"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid" - Ronald Reagan

New York

The real issue is who will set the agenda for the Middle East: Iran or America?

Once again Amir Taheri, once the executive editor-in-chief of Kayhan, Iran's main daily newspaper, has put the war in Lebanon into perspective in his Times Online article entitled, "God's army has plans to run the whole Middle East."

He details the rise of Hezbollah in Lebanon, discusses its functioning as a state within a state, and finally focuses on Iran's overall goal. He notes,

Hezbollah is a state within the Lebanese state. It controls some 25% of the national territory. Almost 400,000 of Lebanon’s estimated 4m inhabitants live under its control. It collects its own taxes with a 20% levy, known as “khoms”, on all incomes. It runs its own schools, where a syllabus produced in Iran is taught at all levels. It also runs clinics, hospitals, social welfare networks and centres for orphans and widows.
He asks the question, Why has Tehran decided to play its Lebanese card now?

Part of the answer lies in Washington’s decision last May to reverse its policy towards Iran by offering large concessions on its nuclear programme. Tehran interpreted that as a sign of weakness.
In the occupied territories, Hamas needs to marginalise Mahmoud Abbas’s PLO and establish itself as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. In Lebanon, Hezbollah wants to prevent the consolidation of power in the hands of a new pro-American coalition government led by Fouad Siniora, the prime minister, and Walid Jumblatt, the Druze leader.
He continues with an interesting analysis,

In Lebanon, for the first time in two generations, a consensus is emerging among the country’s different ethnic and religious communities that the only way they can live together in peace is by developing a sense of Lebaneseness.
Finally, he concludes with,

The mini war that is taking place between Israel and Hezbollah is, in fact, a proxy war in which Iran’s vision for the Middle East clashes with the administration in Washington. What is at stake is not the exchange of kidnapped Israeli soldiers with Arab prisoners in Israel. Such exchanges have happened routinely over five decades. The real issue is who will set the agenda for the Middle East: Iran or America? (emphasis added)
Full a full read, click here.

Iran supplies Hizballah with a battery of upgraded Zelzal missiles

DEBKAFiles reports that Iran has supplied Hezbollah with a battery (16 each) of upgraded (300-400 km range) Zelzal missiles capable of reaching Beersheba and therefore capable of hitting the Dimona reactor in Israel. It seems Iran is paving the way for a possible 22 Aug 06 strike as discussed before.

In addition, Tehran recently sent archterrorist Mughniyeh (of 1983 Beruit Marine bombing fame) to rescue Hezballoh. It appears that not only is Iran intent on keeping this conflict not only going, but escalating it.

While it is doubtful that such a strike would actually do significant damage to the reactor, the symbology of striking the Dimona reactor would be huge. Iran's back is against the wall as Hezbollah is suffering a severe beating in South Lebanon as it is being systematically destroyed. What better way to turn the tide in Hezbollah's favor then send in Mughniyeh to command the Southern Front. Mughniyeh has a direct line not only to Khamenei and but also to Osama bin Laden.

Olmert should release the IDF from it limited 6-8 km frontage and allow it to finish the job of defeating Hezbollah.

Gamaa Islamiya Group in Egypt denies Al Qaeda Association

Al Jazeera reports that a former leader of Gamaa Islamiya in Egypt, Sheikh Abdel Akher Hammad, denies the groups involvement or association with Al Qaeda. He notes that while some members have joined, most members do not share the same opinion. The group's website states the same according to Al Jazeera.

This renouncement begs the question. Why come out publically and state it?

There is only two possible answers.

1. The group is not associated with Al Qaeda.

2. The group, while associated with Al Qaeda, does not want to be recognized being associated with Al Qaeda.

The first answer needs no analysis. The second answer only leads one to the conclude that given the punishment that Al Qaeda has seen in Afghanistan and Iraq, Gamaa Islamiya does not want the same.

According to Al Jazeera, "Analysts said they did not expect any change in the group's policy after the al-Qaeda announcement, saying its leadership had clearly chosen to avoid violence in Egypt." (emphasis added)

So, for all those people who state we are losing the Global War on Terror, Iraq is just a quagmire and we should "cut and run", the Arab Street is rising against the US policy, Israel is mired in Lebanon, etc, etc., it appears that Arabs overwhelmingly are disassociating themselves, at least publically, from the likes Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Iran.

It would also seem that the old saying of fighting fire with fire is paying off. While major terrorists groups are holed up in caves (Al Qaeda) and bunkers (Hezbollah). Its tacit supporters are disassociating themselves with these terrorists groups. Its active supporters, Iranian President Ahmadinejad being the most noteworthy, are being seen for who they really are, crackpots that are bringing the Middle East to edge of destruction. One can only hope that 22 Aug 06 passes by with only Iran rejecting the incentives package and nothing else.

The "Arab Street" is not beginning to rise, but instead is sitting quietly by while these extremist groups and leaders are being taken out one by one. The freedom that Iraqis are striving for are doing more for "Arab Street" public opinion than the violence, death, and destruction that terrorists groups promise.

If 22 Aug 06 should prove to be a day of untold destruction, I believe it will also be the final nail in the coffin for terrorists, not only due to America's and Israel's reaction, but also from the "Arab Street's" reaction.

Update: Sadr's Million Man March in Support of Lebanon brings only 14,000; Only Hundreds in Saudi Arabia

Al Jazeera hyped up Muqtada al-Sadr's call for a "million man march" in support of Lebanon's Hezbollah on 04 Aug 06, who, by-the-way, did not show up in person.

However, based on US imagery, an estimated 14,000 Iraqi citizens gathered in Baghdad’s Sadr City today in a peaceful demonstration to show support for Lebanon according to a MNF-I press release.

Iraqpundit provides his own insights as to why.

Here are my insights.

Sadr won enough votes to have 30 members in the Iraqi Parliment; however only 14,000 showed up for his "million man march" in Sadr city (inhabited by 2 million Shi'ites) in support of Lebanon's Hezbollah.

Does this represent a move away from him? Quite possibly in the militant sence, but not so likely in the political sense.

It does; however, represent that Iraqi's are mainly concerned about their own country's security and see what terrorists are doing to their country and do not want to be party to similar terrorist methods in another country. While some stress individual safety concerns as a reason for the low turnout even though this has not affected the annual Hajs, it is noted at CNN that the demonstration was without violence and security was provided by Iraqi Police and the 6th Iraqi Army Division.

I read daily how the Arab street is up in arms about Israel's disproportionate attack on Lebanese civilians. Yet in a country with 15.5 million Shi'ites only 14,000 show to demonstrate support for Hezbollah in a neighborhood with 2 million Shi'ites who are protected by Iraqi Police, the 6th Iraqi Army Division, US Forces, and Sadr's militia.

Iraqi's see daily and firsthand what terrorism brings; namely, death, destruction, and greater violence. The great majority (99.91%) of Shi'ites did not show up to demonstrate for Hezbollah, for Sadr, for Iran, or for more violence. Nor did a great majority of Shi'ites show up against their democratically elected government, against Israel, and against the US despite protection from the Iraqi Police and the 5th Iraqi Army Division.

That beacon of light in the Middle East, called a democratic Iraq, is shining brighter daily. Its light is already providing direction to other extremists in the Middle East. As time goes by, its light will only get brighter.

A failure, most certainly not; in fact, quite the opposite.

Update: Only hundreds and possibly up to 2000 (of the 2 million Shi'ites) in Saudi Arabia took the the streets to protest against Israeli actions or for Hezbollah's actions in Lebanon according to Al Jazeera while noting, "Public protests are banned in Saudi Arabia, although the authorities have shown unusual leniency in tolerating some marches against Israeli attacks in Lebanon."

Again, where is the "Arab Street" that is up in arms over Israel's disproportionate response to Hezbollah terrorists. Other than Iranian President Ahamdinejad and Hezbollah leader Nasrallah, with Syria being unually quiet, it does not seem that very many Shi'ites support this war that was started by Hezbollah's kidnapping of two and the killing of eight Israeli Soldiers.

Over the weekend, about 16,000 out of a population of over 17 million Shi'ites took to the streets to protest for Hezbollah or against Israel.

I cannot say it enough. That ray of hope, that beacon of light in the Middle East called a democratically elected and free Iraq is shining bright for all to see with Al Qaeda in dark shadowy caves and Hezbollah in bombed out bunkers.

Israeli Navy ship redeploys following attack

The Jerusalem Post reports that the Israeli Navy ship Hanit, hit by an Iranian-made C-802 missile approximately three weeks ago returned to war duty on Sunday, 06 Aug 06. Maintenance crews worked around the clock to get the ship operational.

For the full story click here.