2008-11-14

Morning Report: 2008-11-14

Unmistakable signs of progress, and a change of focus, in the war on terror.

"The war is over and we won." So says Michael Yon thru Instapundit:

Michael Yon just phoned from Baghdad, and reports that things are much better than he had expected, and he had expected things to be good. "There's nothing going on. I'm with the 10th Mountain Division, and about half of the guys I'm with haven't fired their weapons on this tour and they've been here eight months. And the place we're at, South Baghdad, used to be one of the worst places in Iraq. And now there's nothing going on. I've been walking my feet off and haven't seen anything. I've been asking Iraqis, 'do you think the violence will kick up again,' but even the Iraqi journalists are sounding optimistic now and they're usually dour." There's a little bit of violence here and there, but nothing that's a threat to the general situation. Plus, not only the Iraqi Army, but even the National Police are well thought of by the populace. Training from U.S. toops has paid off, he says, in building a rapport.

He says the big problem everybody is talking about now is corruption. But hey, we have that here, too. He'll be heading to Afghanistan next week. "Afghanistan is a bad situation, but on Iraq I can't believe things have turned out so well."


Voters more optimistic than ever about war on terror, Rasmussen says. Another grim milestone for the MSM: Rasmussen reports:

Voter confidence in the War on Terror has reached its highest level ever, with 60% now saying the United States and its allies are winning, according to the first Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey on the issue since Election Day. ...

Just 15% of voters say the terrorists are winning the War on Terror, which is the lowest level seen in tracking history dating back to April 2004. Another 18% say neither side is winning.

BTW, the paragraph at my ellipsis discusses lower voter confidence in "bringing the troops home from Iraq" during Obama's term, in case you were wondering. But that's a separate issue from winning or losing the WOT; and see Instapundit's comment. Shmuel Rosner at Commentary says: 'With more than two months until inauguration day–if these trends continue–it’s possible that all Obama will have to do by the time he takes the oath is to promise a continuation of Bush’s winning policies in Iraq.'

Britain to send 2,000 more troops to Afghanistan ... per request. The Telegraph:

The Government is considering sending extra reinforcements in order to meet an anticipated request from Barack Obama, the US president-elect, after he takes office in January, according to the BBC.

US strikes in Pakistan to continue. Bill Roggio at The Standard:

The U.S. military has struck yet again inside Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas. U.S. Predators hit an al Qaeda safe house in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan. Twelve people, including five “foreigners” were killed in the attack.
The strike occurred just one day after Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari protested the attacks. “It’s undermining my sovereignty and it’s not helping win the war on the hearts and minds of people,” Zardari said in an interview. On the same day, a spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry described the attacks as a “violation of international law.”
But the United States is stuck between a rock and a hard place on this issue. On one hand, the attacks risk destabilizing Pakistan’s government and turn Pakistanis toward the extremists. On the other, U.S. intelligence strongly believes al Qaeda has regrouped in the tribal areas and is actively plotting strikes against the West, using men with Western passports.

Commentary. Tony Bey recommends Michael Rubin's article at Forbes arguing against the strategy of trying to "pry Syria away from Iran". Rubin:

It is tempting to believe that U.S. diplomacy can flip Syria. The last rejectionist Arab state, Syria is a lynchpin not only in the Arab-Israeli peace process, but also in efforts to resolve Iraqi insurgency and Lebanese instability. Alas, as audacious as Obama's hope might be, Syria cannot be flipped. It may be fashionable to blame Bush for the failure to seize a Damascus olive branch, but the real problem has less to do with any U.S. administration and much more to do with Arab history and political culture.

For more than a millennium, Damascus, Baghdad and Cairo have competed for the leadership of the Arab world. ...

Diplomats seeking to flip Assad are asking him to commit political suicide. Syria has less than 20 million citizens to Egypt's 80 million; for Damascus to work in the same coalition as Cairo is to subordinate itself to it. Absent the crisis of resistance, Assad has little reason to justify rule by his Alawite clan, a minority Shiite sect, among a disenfranchised Sunni Arab majority.

Go read it all.

2008-11-13

Morning Report: 2008-11-13

A nervous Iranian regime tests a solid-fuel missile, while a naval blogger quashes speculation on a famous ship.

Straight talk on Iran ship. Information Dissemination clears up the scuttlebutt around that Iranian merchant ship, the MV Iran Deyanat:

Hijacked earlier this year off the coast of Somalia, the ship became the subject of wild speculation and conspiracy theory when a Somalian government minister claimed to Reuters that 16 pirates died attempting to open the cargo hold. A few more strange stories began popping up, including blisters, boils, and hair falling out of those exposed to the cargo of the ship.

At that point, the conspiracy theories became legand. Whether it was a dirty bomb to be used against Israel, nuclear cargo to be offloaded in Africa for Al Qaeda, or a simple case of illegal dumping of toxic materials by China off the coast of Somalia, something about the MV Iran Deyanat became perfect fodder. When the company that owned the Iran Deyanat got listed under sanctions due to ownership by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard 2 days before the rumors broke into the mainstream news, a legand was born.

And now?

Well, the MV Iran Deyanat popped up in the news again today, this time making port in Rotterdam. Not only was the ship deemed unsuspecting of any problems, but it underwent a normal inspection without issue and according to this news report, is tied up to bouy 29 without the necessity of extra security as the ship waits to unload cargo.

Galrahn hopes this will put the rumors to rest.

Iran tests missile, West's resolve. AP:

Barack Obama's first international "test" moved a bit closer to reality today, with Iran's test of a new, solid-fuel missile that can strike targets in Israel--and southeastern Europe--more accurately (and with less warning) than other missiles in Tehran's inventory.

Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammed Najjar identified the missile as the Sajjil, which was launched from a test complex western of Tehran. The two-stage system has a reported range of 1,200 miles, allowing it to reach targets as far away as Greece and Israel. Iranian officials claim that the Sajjil is Iran's first medium-range missile to use solid fuel technology, similar to that found in more advanced systems produced by Russia, China and the West.

While the test launch was a major step for Iran's missile program, it also represented another failure. U.S. defense officials report that th Sajjil suffered an engine failure in the early stages of its flight and traveled only 180 miles, less than 20% of its advertised range. Similar failures have also occurred in past launches of extended range versions of the Shahab-3, Tehran's first medium-range ballistic missile.

In From the Cold fills in the details:

Unlike the Sajjil, the Shahab-3 uses liquid fuel to power its engines. While liquid-fuel engines represent proven technology, they also pose operational problems. The missile must be fueled before launch, raising the potential for accidents--or detection by intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) systems. It can take up to an hour to fuel an older Iranian SCUD or Shahab-3 and in some cases, the missile must be elevated to firing position before the propellant and oxidizer can be loaded.

By comparison, solid fuel is stable and can be stored in the missile for extended periods of time. That decreases the "signature" associated with operations--you don't need oxidizer and propellant trucks following your launcher vehicle around the countryside. With a smaller signature, it becomes more difficult to spot (and interdict) missile operations.

That problem is further compounded by the rapid response time of solid fuel missile systems. With liquid fuel missiles, there is often a lag between the receipt of launch orders and the actual event, increasing the vulnerability of the weapon--and its crew--to enemy interdiction efforts. The problem is particularly acute in Iran's ballistic missile force; many of its Shahab-3 launchers cannot raise a fully-fueled missile, meaning that the airframe must be elevated prior to fueling operations.

Iran regime nervous. The Spirit of Man reports on unusual goings-on in Iran:

There are some weird things going on in Iran these days. And all these weird stuff are like the largest anti-riot drills in Tehran, testing new missiles and the Persian language Radio Farda reports that the Iranian regime has extended a national pardon for all military service deserters. This pardon acts like a recruiting drive for the regime armed forces since the military service in Iran is compulsory and desertion is a huge issue among the youth. Therefore all these stories make me believe that the regime is probably more nervous than ever. Are they expecting something?

More:

I reported yesterday about the Iranian regime's recent anti street riot drills that's taking place in Tehran. The 2nd day of these exercises are going on as I write. Though these drills are very interesting because it's important to ask why the Islamic regime is doing this 29 yrs after it is established. What are they afraid of after all these years?

Go to the link for photos.

Briefly noted. Belmont Club on inherently safe systems.

Commentary. Just in case you missed it, it's official: that thing where Sarah Palin supposedly thought Africa was a country was a hoax. Other than that, no comments for this morning.

2008-11-12

Morning Report: 2008-11-12

More reading of the Obama tea leaves.

A pragmatic President. The Wall Street Journal reveals that 'President-elect Barack Obama is unlikely to radically overhaul controversial Bush administration intelligence policies, advisers say, an approach that is almost certain to create tension within the Democratic Party.' Random Jottings muses on the future President's encounter with reality:

In advance, I spit with utmost contempt on all you leftists and "Democrats" who are going to shrug off Obama's doing the very same things that you howled in fake-outrage over Bush doing...

Gates to stay as Defense Secretary? This Ain't Hell:

The choice gives Obama a scapegoat to blame for every death in the War Against Terror from the first day of his Presidency. He can say that he tried to reach across the aisle and make a non-partisan selection, but that damned Republican screwed him to the wall. Knowing with some measure of certainty that there’ll be an attempt to terrorize us in the next year or so, it gives Obama an out for questions of whether he tried to stop the impending attack.

Meanwhile, anti-war folks want an anti-war defense secretary.

A future for Joe Lieberman? But I Am A Liberal:

If Obama was serious about “fixing” Washington, I have recently argued that he should not only keep Lieberman happy in the Democratic caucus, but let Lieberman hold is chairmanships as well. It looks like he may do just that.

Read the full post at the link.

Briefly noted. Richard Fernandez of The Belmont Club looks at buyer's remorse.

Commentary. I've observed before that people who are in power often behave differently than they do when they are out of power. Responsibility can have a sobering effect; accountability concentrates the mind wonderfully. The many far-left entities that helped propel the junior senator from Illinois to the White House may be dismayed to find that President Obama, like Henry the Fifth, suddenly wants to be a grown-up; and that Obama will disinherit them as swiftly as King Henry threw Falstaff under the bus.

The question before us is how a Chicago politician, unaccustomed to executive office but schooled in power and party politics, will take to being the most powerful man in the world.

Something tells me he will rather like it.

2008-11-11

Morning Report: 2008-11-11

This Veterans' Day post offers some tantalizing clues about the future Obama administration.

Obama on torture: "Upon review ...". Ace of Spades cites WSJ:

As a candidate, Mr. Obama said the CIA's interrogation program should adhere to the same rules that apply to the military, which would prohibit the use of techniques such as waterboarding. He has also said the program should be investigated.

Upon review, Mr. Obama may decide he wants to keep the road open in certain cases for the CIA to use techniques not approved by the military, but with much greater oversight.

Advisers caution that few decisions will be made until the team gets a better picture of how the Bush administration actually goes about gathering intelligence, including covert programs, and there could be a greater shift after a full review.

Ace adds: 'I say "appears" to be flopping because this has all the hallmarks of the other situations where he comes along in 8 hours and offers a "clarification".'

Robert Malley is baaack. Fernandez has the latest on the return of Robert Malley to the foreign policy arena.

Today, Arutz Sheva reported that the man who would not “play any role in the future” was dispatched by the President elect to the Middle East to outline Obama’s policy in the Middle East.

According to a report on Middle East Newsline, President-elect Barack Obama has dispatched his “senior foreign policy adviser”, Robert Malley to Egypt and Syria to outline Obama’s policy on the Middle East.

Malley reportedly relayed a promise from Obama that the United States would seek to enhance relations with Cairo and reconcile differences with Damascus.

“The tenor of the messages was that the Obama administration would take into greater account Egyptian and Syrian interests,” an aide to Malley was quoted as saying. The aide said Obama plans to launch a U.S. diplomatic initiative toward Syria. Malley met both Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad “to explain Obama’s agenda for the Middle East.”

Nowhere is the United States more deeply hated than Egypt and Syria. The interesting question is whether the “greater account” given to these countries by Malley will come at the expense of one of the few countries in the region in which the US is popular.


Briefly noted. Iran News Round Up by Ali Alfoneh, Ahmad Majidyar, and Michael Rubin; all links in Farsi except as noted.

Commentary. This morning's Commentary section is dedicated to the theme of "ODS watch". First, here's some wisdom from last week's post by ShrinkWrapped:

The idea that Barack Obama's election is going to usher in the long, dark night of fascism in America is troubling. I have no doubt that there are groups and individuals on the far left who would like nothing more than to form the nidus of an American brown shirted militia, but we are a very long way away from such an eventuality.

Now leading the rabid paranoid pack is Rep. Paul Broun (R-Georgia), one of the crowd Charles at LGF aptly calls black helicopter Republicans

“That’s exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it’s exactly what the Soviet Union did,” Broun said. “When he’s proposing to have a national security force that’s answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he’s showing me signs of being Marxist.” ...

“We can’t be lulled into complacency,” Broun said. “You have to remember that Adolf Hitler was elected in a democratic Germany. I’m not comparing him to Adolf Hitler. What I’m saying is there is the potential.”


There are plenty of reasons to question Obama’s offhanded campaign promise to create a civilian force as powerful and well-funded as the US military, but there’s really no need to Godwin ourselves out before the guy even takes office.

And what would a tinfoil-hat conspiracy theory be without its truthers?

AUSTIN — State Board of Education member Cynthia Dunbar isn't backing down from her claim that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is plotting with terrorists to attack the U.S.

I shouldn't have to say this, but apparently it needs to be said: We can criticize Obama all we want, and I expect to do plenty of it. But there's no need to try to outdo the left-wingnuts with a conservative "Obama derangement syndrome". Heck, the man hasn't even taken office yet. It's too a little too early to declare a national holiday - or an apocalypse.

2008-11-10

Morning Report: 2008-11-10

US Marines celebrate their history, as the next Commander-In-Chief prepares to assume his post.

Obama to visit Oval Office. President-elect Barack Obama will make his first visit to his future place of employment. CNN: 'President-elect Barack Obama will set foot inside the Oval Office for the first time Monday as he meets with President Bush to talk about the problems his incoming administration will face. The meeting between president and president-elect is a historic formality, but it's also a time for serious talks.'

Kadima sets primaries for December 17. Arutz Sheva: 'The Kadima party announced on Monday that it will hold a primary on December 17 to determine the order of Knesset candidates to be determined by the general elections scheduled for February 10.'

Nordlinger on the foreign-policy establishment. "An area of darkness":

Be clear about something, however (and this is me talking, not [George] Shultz): To understand someone is not necessarily to like or approve him. Understanding, in fact, may make you recoil all the more. But understanding is the best friend of anyone who wishes to be alert.

Professors of Middle East studies would be very helpful right about now. But they are, unfortunately, among the worst of the lot: among the worst in the American professoriate. A range of departments, of course, is the province of radicals and ideologues, rather than genuine scholars. But departments of Middle East studies may take the cake. Those wanting to read chapter and verse can turn to Martin Kramer’s book Ivory Towers on Sand.

Read it all at the link.

Briefly noted. Items on the ThreatsWatch daily roundup:

1. A leaked UK intelligence report is said to have identified terrorist enclaves in major British cities planning mass casualty attacks.

2. Three Bali bombers were executed in Indonesia, guilty of killing 202 in night club bombings.

3. London paper source says Usama bin Laden is planning greater attacks on US, saying that training camps across world are in a ‘positive phase’ of operational planning and training for a new wave of attacks on West.

4. New York Times publicizes secret order authorizing special forces operations against al-Qaeda terrorists around the world. Question is why NYT would do so.

5. President-Elect Obama offers double talk on EU missile shield, saying different things to different leaders and the public.

Go to ThreatsWatch for the details.

Commentary. Happy birthday to the United States Marine Corps! Commandant's message:

During the summer of 1982, in the wake of a presidential directive, Marines went ashore at Beirut, Lebanon. Fifteen months later, on 23 October 1983, extremists struck the first major blow against American forces—starting this long war on terrorism. On that Sunday morning, a suicide bomber drove an explosive-laden truck into the headquarters of Battalion Landing Team 1/8, destroying the building and killing 241 Marines and corpsmen.

Extremists have attacked our Nation, at home and abroad, numerous times since that fateful day in Beirut. Their aim has always been the same—to kill as many innocent Americans as possible. The attacks of 11 September 2001 changed our Nation forever, and our President has resolved that this Nation will not stand idle while murderous terrorists plan their next strike. Marines will continue to take the fight to the enemy—hitting them on their own turf, crushing them when they show themselves, and finding them where they hide.

Only a few Americans choose the dangerous, but necessary, work of fighting our Nation’s enemies. When our chapter of history is written, it will be a saga of a selfless generation of Marines who were willing to stand up and fight for our Nation; to defend those who could not defend themselves; to thrive on the hardship and sacrifice expected of an elite warrior class; to march to the sound of the guns; and to ably shoulder the legacy of those Marines who have gone before.

On our 233rd birthday, first remember those who have served and those “angels” who have fallen—our reputation was built on their sacrifices. Remember our families; they are the unsung heroes whose support and dedication allow us to answer our Nation’s call. Finally, to all Marines and Sailors, know that I am proud of you and what you do. Your successes on the battlefield have only added to our illustrious history. Lieutenant General Victor H. “Brute” Krulak said it best when he wrote, “… the United States does not need a Marine Corps … the United States wants a Marine Corps.” Your actions, in Iraq and Afghanistan and across the globe, are at the core of why America loves her Marines.

Happy Birthday, Marines!

Semper Fidelis,

James T. Conway
General, U.S. Marine Corps

And from me, a big shout out to my old unit, the 1st LAI Bn, 1st MarDiv. Happy birthday, and semper fi.

2008-11-09

Morning Report: 2008-11-09

The 44th President will face challenges from Iran. Here's a preview.

Obama, Bush to meet. AP via JPost: 'Barack Obama heads to the White House for his first postelection meeting with President George W. Bush this week, as Americans await signals of how their new leader will confront the overwhelming array of challenges facing the United States.' You can read the rest of the AP's drivel at the link.

US, EU officials met with Arab leaders on Iran. AP at JPost again: 'US and European representatives on Sunday met with representatives from Arab countries worried about Iran's influence in the Mideast, a senior US official said.' Rice, Solana, and Kouchner were there. YNet says: 'A senior US official says American and European representatives have met with Arab countries worried about Iran's influence in the Mideast, particularly about any potential deal on Iran's nuclear program that would give the Persian country more power in the Mideast.'

Obama's Iran comment irks regime. Debka:

Parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani said Saturday, Nov. 8, forcefully rejected US president-elect Barack Obama’s comment Friday that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons was unacceptable and its support for terrorist organizations cease. “This signifies the same erroneous policy as the past, said Larijani. “If the United States wants to change its standing in the region it should send good signals."
Most of Obama’s first news conference after election was devoted to the economic crisis.

Speaking of economic crises, the goons in Tehran are dealing with one of their own.

On Blair and Shreidan. Tom the Redhunter has an outstanding piece on the dangers and possibilites of the present age.

Commentary. Two pieces in Commentary magazine's Contentions - one by Peter Wehner and the other by David Hazony - focus on the moral and strategic foreign-policy choices confronting the incoming Obama administration. Wehner takes on a piece by paleocon Craig Shirley advocating a return to "realist" foreign policy. Wehner writes:

Perhaps the place to start is by pointing out that the projection of American power during the Bush years was to protect American interests. There were two “projections of American power” during the Bush years. The first involved a military response to the attacks on September 11, 2001. Presumably Mr. Shirley supported the war against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, but perhaps not.

The second instance was the Iraq war. Of course, the reason the majority of the country, the Congress, and conservatives alike supported the Iraq war was because the United States believed, along with the rest of the world, that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. Beyond that, Saddam was the most ruthless and aggressive dictator in a region that that (a) has its share of awful ones and (b) is of enormous interest to the United States. His invasion of Kuwait in the early 1990s was the triggering event for the first Gulf War. The implication that Iraq and what happens in the Middle East has nothing to do with American interests is silly.

As for the notion that “the internal affairs of a sovereign nation were not of concern to conservatives unless that nation threatened America:” Shirley is (again) wrong. Is it his view that conservatives should be utterly indifferent to genocide unless it occurs in a nation that threatens America?

The internal affairs of sovereign nations is our business if that nation is engaging in persecution, oppression, and mass death. ...

Wehner goes on to quote Ronald Regan, whom Shirley had invoked:

While we must be cautious about forcing the pace of change, we must not hesitate to declare our ultimate objectives and to take concrete actions to move toward them. We must be staunch in our conviction that freedom is not the sole prerogative of a lucky few, but the inalienable and universal right of all human beings…. Democracy already flourishes in countries with very different cultures and historical experiences. It would be cultural condescension, or worse, to say that any people prefer dictatorship to democracy….

And I wholeheartedly agree. So does David Hazony:

On Thursday, former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky assailed Egypt’s treatment of [Abdul Kareem Nabil] Soliman, as rallies were held near Egyptian embassies around the world.

This is a new example of an old problem. On the one hand, the righteousness of the Cold War was based not only on the Soviet threat to the West, but also on grotesque Soviet human rights violations. On the other hand, the insistence that American alliances in the Middle East be connected to human rights has been dismissed, in recent years, as neocon agitation. Egypt is a major recipient of American foreign aid. And there are many who consistently propose going soft on Egypt, in part because of its role as intermediary with Israel, and in part because of the fear that the regime is always at risk of being overrun by powerful Islamist forces.

New names, old problem.

2008-11-07

Morning Report: 2008-11-07

Seeing past Russia's distractions, and more on West Asia. In our commentary, we bemoan the state of liberalism yet again, and find a friend in Korea.

Russia and a "future Ukraine scenario". Information Dissemination:

Russia understands well the art of distraction. Heard about Russian missiles moving around Europe, or perhaps new political maneuvers in Russia? Whatever, background noise all of it, a reminder that in baseball no one stairs at the center fielder unless he is doing the moonwalk when the ball is actually bouncing towards 3rd base.

The missiles are the moonwalk, while 3rd base is in the Ukraine. This looks like early planning for a future Ukraine scenario to me.

Details at the link.

North Waziristan strike. Long War Journal:

After a one-week lull, the US has struck an al Qaeda training camp inside Pakistan's lawless tribal belt.

US unmanned Predator aircraft fired four missiles into a camp in the village of Kumsham in North Waziristan, AFP reported. Up to 14 people have been reported to have been killed.

"The strike successfully destroyed the camp," one source told AFP. "The militants were using the facility for training," another source said.

Seven al Qaeda operatives and one local Taliban commander was killed in the attack, sources told the news agency. But there is no indication that senior al Qaeda or Taliban leaders were killed in the strike.

The attack occurred in the Wazir tribal areas right along the border with South Waziristan. This is likely an area run by Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadar. He shelters al Qaeda fighters, operates training camps in his tribal areas, and sends his fighters into Afghanistan to fight Coalition forces.

Briefly noted. Small Wars Journal covers the Afghan awakening and more.

Commentary. Liberal American voters have elected Barack Obama, and Winston at The Spirit of Man isn't impressed.

What I have seen in the past few days in my travels across the US is the level of ignorance and illiteracy among the liberal or left leaning voters. Most of them are not aware of world events and act like adolescent people. None know any thing about history. That's a big problem for an America which wishes to remain a superpower. Aside from "affirmative action" who has already got all of us an Obama presidency, ignorance and leftist values have played major roles in damaging this once great country. Uninformed people tend to be liberals. For example, I held long conversations with those who voted for Hussein Obama and none of them knew any thing about the world beyond their county or state borders. Honestly, none of those idiots I talked to did know what G8 is or, what is the name of the Canadian captial city.

Remember, these are the folks who talk long and loud about America's need to be more cosmopolitan and "global". Who elected a leader who complains about Americans who go to France and don't speak the language, but qui ne parle pas Français himself. Who ... oh, don't get me started.

Anyway, the title of this blog pretty well says it for me, and it's always nice to find more kindred minds out there. Here's Roland's comment on Obama and Rahm Emmanuel

The “Electronic Intifada” has posted a piece criticizing Obama for picking Rahm Emanuel, a Jewish supporter of Israel to be his Chief of Staff. That’s a good sign in my opinion. They write:

“In Congress, Emanuel has been a consistent and vocal pro-Israel hardliner, sometimes more so than President Bush. In June 2003, for example, he signed a letter criticizing Bush for being insufficiently supportive of Israel. "We were deeply dismayed to hear your criticism of Israel for fighting acts of terror," Emanuel, along with 33 other Democrats wrote to Bush. The letter said that Israel's policy of assassinating Palestinian political leaders "was clearly justified as an application of Israel's right to self-defense" ("Pelosi supports Israel's attacks on Hamas group," San Francisco Chronicle, 14 June 2003).”

Update:
The Hufftards hate this pick too. Yet another good sign.

Kuraeyo! I'm pleased to welcome BIAAL to the DiL blogroll.

2008-11-06

Rahm Emmanuel

ProSemite Undercover has reactions to Rahm Emmanuel appointment.

Hamas Borrows Hebollah Designs for Gaza Positions

Debka:

The 44 Grad rockets, Qassam missiles and mortar rounds which blasted Israel from Gaza Wednesday, Nov. 5, were fired from houses close to the border fence which Hamas had turned into fortified firing positions. Borrowing Hizballah’s tricks from the 2006 Lebanon war, the Hamas firing squads remove the roofs and cover the top floors with camouflage netting easily removed for attacks.
To spot these heavily-disguised launching pads, round-the-clock aerial observation is necessary.
DEBKAfile’s military analysts report: Two years after the 34-day Hizballah rocket blitz of northern Israel - and five months into an informal truce with Hamas - the IDF is not coping with this tactic.
Furthermore, Wednesday, the civilian front was again abandoned to a heavy missile bombardment. The Israeli Air Force went into action three times to halt the mortar fire on Israeli troops, wiping out two Hamas mortar squads and killing five of its members. But when the missiles began falling on Ashkelon, Sderot and the Eshkol farm region, the air force stayed on the ground.

Obama: The next Clinton?

Via The Weekly Standard, the New York Times:
For national security adviser, Mr. Obama might pick between James B. Steinberg, a former deputy national security adviser, and Gregory B. Craig, a former State Department official. Mr. Danzig and Dennis Ross, a longtime Middle East envoy, are also mentioned. Susan E. Rice, a former assistant secretary of state and early Obama adviser, is often described as a possible deputy national security adviser or ambassador to the United Nations.

Democrats said they had heard that Howard Dean, the Democratic National Committee chairman, who is a doctor, might be a candidate for secretary of health and human services; Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina may be considered for secretary of housing and urban development; and Penny S. Pritzker, a Chicago business tycoon and Mr. Obama’s national finance chairwoman, could be tapped for commerce secretary.

Kurdish Students in Iran Face Tough Times

Shiro-Khorshid Forever:
In the past few days and through different sources we have received very troubling news in regards to the oppression of Kurdish students in Iran. Currently at least one student Mr. Habiblollah Lotfi who is a student at the “Payame Nour” University has been sentenced to death.

Further from “Razi” University in Kermanshah Mr. Sattar Parvizi has been sentenced to 16 years of imprisonment, Mr. Khabat Yousefi to 13 years of imprisonment and Mr. Hosseing Rahmani to 6 years of imprisonment.

In further disturbing news the Revolutionary Court in the City of Sanandaj sentenced Mr. Yaser Goli to 10 years of imprisonment. Mr. Goli is a student at a private university in the City of Sanandaj. Mr. Goli is also a social work Major, the president of The “Democratic Organization of Kurdish Students in Iran.” He is also an editor for a Farsi Kurdish Student newsletter in the University of Sanandaj. ...

Currently there are at least 15 Kurdish students in Islamic Regime Prisons. These individuals are:

1. Habbibollah Lotfi- death sentence
2. Yaser Goli- 10 years imprisonment
3. Sattar Parvizi- 16 years imprisonment
4. Khebat Yousefi- 13 years imprisonment
5. Hossein Rahmani- 6 years imprisonment
6. Sabah Nasri- Originally sentenced to 2 years, court of appeal reduced it to 1.5 years
7. Hedayat Ghazali- Originally sentenced to 2 years, court of appeal reduced it to 1.5 years.
8. Khodro Rasoul Morut- 3 years imprisonment
9. Jamal Rahmani- 6 years imprisonment
10. Amir Reza Ardalan- Originally sentenced to 1 year imprisonment, court of appeal reduced it to 6 months.
11. Rashid Abdollahi- 3 years imprisonment.
12. Ms. Hanna Abdi-Originally sentenced to 5 years imprisonment, it was reduced to 1.5 years.
13. Ms. Ronak Safarzadeh- She is in custody, no conviction or sentencing as of yet.
14. Siyvan Farokhnejad- In custody, no conviction or sentence as of yet
15. Varya Moruti- In custody, no conviction or sentence as of yet.

Balfour at 91

Ashley Perry at Middle East Strategic Information:
On November 2, the Balfour Declaration was 91 years old. Although seemingly irrelevant in today's political scenery, it was the crucial first official recognition of Jewish national aspirations, much disparaged even unto this day.

Although the declaration itself had little legal status, it was later incorporated into the Sèvres peace treaty with Turkey and the Mandate for Palestine, adopted unanimously by the League of Nations in the San Remo Resolution of 1920. This lent Zionism an international legitimacy enjoyed by few national movements before or since.

Perhaps most astonishing today, the leader of the Arab movement, King Faisal, supported the declaration when it was referred to in the Faisal-Weizmann Agreement of 1919.

Although many have since attempted to deny the central nature of the document and its relationship to the Mandate, that's not how its British drafters saw things. In fact, as stated in the 1937 Royal Commission Report, "the primary purpose of the Mandate, as expressed in its preamble and its articles, is to promote the establishment of the Jewish National Home."

The initial drafts of the Balfour Declaration spoke of the desire "that Palestine should be reconstituted as the National Home of the Jewish people." Clearly, Palestine as a whole was intended to become this Jewish national home.

The final draft was altered to contain the proviso, "it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

The final declaration was altered at the behest of Edwin Samuel Montagu, an influential anti-Zionist Jew and secretary of state for India, who was concerned that the declaration as it stood could result in increased anti-Semitism. Montagu was also concerned that the declaration would make it harder for him to deal with Indian Muslims. ...

Read the rest at the link.

Morning Report: 2008-11-06

Diplomats prepare for a changing of the guard, while West Asia remains volatile.

Rice to Middle East in probable swan song. Arutz Sheva: 'U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice returns to the region on Thursday for her 19th, and perhaps final, visit – part of the American push to extract an agreement for the establishment of a new Arab state within Israel's borders. Rice is expected to meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas Thursday afternoon in Jerusalem. Rice will also meet with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Likud party chairman and Opposition Leader Binyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu, who are both strong candidates to become the next prime minister, also on Thursday afternoon in Jerusalem. ...' Also from A7, Condi's opposite number in Israel warned Obama against talking to Iran: 'Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni expressed her opposition to United States President-elect Barack Obama's stated willingness to dialogue with Iran in an interview on Voice of Israel government radio Thursday morning. She explained, "We live in a neighborhood in which sometimes dialogue – in a situation where you have brought sanctions, and you then shift to dialogue – is liable to be interpreted as weakness."'

Suicide bomber strikes at tribal meeting in Bajaur, northwest Pakistan. Long War Journal:

A suicide bomber struck at a tribal meeting in the insurgency-wracked agency of Bajaur in Pakistan's northwest. Eight members of the Salarzai tribe were killed and more than 45 were wounded after a suicide bomber detonated in the middle of a tribal meeting.

The Salarzai tribe has organized a militia to oppose the presence of the Taliban in their tribal areas in Bajaur. Tribal leaders claim to have raised more than 10,000 fighters to form a lashkar, or tribal militia. The Salarzai have been burning the homes of Taliban members and providing security for the region.

The Pakistani military has been battling the Taliban in Bajaur since August. The tribal area is a known command and control hub for al Qaeda's operations in northeastern Afghanistan. The military has relied on airstrikes and artillery barrages to dislodge the Taliban from fortified positions.

Pakistani officials claim to have struck a crippling blow to the Taliban. General Tariq Khan, the Inspector General of the paramilitary Frontier Corps claimed more than 1,500 Taliban and foreign fighters have been killed in Bajaur since the operation began. Another 950 "militants," including more than 300 are Uzbek, Tajik, Nuristani, Afghani and Hazara, have been captured. Only 42 paramilitary troops have been killed and 174 wounded, according to the general.

The government has courted the tribes in an effort to gain local support. But the groups that have joined the effort to fight the Taliban are marginal players in the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province. ...

Read the rest of Bill Roggio's post at the link.

Learning from experience in Afghanistan. Small Wars Journal:

This Slate article is an excellent example of learning from the past about the part of counterinsurgency most of us understand least well: the economic and governance lines of operation.

Both candidates for the U.S. presidency pledged to make Afghanistan a top priority. The war there now tops the news on a daily basis with tales of the devastating hardships of the Afghan people and the deaths of Afghans and NATO soldiers. The untold story is that Afghanistan was well on its way to stability in 2004. It is essential that President Obama understands why the nation slipped into chaos. The challenge now is to win the peace...

Follow the link for the rest of Clare Lockhart's article.

Briefly noted. Byron York comments on the true meaning of "losers".

Commentary. No brilliant insights on this morning's items; I'll just offer my thoughts on the election, and I'll keep 'em brief.

As you know from reading this journal, I was rooting for McCain, and I've had very serious misgivings about Obama for a number of reasons. But the American people have chosen Barack Obama to be their next President, so out of respect for my nation, its people, and the democratic process I will give President Obama a fair chance.

You probably also know that I'm a social liberal. I vote Republican because al-Qaeda and the Taliban and the Iranian regime aren't social liberals, and those SOBs are trying to kill us. One hope that I hold for the incoming Democratic government is that the Democrats, once fully in charge of the reins of power, will appreciate the seriousness of the threat outside our borders, and understand that the threat is at its core a threat to America's finest liberal traditions. I won't bore you here with another long essay on power and responsibility, but I think you get the idea.

I've no plans to quit blogging here at DiL any time soon. Come next January, it'll be my first time blogging under a Democratic administration. Should be interesting.

2008-11-05

Morning Report: 2008-11-05

Americans elect Obama. CNN: 'Sen. John McCain on Tuesday urged all Americans to join him in congratulating Sen. Barack Obama on his projected victory in the presidential election.'

Mosul mayor meets with Iraqi National Police commander to discuss security. MNF-Iraq: 'The Mosul mayor, Ameer Jihad, and Maj. Gen. Mohammed of the 3rd National Police Division met Nov. 3, to discuss common issues about municipal services concerns and joint efforts in the city. During a meeting and visit through the city, the NPs agreed to use engineer assets to assist with traffic flow in the city and also to conduct joint missions with the Iraqi Police.'

Evin hardships. From BameAzadi - English: 'According to the received news on Evin prison, at the night of November 2, there was a conflict and scuffle between prisoners and authorities of prison in various sections of the prison. Although the winter is coming and the weather of Evin which is located in mountainside in northwest of Tehran, is so cold but authorities of Prison took evil advantage of this matter to annoy and torture political prisoners, they turned off all heaters of prison and made a very cold place for prisoners. According to the words of some prisoners; the intensity of cold is such that bodies of some prisoners like Ayatollah Kazemeini Boroujerdi, who was affected by physical weakness because of previous pressures and tortures, have been numbed and are unable to move. That night the prisoners set fire to their blankets because of cold and showed their protest to authorities in this way.' Persian language page for BeA is here.