Morning Report: April 14, 2008

Clarity from Baghdad, confusion from Tehran, and hacking from Beijing.

India admits cyber threat. The big South Asian country has been the target of computer warfare attacks from ... well, you probably guessed it, but here's the story from Strategy Page:
April 14, 2008: India's become yet another major nation to admit that it has been under heavy Cyber War attack, from hackers that can be traced back to China. India has long been attentive to Internet security, mainly because they have been under constant attack by Pakistani and other Islamic hackers. But the Chinese efforts, when thorough audits were conducted, were found to be much more sophisticated and powerful. India probably got help, with the auditing, from American and European governments, who have suffered similar attacks over the last few years. The idea is apparently to get India on board with the informal worldwide anti-China Cyber War coalition. China appears to have turned its Cyber War forces loose on every major nation in the world, with the possible exception of Russia. The victims are looking for some security, and some payback.

Maliki turns up heat on Sadrists, sacks 1,300 deserters. Debka:
During the Basra offensive which prime minister Nouri al-Maliki launched March 25 against militias in the southern Basra province, more than 1,000 security troops, including a full infantry battalion, refused to fight their fellow Shiites of the targeted militias, or crossed the lines with their weapons to join them.

Since Maliki’s failed crackdown in the south, US and Iraqi forces have been battling Moqtada Sadr’s Shiite followers in Baghdad’s slum Sadr City.

Monday, April 14, Maliki ordered another crackdown, this one on gas stations and distributions centers in eastern Baghdad and the south, which are controlled by Sar’s Mehdi Army militiamen and a key source of their funding. ...

State Department rejects Fatah/Hamas unity government. Arutz Sheva: 'The American government rejects another unity Palestinian Authority (PA) consisting of both Hamas and Fatah factions, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters. Pressed on the issue because of Egyptian meditations between Israel and Hamas and Arab efforts to bring the rival parties together, he stated that Hamas must "renounce--turn awa--from violence [and] recognize previous agreements by the PLO, which includes recognizing Israel's right to exist. I haven't seen any indication that Hamas is prepared to meet those conditions."'

Bomb blast at Shiraz mosque. The Spirit of Man reports:
The top news today is the explosion in the city of Shiraz in southern Iran where more than 70 people injured and 10 killed so far. More here

The regime's Fars news agency reports (in Persian language) that the target of the bombing was an Islamic Shia religious center that has had anti-Bahai, anti-Wahhabi information sessions/meetings every Saturday night for the past few years.

Now my guess is that this could be done by the regime to increase the crackdowns against the religious minorities including Bahais and Sunnis. This is my best educated guess so far. I'll try to keep you posted on this as it unfolds. Please come back for further details. Regime has done such crimes to scare the Iranian people of a possible loss of authority in Iran. Scaring people of the day where Mullahs are gone and insurgency and explosions keep happening in Iran just like Iraq.

More information, with updates, at the post. Shiro-Khorshid Forever is following the incident closely with a lot of links, including this article from Payvand: 'welve people died and 191 others wounded at Shohada Hosseiniyeh mosque explosion in Shiraz, the capital of southern province of Fars, IRNA reported. ... A powerful explosion at Rahpouyan-e Vessal cultural center that is part of a mosque, located in a residential area of Shiraz, took place at around 9:00 pm (1630 GMT) Saturday during an evening prayer sermon by a prominent local cleric.'

Schwarzenegger, Bolton address Log Cabin in San Diego. Log Cabin Republicans:
(San Diego, CA)--Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) today for the first time pledged to oppose a proposed constitutional amendment to ban marriage for same-sex couples in California. In remarks to the Log Cabin Republicans National Convention in San Diego, Schwarzenegger predicted Californians would reject the amendment and said, “I will always be there to fight against that.”

“It’s a great day for the Republican Party and for all California families,” said Log Cabin President Patrick Sammon. “Gov. Schwarzenegger is a strong Log Cabin ally and a great friend for gay and lesbian people. His opposition to any anti-marriage amendment is great news. He will be an important voice against this effort.”

More at the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Commentary. The Belmont Club comments on the disaggregation (and thank you, Spell Check, "disaggregation" is a word) of those 1300 Iraqi troops as reported in the New York Times:
The New York Times argues that the dismissals are proof of failure. It writes, "the dismissals were an implicit admission of failures during the government offensive, which was widely criticized as being poorly planned" but go on to add that "they [the Iraqi Army] claim to have restored order to the streets, and the nearby ports vital to Iraq’s oil industry" and that "American officials ... praised the Iraqi forces’ progress in being able to move 6,600 reinforcements south to Basra so quickly".

Whenever one reads about an Army that purges its nonperforming personnel while able to secure its objects and demonstrating an ability to maneuver its forces the conclusion is normally the opposite of the NYT's diagnosis. Here is an Army that is has performed fairly enough but wants to do better. Here is an army that wants to learn.

IraqPundit has a few thoughts.

Now finally, here's a news item reporting that the US and Iran have been holding secret back-channel negotiations on the nuclear issue. Well, ho-hum. There have been leaks like this dribbling out for the last couple of years at least. What does it mean? Who knows?

I'll tell you this, though. I think that Debka - for once - has got it exactly right when they say that President Bush is playing his cards "very close to his chest". Here's Debka's report:
Certain prominent Americans have undertaken secret colloquy with Tehran and may be preparing to go public and make it official, with the administration’s blessing.

DEBKAfile’s Washington sources name them as Thomas R. Pickering, former ambassador to Moscow, the UN and Israel, William Luers, former envoy to Venezuela and the Czech Republic, and Jim Walsh, a New York Republican Congressman.

They have been quietly encouraged by Rice, defense secretary Robert Gates and influential quarters in the US military and intelligence elite, who are anxious to avert a US-Iranian military clash in the eight months remaining to the Bush presidency and cut the ground from under a possible US or Israel attack on Iran. ...

Overall, the signals are vague and confusing. Given the way things are going, an attack on Iran in the next few months looks very unlikely. If the US does attack Iran soon, I will be very surprised, and so, I'm sure, will the Iranians.

But maybe that's the idea.