Morning Report: August 22, 2004

Iran regime's West Asian arm-twisting betrays desperation. Amid an ever-increasing bluster of threats, the Iranian regime bullied two Western-allied nations into reducing their strategic cooperation with Israel, according to this Debka report. 'When Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan visited Tehran in late June, he was informed in no uncertain terms by spiritual ruler Ali Khamenei and president Mohammed Khatami that if he wants good relations with the Iranian regime with concomitant economic benefits, such as cheap oil and gas, he must end Turkey’s military ties with Israel. Erdogan agreed to bar Turkish air space to Israeli warplanes stationed in Turkey or incoming from Israel for use as a corridor for striking Iranian nuclear and military installations.' Debka notes that Erdogan's stance has shifted away from Washington and Jerusalem in recent months. The article also discloses that during a recent visit to Azerbaijan, ostensibly to discuss bilateral security and trade issues, a group of Iranian intelligence officers also appeared in Baku to demand that Azerbaijan end its strategic cooperation with Israel. The article concludes that Israeli Prime Minister Sharon may be hindered from dealing effectively with the Iranian threat by domestic worries over his disengagement plans, which have generated fierce opposition within his own Likud party. (Comment: possibly Washington was seeking to ease the pressure on Sharon when it softened its demands on the evacuation of Jewish settlements.)

"I tell ya, I wuz there, man!" The Belmont Club deconstructs the cultural meta-message of the Najaf shrine standoff, which is, yes, still going on.

Kerry, in his own words. Jane at Armies of Liberation predicts that reaction to John Kerry's Vietnam images will result in a backlash against the officer-turned-war-protester-turned-senator-turned-presidential-candidate.

Fugitive Marzook denies charges in Damascus, media mum on CAIR link. Little Green Footballs supplies one of two little green details missing from an AP story on Mousa Abu Marzook, deputy chief of the Hamas political bureau. Read the item, and follow the discussion on the CAIR-terror link.