Morning Report: October 27, 2006

Taking stock. The mission in Iraq requires new thinking and new approaches; and shock waves from a bombing reverberate across years and hemispheres.

Army realignment. Defense Tech: '"Pentagon records show one-fifth of the Army's active-duty troops have served multiple tours of war duty while more than 40% haven't been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan," reports USA Today. So the Army is "realign[ing] its forces to prevent a small slice of soldiers who are shouldering much of the fighting from wearing out."' (Defense Tech)

AMIA bombing fallout. Counterterrorism Blog:
The Argentine request for Rafsanjani's arrest is an important symbolic step - although real justice will continue, unfortunately, to be delayed. Iran has a record of evading the consequences of supporting terrorism. Over two years ago I wrote an article on Britain's failure to fulfill an Argentine extradition request for Hadi Soleimanpour, who had been Iran's ambassador in Buenos Aires when the AMIA bombing occurred.

It is important to note that in Iran's last presidential election, Rafsanjani was considered the moderate.

The AMIA attack was a textbook Iranian-Hezbollah operation, meticulously planned and aimed at achieving both mass murder and political goals. Terror is part of Iran's diplomatic tool kit - a fact that ought to focus attention on Iran's ongoing efforts to obtain nuclear weapons.

Full article at the link. Iran Focus lists the names of the officials charged:
Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, former Iranian President, currently chairs Iran’s State Expediency Council and is deputy chair of the Assembly of Experts

Hojatoleslam Ali Fallahian, former Iranian Minister of Intelligence and Security

Ali Akbar Velayati, former Iranian Foreign Minister, currently the chief foreign policy advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Major General Mohsen Rezai, former Supreme Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), is currently the secretary of the State Expediency Council

Major General Ahmad Vahidi, former Commander of the IRGC Qods Force, is currently Deputy Defence Minister

Mohsen Rabbani, former cultural attaché at the Iranian embassy in Buenos Aires

Ahmad Reza Asgari, alias Mohsen Ranjbaran, former official at the Iranian embassy in Buenos Aires

Imad Fayez Mugniyeh, commander of the Shiite Lebanese group Hezbollah’s overseas operation, currently believed to be hiding in Iran

“We have proven that the decision to attack the AMIA headquarters on July 18, 1994 ... was a decision made by the highest authorities in Iran's government at the time”, Argentine chief prosecutor Alberto Nisman was quoted as saying by news agencies on Wednesday.(CTB, Iran Focus)

Rumsfeld on Iraq timetable. Voice of America: 'U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says it is entirely reasonable for U.S. and Iraqi officials to discuss setting benchmarks and target dates for achieving their goals during the coming year. He says some of that has been done, but he says he is not aware of any agreement by Iraqi officials to develop a comprehensive plan, or to make any such plan public. Secretary Rumsfeld spoke at the Pentagon on Thursday as controversy continues to swirl about recent statements by U.S. and Iraqi officials. ... "The idea [is] of saying, 'We're here, we want to get there, here are some steps to get there, let's go ahead and tell the world these are the steps, we want to get there, we've kind of agreed on them. And then see if we can't do it," he added.' (VOA)

Commentary. Earlier this week, Debka favorably compared President Bush's statements on Iraq with the Israeli leadership's pronouncements on the recent Lebanon war: 'Olmert and his pep talk are in good company. President George W. Bush, echoed by British premier Tony Blair, speaks of America’s many achievements in the Iraq War while admitting that changes may be necessary in tactics. Unlike Olmert, however, neither takes his public for fools. They admit mistakes were made in Iraq which need to be corrected.' The article goes on to argue that State Department official Alberto Fernandez' controversial statements actually enhanced the Administration's credibility.

Threats Watch has a partial transcript and analysis of President Bush's recent press conference. TW's Kirk writes:
The only point I’ll emphasize is that, as the president notes, the current government led by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is only five months old. To many it seems that the Iraqis have had a long time to get themselves together, but the process of establishing a new representative government where before there was nothing but a police state would have taken a long time even if we had done everything right. Obviously we did not, and my estimation is that we could have saved about a year by handling things differently after the fall of the Baathist regime. But regardless this would have taken years, and it is safe to say that if General Washington and the Continental Congress had been given the timetable many wish to force on Maliki’s government, the United States would not exist today.

Iraq the Model draws some lessons from the Amara experience:
What will happen if the MNF are withdrawn prematurely before the job is done?

Perhaps the lesson from the recent troubles in Amara when militias took over large parts of the city gives a clear answer and offers Iraqis and the allies a forecast of what the future holds for us should we make the wrong decisions.

I think the decision to announce a phased withdrawal of troops (which is now dubbed as a phased handover of security responsibility) was made without putting in consideration the developments on the ground. And I think pressures on the American and British governments accelerated the process in a reactionary protective manner rather than a rational pragmatic one.

I suspect the allies and the Iraqi government were fully aware of that time bomb called militias but they turned their backs on this fact and acted as if the mission is moving forward smoothly without any disruptions.

It is easy to do it on paper…It takes no more than a small celebratory ceremony…lower this flag, fly the other one and invite officials, generals and journalists to publicize the meaningless event.
But at the same time the other camp represented by the militias was watching cheerfully and celebrating their riddance of an obstacle that was preventing them from taking over cities like Amara.

Mohammed concludes that 'Action must be based upon a clear, well studied strategy combined with determination to acknowledge and correct mistakes rather than running away from them or just whining about them which seems to be the strategy of many these days.'