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Iran Super Thread- Merged

I know most of this thread is for news posts etc. but lets face it. Can we really trust anything from the US or Britain when it comes to intel? I sat and watched with my own eyes as they told the world audience that Iraq had WMD's and the possiblity of creating nuclear weapons. I then also watched with MY own eyes as George Bush HIMSELF came on TV and said that they were wrong, that the intel was wrong, that they were doing an investigation into why the intel was wrong, but that Sadam was still a bad person and needed to go....... like honestly WTF if you want a claim a war on tyranny lets go to war with China, North Korea, Somalia, and Sudan. I know Iran isn't much better when it comes to holding true to their word but how is the US any better? Even if they come out with satellite images, recordings of Iranian scientists saying they are building nuclear weapons, and tons of documents, the USA has proved they cannot be trusted. I call BS.
With intelligence, one must always act on capabilities, not intentions.

The Iraqi Ba'athist regime spent decades on real WMD programs, and used chemical weapons against the Iranians and internally on the Kurds, so the capability was quite proven.

After the first Persian Gulf War, the Ba'athist regime continued to make all the motions of having WMD programs in place, and even powerful neo-con politicians like Bill Clinton and Senator Kerry proclaimed the threat of Iraqi WMD in the late 1990's, as did intelligence agencies throughout the world. It is still an open question as to what was actually happening, since much of the documentation captured after OIF seems never to have been translated, and much unexplained traffic from Iraq to Syria in the weeks leading to OIF have never been accounted for either. Who knows, maybe they were just moving Saddan's art treasures, but no explanation has ever surfaced to my knowledge.

Iran has certainly demonstrated all the capabilities needed to enrich uranium, and now seemingly the ability to build the complete weapon including the trigger, and also have a well developed capability to launch long range rockets AND a known capability to support terrorist movements around the world. Pretty nasty capabilities, especially when you add their stated intent: become the hegemon of the middle east and also destroy the State of Isreal.
gillbates said:
Did you mean to say 'Democrat'?

Mike needs to give us a sarcasm smiley.

Iran tests a long-range missile, which further irks the Israel, the US and the rest of the West:


TEHRAN, Iran – Iran on Wednesday test-fired an upgraded version of its most advanced missile, which is capable of hitting Israel and parts of Europe, in a new show of strength aimed at preventing any military strike against it amid the nuclear standoff with the West.
The test stoked tensions between Iran and the West, which is pressing Tehran to rein in its nuclear program. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said it showed the need for tougher U.N. sanctions on Iran.

"This is a matter of serious concern to the international community and it does make the case for us moving further on sanctions. We will treat this with the seriousness it deserves," Brown said after talks with U.N. chief Ban Ki-Moon in Copenhagen.

In Washington, Defense Department press secretary Geoff Morrell called the launch provocative but said the technology was not "particularly different than anything we've seen in the past."

"Obviously, it is another example of provocative actions on the part of the Iranian government that do nothing to instill any degree of confidence in its neighbors that it has peaceful intentions," he said.

Wednesday's test was for the latest version of Iran's longest-range missile, the Sajjil-2, with a range of about 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers). That range places Israel, Iran's sworn enemy, well within reach, as well as U.S. bases in the Gulf region and parts of southeastern Europe.

The two-stage Sajjil-2 and is powered entirely by solid-fuel while the older, medium-range Shahab-3 missile uses a combination of solid and liquid fuel in its most advanced form

Its all coming together for Iran long range missile test successful,work progressing on nuclear trigger development and enrichment process very far along. The Israelis have a very short window of opportunity if they are going to strike. Once the Russians deploy the SA-300 system only stealth systems would make a strike possible - something they lack. The US is certainly not going to take part unless the Saudi King gave Obama the thumbs up.
Does anyone really think Obama has the....cajones....to order a strike on Iran?

I really think he lacks the intestinal fortitude.
The death of a prominent reform-minded cleric seems to have become the rallying point for opposition protestors critical of the current regime.

Is it just me or do I see a parallel with a similar set of events that occurred in China in June 1989? The death of a reform-minded goverment official named Hu Yaobang eventually became the rallying point for a series of protests which became the "Tiananmen Square student movement" and the ensuing bloody crackdown at the same location.

Will we see something similar happen in Iran eventually? Time will tell.


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – A huge funeral procession for Iran's most senior dissident cleric became a show of defiance against the country's rulers Monday as mourners flashed green protest colors and chanted against the Islamic leadership in Iran's holy city of Qom.
The response by authorities was not as punishing as in recent demonstrations — an apparent attempt to avoid bloodshed and chaos during the cortege for one of the patriarchs of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the one-time heir to lead the country.

But the major outpouring for Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri by opposition supporters could signal a restive week ahead. Tens of thousands of demonstrators, if not more, filled the main boulevards in Qom, the hub of Islamic scholarship and study in mostly Shiite Iran.

Iran is marking one of the most important periods on the Shiite religious calendar with ceremonies that draw deeply on themes of martyrdom and sacrifice, which could inspire fresh opposition marches. It culminates on Sunday, the same day mourners will gather for the traditional seven-day memorial for Montazeri's death.

Opposition leaders have used holidays and other symbolic days in recent months for anti-government rallies. Montazeri, who died of apparent natural causes on Sunday at age 87, had stunned even hard-core protesters with his scathing denunciations of the ruling clerics and their efforts to crush dissent after the disputed presidential election in June.
His open assault on the highest reaches of the Islamic system helped galvanize the opposition and shatter taboos about criticizing the pinnacle of power: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

On Monday, demonstrators chanted the now-familiar "Death to the Dictator" that's become a catchall slogan against Iran's leadership, witnesses said. Some protesters shouted specific slurs against Khamenei, according to video clips posted on the Web.

The witnesses spoke on condition of anonymity because of fear of arrest and the authenticity of the Web video could not be independently verified. The accounts, however, were consistent with reports from a variety of sources.

Iranian authorities barred foreign media from covering the funeral in Qom, about 60 miles south of Tehran. Communications also appeared disrupted.

Internet in Iran was slow, and cellular telephone service was unreliable. The government has periodically restricted communications in an attempt to prevent protesters from organizing.

But people had been streaming toward Qom since word of Montazeri's death began to spread.
Crowds were packed shoulder-to-shoulder for blocks following the truck carrying Montazeri's body. A single white turban sat atop the vehicle.

Video posted on the Web showed people beating their chests in a sign of mourning before Montazeri's body was buried in a shrine alongside his son, who died in a bomb blast in the early years of the Islamic Revolution.

Some climbed onto winter-bare tree branches for a better view of the procession — which included many mourners holding aloft both black-rimmed portraits of Montazeri and green banners and wrist bands in a powerful show of support for the Green Movement of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi.

Mousavi, who was defeated in the presidential election, attended the funeral along with another prominent protest leader, Mahdi Karroubi, witnesses said. Some reformist sites reported that Mousavi's car was attacked as he left Qom and at least one member of his entourage was injured. The reports could not be independently confirmed.

Both men have faced direct confrontations from hard-line vigilantes and security forces at past rallies.

Some mourners clashed briefly with security forces and pro-government militiamen charged some protesters, opposition Web sites said. The militiamen later tore down mourning banners and ripped up posters of Montazeri near his home, where he spent five years under house arrest, the Hammihan Web site reported.

Thousands of mourners also marched in the cleric's hometown of Najafabad, near the central city of Isfahan.

Web video showed crowds of men beating their chests and chanting, "Oppressed Montazeri, you are with God now." Women in black robes shouted, "Dictator, dictator, Montazeri is alive," and "Montazeri, you who spoke the truth! Your path will be followed."

Montazeri's death left authorities in an awkward spot that could be repeated as more high-profile clerics drift toward the opposition.

They could not ignore Montazeri's role as a guiding force of the Islamic Revolution and protege of its leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who selected Montazeri to succeed him. But officials also regarded him as a fearsome critic who was too venerable to silence.

State television made only a passing reference to Monday's funeral. It was, however, pouring across the Web with videos, firsthand reports that showed the inability of Iran's authorities to fully control the Internet.

Montazeri broke with the regime in the 1980s after claiming that the ruling clerics violated the ideals of the revolution by taking absolute power rather than serving as advisers to political leaders. He spent five years under house arrest and had only a minor role in political affairs after being released in 2003.

But the outrage after June's election gave him a new voice that resonated with a younger generation. His most pivotal moments came in the summer when he denounced the "despotic" tactics and "crimes" of the ruling clerics.

In demonstrations earlier this month, students shouted "Death to the dictator!" and burned pictures of Khamenei — an act that was almost unthinkable just a few months ago.

Montazeri's grandson, Nasser Montazeri, said he died in his sleep. The Web site of Iranian state television quoted doctors as saying Montazeri had suffered from asthma and arteriosclerosis, a disease that thickens and hardens arteries.

Montazeri helped draft the nation's post-revolution constitution, which was based on a concept called "velayat-e faqih," or rule by Islamic jurists. That idea enshrined a political role for Islamic clerics in the new system.

But a deep ideological rift soon developed with Khomeini. Montazeri envisioned the Islamic experts as advisers to the government, who should not have outright control to rule themselves. He was also among those clerics who believed the power of the supreme leader comes from the people, not from God
Ahmadinejad's stubborness at it again:


By NASSER KARIMI, Associated Press Writer Nasser Karimi, Associated Press Writer – 24 mins ago
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran's president on Tuesday dismissed a year-end deadline set by the Obama administration and the West for Tehran to accept a U.N.-drafted deal to swap enriched uranium for nuclear fuel. The United States warned Iran to take the deadline seriously.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also accused the U.S. of fabricating a purported Iranian secret document that appears to lay out a plan for developing a critical component of an atomic bomb.

Ahmadinejad's remarks underscored Tehran's defiance in the nuclear standoff — and also sought to send a message that his government has not been weakened by the protest movement sparked by June's disputed presidential election. He spoke a day after the latest opposition protest by tens of thousands mourning a dissident cleric who died over the weekend.

Late Tuesday, the Web site of state-run television said Ahmadinejad had appointed a new chief of Iran's prestigious Art Academy, removing opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi from the post.

Mousavi, a presidential challenger who alleged voting fraud, had attended Monday's funeral procession. There was no immediate comment from Mousavi.

President Barack Obama has set a rough deadline of the end of this year for Iran to respond to an offer of dialogue on the nuclear issue. Washington and its allies are warning of new, tougher sanctions on Iran if it doesn't respond.

From this morning's CTV.CA website:
Anti-government protests in Iran turned deadly Sunday, as witnesses and opposition web sites reported that security forces opened fire on demonstrators, killing at least four.
Thousands of protesters ignored government warnings of a harsh crackdown ahead of the demonstrations and took to the streets of the capital, Tehran.
The demonstrators shouted "Death to the dictator" in reference to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and threw stones at security forces, according to opposition web sites.
According to the reports, security forces first fired tear gas and warning shots into the air in a failed attempt to disperse the crowd.
The heavily armed officers then opened fire into the crowd, killing at least four people, reported the pro-reform web site Rah-e-Sabz.
CNN is also reporting "Deaths...in Iran Clashes"
Fresh clashes broke out between demonstrators and security forces in Tehran on Sunday as large crowds gathered for Ashura, a major religious observance.
An opposition Web site said three people had been killed in clashes. But, with tight restrictions on international media, CNN could not independently verfiy the casualties.

Al-ZJazeera is reporting up to eight dead, including the nephew of Hossein Mousavi- not good.


The nephew of Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi is reportedly among  eight people killed in continuing clashes between police and protesters.

An aide to the leader said on Sunday that Ali Mousavi died after being shot by the police, but the claim could not be independently verified as foreign news organisations are barred by the authorities from covering street unrest.

Iranian state television, however, confirmed  that several people were killed in clashes.

More on link.
One point to ponder is if the Iranian people throw off their opressors on their own; how will the new Iranian government act towards the West which sat by and did little or nothing to help?


Could the Mullahs Fall This Time?

by Rouzbeh Parsi

Rouzbeh Parsi is Research Fellow at the European Institute for Security Studies

Trita Parsi

Trita Parsi is the President of the National Iranian American Council and the 2010 Recipient of the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order.

BS Top - Parsi Iran Protests AP Photo As protesters poured into the streets of Iran in the biggest and bloodiest demonstration since June, Trita and Rouzbeh Parsi say this time could be the breaking point.

With the government growing increasingly desperate—and violent—the new clashes on the streets in Iran may very well prove to be the breaking point of the regime. If so, it shows that the Iranian theocracy ultimately fell on its own sword. It didn't come to an end due to the efforts of exiled opposition groups or the regime change schemes of Washington's neo-conservatives. Rather, the Iranian people are the main characters in this drama, using the very same symbols that brought the Islamic Republic into being to close this chapter in a century-old struggle for democracy.

It will indeed be ironic if the Iranian theocracy begins to crumble on the most important religious day of the Shiite calendar.

Protests flared up again because of Ashura, the climax of a month of mourning in the Shiite religious calendar. It is a day of sadness for the death of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Hussain, who was martyred in 680. And this year the commemoration coincided with the seventh day after the death of dissident Grand Ayatollah Ali Montazeri, adding to the significance of the day. Ashura is also a reminder that the eternal value of justice must be defended regardless of the odds of success. This has provided the relentless Green movement with yet another opportunity to outmaneuver the Iranian government by co-opting its symbols and challenge its legitimacy through the language of religion.

This battle cry for justice in all its simplicity is where most political conflagrations start. It is the deafness of the powers that be that often make them the kernel of something larger and more earth shattering. It is testimony to the arrogance of power that a simple and rather modest call for accountability and justice is beaten down only to return, demanding more, and less willing to compromise and accommodate.

And it wouldn’t be the first time. In 1906, the call for a house of justice went unheeded and was followed by demonstrations, and eventually transformed into a demand for a written constitution. Similarly Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, in his imperial ineptitude, brought on himself an increasingly anti-monarchical coalition, ranging from liberals and communists, to the victorious Islamists who forged the Islamic Republic in 1979.

Ashura, with its story of perseverance and martyrdom in the face of overwhelming force of oppression, was a perfectly stylized allegory for the struggle between the mighty state of the Shah and the revolutionaries at the end of the 1970s. The Shiite mourning rituals with their revisiting of the dead on the 3rd, 7th and 40th day of death provided the demonstrators then, as well as now, with the opportunity to both remember those who died for the cause as well as re-iterating their opposition and condemnation of that state repression. This played an important role in bringing the simmering political discontent to a boiling point and wearing down what was perceived as the all-powerful Pahlavi state in 1977-78.

It is even more important this time around since there is no extensive leadership structure that steers the opposition. The ability to bring out crowds for important days of the calendar, religious and revolutionary ones, reminds everyone that they are not alone in their opposition to the current government.

No one can predict a revolution nor say with certainty when an authoritarian state loses its footing if not its grip. For it is not necessarily its ability or will to repress that will falter as much as ordinary people's unwillingness to allow themselves to be cowed and intimidated. It is a battle of wills where, on the one hand, the constant mobilization and tension pervading a discontented and rebellious society tests the state machinery's ability to endure as they try to perform their functions (including repression). Weighing in on the other side of the balance is the patience and capacity to stomach pain and suffering of the protesters and their sympathizers in all quarters of society.

Today a significant number of the original revolutionaries of 1979 are imprisoned or being harassed by shadowy groups from the borderlands of state authority. The constituency of the Islamic Republic is becoming increasingly alienated as the hard line faction ruling Tehran demands loyalty to an increasingly surreal understanding of, and vision for, Iranian society. Not much is left of the dynamism and visions that fuelled the revolution of 1979—but having learned from that experience the demands of the reformist movement today are much more sophisticated and their abstention from violence so much more promising for the future.

The State's ability to use the language of religion to repress these developments is failing. Again and again religion has proven itself to be much better suited as a language of resistance than governance. This became increasingly clear to Khomeini himself after the success of the revolution. In the constant bickering within the revolutionary elite, Khomeini increasingly invoked reasons of state for justifying actions, demoting religion to the role of ideological veneer. By the end of his life he stated that the state could abrogate the basic principles of Islam if it deemed necessary for the survival of the Islamic Republic.

Instead of a system where religious thinking controlled and wielded state power he ended up with an arrangement where the state utilized religion for its own purposes, emptying religion and its language of substance, discarding it on the growing heap of unfulfilled promises of the revolution.

Ashura, the commemoration and the principle it invokes, proves to be relevant yet again, as those who hold the reins of power in Tehran unleash violence against their own people. Undoubtedly the people of Iran will persevere in their quest for greater freedom and justice through their non-violent transformation of the system from within. It will indeed be ironic if the Iranian theocracy begins to crumble on the most important religious day of the Shiite calendar.

Rouzbeh Parsi is Research Fellow at the European Institute for Security Studies. Trita Parsi is the President of the National Iranian American Council and the 2010 Recipient of the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order.
Fantastic video of Iranians rescuing two people about to be executed at a public hanging:


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(Note; not sure if I got the embed URL correct)


Is this Iran’s Berlin Wall moment?
Robin Wright: Commentary

It is time to start wondering out loud whether Iran’s uprising could become one of those Berlin Wall moments.

This is not yet a counter-revolution. And the new “green movement” is a coalition of disparate factions — from former presidents to people who have never voted at all — who view the issues through vastly different prisms. Yet the pattern of public outpourings since the disputed election six months ago is setting historic precedents.

The opposition has proven it has the resolve and resilience to sustain its risky challenge, despite the regime’s ruthless use of force, mass arrests, show trials and reports of torture and rape in prison. In the escalating political showdown the opposition has the momentum.

Just as important, the emergence of people power is also setting a new precedent in the last bloc of countries ruled by authoritarian regimes. Thirty years ago, Iran’s revolution redefined politics throughout the Middle East by ending dynastic rule and introducing Islam as a modern political idiom. Iran’s uprising is doing it again — this time by taking to the streets to demand an end to dictatorship as well as calling for fundamental rights such as free speech, a free press and respect for the individual vote.
Related Links

    * Five killed as street battles rage in Iran

    * Mousavi's nephew 'killed' in Tehran clashes

    * Reporters attacked in crackdown by Iran militia

But the green movement is far more than simply sporadic eruptions. This is the most vibrant and imaginative civil disobedience campaign in the world.

There’s the currency campaign, for starters. Thousands of rial notes have been stamped with a simple green “V” for victory. Others bear handwritten slogans that echo the public chants denouncing the regime. Some have even been reprinted with pictures: one is a cartoon of President Ahmadinejad with “people’s enemy” written underneath. Another carries a picture from the mobile phone images of Neda Agha Soltan as she lay dying on the street from a sniper’s bullet. Underneath is written “death to the dictator” — a common public chant against Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The currency campaign even denounces the regime’s foreign policy. “Khamenei the non-believer is the servant of [Russian leader Vladimir] Putin,” declares one slogan, written in green, on a 20,000-rial note. Another chastises: “They stole money and give it to [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chavez.” Some messages simply appeal for others to join the campaign to write anti-regime messages on one billion banknotes. The Government reportedly tried to take the marked notes out of circulation, but found there were too many to replace.

Then there is the boycott of goods advertised on state-controlled television. People in line at markets whisper to other shoppers not to buy certain products that help to subsidise the Government’s broadcasting monopoly — and its version of events. The opposition has also called for boycotts on mobile phone companies that provide technology to the Government. It is impossible to assess the impact but it adds a critical economic component to the political confrontation.

Civil disobedience is often brazen. Graffiti is increasingly showing up on public walls — in green spray paint — to berate the authorities or to announce a new demonstration. Large posters of arrested protesters and dissidents demanding their freedom have appeared on campuses, often timed for the appearance of a pro-regime event or speech.

At football matches and in subway tunnels, mobile phone videos record spontaneous outbursts of the two key opposition chants: “death to the dictator” and “God is great”. The latter was the pivotal revolutionary chant against the monarchy that has been usurped to denounce the revolution’s hardliners. The implication is that God has abandoned the revolution to side with and protect the green movement.

Participation in civil disobedience is far more widespread than the protests. It includes individual, uncoordinated acts, such as a challenge to the Supreme Leader by Mahmoud Vahidnia, an unassuming maths student with no record of dissent. At a meeting with Iran’s academic elite Ayatollah Khamenei warned that the “biggest crime” was questioning the June 12 election. Mr Vahidnia then went to the microphone and criticised the government crackdown, asking about alleged prison abuses and why no one was allowed to criticise the leader. He also told him that he lived in a bubble.

So far the green movement has insisted on non-violence. Perhaps the ultimate irony in the Islamic Republic today is that a brutal revolutionary regime suspected of secretly working on a nuclear weapon faces its biggest challenge from peaceful civil disobedience. And even such a militarised regime has been unable to put it down.

Robin Wright is a senior Fellow at the US Institute of Peace in Washington. The author of five books on the Middle East, she has visited Iran regularly since 1973
Remember this is only a rumor:


Rumors that Iranian Leader May be Readying to Flee Iran

Gateway pundit shows a letter published on the Iranian websites claims that Ayatollah Khamenei is planning a possible escape to Russia.

Radio Netherlands reports indicate that the Supreme National Security Council has ordered a complete check-up of the jet which is on standby to fly Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei and his family to Russia should the situation in Iran spiral out of control

LA times: Iran slayings point to increasingly desperate regime

    The killing of a nephew of opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi and the arrests of other dissidents signal a government fearful of losing its grip even as it seems to court civil war.

UK Guardian: Iranians' green revolution refuses to wither and die

    Amid ominous signs that political tensions were reaching breaking point, reformist websites reported that special forces fired teargas and attacked crowds gathered in some of Tehran's main thoroughfares to begin two days of commemorations for one of Shia Islam's holiest figures. The opposition website Rah-e Sabz reported confrontations in Enghelab, Haft-e Tir and Imam Hossein Squares. Unconfirmed accounts told of disturbances breaking out between Ferdowsi Square and Valiasr crossroads and between Choobi Bridge and Shahmirzadi Hosseinieh.

    Deutsche Welle's Farsi-language website carried reports of further clashes in Isfahan, Tabriz, Kermanshah and Ahvaz.

Times UK Online: Analysts heralded the start of what could be a bloody endgame as hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters poured on to the streets of Tehran and other cities and fought running battles with the security forces. Opposition websites claimed that some policemen had refused to fire on demonstrators.

    The opposition claims that the unrest is spreading across Iran, and to every social class. It senses victory, but activists fear a bloodbath first. “The security forces, especially the Revolutionary Guards, are prepared to fight until the end as they have nowhere to go,” one member said

Wall Street Journal Opinion piece by AFSHIN ELLIAN

    These dissident ayatollahs—such as the late Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who in a famous fatwa last summer declared the regime neither Islamic nor a republic—are no longer alone in turning against Khamenei. Even religious scholars who until recently did not openly defy the regime, have now joined the calls of the opposition. There is the well-respected Ayatollah Yussuf Sanai, for example, who was a friend of Khamenei, who went so far as to state that Khamenei's continuing struggle for power is against Sharia law. There is Ayatollah Mousavi Ardebili, the former president of the judicial branch of Iran, who this summer openly declared his solidarity with the dissident Ayatollah Montazeri. And there are the ayatollahs Bayat Zanjani, Dastghaib, and Taheri who have aligned themselves with the protesting masses. Even Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in neighboring Iraq—who is held in great esteem by Shiites also in Iran—has declared that the oppression of the demonstrators is un-Islamic.

    All this is significant because it broadens the protests to a truly popular movement. The students and educated class don't need fatwas to turn against the regime. But due to the criticism by prominent ayatollahs, the regime is losing its moral legitimacy even in the eyes of less educated and more pious Iranians.

    The regime is not only losing the clergy but also the military. The communiqués from opposition groups and those that reach me personally all indicate that a large part of the Revolutionary Guards is no longer willing to be used as an instrument of oppression. Video images from nearly every demonstration show Revolutionary Guards members joining ranks with the protesters. A declaration signed by air force and army officers and published on the Internet warned radical Revolutionary Guards members to "Stop the violence against your own population."

    This rift also explains why the much-anticipated "China Model" of ruthless and widespread use of force against the population, with thousands of deaths and executions in a matter of days, never happened. If Khamenei could have been sure about the loyalty of the military, he would have used it a long time ago to crush the rebellion for good. The only element of the Revolutionary Guards which still seems to be loyal to the regime is the Quds division, a hodge-podge of terrorists from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and other regions.

    This does not mean this regime will go out with a whimper. During these past six months, the Iranian regime has undergone a dramatic change of character. It has eliminated all pragmatic forces within its ranks. For religious support, they rely on a small but extremely radical group of ayatollahs such as Mesbah Yazde and Ahmad Janati. These are apocalyptic worshippers of the twelfth Imam, or Mahdi. Understanding this group is of the utmost importance for Western policymakers. The Mahdi is viewed as a Messiah-like figure whose return will bring peace on Earth. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad frequently refers to him in his speeches, including those held before the United Nations. While most twelver imam Shiites believe that the Mahdi will appear by his own accord, this radical group believes that his appearance can be triggered by creating the apocalyptic conditions necessary for his emergence. Iran's nuclear weapons program must be seen in this context. Ahmadinejad and the radical fringe group to which he belongs see themselves as the army of the Mahdi in his final jihad.

Foreign Policy: Be careful what you wish for: Would ‘regime change’ help Iran?

    This is not to say that American-Iranian rivalry is inevitable no matter who is in power in Tehran (or Washington), or that Obama's efforts to reopen dialogue with Iran's current government is misplaced. It is rather to suggest that reform (or even revolution) in Iran is not a magic bullet that will suddenly cause all sources of friction to disagree, and to raise the possibility that a smarter and more capable Iran might turn out to be more of a challenge than the government we are dealing with today.

For the first time ever, Israel has called ALL of its ambassadors and consuls home for meetings this week in Jerusalem.
The meetings opened today.

Apparently people at the other forum where this was originally posted think that this is a sign that Israel may be preparing to "go it alone", perhaps with regards to an Iran strike.  :eek:
A murkier picture:


Iran and disinformation
By TigerHawk at 1/02/2010 08:46:00 PM

A couple of days ago, Stratfor published an interesting note about the disinformation campaigns that may, or may not, be swirling around the various bits we have recently learned about Iran's nuclear program and the protests that confronted the regime last week. I would be disappointed if Stratfor's assessment were proved true, but it struck me as important enough to pass along in full (with the hope that my usual endorsement -- subscribe to Stratfor -- will suffice for consideration). Very short commentary follows.


    N INTER PRESS SERVICE (IPS) REPORT emerged Monday in which a former CIA official claims that a widely circulated document describing Iran’s nuclear weapons plans was fabricated. The document in question appeared in the Times of London on Dec. 14 and cited an “Asian intelligence source” who allegedly provided the newspaper with “confidential intelligence documents” on how Iran was preparing to run tests on a neutron initiator, the component of a nuclear bomb that triggers an explosion.

    Former CIA counterterrorism official Philip Giraldi, however, claims in the IPS interview that the Rupert Murdoch publishing empire — which includes the Sunday Times, Fox News and the New York Post in addition to the Times of London — has been used frequently by the Israelis and occasionally by the British government to plant false stories to exaggerate the Iranian nuclear threat. Giraldi has been credited in the past with exposing disinformation campaigns by the previous U.S. administration that were designed to bolster claims that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was attempting to buy uranium from Niger.

    Disinformation campaigns are common practice in the world of intelligence. Diplomatic negotiations, economic sanctions and military strikes are all tools of statecraft that require a considerable amount of political energy. In the grey areas of intelligence, however, policymakers have a relatively low-cost option of directly shaping the perceptions of their target audience through carefully calibrated disinformation campaigns. U.S. administrations, for example, often use The New York Times and The Washington Post for leaks while Israel tends to rely on British media outlets like the Times of London to plant stories that support their policy objectives.

    “It takes a jolt like this to get Washington to go back to the drawing board and re-examine its assessments on Iran.”

    We don’t know if the document on the neutron initiator was completely fabricated, but we do know that these leaks serve a very deliberate political purpose. Israel clearly has an interest in building up the Iranian nuclear threat. The United States has pledged to do its part to neutralize the Iranian nuclear program, and Israel has every incentive to drive the United States toward action. Although they share an interest in eliminating the Iranian nuclear program, each side has very different perceptions of the urgency of the threat and the timetable upon which it must be addressed.

    Giraldi’s counter-leak, on the other hand, plays into the interests of the Obama administration. President Obama has no interest in getting pushed into a military conflict with Iran and wants to buy time to deal with the issue. By discrediting intelligence that has influenced the U.S. net assessment on Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Giraldi could quite effectively send the U.S. intelligence community into a tailspin. Obama can then raise the issue of faulty intelligence to gain more time and room to maneuver with Israel. After all, Israel would have a much more difficult time making the case to Washington that Iran is approaching the point of no return in its nuclear weapons program if the United States can argue that the intelligence supporting that assumption is resting on fabricated evidence.

    It takes a jolt like this to get various policymakers and intelligence officials in Washington to go back to the drawing board and re-examine their assessments on Iran. And Iran’s nuclear progress is not the only issue in question. Western media outlets and certain U.S. non-governmental institutions are spreading the perception that the opposition movement in Iran has gained considerable momentum and that the Iranian regime is on the ropes. Again, we have to take into account the use of disinformation campaigns. There are a lot of people around the world and in Washington that have an interest in painting the perception of an Iranian regime teetering on the edge of collapse. Twitter, YouTube and a handful of mostly U.S.- and Europe-based reformist Web sites, backed by upper-class Iranian expatriates no less, are a useful way to spread this perception.

    But the facts on the ground appear to suggest otherwise. The Dec. 27 Ashura protests, described by many (including our own Iranian sources) as the big showdown between the regime and the opposition, were far more revealing of the marginalization of the opposition and the endurance of the Iranian regime than what many Western media outlets have led their viewers to believe. The protests have failed to break the regime’s tolerance level and have in fact empowered the regime, however fragmented, to crack down with greater force. This is broadly the view we have held since the June protests, but we, like many other intelligence organizations, are also in the process of reviewing our net assessment on Iran. The process is a painfully meticulous one, but one that requires great discipline and, of course, an ability to recognize multiple disinformation campaigns at work.


The first bit -- that the Israelis are manufacturing evidence to support their claims about the state of Iran's nuclear weapons program -- would be disinformation. The second -- that dissident groups claim greater significance for the Ashura protests than the facts prove -- is just public relations. All "social change" movements try to make themselves look bigger and more significant than they are. The propaganda of would-be revolutionaries tends to be more or less believed by people who more or less support them, respectively.

Beyond that, there is an obvious circularity in Stratfor's note. Personally, I have subscribed for years and regard that organization's analysis as generally interesting, credible, and valuable. I wonder, though, whether Stratfor's note also looks like disinformation to readers who do not share that assumption.
The "consequences" for Iran,  if it kept on its current course, that Obama alluded to in his last State of the Union speech?

Associated Press link

WASHINGTON – As the Obama administration edges toward imposing tougher sanctions on Iran, it has begun upgrading its approach to defending its Persian Gulf allies against potential Iranian missile strikes, officials said Saturday.

The United States has quietly increased the capability of land-based Patriot defensive missiles in several Gulf Arab nations, and one military official said the Navy is beefing up the presence of ships capable of knocking down hostile missiles in flight.

The officials discussed aspects of the defensive strategy on condition of anonymity because some elements are classified.

The moves have been in the works for months and are part of a broader adjustment in the U.S. approach to missile defense, including in Europe and Asia. Details have not been publicly announced, in part because of diplomatic sensitivities in Gulf countries which worry about Iranian military capabilities but are cautious about acknowledging U.S. protection.

Ahmadinejad finally changing his stance on the nuclear fuel issue?

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told state TV that Iran would have "no problem" if most of its stock was held for several months before being returned as fuel rods.

Correspondents say that such a decision would be a major shift in Tehran's position.

The US said that if this was a new offer, it was "prepared to listen".

Last month, diplomats said Iran had informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it did not accept the terms of the deal and had instead demanded a simultaneous exchange on its territory.


The deal agreed in October between Iran, the IAEA and the so-called P5+1 - the US, Russia, China, UK, France plus Germany - envisaged Iran sending about 70% of its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France, where it would be processed into fuel for a research reactor.


In an initial reaction to Mr Ahmadinejad's comments, US state department spokesman P J Crowley said the US was "not prepared to change the deal. We are not interested in renegotiating it. If Iran wants to accept it then they should inform the IAEA".

But a later response from the administration stressed that "if Iran has something new to say, we are prepared to listen".

BBC Tehran correspondent Jon Leyne, reporting from London, says that even now there will be scepticism over whether this Iranian change of heart really means anything.

The US is pressing hard for new sanctions against Iran because of the nuclear programme, so this could well just be a case of the Iranian government playing for time, trying to weaken forces lined up against it, he says.


BBC link
Okay with all this going on, how much closer are they to building the bomb?  It seemed like they were starting to get rather close quite a while ago and there was much talk about Israili bombings.  How close are they now, guestimate-wise? 
I'm re-posting this due to an error with my other one.

Iran is giving "friendly" advice to it's neighbours that Patriot missiles are useless against their missiles.


These a@#holes basicly saying to them "You're doomed,accept your fate."

It's no wonder Qatar spent a billion dollars for a airfield big enough to land C-5's,so that the US would come and set up a base there.