Morning Report: July 11, 2006

Gains and losses. A notorious mass murderer met his end, but terrorists struck a busy city in India, claiming more innocent lives - while Iraq's leader wrestles with security challenges in the wake of another terror attack in his own capital. Meanwhile, the shadowy battle between Iran's freedom-lovers and its fascist regime goes on.

Bomb blasts hit Mumbai (Bombay), India, killing 40 or more. Debka: 'At least 40 killed in seven nearly simultaneous bomb blasts that hit moving commuter trains in western Mumbai. Police suspect terrorists struck India’s financial hub at the commuter rush hour in coordinated attacks, which targeted men’s compartments. The first blast occurred in a first class carriage near Khar station breaking the car in half. The roof of one train was blown off. Telephones are jammed. Mumbai, New Delhi and international airports are on high terror alert.' AP via Yahoo: 'Seven explosions hit Bombay's commuter rail network during rush hour Tuesday evening, killing at least 20 people, police said, adding that the death toll would likely rise. Chaos engulfed the crowded rail network in India's financial capital following the blasts that ripped apart train compartments. Doors and windows were blown off the train cars, and luggage and debris were strewn about. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for what appeared to be bombings, but the blasts came in quick succession — a common tactic employed by Kashmiri militants that have repeatedly targeted India's cities.' Bill Roggio at the Counterterrorism Blog has more. (Debka, AP, CTB)

ITM, Belmont Club on Baghdad attacks and security situation. Iraq the Model: 'Even people in the provinces have the feeling that Baghdad is under extreme pressure right now as if they feel that violence lessened in their provinces only to increase in Baghdad. I had relatives and friends calling me to check on us, express sympathy and sometimes offer me and my family a place to stay at for a couple weeks in this or that province.' The Belmont Club: 'A lot of the subtext surrounding the Jihad incident involves the Madhi Army. Mohammed quotes another Iraqi blogger to point out how intertwined the problem of the Madhi is with it's mirror threat, the Sunni insurgency. There will be no excuse for the Mehdi army to exist if terror groups ceased to exist and there will be no excuse for the terrorists to exist when the Sadr gangs and rats of Badr drop their weapons. one depends on the other... Whenever the government tries to disarm the militias, the terrorists would come to attack at the strongholds of the militias to give them reason to exist and whenever the government tries to attack terrorist strongholds the militias would take to the streets to distract the government and drag its forces into side battles…'. Wretchard continues: 'Mohammed is probably correct when he says that the Battle for Baghdad will be the key campaign of the next months. "Baghdad is the key to Iraq, and Iraq is the key to the Middle East, and from this fact this battle draws its significance." And the question is not entirely whether Iraqi forces are improving, but whether they can improve fast enough to stay in control. Victory if it comes too late is not victory at all. The time element is important here and I have no way of even guessing whether the Iraqi government will win the race.' Full analysis at the link. (ITM, Belmont Club)

Shamil Basayev is dead. The terrorist leader responsible for masterminding some of the most horrific attacks of recent years - including the sadistic Beslan school siege - is dead, probably at the hands of Russian special forces. Debka: 'FBS chief Nikolai Patrushev told President Valdimir Putin Monday, July 10, he and other Chechen fighters had been killed overnight in a special forces operation in Ingushetia, next-door to Chechnya. Patrushev reported the Chechen rebels had planned an attack during the G-8 summit later this week in St. Petersburg. Basayev, 41, claimed some of Russia’s most atrocious terrorist attacks, including the 2002 Moscow theater siege of some 800 hostages, the 2004 school hostage outrage that killed 331 – more than half of them children, and the seizure of 1,000 hostages at a hospital in Budyonnovsk that left 100 people dead. Patrushev reported to Putin that the Chechen rebels had planned an attack during the G-8 summit later this week in St. Petersburg. Putin said Basayev’s killing was “deserved retribution" for his crimes in Beslan and Budyonnovsk. The Chechen rebel website confirmed the death of Basayev and three Muhahideen, claiming they died when a truck loaded with explosives blew up in the village of Ekazhevo, Ingushetia.' (Debka)

What are all those Iranians doing in Lebanon? The Intelligence Summit: 'In last six months somewhere around 330 to 340 Iranian visited Lebanon daily. There are no Shiite Muslim popular Shrines in Lebanon. Why Iranian are visiting Lebanon? The Shiite clerics in Iran have had a longstanding interest in the Shiite population of Lebanon. ...' Read the rest at the link. (TIS)

Iranian anti-regime demo in Brussels. Iran Focus: ' Iranian opposition supporters held a small but noisy protest in Brussels on Tuesday demanding sanctions against Tehran to get it to curb its nuclear plans, as a key Iranian official held talks with the EU. "They really should impose sanctions," said Firouz Mahvi, foreign affairs official for the National Council of Resistance of Iran -- a banned opposition group connected to the Iraq-based armed People's Mujahedeen.' (Iran Focus)

Briefly noted. The Jawa Report has the latest on the Army's over-goal recruiting successes; Vital Perspective has a news round-up on the Gaza action; IRIS discovers a change of tune for Israeli leftists Yoel Marcus and Aluf Benn; and Ocean Guy points out Stanley Weiss at the IHT on the Jewish-Persian connection: 'Yet animosity between Iran and Israel is an historical aberration. Before Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, ancient cultural bonds and common strategic interests between Persians and Jews made Iran and Israel close allies. Even today, enduring strategic interests suggest that a revived Persian-Jewish partnership, while by no means imminent, is inevitable.'

Commentary. Any serious conflict involves gains and losses for each side; it involves shifting fortunes and unpredictable events. Each party, if it wishes to prevail, must strive to take the "long view" and manage its assets in a way that will lead to victory. As The Belmont Club observes, PM Maliki has only a finite supply of manpower and resources to combat the sectarian militias; he must allocate these wisely (Mohammed had earlier urged a step-by-step approach to security in Baghdad) in order to win.

This principle applies in the war of ideas as well. What matters in the long term is not how many people joined or defected from the pro-freedom side this week; it's whether there will be enough of us, at the right time, in the right places, to make a difference.