Morning Report: January 27, 2008

The thugs in Tehran stay busy, Palestinian officials like to create a little atmosphere, and more.

And their beards have all grown longer overnight. The Spirit of Man: 'I want you, if you're a supporter of the Islamic regime of Iran, to explain to me how this vast banning of independent or so-called reformist candidates in Iran by the Islamic regime is a democratic move and can lead to freedom and democracy. How can you call Iran a democratic country when the mullahs don't even trust their own?! How is it democratic for the regime to ban those people it doesn't approve?' What's he on about? Here's the Telegraph on Ebrahim Lotf-Allahi:
The death of a student in the custody of Iranian intelligence officers has provoked outrage among opponents of the regime, who claim it is part of a concerted crackdown on dissent in the run-up to parliamentary elections.

Ebrahim Lotf-Allahi, a fourth year law student, was buried before his family could see his body.

They later discovered that the grave had been filled with cement, apparently to prevent his body being exhumed for medical examination.

Student leaders say 150 students have been arrested so far this year and 60 remain in prison.

Iranian authorities claim that Mr Lotf-Allahi committed suicide after he was arrested in the city of Sanandaj, but his is the second suspicious death in custody in the city in just over a month.

In December a young woman doctor, Zahra Bani Yaghoub, died after she was arrested for walking in a park with a man to whom she was not related.

Her family say that bruises on her body suggested she had been beaten while in custody.

And here's Reuters on Iran's purge: 'About 40 percent of the 7,200 people who have registered to run in Iran's March parliament election "have a record" with the authorities, a senior official said Monday, an indication they would not be allowed to run.' Amir Taheri has a few thoughts. 'The Council of the Guardians of the Constitution, a 12-man committee of mullahs and their legal advisers, this week rejected applications from nearly 4,000 men and women to run in the March 14 general election. Nearly all the denied applicants belong to the 21 groups designated by Western observers as "reformist" opponents of the ultra-radical President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The list of the rejected reads like a Who's-Who of politicians regarded by many in the West as "moderates" who would put the regime on a less confrontational trajectory. It includes individuals who served under Presidents Hashemi Rafsanjani and Muhammad Khatami, as well as scores of former members of the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis), the 290-seat ersatz parliament set up by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1980.' Read the rest at the link. Winston at The Spirit of Man quotes the following passage from Taheri:
More regime opponents were killed or thrown into prison under Rafsanjani and Khatami than under Ahmadinejad. And both "reformers" tried to export the Khomeinist revolution via agents and clients in many Muslim countries, especially in the Middle East.

Winston adds simply: 'Islamic regime reformers and hardliners have no differences. They're the same.' For the benefit of Farsi readers, I'm also including Winston's comments in Persian:

اسهال طلب و محافظه کار در جمهوری اسلامی با هم هیچ فرقی ندارند. همه مثل هم هستند و در جنایتهای این رژیم کثیف همدست و شریک. رای و رای گیری در این انتخابات نمایشی هم فقط به طول عمر این رژیم اسلامی و غیر انسانی کمک میکنه. یادمون نره که اسهال طلبهای امروزی همون افرادی هستند که از دیوار سفارت امریکا بالا رفتند و در اعدامهای دهه 60 نقش افرینی کردند. نباید به عناصر جمهوری اسلامی اعتماد کرد

Bangladesh Christian woman burned for seeking baptism. Muslims Against Sharia: 'DHAKA, BANGLADESH (BosNewsLife) -- A 70-year old woman remained in critical condition Sunday, January 27, in Bangladesh after suspected Muslim extremists reportedly tried to burn her alive to prevent her from being baptized as a Christian. Rahima Beoa, who was planning to be baptized on February 13 in Muslim-majority Rangpur district, 248 kilometers (154miles) northwest of the capital Dhaka, suffered burns on 70 percent of her body, reported Compass Direct News, a Christian news agency investigating reports of persecution.'

Barcelona terror plot foiled. Fausta: 'Fourteen men have been arrested in Spain for planning terrorist attacks in Spain, Portugal, France, and Germany. The operation was credited to Pakistani Islamist al-Qaeda warlord Baitullah Mehsud, the man behing Benazir Bhutto's murder.' Full details at the link, and don't forget to bookmark Fausta.

A solution to the Gaza crisis (that will never be implemented). Volokh:
Sixty years ago, when Egypt occupied Gaza, it refused to grant the local Arab residents, native Gazans and refugees from the Arab-Israeli war of 1947-48, citizenship. Instead, the Egyptian government intentionally cut them off from Egypt and kept them impoverished, so they could be used as a propaganda and military weapon against Israel. When Israel took over Gaza in 1967, it opened the border with Israel, providing tens of thousands of jobs for Gazans, and increasing the standard of living there dramatically, albeit from very low levels. After a wave of suicide attacks from Gaza, Israel gradually closed off the border with Israel, and finally closed it off entirely when Hamas took over last year. Meanwhile, Israel no longer occupies Gaza, and the population has sunken back into abject poverty.

With the Gazan's breach of the border with Egypt, and Egypt's refusal to use force to seal the border, things have come full circle. It's time to ask why Egypt, with 80 million people, can't grant Gaza's one million full Egyptian citizenship, and allow them to live in Sinai or even Cairo instead of being stuck in Gaza.

No mystery that one, I'm afraid. Michael Totten: 'It will never be implemented because it would require a more humane and intelligent world, and because it would threaten “the cause.” The well-being of the Palestinian people never really had much to do with that cause.'

Palestinian journalists admit candlelight parliament photo staged. Also from Totten, what's wrong with this picture? Khaled Abu Toameh at JPost: 'campaign to end the political and economic sanctions against the Gaza Strip, Palestinian journalists said Wednesday. In the first case, journalists who were invited to cover the Hamas government meeting were surprised to see Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and his ministers sitting around a table with burning candles. In the second case on Tuesday, journalists noticed that Hamas legislators who were meeting in Gaza City also sat in front of burning candles. But some of the journalists noticed that there was actually no need for the candles because both meetings were being held in daylight.'

IRI propagandist Shariatmadari: Supporting Israel will cost US property and lives. This and other pleasantries were the subject matter of an op-ed in Iran's daily Kayhan, according to MEMRI:
The slaughter being carried out by the Zionists in Gaza – which includes the mass murder of Palestinian men, women, and children, cutting off the electricity, water, and fuel, stopping the supply of medicines and food products – along with various other savage crimes, is disgraceful for the Zionists, and for America and its European allies.

"However, it is even more embarrassing and disgraceful for, first and foremost, the heads of several Islamic countries, [including] Egypt, that is insisting on adhering to the abject Camp David Accords and closing the Rafah border crossing [to the Palestinians]; for the cowardly and characterless rulers of Bahrain and the U.A.E., who awarded a prize to the murderer [i.e. President Bush] of the oppressed Palestinian people during his recent trip to the region; and for the Saudi [royal] family, that bears the appellation 'Custodian of the Two Holy Places' but is indifferent to the crimes and violations of the infidel Zionists in the Muslim holy places, and so on.

"But aren't most of the sensitive centers of the Zionists, of the Americans, and of some European states that support Israel already situated within the arms' reach of the Muslims? And aren't the Zionists [vulnerable] and located within arms' reach of the Muslims at the four corners of the earth?

Don't stop there; he's really on a roll. Go read it all at the link.

Surprise, asshole. Fox News: 'Saddam Hussein allowed the world to believe he had weapons of mass destruction to deter rival Iran and did not think the United States would stage a major invasion, according to an FBI interrogator who questioned the Iraqi leader after his capture. Saddam expected only a limited aerial attack by the United States and thought he could remain in control, the FBI special agent, George Piro, told CBS's "60 Minutes" program in an interview to be broadcast Sunday. "He told me he initially miscalculated ... President Bush's intentions," said Piro. "He thought the United States would retaliate with the same type of attack as we did in 1998 ... a four-day aerial attack." ' File that one under "Oops."

Memory lane. Azarmehr remembers the good old days of free speech in the UK. Just try that now.

Commentary. For President George W. Bush's final State of the Union address, Walid Phares at Conterterrorism Blog wants to hear the following:
* Define the enemy, clearly and strategically. For the changes in definitions over the past seven years have left the public in quest for a definitive knowledge about who are we fighting and why. The last year of the Presidency must help the next White House to engage in successful a war of ideas instead of a continuous search for the identity of the enemy.

* A vision as to the future of US role in Iraq and the strategies to follow.

* A vision as to the future of US role in Afghanistan and the campaign against al Qaeda and the Taliban including the measures to be taken regarding Pakistan's crisis.

* A plan regarding the [threats] developed by the Iranian and Syrian regimes and guidelines regarding Lebanon and Hezbollah.

* A platform regarding the Homeland Security strategy for the future and the threat of domestic Jihadism.

Now here's Small Wars Journal on training a hybrid warrior for tomorrow's world:
Speaking at the International Seapower Symposium on 17 October 2007, General Conway discussed the Marine Corps’ role in the new maritime strategy. Looking from the present to the years 2020-2025, the Commandant echoed oft repeated trends: that the average age in developed nations will continue to grow older while underdeveloped nations will grow younger, creating a population of military age males for whom employment opportunities will be scarce; that 75-80% of the world’s population will move towards an “urban sprawl” adjacent to a sea coast; and that state conflicts will continue to grow more rare as transnational and regional conflicts increase in scope and frequency. Largely due to these trends, the Commandant also spoke about the continuing likelihood of Marines being involved in complex irregular wars or what multiple experts have begun calling “hybrid” wars. (1)

As we enter the seventh year of “The Long War” the implications of these trends seem particularly significant, especially when, as the Commandant stated, one appreciates that a lot of “blue” exists on the map around the “Arc of Instability.” It may be that the fight ahead will include many “Small Wars,” fought amidst the remains of the old Islamic Caliphate. In the face of such a potential challenge, there has never been a more acute need for a “hybrid warrior,” possessing a mind capable of operating in timeless environments, conventional and irregular.

Okay, so much for your daily dose of doctrine. Now about today's items. Our friend Mr. Shariatmadari has helpfully illustrated Volokh's and Totten's point about the propaganda value of the Gaza strip. This is why those Palestinian MP's are willing to sit around looking like doofuses, lighting candles like it's a John Lennon memorial, and praying that the evil Jews don't take it into their crafty little heads to wonder why they've got the curtains closed in broad daylight.