Everything has changed

Posted: June 22nd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

UPDATE: I’m going on a vacation, so I probably won’t be posting for the next 10 days or so.

cross-psoted with FPW.

Let’s admit it – there is almost no reliable news as to what is actually happening in Iran. The pictures from the last couple of days don’t show the mass demonstrations of the first few days following the presidential elections. It seems that the number of protesters dropped from hundreds of thousands to just thousands and even hundreds. If this is so, it could be a bad sign for the reformist camp. On the other hand, the political heat is still on: Friday’s warnings from he supreme leader Ali Khamenei not only failed to calm the streets, but seemed to toughen the position of the reformist leaders – Mousavi, Karubi, and above all, Rafsanjani. Again, most of the political drama is probably happening backstage, so we can’t know anything for sure.

Western leaders – probably under public pressure – are starting to take a more committed stand on the reformists’ side. Germany’s Angela Merkel took a firm position in support of the opposition, but the UK government and the American administration still chose their words very carefully. As I wrote before, too-overt support statements could end up doing do more harm than good, but on the other hand, when Iranians are calling “death to the dictator”, the careful language of president Obama seems somewhat out of sync with his inspiring speech in Cairo.

One thing is very clear right now – the Iranian “Islamic revolution” model has suffered a tremendous blow. Even if the Iranian leadership can sort the mess without sharing power with the reformists (something which doesn’t seem very likely now), it is clear that the system as a whole doesn’t enjoy the legitimacy that everyone though it did. The Iranian leadership will have to be a lot more careful from now on, and concentrate on internal stability. It is not sure how much effort it will put on exporting the revolution, and on supporting Hamas and Hizbullah.

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Israel and a Nuclear Iran

Posted: December 23rd, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off

I just ran into an interesting post on Yossi Melman’s blog. Melman is Haaretz’s intelligence and secret services reporter. His blog [in Hebrew] deals with national security issues and bicycle riding.

In this post Melman lists some of the major mistakes by the Israeli intelligence agencies in recent years – like missing out completely on Hamas’ possible success in the elections, or the Hizbullah’s intentions in Lebanon.

Most of all, he deals with the intelligence assumption that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction prior to The Second Gulf War. Unlike the US, says Melman, Israel never had a public debate on that error and its consequences.

But the nugget comes at the end. Following a mail from one of his readers, Melman has an interesting and disturbing observation:

“A military and financially strong Iraq was one of Israel’s strategic assets. Iraq and Iran kept maintaining their conflict, and none of them would have allowed the other side to get such an advantage that would put his sovereignty in danger. By encouraging the US invasion of Iraq, Israel has brought upon itself a nuclear Iran”