Morning Report: January 1, 2006

Iran: Mirai Glass workers protest working conditions. Workers at the Mirai glass factory protested overdue wages, according to recent reports via Regime Change Iran. Iran Focus: 'Tehran, Iran, Dec. 31 – Some 200 workers from the Miral glass factory held a demonstration and set fire to tyres south of Tehran Saturday morning in protest to their employers’ refusal to pay their overdue salaries. The glass workers gathered outside the site of their factory near the Tehran-Saveh Highway. They complained that despite five to 25 years of service, many of the workers had not received their wages for the past 10 months. State Security Forces were called in when the protestors blocked traffic on the road by burning tyres.' SMCCDI: 'Dozens of the "Miral Glass" workers created, today, roadblocks by setting materials and tires ablaze on the Saveh road of the Greater Tehran. The workers intended to protest against their poor conditions and the non payment for their wages. Security forces were sent in number in order to close the perimeters and avoid a spread of the action. Iran is the scene of daily protest actions by workers. Most nationalized companies are in stage of decomposition and bankruptcy due to the ill-policies of incompetent managers or frauds made by the political Mafia.' (SMCCDI and Iran Focus via RCI)

Turkish Press: CIA Director Porter Goss tells Ankara that Iran regime has nukes. Also via RCI, the English-language Turkish Press reports that 'During his recent visit to Ankara, CIA Director Porter Goss reportedly brought three dossiers on Iran to Ankara. Goss is said to have asked for Turkey’s support for Washington’s policy against Iran’s nuclear activities, charging that Tehran had supported terrorism and taken part in activities against Turkey. Goss also asked Ankara to be ready for a possible US air operation against Iran and Syria.' (Morning Report notes that since April 21, 2005, the post held by Mr. Goss is correctly titled "Director of the Central Intelligence Agency", as the report has it, and no longer "Director of Central Intelligence". The CIA Director now leads only the Central Intelliegence Agency proper; he reports to the Director of National Intelligence, who has authority over all US intelligence activities.) The Turkish Press article adds that 'The second dossier is about Iran’s stance on terrorism. The CIA argued that Iran was supporting terrorism, the PKK and al-Qaeda. The third had to do with Iran’s alleged stance against Ankara.' The PKK is a Kurdish separatist group that Annkara perceives as a major threat. (Turkish Press via RCI)

Debka: Top aide blasts Syria's Bashar Assad. Debka reports: 'A blistering attack on Bashar Assad was delivered by one of his closest aides, ex-vice president Khalim Haddam, over al Arabia TV Friday, Dec. 30. He denounced the Syrian president for spurning his advice to sack General Rustoum Ghazaleh, the former Syrian military intelligence in Lebanon, immediately after the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri last February. DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources note that Haddam insinuated in the interview that Assad had had pre-knowledge of the murder and could have prevented it. He clearly laid the crime at Ghazaleh’s door and made it clear that the general would not have acted without Assad’s authority. This veteran Syrian politician’s diatribe against Assad is unprecedented and shocked opinion in Damascus and the Arab world.' Amarji, now writing from Silver Spring, says: 'The VP bombshell will definitely overshadow what I was planning to do by way of ending this year. Still, I will end this year by sticking to my plan. The following link is to a little effort of mine meant to help the opposition inside Syria get their act together over the next few months. It is not something that would not have occurred on the minds of many of them, but I think that framing things in this manner might help stir a necessary and more focused debate.' ARABIC LINK: Managing Transition. English:
We in the Opposition should be able to:

• Provide the outline of a vision for the country’s future. More in this regard is the ability to provide a national bill of right a national convent than only a constitution.

• Enshrine the role of national symbols and help them in creating the aura necessary to warrant popular attention and respect.

• Support the emergence of effective public leaders by hiring a professional public relations firm and by making a more professional and effective use of the media, both traditional and electronic.

• Seek endorsements from prestigious and well-known figures from a variety of fields, including the artistic, intellectual and business communities.

• Send public messages to the country’s military and security officers and continue to appeal to their sense of fair play and patriotism, contrasting their interests and those of the country with the kind of adventurist policies that the Assad regime has adopted, and the disastrous course that the House of Assad has been steering.

• Encourage the formation and adoption of specific socioeconomic platforms designed to help address the country’s most serious developmental challenges as a way of garnering greater popular sympathy and eventually endorsement.

• Enlist support of the international community, including the major players in the region. Give contacts with them the right spin, highlighting them as signs of acceptance, credibility, legitimacy and competence.

• Never lose focus of the importance of maintaining a constant media campaign designed to denude the regime.

• Never waiver, or backtrack on our confrontational policies in the face of growing pressures.

• Maintain a united front regardless of whatever disagreements that exist in the background between our various groups. Differences can always be settled later using the desired democratic system itself.

German press: US readies Iran air strike. Once again thru RCI, the German media are reporting that: 'The Bush administration is preparing its NATO allies for a possible military strike against suspected nuclear sites in Iran in the New Year, according to German media reports, reinforcing similar earlier suggestions in the Turkish media. The Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel this week quoted 'NATO intelligence sources' who claimed that the NATO allies had been informed that the United States is currently investigating all possibilities of bringing the mullah-led regime into line, including military options. This 'all options are open' line has been President George W Bush`s publicly stated policy throughout the past 18 months. But the respected German weekly Der Spiegel notes 'What is new here is that Washington appears to be dispatching high-level officials to prepare its allies for a possible attack rather than merely implying the possibility as it has repeatedly done during the past year.' (RCI)

ITM: Juma brings no rest. Mohammed at Iraq the Model reports: 'In what‘s supposed to be a “waiting day” in Iraq since it’s Friday, events and developments just kept surfacing and vacation day was just as eventful as any other day of the week. Baghdad now is suffering from a power siege that began after workers in one of Iraq’s largest refineries-the Baiji oil refinery-came under threats from terrorists who said they’d kill tanker drivers who transport oil products to the rest of the country. The oil ministry responded by shutting down the refinery as a measure to avoid loss in lives. This caused Baghdad to suffer from yet a new fuel and electricity shortage because the refinery supplies many power plants in the country. The electricity outages are most severe in the western part of Baghdad where residents are getting a little more than 6 hours/day. In a related development, Ahmed al-Chalabi has been asked to run the oil ministry after the minister Mohammed Bahr al-Iloom was forced to take a whole month off! Bahr al-Iloom said in an interview for al-Hurra that he was planning to submit his resignation after the government didn’t listen to his suggestion for a gradual increase in fuel prices instead of the sudden increase that was activated by the government days ago. Yet Bahr al-Iloom said he “was surprised by the government’s decision to give me an obligatory vacation for a whole month”. It’s worth mentioning that Chalabi is the head of the “energy committee” in the cabinet which apparently qualified him to replace the overthrown minister and makes one think that Chalabi will be the UIA’s candidate for the same post in the new government. I don’t want to talk about Chalabi Now but from what we see it seems that although Chalabi separated from the UIA, he is still considered as a loyal ally for the religious Shia parties.' More details, and analysis of recent events regarding the disputed elections, at the link. (ITM)

Koizumi notes US-Japan alliance. Xinhua via Pajamas Media reports: 'Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi reiterated Sunday in his new year address the priority of the Japan-U.S. alliance in Japan's relations with foreign countries, and vowed to carry through his reforms in the last year of his tenure. "The Japan-U.S. alliance and international cooperation serve as the foundation in the efforts to further the friendship with other countries, including the neighboring ones," the premier said in the statement. Bogged in a diplomatic standstill with the neighboring countries, especially China and South Korea over the history and other issues, Koizumi moved closer in 2005 to its traditional ally -- the United States.' Read full article at link. (Xinhua via PJM)

Russia's Gazprom to cut delivery to Ukraine. The Jerusalem Post reports: 'Russia's natural gas monopoly Gazprom on Sunday began reducing pressure in its lines to Ukraine as the deadline for stopping sales to the country came within minutes, news agencies cited a company spokesman as saying. Gazprom has said it will halt sales to the country of 48 million as of 10 a.m. (0700 GMT) after Ukraine refused a demand to more than quadruple the price it pays for Russian gas.' Full article at link. Pajamas Media has more. (JPost, PJM)