for the production of biodiesel products intended for the Japanese market in the next five years.
During her state visit to Tokyo, Japan, Arroyo confirmed that the agreement between the United Kingdom-based Japanese firm and its local counterpart, Bio-Energy NL, will be signed sometime in August.
The agreement will allow both companies to utilize forest area to plant coconut trees for a reasonable fee, provided that 60 percent of the biodiesel products will be acquired by the Philippine government and the remaining 40 percent will supply biodiesel fuel to Japan for Japanese users in five years.
However, the Japanese investor maintains that all the products will be shipped to Japan, contrary to previous reports that 60 percent would be made available for the use of Filipinos, and 40 percent for Japanese car users. Based on the existing agreement, the Manila government will charge standard fees for the lease of 400,000 hectares of land for 25 years, renewable for another 25 years.
A separate memorandum of agreement between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Philippine Coconut Authority had been clinched to facilitate the takeover of the land by the two firms.
Agrarian reform advocates in Manila denounced the agreement. One of the groups, the fisherfolk umbrella alliance Pamalakaya, called on members of Parliament to stop the deal. Pamalakaya national chairperson Fernando Hicap lamented that while seven out of 10 Filipino farmers and fishermen are landless people, the Philippine government is giving away 400,000 hectares of land.
“In exchange for 400 nursing and caregiving jobs in Japan, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will allow the corporate exploitation of 400,000 hectares of Philippine agricultural lands to foreign groups identified with and serving at the pleasure of Japanese carmakers,” Hicap said.
Prior to the announcement in Tokyo, the Philippines government came under fire from critics after news reports in Manila alleged that the European Union was interfering in local politics by pressing Arroyo to revise the Constitution and lift the ban on foreign ownership of land in the country.
Ambassador Alistair MacDonald, the EU Commission’s ambassador to Manila, denied the report, saying there was no formal request from European states to revise the Philippine charter.
But despite the denial, anti-charter change groups are still convinced the European Union is after Philippine lands.
Human rights lawyer and agrarian reform activist Jobert Pahilga, executive director of Sentro Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo, appealed to the European Union to spare the country’s agricultural lands from EU takeover.
The controversy was sparked by former Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Merlin Magallona, who warned Filipino lawmakers that calling for the removal of nationalist economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution could be playing into the hands of the European Union.
Magallona, also former dean of the University of the Philippines’ College of Law, said that the 27-member European Union had formally requested the Arroyo government, under World Trade Organization rules, to remove the ban on foreign land ownership.
The European Union also requested the government to allow foreign nationals, particularly lawyers, to be allowed to practice in the Philippines, according to Magallona, who was a guest speaker at a forum on charter change at the UP College of Law last week.
Agrarian reform activists do not want to see agricultural lands sold to foreign economic powers like Japan and the European Union. Their message is that their country is not for sale; that the land should be reserved for the people.
(Gerry Albert Corpuz is a correspondent of Bulatlat.com, an alternative Philippine online news site. He is also head of the information department of Pamalakaya, a national federation of small fisherfolk organizations in the Philippines. His website is www.pampil.wordpress.com, and he can be contacted at themanager98@yahoo.com. ©Copyright Gerry Albert Corpuz)

Obama moves to Fund Iranian Dissidents..

This just confirms the postion of the Iranian government that the protests are generated by western interference in Iran. The policy negates any positive effect that Obama's earlier attempts at neutrality might have generated. Of course as this article points out the funding of dissidents has been going on for some time under Bush. As is the case with many other US policies Obama is following in Bush footsteps.

Obama Moves to Fund Iranian Dissidents
Posted By Jason Ditz On June 26, 2009 @ 8:09 am
Despite President Barack Obama’s persistent claims that the United States is not meddling in the post-election furore in Iran, the administration is moving forward with plans to subsidize Iranian dissident groups to the tune of $20 million in the form of USAID grants.
The program is not new, and the solicitation for the grant applications actually came under the Bush Administration. But with the deadline for submissions just four days away, the administration has a convenient excuse to subsidize opposition and dissident groups under the guise of promoting “the rule of law” in Iran.
The White House and the State Department both defended the program, insisting it did not run counter to the administration’s pretense of neutrality. The administration declined to provide details of exactly which opposition figures it had been funding, however, citing “security concerns.”
There is considerable criticism for this program, not just from the perspective of getting the US involved in the internal affairs of Iran, but also for the taint it places on various opposition groups and NGOs, whether they received any of the grant money or not.
Copyright © 2009 News From Antiwar.com. All rights reserved.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Daniel Pipes: Eating your cake and having it too..

Daniel Pipes is a well known so-called expert on the Mid-East. He is usually on the right. In the case of the Iranian elections he takes a position that supports boldness in criticising the Iranian govt. and also supporting the demonstrators and even the MEK who are on the US terrorist list:


Instead, flux in Iran should invite boldness and innovation. It is time, finally, for a robust U.S. policy that encourages those yelling "Death to Khamene'i" and that takes advantage of the hyperbolic fear the MeK arouses in Iran's ruling circles (first step: end the MeK's preposterous listing as a terrorist organization).
As Rep. Peter Hoekstra (Republican of Michigan) notes, regime change in Iran becomes the more urgent if the mullahs will soon deploy nuclear weapons. The vital and potentially victorious movement building both on the streets of Iran and in the halls of Europe better represents not only Western values but also Western interests.Instead, flux in Iran should invite boldness and innovation. It is time, finally, for a robust U.S. policy that encourages those yelling "Death to Khamene'i" and that takes advantage of the hyperbolic fear the MeK arouses in Iran's ruling circles (first step: end the MeK's preposterous listing as a terrorist organization).
As Rep. Peter Hoekstra (Republican of Michigan) notes, regime change in Iran becomes the more urgent if the mullahs will soon deploy nuclear weapons. The vital and potentially victorious movement building both on the streets of Iran and in the halls of Europe better represents not only Western values but also Western interests.
However at the same time he claims that he would vote for Ahmadinejad and it would be good if he wins:


Therefore, while my heart goes out to the many Iranians who desperately want the vile Ahmadinejad out of power, my head tells me it's best that he remain in office. When Mohammed Khatami was president, his sweet words lulled many people into complacency, even as the nuclear weapons program developed on his watch. If the patterns remain unchanged, better to have a bellicose, apocalyptic, in-your-face Ahmadinejad who scares the world than a sweet-talking Mousavi who again lulls it to sleep, even as thousands of centrifuges whir away.
And so, despite myself, I am rooting for Ahmadinejad.
I realize that this pragmatic view shocks the tender sensibilities of left-wingers such as Daily Kos, Huffington Post, and Rachel Maddow, but this is hardly the first time leftists think with their hearts, nor the first time that their unthinking sentimentality might lead to disaster

So how do you square those two positions? It doesn''t matter if you are a mid-east expert and have taught at Harvard.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The debates about Iran vote rigging.

Those who have been following the debate on the evidence for vote rigging should find this article interesting as it is critical of the analysis of Chatham House which has been at the forefront of those providing evidence for vote rigging. Of course most of the media never bother to look at so sophisticated a source as Chatham House, they can do with sound bites from the protesters and supporters or simplistic bits such as that concerning voting of over 100 per cent in some areas. As if the Iranian authorities themselves would admit this if it showed in itself that there were vote rigging!

This is from AsiaTimes

Jun 26, 2009

COMMENT Crunching the numbers
By Kaveh L Afrasiabi
A few days ago, just as the "color" movement's ferocious struggle to overturn the results of the 10th Iranian presidential elections was fading, it received a new lease of life via the publication of a British study [1] that casts serious doubt on the official results that saw President Mahmud Ahmadinejad re-elected. "Preliminary Analysis of the Voting Figures in Iran's 2009 Presidential Election" was published by Chatham House and the Institute of Iranian Studies, University of St Andrews, and edited by Iranian political scientist Professor Ali Ansari, director, Institute of Iranian Studies. The report has received a lavish reception in the Western media as a "sweeping condemnation" of the June 12 election results, by

virtue of repeatedly using such terms as "implausible" and "highly doubtful" in reference to aspects of the returned numbers from the nearly 40 million votes that were cast. The report identifies the "massive increase from 2005" as one of a "number of aspects" of the election as being "problematic". The authors question that the incumbent president could win 7 million more votes than he received the last time. Yet they overlook that his votes were extremely close to his voting percentage in 2005. One of the problems could be that the main author has no background in quantitative analysis as he is a qualitative political scientist. Compare this with another political scientist, US statistician Professor Walter Mebane, a leading expert on election fraud, who has made a similar statistical analysis of the Iranian election. He concluded that there is "no solid evidence of fraud". Another US statistic guru, Nate Silver, has concluded that the voting result was "valid based on statistical analysis". According to Mebane, who compared 366 district results with those for the 2005 elections, the "substantial core" of posted results are in line with the basic statistical trends. One of Mebane's conclusions is that "Ahmadinejad tended to do worst in towns where the turnout surged the most". Ansari reaches the opposite conclusion in making the same comparisons. Mebane has made the observation that "a model can never prove fraud - it can identify places where there may be fraud". Ansari's report presents his charts and figures as definitive statements on the election result. This raises questions over the timing of Ansari's report, in light of allegations by Iran of British meddling in the post-election turmoil in Iran sparked by supporters of the losing candidates. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Wednesday Iran may downgrade ties with Britain, accusing London of meddling. The announcement came a day after British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said two Iranian diplomats had been expelled in a tit-for-tat move after Tehran ordered two British diplomats to leave. The Ansari study appears to want by the sheer force of its charts and figures to establish beyond doubt the fact of an election fraud, even though after two weeks the disgruntled candidates have failed to provide any tangible evidence. This despite the fact that the leading losing candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, had some 40,676 observers at the ballot boxes, and none has provided a formal complaint. At the outset of the study, the authors cite the abnormality of two areas having excess votes of more than 100%. Iran's Guardians Council, which has oversight of the elections, has identified some 50 towns which had more votes cast than their registered voters. The council points out that in some areas, such as Shemiranat, Mousavi won and that most of the towns are in the Caspian Sea resort, meaning the discrepancy could be attributable to heavy summer tourism combined with the result of a bureaucratic glitch with the Census Bureau. Having found no evidence of "major irregularity", the council has all but rejected the idea of annulling the votes. The Chatham House study says Iranians voted according to ethnic identities, claiming that this has been the case with the Azeris in all past elections. Yet in the 2005 elections, an Azeri candidate, Mehr Alizadeh, received only 28% of the votes in the province of East Azerbaijan. A weakness of the report is that that despite the lack of specific rural voting data in previous elections, remedied this year for the first time, the study claims privileged knowledge that neither in 2005 nor in 2009 did Ahmadinejad carry rural Iran. This year, Ahmadinejad did better than his reformist rivals in the "deprived" provinces of Chahar Mahal, South Khorasan and Kerman. Absent in the study is any reference to related works and findings, such as pre-election opinion sampling by pollsters Ballen and Doherty, who found that Ahmadinejad would win by a two to one margin and that only 16% of Azeris would vote for Mousavi. "Election results in Iran may reflect the will of Iranian people," they have written in the Washington Post.

Sectarian Strife in Iraq

The entire article is here.

Since the US stopped paying the Awakening militias it would seem some of the Sunnis have returned to opposition and the remnants of Al Qaeda are probably able to survive and even prosper in some areas. Statements such as this going unchallenged in Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia can only make the situation worse.

BAGHDAD (AFP) — Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Thursday criticised Arab and Muslim countries for their silence on calls by a senior Saudi cleric for Shiite scholars to be killed.
The Iraqi leader made the remarks a day after a massive bomb in the predominantly Shiite neighbourhood of Sadr City in northeastern Baghdad killed 62 people and wounded 150.
"We have observed that many governments have been suspiciously silent on the fatwa provoking the killing" of Shiites, Maliki, who is also Shiite, said in an e-mailed statement.
He was referring to comments made by Mecca Mufti Sheikh Adil al-Kalbani last month to the BBC that "Shiite clerics are infidels."
"The Shiites have no right to be represented in the (Saudi) senior scholarly committee," Kalbani said.
"The Shiite public, it's a matter of discussion (as to whether they are infidels). Shiite clerics are definitely infidels, without question."
According to Islam, it is permitted to kill infidels and not have to pay the victim's family blood money.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Iran claims US-backed MKO fingermarks in riots..

The MEK or MKO is a Marxist group that has a very long history of trying to overthrow several Iranian govts. During the Iran war they aided Saddam Hussein and amassed a considerable array of weapons. After the US invasion they were disarmed but have been protected from the wrath of the Iraqi govt. by the US even though the group is on the US terrorist list. The group are very good international lobbyists and have managed to get themselves off the European terror list. They renounce the use of violence a number of years ago. However, some think that they are still recruited by the US and others to carry out clandestine sabotage in Iran.
The group is more or less like a sect and totally committed to their goals. An interesting account is found here:


The MEK has a front website at:


The Website looks rather professional. The group has supporters among US politicians some of whom want it removed from the terror list and to be more openly supported. I have seen almost nothing about the Iranian charges or the MEK recently in the mainstream press.

This is from presstv.

Iran finds US-backed MKO fingermarks in riots
Sun, 21 Jun 2009 04:36:40 GMT
Font size :
MKO Leader Maryam Rajavi has called the MKO as the real winner of Iran's election.
The terrorist Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) has reportedly played a major role in intensifying the recent wave of street violence in Iran. Iranian security officials reported Saturday that they have identified and arrested a large number of MKO members who were involved in recent riots in Iran's capital. According to the security officials, the arrested members had confessed that they were extensively trained in Iraq's camp Ashraf to create post-election mayhem in the country. They had also revealed that they have been given directions by the MKO command post in Britain. Street protests broke out after defeated presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi rejected President Ahmadinejad's decisive win in the June 12 election. His supporters have staged a series of illegal rallies ever since. Iran's deputy police commander, on Saturday, warned against the mass gatherings, asserting that those who engage in any such actions would be severely reprimanded. Earlier on Saturday, MKO leader Maryam Rajavi had supported the recent wave of street violence in Iran during a Saturday address to supporters in Paris. Rajavi had reportedly described the MKO terrorists as the real winners of the Iranian election. The Mujahedin Khalq Organization is a Marxist guerilla group, which was founded in the 1960s.In the past two decades, MKO leaders have been resettled in the northern outskirts of Paris. The terrorists are especially notorious for taking sides with former dictator Saddam Hussein during the war Iraq imposed on Iran (1980-1988). The group masterminded a slew of terrorist operations in Iran and Iraq -- one of which was the 1981 bombing of the offices of the Islamic Republic Party, in which more than 72 Iranian officials were killed. A 2007 German intelligence report from the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution has identified the MKO as a "repressive, sect-like and Stalinist authoritarian organization which centers around the personality cult of [MKO leaders] Maryam and Masoud Rajavi". Anne Singleton, an expert on the MKO and author of 'Saddam's Private Army' explains that the West aims to keep the group afloat in order to use it in efforts to stage a regime change in Iran. "With a new Administration in the White House a pre-emptive strike on Iran looks unlikely. Instead the MKO's backers have put together a coalition of small irritant groups, the known minority and separatist groups, along with the MKO. These groups will be garrisoned around the border with Iran and their task is to launch terrorist attacks into Iran over the next few years to keep the fire hot," she explains. "The role of the MKO is to train and manage these groups using the expertise they acquired from Saddam's Republican Guard," Singleton added. A May 2005 Human Rights Watch report also condemns the MKO for running prison camps in Iraq and committing human rights violations. According to report, the outlawed group puts defectors under torture and jail terms.

The US has a long history of intervention and campaigns to destabilise governments. There is a good article on this by Jeremy Hammond in a recent Foreign Policy Journal including parts that deal with Iran. Here are a few snippets:
A former specialist on the Middle East from the National Security Council, Raymond Tanter suggested the U.S. could work with an Iranian opposition group, the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK). “If we are serious about working with groups from within,” he said, “it will have to be with the MEK, because there’s no other opposition force the regime cares about.”
Mehdi Marand, a spokesman for the Council for Democratic Change in Iran, similarly said that some in the Congress were ready to remove the MEK from the terrorist list. “If the US really wants to help the democratic forces inside Iran,” he said, “the only way is to remove restrictions from the opposition.”[21]
The problem is that the MEK is on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. Based in Iraq, the group came under the sway of the U.S. after the 2003 invasion that overthrew the regime of Saddam Hussein.
According to former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter, who was among a few lone voices pointing out prior to the invasion of Iraq that there was no credible evidence the country still possessed weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. was already working with the MEK. Well prior, in 2005, Ritter wrote that the Bush administration had authorized a number of covert operations inside Iran. “The most visible of these”, he wrote, “is the CIA-backed actions recently undertaken by the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, or MEK, an Iranian opposition group, once run by Saddam Hussein’s dreaded intelligence services, but now working exclusively for the CIA’s Directorate of Operations.” The MEK’s CIA-backed operations within Iran included “terror bombings”, Ritter charged.[22]
In July, Seymour Hersh repeated in an interview with NPR that the U.S. was supporting anti-regime terrorist groups including the MEK, Jundallah, and the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK). “The strategic thinking behind this covert operation is to provoke enough trouble and chaos so that the Iranian government makes the mistake of taking aggressive action which will give the impression of a country in acute turmoil”, Hersh said, in order to give the White House a casus belli.[38]
In a July 29 article, Scott Ritter wrote that “American taxpayer dollars are being used, with the permission of Congress, to fund activities that result in Iranians being killed and wounded, and Iranian property destroyed…. The CIA today provides material support to the actions of the MEK inside Iran. The recent spate of explosions in Iran … appears to be linked to an MEK operation….”[39]
Hersh wrote another article in the New Yorker in November noting that the Pentagon was increasingly conducting covert operations that had traditionally been the CIA’s domain and giving further details about its activities in Iran. “In the past six months, Israel and the United States have been working together in support of a Kurdish resistance group known as the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan”, which has conducted raids into Iran. He repeated that the “Pentagon has established covert relationships with Kurdish, Azeri, and Balochi tribesman, and has encouraged their efforts to undermine the regime’s authority in northern and southeastern Iran.”[40]

When asked whether the OIA was intended to promote regime change, a State Department senior official told CNN it was “to facilitate a change in Iranian policies and actions” before acknowledging, “Yes, one of the things we want to develop is a government that reflects the desires of the people, but that is a process for the Iranians.”[27]
Then US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton acknowledged in October 2006 that regime change was the “ultimate objective” of the U.S. sanctions policy, and adding that it “puts pressure on them internally” and “helps democratic forces” within the country and amongst the Iranian diaspora.[28]
Administration officials told the New York Times that then Vice President Dick Cheney was promoting the “drive to bring Iranian scholars and students to America, blanket the country with radio and television broadcasts and support Iranian political dissidents.” The program was to be “overseen by Elizabeth Cheney, a principal deputy assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs, who is also the vice president’s daughter.”[29]

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Netanyahu and head of Mossad at odds on Iran

I suppose Netanyahu must take the moral highground while the head of Mossad takes the realistic low ground! Apparently being frank has not made Dagan any friends among the politicians. He in effect concedes that Ahmadinejad won and downplays any effect of cheating.

This is from Fox News.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the Iranian regime's repressive nature has been "unmasked" by the turmoil over the country's disputed election last week.
He spoke as the official death toll in Iran rose to at least 17, as protesters continued to march in the streets and clash with regime forces.
"You see a regime that represses its own people and spreads terror far and wide," Netanyahu said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "It is a regime whose real nature has been unmasked and it's been unmasked by an incredible act of courage by Iran's citizens. ... You see the Iranian lack of democracy at work."
Israel considers the Iranian regime, with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president and hard-line clerics at the top, as a monumental threat. Ahmadinejad, known for his bellicose rhetoric, has called for the destruction of Israel and is suspected of pursuing nuclear weapons technology.
Netanyahu declined to predict where the protests would lead, but said they represent a "fundamental" event for the country.
"I cannot tell you how this thing will end up. I think something very deep and very fundamental is going on," Netanyahu said. "There is an expression of the deep desire amid the people of Iran for freedom. ... This is what is going on."
Though President Obama has come under criticism in the United States for not being more forceful in his support for the protesters, Netanyahu said he would not "second guess" the American president.
"I know President Obama wants the people of Iran to be free," he said.

This is from presstv.

In Israel, Mossad head talks about Iran election
Thu, 18 Jun 2009 18:21:36 GMT
Head of Mossad Meir Dagan says that a Mousavi win in Iran's presidential election would have spelled bigger problems for Israel. Speaking to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of Knesset (Israeli parliament) on Tuesday, the chief of Israel's national intelligence agency said, "The world and we already know [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad." "If the reformist candidate [Mir-Hossein] Mousavi had won, Israel would have had a more serious problem, because it would need to explain to the world the danger of the Iranian threat, since Mousavi is perceived in the international arena as a moderate element," he added. "It is important to remember that he is the one who began Iran's nuclear program when he was prime minister." The Zionist spy-master, meanwhile, predicted that the street protests in Iran over the disputed election results would die out soon. "Election fraud in Iran is no different than what happens in liberal states during elections," he told committee, Haaretz reported. "The struggle over the election results in Iran is internal and is unconnected to its strategic aspirations, including its nuclear program."

Philippines Posts Budget Deficit as Spending Rises

This is from Bloomberg.

The Philippines is facing the same sort of problems as the US and Canada but on a smaller scale and it still is not in recession. However growth is approaching zero. Interesting that the government will be issuing bonds in Japanese yen. I wonder why that is?

Philippines Posts Budget Deficit as Spending Rises (Update1)
Karl Lester M. Yap [] and [bn:PRSN=1] Max Estayo []
June 23 (Bloomberg) -- The Philippines posted a budget deficit in May as the government increased spending and revenue faltered amid slowing economic growth.
The shortfall of 11.4 billion pesos ($234 million) widened the five-month deficit to 123.2 billion pesos, Finance Secretary Gary Teves told reporters in Manila today. Spending increased 15.8 percent in May from a year earlier and revenue fell 2.5 percent, Teves said.
Economic growth slowed to a decade low of 0.4 percent last quarter, hurting businesses and consumers and crimping tax collection at a time when the government is trying to spend its way out of the slump. The Philippines on June 10 widened its 2009 budget-deficit forecast a third time this year to 250 billion pesos from 199.2 billion pesos.
“The government needs to maintain its spending to boost the economy but there is a cost to it,” said Arlene Agustin, treasurer at GE Money Bank Inc. in Manila. “We are prepared for a risk of yields on government bonds going up” as the nation raises more debt.
The Philippines may sell as much as $1.5 billion of yen- denominated bonds to fund the government’s widening deficit, Teves said on June 17.
The government plans to spend 1.489 trillion pesos in 2009, less than the 1.495 trillion pesos it estimated earlier, according to a summary of the government’s fiscal program provided by Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran on June 11.
To contact the reporters on this story: Karl Lester M. Yap in Manila at kyap5@bloomberg.net; Max Estayo in Manila at mestayo@bloomberg.net Last Updated: June 22, 2009 23:23 EDT

Iran: The Over 100 per cent voting phenomenom.

This is from presstv. Some bloggers and news media pick this up without explaining the context. On the face of it the fact over 100% voted shows fraud but as the article explains people can vote in areas other than where they are registered or eligible. As a result some areas may have considerable numbers of voters who would be registered elsewhere. As the Guardian Council put it for this to happen is normal. With the added voters the tally can easily go over 100 per cent of those eligible in an area particularly when there is a very high turnout-- as both sides agree there was. Nevertheless over 100 per cent in 50 cities seems a lot but the number of votes involved is not sufficient to give Mousavi a win. But all this assumes the Guardian Council is not fudging the figures itself or the alternative explanation could be that there was over 100 percent because the ballot boxes were stuffed! In fact both could be true. My own view of the election is that there was no doubt some cheating but that from the polls before the election Ahmadinejad probably won anyway.

Guardian Council: Over 100% voted in 50 cities
Sun, 21 Jun 2009 23:33:38 GMT
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The Guardian Council Spokesman Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei
Iran's Guardian Council has suggested that the number of votes collected in 50 cities surpass the number of people eligible to cast ballot in those areas. The council's Spokesman Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei, who was speaking on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) Channel 2 on Sunday, made the remarks in response to complaints filed by Mohsen Rezaei -- a defeated candidate in the June 12 Presidential election. "Statistics provided by the candidates, who claim more than 100% of those eligible have cast their ballot in 80-170 cities are not accurate -- the incident has happened in only 50 cities," Kadkhodaei said. Kadkhodaei further explained that the voter turnout of above 100% in some cities is a normal phenomenon because there is no legal limitation for people to vote for the presidential elections in another city or province to which people often travel or commute. According to the Guardian Council spokesman, summering areas and places like district one and three in Tehran are not separable. The spokesman, however, said that the vote tally affected by such issues could be over 3 million and would not noticably affect the outcome of the election. He, however, added that the council could, at the request of the candidates, re-count the affected ballot boxes, and determine " whether the possible change in the tally is decisive in the election results," reported Khabaronline. Three of the four candidates contesting in last Friday's presidential election cried foul, once the Interior Ministry announced the results - according to which incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner with almost two-thirds of the vote. Rezaei, along with Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, reported more than 646 'irregularities' in the electoral process and submitted their complaints to the body responsible for overseeing the election -- the Guardian Council. Mousavi and Karroubi have called on the council to nullify Friday's vote and hold the election anew. This is while President Ahmadinejad and his Interior Minister Sadeq Mahsouli have rejected any possibility of fraud, saying that the election was free and fair.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Two contrasting viewpoints on Iran.

These two viewpoints are both from Asia Times.

Bhadrakumar has from the beginning downplayed the significance of the demonstrations and seen the whole affair as a tempest in a teapot and as a fractious bit of infighting between members of the Iranian elite. His viewpoint will be found wildly different from most of the commentary and reportage in most western mainstream media.
The US media for example does not find it even worth taking notice of what Saudi Arabia might be saying about what is happening! What is significant is its own reactions to all the twitterings from Iran.
Bhadrakumar looks to Israeli commentary to confirm his view that the "twitter revolution" as he calls it has fizzled. The head of Mossad obviously has decided that Ahmadinejad is winning and is quite ready to deal with him. As a matter of fact his winning is a plus for Israel because he is already demonised and Israel can argue even more strongly for an attack on the madman dictator's nuclear programme if diplomacy fails. Of course if Mousavi won then the US and Israel might be able to come to some accommodation since Rafsanjani might favor this. But as Bhadrakumar puts it what the head of Mossad says shows that he accepts that Ahmadinejad will win the struggle.
Bhadrakumar feels that Mousavi could not make the concessions that the US might demand but I don't really understand that. Giving up the nuclear program would pave the way to opening up the economy and withdrawing sanctions that would very much benefit many of the people who support him. Bhadrakumar claims that Mousavi does not have a genuine constituency. Surely he does but it may not be as powerful at the moment as Ahmadinejad has.
Bhadrakumar goes into detail on the background connections of Mousavi with the west, material you just don't find in other accounts of what is happening.
While Bhadrakumar is right that Khameni did not accuse Rafsanjani of corruption in his speech his remark about the possibility of legal proceedings against his relatives was a strong rebuke of Ahmadinejad for publicly charging Rafjani's relatives in a speech he had made. He also had high praise for Rafsanjani which might explain why the Assembly of Experts that Rafsanjani heads supported his remarks! The relationship between Khameni and Ahmadinejad does not seem all sweetness and light.
Note that Bhadrakumar praises Obama for his handling of the situation. However, there are strong pressures both within the Democratic Party and without for him to take a stronger position siding with the protesters. Note too that since Bhadrakumar wrote this Iran has specifically criticised CNN coverage.

'Color' revolution fizzles in Iran

By M K Bhadrakumar
Israelis are realists par excellence. This is why it is always gainful to buttonhole an Israeli counterpart over a single-malt on the diplomatic circuit. He will invariably weave into the tapestry of the plain tale a nylon thread until then obscure to the naked eye. Thus, the first warning that the adventurous project to mount a "Twitter revolution" in Iran was doomed to fail had to come from the Israelis. It meshes well with the indications that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's capacity to command the seemingly explosive political situation was never really been in doubt, no matter the hype in the Western media that Tehran was on the 'knife's edge". If any doubt lingers, that also is dispelled by the fury in the state-controlled Saudi Arabian media's unprecedented, vicious personal
attack on both Khamenei and President Mahmud Ahmadinejad - of a kind alien to the culture of ta'arof (politesse) or even taqiyah (dissimulation) in that part of the world. Riyadh's fond hopes of witnessing the Iranian regime debilitated by a protracted crisis have been dashed. Its principal interlocutor, former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has vanished from the chessboard. Riyadh seems bracing for Tehran's wrath. Israel's faultless prognosis In an extraordinary media leak at the weekend, just as Khamenei's historic speech at the Friday prayer meeting in Tehran ended, Meir Dagan, head of Israel's Mossad, let it be known that a win by Iranian opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi in the presidential election on June 12 would have spelled "big problems" for Israel. Israelis have a way of saying things. It was a subtle acknowledgement of political realities in Tehran. Speaking to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of the Knesset (parliament) last Tuesday, Israel's spymaster could foresee that the protests in Iran would run out of steam. According to Ha'aretz newspaper, Dagan said: "Election fraud in Iran is no different than what happens in liberal states during elections. The struggle over the election results in Iran is internal and is unconnected to its strategic aspirations, including its nuclear program." He explained: "The world, and we, already know Ahmadinejad. If the reformist candidate Mousavi had won, Israel would have had a more serious problem, because it would need to explain to the world the danger of the Iranian threat, since Mousavi is perceived in the international arena as a moderate element. It is important to remember that he is the one who began Iran's nuclear program when he was prime minister." The assessment is faultless, perfect. By a masterstroke in "back-channel" diplomacy, Israel signaled to Tehran it had nothing to do with any "color" revolution. It was a timely signal. Indeed, divisions have come to surface that have existed for years within the Iranian regime. But it is very obvious that there is no scope for a "color" revolution in today's Iran. Even a trenchant, relentless critic of the regime like veteran author Amir Taheri admits:
The regime's base has benefited from Ahmadinejad's largesse, and the rest of Iranian society is not sure anyone could do better. Ahmadinejad's principal weakness is his failure to bring the rich and corrupt mullahs to justice, as he had promised. His supporters say that would be the priority in his second term. ... Today, he is the authentic leader of the Khomeinist movement in a way that Mousavi, or [former President Mohammad] Khatami, or any of the other half-way-house Khomeinists could never be. Mousavi's limitations Nonetheless, Mousavi kindled hopes in the West - notably London, Paris and Berlin - and some "pro-West" Arab capitals. But then, that was because he was a known factor as foreign minister and then prime minister during 1981-89. The issue was never that he was a modernist or reformer. To quote Taheri, the well-informed chronicler of the Middle East, Mousavi when he was in power, "developed a wide network of contacts in the US, Europe and the Arab countries". Taheri, who rubs shoulders with the Arab and Western political elites with elan, offers insights into the Mousavi camp. He recalls that the man who led the lengthy Algiers talks, which resulted in the release of the American hostages in 1981, Behzad Nabvi, is still assisting Mousavi. So is Abbas Kangarioo who held secret negotiations with the Ronald Reagan administration in what came to be known as the Iran-Contra deal. Kangarioo, a key advisor and friend of Mousavi, also has the distinction of having "developed a network of contacts in intelligence and diplomatic circles in Europe and the US". Unsurprisingly, Taheri estimates that while Mousavi's fame might have spread far and wide in the Western intelligence circles, his principal appeal at home is confined to the urban middle classes who wish the "Khomeinist revolution would just fade away ... People like Mousavi and former presidents Mohammad Khatami and Hashemi Rafsanjani have long ceased to be regarded as genuine revolutionaries". From another direction, Taheri came to virtually the same definitive conclusion as the Israeli intelligence chief reached. Namely, that a weak interlocutor without a "Khomeinist base" like Mousavi could never make concessions that the US, the Europeans and the Arabs demanded, whereas Ahmadinejad can afford a softening of position as it will only seem a clever maneuver. Paradoxically, negotiating with Ahmadinejad might prove easier for the West, as he has a genuine constituency. Looking back at the past four years, the fact remains that Ahmadinejad restored the connectivity of the regime with the radical populist discourse. "Four years ago", Taheri writes, "the image of the regime was one of a clique of mid-ranking mullahs and their business associates running the country as a private company in their own interest. The regime's 'downtrodden' base saw itself as the victim of a great historic swindle. Under Ahmadinejad, a new generation of revolutionaries has come to the fore, projecting an image of piety and probity, reassuring the 'downtrodden' that all is not lost." Ahmadinejad's populism is a double-edged sword. If carried too far, it may undermine the legitimacy of the regime, which included corrupt sections of the clerical establishment. But Ahmadinejad is a clever politician. He has certainly grown while on the job these past four years. Although he self-portrayed with gusto as a locomotive that charges ahead without brakes or reverse gear, he knew where to stop and when to glance over his shoulder. Thus, he hit at many corrupt practices and threatened to bring key figures to justice, but stopped short of landing the big catch. The big question is whether Ahmadinejad will cast his net wide in his second term. Rafsanjani outmaneuvered However, Khamenei remains the ultimate arbiter. Ahmadinejad publicly acknowledged the locus of power by expressing in a formal letter "his gratitude" to Khamenei for his "helpful remarks" at the Friday prayers. Last week's power-play showed that Khamenei effectively thwarted Rafsanjani's attempt to rally the clerical establishment in Qom. The turning point was reached on Thursday when the majority of the 86 members of the powerful Assembly of Experts (which Rafsanjani headed) openly rallied behind Khamenei. The Assembly of Experts is the most powerful organ of the regime, invested with the authority to elect and dismiss the supreme leader and to supervise his functioning. Around 50 members of the Assembly of Experts said in a statement that "enemies of Iran" were masterminding the "unrest and riots" over the presidential vote through its "hired elements". Rafsanjani conclusively lost the war when the majority of the members of the Assembly of Experts expressed confidence that with the "sagacious directions of the [Supreme] Leader", the machinations of Iran's enemies will be defeated. Armed with this decisive support, Khamenei came to deliver his historic Friday prayer speech where he ruled out any rethink about the election result. Rafsanjani failed to show up at the prayer meeting, even as Khamenei made clear his support for Ahmadinejad, stressing how closely their viewpoints coincided. Significantly, Khamenei referred to Rafsanjani by name even in his absence. The message was loud and clear: Khamenei's supremacy is unchallengeable. Most ominously, while Khamenei graciously absolved Rafsanjani of any personal corruption, he left open the possibility of legal proceedings being initiated against his family members. Rafsanjani will now need to weigh his options very carefully. He cannot but factor in the Sword of Damocles hanging over his family members who have allegedly amassed huge wealth through corrupt practices. Also, Khamenei made no effort to specifically contradict the grave charge leveled by Ahmadinejad during the election campaign that Rafsanjani conspired with the Saudi regime to overthrow his government - an allegation that the president couldn't have made without input from Iranian intelligence, which comes under the supervision of the supreme leader. On Saturday, the Assembly of Experts went a step further by expressing its "strong support" for Khamenei's speech. It called on the nation to obey Khamenei's guidelines. Also on Saturday, the Iranian armed forces headquarters and the Qom Seminary Teachers Society and several influential voices in the regime publicly rallied behind Khamenei. The so-called reformist clergy aligned with Khatami changed their mind and called off their planned demonstration on Saturday. The hard reality, therefore, is that Khamenei's awesome powers are in no way under challenge. He can afford to let demonstrations by Mousavi's middle-class followers continue to let off steam, as he has the authority to command the situation in a holistic way. That is to say, even if protests may continue for a while - which seems improbable as Mousavi finds himself in a tight spot - that does not erode state power. As Taheri put it, "So-called 'Iran experts' did not realize that Mousavi was a balloon that a section of the Iranian middle class inflated to show its anger not only at Ahmadinejad but also at the entire Khomeinist regime. Otherwise, there is nothing in Mousavi's record ... to make him more attractive than Ahmadinejad." At the end of it all, the international community can only heave a sigh of relief that while this complex and extremely confusing political drama unfolded, George W Bush was no more in the White House in Washington. United States President Barack Obama could grasp the subtleties of the situation and adopted a well-thought-out, measured policy and broadly stuck to it despite apparent pressure from conservatives. His remarks have not even remotely called into question Ahmadinejad's locus standii, let alone Khamenei's, to lead the country. Nor has Obama identified himself with Mousavi's call for a new poll. If anything, he ostentatiously distanced himself from Mousavi. Certainly, not once did Obama threaten to go back on his offer to directly engage Iran in the near future. Meanwhile, Obama has just done some thoughtful fine-tuning in the lineup of the Iran hands in his administration, as the countdown begins for the commencement of direct talks. He shifted Dennis Ross to the National Security Council as special advisor for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia instead of appointing him as the special envoy to Iran on the lines of George Mitchell's portfolio covering the Palestinians and Israel. Tehran will no doubt welcome the shift, given Ross' hawkish views. Now, it will be the right thing to do if Obama asks Richard Holbrooke, special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, to hold additional charge of Iran. Clearly, the Iranians took note that Obama's statements remained carefully modulated, although Voice of America might have meddled in the turmoil, as Tehran alleges. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki's broadside on Saturday in Tehran singled out Britain, France and Germany, but omitted any reference to the US (or Israel). Among European countries, Tehran trained its guns on Britain. Mottaki said British forces in Iraq trained saboteurs and infiltrated them into Iran. But even then, it is a measure of Tehran's self-confidence that he elected to mock, saying it's time London forgot the adage that the "sun never sets on the British Empire". Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.

Now a quite different viewpoint by Pepe Escobar also in Asia Times.

Escobar is a regular contributor to Asia Times and his remarks are almost always interesting and often incisive as well. Escobar sees the protests as a powerful example of people power. However he is also aware of the struggle at the top. But he never discusses the relationships of those in the Mousavi camp to the interests of the US. His analysis is punctuated with paeans to people power. Somehow or other Rafsanjani and Mousavi et al whom he recognises as accepting the system are to be swept away in the amazing flood of people power. But then to a large extent it is these very people who are orchestrating events.
It is interesting that Escobar should call Ahmadinejad the Shah. There is at least one minor difference. The Shah was placed in power with the help of the US. and was subservient to US policy. Ahmadinejad on the other hand is a demonised opponent of US policies and the US is trying to help remove him.


Meet Shah Ali Khamenei
By Pepe Escobar
Amid blood in the streets, cries in the rooftops and daggers drawn at silky corridors, the 30-year-old Islamic Revolution in Iran has a date with destiny: the challenge is to finally celebrate the marriage of Islam and democracy. Former president Mohammad Khatami, the man of the dialogue of civilizations, revealed once again his moral stature when he praised the massive silent street protests (before the bloody repression); and stressed that almost 40 million Iranian voters, including those who dispute the final, "official" result, are "the owners" of the revolution. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on the other hand, preferred to brand the sea of protestors as "terrorists". Khatami also brushed off the leader of the Guardians Council, President Mahmud Ahmadinejad-friendly Ahmad Jannati, as "a
referee who is under suspicion and complaint". The "only solution", said Khatami, to "settle the crisis in the best interests of the Iranian people and the principles of the revolution" would be for an impartial commission to fully examine the evidence for ballot rigging. Losing presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, for his part, depicted the work of such a commission as "a given right", capable of "achieving a new type of political life in the country". As it stands, there's no evidence the theo-political oligarchy which has just solidified its power in Iran will even contemplate the possibility of appointing such a commission. Montazeri to the rescue The key move for the next few days revolves around Grand Ayatollah Husayn Montazeri's call for three days of mourning for the dead, from Wednesday to Friday. The progressive view in Tehran - and among the exiled Iranian intelligentsia - is that this is a very sophisticated, back to 1979, civil disobedience code, suggesting citizens should go indefinitely on strike. To strike is safer, and much more subversive, than hitting the streets and being bloodied by the paramilitary Basiji. Strikes were a fundamental element for the success of the revolution 30 years ago. Montazeri is also subtly signaling the strategy to seduce Iran's silent majority - which may hover around 30% to 40% of the total population. This strategy, judiciously applied over the next few days and weeks, may expand the people power river into a formidable ocean. It's as if an irresistible force might be whispering in his ear - "Mr Montazeri, tear down this [Islamic] wall." Meanwhile, at street level, people power will be grieving the dead but at the same time fighting the state's implacable crackdown on all forms of modern technology by resorting to ... paper. Welcome to the 21st century return of the samizdat (distribution of government-suppressed literature or other media in Soviet-bloc countries). In only one week, the green revolution, then people power, in Iran, has morphed into an entity way beyond Mousavi. The anger, rage, sense of having suffered a tremendous injustice (never underestimate this feeling in a Shi'ite society), the pent-up resentment; these emotions were so phenomenal, the regime so lost control of the arena of political debate, and the repression has been so brutal. A very simple idea underneath it all has finally revealed itself: we are fed up. You are liars. Death to the dictator. Allah-O Akbar. And we will cry every night, across our rooftops, at the top of our lungs, and we will not be silenced, until you get the message. Blame foreign "terrorists", blame the United States, Britain, France and Germany - the theo-political oligarchy's panicky reaction is totally beside the point. As are vast, proselytizing sectors of the Western progressive left - bound by the iron chains and faulty logic of "everyone fighting US imperialism is my friend". They have been duped - uncritically swallowing regime propaganda, blind to the complexities of Iranian society, and unable to identify a completely new political equation for what it is. To believe that "Western puppets" are crying Allah-O Akbar all over Iran's rooftops, or being shot at by Basiji in the streets, is criminally absurd. Mousavi, Khatami, Montazeri - they are not neo-revolutionaries (much less counter-revolutionaries). They are all accepting the principles and institutions of the Islamic Republic of Iran, including the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the Basiji, but criticizing "deviations and deceptions", in the language of Mousavi and Khatami. They want nothing else but the "return of the pure principles of the Islamic Revolution". And they are keen to stress this implies every single form of freedom of expression. People power in Iran now dreams of a constant, no-holds-barred dialogue taking place within civil society. And this step ahead does not necessarily have to do with Iran adopting Western liberal democracy. Persians are way too sophisticated; the whole thing goes way, way beyond. It's as if a road map was being laid out not only for Iran's post-modern remix of the French Revolution, but for Islam's Reformation as well. This is as serious as it gets. Rafsanjani's Qom game Meanwhile, mundane palace intrigue goes on. Not surprisingly, former president Hashemi Rafsanjani's whole game is taking place in Qom. He may not co-opt the IRGC - which fears and hates him - but he may well unbalance many an influential ayatollah and have a go at illlegitimizing Khamenei. Niceties apart, it goes without saying that the supreme leader's entourage has told Rafsanjani that if he keeps on scheming, he and his whole family will land in deep trouble. Qom is being microscopically monitored by the supremacist Khamenei Leader/Ahmadinejad/IRGC faction. They all know that many important ayatollahs have traditionally promoted their leadership as vehicles for wider social grievances. The "papacy" in Qom supports mostly pragmatic conservatives and reformists. People like Mousavi and Khatami. Definitely not people like Ahmadinejad. The widow of Mohammad Rajai, a former prime minister assassinated in the beginning of the revolution, went to Qom to talk to some key ayatollahs. Not surprisingly, she was arrested. According to the informed Iranian blogosphere, there are quite a few ayatollahs under house arrest and practically incommunicado. It's easy to forget in the West that millions of Iranians do not fundamentally agree with political power submitted to religion. Public pronouncements of ayatollahs in favor of the separation of church and state may not be too far away. Rafsanjani wants an emergency session of the 86 clerics-strong, no women, Council of Experts. Another crucial point: Qom as a whole is also not very fond of Khamenei. Khamenei was and remains an ultra-minor scholar; he was a mere hojjatoleslam when, through a white coup, he was installed as the late ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's successor. He's not a revered marja (senior spiritual leader) or a source of imitation. The problem is Rafsanjani is fighting a formidable foe - the apocalypsist, Mahdist Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, Ahmadinejad's spiritual mentor who lost influence to - who else? - Rafsanjani in the last election for the Council of Experts, in late 2006. So this, once again, is an (invisible) battle between the "shark" and the "crocodile", as Rafsanjani and Yazdi, respectively, are known in Iran. Al-Arabiya is relying on sources according to which Rafsanjani is trying to come up with a collective leadership to replace the supreme leader. No Iranian blogger has confirmed the possible emergence of an ayatollah politburo. Meet Shah Ali Khamenei For now, the theo-political oligarchy (Khamenei/Ahmadinejad/IRGC) that has solidified its power and privilege has made it abundantly clear it wants an Islamic government where popular sovereignty is reduced to zero. The divine legitimacy of power is self-sufficient. That's the meaning of Khamenei's speech last Friday. This oligarchy won't let go of their power - not by a long shot. But amid all the crackle and static coming out of Iran, one thing is certain. It's too late to turn back now. All the evidence points out to people power hanging in for the long haul, no matter how desperately violent the scruffy working-class Basiji, despised by the Iranian-educated, urban middle and upper middle class, behave. The key message will remain simple and modest. And cracks at the top are bound to emerge. The other option is an illegitimate, brutal military dictatorship of a (fractured) mullahtariat, supported by legions of Basiji. This arrangement can't possibly last. There are insistent rumors in Tehran that the theo-political oligarchy supremacists are receiving crack counter-insurgency help from both Russia and China. Khamenei/Ahmadinejad/IRGC can always insist on turning Tehran into Tiananmen and prevail - for now. But Iran in 2009 has nothing to do with China in 1989. As for Mousavi, hurled in spite of himself into the eye of this historic hurricane, he now follows the human flow. The human flow has indicated that the supreme leader is illegitimate. His credibility as a religious scholar was and remains shaky. Now his credibility as supreme leader is shaky as well. Khamenei's central thesis of velayat-e-faqih (the rule of jurisprudence) was never a divine revelation (by the way, it was influenced by Khomeini's reading of human, oh-so-human Plato and Aristotle). It's just a particular Shi'ite interpretation of political Islam, according to which an Islamic jurisprudent has divine powers and rules absolutely surrounded by guardians. (Influential ayatollahs in Najaf, for instance, simply don't buy it). Now people are saying, "We have had enough of guardians". And they're also saying that the answer, my friend, is blowing in the rooftops. That's what people power is collectively thinking: if God is great, he's got to allow us democracy within Islam. As for the supreme leader, he is now naked. Mousavi may not be Khomeini. But Khamenei increasingly is remixing himself as the shah. Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

Iranian Communist Party statement on the Iranian protests..

This is from this website.

This is pure rhetoric completely lacking in any analysis of the social forces behind the two opposing groups. Rafsanjani does not enter the picture just the '''people''. There is no US meddling or anything of that sort no struggle among the mullahs just the heroic people being drenched in blood with all the bad guys on the other side.l
The Tudeh party should know about being drenched in blood since it was bloodied by the Shah and then by the mullahs. There is very little left and it is banned in Iran. But the remnants can now at least comfort themselves by being on the side of democracy and US imperialism. This should make all those western liberals and conservatives applauding the protesters take note. You are all commie sympthasizers it would seem;)
The party no doubt thinks that it can join in the protest and push it in a progressive direction.
If they had bothered to look at the forces behind the protest they should see that they could very well again be hammered on the head once those behind the protest take power, that is if they dont get hammered on the head first by Ahmadinejad, with his militia and the Revolutionary Guards.
There is no mention of the working class in this rhetoric, a very strange omission for a communist declaration. Probably the working class is on the wrong side. The right side is Rafsanjani and his allies being supported by US imperialism,the side of the people.

22 June, 2009
Filed under: Iran — Andy Newman @ 2:18 pm
The Communiqué of the Central Committee of the Tudeh Party of Iran- Number 5
The language of force and threat will not stop people in their rightful struggle!
The Vigilant People of Iran!
Amid the escalation of the protest movement in the recent days and the continuing mass demonstrations in large and small cities in Iran, in this week’s Friday mass prayers in Tehran (19th June) the Supreme Leader (Velayat-e-Faqih) not only distorted the truth and openly defended the coup d’état of his own puppets and overtly supported Ahmadi-Nejad’s administration, but also threatened the people and the presidential candidates of the 10th elections. His position and his emphasize on this point that the election and its outcome is considered the “absolute victory” of the regime and “illegal novelties” are not allowed [referring to the call for annulment of elections], indicate the fact that the powerful movement of people has seriously petrified the regime, and the regime is exploiting all it resources and power to curb this movement. What Ali Khamenei stated in the Friday’s prayers in Tehran as the official policy of the Velayat-e-Faqih regime, was not unexpected. This policy has in fact been followed and meticulously implemented since the first day of mass protests and demonstrations. Bloody suppression of people, vast and purposeful arrests, attempts to weaken the strength of the movement in various ways, and efforts to divide the reformist and freedom-fighters and to disconnect the resistant pro-reform individuals from the popular movement, are various elements and parts of the aforementioned policy.
Reform seeking, Freedom-loving and Progressive Parties and Forces!
The current powerful protest movement has challenged the ruling reaction and despots. The eternal power of people is the most Significant support for realizing the people’s demands, i.e. to annul the election outcome and to scrap “approbation supervision”. It was for a reason that in his sermon on Friday the Supreme Leader stressed on this factor, i.e. the power of people, more than anything else, and by openly threatening the pro reform leaders asked them to part themselves from the people and send them home. There is a very important point in this stance, or devious tactic of the Supreme Leader, which could not be neglected. The goal of the perpetrators of the coup d’état under the leadership of the Supreme Leader is to create a divide between the reform seekers who by their splendid resistance so far, have effectively helped to reinforce the popular movement and to defeat the plots of the ruling reaction. That’s why the people and millions of perturbed Iranians rightfully call for perseverance and unity and strengthening of the alliance and solidarity among the pro reform forces and freedom fighters. Any divisive action must be avoided by all means; calls for demonstrations or any shape and form of protest must be coordinated and united, and any kind of dispersion must be confronted with.
The power of the movement is in its united action. The plot of the Supreme Leader to divide the pro reform forces and to distance them from each other could only be defeated by coordination, unison and united action. The seemingly tough plots of the Supreme Leader and the coup d’état perpetrators under his leadership must be defeated vigilantly and by relying on the power of the masses. It is this relentless and powerful presence of masses in protest to the clear violations of the laws and rights by the regime that will force the regime to retreat. The piercing voice of rightful protest of the people movement is echoed more than ever, both internally and across the world.
The will of our combative people calls for this voice to be resonated louder and louder.
The Combatant People of Iran,
The Supreme Leader has threatened to suppress. These types of threats are not new to our people. They know the true suppressive nature of the regime and it is with this knowledge that they have stepped into this struggle for rights. The experiences of all the nations around the world in struggle, including the heroic people of Iran, prove that suppression, killing, and using force is not an indication of power. By using violence and killing people, dictators show their weakness. The official position and policy of the Supreme Leader which was outlined in this Friday’s prayers is not an exception to this point. The Supreme Leader threatening to suppress the people and the reformist candidates (Mousavi and Karrubi) in no way stems from a strong position. The position of the Supreme Leader and the coup d’état agents, despite the vast resources that they have in their disposal against the powerful wave of people, is extremely weak.
Therefore, with a combination of peaceful struggle and resistance through various avenues, including demonstrations and sit-ins that are rooted in the popular and revolutionary traditions of our nation, the reaction could be forced to retreat.
Hand in hand and united we will continue the struggle and confrontation with the Supreme Leader and dark-minded coup perpetrators to demand the annulment of the recent presidential elections, scrapping “approbation supervision”, freedom of those who were arrested in the recent events and also other political prisoners, trial and punishment of those who ordered the killing of people and those who executed the killings, and reporting and putting to trial of those who planned and executed the elections coup.
Central Committee of Tudeh Party of Iran19th June 2009

Philippine appeals court overturns US Marine's rape conviction, orders his immediate release..

This was long a cause celebre among many activisits in the Philippines. The alleged victim managed to completely ruin any case against the US marine by changing her testimony. Now conveniently she emigrated to the good old USA. The court claims however that it was not influenced by her change of testimony. All along the Arroyo govt. did whatever the US wanted as is shown by the details in the article.

Philippine appeals court overturns US Marine's rape conviction, orders his immediate release

By: TERESA CEROJANO Associated Press06/20/09 7:10 PM EDT
MANILA, PHILIPPINES — A Philippine court overturned the rape conviction of a U.S. Marine whose case became a rallying point for activists demanding American forces leave the country. Protesters said the decision underscored their government's subservience to an old colonial master.
Three years ago, Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for raping a Filipino woman after a night of drinking. The emotional case soon turned into a political tug-of-war between the government — keen on maintaining smooth relations with its key ally — and nationalist, left-wing and women's rights activists eager to showcase that the Philippines can do without U.S. protection.
Just hours after the Philippine Appeals Court overturned Smith's 2006 conviction, more than two dozen activists marched to the U.S. Embassy in Manila but were stopped by riot police. They peacefully dispersed after the hourlong protest.
"We are outraged," said Renato Reyes of the prominent left-wing group Bayan.
The woman accused Smith of raping her in a van in the presence of other Marines, after the two met in a bar at the former U.S. Subic Bay Naval base in 2005, while Smith was on leave after taking part in military exercises.
The Philippine Senate in 1991 voted to close down two main U.S. bases in the Philippines — Subic and Clark Air Base. Eight years later, Manila and Washington signed the Visiting Forces Agreement that allows U.S. forces to conduct war exercises in the Philippines, an American colony from 1898 to 1946, and provide counterterrorism training for Filipino soldiers battling al-Qaida-linked militants in the volatile south.
During a dramatic yearlong trial at a suburban metropolitan Manila court, the woman broke down and said she was too drunk to stop Smith's assault. At one point, she attacked him with fists while walking to the stand.
Smith, 23, of St. Louis, Missouri, insisted the sex was consensual, telling the court: "I think it's horrible what I've been accused of. This place has taken a year off of my life that I can never get back."
After Smith was convicted, he was initially taken to a Philippine jail, but the U.S. argued he should be kept in American custody, citing the Visiting Forces Agreement.
Washington said the accord entitles any accused U.S. service member to remain in American hands until all judicial proceedings are exhausted.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo backed the U.S. position, but the Philippine Supreme Court ruled in February he should serve his sentence in a Philippine prison and asked the government to negotiate his transfer with Washington. The negotiations were under way when the appeals court ruled Thursday.
"No evidence was introduced to show force, threat and intimidation applied by the accused," the appeals court said in its 71-page decision, which is final.
It ordered the immediate release of Smith from his detention at the U.S. Embassy in Manila.
Smith's lawyer, Jose Justiniano, said his client "got the justice that he deserved."
But leftist groups condemned the decision saying it was proof of Arroyo's subservience to the United States.
"This denial of justice can only be blamed on Mrs. Arroyo, whose subservience to the U.S. and veneration of the VFA knows no bounds," Reyes said, referring to the Visiting Forces Agreement.
Activists protesting at the heavily guarded U.S. Embassy late Thursday held up posters that read, "Smith's acquittal, a Philippine-U.S. government connivance."
The case also sparked protests condemning a Philippine government decision to allow Smith to be detained at the U.S. Embassy instead of a local jail.
Another twist came in March when the woman suddenly reversed her testimony and emigrated to the United States, saying in a court affidavit she was no longer certain a crime took place.
The woman initially said she and Smith were drinking, kissing and dancing at a bar before moving to a van, where she originally told the court she was raped while she fell in and out of consciousness.
The woman's turnabout shocked her supporters. Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said she could be charged with perjury.
The court said Thursday its decision was not influenced by her reversal, and described the encounter between Smith and the woman as "the unfolding of a spontaneous, unplanned romantic episode with both parties carried away by their passions."
Associated Press writers Jim Gomez and Oliver Teves contributed to this report.

Beijing's Cautions US over Iran...

This is from the AsiaTimes.

Obama's first reactions were almost exemplary even though it is clear that behind the scenes there was much support probably being given by the US for the opposition. The State Dept even asked Twitter not to close down for maintenance in the interests of advancing the opposition. Former US officials, such as Brzezinski, have also warned the US to lay low. Of course in the US media what China might have to say about Iran is of no interest. It is twitters and liberal experts on Iran who count.
However events have forced Obama's hand to some extent. Clinton and Biden for example want him to intervene on the right (opposition) side in the confrontation. Meanwile the media is almost an official voice of the opposition about as neutral as the Tehran Times.

Beijing cautions US over Iran
By M K Bhadrakumar
China has broken silence on the developing situation in Iran. This comes against the backdrop of a discernible shift in Washington's posturing toward political developments in Iran. The government-owned China Daily featured its main editorial comment on Thursday titled "For Peace in Iran". It comes amid reports in the Western media that the former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is rallying the Qom clergy to put pressure on the Guardians Council - and, in turn, on Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei - to annul last Friday's presidential election that gave Mahmud Ahmadinejad another four-year term. Beijing fears a confrontation looming and counsels Obama to keep the pledge in his Cairo speech not to repeat such errors in
the US's Middle East policy as the overthrow of the elected government of Mohammed Mosaddeq in Iran in 1953. Beijing also warns about letting the genie of popular unrest get out of the bottle in a highly volatile region that is waiting to explode. Tehran
on Friday saw its sixth day of massive protests by supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi, whom they say was cheated out of victory. A parallel with Thailand Meanwhile, China's special envoy on Middle East, Wu Sike, is setting out on an extensive fortnight-long regional tour on Saturday (which, significantly, will be rounded off with consultations in Moscow) to fathom the political temperature in capitals as varied as Cairo and Tel Aviv, Amman and Damascus, and Beirut and Ramallah. Beijing also made a political statement when a substantive bilateral was scheduled between President Hu Jintao and Ahmadinejad on Tuesday on the sidelines of the summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Conceivably, Hu would have discussed the Iran situation with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev during his official visit to Moscow that followed the SCO summit. Earlier, Moscow welcomed Ahmadinejad's re-election. Both China and Russia abhor "color" revolutions, especially something as intriguing as Twitter, which Moscow came across a few months ago in Moldova and raises hackles about the US's interventionist global strategy. China anticipated the backlash against Ahmadinejad's victory. On Monday, The Global Times newspaper quoted the former Chinese ambassador to Iran, Hua Liming, that the Iranian situation would get back to normalcy only if a negotiated agreement was reached among the "major centers of political power ... But, if not, the recent turmoil in Thailand will possibly be repeated". It is quite revealing that the veteran Chinese diplomat drew a parallel with Thailand. However, Hua underscored that Ahmadinejad does enjoy popularity and has "lots of support in this nationalist country because he has the courage to state his own opinion and dares to carry out his policies". The consensus opinion of Chinese academic community is also that Ahmadinejad's re-election will "test" Obama. Thus, Thursday's China Daily editorial is broadly in the nature of an appeal to the Obama administration not to spoil its new Middle East policy, which is shaping well, through impetuous actions. Significantly, the editorial upheld the authenticity of Ahmadinejad's election victory: "Win and loss are two sides of an election coin. Some candidates are less inclined to accept defeat." The daily pointed out that a pre-election public opinion poll conducted by the Washington Post newspaper showed Ahmadinejad having a 2-1 lead over his nearest rival and some opinion polls in Iran also indicated more or less the same, whereas, actually, "he won the election on a lower margin. Thus, the opposition's allegations against Ahmadinejad come as a trifle surprising". The editorial warns: "Attempts to push the so-called color revolution toward chaos will prove very dangerous. A destabilized Iran is in nobody's interest if we want to maintain peace and stability in the Middle East, and the world beyond." It pointedly recalled that the US's "Cold War intervention in Iran" made US-Iran relationship a troubled one, "with US presidents trying to stick their nose into Iran's internal business". Theocracy versus republicanism Beijing understands Iran's revolutionary politics very well. China was one of the few countries that warmly hosted Ruhollah Khomeini as president (in 1981 and 1989). In contrast, India, which professes "civilizational" ties with Iran, was much too confused about Iran's revolutionary legacy to be able to correctly estimate Khamenei's political instincts favoring republicanism. Most of the Indian elites aren't even aware that Khamenei studied as a youth in Moscow's Patrice Lumumba University. Be that as it may, the Hu-Ahmadinejad meeting in Yekaterinburg on Tuesday once again shows Beijing has a very clear idea about the ebb and flow of Iran's politics. Hu demonstrably accorded to Ahmadinejad the full honor as Beijing's valued interlocutor. Chinese media have closely followed the trajectory of the US reaction to the situation in Iran, especially the "Twitter revolution", which puts Beijing on guard about US intentions. Indications are that the US establishment has begun meddling in Iranian politics. Rafsanjani's camp always keeps lines open to the West. All-in-all, a degree of synchronization is visible involving the US's "Twitter revolution" route, Rafsanjani's parleys with the conservative clergy in Qom and Mousavi's uncharacteristically defiant stance. Obama faces multiple challenges. On the one hand, as Helene Cooper of The New York Times reported on Thursday, the continuing street protests in Tehran are emboldening a corpus of (pro-Israel) conservatives in Washington to demand that Obama should take a "more visible stance in support of the protesters". But then, a regime change would inevitably delay the expected US-Iran direct engagement and upset Obama's tight calendar to ensure the negotiations gained traction by year's end, while Iran's centrifuges in its nuclear establishments keep spinning. Also, a fragmented power structure in Tehran will prove ineffectual in helping the US stabilize Afghanistan. However, top administration officials like Vice President Joseph Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would like the US to "strike a stronger tone" on Iran's turmoil. Cooper reported they are piling pressure on Obama that he might run the risk of "coming across the wrong side of history at a potentially transformative moment in Iran". A Thermidorian reaction No doubt, the turmoil has an intellectual side to it. Obama being a rare politician gifted with intellectuality and a keen sense of history would know that what is at stake is a well-orchestrated attempt by the hardcore conservative clerical establishment to roll back the four-year-old painful, zig-zag process toward republicanism in Iran. Mousavi is the affable front man for the mullahs, who fear that another four years of Ahmadinejad would hurt their vested interests. Ahmadinejad has already begun marginalizing the clergy from the sinecures of power and the honey pots of the Iranian economy, especially the oil industry. The struggle between the worldly mullahs (in alliance with the bazaar) and the republicans is as old as the 1979 Iranian revolution, where the fedayeen of the proscribed Tudeh party (communist cadres) were the original foot soldiers of the revolution, but the clerics usurped the leadership. The highly contrived political passions let loose by the 444-day hostage crisis with the US helped the wily Shi'ite clerics to stage the Thermidorian reaction and isolate the progressive revolutionary leadership. Ironically, the US once again figures as a key protagonist in Iran's dialectics - not as a hostage, though. Imam Khomeini was wary of the Iranian mullahs and he created the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps as an independent force to ensure the mullahs didn't hijack the revolution. Equally, his preference was that the government should be headed by non-clerics. In the early years of the revolution, the conspiracies hatched by the triumvirate of Beheshti-Rafsanjani-Rajai who engineered the ouster of the secularist leftist president Bani Sadr (who was Khomeini's protege), had the agenda to establish a one-party theocratic state. These are vignettes of Iran's revolutionary history that might have eluded the intellectual grasp of George W Bush, but Obama must be au fait with the deviousness of Rafsanjani's politics. If Rafsanjani's putsch succeeds, Iran would at best bear resemblance to a decadent outpost of the "pro-West" Persian Gulf. Would a dubious regime be durable? More important, is it what Obama wishes to see as the destiny of the Iranian people? The Arab street is also watching. Iran is an exception in the Muslim world where people have been empowered. Iran's multitudes of poor, who form Ahmadinejad's support base, detest the corrupt, venal clerical establishment. They don't even hide their visceral hatred of the Rafsanjani family. Alas, the political class in Washington is clueless about the Byzantine world of Iranian clergy. Egged on by the Israeli lobby, it is obsessed with "regime change". The temptation will be to engineer a "color revolution". But the consequence will be far worse than what obtains in Ukraine. Iran is a regional power and the debris will fall all over. The US today has neither the clout nor the stamina to stem the lava flow of a volcanic eruption triggered by a color revolution that may spill over Iran's borders. Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany
, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.

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