Afternoon Roundup

Taheri on the IRI's nuclear obsession. Amir Taheri in the Telegraph: Why Iran Wants the Bomb.
According to Shia lore, the Imam is a messianic figure who, although in hiding, remains the true Sovereign of the World. In every generation, the Imam chooses 36 men, (and, for obvious reasons, no women) naming them the owtad or "nails", whose presence, hammered into mankind's existence, prevents the universe from "falling off". Although the "nails" are not known to common mortals, it is, at times, possible to identify one thanks to his deeds. It is on that basis that some of Ahmad-inejad's more passionate admirers insist that he is a "nail", a claim he has not discouraged. For example, he has claimed that last September, as he addressed the United Nations' General Assembly in New York, the "Hidden Imam drenched the place in a sweet light".

Last year, it was after another khalvat that Ahmadinejad announced his intention to stand for president. Now, he boasts that the Imam gave him the presidency for a single task: provoking a "clash of civilisations" in which the Muslim world, led by Iran, takes on the "infidel" West, led by the United States, and defeats it in a slow but prolonged contest that, in military jargon, sounds like a low intensity, asymmetrical war.

In Ahmadinejad's analysis, the rising Islamic "superpower" has decisive advantages over the infidel. Islam has four times as many young men of fighting age as the West, with its ageing populations. Hundreds of millions of Muslim "ghazis" (holy raiders) are keen to become martyrs while the infidel youths, loving life and fearing death, hate to fight. Islam also has four-fifths of the world's oil reserves, and so controls the lifeblood of the infidel. More importantly, the US, the only infidel power still capable of fighting, is hated by most other nations.

According to this analysis, spelled out in commentaries by Ahmadinejad's strategic guru, Hassan Abassi, known as the "Dr Kissinger of Islam", President George W Bush is an aberration, an exception to a rule under which all American presidents since Truman, when faced with serious setbacks abroad, have "run away". Iran's current strategy, therefore, is to wait Bush out. And that, by "divine coincidence", corresponds to the time Iran needs to develop its nuclear arsenal, thus matching the only advantage that the infidel enjoys.

Ahmadinejad is abetted in his delusion, incidentally, by the feckless Western press, who invariably refer to any hint of decisive action against Iran's belligerency as the work of "neoconservative hawks in Washington". But back to Taheri:
The Iranian plan is simple: playing the diplomatic game for another two years until Bush becomes a "lame-duck", unable to take military action against the mullahs, while continuing to develop nuclear weapons.

Thus do not be surprised if, by the end of the 12 days still left of the United Nations' Security Council "deadline", Ahmadinejad announces a "temporary suspension" of uranium enrichment as a "confidence building measure".

This would be enough to forestall any move against Tehran. The regime's long-term plans (it already is the second largest player in Iraq, after the US, and has now established an Iranian presence on the Mediterranean for the first time in 1400 years) include consolidation of its superpower status and, oh yes, annihilation of Israel.
At the same time, not to forget the task of hastening the Mahdi's second coming, Ahamdinejad will pursue his provocations. On Monday, he was as candid as ever: "To those who are angry with us, we have one thing to say: be angry until you die of anger!"

His adviser, Hassan Abassi, is rather more eloquent. "The Americans are impatient," he says, "at the first sight of a setback, they run away. We, however, know how to be patient. We have been weaving carpets for thousands of years."

Syria vows to retain Golan Heights. AP via Ha'Aretz:
usands of people rallied against Israel's occupation in a war-wrecked town at the foot of the plateau.

"Zionist occupiers, leave now," said a protest banner, referring to the
Israel Defense Forces troops and Israeli residents who have been on the Golan Heights since it was captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. ...

The ruling Baath Party organized a fleet of buses and minibuses to bring
people to Quneitra on Monday for a pro-liberation demonstration. The
Associated Press estimated the size of the crowd at about 100,000 and said they came from Damascus, the capital, and other cities such as Homs nd Hama in northern Syria. ...

Amarji isn't impressed:
I hear the speeches commemorating Independence Day in Syria were filled with references to the Golan Heights, with some even advocating jihad as the only remaining alternative to get them back. Well, well, well. The Assad Clan seems well on their way to losing the only real international backer they have in the world – Israel.

Yes, it is not secret by now that Israel wants the Assad regime to stay in power: it is too weak to be a threat and strong enough (they think) to prevent the country from imploding into another sectarian mess. But if this regime is going to contemplate opening the Golan Heights for infiltration by Islamist terrorists, well then this regime has just outlived its usefulness. ...

Israel to step up military operations after murder bombings. Amos Harel in Ha'Aretz:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will decide Tuesday whether to take direct punitive action against the Hamas government in response to Monday's suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, which Hamas has refused to condemn. Nine people were killed and about 65 wounded in the attack, which took place near the old central bus station in the south of the city.

Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the blast, which ripped through a shwarma stand that had also been hit in a January terror attack, in which about 20 people were wounded.