2008-04-22

73,380

Total hits to date on DiL - Blogger: 73,380.

Thank you, and keep 'em coming.

2008-04-20

Four Years

Tomorrow, April 21, marks four years of posting at Dreams Into Lightning and four years here on Blogger. The main site for this blog is now Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad, which has been in action for two years.

Since I started posting on TypePad, I've been cross-posting here more or less regularly, to maintain Dreams Into Lightning - Blogger as a backup and archive site.

I'm now going to discontinue my practice of copying identical posts from TypePad to Blogger. This site will remain up, but posting will be less frequent and will consist of summaries of, and links to, my most important posts at DiL - TypePad.

Thanks for visitng, and if you haven't done so yet, please bookmark Dreams Into Lightning - TypePad as the main location for this blog.

2008-04-15

Morning Report: April 15, 2008

Our friends in the Middle East lend a hand; Tehran top cop's friends get him jail time.

Iraqi army rescues British journalist in Basra. Talisman Gate:
Richard Butler, a British journalist working for CBS News, was auspiciously rescued today by an Iraqi Army unit that had been conducting a security sweep through a once-volatile Basra neighborhood—one that was until recently dominated by militants—in which he had been held captive since February 10.

I mean if any event could be seen as a send-up to how western reporters have covered Operation Cavalry Charge in Basra, then this would be it!

Instead of praying for Butler’s safety, instead of taking a stand on right and wrong, the foreign press threw their sympathies behind the outlaws; those western reporters did not hold candle-lit vigils for their kidnapped comrade, since professional solidarity can’t hold a candle to the venality of Bush hatred. It was far more important for these journalists to root for the Sadrist-related criminal cartels that are being targeted by the continuing military operations in Basra and elsewhere than to admit that Iraq may be fixing itself, and may not, after all, turn into the ‘fiasco’ they’ve been heralding with certainty for so long.


Tehran police chief jailed in sex scandal. That Iranian cop who was busted a couple of weeks ago with six naked women is heading to jail. Fox: 'Local media have reported that the police chief, Gen. Reza Zarei, was taken to jail after he was caught last month with six nude women by a police raid on an underground local brothel. He was also forced to resign. Local Web sites have also extensively reported the case in recent weeks.'

IraqPundit on Chalabi. IraqPundit: 'One of McClatchy's reporter wonders what Chalabi is doing at a funeral in Moktada's turf. Chalabi is welcome there for many reasons. He is welcome because he has been the liaison between the Sadrists and the government pretty much all along. And, he is welcome because the Middle East values a member of a prominent family paying respects at a funeral.' Read the full post at the link.

US, Israel link missile defense systems. Debka:
Israel requested the hook-up to the BMEWS for early warning to defend itself against Iranian missile attack. Tuesday, April 15, Iran’s deputy C-in-C Mohammad Reza Ashtiani threatened to eliminate Israel from “the scene of the universe” if it launches a military attack on the Islamic state.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report the system operates from three global centers – the US Thule Air Base in Greenland, where the 12th Space Warning Squadron is located; the Clear Air Force Station in Alaska and the British RAF long-range radar station at Fylingdales, Yorkshire, in England.

This is the third time Israel has been connected to the BMEWS. The first was in 1991 before the first Gulf War and the second in 2003 before the US invasion of Iraq. Then, Israel feared Iraqi missile attack, which indeed materialized in 1991. Now, US military sources interpret the request as signifying Israel’s sense of the need to prepare for an Iranian missile attack in the not-too-distant future.

Such an attack could develop from a US or Israeli strike against Iran, or any war situation involving Israel, Syria or Hizballah. Tehran might also stage a pre-emptive strike if early intelligence was received of an impending US or Israeli attack on Iran, Syria or Hizballah.


Commentary. The Belmont Club links Michael Totten's article on Fallujah, "Iraq's meanest city".
The results of the Anbar Awakening and the surge are plain to see. Since the Fifth Marine Regiment’s Third Battalion rotated into Fallujah in September 2007, not a single American has been wounded there, let alone killed. Hardly anyone even tries to start a fight now. A handful of people have taken potshots at Marines; one man threw a hand grenade in the neighborhood of Dubat; some fool blew himself up when the Iraqi police caught him planting an IED outside their station. Every attack has been ineffective. Of all Iraq’s cities, only nearby Ramadi has experienced so many dramatic changes in so short a time.

Go read it all.

2008-04-14

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.

2008-04-11

Morning Report: April 11, 2008

The Iran regime's long-range missiles, and plans; French hostages freed; and a litigious Canadian issues threats.

The Times: Iran's secret long-range missile site revealed. Via Israel Matzav, The Times publishes photos of an Iranian long-ramge missile site:
The secret site where Iran is suspected of developing long-range ballistic missiles capable of reaching targets in Europe has been uncovered by new satellite photographs.

The imagery has pinpointed the facility from where the Iranians launched their Kavoshgar 1 “research rocket” on February 4, claiming that it was in connection with their space programme.

Analysis of the photographs taken by the Digital Globe QuickBird satellite four days after the launch has revealed a number of intriguing features that indicate to experts that it is the same site where Iran is focusing its efforts on developing a ballistic missile with a range of about 6,000km (4,000 miles).

A previously unknown missile location, the site, about 230km southeast of Tehran, and the link with Iran's long-range programme, was revealed by Jane's Intelligence Review after a study of the imagery by a former Iraq weapons inspector. A close examination of the photographs has indicated that the Iranians are following the same path as North Korea, pursuing a space programme that enables Tehran to acquire expertise in long-range missile technology.

An analyst at Jane's estimates the Iranian regime to be about five years away from developing a 6,000-km-range missile. The US is negotiating with Poland and the Czech Republic over missile defense systems. Go to Carl's post at Israel Matzav for more, and to find out why Carl says, 'I wonder what makes Putin think he's not sealing his own death warrant by providing Iran with nuclear fuel.'

Sarkozy: Pirates release French hostages. CNN: 'The 30 hostages held on a tourist yacht by pirates off the coast of Somalia have been released, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Friday.' Debka adds: 'The announcement by president Nicolas Sarkozy did not disclose if ransom was paid. His statement voiced deep gratitude to the French armed forces. The pirates seized the luxury yacht Le Ponant as it crossed the Gulf of Aden and sailed to the Somali coast, mooring near Garacade. France dispatched a warship and a special force for standby at Djibouti. Twenty-two of the crew were French, including 6 women; the rest Ukrainian and Korean.'

Iraq contractor employees testify of alleged rapes. Fox:
A woman who says she was raped while working for a foreign contractor in Iraq detailed the experience in a congressional hearing as another woman who made similar allegations before Congress last year listened and fought back tears.

Dawn Leamon said Wednesday at a Senate subcommittee hearing she was sodomized and forced to have oral sex by a soldier and a co-worker after drinking a cocktail that made her feel strange.

She worked as a paramedic for Service Employees International Inc., a foreign subsidiary of KBR Inc., at Camp Harper near Basra, Iraq. Leamon said the base frequently came under rocket attack.

Read the rest at the link.

Richard Warman sues Ezra Levant. Ezra Levant:
Today I was sued by Richard Warman, Canada’s most prolific – and profitable – user of section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. As readers of this site know, Warman isn’t just a happy customer of section 13 and its 100% conviction rate, he’s a former CHRC employee, an investigator of section 13 thought crimes himself. In fact, he was often both a customer and an investigator at the same time.

Being sued by Warman is like being sued by the CHRC

It’s impossible to criticize section 13 without criticizing Warman, because without Warman, section 13 would have been defunct years ago – almost no-one else in this country of 33 million people uses it. I’d call it “Warman’s Law”, but I’ve already given that title to another law enacted because of Warman. Warman’s Law is a law brought in by the B.C. government specifically to protect libraries from Warman’s nuisance defamation suits. (We should find some way to set up a Warman’s law to protect universities from Warman, too.)

Warman doesn’t just “use” section 13. As I’ve documented here before, he actively interferes with other CHRC investigators working on his complaints. For example, he called up Hannya Rizk, a fellow investigator he trained, and told her to improperly withhold information from the person Warman had complained about; he told Rizk to slow down her work to fit his other plans; he tried to get Rizk to improperly disclose confidential information about cases to third parties.

And then there’s Warman’s direct interference in the investigation of his own complaints – wandering right into the CHRC offices, hopping right on investigator’s computers, using their passwords, and just having a ball – violating not only privacy and confidentiality, but the integrity of the CHRC’s evidence – not that such sloppiness has detracted from their 100% conviction rate.

Warman isn’t solely responsible for the corruption of the CHRC, of course – he couldn’t get away with his antics without the cooperation and even encouragement of the rest of the CHRC staff ...

Other targets include Small Dead Animals, Five Feet of Fury, and Free Dominion.

Sistani: Law is the only authority. Bill Roggio at the Long War Journal:
With the Iraqi government applying pressure to the Sadrist movement and Muqtada al Sadr to disband the Mahdi Army, Iraq’s senior Shia cleric has weighed in on the issue. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the most revered Shia cleric in Iraq, backed the government’s position that the Mahdi Army should surrender its weapons and said he never consulted with Sadr on disbanding the Mahdi Army. Instead, the decision to disband the Mahdi Army is Sadr’s to make.

Sistani spoke through Jalal el Din al Saghier, a senior leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a rival political party to the Sadrist movement. Saghier was clear that Sistani did not sanction the Mahdi Army and called for it to disarm.

"Sistani has a clear opinion in this regard; the law is the only authority in the country," Saghier told Voices of Iraq, indicating Sistani supports Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki and the government in the effort to sideline the Mahdi Army. "Sistani asked the Mahdi army to give in weapons to the government."

Sadr did not consult with Sistani on the issue of disbanding the Mahdi Army, disputing a claim from Sadrist spokesmen who intimated Iraqi’s top cleric told Sadr to maintain his militia. "The top Shiite cleric had not been consulted in establishing the Mahdi Army, so [he] could not interfere in dissolving it,” Saghier said. “Whosoever established the al-Mahdi army has to dissolve it; Sayyed Muqtada al-Sadr established this army and it is only him who has to dissolve it."

The Belmont Club quotes Amir Taheri:
Amir Taheri in the New York Post claims that that Maliki's actions against Sadr were a spoiling attack timed to break up a "Tet Offensive"-style operation designed to grab headlines in the crucial period before General Petraeus was due to testify before Congress. Teheran was counting on simultaneously seizing key communities in the belief that America would not have the reserves to intervene nor Maliki the nerve to act on his own. It was, Taheri writes,

a gamble that proved too costly. That's how analysts in Tehran describe events last month in Basra. Iran's state-run media have de facto confirmed that this was no spontaneous "uprising." Rather, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) tried to seize control of Iraq's second-largest city using local Shiite militias as a Trojan horse. ...

The Iranian plan - developed by Revolutionary Guard's Quds (Jerusalem) unit, which is in charge of "exporting the Islamic Revolution" - aimed at a quick victory. To achieve that, Tehran spent vast sums persuading local Iraqi security personnel to switch sides or to remain neutral.

The Belmont Club concludes that
What recent events really signify is that Maliki, not Iran's Khamenei, is the master of southern Iraq, or at least that the control of southern Iraq is now in dispute between the two. This means that there are now two political power centers in the Shi'ite arc. One center is based in Teheran and the other is based in Iraq. While the hard reality of a properous Kurdistan and the presence of a Sunni population whose insurgency was only so recently beaten (and which may flare up upon provocation) means that the Shi'ites can never control all of Iraq, southern Iraq is now the locus of an alternative polity within Shi'ism. Thus, Iran's failed gamble is not only a foreign defeat for the Qods; it is a domestic political setback for the theocracy.


Commentary. Via Instapundit, NYT reports that the best remedy for radical Islam is exposure to radical Islam.