Thursday, August 19, 2004

Is Iran headed for war with the United States and Israel?

Iran's brinkmanship . . .

Is Iran headed for war with the United States and Israel? Judging by recent news reports, one could be forgiven for thinking so.

In the past several days, sabre-rattling, primarily from the Iranian side, has grown deafening. Iran "will not sit with arms folded to wait for what others will do to us," Iranian Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani said on Al-Jazeera television Wednesday. In a direct reference to U.S. President George W. Bush's doctrine of pre-emption, Rear Admiral Shamkhani threatened an Iranian first strike in the event that Iranian commanders believe a U.S. or Israeli assault on Iran's nuclear facilities is imminent. "America is not the only one present in the region," he said. "We are also present, from Khost to Kandahar in Afghanistan; we are present in the Gulf and we can be present in Iraq."

Earlier, a senior Iranian military officer said that if Israel bombed its emerging nuclear facility at Bushehr, in a repeat of Israel's pre-emptive strike on Iraq's Osirak nuclear facility in 1981, Iran would attack Israel's nuclear reactor at Dimona. (Though Israel neither confirms nor denies its nuclear status, the Dimona plant is thought to provide weapons-grade plutonium for an estimated 200 Israeli nuclear warheads.) Amid growing international concern over Iran's burgeoning nuclear program, there has been much speculation that Israel contemplates just such a pre-emptive strike. The result, if the threats and counterthreats are to be believed, would be the catastrophic wider Middle Eastern war that the more pessimistic analysts have feared for the past three years.

The public war of words must be taken with a grain of salt. Many analysts believe an Osirak-style strike on Iran is a practical impossibility, both because the country's nuclear facilities are widely dispersed and because the United States, which already has its hands full in Iraq, would oppose it. The last thing President Bush wants in an election year is a broader Mideast war. The U.S. stance so far has been one of pointedly diplomatic bellicosity. John R. Bolton, the U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, is pressing for the matter to be brought before the United Nations Security Council in hopes of isolating Iran economically, not of launching an invasion.

That said, there is cause for concern. Last June, Iran reneged on a commitment to suspend its uranium enrichment program. Last month, according to the United States, Iranian officials said the country could produce enough weapons-grade uranium to build a nuclear bomb within a year. (Most international estimates suggest an Iranian nuclear bomb is between three and five years away.) A week ago, Iran tested the Shahab-3 missile, which has a range of 1,300 kilometres.

Clearly Iran is engaging in brinkmanship, almost certainly predicated on the assumption that the looming presidential election and the war in Iraq have tied the United States' hands. The fact that the mullahs are probably bluffing -- Iran would stand no chance in a military showdown with Israel, let alone the United States -- does not make their posturing any less dangerous. For the U.S. election will be over in November, and Iraq is moving, albeit haltingly, toward greater democracy and stability. Saddam Hussein bluffed, allowing the world to believe he posed an imminent threat. He's now locked in a cell.

Japan’s interests lie in cooperation with Tehran: ambassador

Japan’s interests lie in cooperation with Tehran: ambassador

Tehran Times Political Desk
TEHRAN (MNA) – Japan’s ambassador to Iran, Takekazu Kawamura, said on Monday that his country’s interests come first and Tokyo’s interests lie with cooperation with Tehran.

In a meeting with Expediency Council Chairman Hashemi Rafsanjani, Kawamura said that the economic and political relations between Japan and Iran are on a positive course.

He said all these successes have been achieved due to mutual confidence and common interests.

Iran enjoys ethnic diversity and abundant natural resources and it is very important for Japan to expand cooperation with the country, the Japanese envoy noted.

Rafsanjani, for his part, said that Iran sees no limitations to the expansion of cooperation between the two states in all fields and expects the relationship between the two Asian nations to not be influenced by other countries.

Rafsanjani: US to leave Iraq humiliated

Iran's former president: US to leave Iraq humiliated
19-08-2004, 12:24

Iran's former president and current chairman of the Expediency Council Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said Thursday that the "global arrogant" has come to the region to take control of its wealth.

He said the U.S as well as other occupiers of Iraq are now in the worst possible conditions and have reached a dead end in Iraq due to their ignorance and lack of wisdom and proper planning.

Sooner or later the occupiers will have to leave the country humiliated, he said, adding that their sacrilege of holy places in Iraq will be registered as a document of aggression in the history for ever.

According to the latest opinion poll, some 70-80 percent of the world peoples hate Americans and "this is a divine order and the God almighty never humiliate someone better than this," he said, according to IRNA. (albawaba.com)

Iran allegedly aborts anti-U.S. plot

Iran allegedly aborts anti-U.S. plot

UPI - Thursday, August 19, 2004
TEHRAN, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Iran reportedly aborted a plot by al-Qaida and radical Iranian Revolutionary Guards to assassinate U.S. officers in central Asian countries neighboring Iran.

The Saudi daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat Thursday quoted sources close to Iranian intelligence, which is controlled by reformists, as saying that they discovered the plot after intercepting messages between al-Qaida operatives and Iranian Revolutionary Guards, along with the so-called Quds Brigade, in Iran.

Iranian intelligence also monitored telephone conversations between a senior official in the office of Iranian spiritual guide Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and a senior operative of al-Qaida in Iran.

It said their findings indicated that "there is a sensational plot in which members of Quds Brigade, al-Qaida and the Revolutionary Guards were involved to assassinate U.S. military personnel and intelligence officers operating in central Asia, notably in Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkmenistan, which are Iran's neighbors."

The paper said the plot was aimed at drawing Iran into direct confrontation with the United States as well as countries located on its northern border.



Iran Disquieted by Nearby U.S. Presence

Iran Disquieted by Nearby U.S. Presence

ALI AKBAR DAREINI
Associated Press
TEHRAN, Iran - Iran's defense minister expressed his government's disquiet about the U.S. troop presence in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan, and hinted that some Iranian generals believe they should strike first if they sense an imminent U.S. threat.

In an interview with pan-Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera, Ali Shamkhani was asked how Iran would respond if America were to attack its nuclear facilities.

"We will not sit to wait for what others will do to us," he said. "There are differences of opinion among military commanders (in Iran). Some commanders believe preventive operations is not a model created by Americans ... or is not limited to Americans. Any nation, if it feels threatened, can resort to that."

Shamkhani spoke in Farsi with an Arabic voiceover. Al-Jazeera provided a transcript of Shamkhani's Farsi comments to The Associated Press on Thursday.

President Bush has labeled Iran part of an "axis of evil" along with North Korea and prewar Iraq, but U.S. officials have said recently they are sticking to diplomacy, not force, to try to end what they call Iran's drive for nuclear weapons. Iran, which says its nuclear ambitions are peaceful, has become more defensive about a U.S. campaign to get U.N. Security Council sanctions on Iran for its nuclear activities.

"The moment the great Satan (America) decides to take military action against us, that moment will be the end of all our nuclear obligations," Shamkhani said, referring to Iran's cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

Earlier this month, Iran confirmed it had resumed building nuclear centrifuges, which can be used to enrich uranium to weapons grade, and declared it should have the right to nuclear technology that has both peaceful and weapons uses.

On Tuesday, the deputy chief of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard said Iran would destroy Israel's Dimona nuclear reactor if the Jewish state were to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. Israel has not threatened to attack, but it has said it will not allow Iran to build a nuclear bomb. In 1981 Israeli fighters destroyed a nuclear reactor under construction outside Baghdad because it feared Iraq would acquire a nuclear weapon.

In his interview with Al-Jazeera, Shamkhani also spoke of Israel. "It's certain to us that Israel won't carry out any military action without a green light from America," he said. "So, you can't separate the two."

The nuclear issue is only one of many on which Iran and the United States are at odds. The two countries have not had diplomatic relations since the 1979 Islamic revolution toppled the U.S.-backed shah of Iran.

Iran opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq and now fears the United States is cementing its influence in Iraq. It also fears U.S. influence in Afghanistan, where another U.S.-led campaign ousted the Taliban after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"I say the presence of Americans is not a sign of strength. Americans are a hostage to their own presence," Defense Minister Shamkhani told Al-Jazeera.

The United States fears Iran wants to establish a fundamentalist Shiite regime in its own image in Iraq. U.S. and Iraqi officials have accused Iran of fomenting violence and instability in Iraq, charges Iran denies.

"The Iranian government will never pursue turmoil and unrest in Iraq," Shamkhani told Al-Jazeera.

London returns stolen stone artifact to Iran

London returns stolen stone artifact to Iran
Yazd, Aug. 18, IRNA -- An ancient stone artifact dating back to 12th century A.D. was returned to Iran from London where it was sold in an auction in 2003, said a cultural official in the central provincial city of Yazd on Wednesday.
The stone, believed to date back to the 6th century of the Iranian calander (533 A.H. or 1138 A.D.), formed part of a niche in a mosque in Abrand-Abad village, about 10 km from the central Iranian city of Yazd, said the director-general of provincial cultural heritage organization, Mohammad Beheshti.

It was stolen on February 2002, taken to Dubai, and then to London where it was auctioned for 100,000 pounds (dlr 290,000) by an antiques dealer.

Beheshti said the stone was found in London, which traced it to Iran and then arranged for its return to its source after completion of legal procedures.

The stone is reported to be an 81x65 centimeter gravestone with a number of Quranic verses carved on its margins and apex.

It has now returned to its place of origin in the city of Yazd, 667 km south of the capital Tehran, and will be put on display in the city's museum within the next two months, Beheshti said.

He said that in case security conditions in Yazd are found to be inadequate, the stone would again be transferred to Tehran and kept in a place safe enough to avoid another theft of the valuable item.

Police nab 750 kg of illicit drugs in central Iran
Isfahan, Aug 18, IRNA -- Police seized 750 kg of illicit drugs in the central province of Isfahan over a few days ago.
The drugs seized consisted of opium and hashish, provincial anti-drug police announced on Wednesday.

Iran lies on the crossroads of major drug trafficking routes originating mainly from Afghanistan.

More than 3,600 members of Iran's armed forces have been killed in cross-border clashes with drug traffickers during 20 years of instability in neighboring Afghanistan.

According to official estimates, Iran's anti-drug campaign costs the country about dlrs 800 million annually.

Iran is credited with 80 percent of the opium and 90 percent of the morphine intercepted worldwide.

Iran seizes about 80 percent of drugs worldwide annually. Only last year 200 tons of various types of drugs were seized throughout the country.

South Africa denies Israeli claims about uranium deal with Iran

South Africa denies Israeli claims about uranium deal with Iran
18-08-2004, 13:20


South Africa will not help Iran's nuclear development and will not sell any uranium to Tehran, the South African Ministry of Defense told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday.

A Spokesman for the Ministry, Sam Mkhwnazi, confirmed statements made earlier in the day by South Africa's ambassador to Tel Aviv, Maj.-Gen Fumanekile (Fumie) Gqiba, who told Army Radio that SA will not assist Iran's nuclear plans, and will not support any country wishing to develop nuclear weapons.

Mkhnazi and Gqiba were reacting to Israeli media reports Tuesday which claimed that a recent South African-Iranian defense accord included a sale of uranium to Tehran.

On Tuesday night, Israel's Channel 1 TV reported that the understanding between the two sides included an arrangement for South Africa to sell uranium to Iran.

Mkhnazi rejected this claim. "This can't be correct. South Africa totally gave up its nuclear abilities when the ANC came to power in 1994. We are not going to supply them [Iran] with Uranium. That issue was not even discussed in the meeting [between the South African and Iranian defense ministers.]," he was quote as saying by the Jerusalem Post. (albawaba.com)

Iranian parliament calls on OIC to pay attention to Iraq

Iranian parliament calls on OIC to pay attention to Iraq

www.chinaview.cn 2004-08-19 19:42:12

TEHRAN, Aug. 19 (Xinhuanet) -- Iranian Parliament Speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Adel on Thursday called on the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to pay attention to the recent armed conflicts in Iraq, the official IRNA news agency reported.

"The continuation of vicious attacks on Iraq, particularly the holy city of Najaf, has caused a lot of damage in the country and led to the deaths of many innocent people," Adel said in a messageto the Secretary General of the Parliamentary Union of the OIC.

"Iranian Parliament strongly condemns the inhuman actions against the Iraqi people. It calls on the union as well as its member states to explore all possible ways to protect the oppressed Iraqi nation," the message said.

Iran has kept a close eye on the situation in its west neighbor since the downfall of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. On Tuesday, Adel called on Islamic countries to probe into the recent developments in Najaf.

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi on Wednesday urged Iraq's neighbors to convene an emergency meeting to discuss the current unrest in Iraq.

The United States accused Tehran of interfering in Iraq's internal affairs, especially exerting influence on Iraqi majority Shiite Muslims.

Iran denied the US accusation and, instead, attributed the violence in Iraq to the military presence of the United States and other foreign countries.

Majlis speaker calls for immediate action to release Darban

Majlis speaker calls for immediate action to release Darban

IRNA, Tehran, 19 Aug 2004 -- Majlis Speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Adel here on Wednesday called on executive officials to take immediate action to secure the release of IRNA reporter in Iraq, Mostafa Darban.

He made the remarks in a meeting with members of a special parliamentary journalists committee which was set up to follow up the fate of the arrested IRNA journalist.

Some 39 parliamentary correspondents selected seven journalists as members of the committee.

Haddad Adel called on the Foreign Ministry to pursue the case until a proper result is achieved.

Pursuance of the case by journalist committee would make international organizations supporting journalists' rights more determined in their efforts to secure the release of the arrested IRNA journalist, he noted.

He also praised the measures taken by the committee for ensuring Darban's release, saying it would attract public attention to this case.

The IRNA correspondent in Baghdad, Mostafa Darban, and his two Iraqi colleagues, Mohammad Khafaji and Mohsen Madani, were arrested by Iraqi police on August 9 and are being held at the Iraqi Interior Ministry

Boroujerdi urges following up release of arrested IRNA reporter

Boroujerdi urges following up release of arrested IRNA reporter

Published: 19.08.2004
IRNA, Tehran, 19 Aug 2004 -- Head of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi here on Wednesday called for following up the fate of the arrested IRNA reporter in Iraq, Mostafa Darban.

He made the remarks in a meeting with members of a special parliamentary journalists' committee set up to pursue the case of Darban and two of his local colleagues.

"It is among the responsibilities of National Security Commission to strive for the release of Darban and other Iranians detained in Iraq," Boroujerdi said.

At the meeting, the members of journalists' committee briefed Boroujerdi on some of the activities undertaken by the committee in this respect.

The IRNA correspondent in Baghdad, Mostafa Darban, and two of his Iraqi colleagues, Mohammad Khafaji and Mohsen Madani, were arrested by Iraqi police on August 9 and are being held at the Iraqi Interior Ministry.

Meanwhile, Fereydoun Jahani, a veteran diplomat with the Iranian Foreign Ministry, was abducted on August 4 by unknown men while he was on his way to Karbala to head Iran's consular mission.

No report has been released on his whereabouts.

Majlis speaker encourages ministers to shake hands with lawmakers

Majlis speaker encourages ministers to shake hands with lawmakers


TEHRAN (IRNA) -- Majlis Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel here Wednesday encouraged the ministers of President Mohammad Khatami's cabinet to shake hands and cooperate with the seventh Majlis lawmakers.

Speaking at the first meeting of lawmakers with cabinet members, he added that such cooperation will be beneficial to the government and nation.

Turning to the bill on the fourth development plan, he said that Majlis finds the third article of the bill dealing with the relationship between the National Iranian Oil Company and the government is so important that it deserves to be given a wider coverage.

Appreciating the cabinet's efforts on the occasion of the Government Week, he called on lawmakers to pay special attention to people's problems and point out the achievements of executive organizations.

He referred to keeping unity as the cornerstone of the national power and noted that if the government, Majlis and all those involved in the ruling system are unified many of the national problems can be solved.

Iran hints at pre-emption over threat from U.S.

Iran hints at pre-emption over threat from U.S.
AP Friday, August 20, 2004
TEHRAN Iran's defense minister has expressed his government's deep disquiet at having American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and hinted that some Iranian generals believe they should strike first if they sense an imminent threat from the United States.
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The minister, Ali Shamkhani, was asked in an Al Jazeera interview broadcast late Wednesday how Tehran would respond if the United States attacked Iran's nuclear facilities.
.
"We will not sit to wait for what others will do to us," Shamkhani replied. "There are differences of opinion among military commanders. Some commanders believe a preventive military operation is not a strategy created by Americans, or is not limited to Americans. Any nation, if it feels threatened, may resort to that."
.
Shamkhani spoke in Farsi with an Arabic voiceover in the broadcast. Al Jazeera provided a transcript of Shamkhani's Farsi comments on Thursday.
.
President George W. Bush has labeled Iran part of an "axis of evil," along with North Korea and prewar Iraq. But U.S. officials have said recently they are sticking to diplomacy, not force, to try to end what they call Iran's drive for nuclear weapons. Iran, which says its nuclear ambitions are peaceful, has shown increasing defensiveness under a U.S. campaign to get the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran for its nuclear activities.
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If the U.S. decides to take military action, "that moment will be the end of all our nuclear obligations," Shamkhani said, referring to Iran's cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Iran confirmed this month that it had resumed building nuclear centrifuges, which can be used to enrich uranium to weapons grade, and declared it should have the right to nuclear technology that has both peaceful and military uses.
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On Tuesday, the deputy chief of the Revolutionary Guard said Iran would destroy Israel's Dimona nuclear reactor if the Israelis attacked Iran's nuclear facilities. Israel has not threatened to attack Iran's Bushehr reactor, but it has said it will not allow Iran to build a nuclear weapon. In 1981, Israeli planes destroyed a nuclear reactor under construction near Baghdad.



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< < Back to Start of Article TEHRAN Iran's defense minister has expressed his government's deep disquiet at having American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and hinted that some Iranian generals believe they should strike first if they sense an imminent threat from the United States.
.
The minister, Ali Shamkhani, was asked in an Al Jazeera interview broadcast late Wednesday how Tehran would respond if the United States attacked Iran's nuclear facilities.
.
"We will not sit to wait for what others will do to us," Shamkhani replied. "There are differences of opinion among military commanders. Some commanders believe a preventive military operation is not a strategy created by Americans, or is not limited to Americans. Any nation, if it feels threatened, may resort to that."
.
Shamkhani spoke in Farsi with an Arabic voiceover in the broadcast. Al Jazeera provided a transcript of Shamkhani's Farsi comments on Thursday.
.
President George W. Bush has labeled Iran part of an "axis of evil," along with North Korea and prewar Iraq. But U.S. officials have said recently they are sticking to diplomacy, not force, to try to end what they call Iran's drive for nuclear weapons. Iran, which says its nuclear ambitions are peaceful, has shown increasing defensiveness under a U.S. campaign to get the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran for its nuclear activities.
.
If the U.S. decides to take military action, "that moment will be the end of all our nuclear obligations," Shamkhani said, referring to Iran's cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Iran confirmed this month that it had resumed building nuclear centrifuges, which can be used to enrich uranium to weapons grade, and declared it should have the right to nuclear technology that has both peaceful and military uses.
.
On Tuesday, the deputy chief of the Revolutionary Guard said Iran would destroy Israel's Dimona nuclear reactor if the Israelis attacked Iran's nuclear facilities. Israel has not threatened to attack Iran's Bushehr reactor, but it has said it will not allow Iran to build a nuclear weapon. In 1981, Israeli planes destroyed a nuclear reactor under construction near Baghdad. TEHRAN Iran's defense minister has expressed his government's deep disquiet at having American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and hinted that some Iranian generals believe they should strike first if they sense an imminent threat from the United States.
.
The minister, Ali Shamkhani, was asked in an Al Jazeera interview broadcast late Wednesday how Tehran would respond if the United States attacked Iran's nuclear facilities.
.
"We will not sit to wait for what others will do to us," Shamkhani replied. "There are differences of opinion among military commanders. Some commanders believe a preventive military operation is not a strategy created by Americans, or is not limited to Americans. Any nation, if it feels threatened, may resort to that."
.
Shamkhani spoke in Farsi with an Arabic voiceover in the broadcast. Al Jazeera provided a transcript of Shamkhani's Farsi comments on Thursday.
.
President George W. Bush has labeled Iran part of an "axis of evil," along with North Korea and prewar Iraq. But U.S. officials have said recently they are sticking to diplomacy, not force, to try to end what they call Iran's drive for nuclear weapons. Iran, which says its nuclear ambitions are peaceful, has shown increasing defensiveness under a U.S. campaign to get the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran for its nuclear activities.
.
If the U.S. decides to take military action, "that moment will be the end of all our nuclear obligations," Shamkhani said, referring to Iran's cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Iran confirmed this month that it had resumed building nuclear centrifuges, which can be used to enrich uranium to weapons grade, and declared it should have the right to nuclear technology that has both peaceful and military uses.
.
On Tuesday, the deputy chief of the Revolutionary Guard said Iran would destroy Israel's Dimona nuclear reactor if the Israelis attacked Iran's nuclear facilities. Israel has not threatened to attack Iran's Bushehr reactor, but it has said it will not allow Iran to build a nuclear weapon. In 1981, Israeli planes destroyed a nuclear reactor under construction near Baghdad. TEHRAN Iran's defense minister has expressed his government's deep disquiet at having American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and hinted that some Iranian generals believe they should strike first if they sense an imminent threat from the United States.
.
The minister, Ali Shamkhani, was asked in an Al Jazeera interview broadcast late Wednesday how Tehran would respond if the United States attacked Iran's nuclear facilities.
.
"We will not sit to wait for what others will do to us," Shamkhani replied. "There are differences of opinion among military commanders. Some commanders believe a preventive military operation is not a strategy created by Americans, or is not limited to Americans. Any nation, if it feels threatened, may resort to that."
.
Shamkhani spoke in Farsi with an Arabic voiceover in the broadcast. Al Jazeera provided a transcript of Shamkhani's Farsi comments on Thursday.
.
President George W. Bush has labeled Iran part of an "axis of evil," along with North Korea and prewar Iraq. But U.S. officials have said recently they are sticking to diplomacy, not force, to try to end what they call Iran's drive for nuclear weapons. Iran, which says its nuclear ambitions are peaceful, has shown increasing defensiveness under a U.S. campaign to get the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran for its nuclear activities.

Alan Dershowitz Endorses Terrorisn against Iran

Amend International Law To Allow Preemptive Strike on Iran
By ALAN DERSHOWITZ
August 20, 2004

Intelligence reports about Iran's capacity to produce nuclear weapons aimed at Israel are becoming ominous. Unless diplomatic pressure causes the Iranian mullahs to stop the project, Iran may be ready to deliver nuclear bombs against Israeli civilian targets within a few short years. Some Iranian leaders, such as former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, have made it clear that this is precisely what they intend to do. Killing 5 million Jews would be worth losing 15 million Iranians in a retaliatory Israeli strike, according to Rafsanjani's calculations.

No democracy can wait until such a threat against its civilian population is imminent. Israel has the right, under international law, to protect its civilians from a nuclear holocaust, and that right must include pre-emptive military action of the sort taken by Israel against the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981 — which resulted in only one death.

Thousands of lives — Israeli, American and Kurd — were almost certainly spared by Israel's pro-active strike. Imagine what danger American troops would have faced during the first Gulf War if the Iraqi military had developed nuclear weapons. Still, Israel was unanimously condemned by the United Nations Security Council, with the United States joining in the condemnation. Today, most reasonable people look to Israel's surgical attack against the Osirak nuclear reactor as the paradigm of proportional pre-emption, despite the Security Council's condemnation. (Many forget that Iran actually attacked the Iraqi reactor before Israel did, but failed to destroy it.)

National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice recently said that history has vindicated the Israeli strike, but she declined to say whether the United States would support an Osirak-type attack by Israel against Iranian nuclear facilities. Although she declared earlier this month that the United States and its allies "cannot allow the Iranians to develop a nuclear weapon," current international law — at least as defined by the U.N. — preclude a democracy threatened with nuclear annihilation from taking proportional, preventive military action to dissipate the threat to its civilians.

Under this benighted view, the United States would not be able to take proactive steps against terrorist groups that threaten our civilians. We would have to wait until the terrorists attacked us first, even if they were suicide bombers. This unrealistic perversion of international law must be changed quickly to take into account situations in which deterrence simply cannot be counted on to work. Democracies must be authorized to take pre-emptive military actions against grave threats to their survival or to their civilian population.

Current international law is woefully inadequate for the task of preventing the deployment of weapons of mass destruction. It requires that the threat be immediate, as it was when Israel pre-empted an imminent coordinated attack by Egypt and Syria in 1967.
But the threat posed by the future development of nuclear weapons does not fit this anachronistic criterion. It is the nature of the threat — the potential for mass casualties and an irreversible shift in the balance of power — that justifies the use of preventive self-defense with regard to the Iranian threat. International law must be amended to reflect this reality, but it is unlikely that any such changes will take place if it is seen as benefiting Israel.

Although military pre-emption has gotten a bad name among some following the attack on Iraq, it must remain an option in situations where deterrence is unrealistic and the threat is sufficiently serious.

If the Iranian nuclear facilities were located in one place, away from any civilian population center, it would be moral — and, under any reasonable regime of international law, legal — for Israel to destroy them. (Whether it would be tactically wise is another question.) But the ruthless Iranian militants have learned from the Iraqi experience and, according to recent intelligence reports, deliberately have spread its nuclear facilities around the country, including in heavily populated areas. This would force Israel into a terrible choice: Either allow Iran to complete its production of nuclear bombs aimed at the Jewish state's civilian population centers, or destroy the facilities despite the inevitability of Iranian civilian casualties.

The laws of war prohibit the bombing of civilian population centers, even in retaliation against attacks on cities, but they permit the bombing of military targets, including nuclear facilities. By deliberately placing nuclear facilities in the midst of civilian population centers, the Iranian government has made the decision to expose its civilians to attacks, and it must assume all responsibility for any casualties caused by such attacks. Israel, the United States and other democracies always locate their military facilities away from population centers, precisely in order to minimize danger to their civilians. Iran does precisely the opposite, because its leaders realize that decent democracies — unlike indecent tyrannies — would hesitate to bomb a nuclear facility located in an urban center.
Israel, with the help of the United States, should try everything short of military action first: diplomacy, threats, bribery, sabotage, targeted killings of individuals essential to the Iranian nuclear program and other covert actions. But if all else fails, Israel, or the United States, must be allowed under international law to take out the Iranian nuclear threat before it is capable of the genocide for which it is being built.

Alan Dershowitz is the author of "America on Trial" (Warner Books) and "The Case for Israel" (John Wiley & Sons, 2003).

Losing the Shia in Iraq

Losing the Shia
"Losing the Shia
Iraqi Shia see a U.S. betrayal, and frankly, they should.

Any semblance of a ceasefire evaporated today as fierce fighting erupted around the Shrine of Imam Ali, Shii Islam's holiest site. Even if Iraqi forces lead the charge into the Shrine of Imam Ali, Iraqi Shia will blame the U.S. for any damage. Even if a peaceful solution is found, the U.S. will have lost out.

It didn't have to be this way. Sadr was not initially popular among Iraqi Shia. Many Iraqis consider him responsible for the April 10, 2003 murder of Shia cleric Majid al-Khoei. Many Iraqi Shia ridiculed Sadr's October 10, 2003 declaration of a parallel government with himself as president. In both Sadr City and in Najaf, local residents resented the abuse and the arrogance of Sadr's Brown Shirts. When I attended a meeting of Najaf notables in February 2004, their major complaint was the Coalition's failure to rein in Muqtada's gangs. As recently as May 2004, vigilantes in Najaf took to assassinating Muqtada's followers. Sadr's initial support hemorrhaged when the young cleric failed to deliver on promises. In Iraq, money talks and initially Sadr had little.

But, thanks to Iran, that changed. The evidence is overwhelming. Even the State Department now acknowledges Iran's financial support for Sadr's Mahdi army. The only figures who today deny Iranian material support for Sadr are academics and pundits who have neither been to Iraq since its liberation nor bothered to conduct field research. Simple translation of Arabic articles provides as much informed comment as al-Jazeera.

Sadr launched his uprising in April 2004. His resort to violence had much to do with his failure to build a constituency through legitimate political activity. Former Coalition Provisional Authority administrator L. Paul Bremer can be faulted with many mistakes, but unwillingness to take on Sadr was not among them. Indeed, had the National Security Council listened to Bremer's advice, Coalition forces would have arrested Sadr long before he could organize his well-planned, well-coordinated April uprising.

BLACKWILL BLOWBACK
With little demonstrable public support, al-Sadr's April uprising fizzled out. But, four months later, resistance remains fierce. What's changed has less to do with Sadr than with blowback from ill-advised and poorly thought-out strategy. In October 2003, the White House launched a major reorganization of its Iraq-policy team. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice became titular head of the Iraq Stabilization Group, but her deputy (and former mentor) Robert Blackwill, who is well known for his slash-and-burn management style, became chief for political transition. His influence on Iraq policy was quickly felt in both Baghdad and in Washington.

There was surprise in both Baghdad and Washington when, on November 11, 2003, Bremer missed a planned meeting with the Polish prime minister to return to Washington. The reason for the hasty departure became apparent within days, when Bremer announced a date for the return of Iraq's sovereignty. The impetus for the transfer did not come from Baghdad but from the National Security Council, which had, ironically, overruled in February 2003 Pentagon plans for an immediate transfer of sovereignty upon liberation.

The transfer of sovereignty was long overdue. But other policies implemented in the wake of Blackwill's accession have severely eroded Iraqi trust in the United States. Demography is important: Arab Shia are the majority in Iraq. Kurds account for nearly a quarter of the population. Ten percent of the Kurdish population, and perhaps half the Turkmen population, are Shia as well. Only 15 to 20 percent of the population is Arab Sunni. Whereas President Bush repeatedly promised that the U.S. sought democracy in Iraq, the British government, U.S. State Department, and the National Security Council project the opposite to an Iraqi audience.

Iraqis were not blind to high-level discussions of a "Sunni strategy." They interpreted the Sunni strategy to mean that Washington would not live up to its rhetoric of democracy, and instead return the Sunni minority to what many former Baathists — and the Saudi and Jordanian governments — felt was the Sunni community's birthright. They saw British officials divert money from reconstruction in Kirkuk to projects in Hawija, a violent Arab Sunni town about an hour's drive away. The State Department's Iraq coordinator made little secret of his desire to implement a far-reaching Sunni strategy. Iraqis interpreted Bremer's decision to televise his April 23 speech announcing a rollback of de-Baathification as proof that Washington was pandering to Iraq's Sunni population. "He insists the policy wasn't changed, but why else would he televise the announcement?" an Iraqi asked me the following day. The reversal may have had less to do with Bremer's personal beliefs than with orders from Washington. Regardless, the decision to reverse de-Baathification in effect traded the goodwill of Iraq's 14 million Shia and six million Kurds for the sake of, at most, 40,000 high-level Baathists. Realism isn't always so realistic. Sometimes values matter. Perhaps Paul Wolfowitz wasn't wrong after all.

HYPOCRISY
Actions speak louder than words, though. On March 31, Sunni terrorists ambushed four U.S. contractors in Fallujah and mutilated their bodies. Bremer swore revenge, and U.S. Marines besieged the city. But senior Iraqi Sunni politicians such as State Department favorite Adnan Pachachi complained. "The whole thing smacks of an act of vengeance," he told The Independent on April 12. Pachachi elaborated in comments to the United Arab Emirates-based al-Arabiya television: "It was not right to punish all the people of Fallujah, and we consider these operations by the Americans unacceptable and illegal." Perhaps uncomfortable with images of death and destruction, U.S. policy abruptly shifted course.

The Marines, against their better judgment (according to their own situation reports), lifted the siege. They appointed a Baathist general to lead the new Fallujah Brigade. Violence throughout the country skyrocketed. While the U.S. military lifted its siege of Fallujah and empowered elements that, only days before, sought to kill Americans, Blackwill instructed his political transition team to target Ahmad Chalabi, a leading Shia politicians. In late April, the White House discussed a seven-page single-spaced National Security Council options paper entitled "Marginalizing Chalabi." The paper came out of Blackwill's Iraq shop. I wrote a number of options papers while in government. Assignment for drafting comes after Cabinet officials or their deputies have made a decision. The purpose of the paper is to outline different options to implement the decision.

The raid on Chalabi's compound and subsequent espionage allegations appear related to the memorandum's recommendations. Journalists lapped up and repeated unnamed intelligence sources' accusations, none of which have turned out to have had a basis in fact. No Pentagon official, for example, has been polygraphed, despite a New York Times story to the contrary. The CIA and State Department can chalk up a point in the bureaucratic war, but the cost of their victory inside Iraq was immense. Regardless of ethnic or sectarian background, Iraqis juxtaposed the rewards of attacking Americans with the perils of alliance. Family matters: Iraqi Shia associate Chalabi with his family's long-standing support for the Kazimiya Shrine, Iraq's third holiest. Perception matters: Regardless of whether they liked Chalabi as an individual or agreed with his politics, Iraqi Shia interpreted Blackwill's decision to humiliate Chalabi as a slap at their entire community.

If the National Security Council wants to put their hope in Ayad Allawi, they will be sorely disappointed. Allawi is a former Baathist. His close association with the Central Intelligence Agency, Britain's MI6, and Jordanian intelligence have not helped him among a Shia population in which he has little if any constituency. The Kurds also distrust Allawi, who, in 14 months of Coalition rule failed to engage in any serious way with the Sunni community. Najaf ends Allawi's honeymoon. The CIA may sing his praises to the president, but Langley's assets seldom make good leaders. They certainly don't make good democrats.

There is little goodwill left in Iraq. The United States government has managed to squander it. Bush may be sincere about his desire for democracy, but to Iraqis, family matters. Iraqis associate the president with his father, who is notorious among Iraqi Shia for his failure to support their March 1991 uprising. Saddam Hussein subsequently massacred tens of thousands of participants, and their families. Iraq is famous for its majestic date palms which sometimes stretch 50 or 60 feet. But, around Karbala, they are only ten- or 15-feet high because the Iraqi president ordered groves bulldozed in the wake of the uprising. Iraqis see these young trees as a constant reminder not to trust American rhetoric.

The recent siege of Najaf reinforces the Shia belief that the U.S. government is anti-Shia. In recent days, I've spoken to a number of Iraqis from Najaf, Samawa, and Diwaniya. They are disgusted. "The U.S. pulled out of Fallujah because they worried about killing Sunnis, but I guess they don't have that worry about Shia," one explained. While it is true officials in the interim Iraqi government support the siege on Najaf, Iraqi Shia see this as a further sign of hypocrisy. After all, the same officials begged the Americans to stop the "massacre" in Fallujah. On April 12, 2004, al-Wifaq, the newspaper of Ayad Allawi's own political party, quoted Allawi citing the siege of Fallujah as one of the reasons for his resignation as head of the Governing Council's security committee.

While I do not support empowering the Mahdi army, Iraqis do contrast the U.S. willingness to deputize former Baathists in Fallujah with what they view as a relentless assault on the historically disposed Shia in Najaf. Pronouncements such as an August 16 statement from Ayatollah Kazem al-Haeri, Muqtada al-Sadr's Iran-based mentor, that the U.S. wants to restore Baathism simply adds fuel to the fire.

Today, Iraqi Shia flock to Muqtada al-Sadr not because of who he is, but because they feel they have no choice. Scarred by their abandonment in 1991 and prone to conspiracy, Iraqi Shia interpret Blackwill's policy as an unmitigated disaster for democracy. They juxtapose the U.S. responses to Fallujah and Najaf. They see Washington reward former Baathists and punish the victims of their 35-year dictatorship. Implementing re-Baathification meant not only rehiring high-level Baathists who had informed on their students and colleagues but, as the Los Angeles Times reported on May 14, also firing the non-Baathists who replaced them. The Iraqi Shia see betrayal and, frankly, they should. The crowds rallying to Muqtada al-Sadr represent not endorsement of his ideas, but rather Blackwill's blowback and the bankruptcy of traditional State Department pro-Sunni bias.

The only winner will be Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran today is among our chief strategic and ideological threats. The Iraqi Shia were not Iran's natural allies. It is unfortunate that we have chosen to drive Iraq's Shia into Iran's suffocating embrace.

— Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and editor of the Middle East Quarterly."