US-Iran talks: No goodies for the mullahs. A subscription article from Debka gives a blunt assessment of the recent negotiations between Iranian and US diplomats: "What they saw was a tough American front." The analysis asserts that the Administration's "stance was strictly limited to an agenda dictated by US demands and direct Iranian responses to those demands". Further underscoring the uncompromising position of the American side was the presence of a large and still growing strike force off the Iranian coast. Debka's analysts, who are not always impressed with Washington's Middle East policy, saw the talks as a shrewd play to raise anxiety in the Iranian regime and exploit rifts between hardliners and pragmatists in Tehran. While Bush is taking some heat back home for the talks, Debka asserts that the consensus in Tehran was quite different: Bush was the clear winner.
ITM: Bad guys killing bad guys.Iraq the Model: 'Fighting in a western Baghdad district between two insurgent groups continued for the 2nd day, eye witnesses told ITM.
The clashes erupted yesterday around noon between two groups of insurgents that are competing for control in the Amiriya district, one of Baghdad's most violent and lawless districts. The two groups, teams actually, were later identified; on one side there's al-Qaeda and the Islamic state in Iraq and on the other there's the Islamic army and 'Jaish al-Mujahideen' (The brigades of the 1920 revolution in another account), the latter are know to be largely military and intelligence officers of the former regime as well as members of the Baath Party. "I saw seven or eight bodies of militants who were killed in the clashes lying on the ground" one eyewitness said this morning. This was before the fighting resumed after a short pause.'
Ayaan Hirsi Ali speaks out.Brisbane Times: 'AS A small girl, Ayaan Hirsi Ali's clitoris and labia were cut off with a pair of scissors. She was then sewn up with a piece of twine "to keep her chaste". In the world in which she then lived, Ali was not alone: the World Health Organisation estimated in 2000 the number of girls and women who had undergone genital mutilation between 100 million and 140 million. The practice is widespread in Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia. Islam is dominant in these countries, and Ali links the mutilation to Islam. "Islam is a totalitarian doctrine that puts women in a position that no other totalitarian doctrine, not even Communism, not even Nazism, did," says Ali. "In Islam, women come off the worst."' Family Security Matters notes that she received death threats even when she spoke in Pennsylvania.
Eleventh Israeli killed by Qassams. 'Thirteen-year-old Chai Shalom suffered from cerebral palsy, and was deaf, mute, and confined to a wheel-chair. He was hospitalized after a rocket landed next to a bus transporting him and three other disabled children.' - JPost. Via IRIS.
RNC hears a giant sucking sound.Tammy Bruce isn't surprised by this report from the Washington Times: 'Faced with an estimated 40 percent fall-off in small-donor contributions and aging phone-bank equipment that the RNC said would cost too much to update, Anne Hathaway, the committee's chief of staff, summoned the solicitations staff last week and told them they were out of work, effective immediately, the fired staffers told The Times... There has been a sharp decline in contributions from RNC phone solicitations, another fired staffer said, reporting that many former donors flatly refuse to give more money to the national party if Mr. Bush and the Senate Republicans insist on supporting what these angry contributors call "amnesty" for illegal aliens. "Everyone donor in 50 states we reached has been angry, especially in the last month and a half, and for 99 percent of them immigration is the No. 1 issue," said the former employee.' Tammy adds: 'To force the RNC to shut its phone fundraising operation is a remarkable accomplishment. Congratulations. This is what hurts them the most and is immediately felt, let; McConnell fantasize about what '08 may or may not bring. What Senate Monkeys like him must face, as Howard Beale made so clear, is we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore. I want to make one thing very clear--you must not let up. ... Our job will not be over until that bill is dead.'
Fort Dix plot.CTB: 'Six men have been arrested for terrorism-related charges emanating out of an alleged plot to enter a military base in New Jersey, Fort Dix, and kill as many of our soldiers as possible. I will provide my thoughts with the limited amount of information that is being made available (download and read the official complaint). First of all, it is essential to realize that all men were born overseas and that one man was described as a naturalized citizen. I do not know how long he has been a naturalized citizen. He may have entered the United States as a young child with his family or he may have recently acquired United States citizenship. I would certainly be interested in knowing if the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services office at DHS dropped the ball, or if they had no way of knowing. Similarly, two of the men have been described as being resident aliens. I am similarly concerned as to how and when they were given resident alien status. Finally, we know that 3 men are described as being illegal aliens. The obvious question is how did they enter the United States?....' NRO symposium: 'Mary Habeck - There are three important lessons to learn about these six men. First, they seem to have taken to heart Abu Musab al-Suri’s advice to create a decentralized global Islamic resistance. ... Second, most of the men were Muslims (and Albanians) from the former Yugoslavia. While we may see our actions in this war-torn part of the world as one of our “good deeds,” in the jihadist conspiratorial vision of events, the U.S. was only involved in this conflict in order to kill Muslims. The intervention of foreign jihadis decisively turned the tide against the Serbs, not U.S. military action. ... Finally, the reports describe a video showing “ten young men” firing weapons, yet only six were arrested. This is not over.' Go to the link for comments from VDH, M. Zuhdi Jasser, Daniel Pipes, and Robert Spencer.
Breaking: Sexism isn't just in the Middle East.Tammy Bruce cites the BBC: 'British TV standards are deteriorating because the BBC is "run by women", astronomer Sir Patrick Moore has said. The Sky at Night host also described female newsreaders as "jokey" and called for separate channels to cater for the needs of the different sexes. "I think it may eventually happen," the 84-year-old told the Radio Times. A BBC spokesman described Sir Patrick as being one of TV's best-loved figures and said his "forthright" views were "what we all love about him". The presenter said: "The trouble is the BBC now is run by women and it shows soap operas, cooking, quizzes, kitchen-sink plays. You wouldn't have had that in the golden days."' Tammy adds: 'The 84-year old Moore should be told that the BBC is actually run by a man, Peter Fincham, and its mediocre programming is what you get for government-sponsored and subsequently controlled, show. And the so-called news coverage? Embarrassingly biased and juvenile due to leftists who happen to be both women and men.'
Pentagon report: Iraq insurgency's life expectancy about 10 years.ThreatsWatch: 'A study commissioned by the Pentagon reports that insurgencies like the one taking place in Iraq have about a 10-year life-span before eventually failing. The study’s authors suggest that the best-case scenario has the Iraqi insurgency going strong for at least three more years, though based on precedence five years is probably the more realistic time-frame.' Here's the USA Today article:
The Annandale, Va.-based Dupuy Institute is under a Defense Department contract to study insurgencies to help give commanders more information about what works and what doesn't. The study is due to be completed in September.
The military recently produced a new counterinsurgency manual that establishes doctrine for waging a counterinsurgency.
According to the manual, defeating an insurgency requires:
•An understanding of local society;
•Good intelligence about the enemy;
•Establishing security and a rule of law;
•Establishing a long-term commitment.
The new doctrine points out the limits to using overwhelming firepower, which could anger civilians, and the need to find political solutions to win over the population.
The manual says counterinsurgency is much more complex than other forms of warfare, requiring the coordination of political, military and economic efforts.
As part of the study, the institute built a database of 63 post-World War II insurgencies, including Vietnam, the French in Algeria and the Soviets in Afghanistan.
Go read the rest, it's interesting.
Follow the money trail.CTB: 'Last week the Bush Administration issued its new strategy for combating money laundering. Crafted by the Department of the Treasury, along with Justice, State, Homeland Security, the Federal Reserve, Comptroller of the Currency, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, it sets forth a new Administration focus on money laundering as a direct threat to our national and economic security. Previous AML strategies had co-mingled, and encompassed, combating both money laundering and terrorism financing. But, this strategy tackles money laundering independently. As it contains no call for additional resources, it may portend a shift in resources from terrorism financing investigations to new AML priorities. This could have a negative impact on the Administration’s ability to effectively address new and emerging terrorism financing schemes and mechanisms. The new AML strategy places increased emphasis on the international aspects of money laundering. ...' Read it all, and follow the link to a comprehensive PBS article on the Black Market Peso Exchange.
Iran: Teachers arrested for labor rights activism.Azarmehr:
Most of the teachers below have been sentenced already for refusing to sign a pledge which required them to stop further union activities. Perhaps the UK sailors could learn from their courage.
- Mansour Mirzaii, Yazd
- Abtahi, Khomeini Shahr
- Abbas Moussavi
- Ali Asghar Ghanbari
- Akbar Akbari
- Akbar Rayeeszadeh
- Mansour Hamidi
- Ismail Rasoolkhani
- Gholamreza Shirvani
- Yussefali Gholamrezaii
- Saeed Tadayon
- Mostafa Ghahremani-gol
- Reza Abdi
War on Jihad: "Neither military nor diplomatic, but rather, ideological."CTB: 'AS THE United States battles insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan while fearing the next terrorist attack on our shores, it has become apparent that the solution to the struggle against radical Islam is neither military nor diplomatic, but rather, ideological. Only by tackling the ideology that motivates potential jihadis from Baghdad to London can the United States hope to win what will undoubtedly be a generational conflict. During the Cold War the West supported various pro-democracy and anti-Communist voices throughout the world, and the same can be done today. Why not empower moderates within the Muslim world? Why not intervene in what is often defined as a civil war for the soul of Islam in support of those who espouse positions that are compatible with our national interest?...' Go and read. See also the RAND Corporation report: 'Radical and dogmatic interpretations of Islam have gained ground in recent years in many Muslim societies via extensive Islamist networks spanning the Muslim world and the Muslim diaspora communities of North America and Europe. Although a majority throughout the Muslim world, moderates have not developed similar networks to amplify their message and to provide protection from violence and intimidation. With considerable experience fostering networks of people committed to free and democratic ideas during the Cold War, the United States has a critical role to play in leveling the playing field for Muslim moderates.'
Building schools in Tarmiyah and Musada.MNF-Iraq: 'Soldiers with 2nd “Stallion” Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, escorted local contractors transporting boxes of tiles, doors, windows, bathroom fixtures, ceiling fans and other building supplies for several new schools in two small towns north of the Iraqi capital, Tarmiyah and Musada. One school under construction is the Huda Girls’ School in Tarmiyah, which was targeted by al-Qaeda extremists in the area twice in the past month using improvised explosive devices. In the most recent attempt by insurgents to halt construction, stallion soldiers discovered five artillery shells, two large explosive-filled propane tanks and numerous projectiles emplaced in and around the all-girls’ school. According to the executive officer of the battalion, Maj. Robert Rodriguez, from Santa Fe, N.M., the Multi-National Division–Baghdad troops will continue to develop projects such as these, despite al-Qaeda’s attempts to stop them.'
Iraqi soldiers serve proudly.MNF-Iraq: 'Iraqi Army Pvt. Najah Hassan Kathim, who deserted the old Iraqi Army during the initial invasion of April 2003, resumed his military career in the new Iraqi Army when he began basic training in February. “The basic training here now is first class,” said Kathim. “The equipment is new and the training is new.” Kathim knew when he joined the new Iraqi Army he would be one of 1,895 Soldiers who made up the “Samarra Brigade,” and he would be serving with his basic training comrades. “We’ve had enough time to train together, we know each other, and we’ll go to battle together,” Kathim said about his fellow basic trainees on his graduation day. The ‘Samarra Brigade’ will formally stand as the 4th Brigade, 4th Iraqi Army Division in late May to protect the 60-mile stretch from Baghdad to Samarra.' Go to the link to learn more about these soldiers' inspiring degree of motivation and esprit de corps.
US soldiers win Afgans' trust.CENTCOM: 'By living among the people of Afghanistan and gaining their trust and respect, U.S. troops are winning in the eastern part of the country, a U.S. commander there said today. “We’ve defeated the enemy every time we’ve met him over the last 16 months,” said Army Col. John Nicholson during a news conference from Afghanistan. “We feel genuinely appreciated by the Afghan people.” The 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, commander said that although his troops have been in the war-torn country for 16 months, their morale is high because they feel gratified by what they do and know they are making a difference for the people and government there. The Army announced Jan. 25 that the division, based at Fort Drum, N.Y., was to extend 120 days past its yearlong deployment to Afghanistan. The fact that his troops have spent 16 months on the ground is an advantage, Nicholson said. “In many cases, our soldiers have more experience than the enemy fighters they are facing,” he said. “As a result we are defeating them soundly every time they show themselves.” '
Debka: Olmert, Livni seek changes to Saudi plan.Debka: 'Foreign minister Tzipi Livni is due in Cairo Thursday, May 10, to meet her Egyptian and Jordanian opposite numbers, followed by Prime minister Ehud Olmert’s face-to-face with King Abdullah 11 in Petra on May 15. This will be his first foreign trip since a scathing report on his management of the Lebanon War sparked demands for his resignation. DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources say Israel’s diplomatic effort will be in vain, given the revised Saudi approach to Tehran and its radical orientation.'
Stratfor: OMV, Central Europe's largest oil and natural gas supplier, announces Iraqi/Kurdish talks.Stratfor (subscription): 'Austria's OMV announced March 8 that it has been in negotiations about energy contracts with the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government, making it the first company to announce such talks. In its search for a supplier for its proposed Nabucco pipeline, OMV has faced difficulties from obvious suppliers like Iran and Russia -- making Iraq look like more of a possibility.' The Stratfor article points out that Iraqi Kurdistan - unlike Iraq as a whole - has both stability and an internationally recognized, locally legitimate government.