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

New York

Iran opposition: Election result 'unacceptable'

From Hareetz.

Iran's embattled opposition leader has branded last month's presidential election "illegitimate" and has demanded the regime release all political prisoners.

Mir Hossein Mousavi's defiance came Wednesday in a new message on his Web site that also called for election reforms and press freedoms.

Mousavi insisted that Iran's disputed June 12 election was riddled with fraud. He contended that he - not incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - was the rightful winner.

The pot continues to stew. One thing is important to note in this article. It is the title. "Iran Opposition". These are important, and very new words.

To read the full article, click here.

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Sadr Front calls to halt resistance in cities of withdrawal

From Alsumaria.

In a statement read out by Al Sadr Front spokesman Salah Al Ubaidi, the front called on followers to halt resistance in Iraqi cities and villages from which US troops have pulled out.

If Coalition Forces have pulled out of all cites, then does that mean they will stop all resistance. I guess, we will see.

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Pakistan now facing 2-front war in Waziristan

From Saeed Shah writing for the Mcclatchy Newspapers published in the Miami Herald. The article starts with:

A militant commander in northwest Pakistan tore up a peace deal with the Pakistani government Tuesday, dealing a major blow to the government's campaign against Islamist insurgents in the extremist-controlled Waziristan region.

So the militant commander "tore" up the peace deal which will deal a "major blow" to Pakistan. Why?

"This accord is being scrapped because of Pakistan's failure to stop the American drone attacks in North and South Waziristan," said Ahmadullah Ahmadi, a spokesman for Bahadur. "Since the army is attacking us in North and South Waziristan, we will also attack them."

So, the Predator attacks must be hurting them, and hurting them hard, so hard, in fact, they have decided it is better to go to war with Pakistan than continue to be hit by predator attacks. However, this conclusion is never reached. Instead the conclusion that is reached is Pakistan now has to face a 2-front war.

"You have to have a strategy to isolate Baitullah, clear the Mehsud area, then make arrangements for (fighting) Maulvi Nazir and Gul Bahadur," said Asad Munir, a former head of military intelligence for the tribal area. "You have to make every effort to separate the Wazirs and the Mehsuds."

Well really. That is surprising. I bet the only person who knew Pakistan was going to try to deal with Mehsud first and then Nazir and Bahadur was Mr. Munir. That is probably the reason Pakistan has been denying they are aware of the attacks and is representing they are powerless to stop the attacks.

I bet the fact that Pakistan was aware of the attacks never entered into the thought process of Nazir and Bahadur. I bet, seeing their fellow Taliban wiped out in Swat and a major offensive ongoing in South Waziristan and knowing they were next, never entered into their thought process that they better now side with Baitullah before his forces are wiped out.

I believe in this particular case, the Obama administration is on target.

The Obama administration contends that the drone attacks are hurting the ability of Taliban and al-Qaida commanders to plan and mount operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and that the domestic political fallout from the strikes hasn't hurt the Pakistani government too badly, said two U.S. officials who requested anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly.

Yes folks, Afghanistan and Pakistan are connected. They are linked. You cannot win one without the other. Surprise. We haven't heard that before. If that means you have to fight all enemy forces at one time, that is what it means. Would you rather fight one at a time? Of course, and Pakistan has been doing a great job up until now to fight only one, but Pakistan nor the US get to decide when the enemy will begin to fight. The enemy does. And the enemy has.

Will it be a different battle now? Sure. Were contingencies drawn up in case this happened? Undoubtedly. Did everybody know this day was coming? Of course.

What is more important is to see what comes next. And that will begin to shed some light on what the contingency plan really is.

To read the full article, click here.

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Iraq Opens Bids for Oil Fields

From Bloomberg.

Iraq auctioned contracts Tuesday to run eight huge oil and gas fields, but only made a deal on one of the fields.

This is the second thing Iraq needs, jobs. Its national resource is oil. While only one of the eight fields received a deal, it points to changing times in Iraq. Iraq is moving from a wartime state to a peace time economy. These oil bids are just the first in a long line of future economic enterprises.

The fact that no companies bid on the other seven fields means Iraq has to go back and make them more competitive to oil companies.


Pakistan Rejects Talks With Militants Amid Offensive

From Paul Tighe and Farhan Sharif writing for Bloomberg.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said there will be no talks with militants because the army is taking decisive action against them “in a guerrilla fight” in the tribal region and in the Swat Valley.

“Our army is fighting very efficiently against cowardly people,” the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan cited Gilani as saying in Lahore yesterday. It’s not the time for dialogue with terrorists, he said.

Awhile back I stated that Pakistani's voted in businessmen and that terrorism was bad for business. This is now proving to be the case.

To read the full article, click here.

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Turkey increases Iraq water flow

From Alsumaria.

Turkey increased the volume of water flow in Euphrates River by 50% to reach 570 cubic meters per second, a percentage claimed by Iraq to plant rice in half of its land in the middle and the south of the country, Ministry of Water Resources declared on Sunday. Iraq hopes that Turkey will keep on increasing the water flow in order to provide water for agricultural purposes and other uses, said an official statement

This simple act, increasing water into Iraq, will do more to eliminate the insurgent threat in Iraq than any additional increase in American Soldiers or Iraqi checkpoints at this stage of the conflict.

As I interface with Iraqis daily, this one issue always surfaces. Water is not only the key to life; in Iraq it is a key ingredient in developing jobs and commerce in this young democracy. It is also critical at returning dependents to their homes, many of which still remain displaced due to lack of drinking or agricultural water.

Reports like this make the chances increase dramatically of this young, fragile democracy surviving to become a solid democracy which will be a beacon for all other countries in the Middle East.

This increase in chance that this additional water brings is as dramatic as the revoluion going on in Iran right now.

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In Afghanistan, crackdown hurts Iran's once-sterling image

From Philip Smucker wrtiing for McClatchy.

"The Iranian government has finally exposed itself as a theocratic, totalitarian regime," said Faqiri, 23, a leader of the organization of a dozen students who meet secretly once a week because the Afghan government frowns on their independent political activities. "Iranian leaders are trying to hang onto power by killing people and destroying their free media."

What is important here is Iranian influence which is rapidly degrading among Middle Eastern nations. What is happening in Iran is a revolution. What is happening to Iranian influence in the region, is revolutionary.

By virtue of its economic ties and support for key areas of the Afghan government, Iran still wields considerable influence in Afghanistan. Increasingly, though, it's viewed by the broader public and by university students in Herat as an anachronistic and authoritarian regime that opposes the will of its own people.

Indeed, after the government crackdown and the popular defiance following the disputed June 12 election, Iran's political influence in Afghanistan is in a downward spiral.

For a full read of the article, click here.

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Fireworks over Baghdad as Iraqis take over cities

From AP via Yahoo.

"The withdrawal of American troops is completed now from all cities after everything they sacrificed for the sake of security," said Sadiq al-Rikabi, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. "We are now celebrating the restoration of sovereignty."

Being here, in Iraq, and working with Iraqis on a daily basis, I can tell you for them, this marks a turning point in their history. They are now a sovereign nation. They are now in charge of their destiny. Will insurgents try to take this day from them, undoubtedly. Will Iraqis win at the end of the day, most assuredly.

For a full read of the above article, click here.


Support for Pakistan's anti-Taliban war seen solid

From Faisal Aziz writing for Reuters.

I wrote awhile back that Al Qaeda and the Taliban create enemies where ever they go. It takes awhile, but it is always the endstate. This seems to have finally happened in Pakistan.

In the 1980s, Pakistan began used Islamist guerrillas for foreign policy aims, first in Afghanistan to fight Soviet invaders and later in the disputed Kashmir region where Pakistan- backed Muslim fighters battled Indian rule.

That engendered considerable sympathy for the "jihadis".

But Pakistanis were shocked when the Taliban defied a peace deal that had given them virtual control of the Swat valley northwest of Islamabad and went on the offensive, seizing a district just 100 km (60 miles) from the capital in April.

Video footage of Taliban flogging a teenaged girl in Swat and a pro-Taliban cleric's proclamation that the constitution was un-Islamic contributed to a sea-change in opinion.

"It's an existential threat now to the state.

It is the same story everywhere, but this realization represents the death of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the region. Yes there will be fighting, probably even years of it, just like in Iraq, but the fact is, the insurgency will lose more and more support daily from this point forward.

The siginificance of Pakistan is this is the last unassailable base for Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda will lose here, not only militarily, but also its economic support from other Islamic countries.

For a full read of the article, click here.

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Iran is the Key

From Robert D. Kaplan writing for the New York Post.

Iran is so central to the fate of the Middle East that even a partial shift in regime behavior -- an added degree of nuance in its approach to Iraq, Lebanon, Israel or the United States -- could dramatically affect the region. Just as a radical Iranian leader can energize the "Arab street," an Iranian reformer can energize the emerging but curiously opaque Arab bourgeoisie. This is why the depiction of presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi as but another radical, albeit with a kinder, gentler exterior than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, completely misses the point.

Mr. Kaplan points out that like the old USSR, Iran can only change from the inside. It is an insightful article with many interesting comments.

For a full read, click here.

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