Morning Report: October 9, 2006

Point of no return. North Korea has nukes. And that's not all that's happening.

North Korea goes nuclear. It's officially official: the North Koreans have tested an atom bomb. Counterterrorism Blog: 'ran likely has at its disposal the same technology and blueprints that North Korea possesses. Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan has admitted to supplying nuclear technology to North Korea, Iran, and Libya through a black market. His claim has been supported by international investigators, who found that Chinese nuclear designs that were probably supplied to Pakistan in the 1980s were later sold to Libya by Pakistani-led smugglers. Former UN arms inspector David Albright has been quoted as saying, "You have to almost conclude [that the Chinese design] went to Iran and . . . North Korea." Iran thus has blueprints for nuclear weapons technology that has been successful tested by two other countries, Pakistan and North Korea.' ThreatsWatch: 'The Chinese statement read, "On October 9, the DPRK (North Korea), ignoring the general opposition of the international community, brazenly undertook a nuclear test. The Chinese government expresses its resolute opposition. China strongly demands the DPRK side to undertake its commitments to the non-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and stop all actions that can lead to the deterioration of the situation." Such uncustomarily strong language from the Chinese communist government may indicate that UN Security Council action may be swift and stern.' Debka: 'Tehran is quietly watching to see how the North Korea crisis plays out. The ayatollahs will take Washington’s response to the North Korean test as a measure of its reaction to the progress of its own nuclear plans. They know they can count on massive Chinese support against tough international measures. Despite its denials, Russia is actively abetting Iran in the development of its nuclear capabilities. Beijing is still more directly involved, supplying Iran with nuclear materials, and technology and advanced centrifuges, as well as technology for sophisticated weapons and missile systems.' Stratfor: 'China's response will be hesitant. China does not seem ready to cut off food or fuel to North Korea, particularly before winter sets in. Beijing has deployed additional troops to the border, but that is to seal the frontier. Beijing will be angry, but its primary concern is to keep the North Korean people from spilling across the border into northeast China.' Remarks: The different analyses offer seemingly contradictory assessments of the likely response from Beijing. We'll have to wait to see what China does. Of course, the nomination of South Korean foreign minister Ban Ki-moon as next Secretary General of the United Nations should make things really interesting. (various)

Ayatollah revolts in Iran. Azarmehr: 'The dissident Ayatollah Boroujerdi who opposes mixing of religion and state and the ruling theocracy in Iran, was last night arrested with hundreds of his followers outside his house after some bloody clashes. I will write more about this when more information becomes available.' Photos at the link. Anti-Mullah: 'LATEST UPDATE - all phones in the area of the Ayatollah's house have been disconnected and his numbers, which worked till just now have a recording saying "they never existed". Shots were being fired around the Ayatollah's home at Sard (cold) Park, Avesta Avenue, Sard Street #9 close to Freedom Square. Fires are springing up in the region at major intersections. Ambulance sirens scream futiley as Tehran citizens pour toward that address blocking streets to prevent Security forces from getting close but also blocking the paramedics and ambulances. Distress calls from wounded men and women fill the air waves as what they describe as total war is erupting. KRSI, which covers all of Iran, constantly broadcasts calls for the populace to rise up, urging them to make the most of this opportunity. Said Ghayem-Maghami, the announcer of KRSI repeatedly urges all provinces, cities, professions to revolt against the current regime. He also broadcasts live all suggestions provided by Tehran citizens to wake everyone up and let them know something is up.' Reuters vis Iran Focus: 'Ayatollah Mohammad Kazemeini Boroujerdi was detained with several supporters, Iran's student news agency ISNA quoted the deputy governor of Tehran, Abdollah Rowshan, as saying.' A thread at Free Iran news forum carries some discussion: 'As long as the Islamic Fascist security forces are in control, and they are very well paid by Oil money and Iranian people are unarmed no movement can be successful. I am suspecting that the Security forces are setting these kind of traps .... reedom-loving Iranian should not trust any Mullahs even if they agree with what we say. Freedom-loving Iranian people for Free Society and Secular Democracy must keep their distance from all kind of Islamist Fascist Viruses ....' (various)

Azarmehr: Absurdity of American MSM. Azarmehr: ' have also come to some conclusions about the American TV news channels. Almost since day 1 that we got here, I have been watching the US news channels in my hotel rooms and almost every day, I have heard nothing other than the Foley scandal. Every morning I turn the news on, I think to myself surely there is no more mileage in this Foley affair. What needs to be said is told and the American people can make up their mind about the scandal. Yet after two weeks of being here, the news channels still go on about it, as if there is nothing else happening in the world. Perhaps finally the nuclear test carried out by North Korea will put an end to this ongoing election bickering.' Read the rest at the link. (Azarmehr)

Militias in Iraq. Alaa of The Mesopotamian is blogging again, and has some thoughts on the militia problem in Iraq:
It is a strategic mistake to lump all events in the Middle East region into one basket. More specifically and frankly; the Israel-Lebanon conflict, the Iranian Issue, and the Shiaas in Iraq are three quite separate subjects. It is true that the main protagonists in all three can be labeled as Shiaas, but the common denominator ends there. The first is a border dispute about a farm and a question of prisoner exchange and not much more despite all the flamboyant rhetoric and high emotions. The second is basically the same old ancient Persian illusions of grandeur and nationalistic ambitions cloaked in religious garb. The third, i.e., the Shiaas in Iraq is a much more complex situation and is pivotal for the success of the mission in Iraq, which in itself is a key to influencing the other issues.

Allow me to pontificate a little, since this is the crazy cybernetic world of blogging; and hence let me imagine myself as some great theoretician and therefore I shall enunciate my views as some Laws:

Alaa’s first Law: The relations between the Shiaa’s of Iraq and Iran are reciprocally proportional to those between them and the United States. In other words; the worst the latter gets the closer becomes the first and vise versa. Therefore this question must be dealt with, with the utmost caution to avoid quite undesirable results.

Alaa’s second Law: The best way to confront the theocratic regime in Iran and all other dictatorships in the region is for the Iraqi experiment to succeed; that is something that is clearly understood by all around us, which explains their desperate efforts to abort this project. Therefore it is wise to concentrate on this matter and avoid opening new fronts at the moment.

Alaa’s Third Law: The United States of America has become the Sole Super Power in the world of today; and has been cast into this role almost despite itself; its success has been so unbelievably complete, especially after the dramatic collapse of the Soviet block, that it finds itself charged with such global responsibility that is almost unbearable and for which it may not be entirely prepared. Just look around you: which other nation has such armies and fleets and economic involvement spreading over the entire globe? Consequently America has become the obsession of friend and foe alike, world wide. Just listen to any standard discourse of our Arab commentators, for instance. You will hear the word America or something to do with America, in every other sentence; if not in each one. America is deified, demonized, believed to be the source of everything that is happening. My son once told me that one of his teachers (of wahabi sympathies) emphatically told his pupils in class, that it was America that caused the Tsunami that struck the shores of Asia. Ordinary American folk may not quite realize or understand this; it is rather like some of these fairy tales when some quite ordinary person finds himself crowned as King or something of the sort.

The question is this: Is the American political and social system really fit and prepared for such huge responsibility? That I shall leave to friends to ponder about.

Zeyad at Healing Iraq posts some samples of death threat letters. Most of them begin with the words, "In the name of Allah, the most merciful." (The Mesopotamian, Healing Iraq)

Glick: The gathering storm. Caroline Glick in the Jerusalem Post:
The clouds of the coming war are converging upon Israel. But our political and military leaders refuse to look up at the darkening sky.

The Russian bear has awakened after 15 years of hibernation. Under the leadership of former KGB commander President Vladimir Putin, Russia is reasserting its traditional hostility towards Israel.

On Tuesday, Russian military engineers landed in Beirut. Their arrival signaled the first time that Russian forces have openly deployed in the Middle East. In the past Soviet forces in Syria and Egypt operated under the official cover of "military advisers." Today those "advisers" are "engineers." The Russian forces, which will officially number some 550 troops, are tasked with rebuilding a number of bridges that the IDF destroyed during the recent war. They will operate outside the command of UNIFIL.

Mosnews news service reported on Wednesday that the engineers will be protected by commando platoons from Russia's 42nd motorized rifle division permanently deployed in Chechnya. According to the report, these commando platoons are part of the Vostok and Zapad Battalions, both of which are commanded by Muslim officers who report directly to the main intelligence department of the Russian Army's General Staff in Moscow. The Vostok Battalion is commanded by Maj. Sulim Yamadayev, who Mosnews refers to as a "former rebel commander." ...

Read the rest at the link. (JPost)

Commentary. I peviously speculated that North Korea may have timed the nuclear test to coincide with a Syrian offensive anticipated by some Israelis. The many, rapidly changing factors - from the uncertain response of China to the state of flux in the United Nations - will make the next stage of the Long War very critical and unpredictable.

Joe Katzman says, "Forget North Korea." (I'd like to.) To elaborate: 'The truth is that North Korea is an irrelevant bit player in this whole drama. The real player here is China. They have helped North Korea at every step, and North Korea's regime cannot survive at all without their ongoing food and fuel aid.' Read the rest for Joe's thoughts on the possible "finlandization" of South Korea, and what the US can do about China.

My own thoughts: I won't try to match wits with the smart guys on global security matters. What is going to matter for all of us in the long haul is building networks of trust with our fellow citizens to support the kind of values we want our governments to represent and defend in the world.