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

New York

Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine. The Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution

The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies (C.S.S) has a great article about how Palestinians are starting to view the Gaza Strip. According to CSS

In an exceptional statement on the first anniversary of the disengagement, Hamas government spokesman Ghazi Hamad criticized anarchy and corruption in the Gaza Strip, blaming Palestinian society and no, as usual, the Israeli “occupation.” He also criticized rocket attacks against Israel, which he said did more harm than good, and said the Palestinians had to search their souls to extricate themselves from their situation.
In return, an August 28 editorial in the Palestinian Authority's official paper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda , leveled criticism at Ghazi Hamad's statements.

It stated that the Hamas government was responsible for the dire situation . It is the government, said the article, which is responsible for keeping public order, preventing crime and ending anarchy. The editorial called upon the Hamas government to establish a government of technocrats and coordinate the
activities of the various security apparatuses to extricate the PA from the crisis it has been foundering in since the movement rose to power in January 2006.
This situation is of immense importance since both sides (the PA government and newspapers) are truly beginning to examine the root causes for anarchy and despair among the Palestinian people. Israel's unilateral withdraw from Gaza put the PA in charge of Palestinians for the first time. They are now recognizing it is not Israel which is depressing Palestinians, but their own terrorist organizations.

Just as with Lebanese with regards to Hezbollah, Palestinians with regards to Hamas and Fatah, and Iraqis with regards to Al Qaeda and other internal terrrorists, many Muslims are beginning to look inward as a cause to their plight as opposed to outward against Israel and the United States. These three Muslim dominated countries/terroritories have a chance at democracy if they so choose to secure and embrace it.

With US assistance, Iraqis are actively trying to secure democracy in Iraq. Now with UN assistance, Lebanese can secure democracy in Lebanon. Palestinians too are looking inward to secure democracy in Gaza. Iranians are getting fed up with their internally imposed oppression and descent is growing there too.

As I have stated before, the beacon of light and hope which is a democratic Iraq is beginning to shine bright throughout the Middle East. Muslims want hope, peace, and freedom to pursue a productive life for themselves and their children. The "New Middle East" initiative of exporting democracy is beginning to take hold in the Middle East despite the efforts of the likes of Bin Laden, Zarqawi, Ahmadinejad, Assad, and Nashallah.

During this war, there will be setbacks here and there, but if we stay the course in Iraq and Afghanistan, the beacon of freedom and hope will only shine brighter throughout the Middle East.

Terrorists, insurgencies, and oppressive rulers at the very least need tacit support of their populations to continue to persist. This support has greatly eroded in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and it is beginning to erode in Gaza and Iran.

In just five short years since 9/11, democracy in the Middle East is taking hold. Citizens are questioning their leaders like never before in this oppressive part of the world. Palestinian jailed in Israel have come up with a National Conciliation Document of the Prisoners not unlike the 1776 Declaration of Independence that resulted in the 1787 Constitution which was ratified and formed the USA in 1789. One wonders what the Middle East will look like in six to eight more years given this analogy?

Nasarallah’s Blunder: Lebanese Turn on Hez Chief

Amir Taheri once again provides insightful analysis of the Israeli-Hezbollah war. In his latest article, he asks the question,

Why did Nasrallah decide to change his unqualified claim of victory into an indirect admission of defeat? Two reasons.

The first consists of facts on the ground: Hezbollah lost some 500 of its fighters, almost a quarter of its elite fighting force. Their families are now hounding Nasrallah to provide an explanation for "miscalculations" that led to their death.
He expounds on this point by stating that Hezbollah fighters were only aware of the war once Israeli jets begin their bombing resulting in the loss of most of Hezbollah’s medium range missiles and the capture of local leaders and Hezbollah militia by the Israelis.

The second reason why Nasrallah has had to backtrack on his victory claims is the failure of his propaganda machine to hoodwink the Lebanese. He is coming under growing criticism from every part of the political spectrum, including the Hezbollah itself.
He further justifies this point by citing the cancellation of a series of victory marches on the advice of Shi’ite leadership who are instead holding mourning ceremonies, his monetary payouts is being seen as blood money, and as people go back to their villages they are seeing the utter destruction unleashed by Hezbollah’s ill-conceived kidnappings.

Finally, Amir Taheri points again to the fact that Hezbollah was only able to secure 12 of 128 seats in the National Assembly through coalitions which have disintegrated since the war.

Israel failed in this war by not crushing Hezbollah when it had the chance, but by no means did Hezbollah come out victorious. Mr. Bolton’s skillful wording of UN Resolution 1701 and Israel’s successful post-war diplomacy has the UN’s back against a wall to either support Israel, allow the war to restart, or show the powerlessness of the UN.

Kofi Annan for his part will not let the later two happen and therefore has no choice but to try his best to uphold UN Resolution 1701 less he have another failure on his watch.

Iran to miss OPEC oil production target

Al Jazeera has an interesting article today regarding Iran’s oil production. From Al Jazeera.

“Iran is set to miss its production target of 500,000 million barrels of crude oil by 2010 due to a lack of investment in ageing oilfields.”
Quoting Gholam Hossein Nozari of Iranian National Oil,

"We are not close to the 5 million bpd target of the fourth plan. More than 80% of the current total oil output is being provided from aged oilfields that need serious investment to increase production,"
Al Jazeera goes on to state,

“Major development plans of oilfields that need substantial foreign investment have been held up by protracted negotiations between Iran and foreign investors over disputes on the rising costs of operations.”
This is all interesting given the following:

1. Iran has not been investing in it own oilfields.

2. 80% of Iran’s oil output is from aged fields that need development to extract more oil.

3. Development of these fields needs foreign investment.

4. Foreign investors are wary of rising development costs in Iran.

This sounds eerily familiar to Venezuela since Chavez took power.

It is interesting how a country that needs foreign capital and technology to develop its oil sector can have income to expend on nuclear technology (which in Iran's case will cost 27% more than using its own oil) and Hezbollah militants in Lebanon.

It is also interesting how a leader of a country that needs western technology can be so adamant against the very people he needs to help upgrade his oil fields.

Since Chavez took power in 1998, Venezuela production has decreased by 50%. Expect Iran’s production to decrease in the future also. This does not bode well for future gas prices.

However, these destructive regimes will implode soon enough. Both have growing unrest in their respective countries. These are two regimes that only need a budge to implode.

Security Guarantees for Iran’s Mullahs?

Amil Imani is an Iranian, born American citizen and pro-democracy activist residing in the United States of America, has an interesting article at The American Thinker about security guarentees for the Iranian Mullahs. In the article, he asks what do the Mullahs want a security guarentee from? He poses three possibilities.
  1. Iraq
  2. Fellow Gulf states
  3. America
His answer is none of the above, but is instead from the Iran population themselves.
"The mullahs like their lifestyle and want to bequeath it to their children. They are also long-term planners. They have maniacal messianic delusions of some day ruling the world. Presently, they will do all they can to imprison and kill with impunity the internal opposition, and want the rest of the world to keep its nose out of their “family” business. In the meantime, they will with greater peace of mind pursue their quest for the nuclear bomb, by hook or crook, and keep the fat UN watchdog happily in a slumberous state by throwing it a bone or two from time to time,”
I believe Amil Imani has hit the mark. The Mullahs want nothing more than what JFK gave the Soviets with regards to Castro's Cuba so like Cuba they can continue to oppress their own people for own benefit.

It goes back to there exists three basic human emtions: Greed, Fear, and Greed.

Why does Israel care about who is in the UNIFIL force?

Prime Minister Olmert rejected UNIFIL peacekeepers from countries which do not have diplomatic relationships with Israel citing specifically the countries of Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh. One wonders why?

For a simple answer, go to this Jerusalem Post article that cites the IDF uncovered and destroyed a 40 meter by 2 kilometer bunker complete with phone lines, showers, toilets, air ducts, emergency exits, and poured concrete shooting positions less than 400 meters from a UNIFIL position.

This is a major construction project that occurred right under the nose of UNIFIL observers. It did not happen overnight. It would have taken weeks, if not months, to complete this structure that is over one mile long that at its closest point is about 400 meters from the UNIFIL position.

From UNIFIL’s own website,

Originally, UNIFIL was created by the Security Council in 1978 to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, restore international peace and security and assist the Lebanese Government in restoring its effective authority in the area. Following the July/August 2006 crisis, the Council decided that in addition to the original mandate, UNIFIL would, among other things, monitor the cessation of hostilities; accompany and support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy throughout the south of Lebanon; and extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons.

Ok, so how did UNIFIL fill they were restoring peace and security by allowing Hezbollah to emplace a 2 kilometer bunker on the Lebanese border?

So, if you ever wonder why Prime Minister Olmert wants a say in how UNIFIL is structured and its mandate, you only have to see what it didn’t do in the past.

Turkey Cabinet approves Lebanon force

From the AP on Yahoo.

ANKARA, Turkey - Turkey's Cabinet decided Monday in favor of sending peacekeepers to Lebanon and will seek parliamentary approval for the deployment, officials said.

Parliament will convene to debate the deployment as early as next week, government spokesman Cemil Cicek said.

"In principle, we've decided to join the U.N. peacekeeping mission," Cicek said.

This is good news in the sense that relatively secular Muslims who understand democracy, its freedoms, and benefits will intermingle with the southern Shi'ite population of Lebanon.

If intending to stop kidnapping of its Soldiers-The war with Hezbollah succeeded

An AP story at Yahoo cites Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah as saying,

"We did not think, even 1 percent, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude. You ask me, if I had known on July 11 ... that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not,"
Nasrallah has stated this before during the war. One thing that can be assured is if it was Israeli's intention to ensure its Soldiers would never be kidnapped again, its war with Hezbollah was a success from that point.

However, given the fact that Israel struck and continues to strike Gaza over the kidnapping of Cpl Shalit, one has to wonder why Nasrallah thought he could do the same two weeks later with impunity.

Maybe, just maybe, facing great internal descent in Lebanon, Nasrallah is trying to turn the blame away from himself to Israel.

Either way, this represents another loss for Hezbollah and a victory for Israel.

Iran No Threat to Any State-Heavy Water Plant Inaugurated

Iran Daily reports that on 26 August, Ahmadinejad was present to inaugurate newly constructed Arak heavy water plant noting that,

“Peace, friendship and kindness are among characteristics of the Iranian nation. Different nations and ethnic groups neighboring Iran have lived in peace and calm without facing any aggression on the part of Iran for centuries.“
unlike Israel that is,

“definitely the enemy of regional countries“.
Alrighty then. I am sure Ahmadinejad has some great swamp land in Florida that he would like to sell to all of us too.

One only needs to go back to the title from Iran Daily, "Iran No Threat to Any State-Heavy Water Plant Inaugurated"

If they have to remind other nations of the fact they are not a threat to any state, it goes a long way to showing they are a threat to other states.

Just one example of why Hezbollah did not win

Haaretz has an article entitled, "In south Lebanon village, Sunnis express disdain for Hezbollah". The article profiles the village of Marwaheen, where 23 people were killed in a 15 July Israeli strike after these civilians were turned away by the UN seeking refuge.

Due to fighting, the bodies were only recently buried. Hezbollah wanted all 23 coffins to be adorn with the Hezbollah flag, but a fight broke out between Sunnis and the Hezbollah flag flew on 8 of the 23 coffins (presumably Hezbollah terrorists). The other 17 coffins adorned the Lebanese flag.

Even more striking is this statement from Wassim Abdallah.
"Nobody knew they were using our houses to store weapons. We were surprised to find them after the war.... How could they keep weapons in the middle of all these civilian houses?"
Now, who violated the Geneva Convention?

The UN for not offering refuge to these civilians 27 civilians of which 23 later died? But who can blame the UN, especially if at least 8 of "civilian" were Hezbollah.

Hezbollah for storing and staging weapons at civilian homes?


Israel for destroying Hezbollah a convoy with at least 8 Hezbollah fighters in it?

War is brutle. War is violent. If an enemy stores and fights from civilian structures or fights among civilians, the Geneva Convention is very clear. These civilian and their structures are no longer protected. While the UN will continue to declare Israel violated the Geneva Convention, it obviously will not examine itself; however, civilians in Southern Lebanon are severely questioning themselves and their tacit support for Hezbollah despite its post-war aid.

This saga is one more example of why Hezbollah did not win the war. It will never again enjoy the freedom and support it had prior to 12 July to store arms, weapons, and rockets in civilian neighborhoods. It will never again enjoy the tacit support of the civilian population in South Lebanon now that they see the result of their support. Israel was and still is an enemy to Lebanon. That has not changed. However, Lebanese are recognizing a new enemy, and it is Hezbollah.

"Pakistanis protest against law change"-Really????

Al Jazeera has an online article entitled, "Pakistanis protest against law change". The law change sought is to bring more equal rights to women in Pakistan. From the article's title and the accompanying picture, one would sense that protest were all over Pakistan.

However, a closer read of the article is only able to cite 200 in the city of Karachi and 50 in Islamabad that turned out to protest against better rights for women.

Looking at Dawn's latest stories shows this Pakistani newpaper did not even note these protests. In addition, going back to their archives for 25 and 26 August reveals no stories about "Pakistanis protesting against law change" as Al Jazeera cites.

Things that make you go Hmmm.

Iraq tribal chiefs sign 'pact of honor'

AP at Yahoo notes,
Hundreds of Iraqi tribal chiefs gave important support Saturday to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's national reconciliation plan...

"Realizing the gravity of the situation our country is undergoing, we pledge in front of God and the Iraqi people to be sincere and serious in preserving the unity of our country," said the agreement signed by tribal leaders and sheiks.

The chiefs also pledged to "work hard to stop the bloodletting and ... sectarian killings that have nothing to do with our values."
The extreme importance of this pledge cannot be understated. Tribal relationships are the backbone of Arab culture. The fact that "hundreds of Iraqi tribal chiefs" have formed an alliance to "stop the bloodletting" and are "serious in preserving the unity of our country" is a serious blow to the insurgency in Iraq.

James J. Schneider pointed out in his 1995 article, "T.E. Lawrence and the Mind of an Insurgent", that an insurgency must have six principles to survive and be successful. Let's examine each of these principles and analyze the success of the Iraqi Insurgency vice the Iraqi government and Coalition in these principles.

  • First, a successful guerrilla movement must have an unassailable base.
Past action in Fulluja, Mosul, Ramadi, and now Bahgdad have all but eliminated safe havens from which terrorist can operate from in Iraq. While some still exist, as more and more Iraqi Security Force units begin to control their battlespace, "unassailable bases" for insurgents in Iraq are growing smaller each day.

  • Second, the guerrilla must have a technologically sophisticated enemy.
We are. They do. This fact will not change as long as US forces are involved and as Iraqi Forces continue to grow and strengthen.

  • Third, the enemy must be sufficiently weak in numbers so as to be unable to occupy the disputed territory in depth with a system of interlocking fortified posts.
While Coalition forces numbers of around 160,000 may result in these forces "being sufficiently weak in numbers", the fact that Iraqi Security Forces now number more than 267,000, of which half control their own battlespace, lends to the fact that there no longer exists the inability to "occupy disputed territory in depth". As more and more Iraqis control their battlespace, this fact will only become clearer.

  • Fourth, the guerrilla must have at least the passive support of the populace, if not its full involvement.
The "hundred of Iraqi tribal chiefs" that just signed onto Maliki's national reconciliation plan has taken this most important principle of support from insurgents. One of the significant issues in Iraq is that the populace allows the insurgent next door to emplace IEDs and to wage violent attacks against their neighbors. This fact is why we do not have an isurgency in America. The Smiths won't let the Jones get away with it. This principle has just flip-flopped against the insurgents. This tribal chiefs uniting is highly significant and will rapidly cause the insurgency in Iraq to crumble. It will only get worse for insurgents as more tribal chiefs sign onto the reconciliation plan.

  • Fifth, the irregular force must have the fundamental qualities of speed, endurance, presence and logistical independence.
The insurgents have speed, but this speed is constantly challenged by the speed of our intelligence, which is improving daily, especially as more and more citizens come forth with information. The death of Zarqawi points to this fact. The endurance of the insurgents is not to be questioned. However, their presence and logistical independence is now significantly questioned as "hundreds of Iraqi tribal chiefs" have vowed to "stop the bloodletting" and "preserve the unity" of Iraq.

  • Sixth, the irregular must be sufficiently advanced in weaponry to strike at the enemy’s logistics and signals vulnerabilities.
They do and will continue to possess as long as Iran continues to support the insurgency with sophisticated weaponry. However, again, the employment of over 267,000 Iraqi Security Forces significanly reduces their ability to strike vulnerable nodes. This ability will continue to wane for the insurgents as more and more Iraqis control their own battlespace.

So, 3 1/2 years after unseating Saddam, the insurgency is losing more and more of its core abilities that it needs to sustain itself. It has now lost its most significant ability, namely, the passive support of the populace as tribal chiefs have banded together to support unity.

As stated before, a democratic Iraq is a beacon of light that is continually shining brighter for all in the Middle East to see. Iraqis have lived under oppression for over three decades. They have lived under an insurgency for over three years. They are sick and tied of it and will be led to freedom by tribal chiefs who have signed on to Maliki's national reconciliation plan.

Civil war, no. Civic responsibility, now more than ever.