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

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Failed Peace Deal: Iran Regime Nixes Compromise

From Amir Taheri writing for the New York Post.

IRAN moved a step closer to prolonged civil strife yester day when the government rejected a compromise offered by a key figure of the regime to settle the dispute over last month's election.

The deal was offered byformer President Hashemi Rafsanjani, a prominent mullah-cum-businessman and one of the founders of the Islamic Republic. In his proposal, the dispute over the presidential results would be referred to the Supreme Court for final judgment, while the opposition would stop daily skirmishes between its supporters and security agents. The government would then release the 5,000 or so people arrested since the dispute broke out June 13 and publish the full list of those killed in the insurrection.

Mr. Taheri point out other parts of the compromise which the Iranian regime rejected. He also goes on to site how the sides are lining up and the cold shoulder being given to Ahmadinejad in Mashad. But most importantly, he ends with the following statement which shows where the regime is heading.

The split within the Khomeinist establishment is deepening by the day, creating the impression of a regime adrift in a sea of troubles.

To read the complete article, click here.

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Thousands throng again as Rafsanjani speaks in Tehran

From Monsters and Critics.

Thousands thronged to Friday prayers in Tehran to hear an address by former president Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani. The event rekindled open protests at alleged fraud in the June 12 presidential election, which saw President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad retain power.

Witnesses said as many as 100,000 opposition supporters took part in the demonstrations in searing heat of 40 degrees centigrade or more. Police used tear gas when clashes broke out after the event.

Things are still not right in Iran. Rafsanjani spoke out defiantly against the establishment. The fact that he was able to do this with carefully chosen words is indicative that the ruling establishment in Iran has lost a certain amount of control.

To read the complete article, click here.

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Pakistan wields a double-edged sword

From Syed Saleem Shahzad writing for the Asia Times Online.

The first few thousand of more than 3 million people displaced by fighting in Pakistan's Swat and Malakand regions in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) have returned to their homes. Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, on a tour to a refugee camp, said this week he was "optimistic" about the job more than 30,000 troops are doing in tackling militants in the area.

The months-long offensive in and around Swat has, however, stirred bitter resentment against the Pakistan Army and its Operation Rah-e-Raast (Operation for the Right Path), despite the positive spin the authorities try to put on the operation and their claims of killing top Taliban commanders.

Syed Saleem Shahzad describes some interesting missteps by the Pakistani Army in this article. He describes a credibility problem which has resulted in the Pakistani Taliban uniting vice being fragmented.

The incident stunned the army and it was faced with the reality that far from eliminating Baitullah, he had emerged as the leader of all of the Pakistani Taliban; tribal feuds had been put aside. This was despite the fact that the army clarified on a number of occasions that the military operation was only against Baitullah, not even against his tribe. Clearly, no one believed the army.

One thing which is certain is that a fight against an insurgency the population must be protected, respected, and secured. If the Pakistani Army is not keeping this in mind, it will not succeed. The insurgents will, when attacked, hide among the population and use them as shields. The Pakistani Army needs to restain itself to ensure it does not appear to be fighting the population and focus its efforts on the insurgents. If that means a known insurgent goes free, so be it. But collateral damage must be minimized. In this way, the population will decide to not support the insurgent and will begin to support the government.

A counter-insurgency is a tricky, tricky road to travel on and it must be done with care. The US learned this tough lesson in Iraq. The Pakistani Army will eventually learn this lesson in Pakistan. Unfortunately, until it does, civilians may suffer, from both sides of the conflict.

The good news is Pakistan is now starting to fight the insurgents in their country. The bad news is that tacit support of an insurgency comes not from believing in the insurgent's cause, but from fear of the insurgent's brutal methods. It is difficult to fight a war without brutality, but that is what a counter-insurgent must do everyday. And that is the lesson which Pakistan is now learning.

A final note. The Pakistani Army will learn how to fight the insurgency since the government is a freely elected entity. It will change its methods because it must to survive. An insurgent does not need to, and in fact, when push comes to shove, an insurgent will always sacrifice a civilian. This note is why an insurgency is best dealt with by a democracy which is answerable to its people.

To read the complete article, click here.

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Iraq to Increase Crude Production to 4 Million B/D


Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein Al-Shahristani has announced that Iraq will increase its oil production to four million barrels a day (b/d) as an intermediate step toward production of six million b/d.

Finance Minister Baqir Al-Zubeidi said the increase will generate an additional income of $200 billion in the forthcoming period that would help Iraq carry out its development programs.

He added that by reaching this level of production, Iraq will become a center of economic power in the region that would influence the relations with the neighboring countries.

Iraq has sites on becoming a center of economic power in the region.


Abu Risha Sends a Stern Message to Kurdish Leaders

From Iraq the Model.

The chief of the Awakening Councils in Iraq Ahmed Abu Risha told the press that it was not unlikely to form an alliance with PM Nouri al-Maliki in the future because Maliki “presented a national project that transcends ethnic and sectarian lines that strengthens Iraq’s unity”.

When asked about Iran, Abu Risha called Iran’s role in Iraq “worrisome” and that “facing this [intervention] requires that Iraqis adhere to their choice of national independence and reject interference in their internal affairs”.

It seems that Maliki may be able to draw a major Sunni party into his new government. If true, his dependence on Sadr is significantly less important.

To read the complete article, click here.

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Taliban uses Afghan fear to fight surge

From The Washington Times.

The Taliban is seeking to blunt the surge of an additional 20,000 U.S. troops through stepped-up attacks on Afghans working with the U.S.-backed government, U.S. and Afghan officials say.

This is the first mistake insurgents make when confronted with death. They start attacking the population indiscriminantly.

A U.S. defense official, who also spoke on the condition that he not be named because of the nature of his work, said the Taliban has been "invoking fear" by targeting innocent people who work for the U.S.-led coalition.

They will target known collaborators with the Coalition Forces, but also innocent folks. This word will get around, just like it has in Iraq. Mark my word, this is the beginning of the end for the Taliban. An insurgency cannot survive without the tactic support of the population. Fence sitters will stop becoming fence sitters when they see innocent people murdered.

When the insurgents need to resort to murder to maintain control, they have lost.

To read the complete article, click here.

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Iraqi Chief of Staff Asks Al-Sistani for Fatwa in Support of Security


Iraqi Chief of General Staff General Babaker Zibari called on senior Shi'te cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani to issue a fatwa [religious edict] calling on Iraqis to support security and stability.

Zibari, a Kurd, also asked Al-Sistani to encourage Iraqis to join the armed forces. The request is the first of its kind in Iraq.

It is assumed that Zibari, who is the second most senior army senior officer under Prime Minister Al-Maliki, who is commander-in-chief, has acted at the behest of Al-Maliki, who may have been reluctant for political reasons to approach Al-Sistani directly.

It will be interesting if Sistani delivers the fatwa asked for.

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Predators and Civilians

From the Wall Street Journal.

Several Taliban training camps in the Pakistan hinterland were hit last week by missiles fired from American unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), or drones, reportedly killing some 20 terrorists. Remarkably, some people think these strikes are a bad idea.

This article provides an interesting account of predator attack vice other fixed wing attacks. Keys to the discussion are low yield explosives and loiter time which limit collateral damage.

To read the full article, click here.

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