Rice meets Syrian FM. The Standard: 'Two days after George W. Bush criticized Syria as a state sponsor of terror in a speech at the United Nations, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem in New York. The meeting was first reported in the Syrian state press which noted that it took place at Rice's request. Mouallen told Al Hayat that the meeting represented a softening of the US position on Syria. It's a fair reading. ...' Continue reading at the link. Key quote: "The new Bush Doctrine: You are either with us or against us. Or both. Whatever." More at Commentary section below.
Debka: Russian nuclear missile cruiser to dock at Syrian port on Erev Yom Kippur. Debka:
Russian Navy spokesman Capt. Igor Dygalo disclosed Wednesday, Oct. 1, that a four-ship squadron led by the Peter the Great nuclear missile cruiser will call in at the Libyan port of Tripoli and “other Middle East ports” before heading out to the Caribbean for joint maneuvers with Venezuela.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that one of those ports is Tartus, Syria, where preparations are afoot to receive the visiting Russian flotilla.
Peter the Great , one of the most advanced naval vessels afloat, may in fact anchor at the new facility the Russians are building at Syria’s second major port, Latakia, for its first visit to Syria; the rest of the squadron, the Admiral Chabanenko submarine, a reconnaissance vessel and a fourth ship, will dock at Tartus.
Peter the Great is designed to sink large surface vessels such as aircraft carriers. The ship’s Granit (Nato designated SS-N-19 Shipwreck) anti-ship cruise missiles (20 missile launchers) can destroy vessels up to 500 km distant in ripple-fire mode.
An S-300F defense missile complex is installed on Peter the Great , with 12 launchers and 96 vertical launch air defense missiles.
The Navy spokesman in Moscow said the Russian warships will perform maneuvers in the Mediterranean, without adding details. They will pass through the Strait of Gibraltar Sunday, Oct. 5, visit Tripoli next and on Oct, 8 or 9, put in at a Syrian port.
More at the link.
Pirates who seized Iranian ship show radiation poisoning signs. The Long War Journal, in an article referenced by Fox, notes:
A tense standoff is underway in northeastern Somalia between pirates, Somali authorities, and Iran over a suspicious merchant vessel and its mysterious cargo. Hijacked late last month in the Gulf of Aden, the MV Iran Deyanat remains moored offshore in Somali waters and inaccessible for inspection. Its declared cargo consists of minerals and industrial products, however, Somali and regional officials directly involved in the negotiations over the ship and who spoke to The Long War Journal are convinced that it was heading to Eritrea to deliver small arms and chemical weapons to Somalia's Islamist insurgents.
Fox has this:
As Somali pirates brazenly maintain their standoff with American warships off the coast of Africa, the cargo aboard one Iranian ship they commandeered is raising concerns that it may contain materials that can be used for chemical or biological weapons.
Some local officials suspect that instead of finding riches, the pirates encountered deadly chemical agents aboard the Iranian vessel.
Notice that there's no mention of nuclear material here. A little farther down, though, the article says:
Chemical experts say the reports sound inconsistent with chemical poisoning, but may reflect the effects of exposure to radiation.
"It's baffling," said Jonathan Tucker, a senior fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. "I'm not aware of any chemical agent that produces loss of hair within a few days. That's more suggestive of high levels of radioactive waste."
The Bald-Headed Geek comments: 'If so, that means that the Iranians are apparently in the business of exporting things that could clearly be used in terrorist attacks (likely against us or our allies). If so, the Iranians have gone way over the line from just being a hostile adversary. They are now bordering on something much more ominous and dangerous, not only for us but for the world at large.'
McCain in the Blade. Via Log Cabin Republicans, the Washington Blade has a Q&A session with Senator John McCain on lesbian and gay issues.
Iraqis clean up Jewish cemetery in Basra. Gateway Pundit:
Iraqi-American and friend Haider Ajina sends this wonderful news from Azzaman news service in Iraq:
Cleaning up of Jewish cemetery in Basra
By Abed Battat
Azzaman, September 28, 2008
Municipal authorities in the southern city of Basra have mounted a campaign to clean up the Jewish cemetery there. The cemetery is seen as one of Basra’s ‘cultural landmarks’ and the authorities want to keep it clean and tidy, said Ahmad al-Yasseri who heads the cleaning-up campaign.
There are no Jews left in the city which used to house a sizeable Jewish community of tens of thousands before the creation of Israel in 1948. They were the finest goldsmiths and the most adventurous traders of Basra, known as the Venice of the Middle East. The lived in one of the city’s smartest (English use means nicest) quarters with spacious villas adorned with palm trees and oranges.
Yasseri said in the tumultuous post-Saddam period, 62 houses were built on the cemetery grounds illegally. “This cemetery is one of the cultural landmarks of Basra and we are determined to remove the illegal dwellings,” he said.
Read the rest at the link.
Commentary. Tony Bey breaks out his decoder ring and deciphers Mouallem's cheery talk of "security cooperation":
Decoder, please. The key term here is "security cooperation." Once you understand what this means, the statement's sinister implications become clear. To understand the reference points, whenever you hear that term, "cooperation," uttered by a Syrian official, always think along the lines of the "Treaty of Brotherhood, Cooperation and Coordination" that the Syrian regime forced upon a vassal Lebanon under the boot of Syrian military occupation in 1991. That Treaty essentially codified the complete Syrian domination and dictating of Lebanese affairs. That's Assad's view of "normal" relations with Lebanon. As he put it earlier in the year, and again to recent visitors, the normal state of these relations, in Assad's mind, is "how they were a few years ago" -- i.e., when Syria military occupied Lebanon.