Sunday, November 21, 2004

HoustonChronicle.com - $20 million for a coup in Iran?

HoustonChronicle.com - $20 million for a coup in Iran?: "HoustonChronicle.com - $20 million for a coup in Iran?: "$20 million for a coup in Iran?
Overthrow Tehran? Hey, Not So Fast
By JEET HEER and LAURA ROZEN

With President Bush elected to a second term, and the neoconservative architects of the Iraq war firmly in the driver's seat of U.S. foreign policy, Iranian-Americans are contemplating a stark choice similar to that faced by Iraqi-Americans a few years ago — whether they want to work with Washington to liberate their home country.

Although almost all Iranian-Americans want to see democracy flourish in their native land, there are intense and divisive debates on how to achieve this goal and what a future Iranian government should look like. These debates are certain to grow only more intense in the coming months, as Iran's accelerating nuclear program vaults it to the top of the U.S. foreign policy agenda.

The activities of Michael Ledeen, one of the most prominent of the Washington neoconservatives advocating that the United States back a plan to overthrow the mullahs, illustrate some of the complexities of modern-day regime change.

Trained as a historian, and now the "Freedom Scholar" at the American Enterprise Institute and a contributing editor of the National Review, Ledeen first came to public prominence during the Reagan administration. While serving as a consultant to national security adviser Robert C. McFarlane, he became entangled in the arms-for-hostages trade that became part of the Iran-Contra scandal. It was Ledeen who brought the U.S. government into contact with the Parisian-based Iranian arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar, who claimed he would be able to win the release of U.S. hostages held in Lebanon by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah in exchange for U.S. weapons.

In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, Ledeen has resumed contact with Ghorbanifar, as he has set about gathering information to lobby the Bush administration, private constituencies and public opinion to back a plan to destabilize the Iranian regime and support dissident forces. In a December 2001 meeting in Rome, first reported in Newsday, Ledeen introduced Ghorbanifar to two Pentagon officials interested in discussing the regime change idea.

In June 2003, one of those Pentagon officials, Harold Rhode, went to meet Ghorbanifar in Paris for further discussions — a meeting the Pentagon originally said was the result of a chance encounter.

On April 21, 2003, in the final days of the major combat operations in Iraq, Ledeen traveled to Los Angeles, where he spoke to a group of about 200 Iranian exiles. The event was organized by the owner of a Los Angeles-based Persian radio station, said to be sympathetic to the monarchists (the people surrounding the late shah's son, Reza Pahlavi, who lives in a Washington suburb).

"The Iranian diaspora is one of the richest diasporas in history," Ledeen told the audience, according to a tape recording of the event. "So as you contemplate the future of Iran, think first about how to organize the Iranian community and diaspora to raise money for Iranians in Iran to stage democratic revolution that we all know can succeed."

The private money, Ledeen explained, would jump-start a campaign of civil disobedience by providing financial support for the families of Iranian opposition and dissident leaders, enabling them to step up their campaign of resistance against the Iranian regime. Once the U.S. government saw the mass demonstrations, Ledeen said, it could then be persuaded to seriously back a regime change initiative.

"I think you can buy yourself a free Iran now for $20 million," Ledeen added. He also advised the audience on tactics to increase their lobbying influence in Washington.

Some Iranian-Americans in the audience were dismayed by Ledeen's talk of the ease with which the oppressive Iranian regime that had driven most of them from their homeland could be overthrown. "It was insulting to every person sitting in that room," said one Iranian-American journalist in attendance, who asked that his name not be used. "If it's such an easy thing to overthrow a government, then why have the Iranian millionaires not done it themselves?"

Among Iranian-Americans, there's both a fascination and a wariness about neoconservatives such as Ledeen — as well as considerable uncertainty about what, if any, role the diaspora itself should play in any democratic revolution in Iran.

"I believe the future of Iran is in the hands of the Iranian people," the Iranian-American journalist said. "The young people who have been sacrificing their lives, and their families."

The Ledeen initiative shows the contradiction of the neoconservative worldview: While seeking to liberate and empower the peoples of the Middle East it also makes them pawns in a historical drama in which they have little voice. The execution of this sort of radical foreign policy vision has often run roughshod over the details, as the aftermath in Iraq has shown.

No one is advocating a U.S. invasion of Iran at the moment, although clandestine support to Iranian opposition groups is on the table. For Iranian-Americans, the present question is whether their home country should become a sequel to Iraq or if there is a way to democratize Iran without Washington's heavy hand.

Heer, who is based in Toronto, frequently writes for the Boston Globe and the National Post. Laura Rozen reports on foreign affairs and national security issues from Washington, D.C.""

The Australian: Different dynamic for Bush doctrine [November 22, 2004]

The Australian: Different dynamic for Bush doctrine [November 22, 2004]: "
Different dynamic for Bush doctrine
Ian Bremmer
November 22, 2004
THE world closely watched the US presidential election to see what the outcome might mean for the next four years of American foreign policy. Much has been written about how a win for George W. Bush would simply produce more of what some call the Bush doctrine.

But the second Bush administration will produce a foreign policy based on a substantively different set of premises and policy options than those we have seen over the past four years.

The first Bush administration created a foreign policy born out of the clash between two sets of policymakers – the neoconservatives and the multilteralists. Neither group can claim a greater influence. If the neoconservatives have held sway over the US's policies on Israel/Palestine, the so-called "New Europe" and, most notably, Iraq, the multilateralists have clearly been more influential in regard to China/Taiwan, India/Pakistan and North Korea.

The neoconservatives, such as Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz, have sought at every turn to maximise Washington's freedom to act alone internationally, refusing to accept any constraints imposed by enemies, allies and international institutions.

That is why some within the administration were reluctant to accept NATO's assistance in Afghanistan right after September 11, and why the Bush administration kept the United Nations at arm's length even after the war in Iraq was announced over. Neoconservatives feared multinational alliances would produce more diplomatic obstacles than they would provide military assistance.

Multilateralists, such as outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell, have argued that winning the war on terror requires the endorsement of international institutions and the construction of coalitions of the willing to co-ordinate an effective global response to a transnational terrorist challenge.

Multilateralists have insisted that a post-war equilibrium in Afghanistan or Iraq would not last without a commitment from others to do the peacekeeping and civilian reconstruction work Washington was not willing to do.

The neoconservatives insist that American power must be used to transform a dangerous international landscape before dangers abroad become disasters at home.

The logical opposite of isolationists, they argue it is essential to America's security that the US goes out into the world to look for threats and to destroy them wherever they're found.

Multilateralists say the war on terror can't be won by military means alone, and the co-ordination of international law enforcement and counter-terrorist intelligence and the effective use of public diplomacy depend on support from the international community.

They argue that, while the world benefits from effective US prosecution of the war on terror, the record of the past four years shows that this does not mean American foreign policy can expect the international support it needs.

That's why when neoconservatives insisted the Bush administration should not seek a UN resolution authorising force against Saddam Hussein, multilateralists argued just the opposite.

The neoconservatives urge Mr Bush to push rogue regimes from power at a moment in world history when no one is strong enough to push back. America's leverage won't last forever, they say. Use it while it's there.

Multilateralists fear an aggressive, go-it-alone American foreign policy so antagonises foreign populations that it becomes politically costly for foreign leaders to offer Washington much-needed support.

With Bush's re-election, both neoconservatives and multilateralists are now likely to find themselves with significantly less influence.

Both groups have seen their policies discredited, and neither group represents traditional Republican ideas about foreign policy.

After all, many of the neoconservatives began their political lives as Democrats, revolutionaries intent on changing the world order. By no definition are neoconservatives truly conservative.

Multilateralism, too, is rarely thought of as a Republican approach. Republican conservatives have traditionally argued that foreign wars are best left to foreigners, that alliances and entanglements leave America less free.

With Bush's re-election, we are likely to see a return of traditional Republicans, of foreign policymakers more in harmony with conventional Republican ideas about America's role in the world.

Traditional Republican foreign policy concerns itself with the defence of American power and interests, and views the promotion of democracy abroad as an often prohibitively expensive luxury.

With Bush's re-election, we are likely to hear more about regime change in North Korea, Iran and even Saudi Arabia, but are unlikely to see one. It means the US will pull as many troops as possible from Iraq at the earliest reasonable date following Iraqi elections.

It also means the US will continue to play the role of world policeman, but without the ideological context of a world order to give the role strategic coherence.

Ian Bremmer is a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute. (C) 2004 Tribune Media Services Inc."

"Invading Iran would be a catastrophic mistake"

IranMania News: ""Invading Iran would be a catastrophic mistake"

Sunday, November 21, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com
LONDON, Nov 21 (IranMania) - Invading Iran "would be a catastrophic mistake," The New York Times warned in an editorial, which deemed recent administration statements reminiscent of statements made in the run-up to the war in Iraq.

"We hope president Bush has learned enough from the Iraq adventure to understand the dangers of using flawed intelligence to create a false sense of urgency about a national security threat," the NYT said.

"Invading Iran, a country of nearly 70 mln people, would be a catastrophic mistake," it said.

"Stop us if you've heard this one before. The Bush administration creates a false sense of urgency about a nuclear menace from a Middle Eastern country. Hard-liners talk about that country's connections to terrorists. They portray European diplomatic efforts to defuse tensions as a feckless attempt to appease a rogue nation whose word can never be trusted anyway. Secretary of State Colin Powell makes ominous-sounding warnings about new intelligence, which turns out to be dubious," the editorial said.

According to AFP, the Times called it a "welcome step" that Iran committed to freezing its nuclear enrichment activities after German, British and French diplomatic work.

"Iran has long been a target of the hawks in the administration, who are undoubtedly feeling their oats after the election," the New York Times said.

"That is how president Bush rushed the country into an unnecessary conflict with Iraq in his first term, and we have been seeing alarming signs of that approach all week on Iran" and "there is no military solution here," the daily said.

The United States has no intention to change Iran's regime and it has no plans to invade the nation neighboring Iraq, where 140,000 US troops are stationed, Powell said in an interview broadcast November 14.

"We are not getting ready to invade Iran," Powell told CNBC television's "The Wall Street Journal Report" when asked if having 140,000 troops in Iraq makes it easier to deal with Iran.

"We have no intention of regime change. That is our policy: no regime change," he said, although he added: "we don't approve of this regime.

Bush, on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperationsummit in Santiago, said, "This is a very serious matter, the world knows it's a serious matter, and we're working together to solve this matter."

"It's very important for the Iranian government to hear that we are concerned about their desires, and we're concerned about reports that show that prior to a certain international meeting, they're willing to speed up processing of materials that could lead to a nuclear weapon," Bush said.

Powell, in an interview with the Chilean daily El Mercurio, defended his controversial remarks on Iran from earlier in the week.

"Now they have a new agreement with the European Union. I hope they meet their commitments," Powell said. "But there is no good reason to just trust the Iranian assurances. We need to see performance.

"We need to get the IAEA back into Iran to look at these places. And we know that Iran has a sophisticated missile program. And with such a program, one must expect that if they are developing a nuclear warhead and nuclear weapons that they will have to find a way to deliver them," Powell added.

"And so the statement that I made the other day -- that I have reason to believe that they are developing such ability -- is a correct statement, and we stand by it."

According to the Observer, while George Bush clearly favours more stick and less carrot, it is not yet clear what the stick might be: US administration sources say targeted air strikes - either by the US or Israel - aimed at wiping out Iran's fledgling nuclear programme would be difficult because of a lack of clear intelligence about where key components are located.

Despite America's attempt to turn up the heat on Iran, analysts remain deeply uncertain whether the increasingly bellicose noises which are coming from Bush administration figures represent a crude form of 'megaphone' diplomacy designed to scare Iran into sticking to its side of the bargain, or evidence that Washington is leaning towards a new military adventure.

Speaking on the fringes of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum meeting in Santiago yesterday, Bush ratcheted up the pressure on Iran.

'It is very important for the Iran government to hear that we are concerned about their desires and we're concerned about reports that show that, before a certain international meeting, they're willing to speed up the processing of materials that could lead to a nuclear weapon,' Bush said.

Referring to the European countries that negotiated the deal with Iran, Bush added: 'They do believe that Iran has got nuclear ambitions, as do we, as do many around the world, the Observer reported.

'This is a very serious matter. The world knows it's a serious matter and we're working together to solve this matter.'"

Ivey Calls for Statewide Gang Task Force

Community leaders call for action after gang threats: "Community leaders call for action after gang threats

by Sonsyrea Tate and Corina E. Rivera
Staff Writers
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Nov. 18, 2004
With news reports of a threat to county police by MS-13, one of the region's most notorious gangs, law enforcement officials, community leaders and residents are gearing up to shut them down.

State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey (D) said a statewide task force may be needed.

"A regional approach is important, but we need a statewide effort," said Ivey, who has worked with police and law enforcement officials from Montgomery County and Washington, D.C. on a regional approach.

County executives Jack B. Johnson of Prince George's, and Douglas Duncan of Montgomery, earlier this year convened a bi-county task force on gangs.

"If we have a statewide effort, we're more likely to include [support from] the state administration," Ivey added. Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. (R) last year vetoed a bill that would have created a task force to study youth gang activity.

State delegates Victor Ramirez (D-Dist. 47) of Mount Rainier and Rosetta Parker (D-Dist. 47) of Hyattsville introduced legislation that would have prohibited a person from participating in a gang or recruiting for one, but their bill died in the General Assembly's Judiciary Committee for lack of support.

Ivey is working with state lawmakers on new anti-gang legislation to introduce in the 2005 General Assembly session. A statewide approach is needed, Ivey said, because gangs move into smaller communities or more rural areas when police enforcement is increased in the larger areas.

Ivey also proposes prevention programs to deter youth from falling into gangs in the first place.

"For the guys -- and girls, too -- because we have some girls in gangs. For those who are not all the way hard core, we need to pull them back to the road of education and employment," Ivey said. "We need tough prosecution, too. There are some guys we're going to have to lock up and put them away for as long as possible."

Much attention was drawn to gangs as municipal, county, and regional police and prosecutors announced programs to curtail gang activity. But it may be too soon to tell how effective the anti-gang activities have been.

County police and the State's Attorney's Office this week could provide statistics only for county police-related gang arrests and prosecutions. The statistics do not include arrests by the several municipal police departments.

Sgt. Tammy Sparkman, a county police spokeswoman, said that in 2003, three juveniles and eight adults were arrested for gang-related crimes and from January 2004 to the present, six juveniles and two adults were arrested.

Meanwhile, police this week remained on guard.

Percel Alston, president of the Prince George's Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 89, said Monday, "We understand there is a threat against Prince George's County police. It is an act of terrorism against the police and the community."

Community leaders said they will cooperate as much as possible with police.

Bill Hanna, executive secretary of Action Langley Park, a non-profit organization, said the entire community is needed to combat such violence.

"I'm not sure the police alone can do much more. The county is understaffed, and cuts in the COPS [Community Oriented Police Service] program will make the situation worse," Hanna said. "What the police can do with their limited resources is reach out more to local residents so that the residents will be the eyes of the police, willing to report crime and criminals without fear of deportation or other penalty."

Hanna said the school system could add after-school programs and bussing so that teens have something to do after school and on weekends other than hang out and get into trouble.

Langley Park-McCormick Elementary School has an after-school program for students already, school officials said.

Hanna said Action Langley Park will work with another community-based organization to start a teen mentoring program soon.

John Brill, Maryland International Corridor Collaborative Supervision and Focused Enforcement [C-SAFE] program director, said his program initiated a mentoring program last spring through C SAFE's school community partnership. He plans to continue it this year.

"Mentoring helps students get the guidance and support that they need; we need to have more recreational activities. Also some parents don't know what to do with their child ­ they need help," Brill said."

IranMania News

IranMania News: "Automakers blamed for sluggish car imports

Sunday, November 21, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com
LONDON, Nov 21 (IranMania) - Iranian Commerce Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari finally disclosed that sluggish car imports are chiefly due to mounting pressures from domestic automakers trying hard to curb, and if possible prevent, imports.

He told ISNA that the Ministry of Industries and Mines is in charge of drawing up the technical criteria for car imports, adding that certain officials are working to slow down car import procedures.

"Some people who see their interest harmed by car imports have accused the Commerce Ministry of trying to turn Iran into a scrap yard for cars," he said, stressing that the ministry has also been blamed for 'harming the domestic automotive industry by permitting the import of used cars'.

The Minister further said that one of the main reasons for high prices of goods in Iran is the exorbitant transportation costs.

"Transportation costs have jumped in recent years due to insufficient road transportation fleet," he said, adding that domestic heavy vehicle manufacturing companies are not be able to fully meet the needs of the transportation sector.

"Now, when we talk about the import of heavy vehicles which have been produced in the last two years and are authorized to travel on European roads, those who pursue their own financial interests from the domestic production of such vehicles begin to accuse us of harming domestic production," he said.

Noting that the domestic automotive industry has provided jobs for more than 400,000 people, Shariatmadari said, "If expert studies suggest that the importation of some models would harm the national industries, we would set basic prices for such vehicles.""

IranMania News

IranMania News: " "Bushehr province, Iran's economic hub"

Sunday, November 21, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com

LONDON, Nov 21 (IranMania) - President Mohammad Khatami said that southern province of Bushehr has turned into a major center of the country`s economic activities.

Addressing a ceremony marking inauguration of the Phase I of South Pars development project in Assalouyeh region on Saturday, Khatami called on officials in charge to focus on improving the province`s economic status.

He said, "There are still many shortcomings in the province despite essential steps taken by the government to remove deprivation there." Khatami said that undoubtedly, Iran is taking pride in the province of Bushehr for its important Assalouyeh region.

The first phase of South Pars gas field has a capacity to produce 25 mln cu.m. of natural gas, 40,000 barrels of gas condensate and 200 tons of sulfur a day, IRNA reported.

The phase, with huge on-shore and offshore installations, has been developed fully by Iranian experts and technicians, with 100 Iranian and foreign contractors being involved in the business.

Iran had a 69.12 stake in the giant project, implemented in a period of four years by Iranian Petropars Company under a buy-back deal, costing about dlrs 1.181 bln.

The offshore installations in the area comprise two drilling platforms, a production platform, a residential platform, a 32-inch undersea pipeline, being 105 kilometers long, and a gas refinery as well as accessory on-shore installations."

Khaleej Times Online: Iran says meeting Powell at Iraq conference would be pointless

Khaleej Times Online: "Iran says meeting Powell at Iraq conference would be pointless
(AFP)

21 November 2004

TEHERAN - Iran on Sunday ruled out the prospect of any meeting with US Secretary of State Colin Powell on the sidelines of an international conference on Iraq, saying direct talks would be pointless as he is about to step down from his post.

The foreign ministry also said Iran would be attending the two-day conference, which opens at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Monday, to call for a withdrawal of US troops from its neighbour and issue a protest against US actions there.

“Powell had four years to change the attitude of the United States towards Iran but he didn’t. Now he is not in charge anymore, and it would not be very useful to meet him,” ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters.

But Asefi said Iran would “take part in the Sharm el-Sheikh conference with force” and “protest against the methods of the United States, insist on the necessity of withdrawing American troops from Iraq and the organisation of elections on schedule.”

Powell announced his resignation as the top US diplomat last week. US President George W. Bush has announced his choice to replace Powell, national security advisor Condoleezza Rice, whose confirmation must be approved by the US Senate.

The Iraq conference will gather some 20 foreign ministers and four international organisations, and has been in the pipeline ever since Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi called for an international forum during a Cairo visit in July.

Iran is due to send Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi.

The United States is hoping the meeting will rally international support for efforts to restore order in violence-wracked Iraq and hold elections there in January.

Last week Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said his country was ready to help the Americans get out of a “quagmire” in Iraq, but also ruled out the immediate prospect of direct talks with Washington.

“We are ready to help them save themselves so the Iraqi people are saved,” Khatami said on Wednesday, adding “no direct negotiations with the Americans are on the agenda”.

Washington and Tehran cut of diplomatic relations shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution and in 2002 Bush lumped Iran into an ”axis of evil”. Tehran continues to be accused by Washington of supporting terrorism, aiding Iraqi insurgents and seeking nuclear weapons.

On Thursday, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei launched a vitriolic attack on Washington, blasting what he said did “infidels” in the shattered Iraq city of Fallujah commit crimes.

“The massacre of civilians, women and children by the thousands, the execution of wounded, the destruction of homes, mosques and other places of prayer... makes every Muslim restless,” Khamenei said in a statement.

Muslim governments “must protest against the crimes committed by the infidel oppressors,” said Iran’s all-powerful leader, while criticising “Arab and Islamic governments who stand by and watch while we hear appeals for help from the Iraqi people.”"