Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Discovery Game: The Coming Attack on Iran

Iran is in trouble. France's new president considers a nuclear-armed Iran “unacceptable” and that he would support tougher sanctions to discourage the government in Tehran.

The UN has already passed at least three resolutions prohibiting the proliferation of nuclear weapons in Iran. The last was Resolution 1747 in March that tightened sanctions and banned arms sales to Tehran and also froze some Iranian assets. Resolution 1696 (2006) and Resolution 1737 (2006) both express the IAEA Director General's serious concern over the issue of nuclear proliferation in Iran, and which Iran has failed to comply with. According to 1747 there should be another UN Resolution coming soon, since it's been more than 60 days since it was drafted.

Will this make much difference in Iran? Just this Monday, on Alalam Satellite TV, Ahmadinejad gave warning of “severe” retaliation. (Everyone has been keen that he used the word "severe".) Some, like Netscape News (Netscape News?) say he "vows a severe response". The full quote is on Political Gateway:

"They [the Americans] understand that if they should make this mistake, the retaliation of the Iranian people will be severe and they will repent."

This was said in Abu Dhabi, just days after Dick Cheney had been there. Iran is referring to attempts to blockade, most likely, the Strait of Hormuz (pictured above), where the American warships patrol and through which huge quantities of crude oil pass each day.

The IAEA says some 1,300 centrifuges are now spinning to enrich uranium at a facility in Natanz, a difficult task that many were not sure Iran could pull off. Some 3,000 centrifuges are needed to produce enough weapons-grade uranium to make a bomb in less than a year, and Iran may bring another 600 online by this summer. It must be noted that Iran has about 50,000 centrifuges at this particular site already, excluding places like Arak. But those 50,000 are running on gas at the moment, because of course, it is a power plant despite what the Bush Administration has been saying.

Human rights in Iran are terrible. HRW's list of atrocities is enormous. The regime continues to disregard the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, saying that while the West has only recently drafted this document, while the Islamic Republic has had the Qu'ran for centuries--which provides a basic model for equal human protection. But how can they say that when people like Canadian-Iranian photographer Zahra Kazemi are brutally tortured and raped in their prisons? Or when in 1998 Iranian intellectuals were targetted and secretly murdered by the government? Iran assassinates and imprisons political opposition, persecutes Bahai's and Jews, controls the internet, and controls the press. Surely this is not all sanctioned by the Qu'ran.

Less widely reported was the recent detention of Hossein Mousavian, a former top nuclear negotiator. He is accused of espionage after he allegedly had contact with employees of a foreign embassy. The Islamic Republic ranks second only to China for the World's highest number of "confirmed" executions. The nineteenth principle of the Iranian Fundamental Law states that "the Iranian people, no matter which ethnic group, should enjoy equal rights; color, race, language, etc. are not a cause for different treatment." Yet women are harassed in the street for not wearing proper dress.

The IAEA’s leader, Mohamed ElBaradei--a 2005 Nobel Peace Prize winner for his nuclear proliferation prevention efforts--has just recently split from Western powers, with a suggestion that Iran should be allowed to retain some uranium-enrichment capacity. This is something US officials will be irate about shortly, and their anger is hypocritical: they are angered when Iran has nuclear weapons, but not when Israel has them.

It is easy to be doubtful about whether the United States will attack Iran now. There are now more Leftist elements in the government to check their war belligerence. Ideas like "peace" are starting to spread, hopefully. But it has been circulating that the Bush Administration has plans to invade Iran before the 2008 election. An Arab News blog reported that a former US intelligence analyst leaked plans that the Bush Administration already had plans to control the Strait of Hormuz with nuclear weapons before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Reports on that plan, TIRANNT, can also be found in the Washington Post. So the invasion plans are out there, no doubt, and have existed since at least 2003. They exist in draft form. None of this has been disclosed by the US Military, of course. And none of it is widely known.

Something that journalists gravely regretted after the 2003 Invasion of Iraq was that most of them had not performed as intelligent and diligent journalists. They had not delved too deeply into these military plans, and report these findings to the public. Now, with Iran, it's once again going to be essential to play the discovery game. This time more vigorously. Citizen-media must also stay vigilant.

US officials now claim that Iran is secretly creating alliances with al-Qaida and Sunni militias in Iraq to prepare for a "summer showdown" with Western forces. This is making an invasion of Iran even easier for the US officials to justify: since we are already at war with Iran, via proxy war in Iraq, then it's not that difficult to follow the insurgents into Iran.

Any regime that has been linked to al-Qaeda gets attacked by the US. And that is exactly what we're seeing now. "The relationships between Iran and groups like al-Qaida are very fluid,” the official said in the Guardian. They use "Salifi Jihadist ideology for their own purposes." These insurgents from Iran and Syria are coming over the Iran-Iraq and Iraq-Syrian border, and American patience is apparently wearing thin. The same official said that the Syrians were collaborating on this "Summer Offensive" plan to drive US forces from Iraq.

Many people believe that the idea behind the 30,000 troop increase was to "beef up" the presence in Iraq in order to prepare for an invasion of Iran. When the pieces are put together, this makes clear sense. Military officials, who would rather have politics out of their operations, say that Iran is "getting away with murder" and that the "political will has already failed."

This is a clear sign that the military is seriously considering undeclared, open war with Iran. It is the very essence of contingency planning. Military elements in our government will likely push for covert or perhaps overt operations in Iran this Summer. We should keep our vigilance and decide to stay seized on this matter.

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