Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The New Nazis : When Al Qaeda And The Taliban Merge Their Fighting Tactics And Media Strategies

President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have been so thoroughly hyping the role of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and its allegedly expanding co-operation with the Taliban in Afghanistan, they sound like they are praying for such a Coalition Of Terror so as to have an enemy worthy of the full force of the United States.

While the Taliban has proven to be a resilient and extremely tough enemy in Afghanistan, and Al Qaeda is expanding its operational scope and using Iraq as a training ground for a new generation of international terrorists, neither enemy has lived up to the ultra-hype of the NeoCons as 'The New Nazis'. But they soon may. Which will make it far easier for Bush Co. to sell 'The Long War' back home. Perhaps. Americans are sick, literally, to death of war, and while the new Nazis may emerge, it's debatable whether or not Americans will rally behind their president, even if Al Qaeda managed to carry off what Dick Cheney claims they want to do : explode a nuclear device in a major American city.

From Afghanistan comes news that the Taliban and Al Qaeda are not only sharing war-fighting tactics, but all important PR strategies, for fighting the war in the media :
The Taliban, the fanatical Islamist movement that seized power in the 1990s as an ethnic-based jihad in southern Afghanistan, has in recent months merged its propaganda and field operations with those of al Qaeda, which flourishes across the border in Pakistan, say senior Afghan officials and the group´s former leaders.

The transformation of the Taliban provides a study in how a local, once xenophobic and home-grown Islamist insurgency has re-emerged as a force for al Qaeda´s global interests, say Afghan security officials.

Fighting against the violent backdrop of the well-publicized U.S.-led global war on terror, the Taliban movement is feeding off the larger global jihad to hone previously nonexistent media skills and new fighting tactics.

"The Taliban have changed immensely in the last year due to the mentoring they are getting from leading Arab jihadists in Pakistan with al Qaeda, both in the realm of battlefield tactics and media operations," said Lutfullah Mashal, a senior official in Afghanistan´s National Security Council,

"They are doing what works in Iraq and often succeeding," said Mr. Mashal, who as director of strategic communications designs media operations to oppose the Taliban.

Afghan and Western analysts familiar with the changing face of the Taliban say the local movement is gaining sustenance through recruiting, propaganda and tactics such as suicide bombing. The strategy is gleaned from the godfathers of the global jihad, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri and from battlefield skills honed in Iraq.

Before his violent death this month at the hands of Afghan and U.S. Special Forces, the Taliban's military commander, Mullah Dadullah, claimed that the Taliban's planning and operations are one and the same with those of al Qaeda.

Afghan officials also said the Taliban´s suicide bombing attacks in Kabul and other large cities are approved in advance by senior al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan.

"The Taliban is now an integral part of an internationalized jihad," said Waheed Mujda, an Afghan writer who served as a deputy minister in the Taliban´s government between 1997 and 2001.

"The Taliban´s war has now moved outside the boundaries of Afghanistan and is part of a global struggle."

Pakistan denies that al Qaeda is running its global terrorist network from its side of the border.

The transformation is best exemplified through the Taliban´s changing battle tactics and slick videotapes depicting training exercises and attacks on NATO, Afghan and U.S.-led coalition forces.

A cameraman travels with Taliban fighters on most major operations, a major step for a group that once banned television.

In one recent video, Abu Laith al Libi, a senior Libyan trainer for the Taliban in Afghanistan, sends a message of encouragement to Iraqi insurgents from an al Qaeda and Taliban training base inside Afghanistan.

The Taliban, a movement that once mangled its own media operations, is regularly featured in the independent Afghan media for its press statements and military gains -- so much so that officials from the government of U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai are threatening to muzzle the free press in their country for being too sympathetic toward "the enemy."

The Taliban insurgents, mimicking Al Qaeda´s own Web sites and video production wing, Al Sahab, are producing daily news articles covering events in Afghanistan and the Muslim world and slick videotapes that depict Iraq-style beheadings and the lives of young militants in schools and al-Qaeda training camps.

But Mullah Zaeef denied that the Taliban "in their hearts" had global jihadist intentions. He said Afghans would not attack the U.S. soil as long as the U.S. military abandons Afghanistan.

Monday, May 28, 2007

US & Iran Hold First Talks In 27 Years, Over The Future Of Iraq

US Seen In Arab World As Moving To Make Peace With Iran

It is a shocking sign of just how badly the War On Iraq is going, and how little influence the NeoCons now hold over the White House, to see diplomats from Iran and the United States sitting down to talk. Particularly when the media, and blogs like this one, were only speculating a few days ago about when, or if, the US might launch airstrikes against Iran.

The meeting between Iran and the United States was, of course, centred around the future of Iraq, and how both countries may be able to work together to solve the appalling horror that is now daily life for millions of Iraqis.

But less than two months ago President Bush, and Vice President Dick Cheney, and their songbirds across the NeoCon-sympathetic American media, were railing against Iran and blaring they would never negotiate or enter talks with Iran while they continued to enrich uranium.

Not only has America and Iran sat down at the same table for talks, for the first time in 27 years, but there are clear signs this is just the beginning of a series of talks. That Iran had not halted enriching uranium wasn't even mentioned in most of the American media coverage.

Is the United States still demanding that Iran halt all enrichment work before further talks proceed? American envoy to the talks, Charles Crocker, didn't say.

Nor were there more than a few reflections in the American media on the fact that Iran was, and presumably, still remains one-third of the infamous Bush-tagged 'Axis Of Evil'.

Iran clearly has the upper hand in these talks. Iran wants the Shia-led Iraqi government to hold onto power as much as the Americans do, and the Iranians already know this will not lead to Iraq being transformed into a little America in the Middle East. If anything, Iraq is already transforming into another Iran, with Islamists in the corridors of power in Iraq quietly bringing in Sharia law and all the anti-human rights and freedom violations that come with it.

The United States still claims that Iran is feeding and arming and fuelling the insurgency in Iraq, and is somehow possibly involved with Al Qaeda attacks inside the country. But this is all just headlines for the American media, and Iran knows it.

It has been an astounding testimony to the power of spin that the American media has reported on the Iran-Iraq talks without recognising that it is the United States who finally went to Iran and took them up on their months-old offer of helping to bring peace to Iraq.

An incredibly historic day, all the more because the talks took place in Iraq, with an opening speech by Iraqi prime miniser al-Maliki, and that this monumental thaw in Iran-US relations occurred on America's Memorial Day. Probably no accident in itself, with most news broadcasts devoted to solemn ceremony and reflection on the 300,000 plus Americans who have died in more than 100 years of American wars, and the 3800 who have been killed in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is becoming clear that Iran will probably develop nuclear weapons, if they want them, and the US will allow this to happen.

It will then be to Israel to decide whether they will bomb Iran and unleash carnage across the region, and upon themselves, clearly aware that any attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities will only put back the creation of nuclear weapons by a few years, if at all. Iran know how to make nuclear weapons now, and that knowledge cannot be bombed out of existence.

The NeoCons may not like it, but it is a reality. The United States is left with little choice but to make sure Iran has no need for such weapons, or for them to use the weapons they may build in the future.

The most obvious way the US can guarantee that Iran doesn't move forward with nuclear weapons is to sign a deal which assures Iran they will not be attacked by the US, and that the US will restrain Israel, if need be.

But tonight, Iranians and Arabs and Muslims across the Middle East, and across the world, are stunned and pleased by the spectacular backdown by the United States. Stunned that it actually happened, and pleased that the talks foreshadow a less aggressive role for the United States in the Middle East.

Memorial Day ceremonies and coverage may have filled the news in the United States, but on Arab cable news, watched by hundreds of millions, the United States moving to make peace with Iran, for this is how it has been widely portrayed, was the big news story of the day, perhaps even of the year.

From the Associated Press :
The United States ambassador in Baghdad said he and his Iranian counterpart agreed broadly on policy toward Iraq during four-hour groundbreaking talks on Monday, but insisted that Iran end its support for militants.

The Iranian ambassador later said the two sides would meet again in less than a month.

Hassan Kazemi Qomi, the Iranian envoy, also said that he told the Americans that his government was ready to train and equip the Iraqi army and police to create "a new military and security structure."

Iran proposed setting up a "trilateral security mechanism" that would include the U.S., Iraq and Iran, an idea he said would require study in Washington.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was criticized by the White House for her trip to Syria - also a U.S. rival - praised the Bush administration for holding Monday's talks.

"I think it's very important, and at the end of the day we want to know that every remedy, every diplomatic remedy has been exhausted," she said in Berlin.

The talks were held at Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Green Zone office.

Al-Maliki did not attend the meeting, but the prime minister greeted the two ambassadors, who shook hands, and led them into a conference room, where the ambassadors sat across from each other.

Before leaving, al-Maliki told both sides that Iraqis wanted a stable country free of foreign forces and regional interference. The country should not be turned into a base for terrorist groups, he said. He also said that the U.S.-led forces in Iraq were only here to help build up the army and police and the country would not be used as a launching ground for a U.S. attack on a neighbor, a clear reference to Iran.

Speaking in Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said the United States should admit its Middle East policy has failed.

"We are hopeful that Washington's realistic approach to the current issues of Iraq by confessing its failed policy in Iraq and the region and by showing a determination to changing the policy guarantees success of the talks and possible further talks," Mottaki said.

Monday's talks, as predicted, had a pinpoint focus: What Washington and Iran - separately or together - could do to contain the sectarian conflagration in Iraq.

"The American side has accusations against Iran and the Iranian side has some remarks on the presence of the American forces on Iraqi lands, which they see as a threat to their government," said Ali al-Dabagh, an Iraqi government spokesman.

But much more encumbered the narrow agenda - primarily Iran's nuclear program and Iranian fears that the Bush administration will seek regime change in Tehran as it did against Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

Washington and its Sunni Arab allies, on their side, are deeply unnerved by growing Iranian influence in the Middle East and the spread of increasingly radical Islam.

The talks did not all go smoothly, and there were more than a few harsh words exchanged across the conference table during the four hour long meeting.

The United States and Iran both blamed each other for the chaos and destruction in Iraq, but Iran also offered to train and arm Iraqi forces, something the US did not loudly object to, as it may provide a way for the United States to pull out of a conflict that is deeply unpopular back home, and causing widespread dissent within its own military :

US ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker accused Iran of fomenting unrest in the country by funnelling weapons and training to extremist militias, and called on Tehran to live up to its promises to support stability.

His Iranian counterpart Hassan Kazemi Qomi, however, accused the US military of not doing enough to arm Iraqi government forces and said the Islamic republic was prepared to step in and do this itself.

Mr Crocker said he had insisted that Iran must back up its stated support for Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's beleaguered government by halting its backing for armed factions fighting in Iraq.

"The purpose of our efforts in this meeting was not to build a legal case - presumably the Iranians know what they were doing - our point was simply to say what we know as well; this is dangerous for Iraq," he said.

"What we underscored to the Iranians was that beyond principle there is practice," he said. "The Iranian actions on the ground have to come into harmony with their principles."

Mr Crocker said the Iranians did not address specific US complaints, but instead criticised the American occupation as a whole and complained that US efforts to train Iraqi security forces were inadequate.

Kazemi Qomi described the meeting as positive but blamed the violence in Iraq on the US military presence. He also offered to arm the Iraqi government.

"The Iraqi government is in need of strong military and security structure to confront its security problems and we have offered all forms of assistance such as weapons, training and equipment," he said.

While the United States has to appear to be controlling the situation with Iran, and setting the time and the place for the next talks, behind the scenes the negotiations will continue, as low-level talks between Iran and the United States have already been going on for more than two years over the situation in Iraq.

That Iran has offered to arm and train Iraqi forces, and the United States did not immediately object, is perhaps the more stunning outcome of the meeting.

What then does Israel think of the idea of Iran, perhaps its most hated enemy, arming and training the Iraqi Army and security forces, under an Iraqi government that is firmly pro-Iran?

Israel has barely said a word about the Iran and US talks, presumably because the US told them to keep it down for a few days.

But one prominent story in the Jerusalem Post, discussing the concept of a "Grand Bargain, appeared to be setting the scene for a future where Iran and Iraq are closely and publicly allied, and the United States has pulled back from threatening Iran over its nuclear development programs :

US and Iranian goals and interests in Iraq are diametrically opposed. America's goals are to defeat the insurgency, establish a stable democracy and be able to declare victory as its troops are withdrawn.

Iran's goals are to maintain the status quo - keep the Americans tied down in Iraq, without making the pressure on US forces so great that it will force an early withdrawal.

Keeping US forces bogged down in Iraq not only limits the US's ability to attack Iran's nuclear facilities, it also leaves 160,000 American targets nearby for easy Iranian retaliation should the US attack.

So if there is little hope for the US and Iran joining forces and creating a stable Iraq, why is this meeting so potentially important? Should the talks lead to a dialogue that would try to resolve all the outstanding issues between the two countries - what is often referred to as "the grand bargain"- there is some limited hope for creating a more stable Middle East.

The suggested price (of the "Grand Bargain") has been, until now, a US guarantee not to destabilize the Iranian regime. While in the past the US has refused to give such a guarantee, there might not be a better policy alternative.

The future of the Middle East may have just taken a very unexpected turn for the better.

Worthless Claims :Robert Baer On More Bad Intelligence On Iran And Iraq

The Great Satan Sits Down To Talk With The Axis Of Evil

Republican Embrace Widely Discredited Bush Propaganda Of Iraq Links To Al Qaeda

Eight US Soldiers Killed In Iraq On Memorial Day

In Iraq, Every Day Is Memorial Day

American Troops In Iraq No Longer True Believers : Why Are We Here? They Ask, As Iraqi Army 'Allies' Are Caught Planting Roadside Bombs That Kill Americans

Iran Arrests 14,000 During 'Moralisation' Programs

Supreme NeoCon Iraq War Hawk, Richard Perle, Has No Regrets

Friday, May 25, 2007

US Prepares For The Bombing Of Iran

'War' Rages Between The Cheney And Bush Camps Over When To Begin Attack

A growing majority of military analysts appear to be settling on the scenario that the United States will launch air strikes on a number of Iran's nuclear energy facilities, or will quietly encourage Israel to launch the strikes, but will not launch a ground invasion.

One particularly interesting scenario now surfacing in the US is that the pressure to launch air strikes against Iran are not coming from President Bush, but from Vice President Dick Cheney, who is supposedly furious at moves by the president, and Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice to engage in talks and negotiations with the Iranians over their nuclear energy future.

And yet, as fresh moves begin to increase the international sanctions levelled against Iran, the United States now has a monumental display of naval and air power performing "exercises" just off the coast of Iran.

President Bush is now more focused on blaming Iran for the failure of the American "troop surge" in Baghdad than he is on pushing claims they are working towards nuclear weapons.

Whether or not the Bush and US military claims that Iran is fighting a covert war against the US in Iraq, through weapons supplies, financing and training of 'Al Qaeda' militants, is still debatable.

But reportedly reliable White House insiders claim that Cheney wants the bombing to begin now, not in a few months, or a few years, when the IAEA says Iran is likely to have developed nuclear weapons, if they are actually even developing nuclear weapons :

Multiple sources have reported that a senior aide on Vice President Cheney's national security team has been meeting with policy hands of the American Enterprise Institute, one other think tank, and more than one national security consulting house and explicitly stating that Vice President Cheney does not support President Bush's tack towards Condoleezza Rice's diplomatic efforts and fears that the President is taking diplomacy with Iran too seriously.

This White House official has stated to several Washington insiders that Cheney is planning to deploy an "end run strategy" around the President if he and his team lose the policy argument.

The thinking on Cheney's team is to collude with Israel, nudging Israel at some key moment in the ongoing standoff between Iran's nuclear activities and international frustration over this to mount a small-scale conventional strike against Natanz using cruise missiles (i.e., not ballistic missiles).

While the Iraq War dominates the American public's attention, behind the scenes in the corridors of the White House, and in the West Wing itself, a secret war is now unfolding. A war between Bush and Cheney, and their teams of bureaucrats, diplomats and advisers, over when the bombing of Iran should begin.

From The Australian :
The US today threatened new UN sanctions to punish Iran's nuclear drive as it ratcheted up tensions with the biggest display of naval power in the Gulf in years.

A bristling US armada led by two aircraft carriers steamed into waters near Iran for exercises, hours before UN watchdogs said Iran was expanding its uranium enrichment program in defiance of international sanctions.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said that Iran continues to enrich uranium - which can provide fuel for civilian reactors but also make nuclear bombs.

That prompted warnings from US officials of further UN punishment unless Iran curtails its nuclear development - which the Islamic republic insists is devoted to civilian energy.

The US Navy said the Gulf exercises were not directed at Iran but Mustafa Alani, senior analyst with the UAE-based Gulf Research Centre, said it was no coincidence the powerful flotilla arrived on the day of the IAEA report.

"The aim of this step, which coincides entirely with the end of the UN deadline (to suspend enrichment), is to send a clear message to Iran that a military option is available to Washington," Mr Alani said.

The carriers USS John Stennis and USS Nimitz sailed through the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf along with a helicopter carrier and amphibious assault ships carrying an estimated 2200 marines.

"We do maritime security operations here to reassure friends in the region of our commitment, and certainly this is a viable commitment and a visible one that helps security and stability in the waters here," said Commander Kevin Aandahl, a spokesman for the US Fifth Fleet in Bahrain.

Mr Alani said a sudden, unexpected outbreak of hostilities between the US and Iran could be triggered by events in Iraq.

Ahead of Monday's talks, the US said Iran was escalating a proxy war against US forces in Iraq as the two nations sparred verbally over a number of their nationals being detained by each other.

From the UK Independent :

The Bush administration may be highlighting accusations that the Iranian government is behind attacks in Iraq in order to strengthen its hand in preparing for military strikes on Iran, according to a leading British think-tank.

In a report sifting the evidence produced by US authorities against Iran, the independent think-tank Basic cast doubt on the strength of the intelligence, saying that proved links between the Tehran regime and militia inside Iraq remained "sketchy".

Given the close ties between Shia Muslim Iran and Iraq, which has a dominant Shia population in the south, the report warned of the dangers of conflating "legitimate acts of foreign relations and cross-border movements of people" with the alleged Iranian involvement in violence.

The UK and US governments have frequently accused Iran of aiding militant groups in Iraq who are attacking coalition forces. However, the report said that "despite efforts by the Bush administration to confirm the strength of evidence presented, doubt still surrounds the case against Iran, particularly with regard to the degree of direct involvement of the Iranian leadership.

"Whatever the true extent and nature of Iranian military action in Iraq, few independent analysts believe Tehran is playing a decisive role in the sectarian warfare and insurgency," said the report.

Turning to the US strategic motivation for highlighting the Iranian role in Iraq, Basic (British American Security Information Council) suggested that Iran could be a "useful scapegoat to divert the blame" for failures in Iraq away from the occupying powers. But also, "if Tehran can be cast as a source of regional instability in the eyes of the international community, then the US administration's hand will be strengthened as it seeks support for stronger measures to oppose Iranian nuclear ambitions".

From CSM :

Iran says it will not succumb to "enemy" efforts to halt its nuclear program, as a US armada deployed in the Persian Gulf – setting the stage for an important week in Iran's standoff with the United States and other world powers.

US and Iranian diplomats are slated to meet in Baghdad Monday, for the first time, to discuss security in Iraq. And key powers are meeting to renew Western efforts to rein in Iran's nuclear ambitions after the UN's nuclear watchdog reported substantial progress in enrichment capability by Iran. The report has prompted calls from some countries for a third set of sanctions.

"The enemies want us to surrender so that Iran won't have anything to say in the world," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday. "With the backing of the Iranian nation, we are not afraid of the enemies' ... psychological warfare, and with God's help, we have come to our ultimate goals."

This week, US commanders have again accused Iran of backing anti-US forces of all stripes in Iraq. On Wednesday, nine warships with 17,000 sailors and marines – the largest US force assembled there in years – passed through the Strait of Hormuz, just miles off Iran's coast. The exercises are to end with an amphibious landing on Kuwait's beaches.

US Agents Try To Sabotage Iranian Nuclear Energy Facilities

When Two White House Tribes Go To War : The Cheney Vs Bush Battle Over The Bombing Of Iran

Iranian President Warns Israel's Zionist Leaders, "You Criminals", To Stop Massacres Or They Will Be Eliminated

Thursday, May 24, 2007

News In Brief

We'll have some more substantial stories to follow in the coming days, but for now here's a quick round up of some of the stories that have grabbed our attention, and are essential to the big picture of the The Fourth World War.


At Least Nine Soldiers Killed In Attacks, Roadside Bombings

Iraqi Officials Claim Some 70 percent Of Foreign Insurgents From Gulf States

Two Months Into The Troop Surge, And the Violence In Iraq Grows

US Prepares For Widespread, Detailed Peace Negotiations With Sunni Insurgents

But Sunnis Are Also Talking About An Alliance With The Sadrists

Iraqi Government Isn't Convinced US Troops Will Stay, Prepares For Quick US Pullout

The Most Deadly Month for British Troops In Iraq

A New Iraq War Strategy Is Being Finalised, Apparently

Two Year Old Declassified Documents Claim Bin Laden Dreams Of A 'Terror Sanctuary' In Iraq

So Many Gun Battles, So Little Ammo : Bullet Shortages Become Reality In Iraq

Iraq's Latest Export? Opium!

Iraqi President Demands Tribes Fight Militants And Al Qaeda Across The Country

More Bombings Kill Dozens More Iraqis


Islamists Vow To Never Stop Fighting In Face Of Full Army Assault

Defence Minister Issues Ultimatum, Vows To Send Army Into Refugee Camps

Lebanon Asks The US For More Money, As Tripoli Fighting Rages


Ethiopian Troops Told To Leave, By Italy

Food Shortages Loom, Claims The World Food Program

US Africa Command Must Secure African Oil To Be Viable

African Union Soldiers Killed, But Uganda Claims "Progress"

The US Military Eyes New Command In Africa, Oil And Mineral Riches The Key


Afghanistan : Taliban Gets New Commander, He Announces Holy War Will Only End When Foreign Troops Leave

NATO Chief Warns Afghanistan Troop Pullout Would Be "Irresponsible"

"Don't Abandon Us," Begs Afghanistan President Karzai

Nine Oil Tankers Carrying NATO Resupplies Destroyed By Militants


Nine US Warships Gather For "Exercises" Off The Coast Of Iran

Iran : Iranian Money And Bomb Making Supplies Found During Baghdad Raid, Claims US Military

The Sudanese Government Is Trying to Ban Reports Detailing Actions Of Rebel Groups In Darfur

Turkey Blames Kurds For Bomb Attack That Killed Six, Injured 100

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Iraq Foreign Minister : The Green Zone "Is More Dangerous" Than The Rest Of Iraq

From 'Your New Reality' :

In a revelation that will no doubt come as a surprise to millions of people living in the slums of Baghdad, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, stated that the people most at risk of being killed in his country are living and working inside the Green Zone.

Zebari said in an interview with Lateline that he lived and worked in "the Red Zone" and thought his Baghdad neighbourhood was much safer than the massive walled enclave where thousands of American and coalition forces and diplomats are based.

"In fact the Green Zone is the most dangerous place in Iraq these days," Zebari said. "So outside the Green Zone is much safer."

The Green Zone has been attacked on a near daily basis in recent weeks, with mortars, rockets and RPGs raining down so regularly that those inside the Zone have allegedly been told to wear helmets and flak jackets at all times.

Go To Your New Reality For The Full Story

If The "Troop Surge" Doesn't Work, Will The American Generals Revolt? Has The Army Rebellion Already Begun?

Iraq Makes Plans For Fast US Troop Pullout

Pentagon Considers, Studies Possibility Of, Staying In Iraq For Decades To Come

New British Prime Minister To Accelerate Withdrawal Of British Troops

Exposed : The Secret American Plot To Assassinate Al-Sadr

Claim : Iran Has Made Secret Plans For "Summer Offensive" To Force US Out Of Iraq

71 US Service Members Killed In Past 20 Days

60% Of Americans Want US Troops Withdrawn From Iraq

One Day In Iraq : 7 Americans, 97 Iraqis Killed

One Week In Iraq : 19 Americans, More Than 560 Iraqis Killed

US Democrats Betray The Majority Of The American Public By Sending Bush A War Bill With No Timetable For Withdrawal Of US Troops

Friday, May 18, 2007

Fatah & Hamas Go To War, As Israel Rains Down Gaza Airstrikes

King Abdullah Warns Of Last Days, Last Chance For
Peace In Middle East

Gaza is riven by factional fighting between Fatah and Hamas, it continues now into its seventh day, while negotiations and "cease fires" do little to halt the violence. Israel has moved tanks, infantry and artillery into the Palestinian territory.

Israel's air force has launched multiple strikes, killing more than ten people, including Hamas fighters and civilians.

Just when you think the politics and confusion and collusion surrounding Israel Vs Palestine couldn't get anymore convoluted and complicated, you read this :
Israel this week allowed the Palestinian party Fatah to bring into the Gaza Strip as many as 500 fresh troops trained under a U.S.-coordinated program to counter Hamas, the radical Islamic movement that won Palestinian parliamentary elections last year. Fighting between Hamas and Fatah has left about 45 Palestinians dead since Sunday.

The forces belong to units loyal to the elected Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, a moderate Fatah leader whom the Bush administration and Israel have sought to strengthen militarily and politically.

A spokeswoman for the European Union Border Assistance Mission at Rafah, where the fighters crossed into Gaza from Egypt, said their entry Tuesday was approved by Israel.

The troops' deployment illustrates the increasingly partisan role that Israel and the Bush administration are taking in the volatile Palestinian political situation. The effort to fortify the armed opposition to Hamas, which the United States and Israel categorize as a terrorist organization, follows attempts to isolate the radical Islamic movement internationally and cut off its sources of financial aid.
Of course, with those ski-masks on, there's no guarantee that they all actually Fatah party members, or even Palestinians. There's a lot of mercenaries looking for work that is just that little bit less dangerous than Iraq right now.

That Israel and the US was secretly helping to train Fatah fighters to go to war against the democratically elected Hamas government was a raging conspiracy theory in Gaza, and across the Islamic world, earlier this year. No longer.

While Hamas and Fatah gunmen slay each other in the streets of Gaza, Israel is pounding Hamas training camps and alleged terrorist hide-outs, or civilian homes, and ramping up the body count and tension.

Why does Fatah, once the ultimate enemy of Israel, and the party of the despised Yasar Arafat, now get special treatment, and training? They officially recognised Israel's right to exist, and are committed to a two state solution, as opposed to Hamas, who, like Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, refuse to recognise Israel and appear to be sticking to their old doctrine of removing Zionists from all of the lands once known as Palestine.

In short, Fatah is now the party of the secular and more wealthy Palestinians, primarily in the West Bank, and is viewed by Israel and the US as "progressive", while Hamas remains the Islamist party of the poor and pissed off in Gaza, who rocket Israel at every opportunity, in part, they claim, to keep Israel from soaking up more Palestinian territory with settlements that even the United States recognise as illegal.

The United States, and perhaps more astoundingly, Israel, have officially chosen the side of Fatah. For now anyway. While it serves their interests :
The Bush administration recently approved $40 million to train the Palestinian Presidential Guard, a force of about 4,000 troops under Abbas's direct control, but both Israel and the United States, each deeply unpopular among Arabs in the region, have been trying to avoid the perception of taking sides in a conflict that this week in Gaza has resembled a nascent civil war.

Many within Fatah are avowed opponents of Israel, and any alliance with the Jewish state against the militant movement could damage Fatah's standing among Palestinians.

"We're not the ones giving these forces operational orders. That will be up to Abbas," said Ephraim Sneh, Israel's deputy defense minister, asserting that Hamas's arms smuggling from the Sinai and military training in Iran have given the movement a battlefield advantage.

"The idea is to change the balance, which has been in favor of Hamas and against Fatah. With these well-trained forces, it will help right that imbalance."
You rarely find a more precise and practical definition of 'my enemy's enemy is my friend' than that quote.
As Palestinian rocket fire into Israel continued Thursday, the Israeli air force conducted a series of strikes across Gaza, from which Israel withdrew in 2005 after a nearly four-decade presence.

The airstrikes killed at least six Hamas gunmen that Israeli officials said were involved in rocket assaults on Israeli towns near Gaza.

"All options for our response are open," said Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza. Some Hamas military leaders said specifically that "martyrdom operations," or suicide bombings, could be used in retaliation for the Israeli airstrikes.

Israeli military officials said Palestinian gunmen fired at least 17 rockets Thursday from Gaza, bringing the three-day total to more than 80. At least seven fell Thursday in the border town of Sderot, wounding several Israelis and damaging a synagogue, a high school and a building inside an industrial park, military officials said.

King Abdullah, of Jordan, was interviewed by the London Times yesterday. As well as expressing vast concern about the flood of Iraqis threatening to upset the equilibrium of his lands, Abdullah had plenty to say about just how close to the brink the Middle East is to a larger, longer, and far more violent series of wars. Palestine, as usual, remains the powderkeg :
"It is extremely disturbing for all of us. I hope that cooler heads prevail. Arabs and Muslims have realised that this is our last chance. I think it is beginning to dawn on Israelis and Palestinians that this is our last chance. They need to reach out to their brothers and sisters and say: 'We need to take one step back because if this continues we may lose our final opportunity'."
Abdullah pointed out that Israel does little to calm the tension amongst Palestinians, by pushing ahead with illegal settlements and the continuation of the 'security wall' that carves through Palestinian communities and cuts more and more Palestinians off from their farming lands and water resources by the day.

King Abdullah was one of the key constructors of the Arab Peace Plan that saw dozens of leaders from Arab countries settle on a set of conditions that Israel's prime minister Olmert said was something he could work with. He called the plan "revolutionary". He opposed the right of return for Palestinian refugees, but not much else, and said the plan could bring peace within five years.

After a great deal of publicity and positive reaction in Palestine, Israel and across the world, Olmert then stalled on doing anything to implement the plan, in a standard Israeli tactic, until new violence broke out amongst the Palestinians. Now the Arab Peace Plan has been all but forgotten and Olmert can now claim he wanted to make it work, but the Palestinians were not people willing to talk peace.

King Abdullah claims that the key to peace across the Middle East, and the Arab world is, as always, implementing the peace between Palestine and Israel :
"...if there is no future for the Palestinians, how can there be peace between the Israelis and the Arabs and the Israelis and the Muslims?

"Now people can say this is not the right time. You have an end of an administration in the United States, you have got changes in Europe (France, Britain). You have very confused situation in Israeli politics, but the timeline we are looking at is that there is a physical limitation on a future Palestinian state. If you look at issues like (Jewish) settlements and the wall, we might end up with a Swiss cheese on the West Bank. Then it all dawns on us that physically we don't have a Palestinian state to talk about.

"I do not think this is the 1960s or 70s or 80s or 90s where there is another opportunity to launch a process. We have a finite amount of time. Physically there may not be a chance for a future Palestinian state. Therefore do we bring the Middle East to decades more of chaos and violence because without a Palestinian state and a future for the Palestinians how can we have peace between the Israelis and the Arabs and Israelis and Muslims? That is why the urgency is now."

Abdullah seems to losing hope that the United States, and the UK, will be countries that ultimately find the solution. He holds much praise for the fresh enthusiasm shown by EU countries, like Germany, who see vast benefits from a more peaceful Middle East.

In poll after poll, the majority of Israelis and Palestinians say they want peace and a two state solution, and yet still the fighting and bloodshed rages on. Leaders on both sides, all sides, who can make the peace a reality, find yet more reasons to wage war instead. Against each other, and against themselves.

March 28 : Saudis Deliver Arab World Approved Peace Plan - Olmert Called It "Revolutionary", Said Peace Was Likely Within Five Years

Top IDF Officer : "We Will Make Hamas Pay For Terror"

The Siege Mentality - Demented Likud Leader Netanyahu Demands Water And Electricity To Gaza Be Cut Off

Six Days Of Gaza Mayhem - 47 Slaughtered By Infighting, 17 Slain In Israeli Airstrikes

US Defends Israel's Right To Rain Down Death And Destruction On Gaza - Israel Has Shown "Great Restraint" In Face Of Rocket Attacks

Plot To Assassinate Fatah Leader Abbas Surfaces Amongst Palestinian Chaos

"Islamophobia Is Worst Form Of Terrorism" - Claims That Anti-Muslim Hate Rising In Norther America And Europe

IDF Infantry And Tanks Enter Gaza - Airforce Strikes Kill Children

Factional Violence Turns Gaza Into "Hell On Earth"

Hamas Rocket Barrage Continues - At Least Nine Qassams Hit West Negrev

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

If The Iraq "Troop Surge" Doesn't Work, Will American Generals Revolt?

September is the month now cited as being the make-or-break deadline to determine the success or failure of US President Bush's Iraq "troop surge" plan, and whether the Iraq War is still worth fighting.

Democrats, fellow Republicans and a growing majority of Americans are hammering and pressuring the president to pull America's troops out of Iraq by the end of the year, or by mid-2008 at the latest.

All the while President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, the swarm of Washington NeoCons and the pro-war media and commentariat are softening up the public for American forces to stay in Iraq, in increased numbers, right through 2008 and beyond.

Under siege from Washington, the media and the general public, at least President Bush can count on the American military to support him.

Or can he?

Go To 'Your New Reality' For The Full Story

One Week In Iraq - 19 Americans, More Than 560 Iraqis Killed

Stories From Iraq You Might Have Missed

Insurgents Proudly Boast Of Ambush That Killed 5 Americans, Saw 3 Captured - 4000 American Troops Now Involved In Search

Majority Of Iraqi Lawmakers Prepare Timetable For US Withdrawal

"Troop Surge" Is Not Slowing, Or Decreasing Number Of Attacks By Insurgency - More Than 150 Attacks A Day

Democrats Want To Give Bush Iraq War Deadlines, But May Give Him The Option To Waive Such Deadlines (?)

Iraqis Resist US Pressure To Enact Oil Law That Will See Most Of Their Oil Profits Leave The Country

Defence Department Bans MySpace & YouTube - Cuts Access For Deployed Soldiers To Communicate With Friends And Families

But Multinational Force In Iraq Has An Official YouTube Channel

Baghdad's 'Killing Fields' - 230 Iraqis Slaughtered By Death Squads In 11 Days

The Madness Of War Profiteering In Iraq - Hailburton Collected Fees For Trucks That Carried Nothing, But Saw Drivers Being Killed
The Demonisation Of Russia In American Media Ramps Up

Russia Warns Of A New Cold War Over US Missile Defence In Europe

Russia Promises To Counter Missile Deployments With "Our Own Measures"

Relations between Russia and the United States remain tense, despite the surprise visit to Moscow by US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.The visit was also a surprise to Israel, who were expecting Rice to visit them. But problems between Russia and the United States are multiplying so rapidly, Rice had little choice but to change her plans.

That Rice saw the need to visit Russia and meet with Russian president Putin, and his senior ministers, is being viewed in the Russian media as the US showing signs of weakness and fear in the face of Russia's growing power and influence, while the United States' power and influence fades, mostly off the back of the churning defeat of the US military in Iraq.

The new round of Russia demonisation in the US, by the media and prominent politicians, began with a fairly mundane statement by Russian president Vladimir Putin about the global threats Russia faces as it re-secures its place in the pantheon of world powers. Putin was speaking during annual Russian celebrations that mark the stunning, but costly, Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War 2.

Putin said that he could see parallels between the threats his people faced during World War 2 and the rapidly changing power paradigms of today. The quote was enough for the American media to go hog wild about how Russia had "compared the US to Nazis".

Putin's quotes, however, were far more interesting, and nuanced, than that simple tabloid quality headline :

“We do not have the right to forget the causes of any war, which must be sought in the mistakes and errors of peacetime.”

“Moreover, in our time, these threats are not diminishing,” he said. “They are only transforming, changing their appearance. In these new threats, as during the time of the Third Reich, are the same contempt for human life and the same claims of exceptionality and diktat in the world.”

Of course it is in the interests of the Bush administration, and their media allies, to demonise Putin's Russia as much as possible, mostly due to Russia's opposition to American plans to seed missile caches across Europe, under the 'missile shield' cache.

Americans, by and large, see no problem with the US deploying missiles to friendly nations in Europe, even if they happen to be hard up against Russia's borders.

But Russians hate the US plans with a passion, as do the Chinese, though far more quietly than their Russian allies.

Russia is also opposed to an independent Kosovo, now being shuttled towards reality by the UN, and fully backed by the Bush administration, and frowns on the expansion of NATO. Iraq, of course, still concerns the Russians immensely, as they fear the spread of the war into other Middle East countries, particularly Iran, with whom they have multi-billion dollar energy and trade deals.

From the New York Times :

Mr. Putin’s analogy was a small part of a larger speech, otherwise unambiguously congratulating Russian veterans of World War II, known here as the Great Patriotic War. Mr. Putin spoke from a podium in front of Lenin’s mausoleum on Red Square before troops mustered for a military parade.

The United States, Mr. Putin has maintained, is seeking to establish a unipolar world to replace the bipolar balance of power of the cold war era.

In a speech in Munich on Feb. 10, he characterized the United States as “One single center of power: One single center of force. One single center of decision making. This is the world of one master, one sovereign.”

On the growing US threat to Russia via its missile shield expansion, the Gulf Times reports :
Russia will take “counter-measures” against elements of a US missile defence shield planned for Europe, the head of the Russian armed forces’ General Staff said yesterday.

“If we see a threat emanating from those objects ... we will unambiguously plan actions against them,” Yury Baluyevsky, head of the military council, said of the 10 interceptor missiles planned for Poland and radar for the Czech Republic, Interfax reported.

The military man’s language was among the most direct yet used against the shield, which Russian officials have been frequently and uniformly critical of since Washington’s negotiations with Prague and Warsaw came to light last fall.

Speaking in Moscow, Baluyevsky said that Russia was changing its military doctrine and that while the country was not yet altering plans for military hardware acquisition before 2010, that was subject to “radical changes” going on in the world.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates met with Putin and other officials last month in an emergency visit to offer Moscow partnership in the shield, a trip the US official called “excellent”.

As part of the expanding talks between Russia and the US over the future of their relations and the US 'missile shield', a big meeting is planning for September.

From the Brisbane Times :

Russia and the US will bring together their defence and foreign ministers in an unusual top-level bid to ease escalating bilateral tensions.

"We have agreed to a Russian suggestion that the secretaries of Defence and State meet with their Russian counterparts and do so in a so-called 2+2 format," US Assistant Secretary of State Dan Fried said.

He said the first meeting was planned for September and could be expanded to include the White House and Kremlin national security advisers.

The Russians suggested the enhanced negotiations during a visit to Moscow last month by Defence Secretary Robert Gates focused on addressing Russian concerns about US plans to station 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a tracking radar in the Czech Republic.

President Vladimir Putin, already angry about the expansion of the NATO alliance into former Soviet bloc countries, escalated the dispute last month by announcing Russia was suspending compliance with a key Cold War-era defence pact, the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty.

This report from the Anotolian Times explains more on the changing NATO paradigms, and why Russia no longer sees the need to inform the West of its troop movements, even when they are across internationally recognised borders. Something that makes NATO diplomats very nervous :
Russia and the West are at odds over a growing number of issues, from Kosovo to the US missile shield, and the discord may undermine their cautiously built post-Cold War partnership, NATO diplomats say.

Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, a favourite to replace President Vladimir Putin next year, said Thursday that Moscow would no longer inform partners when it moves troops across its territory.

The announcement, the application of a freeze Putin made on the Soviet-era Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, was the first concrete move in what are tense and possibly changing times.

In the past, the West "accepted the rhetoric when Russian leaders denounced the United States or NATO, but it's not so easy any more," said a diplomat at the military alliance.

At a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Norway late last month, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, reacting to the Russian treaty freeze, said it was vital to keep relations between Moscow and Washington calm.

"We must avoid an escalation," he said.

But a NATO official said "the tone between the (NATO) allies and Russia has now hardened."

....problems of political and military nature, which have simmered almost unnoticed for years, are now bubbling to the surface.

NATO's willingness to continue expanding eastward -- into former Soviet republics and satellite states -- or the installation of US military bases in Bulgaria and Romania last year -- are perceived by Russia as threats.

In February, Moscow threatened to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) so that it could resume production of tactical nuclear missiles.

"Russia seems to want to try to end the relationship that it built up with the United States in the 1990s and in the most theatrical way possible," experts at the Paris-based Strategic Research Foundation said last month.

In this atmosphere of confrontation, some at NATO fear that Kosovo, where the alliance has some 16,000 troops and whose ethnic Albanian majority is impatient for independence, could ultimately pay the price.

"A Russian veto on independence for the Serbian province followed by the US unilaterally recognising Kosovo (as independent) can no longer be ruled out," a diplomat warned.

Russia is not going to wait to see if the United States backs down on its plans to expand its 'missile shield' through Eastern Europe. They are quietly ramping up plans to make sure they have "counter measures" in place, should the United States complete its expansion of missile deployments close to Russian borders.

From Novosti :
Russia's Strategic Missile Forces will complete the deployment of silo-based Topol-M ICBMs by 2010, the SMF commander in chief said Tuesday.

"Alongside the deployment of Topol-M mobile complexes, we are planning to finalize the deployment of fixed-site Topol-M systems by 2010," Col. Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov said.

He said Monday the Topol-M system will be equipped with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRV) in the next two or three years, adding the new system will help penetrate missile defenses more effectively.

His statement comes against the background of growing tensions between Moscow and the West regarding plans by the United States to deploy elements of its global antiballistic missile defense system in Central Europe.

Washington has insisted that placing missile shield components in Poland and the Czech Republic is aimed against possible nuclear strikes from rogue states, such as Iran and North Korea, whose controversial nuclear programs have caused international concerns. But Moscow, already unnerved by NATO expansion to former Warsaw Pact member states, has condemned the plans as a threat to national security and a destabilizing factor for Europe.

Gen. Solovtsov said the Strategic Missile Forces would factor in the new threats.

"If the U.S. proceeds with missile defense plans, despite serious opposition from people in Europe, the Strategic Missile Forces will manage to take adequate measures to counter threats to Russia," he said.

Russia Says It Cannot Accept UN Resolution On Kosovo Independence

Putin Triumphant In Monumental Caspian Sea Pipeline Deal

Russia-NATO Talks Over US Missile Shield And Arms Control Break No New Ground

Condoleezza Rice Denies There Is A "New Cold War" Breaking Out Between Russia And The United States

Inciting A New Cold War - Hypocritical American Views On Russia's Democracy

Russia And US Going Through "A Difficult Period"

Al Qaeda's Global Media War Strategy Grows More Nuanced, Sophisticated And Focused On American Political Disunity

A comprehensive, in-depth look at Al Qaeda's latest excursions in their multi-market media war, by Michael Schuer, the man who headed US intelligence's Bin Laden Unit in the 1990s, before it was disbanded by the Bush administration, just before the 9/11 attacks.

The article shows just how effectively Al Qaeda is waging their media war, and how enthusiastically US politicians and media feed off every word of every threat that Al Qaeda issues. While Al Qaeda obviously cannot be ignored, why do American and Australian politicians, in particular, reflect and enhance the threats made by Al Qaeda, when so very few of them turn out to be real or actionable?

That such credibility is given to people like Al Qaeda's deputy chief Ayman al-Zawahiri by everyone from Bush downwards in the US government certainly makes the terrorist organisation stronger. Bush Co. try to sell the threat of Al Qaeda to the American public like they are the new Nazis. By doing so, the Americans give Al Qaeda far too much credibility, and power.

There are relatively few politicians brave enough to try and undermine the Al Qaeda message, by pointing out how little support the group actually has amongst Muslims around the world, and how often its threats of attacks turn out to be nothing more than wishful thinking :
In an hour-plus videotaped interview broadcast last Saturday, al-Qaeda deputy chief Ayman al-Zawahiri answered questions from an unnamed interviewer from al-Qaeda's video arm, Al-Sahab Productions. The topics addressed covered the range of issues usually focused on by al-Qaeda leaders in videos, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and most other ongoing Islamist insurgencies.

Zawahiri also again attacked the perfidy of Hamas and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood for cooperating with, respectively, the Arab-state allies of the United States - calling them US Secretary of State "Condoleezza Rice's boys" - at the recent Riyadh conference on Palestine and Egyptian Hosni Mubarak's regime.

In the video, however, Zawahiri's presentation introduces several new elements that may portend an increasing al-Qaeda effort to make itself part of domestic US politics and to appeal to the religious sentiments and societal and economic dissatisfactions of American Muslims, especially black Muslims.

The new video maintains the high tempo of Zawahiri's media appearances in 2007. Zawahiri's May 5 appearance is his seventh of the year, of which two have been on videotape and five on audio. Overall, Al-Sahab media organization has released 35 videotapes in 2007, which is a rate of one video every 3.6 days.

Zawahiri's May 5 statements, however, were much more specifically targeted than bin Laden's message, and were meant to inflame further the ongoing confrontation between President George W Bush's administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress over the future of the Iraq war.

While accurately reflecting al-Qaeda's goals, Zawahiri's words were likely meant to provide quality fodder for those in US politics who argue that the Iraq war must be won to prevent the rise of a new Islamic caliphate that will be ruled by a doctrine of "Islamofascism" and threaten the United States and Israel.

For US politicians opposed to the war, Zawahiri offered grist of a similar quality. When asked about his view of the US troop surge in Baghdad and those who claim it is beginning to bear fruit, al-Qaeda's No 2 claimed that the surge certainly is "bearing fruit", but only in Bush's "pockets and the pockets of Halliburton".

Zawahiri's May 5 statements greatly expanded previous al-Qaeda efforts to portray the Islamist movement as part of a world liberation campaign that is meant to destroy US imperialism - "the most powerful tyrannical force in the history of mankind" - and assist "all the weak and oppressed in North America and South America, in Africa and Asia, and all over the world".

Al-Qaeda wants all people to know, Zawahiri said, "that when we wage jihad in Allah's path, we aren't waging jihad to lift oppression from Muslims only; we are waging jihad to lift oppression from all mankind, because Allah has ordered us never to accept oppression, wherever it may be". He concluded this part of the interview by inviting "all the world's weak and oppressed ones to Islam, the religion of freedom and rejection of tyranny, the religion which ... produced the 19 martyrs [of September 11, 2001], who demolished the symbol of America's arrogance".

Beyond this expansion, Zawahiri clearly sought to begin a process of sowing political and racial discontent among American Muslims, focusing primarily on blacks, who form the single most numerous group in the US Muslim community.

Zawahiri's May 5 interview is, to date, al-Qaeda's most sophisticated and nuanced attempt to bedevil US domestic politics, and it highlights the long-standing fascination that al-Qaeda and many other Islamist groups have had with the position of black Americans in US society, and the access they could potentially provide thereto.
Go Here To Read The Full Story

Friday, May 11, 2007

Cheney Warns Iran US Won't Tolerate Nuclear Weapons Or Region Domination

Dick Cheney has used his visit to Iraq and the Gulf region to threaten Iran in his most aggressive language yet. Standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier only miles from Iranian territory, Cheney made clear that it was no longer merely the possibility of Iran gaining nuclear weapons that concerned the Bush White House. Cheney cited Iran gaining "regional dominance" and blocking sea lanes as also being completely unacceptable.

While he delivered these threats, Cheney was standing in front of five carefully positioned Navy jet fighters.

Talk about subtle.

From the New York Times :

“With two carrier strike groups in the Gulf, we’re sending clear messages to friends and adversaries alike,” he said, in a speech on board the U.S.S. John C. Stennis.

The United States “will stand with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating this region,” he said.

Mr. Cheney said today that the United States was determined, in the event of any crises in the region, to keep the sea lanes of the Gulf open.

His speech to American service members on board the carrier also seemed intended to reassure them that a strong American presence would be maintained in the region for some time.

“I want you to know that the American people will not support a policy of retreat,” Mr. Cheney said. “We want to complete the mission, we want to get it done right, and then we want to return home with honor.”

The United States remains at odds with Iran over its nuclear program, which Iran says is peaceful, but which America and its Western allies say is intended to build weapons. The Bush administration has also expressed concerns about Iranian involvement in Iraq; officials have said that weapons are being smuggled into Iraq from Iran and that the insurgents who assemble and placing bombs in Iraq may be getting training in Iran. The Iranian government denies sponsoring or encouraging terrorism.

Mr. Cheney visited the U.S.S. John C. Stennis before, in March 2002, at a time when he was trying to build support for the invasion of Iraq, the A.P. noted.

Today, standing in front of five F-18 Super Hornet warplanes and a huge American flag on the hangar deck of the carrier, Mr. Cheney spoke to some 3,500 service members, according to the A.P. He sounded a hard line, saying the United States must hold firm in Iraq and confront Iran if necessary, the agency reported.

Game on?

US, Germany, Britain, Russia, France & China Hold Emergency Meeting On Iran's "Nuclear Defiance"

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bush Contradicts Just About Everybody By Claiming Al Qaeda Is "Public Enemy Number One" In Iraq

As President Bush faces increasingly mounting pressure over the future funding of the Iraq War, and stands opposed to to the majority of Congress and more than 60% of the American population about extending the Iraq War beyond 2008, the president decided some weeks ago it was time to tear the wrapper off Al Qaeda In Iraq.

It's becoming clear that a fast-moving shift from the United States in sidelining the Sunni-led insurgency, to embracing it as an ally in restoring a non-Shia balance to the Middle East is about to take place. President Bush is trying to pump up flagging support for the Iraq War, and the 'War On Terror' in general, by making the deliberately vague and pretty well absurd claim that the same enemy who attacked the United States on 9/11, is now the number one threat to the United States in Iraq.

Bush needs to do this, re-market and re-package the Iraq War in the homeland, so when the US is seen to be making peace with the Iraqi insurgency, it can be claimed that the insurgency is no longer the greatest threat to the future of Iraq, or to American forces, and, in fact, the US is now working with members of the insurgency in fighting their common enemy : Al Qaeda.

If Bush can successfully sell this back home, and probably even if he can't, and the likelihood isn't strong, he will be able to extend the Iraq War through 2008 by claiming that the US and the Sunnis and the Shia and the Kurds have now all got Al Qaeda forces in Iraq on the run and the war must continue to finish them off.

Here's Bush recently attempting to resurrect the near mythical Al Qaeda threat :
President Bush on Wednesday declared al-Qaida "public enemy No. 1 in Iraq," placing increasing emphasis on the terror network forever associated with the deadliest attack in U.S. history.

The president also seemed to offer another definition of success in Iraq _ not a lack of violence, but a livable level for citizens.

In a speech to construction contractors, Bush put a heavy focus on al-Qaida, which carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. In doing so, he sought more bluntly to cast the unpopular Iraq war in terms that U.S. citizens could connect to their own lives.

"For America, the decision we face in Iraq is not whether we ought to take sides in a civil war, it's whether we stay in the fight against the same international terrorist network that attacked us on 9/11," Bush said. "I strongly believe it's in our national interest to stay in the fight."

On Capitol Hill and across the nation, support for the war has long eroded as sectarian bloodletting gripped Baghdad. In the eyes of Democratic lawmakers and much of the war-weary public, U.S. forces have been dragged into a civil war between Shiites and Sunnis.

"The recent attacks are not the revenge killings that some have called a civil war," Bush told the Associated General Contractors of America. "They are a systematic assault on the entire nation. Al-Qaida is public enemy No. 1 in Iraq."

"Either we'll succeed, or we won't succeed," he said. "And the definition of success as I described is sectarian violence down. Success is not no violence. ... But success is a level of violence where the people feel comfortable about living their daily lives."

Before the November election, Bush insisted to the media that the United States was "absolutely winning" the war. In December, he said the United States was neither winning nor losing, then clarified that he meant the U.S. was not succeeding as fast as he wanted.

The White House has repeatedly characterized success as an Iraq that can govern, sustain and defend itself.

Here's Dana Millbank's reality check :
President Bush is at odds with the American public and a restive congressional majority over the Iraq war, and even some Republicans talk about imposing new requirements that could trigger a troop withdrawal.

It's time to play the Qaeda card.

In a speech about Iraq yesterday morning at the Willard Hotel, the president mentioned Osama bin Laden's group -- 27 times. "For America, the decision we face in Iraq is not whether we ought to take sides in a civil war, it's whether we stay in the fight against the same international terrorist network that attacked us on 9/11," Bush told a group of construction contractors.

Never mind all that talk about sectarian strife and civil war in Iraq. "The primary reason for the high level of violence is this: Al-Qaeda has ratcheted up its campaign of high-profile attacks," Bush disclosed.

The man who four years ago admitted "no evidence" of an Iraqi role in the Sept. 11 attacks now finds solid evidence of a role in Iraq by the Sept. 11 hijackers.

"I don't need to remind you who al-Qaeda is," Bush reminded. "Al-Qaeda is the group that plot and planned and trained killers to come and kill people on our soil. The same bunch that is causing havoc in Iraq were the ones who came and murdered our citizens."

This new line of argument would seem to present some difficulty for the White House, and not only because, as the Pentagon inspector general reported last month, al-Qaeda had no ties to Iraq before the U.S. invasion in 2003. More to the point: If the problem in Iraq isn't sectarian strife, then why is the U.S. military building walls to separate Sunni enclaves from Shiite neighborhoods?

On the Hill, Republicans took a Qaeda cue from the White House. "I can't understand how my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, knowing that al-Qaeda is in charge over there, knowing that they want to destroy us, knowing that Osama bin Laden wants to destroy America, that you want to pull out," Rep. Dan Burton (Ind.) railed on the House floor.

If Democrats are intimidated by the Qaeda card, they didn't show it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), an hour before visiting the White House to meet with Bush, gave an Iraq speech on the House floor. "This administration," she said, "should get a clue."

Bush not only wants to clear the way for the Sunni insurgency to now openly partner with the US in fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq, and using that as a gateway to bring the rebellion in from the cold, with the backing of Saudi Arabia, but it is a clear push by the president to try and link up all the dangers in Iraq to US troops to one clear and well known enemy : Al Qaeda.

The reality is too hard to sell in soundbites. Bush Co. don't want to have to explain that US forces are coming under attack from Sunni insurgents, rogue Iraq police and soldiers, angry Shia militias who don't want Americans in their neighbourhoods, or that Shia death squads are sectarian-cleansing entire suburbs of Baghdad, or that Sunnis are attacking Shia, and Al Qaeda is attacking both and US forces, and who knows who is setting off car bombs in Kirkuk.

Bush Co. needs a simple, clear identifiable enemy for the re-packaging of the Iraq War as something worth more American blood and billions. Al Qaeda, therefore, must be the new Nazis.

This attempt at rejigging the public focus on what is happening in Iraq is really only for US audiences, and a decreasing slice of the US population at that. Most of the rest of the world seems to have a clear understanding of the real enemy that the US faces in Iraq : Iraqis who are demanding the occupation of their country end, and all US troops leave, sooner rather than later.

On the end to the occupation, at least, most Iraqis are now united.

Is Bush Now Facing A Republican Mutiny Over Iraq?

Flasback : March, 2003 - Chaos In The Middle East, Via Iraq, Is The NeoCon Grand Plan

Bush Begs For More Time As Republican Revolt Gathers Pace

Flashback : First Reports Surface Of Israeli Intelligence Claims That Iraq Was Involved In 9/11

Majority Of Iraq Lawmakers Demand Timetable For US Troop Withdrawals

Thursday In Iraq : 60 Iraqis, 3 US Troops Killed - Mass Grave Discovered, Street Fighting In Baghdad Suburbs, Car Bombs, Executions