Morning Report: January 28, 2007

Iran gears up to go orbital (read: intercontinental) while the allies score successes in Iraq ... and may start scoring against Iranian troops soon. The BBC doesn't want you to know what's happening in England, but a Portland blogger has the scoop on Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Debka: Iran close to acquiring satellite launch capability. Debka: 'Iran is closer than ever before to the launch of a spy satellite by a BM25 ballistic missile, 18 of which were purchased from North Korea, notwithstanding Pyongyang’s denials of aid to Iran’s nuclear program. Allaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of the Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy commission, said last week that Iran had finished building a reconnaissance satellite and converted a ballistic missile into a space launcher. If this claim is correct, then Iran has a launcher able to put 300 kg into earth orbit - and by the same definition, an ICBM that could drop more than 300 kg anywhere in the world, including Washington DC. While the new Shehab 3ER can strike any part of the Middle East as far west as Turkey, according to the former head of the Israel Missile Defense Organization, Uzi Rubin, the BM25s with a range of up to 4,000 km can reach targets in Europe. Little is known about this missile. However, its conversion to a space launcher would produce an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) able to drop a payload weighing 300 km, the estimated weight of a reconnaissance satellite, anywhere in the world. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that Iran has just finished upgrading its Shehab series, adapting them to solid fuel.' (Debka)

ITM: Operation Baghdad to begin. Iraq the Model:
The head of one of the two city councils in Sadr city told AFP that he's ready to cooperate with the Iraqi forces in implementing the security plan. In the statement that appeared on al-Mada Kareem Hassan said "The presence of popular armed committees [Sadr militias] will end automatically when Iraqi forces enter the city because the need for the committees will cease to exist".

We talked earlier about insurgents and terrorists fleeing Baghdad to Diyala, and today there's another report about a similar migration, from al-Sabah:

Eyewitnesses in some volatile areas said that large numbers of militants have fled to Syria to avoid being trapped in the incoming security operations. According to those witnesses, residents and shopkeepers are no longer concerned about militants whose existence in public used to bring on clashes that put the lives of civilians in danger. A shopkeeper in al-Karkh [western Baghdad] said that many of them [militants] packed their stuff and headed to Syria to wait and see what the operations are going to be like. While experts consider this a failure in protecting the plan's secrecy which might lead to the loss of the surprise factor, they also say it indicates the seriousness and resolve in this plan that is already scaring away the militants. PM Maliki pointed out that seeing them run away is a good thing but he returned and said the security forces would chase them down everywhere after Baghdad is clear.

As we said in the last update, Maliki won unanimous support for his plan in the parliament and despite some opposition from the radical factions the major blocs are expressing their support and approval of the plan:

Spokesman of the Accord front Saleem Abdullah said after the session that the principles of the security plan have the approval of the front and "constitutes a quality leap toward serving Iraq's people". Hussein al-Sha'lan of the Iraqi bloc stressed on the importance of cooperation among political powers to ensure the success of the plan which he called "realistic and well-thought". Abdul Khaliq Zangana of the Kurdish alliance said the plan would deal a heavy blow to Iraq's enemies and put an end to the crimes of outlaws and their backers.

On the other hand citizens we talked to after the prime minister made his speech before the parliament say that there's no place for mistakes or weakness this time but they also seemed confident that Maliki has prepared the right tools for success.

Immediately after president Bush authorized the US military to capture and kill Iran's agents who are involved in the violence in Iraq, the Iranian Khalq [Mojahedin-e-Khalq, or People's Mujahidin - aa] opposition group released a list with the names of 31,000 Iraqis the group said are paid agents for Tehran operating in Iraq, story in the same report linked above. Jawad Dberan the spokesman of the national council of Iranian resistance, the political wing of Khalq duing a press conference in Germany, accused Tehran of sending weapons and millions of dollars in cash to Iraq every month. According to Azzaman which quoted from Jawad's statement, that list includes only elements who were directly recruited by the Quds force in Iran. The list is said to provide the Arabic and Farsi names of recruits, their monthly payment in Iranian money along with the code name they use during operations.

Full post at the link. (ITM)

How do you define "overreact"? The Belmont Club links to Bill Roggio's post on a possible Iranian connection in the Karbala attack, in which 'On January 20th, a team of twelve men disguised as U.S. soldiers entered the Provincial Joint Coordination Center in Karbala, where U.S. soldiers conducted a meeting with local officials, and attacked and killed five soldiers, and wounded another three.' So, are American soldiers now finally authorized to use deadly force to defend their own lives? (Belmont Club, The Fourth Rail)

BBC bans LGF. For a second time in as many days, Little Green Footballs has been banned from BBC message boards. What the BBC doesn't want its readers to know is that the Muslim Council of Britain forced the Bolton City Council (in Manchester, England) to shut down observance of Holocaust Memorial Day. Here's the item in Manchester News - Jewish Telegraph (UK):
IN A move widely seen to be bowing to Muslim pressure, Bolton Council has scrapped its Holocaust Memorial Day event.

The council is to replace it with a Genocide Memorial Day in June. This is in line with the policy of the Muslim Council of Britain, which continues to boycott HMD and is asking for a Genocide Day, which will also mark "the ongoing genocide and human rights abuses of Palestinians" by Israelis.

The council decision was made in consultation with the town's Interfaith Council.

But Rabbi Joseph Lever of United Synagogue who has participated in the Bolton event for around three years was not consulted on the decision. He said: "I mourn the fact that the Holocaust Memorial Day event will not take place in Bolton this year."

Louis Rapaport, president of the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester, was equally disappointed that the Jewish community was not consulted.

Second banning here. Before the thread was shut down by the BBC thought police, one commenter wrote:
Towards the end of last year I saw a BBC news report on the continuing anarchy in the Paris suburbs with protests by French police against the increasing number of attacks they were coming under. This was around three weeks after the same story first began circulating on the blogs.

By now all of us will have familiarised ourselves with the anodyne Mohammed cartoons that provoked such controversy last year - not through the MSM but through the blogosphere. Would any of us know about last years riots in Windsor, the Reuters fauxtography scandal or the home office ordering 12,000 nuclear protection suits for the Met over Christmas if it wasn't for the blogs? Do you know what one of the main uses of Polonium-210 is? Look it up on the internet because the recent Panorama programme didn't tell us.

And more recently have you heard about last week's conference in London hosted by the Mayor where Ken Livingstone was debating with Daniel Pipes on the topic of 'A World Civilisation or a Clash of Civilisations'? No? Didn't you hear about it on the BBC? Odd that, particularly since the debate was chaired by the Beebs own Gavin Esler.

However if you do rely on the BBC for your news coverage you will today know which Archbishop turned down an appearance on Celebrity Big Brother and that a photo of David Beckham slaying a dragon is on display at Disneyworld. You will also no doubt recall the story of motorists caught on CCTV driving into traffic bollards in Manchester and of the pelican that swallowed a pigeon. ...

More information at the links. And if you depend on the BBC for information, even about Britain, please consider adding Little Green Footballs to your browser bookmarks. (LGF)

Pelosi in Afghanistan; hears Karzai request more troops. Reuters: 'New U.S. House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi met senior Afghan leaders on Sunday, days after Washington announced a major boost in troops and money to bring peace after the bloodiest year since the Taliban's ouster in 2001.
Pelosi met President Hamid Karzai in Kabul, as well as other officials and U.S. military commanders.
She did not speak to journalists.' Houston Chronicle: 'The Afghan president told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that his security forces need to be stronger as the two discussed possible U.S. troop increases on Sunday, days after the Pentagon extended the tour of 3,200 soldiers, an Afghan official said. President Hamid Karzai stressed his desire for increased training and equipment for Afghanistan's fledgling army and police forces, the Afghan official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information publicly. Pelosi, D-Calif., and Karzai discussed plans announced last week by the Bush administration to ask Congress for $10.6 billion for Afghanistan, a major increase aimed at rebuilding the country and strengthening government security forces still fighting the Taliban five years after the U.S.-led invasion.' (Reuters, AP)

Kerry to Iranian regime: America is "international pariah". The ever-witty John F. Kerry, in a cordial meeting with former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami in Davos, Switzerland, declared that the United States has become "a sort of international pariah". Fox: 'DAVOS, Switzerland — Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry slammed the foreign policy of the Bush administration on Saturday, saying it has caused the United States to become "a sort of international pariah." The statement came as the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee responded to a question about whether the U.S. government had failed to adequately engage Iran's government before the election of hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005.' The Spirit of Man: 'Two idiots, one a very crazy mullah from Iran and one clueless senator from the United States, are chatting and thinking how to screw the world harder. Given the fact that Kerry has met with all enemies of the United States so far, this does not surprise me at all but what makes me feel terrible is that people like Sen. Kerry, and those who support him, are the most clueless people of this planet. They are not just ignorant, they are really dangerous to the world.' (various)

Bahrainis face jail for downloading articles. Or Does It Explode has the latest on Dr M. Al Sahlawi (Dentist, age 35) and Mr. H. Al Hebshi (Insurance sales executive, age 32), who were sentenced to seven years for downloading articles critical of the Bahraini government. Please take a moment to sign the petition. (ODIE)

The Tharwa Foundation. Amarji wants you to know about the Tharwa Foundation: 'Awareness, activism, empowerment, and education. These goals of the Tharwa Foundation are what direct its tireless efforts to develop and strengthen Muslim communities throughout the Mideast. The institution's Director, Ammar Abdulhamid, explains that one of the ultimate objectives is for individuals to make greater political strides, becoming more involved in their governments' futures, and to personally define what they expect from their fellow countrymen and themselves. This Maryland-based non-profit acts as the mechanism to help thousands of Muslims highlight cross-culture commonalities and set aside divergent ideologies. In operation since 2001, the Tharwa Foundation has outlined a number of exciting proposals, such as the Tharwa Institute for Leadership and Tharwa Radio & TV, to launch its business capabilities to the next level.' (Amarji)

Iranian women's rights activists arrested. Azarmehr: 'The following three Iranian women’s rights activists were arrested yesterday in Tehran's Imam Khomeini airport as they tried to attend a journalism workshop in New Delhi, India. They are held in the section 209 Evin Prison in Tehran. The three are Talat Taghinia, Mansoureh Shojaee and Farnaz Seifi. After the three were arrested at the airport, the security agents escorted them to their homes, searched their houses, and seized their personal belongings such as their computers, books and writings.' Azarmehr has a lot more to say about this. Go read the rest at the link. (Azarmehr)

Ich bin ein Israeli. YNet: 'Several hundred demonstrators marched to Berlin's Holocaust memorial Sunday to call for solidarity with Israel against threats from Iran's hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Some 700 people participated, in driving rain, some carrying Israeli flags and placards demanding that the international community "defend Israel."' (YNet)

100 terrorists killed in Diyala province. CENTCOM: 'WASHINGTON – U.S. and Iraqi forces killed 100 terrorists, detained 50, and dismantled a large terrorist group in January during Operation Turki Bowl, the senior U.S. Army officer in Iraq’s Diyala province said yesterday. The operation, conducted from Jan. 4 to 13, occurred south of Balad Ruz in the Turki Village, Tuwilla and 30 Tamuz areas of the province. During the operation, U.S. Army and Iraqi soldiers isolated and defeated a terrorist group known as “The Council,” Col. David W. Sutherland, commander of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, told reporters via satellite connection from a news conference in Iraq. “The group, made up of former Baath Regime members, al Qaeda and Sunni extremists, refused to participate in any political dialogue and preferred attacking innocent civilians in the Diyala province,” Sutherland said. The council killed as many as 39 civilians in one kidnapping and mass murder in November, he added.' (CENTCOM)

Petraeus supports troop increase. Also from CENTCOM: 'WASHINGTON – President Bush’s pick for command of Multinational Force Iraq today supported the new strategy for Iraq, emphasizing that additional U.S. forces are essential in accomplishing the mission there. “If we are to carry out the Multinational Force Iraq mission in accordance with the new strategy, the additional forces that have been directed to move to Iraq will be essential, as will greatly increased support by our government’s other agencies, additional resources for reconstruction and economic initiatives, and a number of other actions critical to what must be a broad, comprehensive, multifaceted approach to the challenges in Iraq,” Army Lt. Gen. David Petraeus said at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Petraeus was nominated Jan. 17 to be promoted to general and take over command of MNFI from Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., who has been nominated to become the Army’s chief of staff. ' (CENTCOM)

Iraqis, Coalition reestablish security on Haifa Street. MNF-Iraq: 'The company of Soldiers starts the day before the sun, knowing in the back of their minds that it is going to be a long day full of fire fights with the enemy. As grenades detonate around them and bullets fly by, they target the enemy and engage immediately, proving that “courage is the absence of fear.” For the second time in the past several weeks, Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division teamed up with Iraqi Army troops to take on insurgents on Haifa Street, in Baghdad’s Karkh district Jan. 24. The Haifa Street operation, dubbed Operation Tomahawk Strike 11, aimed to disrupt insurgents in order to establish security, said Capt. Isaac Torres, commander, Company C, 1-23 Inf. ' (MNFI)

Iraqi-led team finds torture house, weapons. MNF Iraq: 'Iraqi Police and Marines completed Operation Three Swords in an area south of Fallujah Tuesday. The purpose of the operation was to detain members of murder and intimidation cells within the rural area of Zaidon and the villages of Albu Hawa, Fuhaylat and Hasa. It was led by the Iraqi Police with support from the Marines of Regimental Combat Team 6 and Marines and soldiers of I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) Headquarters Group. During the operation, members of the Fallujah police Department and Coalition Forces discovered a torture house and rescued three individuals. Two of the hostages were transported and treated at Camp Fallujah. The third hostage was transported by helicopter to Camp Taqqadum for further treatment. Torture devices were found and confiscated. The house was demolished by Coalition Forces in order to remove the reminder of such violence from the landscape. Also, one of the victims asked that it be destroyed so that no one will ever be taken there and tortured like him.' (MNFI)

Commentary. Today's MR is pretty long - I haven't posted for a few days and I guess I'm trying to make up for lost time. I hope you get a chance to read at least some of the items, because (I know, you've heard me say this a zillion times) the information war is important. Well, it is.

But I'm fighting the information war from the comfort of my apartment in Portland. One infowarrior who isn't content to do that is Michael Totten. If you follow The Blog Which Shall Not Be Linked At The BBC, you might have already found Charles' link to Michael's latest post: "They had machine guns welded in windows." Here, addressing the question of whether or not Hezbollah used human shields, Michael recounts his interview with a pseudonymous Israeli soldier in a long-range patrol unit:
MJT: There is a controversy about whether or not Hezbollah was using the civilian population and infrastructure as shields, whether were hiding behind people and apartment buildings and the like.

Eli: Did they use populated areas to fire? It was clear that they did. Except Israel also dispersed flyers ordering all the civilian population of South Lebanon to leave. So it was in those villages after the, I don’t remember the date, except anyone who was in those villages was probably helping Hezbollah fighters.

MJT: Where in Lebanon was your unit?

Eli: We went all around the West. Opposite Metulla there’s all these villages called Hula, Abbasieh, Markaba, Jwayya. It was 15 kilometers in. So we would go in 15 kilometers, mark targets.

MJT: So you were marking targets yourself? What kind of targets were you marking? I was on the border at the end of the war, and I watched a lot of Israeli artillery being fired, but it was impossible to tell what you guys were shooting at.

Eli: I can’t explain exactly what we use, but we use very advanced scopes and thermal scopes and stuff like that so you can see exactly what’s going on in villages at night or during the day or whenever. We could see armed personnel walking around there, carrying big bags. So as long as they’re armed they are targets for us to mark, for Air Force and artillery.

MJT: The reason I ask what kind of targets you were marking is because the majority of people inside Lebanon think the Israelis were firing at civilians deliberately.

Eli: If you ask me what should have been done in the villages in Lebanon during this war, I think Israel wasn’t harsh enough. Now, I’m not right-wing, I’m not…I just think that if we are in a war…it’s like, if you play with fire, people get burned. There’s nothing you can do about it. These whole villages, they were empty, just filled with Hezbollah terrorists. They should have been totally wiped off the map. Except Israel left them standing. Many of our soldiers were killed because of that, so Israel wouldn’t be blamed after the war for war crimes and destroying civilian houses. ...

So today's overlong post has just gotten longer. What can I tell you? Go read the rest at the link. What I want you to know, and the reason I'm consuming so many pixels on your monitor this morning, is just how deep and depraved the double standard against Israel is in the mainstream media and the so-called "international community".