Morning Report: October 18, 2006

Mark your calendar. Armageddon is tentatively scheduled for this weekend.

Europe vs. Israel. Debka:
Italy to sell Lebanon sophisticated ground-to-air Aster 15 missiles to stop Israel’s aerial surveillance of hostile movements. Israeli aircraft monitor illegal Hizballah movements and arms smuggling - in the absence of any Lebanese army and UNIFIL preventive action to implement UN Resolution 1701. According to DEBKAfile’s Rome sources, prime minister Romano Prodi has instructed his defense ministry to negotiate with the Fouad Siniora government the quick sale of an Aster 15 battery, the only Western surface-to-air missile with an active guidance system capable of last-minute corrections of targeting at the moment of interception. As a joint Franco-Italian product, the sale also needed - and obtained - approval from French president Jacques Chirac. Our sources report the Aster 15 will be accompanied by Italian instructors to guide Lebanese troops in their use. Since 50% of those officers are Shiites loyal to Hizballah or Amal, the Shiite terrorists are looking forward to gaining access for the first time to top-of-the-line Western anti-air missile technology. On Oct. 13, Lebanese chief of staff General Michel Suleiman informed his officers posted on the Lebanese-Israeli border of the Beirut government’s “indefatigable efforts” to obtain anti-air missiles to hit patrolling Israeli aircraft. He added that very soon, Lebanon would also acquire long-range anti-tank rockets to prevent Israeli tanks again crossing the border. Commanders of the French UNIFIL contingent have threatened to fire on Israeli warplanes in Lebanese skies, according to Israel defense minister Amir Peretz in a briefing to a Knesset panel Monday, Oct. 16. Israel has so far refrained from protesting to Rome against the Aster 15 sale - any more than it has to Washington, the UN Security Council or UNIFIL over illegal Hizballah movements and arms-smuggling. The Aster 15 is manufactured by France’s Aerospatiale and Thompson-CSF; its guidance system by the Alenia/Finmeccanica of Italy. Launched from seaborne or land bases, it is designed to hit “maneuverable targets” - aircraft, helicopters, drones or missiles. With a warhead of 3.20 kilos of explosives, the missile has a range of up to 30 km and a maximum speed of 3,600 kph. Aster 15’s two stages are a solid propellant booster and a “dart” equipped with a seeker, a sustainer motor, a proximity fuse and a blast fragmentation warhead. DEBKAfile’s political sources once again note the Olmert government’s virtual concealment of the impending threat, its blind eye to UNIFIL’s impotence and its failure to raise an outcry against the missile’s impending delivery to Beirut. Israel’s leaders are strongly motivated by their need to stick to the empty boast of military gains in the Lebanon War and the portrayal of the international force’s deployment in the South as a diplomatic triumph. In contrast, the teams investigating the IDF’s performance in the war are coming up daily with findings of gross mismanagement. The Israeli missile ship hit by an Iranian anti-ship C-208 cruise missile July 14 - for the loss of four men - was found in the latest report to have omitted to activate the ship’s four missile defense systems, including the Barak anti-missile missile. The ship sailed dangerously close to the Beirut coast with none of the 80 officers and crew manning lookout or attack positions. The panel concluded that there was nothng to stop Hizballah sinking the frigate by ramming it with an explosives-laden boat.

Meanwhile, France says UNIFIL will fire on Israeli planes: 'Commanders of the French contingent of the United Nations force in Lebanon have warned that they might have to open fire if Israel Air Force warplanes continue their overflights in Lebanon, Defense Minister Amir Peretz told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday. Peretz said that nevertheless, Israel would continue to patrol the skies over Lebanon as long as United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 remained unfulfilled, adding that such operations were critical for the country's security, especially as the abducted IDF soldiers remain in Hezbollah custody and the transfer of arms continue.' (Debka, Ha'Aretz)

Russian foreign minister: Iran no threat. Ha'Aretz: 'Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday said international action over Tehran's nuclear program must be in proportion to the real situation in Iran, which he added does not appear to include a threat to peace and security. "It is necessary to act on Iran but that action should be in direct proportion to what is really happening," the RIA news agency quoted Lavrov as saying. "And what is really happening is what the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] reports to us. And the IAEA is not reporting to us about the presence there of a threat to peace and security," said Lavrov.' (Ha'Aretz)

China won't search North Korean ships. Jerusalem Post: 'China is balking at stopping and searching North Korean ships for banned weapons and materials, creating tension with Washington over UN Security Council sanctions for the North's nuclear test. Beijing fears that such searches might trigger military clashes, and that the US may use them to police wider shipping, analysts said Tuesday. "If intelligence can prove the ships are loaded with dangerous material, I don't think Beijing would be opposed to stopping them," said Zhu Feng, a professor at Peking University's School of International Relations. "But we just worry that the United States will abuse its naval power."' (JPost)

Wretchard on Louise Arbour and the problem of evil. The Belmont Club: 'If the United Nations is benevolent then it cannot tolerate the existence of a Rwanda, Congo, North Korea or a Darfur. But if it attempts to stop these atrocities then inevitably it must inflict some collateral damage which will cause some people to die and that, according to [Arbour], is a War Crime. There is no way out of the paradox and the system is in logical self-contradiction.' (Belmont Club)

"Our cycle of warnings has been completed." Via Atlas Shrugs: '"I am saying that Muslims must leave America, but we can attack America anytime," he said. "Our cycle of warnings has been completed, now we have fresh edicts from some prominent Muslim scholars to destroy our enemy, this is our defending of Jihad; the enemy has entered in our homes and we have the right to enter in their homes, they are killing us, we will kill them." The article cites yet another threat 'warning all Muslims to leave the U.S. in anticipation of a major terrorist attack before the end of Ramadan.' The Jawa Report has the latest on nuclear terrorist Adnan Shukrijumah: 'The Taliban have issued another warning that Muslims should leave the U.S. immediately before a major attack is launched. The warning implies that the threat will be from a dirty bomb and that it will come before next Monday.' Read the rest at the link. See also previous Dreams Into Lightning roundup on Adnan Shukrijumah. (Atlas Shrugs, The Jawa Report)

Zoe: Wilful blindness. Zoe at A.E.Brain: 'veryone with two neurons to fire consecutively could predict what would happen - what has happened. If Mary Robinson, former head of the Human Rights Council's predecessor "hoped that the Human Rights Council would act in a human rights way" with the current batch of dictatorships and tyrannies that compose the majority of the commission, it can't be lack of intellect. It requires wilful blindness ...' Read the rest at the link. (A.E.Brain)

Commentary. Now, you might be reading this post and wondering: "Why did I get out of bed this morning?" Well, that makes two of us. But let's keep a couple of things in mind. The "Hiroshima" rhetoric around the "dirty bomb" threat is hyperbole - a dirty bomb, by definition, is a conventional explosive that's rigged to spew radioactive stuff. Very nasty, but no mushroom cloud.

I would not be surprised if terrorists attempt another mass-casualty attack on American soil in the near future. Maybe within the week. How successful it is, is another story. The other question is whether this is going to coincide with a hot war in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East. No crystal ball here, but again, I wouldn't be surprised if there's coordination with Syria and Iran.

Need something to lift your spirits? Well, it seems there's been some self-reflection among the Hamas inteligentsia:
A senior figure in Hamas, the Islamist group that heads the Palestinian government, published an article on Tuesday condemning internal violence and questioning whether it had become a "Palestinian disease."

Where this epiphany will lead, it's hard to say. But Morning Report is reminded of these gentlemen.