Entries Tagged as 'Iran'

Will Iran Face Real Sanctions?

David Frum January 1st, 2012 at 6:09 am 29 Comments

On the last day of 2011, President Obama “with reservations” signed the authorization for the 2012 defense budget.

The president said he objected to language in the bill that granted him powers to detain terror suspects indefinitely – but forbade him to transfer detainees to the mainland US. Unmentioned in the signing statement was another section of the bill his administration had fought even harder than the detainee language: new sanctions on the central bank of Iran, an amendment pushed hard by Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois.

According to one knoweldgable observer:

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Iran’s War on America

December 29th, 2011 at 2:18 pm 41 Comments

It has been a busy month for Iran in its ongoing conflict with the United States. First, try the Iranian government displayed what it said is a crashed U.S. drone discovered in Iran. Then, the nation’s deputy oil minister admitted that U.S. sanctions against Iran are inflicting damage on its economy.

As a result, the rogue state announced that it will hold war games along key shipping lanes and that any further U.S. sanctions would result in the closing of the most important of those lanes, the Strait of Hormuz—the pathway for more than 20% of the world’s oil supply. Next, the trial of American-born Iranian Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, whom the Iranians claim is a U.S. spy, began this week.

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Who is Killing Iran’s Currency?

David Frum December 21st, 2011 at 8:14 am 23 Comments

Something – or somebody – is destroying Iran’s currency. Steady decline over the past two months has turned into a “panic” over the past 72 hours.

[T]he rial fell to unprecedented lows against the dollar Tuesday, amounting to a 15 percent loss in value over the past three days, the Fars News Agency reported.

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Sanctions With Teeth

David Frum December 19th, 2011 at 3:31 pm 38 Comments

In my column for CNN, I discuss Senator Mark Kirk’s plan to impose sanctions on Iran’s central bank:

On the other hand, despite the tightening, the sanctions remain pitifully inadequate to the job. Iran’s most crucial import is gasoline, because this oil-producing nation cannot refine enough gasoline for its automobiles. Gasoline imports to Iran are supposedly sanctioned. Despite sanctions, Iran has increased its imports of gasoline over the past 90 days, according to news reports.

As sanctions fail to bait, the options on halting Iran’s nuclear program get uglier.

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How Cyber Warfare Can Stop Iran

David Frum November 17th, 2011 at 1:11 pm 47 Comments

Eli Lake at the Daily Beast posts another of his amazing reports on super-secret spy stuff, this time on Israel’s campaign of electronic sabotage of Iran’s illicit nuclear program. Watching Eli pile up these scoops is starting to be like watching the New York Yankees pile up World Series titles.

U.S. intelligence assessment this summer, described to The Daily Beast by current and former U.S. intelligence officials, concluded that any Israeli attackon hardened nuclear sites in Iran would go far beyond airstrikes from F-15 and F-16 fighter planes and likely include electronic warfare against Iran’s electric grid, Internet, cellphone network, and emergency frequencies for firemen and police officers.

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Al-Qaeda’s Iranian Presence Should be a Greater Concern

July 29th, 2011 at 2:58 pm 6 Comments

Yesterday, drugstore the U.S. government formally announced what many of us have known for sometime: there is a direct connection between al-Qaeda and Iran.  The Treasury Department sanctioned “six members of a terrorist network based in Iran” for serving as “the core pipeline through which al-Qaeda moves money, medical facilitators and operatives from across the Middle East to South Asia,” principally meaning Pakistan and Afghanistan. The leader of the group, Ezedin Abdul Aziz Khalil, is a Syrian who has been operating from Iran under an agreement signed in 2005.”

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Iran’s Nuke Double-Talk

June 11th, 2011 at 1:41 pm 21 Comments

In an exercise straight out of the political  theater of the absurd, Iran this Sunday will convene a two-day conference on “International Nuclear Disarmament.” According to Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Mahdi Akhoundzadeh, the conference will discuss the “doctrines of nuclear powers”, “practical measures to have a world free of weapons of mass destruction” and review “regional as well as international disarmament commitments”. I wonder what’s next — maybe Syria can hold an international conference on Effective Crowd Dispersion Methods and Saudi Arabia could convene a conference on the Advancement of the Status of Women & Minorities?

Should Israel Come Clean on Its Nukes?

May 21st, 2011 at 11:07 am 6 Comments

As the 1967 border discussions are placed at the media forefront again, viagra Israel must once again consider questions on how best to deter foreign aggression. One issue which has not been raised in the recent discussions is Israel’s opaque handling of its nuclear weapon capabilities. Has choosing not to publicly admit that it has the bomb been a mistake?

In military terms, general deterrence is successful when it prevents state leaders from issuing military threats and actions that could escalate into a crisis or militarized confrontation. Keeping in mind the multiple wars Israel has been involved in, it’s obvious that Israel’s silence on its nuclear deterrence has not proven effective.

Michael Karpin a renowned Israeli investigative journalist argues that the Israeli bomb provides self-confidence for the Israeli people in the face of security challenges. Recent polls conducted on national security issues including the “Vox Populi: Trends in Israeli Public Opinion on National Security” study conducted by the Tel Aviv Institute for National Security Studies indicate that the policy of ambiguity regarding Israel’s nuclear capability, enjoys massive public support; 80% of the respondents supported Israel’s handling of the nuclear issue, while only 19% believe that Israel should go public in order to deter its enemies. Only a mere 1% believes that Israel should give up its nuclear arsenal entirely.

Despite this overwhelming domestic support for Israel’s ambiguous nuclear policy there are clear advantages to bringing the bomb out of the basement. To put Israel’s current problem in frank terms, everybody already knows they possess the bomb. Therefore admitting to its “nuclear policy” would be a mere formality. The implications it would have on the negotiating table however would be substantial.

Deterrence strategies encounter two basic problems. The first is the aggressor’s mindset. To be effective, a deterrent threat has to be believed. One state must believe that the other can deliver the threatened punishment and that under certain circumstances it may do so. The second problem is posed by the actions that a threatened state might take. Confronted with a strong defense, a would-be aggressor may act first to overcome it. Confronted with a powerful deterrent, a would be aggressor may seek to reduce its effect by taking aggressive measures to protect its own population or by striking first to destroy a large part of the adversary’s deterrent force.

Clarity plays an extremely vital role in nuclear deterrence. This fact is exemplified by the 1999 Kargil crisis between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir region in, which, “open” nuclear deterrence prevented the Kashmir crisis from escalating into a war. But clarity can also play a role in nuclear non-proliferation talks. Observing the rapid and unexpected toppling of the autocratic regimes of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali or Hosni Mubarak it should be in Israel’s security interests to move forward and put an end to its policy of nuclear ambiguity. Doing so could open the door to talks on a nuclear non-proliferation treaty between Israel, Iran and the Middle East in general.

Israel’s silence about its nuclear program may even have accelerated nuclear development in Iran and convinced many small states that they too could acquire nuclear weapons.  Even Libya tried to get into the nuclear game, although they dropped their program in 2003. By not coming clean on its program, Israel may have created a security vacuum in the Middle East, which has been filled by irrational regimes such as Iran, working to acquire their own nuclear capability. Although Israel’s strategy has succeeded in preventing existential attacks, it has not worked as a deterrent against conventional attacks, nor as a warning to rivals against developing nuclear weapons.

Did Iran Kidnap Dissident in Paris?

May 4th, 2011 at 2:28 pm 1 Comment

It seems that Iranian agents may have kidnapped a dissident in Paris and taken him to Tehran a few days ago.

While there are few details out now, here are the main elements: The story was first reported yesterday by the Metula News Agency (MENA), a French-language Israeli news service that usually provides reliable, and sometimes hard to find, information.  So far, they are the only news agency to have reported this story.

Mohammad-Reza (Arash) Fakhravar, an Iranian student who is the brother of Amir-Abbas Fakhravar, the president of the Confederation of Iranian Students, seems to have been kidnapped on April 29th by personnel from the Iranian embassy in Paris

According to MENA, he was then taken to Orly airport and put on Iran Air 732 flight en route to Tehran. During the kidnapping, Fakhravar managed to alert his brother in Washington, DC about his situation.

His brother then alerted both the FBI and his mother in Tehran, who ran to the Khomeini airport in order to look for her son. A member of the airport staff told her confidentially that her son had been taken to Evin prison, where many political prisoners are detained.

And that’s all that’s been reported thus far.  There isn’t much mention of it in the mainstream French media, nor anywhere else as far as I can see.  And there’s been absolutely no reaction from French authorities.

If the story is true, and MENA’s record tends to make it plausible, it’s possible the French government wants to keep things quiet and try to find some sort of solution.

While silencing the press and letting the guy rot in jail could have been an option before the Internet, that seems unlikely now and Sarkozy’s policy doesn’t seem to mesh with that approach. We can only suppose that more details will emerge in the coming days.

The story, in French, is on the MENA website. They may provide an English version later on, as they sometimes do.

Is Iran Helping Assad Crush the Syrian Revolt?

March 28th, 2011 at 12:04 pm 5 Comments

According to Israeli sources, Syrian dissidents have reported some of the gun- and baton-wielding security personnel unleashed on anti-regime activists in recent days have been speaking in Farsi.

This is not in and of itself conclusive evidence of Iranian involvement. Syria has a large population of native Farsi speakers. So, for that matter, does Israel.

Still: “Syria is an Iranian acquisition, and it is clear that Iran is afraid that its investments will go down the drain.  So it has allowed for greater involvement than in other Arab countries,” Israeli Army Radio reported Foreign Ministry officials as saying.

The alliance with Iran has allowed Damascus to fight above its weight as a regional power player.

Assad, like his father and predecessor, has played a double-game with both his neighbors and the U.S., suggesting at times Syria could be “flipped” given the right inducements.

As Middle East expert Michael Doran has noted, “Syria has played this game of being both the arsonist and the fire department.”

All the while Syria has been extending — and capriciously yanking away — the olive branch, it has been calibrating the use of its client terrorist political organizations Hezbollah and Hamas in Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories according to immediate exigencies and longer range goals.

All the while it has been attempting to destabilize U.S. allies including Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia by way of lower-key intriguing and subversion,

All the while it has been hosting and training al-Qaeda recruits from throughout the Arab world and allowing the country to be used as a land-bridge for infiltrating them into Iraq.

And all the while Iran has looked on and nodded approvingly.

Syria has acted as Tehran’s reliable sword-edge in pursuing greater Shi’ite/Persian aspirations in a largely Sunni, largely hostile Arab world.

The loss of its only Arab ally would be more than just a temporary setback to the mullahs’ plans for redrawing the regional boundaries of power. A destabilized Syria or one where the regime is changed by the will of a people could administer a death-blow to Iran’s current strategic gamesmanship in the Middle East.

Which is why Israel’s warnings about possible Iranian participation in efforts to quell the Syrian uprising carry the ring of conviction.

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