Saturday, July 24, 2010

Another Tack: Nadra's rights be damned

 

by Sarah Honig 

 

Full-niqabs are increasingly noticeable throughout Israel. We’re beginning to see them in mixed cities like Lod and Jaffa, where the women add elbow-length gloves.

 

To protect her we’ll call her Nadra.

She hails from a large Sharonregion Arab town and used to be as modern, fashion-conscious and hip as my daughter. The two met while working in one of the nearby malls. It was a few years ago. Nadra always did the Saturday shifts because, as a Muslim, she saved the employer legal headaches. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement and Nadra was paid double-time.

We knew her in jeans, cute tank-tops and assorted eye-catching coiffeurs.

Over time Nadra opened up to my daughter and revealed that her parents, ostensibly not traditional and certainly not Islamic zealots, had found a prospective husband for her in Jordan and were planning to marry her off there.

Nadra was beside herself. She didn’t want to go because “when I leave my town, I’m a free human being in Israel.

My life in Jordan would be nothing like it is here. I’d have to change all my habits, my appearance and become meek and obedient. I would die inside.”

Eventually both girls meandered elsewhere.

One day, as we left the supermarket, someone called our names. It was Nadra. We barely recognized her.

Despite the July swelter and stifling humidity, Nadra was swathed in a hijab, the scarf that envelopes Muslim women’s heads – ears included – tightly wraps their necks and reaches down to the shoulders.

Nadra brought us up to speed. She avoided the Jordanian match and convinced her parents to agree to the boy next door, hardly a religious sort and as free a spirit then as she was. It started out well.

Before we had a chance to remark about her obviously constricting and uncomfortable headdress, she – halfapologetically and half-embarrassed – pointed to the layers of cloth that seemed to choke her in the baking sun.

“They got me. They caught up with me,” she intoned with a wry, wan smile.

At the beginning her husband was taunted about letting his wife parade about “promiscuously, like a Jewess.”

Then they called her a whore each time she walked down the main drag. She was harassed on the bus. Both she and her husband were threatened with physical violence. The straw that broke their backs were escalating jeers, sneers and bullying suffered by her nieces and nephews in school and even by her tiny children in kindergarten and at the playground.

“I was marked as a fallen woman. Even if I wanted to fight, I couldn’t bring shame on my whole family. My parents’ business was sinking into ruin because of me. So I gave in. I’m suffocated by the hijab, while my husband, father and brothers breathe free and stay cool... I hate this but I am scared,” she confessed.

“I can’t believe this is Israel, where women live like women do in the West. I used to take the hijab off out of town, but my neighbors come here too. They’re all over the place. People see me. Tongues wag.”

NADRA DIDN’T stick around for long.

Overheated, she rushed to her car and turned on the air-conditioning. She said she had to hurry home lest her husband get angry. Her relatively egalitarian marriage is no longer what it was: “My husband is emboldened by my forced submission to the hijab. My humiliation is male power at work and he’s inspired.

He’s not devout but he’s bossy. I’ve lost status and, if I know what’s good for me, I’d better be respectful and dutiful now.”

As her parting shot Nadra added that her one consolation is that “it’s not as bad as it can be. At least I have a car and am allowed to drive, which is better than in Saudi Arabia. But it’ll get worse here too. The niqab is coming.

It’s slowly being enforced all around my neighborhood.”

For those unfamiliar with Nadra’s vernacular, the niqab is Arabic for mask and denotes a veil which covers a woman’s face. The half-niqab is tied around the face in combination with the hijab and leaves the eyes and part of forehead visible. The full-niqab covers the entire head, leaving only narrow eye-slits. A variation of the full-niqab is a tent-like length of cloth that covers the entire body, similar to what’s known in the West by the Afghani name of burqa.

Full-niqabs are increasingly noticeable throughout Israel. We’re beginning to see them even in mixed cities like Lod and Jaffa, where the women add elbow-length gloves (in mid-summer) to hide any possible patch of skin.

The niqab is making its gradual debut in various Sharon-area malls and central thoroughfares.

Nadra is right. It’s likely to spread. It’s above all a political statement. Not too many decades back, Arab men were distinguished by the keffiyeh, while nonrural Arab women dressed progressively more in European modes. With Hamas’s ascendancy, however, the hijab became a national/religious identity symbol.

This militant vogue may have started off as a conscious thumbing of the nose at the country’s Jews, but from there it was a quick transition to the coercion that Nadra described. Not all Israeli-Arab women are as forward-thinking as Nadra, nor feel as oppressed as she does, but many are just as intimidated.

I thought of Nadra after the French parliament’s lower house last week overwhelmingly approved a ban on burqastyle veils and related facial coverings in all public places. The French legislation is also aimed at husbands and fathers.

Anyone convicted of coercing women to don restrictive garb risks a year in prison and a fine, with both penalties doubled if the victim is a minor.

The Belgians beat the French by twoand- a-half months when they prohibited wearing any attire in public which prevents facial recognition. Violating this code can mean imprisonment and fines. Neither the niqab or burqa are mentioned specifically, but Muslim migrants were incensed. Ski-masks do not proliferate on European streets, niqabs and burqas do.

The Dutch are preparing their own assault on the veil. Something similar is pending here too. MK Marina Solodkin (Kadima) last week submitted a private member’s bill to the Knesset which essentially copies the Belgian law.

Can it pass here? Hardly for certain and certainly not with the French and Belgian alacrity. Moreover, our Supreme Court will quash it quicker than it’s enacted.

Local holier-than-thou penchants and incurable politically correct proclivities are geared up for the onslaught. Leftwing opinion-molders lost no time to deride Solodkin’s security concerns (terrorists can hide under burqas). Few remember that such apparel allowed Hitler’s collaborator, Jerusalem Mufti Haj Amin el-Husseini, to flee in World War II and reach Berlin, where he recruited Muslims to the SS. But they don’t really give a damn.

Self-appointed guardians of our collective conscience already get too much of a kick pillorying Solodkin in the name of human rights, Nadra’s rights be damned.

 

 

Sarah Honig 

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Clueless in Gaza

 

by Mark Silverberg

 

The U.S. debt will top $13.6 trillion this year and climb to an estimated $19.6 trillion by 2015, according to a Treasury Department report to Congress. Bankruptcy filings are nearing the record two million dollar level of 2005, and unemployment is nearly 10%, yet, in mid-June, President Obama pledged a $400M aid package for supposed housing, schools, water and health care system projects in the West Bank and Hamas-ruled Gaza.

He described these projects as a "down payment on the U.S. commitment to the people of Gaza who deserve a chance to take part in building a viable, independent state of Palestine, together with those who live in the West Bank."

 

He must have forgotten that the Gazans first act of "independence," after the Israeli withdrawal from the territory in 2005, was to destroy the lucrative greenhouse industry that the Israelis left behind but that should have served as a reminder about the billions in aid that have been squandered in pursuit of this pipedream.

 

According to the Heritage Foundation, since Oslo Accords in 1993, the U.S. has showered $2.2 billion in bilateral aid on the Palestinians, in addition to more than $3.4 billion for humanitarian aid funneled through dysfunctional U.N. organizations since 1950. Vast amounts of these aid funds have been diverted to allow terrorist organizations like Hamas to focus on building its war infrastructure -- such as bunkers, fortifying positions and digging tunnels, -- rather than on subsidizing education, paving roads, promoting commerce and industry, or providing for, and advancing, the long-term interests of their people.

 

Should Congress approve this aid package, it will only serve to stabilize the Hamas regime, assist in consolidating its power, and inhibit the development of the social, political and economic infrastructures necessary to build a viable, unified and stable Palestinian state.

 

Hamas's desire for more construction materials has more to do with rebuilding and strengthening its war machine against Israel than the needs of ordinary Gazans, so it is fair to ask this administration: Where is the strategic logic behind this pledge? As money is fungible, where are the assurances and accountability mechanisms to insure that this money will not be spent on terrorism and missiles as has occurred in the past?

 

Consider the nature of the regime that controls Gaza: In the wake of the Israeli withdrawal in 2005, Hamas seized power from the Palestinian Authority in a bloody coup in June 2007, and, true to its roots as the ideological cousin of al Qaeda -- and an offshoot of the extremist Egyptian Moslem Brotherhood -- it fired over 7,500 missiles into southern Israeli cities and towns in the name of "resistance;" declared its intention to annihilate the Jewish state; established summer camps for over a hundred thousand children to learn the Koran, paramilitary training, hatred of Jews, and the glories of "martyrdom." It still holds its population hostage; uses children as human shields; and mosques, schools and UN facilities as weapons-depots in violation of international law; proclaims proudly that its members cherish "death over life;" denies for over four years abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit his fundamental rights under international law; diverts millions in humanitarian aid and supplies through UNRWA and other NGOs to maintain its war infrastructure in violation of 301c of the Foreign Assistance Act; inserts its "morality police" into the daily lives of Gazans, and continues to introduce an extremist Islamic "statelet" on Israel's southern border that serves as a base if operations for Iran -- an enemy that has made no secret of its regional ambitions and nuclear aspirations.

 

Emboldened by recent moral support from states such as NATO member Turkey, Hamas's confidence appears only to be growing. It shows no sign of budging on the principles, contained in its Charter, that have caused its international isolation.

 

In forcing Israel to ease its Gaza blockade, therefore, the Obama administration is confirming that Gaza will remain firmly under Hamas control. It will not recognize Israel, renounce violence or support any peace agreement signed by its Palestinian rivals. In one stroke, Obama will render meaningless both the Oslo Accords and the conditions set by the Quartet - namely, the abandonment of terrorism, accepting Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, and recognition of the Palestinian Authority's rule as the legitimate government.

 

The problem with his strategy (if that is what it is) is that it fails to consider the nature of the Hamas regime and the broader implications that arise from empowering a genocidal, anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, anti-democratic, repressive, pro-Iranian organization on the southern border of a democratic ally in the Middle East.

 

Some $10B has been spent globally in the last decade on the Palestinians, making them the largest per capita recipients of foreign aid (with the exception of the Republic of Congo); yet places like Gaza remain as pro-terrorist as ever. Further, as Hamas is a designated foreign terrorist organization (FTO) that controls the distribution of all goods entering Gaza, America's providing humanitarian aid through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Gaza may now constitute a violation of the "material support" provisions of the Patriot Act, as such aid (according to the recent Supreme Court decision in Holder vs. Humanitarian Law Project) would "free up" other resources for Hamas to finance its other less pleasent goals -- as well as adding legitimacy to Hamas's attempts to recruit and raise additional funds to further these objectives. By sustaining Hamas in power, this aid package may not only be illegal, but can only undermine any future ability the Palestinian national movement may have of reaching a compromise with Israel.

 

More disturbing is the recent leak from a senior Hamas official to the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper suggesting that this pledge of aid to Gaza is the forerunner to an even more dangerous planned Obama initiative in the coming months -- one that would remove Hamas from America's designated foreign terrorist organization (FTO) list.

 

On June 16th, a Washington-based Arabic newspaper quoted a senior official as saying that an American envoy is scheduled to meet with Hamas representatives in an Arab country and hand them a letter from the Obama administration. According to the report, Obama believes -- wrongly -- that he has no choice other than to deal with Hamas, due to its influence in the Arab and Islamic world. Given that John Brennan, Obama's Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, has been reaching out to "moderates" in Hezbollah, it would hardly be surprising to believe that the Administration is now talking to Hamas.

 

Apparently, Obama is not alone in this belief. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) seems to have bought into it as well. Mark Perry, writing in Foreign Policy (June 30th) notes: "While it is anathema to broach the subject of engaging militant groups like Hezbollah and Hamas in official Washington circles (to say nothing of Israel), in a 'Red Team' report issued on May 7th and entitled 'Managing Hezbollah and Hamas,' senior CENTCOM intelligence officers question the current U.S. policy of isolating and marginalizing the two movements."

 

The Report notes that while Hezbollah and Hamas "embrace staunch anti-Israel rejectionist policies," the two organizations are "pragmatic and opportunistic." This contravenes Israel's position that these two extremist Islamist organizations cannot change their raison d'etre and must therefore be confronted with force. The Report suggests, however, that "failing to recognize their separate grievances and objectives will result in continued failure in moderating their behavior." One senior officer even commented in private discussions: ""Putting Hezbollah, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda in the same sentence, as if they are all the same, is just stupid."

 

What might really be "stupid," however, is CENTCOM's failure to see that all these Islamist terrorist organizations are the same in at least one respect: They all share a commitment to and common interpretation of Islamic Sharia Law, and as such, they are all pursuing the same objective: the global triumph of Shariah Law under a theocratic Caliphate. While their tactics may differ, they are united in their common goal. When Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahhar proclaims (as he did on Future News TV on June 15, 2010, according to MEMRI): "This is our plan for this stage - to liberate the West Bank and Gaza, without recognizing Israel's right to a single inch of land ….. without giving up the Right of Return for a single Palestinian refugee ….. to liberate any inch of Palestinian land, to establish a state on it and …… [to have] Palestine in its entirety …..

We will not recognize the Israeli enemy"….. it is difficult to believe that this man is really a "moderate" who is "pragmatic and opportunistic.".] The people in these groups profess a powerful jihadist ideology rooted in a radical interpretation of Islam, in the name of which they propagandize, proselytize, terrorize and kill. When these groups see Americans bending over backwards to justify flexibility toward militant Islamists, they assume, rightly, that their political strategy is working.

 

According to Perry, "The report argues that an Israeli decision to lift the siege might pave the way for reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, which would be 'the best hope for mainstreaming Hamas,'" as though the objective of the U.S. policy should be to facilitate Hamas's takeover of the West Bank as well as Gaza. Hamas will only integrate into the Palestinian security forces once it is sure that it will not be obliged to surrender its freedom of military action.

 

Even more instructive is the following: "The Red Team also claims that reconciliation with Fatah, when coupled with Hamas's explicit renunciation of violence, would gain widespread international support and deprive the Israelis of any legitimate justification to continue settlement building and delay statehood negotiations." By attributing ill-will on the part of Israel, this statement suggests that the Red Team's real agenda includes the delegitimization of Israel.

 

Perry concludes that the report reflects the thinking among a significant number of senior officers at CENTCOM headquarters and among senior CENTCOM intelligence officers and analysts serving in the Middle East.

 

The Administration's "soft power" team seems to think that as engagement with Islamist groups failed with Iran and Syria, it should keep trying it with Hezbollah and Hamas -- on the assumption, in direct conflict with past experience, that dialogue with Islamists can resolve most issues. If that is the paradigm of this Administration and CENTCOM -- that radical Islamist organizations can be house-trained -- they will simply be emboldening the Islamists. Recognizing Hamas would have major harmful ramifications for American interests and American credibility in the Middle East for years to come, and provide Iran with its long-sought-for base within missile range of Tel Aviv.

 

These types of actions run counter to our efforts to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, and to the interests of the American people, who have the right to expect their leaders to adopt clear-eyed policies against those who threaten our way of life, our security, and the global interests of us and our allies.

 

 

Mark Silverberg

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

New York Times: Not Just Anti-Israel But Pro-Islamist.

 

by Barry Rubin

The New York Times--with the exception of some honorable reporters in the field (you know who you are)--never ceases to amaze one in the spectacularly biased writings of those back at headquarters. Here's one that's particularly remarkable, a real piece of advocacy in which the reporter does everything possible to justify flotilla ships trying to run the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

He also selectively discusses the IHH sponsor of the previous flotilla, leaving out all the evidence (presented in my articles and elsewhere) of its radical and terrorist connections, including U.S. court documents. I
explained this for the Times more than five weeks ago but they paid no attention and they still cannot find any of this evidence!

The article even includes a pro-IHH video without any balancing video, of which a number are easily available. There is virtually no hint that the militants on board had earlier shouted slogans advocating genocide for Jews, declared their intention to be Jihad martyrs, or attacked and kidnapped the arriving soldiers.

In addition, this article was written after Germany banned the IHH's local branch for supporting terrorism but doesn't even mention this fact. (Yes, I know the German government said it was a separate group but that is a purely formal organizational point.)

And on top of that the article was also written after the terms of the blockade were changed, with the approval of the U.S. government and personal endorsement of President Barack Obama no less. These new regulations only exclude military and dual-use items. There is no mention of the fact that circumstances have changed and thus any new flotilla ship can hardly be humanitarian since there is no limit on consumer goods.

Nor does it mention that the purpose of the flotillas--even before, but most obviously now--is not to help the people of Gaza but to ensure the easy import of weapons and militarily useful goods for a radical, antisemitic, anti-American repressive regime that opposes a two-state solution and openly proclaims its intention of committing genocide on Israel's Jews.

If this kind of thing appeared on a left-wing blog (or an Iranian or Syrian newspaper) it would at least not be surprising. But this is the New York Times. I no longer write a response like this one to correct errors in the Times coverage, but rather to point out that this is not the great newspaper (whatever its flaws) that once was considered America's best. It is, at least on issues concerning Israel (again with honorable exceptions) a propaganda sheet, a shill for totalitarian and mendacious forces.

For other examples, see the Times'
remarkably deceptive portrayal of an Egyptian antisemitic extremist as a moderate, or the imbalance in its op-ed page. If you want to read a serious, balanced, full-service print newspaper pick up the Washington Post instead.

Are there still journalism classes where an article like this would be presented as a horrendously bad example of what newspapers should do?

Note: If you want to think you're helping Palestinians, promoting peace, and being fair--or even being merely moderately anti-Israel--at least have the decency to back the Palestinian Authority (PA) and oppose Hamas. The PA is corrupt, still riddled with radical elements, sometimes involved in terrorism, and unready for a real two-state solution. But at least, unlike Hamas, it isn't a client of Iran intent on maximizing terrorism, subverting all non-radical Arab regimes, indifferent to the well-being of its own people, crushing women's rights, expelling Christians, destroying American influence in the region, deliberately endngering civilians for propaganda purposes, seeking war at the earliest possible opportunity, and intent on committing genocide.

 

 

Barry Rubin
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

A Fourth Approach to the Muslim World

 

 

by Daniel Greenfield

 

American policy toward the Middle East has been traditionally split between the Stabilizers and the Radicals.

The Stabilizers were old foreign policy hands in the State Department, the Pentagon or the CIA, sometimes tied in with the oil industry. They advocated maintaining stability in the Middle East by putting American support behind "our friends", the dictators. The US would supply them with weapons and military backing in case they were ever invaded or overthrown, and in exchange we would have reliable access to oil. From the Eisenhower interventions to the Gulf War, the United States protected Arab Muslim tyrannies in order to maintain stability in the region.

 

The Radicals were often academics, part time journalists or old line leftists. They insisted that everything wrong in the Middle East was caused by Western colonialism and imperialism, and the healing could only begin when the United States stopped backing the tyrants and began backing Marxist and Islamist terrorists in taking over their respective countries. The Radicals believed that if the United States would only abandon the dictators and throw their support behind the Marxists and the Islamists, a wonderful new age would dawn in the Middle East.

Until the Carter Administration, the Stabilizers held sway over foreign policy. With Carter though, the Radicals had their first taste of power. Following the doctrine of the Radicals, the Carter Administration helped bring Islamists to power in Iran, and began providing aid to the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan. Its Green Belt strategy was focused on creating an alliance of Islamists to ally with the US against the Soviet Union. The real result was the same one you get when you try to breed poisonous snakes in order to get a bear off your land. You might succeed in getting rid of the bear, but now you'll have a whole other problem on your hands. That's exactly what happened with the US and the Islamists.

Neither the Stabilizers nor the Radicals were utilizing new ideas in their approach to the Middle East. The Stabilizers were echoing the British Empire's attempts to maintain control of the region through puppet sheikdoms and princedoms. The problem was that it hadn't worked too well for the British, who found themselves entangled in internal Arab and Muslim conflicts and coups. Like the British had before them, United States diplomats and oil company executives would cultivate a tyrant or two, only to discover that they were also completely untrustworthy. The House of Saud wound up seizing the same oil companies, and reversing the power relationship by doling out the oil on their terms, and using the money to begin the Islamization of the United States and Europe, while bribing half the foreign policy establishment to do it.

The Radicals meanwhile were fueled by left-wing anti-Americanism, which translated into a foreign policy of "America is Always Wrong" and "Radical Terrorists are Always Right". Their claims that backing Marxist and Islamist terrorists would lead to freedom and candyland proved to be wrong every time, yet did nothing to prevent them from enabling the horrors of the Mullahs in Iran or the PLO in Israel. True to the same ideological heritage that had turned Russia red with blood, yet insisted that things were going swimmingly-- they were never capable of acknowledging a mistake.

With the Carter Administration, the Radicals increasingly began winning the argument, and the Stabilizers moved to accommodate them. Portions of the Radical agenda were incorporated into that of the Stabilizers. This was easily enough done, since the Stabilizers had never cared too much about who was in power, so long as there was no chaos or unrest. That was why the Eisenhower Administration had backed Nasser over its former allies in England and France. It was why Bush Sr could casually dismiss massacres by the Kuwaitis in the aftermath of the invasion. These were just means of imposing stability.

But the Radicals made very little headway after the Mullahs took over Iran. They could do little to shift US foreign policy away from the old line Arab regimes in Egypt and Saudi Arabia-- who had strong backing from the Stabilizers. Occasional nods toward democracy would come from the White House or Capitol Hill, and were immediately ignored. But they did find one weak spot. Israel.

The Stabilizers had inherited the old British antipathy toward Israel. They viewed it  as a country that should never have existed, but had now become a necessary evil. The Stabilizers had commitments to the House of Saud, and to the Kuwaiti Royals, but they had none toward Israel. They had been forced to support Israel as leverage against Soviet backed Arab regimes in Egypt and Syria. But the Camp David Accords had drawn Egypt onto the American side of the board, and the end of the Cold War made many of the old red and white maps seem irrelevant. Which meant that in their eyes, and that of their Muslim overlords, Israel was becoming a nuisance.

To the Radicals, Israel was something much worse. It was Western. It was a colony. It was an alien entity in what should have been a pure Arab-Muslim region. And if their obsession with Israel seemed downright Nazi-like at times, it was because they shared an obsession with making a part of the world Judenrein, not for practical reasons, but for ideological ones. If the Stabilizers had imbibed the Saudi contempt for Jews, the Radicals drank of a deeper and uglier well. If the Nazis had viewed Jews as genetically tainted, the Communists and the Left viewed Jews as politically tainted, contaminated by religion and seperatism. The Nazis had wanted to solve a genetic problem by wiping out the carriers of those genes. The Left wanted to solve a political problem by wiping out Jewish identity.

Israel was the intersection of the left's hatred for the reactionary Western Civilization and the even more reactionary notion of a Jewish identity. Much like Archie Bunker asked Sammy Davis Jr, why if he was already black, did he also want to become Jewish-- the idea of a Jewish state modeled on modern Western states triggered two obsessive streams of hatred from the Left. On the one hand there was H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw screeching that Jews had better give up being Jews, or go rot in Palestine, and on the other hand there was every leftist critic of Western imperialism crying out against US foreign policy in the Middle East. The results were and are almost unfathomably ugly-- as people's deepest prejudices merging with self-righteous political fanaticism tend to be.

The Stabilizers were more than willing to give Israel to the Radicals, so long as the House of Saud and the Mubarak clan and every tinpot tyrant was allowed to do whatever they wanted. And so there was finally a point of agreement between the Stabilizers and the Radicals. But into this pastoral scene, came a third party with another proposal. The Neo-Conservatives.

The Neo-Conservatives represented a break with both the Stabilizers and the Radicals. They were opposed to the status quo in the existing Muslim regimes, like the Radicals. But they were also opposed to the pet terrorists that the Radicals wanted to replace them with. What they wanted to do was to dredge the swamp, reform and democratize the region. The Neo-Conservatives were naive about the realities of the Middle East and the resources such plans required-- but for the first time a group with significant influence on foreign policy had managed to articulate something resembling a moral policy for the Middle East.

The Stabilizers and the Radicals both reacted about the way you would expect when after 9/11, Neo-Conservative ideas about America's relationship to the Middle East gained a great deal of influence. The Stabilizers reflected the panic of their Saudi masters at the prospect of bringing democracy to the region. The Radicals rejected the idea that the Muslim world needed to become civilized, instead they just wanted the Islamists to take over. The one thing both the Stabilizers and the Radicals agreed on was that the Neo-Conservatives were the devil. Which of course they were. After all unlike them the Neo-Conservatives had a proposal that didn't involve America groveling to one bunch of thugs or another.

Of course no foreign policy that was even loosely pro-American could survive for very long. The Bush Administration was undermined from the inside. The reconstruction of Iraq was painstakingly sabotaged within the military, the State Department and the intelligence community, until it dissolved into a proxy war between Baathists and Sadrists, with Al Queda bomb throwers adding spice to the sauce. The old hands like Rumsfeld, Bolton and Cheney were sent packing. Condoleeza Rice took control of foreign policy and turned it back into exactly what it had been under George Bush Sr. Appeasement. Any worries by Arab tyrants were put to rest. Roasting Israel became the top priority. The Stabilizers were back in charge. But not for long.

Obama's ascension marked the return of the Radicals to power. Outreach to the Muslim world was now the top priority. Covert contacts with Hamas and the Taliban were quietly opened. Israel was now truly enemy number one. But so was America. Iran's post-election riots were met with the same shrug that the left had used on pro-Democracy protesters in the USSR. The Arab dictators began growing nervous, as the Obama Administration took a hands off approach to Iran. And Obama's outreach had failed to win any new allies, but only alienated existing allies. Which was inevitable as Radicals are never very good at alliances, especially those that required them to think along the lines of national interest.

Where do we stand today? We've seen the three basic approaches, that of the Stabilizers, the Radicals and the Neo-Conservatives-- and all are fundamentally flawed. The Stabilizers support tyrants who covertly make war on the United States. The Radicals support terrorists who openly make war on the United States. What is even more absurd is that there is really not that much distance between the tyrants and the terrorists, since the tyrants fund the terrorists to increase their own power and popularity, and the terrorists aspire to become tyrants in the name of Islam. And both sides are laughing at the Stabilizers and the Radicals for selling out their country.

The Neo-Conservatives however dramatically underestimated the amount of effort and energy needed to reform entire cultures. Their excessive optimism led to introducing democracy in countries where the only real opposition parties that had managed to survive, were Islamists. The Bush Administration in particular treated democracy as a totem that could do anything, because it had adopted a simplistic model in which the Muslim world was not bad, only its leaders were. And once the people had a chance to vote for peace and prosperity, better leaders would emerge. Where these leaders would come from, and did people in the Muslim world really want peace and prosperity, in the American sense, were questions that went unasked. The Radicals and the Stabilizers both understood this quite well, and knew that with a few pushes in the right places, their whole project would come crashing down.

Those are the three. Which means what we now need is a fourth approach that avoids the flaws of these three. What is the primary flaw of all three? They all sought to determine who would rule in the Muslim world. The Stabilizers thought that the best way was to keep the Muslim world as it is. The Radicals and the Neo-Conservatives wanted to remake it. And all three of these approaches tangled them in the political chaos and instability of the Muslim world. But there is a fourth way.

The Fourth Way is Accountability and it is simple enough. Stop arguing over who will rule in which Muslim country. That is a decision that only the inhabitants of that country can make. And they won't make it through elections, so much as through dealmaking among their oligarchy, tribal leaders and occasional outbursts of armed force. It would take a massive project of decades to have any hope of changing that. But we don't need to. What we need to do is make very clear the consequences of attacking us to whoever is in charge.

Rather than trying to shape their behavior by shaping their political leadership, we can use a much more blunt instrument to unselectively shape all their leaders. A blunt instrument does not mean reconstruction. It doesn't mean Marines ferrying electrical generators. It doesn't mean nation building. It means that we will inflict massive devastation on any country that aids terrorists who attack us. If they insist on using medieval beliefs to murder us, we will bomb government buildings, roads, factories and power plants to reduce them back to a medieval state. We will not impose sanctions on them, we will simply take control of their natural resources and remove the native population from the area, as compensation for the expenses of the war.

Accountability means no more aid to tyrants or terrorists, and no grand democracy projects either. It means that we stop trying to pick a side, and just make it clear what happens when our side gets hurt. We gain energy independence and never look back. And when we've done that, the Muslim world will no longer be able to play America against Russia, against Asia and Europe. Instead it will suddenly find itself stuck with a predatory Russia looking for an energy monopoly, a booming China expanding into their part of the world, and no Pax Americana to protect them from either one.

America has provided the stability that kept many Muslim countries from imploding. It has protected others directly and indirectly from being conquered more times than anyone realizes. All the treachery and terrorism that has been carried out, has been done under an American umbrella. Now is the time to furl up the umbrella, and let the rain fall where it may.

It will be a cold day indeed, when Russia and China realize that they can do what they like in the Muslim world, without the US to stop them. And a colder day still, when European countries realize that there is nothing standing the way of deporting their insurgent Muslim populations, because the US will not lift a finger to protect them, as it did in Yugoslavia. That is accountability. And in both its active and passive forms it will exact a high price from the enemy, and none from us. To employ it, we must be prepared to use massive force casually without considering any collateral damage. We must achieve energy independence at any cost. And we must be prepared to realize that everything else we have tried has failed. Only by disengaging from the Muslim world, can we ever be free of it.

 

 

Daniel Greenfield

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Change we must believe in

 

by Caroline B. Glick

 

Denial not only about Egypt, but Turkey and Syria, too

 

Change has come to the Middle East.

 

Over the past several weeks, multiple press reports indicate that Turkey is collaborating militarily with Syria in a joint campaign against the Kurds of Syria, Iraq and Turkey.

Turkey is a member of NATO. It fields the Western world's top weapons systems.

Syria is Iran's junior partner. It is a state sponsor of multiple terrorist organizations and a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction.

Last September, as Turkey's Islamist government escalated its anti-Israel rhetoric, Turkey and Syria signed a slew of economic and diplomatic agreements. As Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu made clear at the time, Turkey was using those agreements as a way to forge close alliances not only with Syria, but with Iran.

"We may establish similar mechanisms with Iran and other mechanisms. We want our relationship with our neighbors to turn into maximum cooperation via the principle of zero problems," Davutoglu proclaimed.

And now those agreements have reportedly paved the way to military cooperation. Syrian President Bashar Assad has visited Istanbul twice in the past month and then two weeks ago, on the Kurdish New Year, Syrian forces launched an operation against Kurdish population centers throughout Syria.

Wednesday Alarabiya reported that hundreds of Kurds have been killed in recent weeks. The Syrian government media claim that eleven Kurds have been killed. There are conflicting reports as well about the number of Kurds that have been arrested since the onslaught began. Kurdish sources say 630 have been arrested. The Turkish media claims four hundred Kurds have been arrested by Syrian security forces.

Alarabiya also claimed that the Syrian campaign is being supported by the Turkish military. Turkish military advisors are reportedly using the same intelligence tool for tracking Kurds in Syria as they have used against the Kurds in Turkey and Iraq: Israeli-made Heron unmanned aerial vehicles.

Even if the Alarabiya report is untrue, and Turkey is not currently using Israeli-manufactured weapons in the service of Syria, the very fact that Syria has military cooperation of any kind with Turkey is dangerous for Israel. Over the past twenty years, as its alliance with Turkey expanded, Israel sold Turkey some of the most sensitive intelligence gathering systems and other weapons platforms it has developed. With Turkey's rapid integration into the Iranian axis, Israel must now assume that if Turkey is not currently sharing those Israeli military and intelligence technologies and tools with its enemies, Ankara is likely to share them with Israel's enemies in the future.

Obviously, the least Israel could be expected to do in this situation is cut off all military ties to Turkey. But amazingly and distressingly, Israel's leaders seem not to have recognized this. To the contrary, Israel is scheduled to deliver four additional Heron drones to Turkey next month.

Even more discouragingly, both the statements and actions of senior officials lead to the conclusion that our leaders still embrace the delusion that all is not lost with Turkey. Speaking the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee earlier this month, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi told lawmakers, "What happens in Turkey is not always done with the agreement of the Turkish military. Relations with the Turkish army are important and they need to be preserved. I am personally in touch with the Turkish Chief of Staff."

As Turkish columnist Abdullah Bozkurt wrote last week in Today's Zaman, Ashkenazi's claim that there is a distinction between Turkish government policies and Turkish military policies is "simply wishful thinking and do[es] not correspond with the hard facts on the ground."

Bozkurt explained, "Ashkenazi may be misreading the signals based on a personal relationship he has built with outgoing Turkish military Chief of General Staff Gen. Ilker Ba?bu?. The force commanders are much more worried about the rise in terror in the southeastern part of the country, and pretty much occupied with the legal problems confronting them after some of their officers, including high-ranking ones, were accused of illegal activities. The last thing the top brass wants is to give an impression that they are cozying up with Israelis...."

As described by Michael Rubin in the current issue of Commentary, those "legal problems" Bozkurt referred to are part of a government campaign to crush Turkey's secular establishment. As the constitutionally appointed guarantors of Turkey's secular republic Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamist government targeted the military high command for destruction.

Two years ago, a state prosecutor indicted 86 senior Turkish figures including retired generals, prominent journalists, professors and other pillars of Turkey's former secular leadership for supposedly plotting a coup against the Islamist regime. By all accounts the 2,455-page indictment was frivolous. But its impact on Turkey's once all-powerful military has been dramatic.

As Rubin writes, "Bashed from the religious right and the progressive left, the Turkish military is a shadow of its former self. The current generation of generals is out of touch with Turkish society and, perhaps, their own junior officers. Like frogs who fail to jump from a pot slowly brought to a boil, the Turkish general staff lost its opportunity to exercise its constitutional duties."

And yet, rather than come to terms with this situation, and work to minimize the dangers that an Iranian- and Syrian-allied Turkey poses, Israel's government and our senior military leaders are still trying to bring the alliance with Turkey back from the dead. Last month's disastrous "top secret" meeting between Industry and Trade Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer and Davutoglu is case in point.

Far from ameliorating the situation, these sorts of gambits only compound the damage. By denying the truth that Turkey has joined the enemy camp, Israel provides Turkey with credibility it patently does not deserve. Israel also fails to take diplomatic and other steps to minimize the threat posed by the NATO member in the Iranian axis.

Our leaders' apparent aversion to accepting that our alliance with Turkey has ended is troubling not only for what it tells us about the government's ability to craft policies relevant to the challenges now facing us from Turkey. It bespeaks a general difficulty with contending with harsh and unwanted change that plagues our top echelons.

Take Egypt for example. Over the past week, a number of reports were published about the approaching end of the Mubarak era. The Washington Times reported that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is terminally ill and likely will die within the year. The Economist featured a fifteen page retrospective on the Mubarak era in advance of its expected conclusion.

There are many differences between the situation in Egypt today and the situation that existed in Turkey before the Islamists took over in 2002. For instance, unlike Turkey, Egypt has never been Israel's strategic ally. In recent years however, Egypt's interests have converged with Israel's regarding the threat posed by Iran and its terror proxies Hizbullah and Hamas -- the Palestinian branch of Mubarak's regime's nemesis, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. These shared interests have paved the way for security cooperation between the two countries on several issues.

All of this is liable to change after Mubarak exits the stage. In all likelihood the Muslim Brotherhood will have greater influence and power than it enjoys today. And this means that a successor regime in Egypt will likely have closer ties to the Iranian axis. Despite the Sunni-Shiite split, joined by a common enmity of the Mubarak regime, the Muslim Brotherhood has strengthened its ties to Iran and Hizbullah of late.

Recognizing the shifting winds, presidential hopefuls are cultivating ties with the Brotherhood. For instance, former International Atomic Energy Agency chief and current Egyptian presidential hopeful Muhammed el-Baradei has been wooing the Brotherhood for months. And in recent weeks they have been getting on his bandwagon. Apparently, elBaradei's support for Iran's nuclear program won him credibility with the jihadist group even though he is not an Islamic fanatic.

If and when the Brotherhood gains power and influence in Egypt, it is likely that Egypt will begin sponsoring the likes of Hamas, al Qaida and other terrorist organizations. And the more powerful the Brotherhood becomes in Egypt, the more likely that Egypt will abrogate its peace treaty with Israel.

It is due to that peace treaty that today Egypt fields a conventional military force armed with sophisticated US weaponry. The Egyptian military that Israel fought in four wars was armed with inferior Soviet weapons. Were Egypt to abrogate the treaty, a conventional war between Egypt and Israel would become a tangible prospect for the first time since 1973.

Despite the flood of stories indicating that the end of the Mubarak era is upon us, publicly Israel's leaders behave as though nothing is the matter. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's routine, fawning pilgrimage to Mubarak this week seemed to demonstrate that our leaders are not thinking about the storm that is brewing just under the surface in Cairo.

Turkey's transformation from friend to foe and the looming change in Egypt demonstrate important lessons that Israel's leaders must take to heart. First, Israel has only a very limited capacity to influence events in neighboring countries.

What happened in Turkey has nothing to do with Israel and everything to do with the fact that Erdogan and his government are Islamist revolutionaries. So too, the changes that Egypt will undergo after Mubarak dies will have everything to do with the pathologies of Egyptian society and politics and nothing to do with Israel. Our leaders must recognize this and exercise humility when they assess Israel's options for contending with our neighbors.

Developments in both Turkey and Egypt are proof that in the Middle East there is no such thing as a permanent alliance. Everything is subject to change. Turkey once looked like a stable place. Its military was constitutionally empowered — and required — to safeguard the country as a secular democracy. But seven years into the AKP revolution the army cannot even defend itself.

So too, for nearly thirty years Mubarak has ruled Egypt with an iron fist. But as Israel saw no distinction between Mubarak and Egypt, the hostile forces he repressed multiplied under his jackboot. Once he is gone, they will rise to the surface once more.

Moving forward, Israel must learn to hedge its bets. Just because a government embraces Israel one day does not mean that its military should be given open access to Israeli military technology the next day. So too, just because a regime is anti-Israel one day doesn't mean that Israel cannot develop ties with it that are based on shared interests.

Whether it is pleasant or harsh, change is a fact of our lives. The side that copes best with change will be the side that prospers from it. Our leaders must recognize this truth and shape their policies accordingly.

 

 

Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East Fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Russian and Chinese Support for Tehran - Iranian Reform and Stagnation - Part I

 

by George L. Simpson, Jr.

1st part of 2

 

Recent years have witnessed the rise of irregular but frequently intensive opposition to U.S. global preeminence by Russia and China. In their own ways, and in pursuit of their own interests, each of these authoritarian governments has established an informal alliance with the Islamic Republic of Iran. For its part, the Khamenei regime in Tehran continues to view the United States as the "Great Satan" and works against American interests by engaging in international terrorism,[1] aiding in attacks on U.S. and coalition personnel in Iraq[2] and Afghanistan,[3] working to derail any resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute,[4] and most of all by seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.

 There is a long history of conflict between Russia and Iran, so why is Moscow now warmly regarded by the Islamist regime, and why does Moscow, in turn, court Tehran? Furthermore, what explains Iran's new alliance with China? Has a new axis, opposed to the United States and Europe, formed, and if so, what are its roots and ramifications?

 

A New Geostrategic Axis?

Russian commentator Andrei Volnov has called the de facto Moscow-Beijing-Tehran alignment "a new geostrategic axis."[5] While such a characterization is more metaphor than reality, a trilateral combination, based on the common goals of promoting economic self-interest and reducing U.S. influence, certainly has been built on the foundations of fairly recent but significant bilateral ties between the two countries and Tehran. Thus, Ariel Cohen, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, notes that Moscow's ties with the Iranian regime "reflect a geopolitical agenda which is at least twenty years old."[6] Russia is engaged in what might be called "strategic opportunism" as it constantly fishes in troubled waters with the goal of identifying vulnerabilities that its policy makers can exploit.[7] Similarly, one can trace Beijing's increasing links with Tehran to the first years of the Iran-Iraq war in the early 1980s.[8] For its part, Iran has followed a consistent anti-America and anti-Israel path since its 1979 revolution.

Proponents of an informal alliance from the Russian Federation, China, and Iran present it as a reaction to the unilateralism of the United States and alleged U.S. aspirations for global hegemony. They consider the United States a significant rival and a threat to their long-term security. Consequently, Russia's goal, according to Cohen, is to engage in a "balancing strategy" that will knock the United States down a notch and thus revise the international status quo. While Cohen makes this point for Moscow's policy, it is an equally apt characterization of Beijing's approach as well.[9]

 

The View from Beijing

The leaders of China and Iran feel that they are the proud heirs to two great and ancient civilizations that have been humiliated and made victims of Western imperial aggression. They believe that Washington's "hegemonism" represents the unjust continuation of long-standing Western efforts to keep them weak and subordinate.[10] Hence, Sino-Iranian relations are bound by what Asia and Middle East analyst John Calabrese calls a "kinship of nationalisms."[11]

Perhaps more importantly, an understanding of economic issues further explains China's lukewarm support for the United States in its disputes with Iran. China, which has one of the world's fastest growing economies and which has designs on becoming an economic superpower, is today the world's second largest consumer of oil. Nearly 60 percent of its oil is imported from the Middle East. Iran, which possesses about 10 percent of the world's proven petroleum reserves, replaced Saudi Arabia as the leading supplier of oil to China in May 2009. Indeed, since reaching an agreement in October 2004, Beijing and Tehran have penned energy deals that purportedly are worth more than US$120 billion.[12]

Furthermore, Iran's oil producing facilities and equipment are in serious need of modernization. Beijing's willingness to invest in this vital sector of the Iranian economy (as much as 90 percent of Iran's export income comes from oil) is crucial to the fiscal well-being of the present Islamist regime, which, according to official estimates, faces an 11 percent unemployment rate and inflation exceeding 13 percent.[13] Thus, the China National Petroleum Corporation, China's largest oil producer and supplier, signed a deal in January 2007 worth $3.6 billion to develop Iranian offshore gas fields. As recently as June 2009, the same company put its name to a $2 billion contract for development of the northern section of Iran's Azadegan oil field near Ahvaz.[14]

Despite U.S. pressure to keep Iran economically isolated, China has leaped into the void created by U.S. sanctions against the Islamic Republic since its 1979 revolution. In 2003, trade between the People's Republic and Iran reached a record $4 billion, and that figure soared to $16 billion in 2006 and $29 billion in 2008.[15] Crude oil constitutes 80 percent of China's imports from the Islamic Republic with mineral and chemical products making up most of the remainder. Beijing's exports are more diversified, with machinery, electrical appliances, textiles, vehicles, and aircraft comprising the most important commodities in demand from Iran.[16]

Before 1997, Beijing had, for more than a decade, been Iran's most important partner in helping the Islamist regime develop its nuclear capability. As China expert John W. Garver writes, China's cooperation with Iran "was extensive, sustained over a fairly long period, and of crucial importance to Iran's nuclear effort."[17] The Chinese have apparently retreated from their policy of direct cooperation with the mullahs on the nuclear front since that time.

 

The View from Moscow

One might think that the long history of conflict between Russia and Persia would preclude Iran from seeking Russian aid. As far back as Peter the Great (r.1682-1725), tsars and tsarinas have nibbled at Iranian borders in the Caucasus and the Caspian region. Over time, first the Romanovs, then the communists intervened more and more in Persian affairs, with the latter going so far as to establish short-lived "People's Republics" in Kurdish and Azeri regions of Iran. Despite this, the courtship continues.

Russia also has economic reasons to back the Tehran regime. Russia's trade with Iran is more modest than China's but nevertheless significant. Total trade between the two countries equaled $3.2 billion in 2008 with analysts predicting even higher numbers within a few years. As both countries are major energy producers, they share a common interest in establishing pricing policies for oil and natural gas as well as manipulating these markets to their advantage.

More significant, however, is Moscow's role in the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. The Russian government has assisted in Iran's construction of the $800 million Bushehr nuclear power plant and has helped the mullahs obtain nuclear knowledge.[18] As a result, Moscow, as well as Beijing, is at odds with Washington over how to deal with Tehran's efforts to gain a nuclear capability. China and Russia, both of which wield veto power on the United Nations Security Council, have consistently obstructed efforts in the U.N. to halt Tehran's drive to obtain nuclear weapons. While it is true that from time to time, both countries have called on Iran's regime (which is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty) to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), neither has supported effective sanctions or forceful measures to deal with the problem. Gennady Yevstafyev, a senior adviser at the Center for Policy Studies in Russia, has gone so far as to contend that "Washington closed its eyes to the creation of nuclear weapons by its strategic partner, Pakistan. But now it is threatening a war on its ex-strategic partner Iran for the same crime."[19]

Moscow continues to talk out of both sides of its mouth. Sergei Kiryienko, the director-general of Rosatom, Russia's federal atomic energy agency, has stated the official Russian position that "broad access to civilian nuclear power must be guaranteed while at the same time there must be a guarantee that weapons of mass destruction will not proliferate under any circumstances."[20] As recently as October 2007, then-president Vladimir Putin described a nuclear armed Iran to be a "strategic threat" to Russia when he met with leaders of the European Jewish Congress and with French president Nicolas Sarkozy in Moscow. Yet the Russian leader went on to claim that there was no "objective data" proving that Iran was seeking nuclear weapons so that "we proceed from a position that Iran has no such plans."[21] What lies behind the inscrutable strongman's thinking is difficult to say for certain, but one can speculate that Putin's antipathy towards the United States as well as his desire to conciliate cronies within the Russian Federation's military-industrial complex goes a long way to explain this gamble.

 

China, Russia, and Iranian Weaponry

Arms sales to Iran by China and Russia, which the three countries insist are lawful, is another source of contention between the latter two and Washington.[22] Russia is Iran's biggest weapons supplier by a wide margin, though China is also an important source. Russia reportedly supports the Islamic Republic's development of ballistic missiles, which former Secretary of State Colin Powell warns have been redesigned to enable them to carry nuclear warheads.[23] Currently, the Iranian military is trying to develop the Shahab-6 missile, a variant of the North Korean Taep'o-dong-2C/3, which will have a range of 3,500 miles, putting Europe within its sights. There are unverified reports that the Russians have transferred rocket engine technology for this program and even some speculation that Moscow is helping Tehran with a missile that will have a 6,300-mile range, enabling it to reach the eastern seaboard of the United States.[24]

For its part, although the Chinese government denies as "groundless allegation[s]" reports about its role in supplying Iran with weaponry,[25] it is clear that it has transferred missile components and technology to Iran since the 1980s.[26] For example, Tehran has obtained Chinese-made anti-ship surface-to-surface C-801 and C-802 missiles, which pose a potential threat to Persian Gulf shipping and U.S. naval vessels in the region.[27].

According to the CIA and experts in the field, Iran is also trying to develop sophisticated biological and chemical weapons.[28] These efforts go back to the Iran-Iraq war when the Iranians were on the receiving end of Iraqi chemical attacks. Although Iran has ratified the Biological Weapons Convention, specialists believe that with the help of Russian experts, it is "in the advanced research and development phase" of weaponizing chemical toxins and living organisms.[29] For its part, China has helped in Iran's acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by selling precursor and dual-use chemicals, as well as the technology and equipment needed to use them. Thus there is good reason to conclude that "the Iranian leadership intends to maintain a robust CW [chemical weapons] capability."[30]

Washington is concerned not just with Iranian possession of sophisticated weapons but with the prospect of Tehran transferring them to terrorist proxies, such as Lebanese-based Hezbollah. In fact, the group launched an Iranian C-802 missile during the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war, which hit the Israeli missile frigate Hanit.[31] According to Israeli press reports, the mullahs are currently supplying Iranian-made Zelzal and upgraded Fateh-110 surface-to-surface missiles to the radical Shi'i group.[32] In August 2009, Israeli president Shimon Peres claimed that Hezbollah currently had 80,000 Iranian-supplied missiles.[33] While neither Moscow nor Beijing is directly responsible for these developments, neither appears particularly concerned when the weapons or technologies they transfer to Iran find their way into the hands of terrorist organizations.

Finally, both Moscow and Beijing are aiding the Iranian military as it develops advanced conventional weapons. Despite Washington's strong objections, by late 2006, the Russia government had sold and begun delivery to Tehran of twenty-nine of its Tor-M1 air defense systems. Moscow argues that the $700 million sale is totally legal and asserts that these are "defensive" weapons.[34] Iran's acquisition of such a sophisticated and advanced system poses a threat to any potential U.S. or Israeli air attack to take out Tehran's nuclear facilities.[35] Iran has also acquired at least ten Russian-made Pantsyr-S1E self-propelled short-range gun and missile air defense systems from Syria.[36] In March 2007, the Russian investigative journalist Ivan Safronov died mysteriously after learning that Moscow's military-industrial complex was planning to transfer S-300VB missiles to Iran via Belarus.[37] These are Russia's equivalent to the U.S.'s Patriot missiles: The S-300VB is capable of intercepting ballistic missiles and has a range of 150 kilometers.[38] As of this writing, it appears that Iran has not received the weapons, but Iranian officials are eager to do so.[39] There are numerous reports that Russia and China have also covertly sold Iran an array of surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), combat aircraft, sophisticated radar systems, and fast-attack missile vessels.[40] Some of the SAMs have apparently made their way to insurgents fighting coalition forces in Iraq.[41] Sources also claim that either China or Kyrgyzstan has sold the Iranians high-speed torpedoes originally produced by the Russians.[42]

 

George L. Simpson, Jr., is professor and chair of the history department at High Point University.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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