Petraeus addresses troops. MNF-Iraq:
To the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Civilians of Multi-National Force-Iraq:
We serve in Iraq at a critical time. The war here will soon enter its fifth year. A decisive moment approaches. Shoulder-to-shoulder with our Iraqi comrades, we will conduct a pivotal campaign to improve security for the Iraqi people. The stakes could not be higher.
Our task is crucial. Security is essential for Iraq to build its future. Only with security can the Iraqi government come to grips with the tough issues it confronts and develop the capacity to serve its citizens. The hopes of the Iraqi people and the coalition countries are with us.
The enemies of Iraq will shrink at no act, however barbaric. They will do all that they can to shake the confidence of the people and to convince the world that this effort is doomed. We must not underestimate them.
Together with our Iraqi partners, we must defeat those who oppose the new Iraq. We cannot allow mass murderers to hold the initiative. We must strike them relentlessly. We and our Iraqi partners must set the terms of the struggle, not our enemies. And together we must prevail. ...
Read the rest here. (MNFI)
Bill Roggio: Baghdad OOB. The Fourth Rail puts together a picture of the order of battle in Baghdad, from open-source material. 'The plan is to split Baghdad into two subcommands (Divisions) east and west of the Tigris River. An Iraqi Army general has assumed command of the overall operation, with U.S. units in support. The U.S. has devoted 9 combat Battalions plus Training Teams and Quick Reaction Forces, about 17,500 troops, to augment the 10 Iraqi Army combat Brigades, 8 Iraqi National Police Brigades and local police forces. The U.S. battalions will pair up with the Iraqi Army Brigades and police units, and establish approximately 30 Joint Security Stations (JSS) within the neighborhoods. From the JSS, US, Iraqi Army and police forces will maintain a permanent presence in the neighborhoods, conduct patrols and direct reconstruction projects.' Go to the link for full post, and a map. (TFR)
Khalid Hasan blasts Pakistani televangelists. Via ThreatsWatch, Pakistani expat Khalid Hasan takes on Pakistan's TV fundies, who get piped in via satellite to Pakistanis living abroad: 'The religious programmes are so dark and grim that one would have to have strong faith to remain in the flock after watching them. There you have these people, masquerading as divines and theologians, as authorities on the word of God and all that has been revealed to man. They never smile. They only deliver themselves of chilling warnings to those who stray from the path, a path that they credit God with having laid down, but of which the Almighty is quite innocent.' Go read it all. (Pakistan Daily Times via TW)
Evidence of Iran's role unveiled. Counterterrorism Blog:
"(O)ne of six Iranians detained in January in a raid on an office in the northern city of Irbil was the operational commander of the Quds Brigade, a unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards that trains and equips Shiite militants abroad. He was identified as Mohsin Chizari, who was apprehended after slipping back into Iraq after a 10-month absence, the officer said. The Iranians were caught trying to flush documents down the toilet, he said. Bags of their hair were found during the raid, indicating they had tried to change their appearance, he added. He said the dates of manufacture on weapons found so far indicate they were made after fall of Saddam Hussein -- mostly in 2006. He said the "machining" on the components was traceable to Iran but did not elaborate."
For the first time, American officials were able to quantify the casualties resulting from Iranian-made armaments: "Sophisticated Iranian-built bombs smuggled into Iraq have killed at least 170 US and allied soldiers since June 2004 and wounded 620 more, senior US defence officials have said. Iran is involved in supplying explosively formed projectiles or EFPs and other material to Iraqi extremist groups." And the briefing included a description of the route used by Iranian agents to smuggle the weapons into Iraq: "The U.S. officer said Iran was working through 'multiple surrogates' -- mainly 'rogue elements' of the Shiite Mahdi Army -- to smuggle the EFPs into Iraq. He said most of the components are entering Iraq near Amarah, the Iranian border city of Meran, and the Basra area of southern Iraq."
Also on the Iran/Iraq front, Debka has this:
Iran sends shoulder-borne QW-1 anti-air missiles to Iraqi Sunni insurgents and Hizballah to shoot down US and Israeli helicopters.
DEBKAfile’s sources in Tehran and Kurdistan disclose that, last month, two Iranian QW-1 and SA-7 missile consignments reached Iraqi insurgents allied with al Qaeda and one, radical Shiite Moqtada Sadr’s Shiite militia, the Mehdi Army. Israeli sources report the same anti-air weapons were delivered at about the same time to Hizballah units in Lebanon including the south.
Our military sources add that Iran’s arms industry has succeeded in replicating a quality version of the Chinese QW-1 and improved its electronics. It is 1.447meters long and packs 16.5 kilos of explosives. The IDF estimates that the first of these missiles used experimentally by Hizballah caused an Israeli helicopter to explode during take-off near the Litani River in the Lebanon War last summer.
Iranian markings have been erased from the equipment going into Iraq and Lebanon to suggest they were bought on the black market. Dated Soviet-era models of the SA-7 were indeed bought by Iran on Far East black markets and supplied to Iraqi insurgents and also pro-Tehran governors in western Afghanistan. Iran is preparing the ground for a Shiite insurgency against NATO forces there.
According to our sources, all three consignments to Iraq went through the North Iraqi Kurdistani town of Suleimaniya not far from the Iranian border. An Iranian clandestine center operates there like “the liaison center” the Americans raided in another Kurdish town, Irbil, last month. The Suleimaniya center operates with permission from Iraqi’s Kurdish president Jalal Talabani.
They weapons were smuggled in concealed compartments of trucks transporting building materials and iron from Iran for a Kurdish building company. After unloading their legitimate freight, the trucks drove on south up to the regional border where Iraqi insurgents off-loaded the missiles to their vehicles and distributed them to their networks in Baqouba, Ramadi and Tikrit – north of Baghdad and Hilla to the south.
Full posts at the links. (CTB, Debka)
ODIE on UAE. Or Does It Explode links to two views of the United Arab Emirates. Faisal Devji at FT: 'Dubai is a technocracy, its ruling family the simulacrum of a monarchy. Having been granted their titles by the British in India, the UAE's rulers derive their glamour from the vanished world of the Raj, while functioning like presidents of corporations. Democracy is misplaced in Dubai, being possible only in a community of citizens. To confine democracy to the small minority of Emiratis is nonsensical and to offer citizenship to the country's majority absurd. Democracy means citizenship, citizenship means nationality and nationality means the creation of a majority. There is no ethnic, linguistic, religious or even political majority in Dubai, nor can there ever be one given its total reliance on a migrant and expatriate workforce.' Youssef Ibrahim in the Sun: 'Even the fabulously oil-rich cannot buy that yearning of the mind and soul called culture with a fistful of dollars. For years now, Gulf Arabs have confused modernity with tall buildings, sophistication with the ability to trade on the New York Stock Exchange, and true education with the construction of gleaming, albeit vacuous, campuses.' Go read it all. (ODIE)
Elie Wiesel attacked in San Francisco. SF Examiner: 'A man who approached Nobel Peace laureate and Holocaust scholar Eli Wiesel seeking an interview at a San Francisco hotel last week later roughed him up, police said. Police are investigating the incident in which they say a man, who may have been a Holocaust denier, approached Wiesel in an elevator at a peace forum at the Argent Hotel Feb. 1 and requested an interview. When Wiesel consented to talk in the hotel's lobby, the man insisted it be done in a hotel room and dragged the 78-year-old off the elevator on the sixth floor, police Sgt. Neville Gittens said.' Police said a man posting at an anti-Semitic website registered in Australia claimed credit for the attack. Pro-Semite Undercover has a thread on it. (Examiner, PSU)
Mecca accords reviewed. Debka sees the Mecca accords between the two main Palestinian factions as having two main results: the ascendancy of Hamas over Fatah, and Riyadh's replacement of Tehran as the Palestinians' chief sponsor.
At Mecca, the Saudi monarch had quite different fish to fry: the replacement of Tehran as Hamas’ senior financier and backer. To this end, he dictated a reshuffle in both rival Palestinian groups, Hamas and Fatah.
The Damascus-based hard-line Khaled Meshaal, who had signed a pact with Tehran, was demoted, as was the second signatory of the Palestinian reconciliation package, the moderate, pro-Western Mahmoud Abbas. Raised in their place was prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, leader of Hamas’ political wing. Abbas’ ally, Gaza Strip Fatah commander Muhammad Dahlan, can expect a senior post in the Hamas-led government. Another winner is his business partner, the Palestinian-Kurdish tycoon Muhammad Rashid, who has turned his coat at least twice in two weeks while jostling to regain the influence he enjoyed behind the shoulder of the late Yasser Arafat who died in 2004.
...The Saudi king and the Hamas prime minister agreed on a six-point plan for subsequent incorporation as the core of the Mecca accord:
1. A shared interest in weakening Israel and active collaboration to achieve this goal;
2. This collaboration is based on personal trust between Abdullah and Haniyeh. As middlemen, they appointed Saudi intelligence chief Prince Moqrin bin Abdulaziz and the Palestinian Muhammed Rashid...
3. The Saudi throne endorsed Ismail Hanya as Palestinian prime minister on condition that he introduced members of the Fatah young guard, led by Dahlan, to key government positions. This group of factions, which includes the suicidal al Aqsa Suicide Brigades, aspires to take Fatah over from the veteran leaders including Mahmoud Abbas;
4. King Abdullah personally guaranteed full Saudi diplomatic, military and financial support for the Hamas-led Palestinian government;
5. Hamas government members would not be required to recognize Israel or previous peace agreements. No mention was made of violence against Israel or the renunciation thereof;
6. The most pressing goal in Riyadh’s sights was Haniyeh’s personal guarantee to scale down in stages the Iranian and Hizballah presence in Hamas ranks with a view to banishing both from the Gaza Strip. Prince Moqrin is in charge of the quiet understandings accompanying this point of agreement, which also contains a Saudi pledge to take the place of Shiite Tehran and Hizballah by paying for all the weapons and military instructors the Palestinian group needs.
Riyadh thus reverted to its original role as the founder and banker of Hamas, which the Saudis created in the 80s as a Sunni counterweight to the Shiite Hizballah.
Debka adds that 'No reaction has been forthcoming from Washington to the foursquare financial, military and intelligence backing Saudi Arabia has granted the extremist, jihadist Hamas, with no strings attached. The heads of Israel’s government have clearly not yet digested the fact that an Arab power which its policy-makers had counted on as a moderating, pro-Western Arab force had proved to be the opposite of this.' The Belmont Club comments: 'If the West is brought under Sharia law it will have no excuses. It will hardly be possible to argue that its leaders were deceived. That, like Neville Chamberlain, they let their idealism get the better of them. No excuse except plain illiteracy can explain the inability to comprehend this blatant statement of intent. "We have agreed with the Saudis to market this agreement internationally. ... We will never recognize Israel. There is nothing called Israel," he told Reuters. "We, in the Hamas movement, will not abide by anything."' (Debka, Belmont Club)
Ilan Halimi goes home. Murdered in Paris, buried in Jerusalem, Ilan Halimi is finally at rest. Arutz Sheva: 'Murdered and tortured French Jew Ilan Halimi was reburied in Israel on Friday in an emotional ceremony at Jerusalem’s Har HaMenuchot cemetery. Halimi was kidnapped and brutally tortured for three weeks before being murdered on February 13, 2006 by Muslims. His family, acknowledging that Halimi’s murderers targeted him due to his being a Jew and because of his relationship with Israel, decided to transfer Halimi’s body for burial in Jerusalem. The move and reburial was facilitated by the Jewish Agency for Israel, which normally handles Jewish immigration from the Diaspora. Hundreds of mourners, including Halimi’s mother Ruth and sisters Yael and Anne-Laure, gathered at the cemetery in Jerusalem’s Givat Sha'ul on Friday - the Hebrew anniversary of Ilan’s murder. Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Absorption Minister Ze'ev Boim, Chief Rabbi of France Yosef Sitruk, French Ambassador Jean-Michel Casa, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Vice-Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein and many Jewish immigrants from France attended the ceremony.' (A7)
Commentary. Apparently the gentleman who "accosted" (in the Examiner's delicate language) Mr. Wiesel in San Francisco didn't get the memo about non-violent conflict resolution.
The Belmont Club's Richard Fernandez notes that 'Hamas understands that Western Pacifism must rule out coercion at all costs; that all it has to do is wait, and all, even Israel's extinction, will be delivered, abjectly, to its doorstep.' Or as the RockRose Institute explains: 'The greatest challenge facing our world in the 21st century will not be a conflict over resources, or culture, or ideology—it will be our inability to resolve those conflicts without violence.'