“Saudi-Backed, Anti-Iranian” Means CIA and Mossad

[The White House Feigns ignorance of some CIA programs, in order to maintain its deniability. There has never been even one anti-Iranian operation anywhere that was not controlled or monitored by the CIA.  Even if it was true that the Jundullah outfit that attacked in Iran was really not a Pakistani group, even though it was based in S. Waziristan, the CIA knew of their actions and aims beforehand and chose to let them happen, just the way they “let 911 happen.”  Every Sunni terrorist outfit, especially all those described as being “al Qaida related” are CIA sponsored, using Saudi money, under ISI direction, facilitated by the Mossad.]

Saudi-Iranian hostility hits boiling point

By M K Bhadrakumar

Conventional wisdom suggests that the terrorist strike by Jundallah in southeastern Iran on Sunday might have had the backing of the United States or Britain. But Jundallah today holds “fatal” attraction for a number of foreign powers that are interested in disorienting Iran’s policies.

Both Washington and London scrambled with unusual speed to not only disclaim any hand in the strike that killed seven senior commanders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps as well as 42 other people, but to condemn it in strong terms.

On Sunday, a US State Department spokesman, Ian Kelly, was instructed to issue a categorical US denial. “We condemn this act of terrorism and mourn the loss of innocent lives. Reports of alleged US involvement are completely false,” he said.

In London, a spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said, “We reject in the strongest terms any assertion that this attack has anything to do with Britain.” She said Britain condemned the incident in restive Sistan-Balochistan province in the southwest as a terrorist attack and that “terrorism is abhorrent wherever it occurs. Our sympathies go to those who have been killed or injured in the strike and their families”.

The fact is that the attack was staged with careful timing. For one thing, the next major step in the diplomatic process involving technical-level discussions was to take place in Vienna on Monday to work out the details of a plan to ship a majority of Iran’s stockpile of lightly enriched uranium out of the country to be enriched in Russia to a higher grade.

Torpedoing nuclear talks?
Both the US and Iran have reasons to seek progress at the talks in Vienna. US President Barack Obama has a personal stake in the outcome.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, said on Monday the talks on Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium had got “off to a good start”. Delegates from Iran, the US, Russia and France talked for two-and-a-half hours and agreed to meet again on Tuesday morning. “Most technical issues have been discussed,” ElBaradei said.

According to details revealed by Time magazine, quoting US administration officials, “Obama personally weighed in three times during secret, multiparty negotiations with the Iranians over the last four months – in what has become not just a test of Iran’s nuclear intentions but also a test of Obama’s effort to limit Iran’s nuclear ambitions.” Tehran is suspected by many of developing a nuclear weapons program, a charge it denies.

The backroom talks began as early as June when Obama astutely seized the opening provided by Iran’s acute need of specially manufactured plates of enriched uranium to produce isotopes for caner treatment, X-rays and insecticides to offer to Tehran via the director general of the IAEA hat the US could arrange for the manufacture of the specialized plates by using Iran’s low-enriched uranium stashes produced in its Natanz plant.

Obama personally got Moscow and Paris to agree to the idea of Russia accepting the low-enriched uranium from Iran and to enrich it to the level needed to power Iran’s research reactor so that in a follow-up step, France could turn it into the specialized plates that are used to produce isotopes.

As Time put it, “What followed was a careful set of high-level negotiations between Iran, the IAEA, Russia, France and the US to iron out the details.” At the meeting at Geneva on October 1 between Iran and the key Western powers, Russia and China, “US negotiator, William Burns, had a one-on-one conversation with his Iranian counterpart to confirm the amount of uranium involved in the deal, and they agreed to the October 19 meeting to determine the details of the transfer.”

Clearly, Obama must be out of his mind to have his intelligence agencies mount a terrorist attack on Iran which would torpedo his own gameplan to address the Iran nuclear file at the present sensitive juncture.

Not only that, General Stanley A McChrystal and Richard Holbrooke, the two key US officials involved with Afghanistan, have gone out of their way in recent weeks to stress the importance of Iran’s cooperation. Most certainly, a covert operation of the magnitude mounted against Iran on Sunday by US special forces based in Afghanistan ran the high risk of provoking Tehran to retaliate.

McChrystal, the top US general in Afghanistan, from all accounts has a highly logical mind and intellect. He would know what he could do without earning Iran’s wrath. Despite Tehran’s serious doubts about the efficacy of the US’s manipulation of the Afghan presidential election result, it has sat on the fence and watched the goings-on. If Tehran wanted to make trouble for the US in Afghanistan, it could have easily done something else.

All in all, therefore, Tehran has been extremely circumspect about jumping to conclusions regarding the strike on Sunday. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei avoided leveling any direct charges against Washington. He confined himself to saying, “The enemies should know that such animosities … cannot stain the unity of religions and tribes. Those who violate the lives and security of the people will be punished for their treacherous deeds.”

Similar restraint is also noticeable in the statements by President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s judiciary chief, Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, and Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar. Curiously, Larijani, a key official dealing with national security, also suggested that the motive behind the terrorist attack was to disrupt Shi’ite-Sunni ties. “Such cowardly acts will not have any effect on the trend of solidarity between the Shi’ites and Sunnis,” he said.

This brings us to Saudi Arabia, whose relations with Iran are passing through a period of mutual antipathy bordering on hostility. Tehran has alleged that Iranian hajj pilgrims are being maltreated by Saudi authorities and that Saudi intelligence is accountable for the mysterious disappearance of an Iranian nuclear scientist who was on pilgrimage to Mecca recently.

Saudi newspapers with links to the establishment have carried in recent months extremely vituperative attacks against the regime in Tehran, often at a personal level directed against the Iranian leadership. They have almost gone into mourning now that the turmoil on Tehran’s streets following the disputed presidential election has receded. Ahmadinejad has alleged that his opposition kept up links with Riyadh in trying to bring about “regime change” in Tehran.

Saudi Arabia has two great worries over Iran. First, that Obama is pressing ahead with the normalization process with Tehran – a “thaw” was visible at the Geneva talks on October 1- and Tehran has begun responding to US overtures. The worst Saudi nightmare is coming true.

King Abdullah, who had refused to visit Damascus, landed there two weeks ago on a three-day visit in a desperate attempt to bring Syria into the Arab fold and to “isolate” Iran. Riyadh is worried that Iran’s status as a regional power will get a massive boost if the normalization process with the US advances, and that can only be at the cost of Saudi Arabia’s pre-eminence in the region. Riyadh helplessly watches a beeline of other Persian Gulf states reaching out to Tehran for accommodation.

In other words, Riyadh has a vested interest, which is no less than Israel’s, to disrupt the US-Iran nuclear talks. Ironically, alongside the reports on the terrorist strike on Sunday, Iranian news agencies were quoting “sources privy to the Vienna talks” that the Obama administration was “considering official acknowledgement and endorsement of uranium enrichment in Iran”. These “informed sources close to the talks in Vienna” said the US had “in a series of secret meetings informed its European partners of Washington’s decision on acceptance of uranium enrichment in Iran”.

Riyadh humbled in Yemen
Saudi Arabia’s second concern is that as the civil war in Yemen has entered a crucial phase, Sana’a has sought Iranian mediation. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has announced plans to visit Yemen. The supreme leader’s foreign policy advisor, Ali Akbar Velayati, has already been there.

Yemeni government forces and Houthi Shi’ites have been engaged in a war in the northern parts of the country after Yemeni government armed forces unleashed Operation Scorched Earth on August 11. Sana’a claims the Houthi fighters are trying to restore the Zaidid imamate (office of an imam) system, which was overthrown in a 1962 coup. But the Houthi Shi’ites who make up around 40% of the population say they are defending their minority rights.

Observers view this as a Saudi-Iranian proxy war. The large-scale Saudi assistance to the Sunni-dominated Sana’a government has not helped the latter to crush the Houthi fighters and Sana’a is now compelled to seek Tehran’s good offices. It is a huge setback to Saudi prestige and the entire region is watching.

Iran’s stature vastly enhances as it steps in as the peacemaker in the strategically vital country. A recent Iranian statement said:

The Islamic Republic of Iran has invariably stressed the importance of Yemen’s territorial integrity and independence, sovereignty and the independence, sovereignty and national unity of the country. Iran, alongside the Republic of Yemen, is exerting efforts within the context of peace, security and stability. We believe that increasing tension and debates that lead to bloodshed do not serve peace, stability or national unity in Yemen. We hope to see national unity, security and stability in the republic of Yemen, through measures and the wisdom of the leadership and government of Yemen.

Thus, Tehran makes a point in claiming that Jundallah has links with al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the two entities with which Saudi intelligence has historically had dalliance of one kind or anther – more so the Taliban. Significantly, the Jundallah leadership has been interviewed by al-Arabiya television. In a December interview, the Jundallah leader, Abd el Malik Regi, threatened attacks on Tehran if the Iranian government didn’t grant the country’s Sunnis “full rights”.

Pro-Saudi media organizations and the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center have consistently white-washed Jundallah as a purely “homegrown” Iranian group which does not enjoy any outside help whatsoever.

What merits attention is that the Jundallah’s core cause is the championing of the rights of Iran’s Sunni minority ever since the organization launched its violent campaign in 2005. Evidently, like any terrorist organization, Jundallah also has evolved through shifting alliances in its search for external patrons.

An ABC News report in April 2007 alleged secret US (and Pakistani) encouragement to Jundallah. But it also said, “US officials say the US relationship with Jundallah is arranged so that the US provides no funding to the group, which would require an official presidential order [from Obama as of today].” The tribal sources told the ABC that money from foreign sources were being funneled to the Jundallah leadership through “Gulf states”.

Curiously, a raid mounted on a safe house by Pakistani security forces in January 2008, while searching for a kidnapped Iranian diplomat in Peshawar, stumbled on cadres of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni fundamentalist outfit that is notorious for its brutal attacks on the Shi’ite community in Pakistan. The Saudi patronage of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is a well-known fact.

There is reason to believe, on careful analysis, Saudi-Iranian hostility has spilt over into Iran’s eastern Sistan-Balochistan province.

Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.

The Phony Radicalism of Michael Moore

The Phony Radicalism of Michael Moore

By Sheldon Richman

Image

With phony radicals like Michael Moore around, the ruling elite has nothing to worry about.

The filmmaker likes to pose as a radical critic of the status quo, but he isn’t. All the evidence you need is in his latest documentary, Capitalism: A Love Story. Sure, he rails against home foreclosures, bank bailouts, low wages, other real and imagined problems, but his solution would not disturb the sleep of any big banker, corporate bigwig, or political big shot.

The tipoff comes right at the beginning of the movie. He paints an idyllic picture of life in America in the 1950s. His father worked for a big auto company, through which the family got free medical and dental care. All was well. He realizes that a major reason things were so good was that the U.S. military had destroyed Japan’s and Germany’s competitive industrial bases in World War II. But the dominance was great while it lasted. It was a time when an alliance of big government, big business, and big labor ruled the roost. The military-industrial complex was thriving.

//

That seems fine with Moore, which puts him in the camp of the corporatists of Franklin Roosevelt’s Brain Trust, who thought free markets and competition among independent firms were passé. The new world required big monolithic entities that sat down together and worked things out nicely. The spirit of Mussolini hovered over all of it.

Of course, Moore blasts Wall Street because it got all that taxpayer bailout money and is not being held accountable for it. That is worth getting mad about. But how would he feel if the money had been given with lots of conditions and regulations? He might have liked that.

He certainly doesn’t mind that the government had the taxpayers’ money to give away in the first place. He never once suggests that the people should keep their own money because the political elite has no right to it. He also never indicts the Federal Reserve for its legal counterfeiting. That would be the true radical position. Moore sides with the politicians. He even complains that the top income-tax rate was lowered from 90 percent some years ago! Conveniently, he gets the history wrong. He says Republican Ronald Reagan cut the 90 percent rate, but it was really Democrat Lyndon Johnson who did it, following through on John Kennedy’s proposal. (Reagan presided over a cut from 70 to 50 and then to 28 percent.) At any rate, he is perfectly comfortable with government’s taking 90 percent of people’s earnings. He seems indifferent about whether the money is made through honest trade or political privilege.

Favoring a high top rate may not win him favors from some in the establishment, but for generations there has been a wing of that establishment that understood that high marginal rates were the price of the lucrative corporate state. So Moore may not be the pariah among the ruling elite that he makes himself out to be.

Moore’s movie contains much else to make us doubt his radical bona fides. He blusters about Robert Rubin, Timothy Geithner, Lawrence Summers, and their relationship to the current financial problems. Rubin, a Wall Street hotshot, and Summers were Treasury secretaries under President Bill Clinton. Geithner ran the New York Federal Reserve Bank from late 2003 to 2009, overseeing the Wall Street bailouts. In Moore’s eyes, they are the rogues who, along with former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan and former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, gave us the meltdown of 2008.

So far so good. But when he gets to the election of Barack Obama in November 2008 he declares, “This is not what Wall Street wanted.” Yeah? Then why are Moore’s bêtes noires Rubin and Summers close Obama economic advisors, and why is Geithner secretary of the Treasury?

A true radical would not have given Obama a pass. Moore says he’s for socialism, but all he means by that is that workers have some say in their companies. Nothing very radical about that.

If Moore were truly a radical critic of capitalism as he conceives it, he’d be for its true opposite: the radical separation of business and State — that is, the free market.

Sheldon Richman is policy advisor to The Future of Freedom Foundation (www.fff.org) and editor of The Freeman magazine.

15 hurt in Peshawar car bomb blast

15 hurt in Peshawar car bomb blast

PESHAWAR: Fifteen people sustained injuries in a remote control car bomb blast happened in Peshawar’s posh locality of Hyatabad.

Sources said the explosion occurred in a car parked outside a restaurant in Phase 2 of Hyatabad. Gunshots were also heard after the blast. Police officials and rescue workers reached at the blast site and shifted wounded persons to Hyatabad Medical Complex. Police have cordoned off the area. Law enforcement agencies have arrested a suspected man and shifted him at undisclosed location for interrogations.

The sources of Bomb Disposal Squad said the blast carried out through remote control device in which 40 kilograms of explosive was used.

Four Pakistanis slain in Iran Guard attack: report

Four Pakistanis slain in Iran Guard attack: report

TEHRAN: Four Pakistani citizens were among those slain in the attack on Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards in Sistan-Baluchestan province, a local news agency reported on Friday.

On Sunday, a suicide bomber blew himself up in Pisheen town during a meeting of Guards and local tribesmen, slaughtering more than 40 people, including 15 members of the Guards.

The bomber struck in front of a local gymnasium where a handicraft exhibition was taking place in Pisheen, near the Pakistani border in the south-eastern province.

“Four Pakistani citizens, who were near the handicraft exhibition, also died in the incident,” Jalal Sayyah, deputy governor of Sistan-Baluchestan said.

He said investigations revealed that the bomber wanted to go to the meeting, “but fearing he would be searched… he blew himself up inside the exhibition.”

The bomber had crossed into Iran from Pakistan a day before the attack Sayyah said.

“He was trained four months ago in one of (Abdolmalek) Rigi’s bases in Pakistan,” he added, referring to the leader of the rebel Jundallah (Soldiers of God) group which claimed the bombing.

Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar was in Pakistan on Friday to discuss ways of cracking down on Jundallah.

“We have evidence that shows Rigi easily crosses (the border) and conducts his activities,” Mohammad Najjar told Iran state television after landing in Islamabad, where he was received by Pakistani counterpart Rahman Malik.

Tehran says that Jundallah chief Rigi is based in Pakistan and has asked Islamabad to hand him over.

“We have come to ask our friends… to deliver Rigi to us to ease this tension in the Islamic republic and it’s of course not good for the relations of the two countries,” the Iranian minister said.

Top Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have alleged that Pakistani intelligence service, along with those of Britain and the United States, had a role in the recent bombing.

The Guardian: ISI supports Sipah-e-Sahaba and other sectarian and extremist organizations in Pakistan

The Guardian: ISI supports Sipah-e-Sahaba and other sectarian and extremist organizations in Pakistan

After the Lahore attack on cricket, west’s nuclear ally fears implosion

https://i1.wp.com/blog.cleveland.com/world_impact/2009/03/large_Chopper-Sri-Lanka-player-Mar3-09.jpg

Militant assault on cricket tourists puts sharp focus on fragile democracy at risk of disintegration and international isolation

Saeed Shah in Lahore

The Guardian, Thursday 5 March 2009

Whole provinces beyond the writ of the state, Islamist insurgents uniting for a broader fight, terror attacks conceived, plotted and exported: Pakistan was in serious danger of implosion before the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team on Tuesday brought the parlous security situation in the country to a wider international audience.

But security is not the only problem of a country which the United States now considers a greater threat than neighbouring Afghanistan. With the economy teetering, political tumult building and social conditions ripe for extremists, nuclear-armed Pakistan faces six critical threats to the rule of law and governance of the state.

Security

The current violence started in summer 2007, when security forces routed armed militants at the Red Mosque in Islamabad. That event turned militant groups which were focused on India or Afghanistan inwards, to Pakistan itself. A campaign of suicide bombings started, in which Taliban-style extremists in the north-west, near the Afghan border, joined forces with jihadist groups based in Punjab, Pakistan’s heartland. The fatal attack on Benazir Bhutto in December 2007 and the strike against Islamabad’s Marriott hotel demonstrated that insurgents were aiming high and frequently being successful.

Large parts of Pakistan have been snatched from government control. Most of the tribal area, the semi-autonomous sliver of land that runs along the Afghan border, is now firmly in the control of the Pakistani Taliban, who play host to al-Qaida commanders. Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, may be hiding in the tribal territory. This week, the Guardian learned that three rival Pakistani Taliban groups had formed a united front to wage war in Afghanistan, promising further instability there.

Much of the North-West Frontier province is menaced by marauding extremists, with citizens having to form village militias to defend themselves. The vast Swat valley has been taken over by a band of Taliban guerrillas. In an attempt to bring some peace to Swat, the government agreed last month to impose Islamic law in the area. In Baluchistan, Pakistan’s largest but most sparsely populated province, the threat from Afghan Taliban elements is compounded by a long-running Baluch nationalist rebellion. Punjab, by far the most populous and richest province, is also threatened by extremists in its midst. There are many jihadist groups, including Lashkar-e-Taiba, the outfit blamed for the Mumbai attack in November.

Intelligence services

The aims of Pakistan’s premier spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), are the big question: does it still support at least some of the extremist groups?

The ISI, once heavily backed by Washington, masterminded the mujahideen resistance in Afghanistan to the Soviet invasion in the 1980s, training and financing the insurgents. The ISI then decided to use the same tactics against India, founding a series of militant groups that started a violent resistance to Indian rule in the disputed region of Kashmir. The agency also nurtured a number of sectarian outfits, such as Sipah-e-Sahaba.

Then, in the mid-1990s, the ISI helped create a new Islamic movement in Afghanistan, the Taliban, which rapidly managed to take over the country. It also spawned a copycat Pakistani Taliban movement.

The problem is that many of these militant groups, which were used to further Pakistan’s foreign policy and domestic aims, have slipped out of the ISI’s control. The groups have turned on the state itself, under the influence of al-Qaida.

The economy

The rule of President Pervez Musharraf, from 1999 to 2008, was characterised by an economic boom. But, just as elections were held in February 2008, that boom was turning to bust.

Inflation is now running at some 25%, while the currency and the stockmarket have been pummelled over the last year. Much of Pakistan’s textile industry, which had accounted for about half of its exports, is closed as a result of chronic power shortages and lack of competitiveness.

Late last year, Pakistan was forced to go on its knees to the IMF for an emergency $7.6bn bail-out, as it was threatened by imminent bankruptcy. The economic crisis means that unemployment and poverty are on the increase, the very conditions that breed extremism.

The economy and poor governance have meant a failure to provide the country with an education and health system that serves most of the population. As a result, many poor people send their children to free madrasa schools, where the education is almost exclusively religious, sometimes preaching a radical version of Islam. Millions of children have few workplace skills and knowledge only of Islam.

Politics

Pakistan’s politics has always been tumultuous, with the country under military rule for most of its 61 years of existence. The last period of army rule ended in 2008, but the new democratic dispensation has floundered.

In particular, the two main political parties, the Pakistan Peoples party, which runs the federal government, and the party of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, are in a state of war. Last week, Islamabad dismissed the provincial government in the all-important Punjab province, which had been run by Sharif’s party.

Sharif and a pressure group of lawyers calling for judicial independence are now going to take their opposition on to the streets. With poor governance in Islamabad and a lack of fundamental political consensus on how the country should be run, there are already rumours that the army is about to step back in.

The military

Army chief Ashfaq Kayani has repeatedly indicated that he does not want to see the army step back into the political fray, but with a government struggling to cope with the security situation, many predict that he will eventually intervene.

The army is pervasive in Pakistan, dominating the economy: there are dozens of military businesses, it is prominent in land ownership, and, of course, it is the most important political institution. When foreign leaders want to deal seriously with Pakistan, they talk to the army chief.

The army is in charge of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, making the unity and integrity of the military an international concern. The ISI also comes under the army. Politicians and ordinary Pakistanis live in fear of the military.

International allies

Since 9/11, Pakistan has been courted by the west, which suddenly realised that the country held the key to international security. Relations with India steadied somewhat after a critical stand-off in 2002. But the Mumbai attacks have drawn the two neighbours back into confrontation.

China too watches with concern at the apparent disintegration of its neighbour and close ally.

Pakistan’s western backers are impatient with its failure to deal with the militant safe havens along the Afghan border. Britain is concerned at Pakistani involvement in its own terror problems: Gordon Brown said recently that three-quarters of known British terror plots had links to Pakistan. American efforts to take matters into its own hand with attacks on Pakistani territory have frayed relations further.

But the west cannot turn on a country whose co-operation is needed for security. The fear is that isolation could push Pakistan into collapse.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/05/sri-lanka-cricket-team-attack