31 July 2006

Iran's moves and how it coincides with their policy

To determine what the outlook of Iran is towards the Middle East and the world, one really does need to look at their activities and statements and see if there is a basic accord between them or some other form of connectivity. This shall take a bit and ramble about, so do excuse the mess! Spelling goes unchecked and so does formatting. But do want to get some of this background material posted.

Lets start with a Wikipedia entry on Foreign Relations of Iran and take the highlights:

It takes stances against the United States and Israel, the former as a military power that threatens it in the Persian Gulf, and the latter as part of its stance to support the Palestinians.

It wants to eliminate outside influence in the region. Iran sees itself as a regional power, when global powers such as the United States or the United Kingdom do not supersede it. It seeks to reduce their presence in the Persian Gulf wherever possible.

It pursues a great increase in diplomatic contacts with developing countries, as part of an effort to build trade and political support, now that it has lost its pre-revolutionary US backing.

That seems pretty clear. Go against outsiders, reduce of eliminate their influence, take a leading role in the Middle East equivalent to that of a Major Power , and work with lesser Nations to help build yourself up into a real and credible player.

This came from the post-Revolutionary times:
At this time, Iran found itself very isolated, due to its hardline and aggressive Islamic foreign policy, which wanted to see its revolutionary ideals spread across the Persian Gulf. This resulted in confrontation with the U.S. in the hostage crisis.
And they have another, non-western problem, from illegal drugs:
Despite substantial interdiction efforts, Iran remains a key transshipment point for Southwest Asian heroin (primarily from neighboring Afghanistan) to Europe; domestic consumption of narcotics remains a persistent problem and Iranian press reports estimate that there are at least 1.2 million drug users in the country. Iran has been trying to increase the profile of its anti-drugs campaign abroad, but it is having little success. Most countries support it politically, but refuse Iran the critical equipment and training it needs.
Thus they are stuck in the quandry of trying to actually *enforce* laws that are not being followed and have no means to do so... even as a totalitarian or authoritarian Nation. Give Mao this, he just lined up the drug pushers and their families and had them *shot*. That pretty much ended the drug trade in China for some decades. But, since they are not up to that, they are stuck moaning just like every other Nation on the planet.

Jailed student dies on hunger strike in Iran (31 JUL 2006, Reuters):
TEHRAN (Reuters) - An Iranian student has died in jail while on a hunger strike aimed at persuading authorities to release him, Justice Minister Jamal Karimirad said on Monday.

Akbar Mohammadi, arrested for taking part in pro-democracy demonstrations in 1999, was the first political dissident known to have died in prison in Iran for many years.


Mohammadi was originally sentenced to death as "mohareb", or "one who wages war against God", for his part in the 1999 protests in which tens of thousands of people took to the streets after police and hardline vigilantes attacked a peaceful campus rally in support of press freedoms.

But like other student activists sentenced to death, his punishment was reduced to a 15-year jail term in 2000 following the intervention of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Khalil Bahramian, Mohammadi's lawyer, criticised the judiciary for not allowing him to visit his client in Tehran's notorious Evin prison, where most dissidents are held.

"When I heard about his hunger strike, I wanted to visit him. But I was denied by the prison authorities," he told ILNA.

"This is a violation of international conventions and Iran's Islamic laws."
So, demonstrate for freedom of the press and go to jail for at *least* 15 years. Say, I wonder what THEY do who try to publish State Secrets?

But this, of course, is not new (Congressional Research Services document,
Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses, updated 2 JUN 2006, pp. 6-7) :
Pro-reform elements gradually became disillusioned with Khatemi for his refusal to confront the hardliners. This dissatisfaction erupted in major student demonstrations in July 1999 in which four students were killed by regime security forces, and Khatemi reluctantly backed the crackdown. On June 8, 2003, a time period marking the fourth anniversary of those riots, regime forces again suppressed pro-reform demonstrators. President Bush issued statements in support of the 2003 demonstrators, although then Secretary of State Powell said the protests represented a “family fight” within Iran.
Some "family fight" that ends up with people killed! And NO Hatfields or McCoys were sighted in the vicinity, either. But be that as it may, the current President of Iran now has some interesting views on Israel (CRS document, p. 9):
On October 26, 2005, he stated at a Tehran conference entitled “A World Without Zionism” that “Israel should be wiped off the map” and that “anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nations’ fury.” The statement was widely condemned, including in a U.N. Security Council statement and Senate and House resolutions (H.Res. 523 and S.Res. 292) passed in their respective chambers. The statement caused U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to delete Iran from his Middle East trip itinerary in November.
  • On December 9, 2005, and then again on December 14, 2005, and May 28, 2006, he questioned the veracity of the Holocaust. In the December 14 case, he called it a “myth” — and stated that Europe should create a Jewish state in Europe, not in the Middle East. (Purportedly at Ahmadinejad’s behest, in January 2006, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said it would hold a conference on the Holocaust.)
  • On January 1, 2006, picking up that same theme, Ahmadinejad said that the European countries created Israel after World War II to continue the process of ridding the European continent of Jews.
  • On April 14, 2006, he said Israel is “heading toward annihilation.”
What a sweet individual! And since we are hearing *no* other foreign policy from Iran, he looks to be speaking for the Nation.

Be that as it may, the CRS document also goes into the Iranian military! This little paper is just chock-a-block with facts... like its listing of the most recent human and civil rights violations there... on the military side it has this to say (p. 16):
Iran’s armed forces total about 550,000 personnel, including both the regular military and the Revolutionary Guard. The latter, which also controls the Basij volunteer militia that enforces adherence to Islamic customs, is generally loyal to the hardliners and, according to some recent analysis, is becoming more assertive. That trend will likely continue now that a former Guard has become president. Iran’s conventional forces are likely sufficient to deter or fend off conventional threats from Iran’s relatively weak neighbors such as post-war Iraq, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Afghanistan but are largely lacking in logistical ability to project power much beyond Iran’s borders. Lacking such combat capability, Iran has avoided cause for conflict with its more militarily capable neighbors such as Turkey and Pakistan.

Iran, which has completed a force modernization with Russian-supplied combat aircraft and tanks and Chinese-supplied naval craft in the mid-1990s, is not considered by U.S. commanders in the Gulf to be a significant conventional threat to the United States. However, Iran has developed a structure for unconventional warfare that gives Iran the capability to partly compensate for its conventional weakness.
So they did a mid-1990's upgrade with Russian tanks and Chinese aircraft, but not much to the rest of their ground forces. Equipment over people with a hard core Revolutionary/Special Guard that adheres closely to the power structure. Around page 25 they get to Iran's support for terrrorism in the Middle East using Sadr in Iraq and supporting the Palestinians somewhat.

And the Basij are a real piece of work! These are the folks who organized children for 'human wave' attacks against Iraq in the Iran/Iraq war, enforce Islamic dress code at will in workplaces, checkpoints, on the street, are used to confront peaceful demonstrators terrorize them, and generally do the 'dirty work' of ensuring that no one stands up to the regime. Sometimes known as the Special Guard or Secret Police. You know, the folks that beat up women and girls for showing just a bit too much skin or wearing make-up... that is the Basij.

As to Hezbollah, the folks at CRS put this little item together on (p. 27):
Lebanese Hizballah. Iran maintains a close relationship with Lebanese Hizballah, a Shiite Islamist group and designated FTO, formed in 1982 by Lebanese Shiite clerics sympathetic to Iran’s Islamic revolution and responsible for several acts of anti-U.S. and anti-Israel terrorism in the 1980s and 1990s. Hizballah maintains military forces along the border that operate outside Lebanese government control, even though the United Nations has certified that Israel had completed its withdrawal from southern Lebanon (May 2000) and despite U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559 (September 2, 2004) that requires the militia’s dismantlement. Hizballah asserts that Israel still occupies small tracts of Lebanese territory (Shebaa Farms). A small number (less than 50, according to a Washington Post report of April 13, 2005) of Iranian Revolutionary Guards reportedly remain in Lebanon to coordinate Iranian arms deliveries to Hizballah. Past reported shipments have included Stingers obtained by Iran in Afghanistan, mortars that can reach the Israeli city of Haifa and, in 2002, over 8,000 Katyusha rockets. The State Department report on terrorism for 2004 (released April 2005) says Iran supplied Hizballah with an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the Mirsad, that Hizballah briefly flew over the Israel-Lebanon border on November 7, 2004, and April 11, 2005.
Then there is the Daily Alert for 18 OCT 2002:
Iranian Missiles in Lebanon Can Reach Tel Aviv - Menachem Gantz
Iran has transferred missiles to its bases in Lebanon with a range that can strike Tel Aviv, according to an Italian newspaper quoting Western intelligence sources. The missiles were provided to the Iranian Guards in the Bekaa Valley but not to the Hizballah. (Maariv)

See also Hizballah Seeking Long-Range Missiles - Aluf Benn
The Hizballah is trying to get a ground-to-ground missile with a 300-kilometer range, that could hit anywhere in Israel north of Beersheva, a senior Israeli source said Thursday. The Hizballah currently has Fajr 5 missiles that can reach Haifa and the source said that the situation on the northern border "is very dangerous." (Ha'aretz)
Can't say that no one knew about these things... but no one wanted to pay *any* attention to them.

Arming Hezbollah in the more-or-less open, via LGF (11 OCT 2004), report from Haaretz (link dead):
A senior Iranian official has admitted that Tehran supplied Hezbollah with the drone that spent several minutes in Israeli skies in the north of the country on Sunday, an Arab-language newspaper reported Wednesday.

Haaretz reported Tuesday that Iranian drone experts from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards took part in the launch from Lebanon of a Hezbollah drone that spent several minutes over northern Israel this week.

On Wednesday, the Arab-language Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper, which is published in London, quoted a senior official in the Revolutionary Guards as saying that the drone was one of eight Iran-produced unmanned airborne vehicles that the country gave Hezbollah in August.

Iran also supplied Hezbollah with surface-to-surface missiles that have a 70-kilometer range, according to the report.

The official also said Iran had launched similar drones over Iraq to garner information on American military activity there.

Nice to let Hezbollah have those things, no? And then give them better SSM capability to boot! Welcome to being the Iranian Foreign Legion.

Now, what about Iran and al Qaeda? We get this interesting column on the topic to think about...Shadow War By Richard Miniter (27 OCT 2004, Washington Times):
Seemingly desperate, bin Laden recorded an extraordinary audiotape and sent it via courier to Ali Khomenei, the grand ayatollah of Iran's Supreme Council. On that tape, according to a former Iranian intelligence officer I interviewed in Europe, bin Laden asked for Iran's help. In exchange for safe harbor and funding, he pledged to put al Qaeda at the service of Iran to combat American forces in Afghanistan and in Iraq, where al Qaeda leaders believed American intervention was inevitable. Bin Laden reportedly pledged, "If I die, my followers will be told to follow you [Khomenei]."

Apparently the taped appeal worked. Murtaza Rezai, the director for Ayatollah Khomenei's personal intelligence directorate, began secret negotiations with bin Laden. Under the agreement between the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and al Qaeda, several convoys transported bin Laden's four wives, as well as his eldest son and heir apparent, Saad bin Laden, into Iran. Saad reportedly remains there today.

Then, on July 26, 2002, bin Laden himself crossed into Iran from the Afghanistan border near Zabol, traveling north to the Iranian city of Mashad.

Over the next year, bin Laden holed up in a series of safe houses controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard between Qazvin and Karaj, two cities along a highway west of Teheran. He moved frequently to avoid detection or betrayal. He was not alone. Two intelligence sources told me bin Laden was "guarded by the Revo-lu-tionary Guard."

Bin Laden also traveled with al Qaeda's number two man, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was wounded and required medical treatment, my sources said. For a time, bin Laden moved freely with and crossed into Afghanistan at will, usually through an Iranian border checkpoint near Zabol?.

Why would Iran, a predominantly Shi'ite Muslim land, work with a predominantly Sunni Muslim terror organization like bin Laden's? The short answer is personal connections, shared goals, and a common enemy. Ayman al-Zawahiri, a bona fide Sunni extremist, has received financial support from Iran since 1988. Bin Laden himself is believed to have met with Iranian intelligence officials at Islamic conferences in Khartoum, Sudan, in the early 1990s. Both bin Laden and the mullahs share an Islamist worldview that calls for the armed overthrow of Arab dictatorships and the restoration of a single caliph who will rule according to Shari'a law.
Remember Bin Laden is Wahabbi and Khameini is one of those despicable Shia, but they can at least agree that the Caliphate needs to come back... but disagree on what form that will be... well, time enough to fight that fight later, I guess.

And what does the CRS document have to say about Iran and al Qaeda? Well, this on page 29:
Al Qaeda. Iran is not a natural ally of Al Qaeda, largely because Al Qaeda is an orthodox Sunni Muslim organization. However, U.S. officials have said since January 2002 that it is unclear whether Iran has arrested senior Al Qaeda operatives who are believed to be in Iran. These figures are purported to include Al Qaeda spokesman Sulayman Abu Ghaith, top operative Sayf Al Adl, and Osama bin Laden’s son, Saad. A German monthly magazine, Cicero, reported in late October 2005 that Iran is allowing 25 high-ranking Al Qaeda activists, including three sons of bin Laden, to stay in homes belonging to the Revolutionary Guard. This report, if true, would contradict Iran’s assertion on July 23, 2003 that it had “in custody” senior Al Qaeda figures. U.S. officials blamed the May 12, 2003 bombings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia against four expatriate housing complexes on these operatives, saying they have been able to contact associates outside Iran. Possibly in response to the criticism, on July 16, 2005 Iran’s Intelligence Minister said that 200 Al Qaeda members are in Iranian jails and that Iran had broken up an Al Qaeda cell planning attacks on Iranian students. Hardliners in Iran might want to protect Al Qaeda activists as leverage against the United States and its allies, and some say Iran might want to exchange them for a U.S. hand-over of People’s Mojahedin activists under U.S. control in Iraq. U.S. officials have called on Iran to turn them over to their countries of origin or to third countries for trial.

The 9/11 Commission report said several of the September 11 hijackers and other plotters, possibly with official help, might have transited Iran, but the report does not assert that the Iranian government cooperated with or knew about the plot. Another bin Laden ally, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, reportedly transited Iran after the September 11 attacks and took root in Iraq, where he is a major insurgent leader.
Now, perhaps the CRS folks could dig a bit more into this, especially in light of the Wahhabi Imam in KSA saying not to give *any* support, not even prayers, to Hezbollah... and al Qaeda saying it will send folks to HELP them. Makes one wonder which side they are on... or confirms they are now on their OWN side.

So, how can this be summed up? Well, one of the pointed pieces of outlook on Saddam was that his army was using basic Soviet equipment which was 'good for parades and intimidating civilians' but not so good at fighting a real war. Iran is full up with that stuff, which it uses in just that way when it can use it *at all*. Instead of using the military to crack down on protests and such, with tanks and helicopters and all that fun junk, they, instead, send in the Revolutionary Guard/Basij/hired thugs. These are held close by affiliation ties and payment ties, unlike the military which sees itself as 'protecting the people'. So sending in the Regular Army or Police to do this things might just start a rebellion or revolution, and a well armed one at that! Those tanks sure do intimidate, and it doesn't matter if you are a mere civilian or the High Imam, that barrel pointed at *your* house means business.

Thusly Iran concentrates on neat looking toys: cruise missiles, IRBM's, nuclear capability, cute boats and the such like. It does *not* arm its Army effectively for external warfare nor its police for counter-insurgency operations. And those that they *do* use do not have great toys to play with nor are generally well equipped. As seen some months ago, they could own the daylight hours, but after dark they could not track nor intimidate much of anyone. They have *not* faced an armed rebellion yet. The operative word being 'yet'.

So, being limited on what they want to do internally in their own Nation, the regime in Iran looked outside to arm its own little Foreign Legions. And Hezbollah, being the first and oldest of these, got the best toys to play with. We have seen how heavily they have been armed with rocket launching systems. And Hezbollah even has its *own* INTEL wing, to support it, beyond mere tactical concerns, their agents rove worldwide to get help for their cause of terror all the way to the continent of North America because they are already *in* South America as witnessed by their July 18, 1994 bombing of Jewish center in Buenos Aires, Argentina. So global expansionist group directed but not controlled directly by Tehran. These fighters get better training, equipment and supplies than even the Revolutionary/Special Guards that *protect* the regime at home.

To those poor weaklings led by Sadr, they give scraps and some INTEL capability, but that is fully Iranian supplied, as witness by their recent capturing in and around Basra (29 JUN 2006):
BAQUBA, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraqi and U.S. troops battled Shi'ite militiamen in a village northeast of Baghdad on Thursday, and witnesses and police said U.S. helicopters bombed orchards to flush out gunmen hiding in the palm groves.

Iraqi security officials said Iranian fighters had been captured in the fighting, in which the commander of an Iraqi quick reaction force and two soldiers were shot dead by a sniper. They did not say how the Iranians had been identified.

The U.S. military had no immediate comment.

Police said the fighting was still going on at 6 p.m. (1400 GMT) in the predominantly Shi'ite village of Khairnabat, 3 km (two miles) north of Baquba, capital of Diyala province. Local residents reported hearing shooting and explosions.

A bomb in the town's main market killed 18 people on Monday. On Wednesday, Shi'ite militiamen fired mortars at a Sunni mosque in nearby Miqdadiya, destroying the building and 20 shops.

Police said the mosque attack and other attacks on Sunnis in Khairnabat itself persuaded Sunnis that it would be safer to leave the village. But as a convoy of vehicles was leaving on Thursday, "gunmen surrounded them and started shooting," a captain in Diyala's police intelligence unit told Reuters.

Baquba's quick reaction force, an Interior Ministry unit, responded and clashed with the fighters, the captain said. Iraqi and U.S. military reinforcements then arrived and sealed off the village.

Police and witnesses said U.S. helicopters had bombed orchards where militiamen were believed to be hiding.


The captain and other Interior Ministry sources said the commander of the quick reaction force, Colonel Sami Hussein, and two other soldiers were killed by a sniper.

No other casualties were reported from the clashes and police said it was not clear how many civilians had been killed or wounded in the initial shooting at the convoy. The wounded were taken to a hospital in Baquba.

"We captured a number of militants and were surprised to see that some of them were Iranian fighters," the police intelligence captain said.

An Interior Ministry official, who did not want to be named, also said Iranian gunmen had been captured.

The United States and Britain have accused Shi'ite Iran of meddling in Iraq's affairs and providing military assistance to Iraq's pro-government Shi'ite militias. However, there have been few instances of Iranians actually being captured inside Iraq.

Among Shi'ite militants are Iraqis who grew up in refugee camps in Iran and are often described by Iraqi compatriots as "Iranians" because of their accented Arabic.

Police have said Shi'ite fighters in the area belong to the Mehdi Army of radical, Iranian-backed cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Sadr's movement, which staged two uprisings against occupying troops in 2004, denies being behind sectarian violence.

Diyala, where al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed earlier this month, has seen much sectarian violence among its diverse population. A number of Shi'ite shrines were destroyed in attacks there six weeks ago.

(Additional reporting by Ross Colvin, Mohammed Ramahi and Hiba Moussa in Baghdad)
Easier to outfit the homegrown folks and send them into hostile territory, I guess, than depend upon Sadrites to show any competence. Good thing as the one thing that Sadr has only proven himself capable of doing is saving his own skin: a great organizational leader he is not, but a rabble rouser, most definitely.

Iran's history of wanting to be a Major Power in the region, if not the LEADING Power has been as long as the history of Persia. The current religious backed strain of this is just the most recent in a long history from there to attempt to assert control and authority over neighbors as their powers come and go. But a threat to regional and now global stability is now engendered by their actions and activities. It is time to put an end to this adventurism via terrorism, so that the very framework of civilization is not undone.

30 July 2006

The Big Hezbollah Banner

My thanks to Pajamas Media for pointing this item out at Power Line.

Here we see the modern use of Print-On-Demand by terrorists, to vent frustration at the fact that their bluff has been called... and that they are endangering innocent civilians. So they generated up this little number:originalA beautiful piece of work, artistically speaking, although they did use a low resolution image of Secretary of State Rice to start with, but that can't be helped with when you are in the middle of a war, I guess. Note the lovely finish on it... such beautiful blending and composition.... and lets take a bit further a look at its sizing:Pretty big! 16' x 32' or so.... measurements inexact, of course, but good for a rough estimate of things...

There are a few main problems with creating a graphic for outdoor signage that is 200" by 382" and that is actually doing the photocompositing, art work generation, tonal balancing and then doing a color match for the type of output media being used. At this size you either end up with three 300" long strips of output from a 72" plotter on continuous roll-fed media OR six 200" long strips. There has to be good color and tonal balancing between either runs on a single machine (preferred) or across multiple machines (much more challenging). Then, once finished, the entire piece needs to be mosaiced together after drying.

Unless you have access to one of these: FloraSuperwide HJII 5000 at 16.4' wide or 198". This graphic gets you to around 410 square feet of output, which is about a half-hour at high quality mode output for the HJII 5000. Depending upon media type... this looks to be some sort of vinyl or thick plastic, so that may add an extra couple of hours to the drying time, depending upon exact output device and media type. It isn't Tyvek, which can take well nigh forever with the *right* inks, so that is a plus. It does not look like a matte finish, and paper at this size would not have the integrity to withstand ripping. Probably some sort of printed fabric or mesh, possibly kevlar, although that would be a bit of overkill. Most likely a vinyl of some sort. So thrown in an extra hour or so of drying time.

However you do it, the cost for output (not equipment) is in the $2k-$3k range.

Cost of the plotter is probably in the $200k range, without RIP (Raster Image Processor to translate from your computer's color space to the colorspace and output size of your output device), computers for composition, some sort of color control system, etc. All of that can run you another $200k easily, if not more.

Believe me, having worked in this area you *want* one continuous piece of output with NO cutting and piecing together. Colormatching between even the same series of plotter is nasty. And seams are extremely visible when you do such work, not a great way to impress a customer.

Now, since the folks who made this banner were *not* going to wait around for a few hours to gather photos, do composition work, masking, generate up original art work, composite that, and so on, just for a single use... they probably pre-made the entire thing while leaving space available for quickly doing a type mask to overlay and quick composite. Once that is done the entire file needs to go to the RIP before hitting the plotter. Depending upon the speed of the computer and its storage capacity, that RIP could be anywhere from a half-hour to four hours. Note that you *cannot* pre-RIP this as the type needs to mask out the other layers.

What you come down to is that this graphic was pre-composited, leaving space to have type inserted, then, with that done it was sent to the RIP and printed,then dried flat, rolled up and taken to wherever it is they put it up. Give an hour of roll/unroll and transport, and a half-hour for setup to this point.

Roll/Transport/Unroll/setup - 1.5 hours
Dry time - plastic or fabric substrate - up to 4 hours
Colorproof - 1 hour
RIP - half-hour to 4 hours
Time to type in the text - 1 minute

Composition to the 'ready for text' stage - call it 3 hours.

It looks like mid-late afternoon and the bombing took place in the morning. Say no one gets to real work until 9 AM... yes, that all fits for a pre-composited piece of work ready to go for when the blood runs. And that is if they are using *good* equipment... put in a slower RIP, use more than one output device, color match, realize you did it wrong with a colorproof on a smaller device, re-run the RIP, proof it, print it, dry it, roll/transport/unroll/setup... just *barely*. If they got it ALL right the very first time.

Iran's Other Foreign Legion

Now, with one already pretty well delineated, it is time to look at the other Foreign Legion of Iran: al Sadr's Mahdi Army.

First a word from one of the followers who left (16 JUL 2006, NewsMax):

"I used to fight for free," a former member of Sadr's forces tells Newsweek, "but today the Mahdi Army receives millions of dollars every month from Iran in exchange for carrying out the Iranian agenda."
Clear enough, and if you scan through news accounts from Iraq or Iraqi Blogs, you will find this to be the case. Sadr's Mahdi Army is a bought and paid for force by Iran, with Sadr the main pawn they use to control it. Actually, Sadr has no love for the current government nor the New Iraqi Army, nor Americans, nor Israeli's and, for the most part, parrots the Iranian party line very well. And they bluster with hatred and bomb blasts and killings and all other sorts of niceties one expects of a bought and paid for thug.

A word from one of his current followers (26 JUL 2006 Threatswatch.org)[bolding mine]:
Meanwhile, Sadr's followers in parliament pressed his case and made the gravest threats so far against the government. As reported in Al-Hayat, parliamentary leader Falah Shinaishal led a sit-in protest in front of Maliki's office in Baghdad, demanding that he cancel his trip in protest over attacks on the Mahdi Army as well as U.S. support for Israeli military action in Lebanon. Sahib al-Amari, noted as a leader of the Sadrist faction, warned of direct conflict between "units of the Mahdi Army on the one hand and American and Iraqi forces on the other hand if the arrests and raids against the Mahdi Army by these forces do not halt." Amari specifically pointed to "the occupying forces, with the support of the 37th Battalion in the Iraqi Army burned down a house in Sadr City and arrested an entire family." Amari further stated that U.S. troops had attacked "the office of the martyr Sadr [likely a reference to Muqtada's father] in Mahmudiya killing 10 guards and letting loose 49 prisoners who had been captured by the Sadr faction police." The article quotes Amari as ending by "warning of a flood of fighting in the streets of Iraq between the Mahdi Army and the American troops along with the government troops who support them."
You see we are so nasty as to disregard the 'Sadr Police' because they are ILLEGAL and release individuals held ILLEGALLY by them. Why we are giving law and order a bad name... by enforcing law and order! Should just let vigilante justice roam throughout Sadr City, I guess.

So lets say you are Iran and have TWO Foreign Legions: one is well equipped and trained, and getting outfought in Lebanon, and the other is a scruffy group of individuals that are in your neighbors Country to cause trouble and unrest, and getting picked off slowly but surely by the New Iraqi Army and the MNF. What do you do? Why, wouldn't it be handy if you could sacrifice some of your no-account scruffians to sacrifice themselves for the better forces that have a better long-range utility?

Now lets hear some words about the Mahdi Army from some of its leaders (24 JUL 2006 Washington Times)[reg. req. link]:
A senior member of Muqtada al-Sadr's Iraqi Shi'ite militia, the Mahdi Army, says the group is forming a squadron of up to 1,500 elite fighters to go to Lebanon.

The plan reflects the potential of the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah to strengthen radical elements in Iraq and neighboring countries and to draw other regional players into the Lebanon conflict.

"We are choosing the men right now," said Abu Mujtaba, who works in the loosely organized following of radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. "We are preparing the right men for the job."

Mr. Mujtaba, who was interviewed in Baghdad, said some of the men have had special training but did not specify what kind.

Sheik al-Sadr's black-clad armed militia numbers in the thousands, operates throughout central and southern Iraq and is thought to be responsible for numerous killings of Sunnis.
Ah, the luxury of controlling external military organizations that are NO THREAT to you at home.

So, all we have to do is pay some attention to the communications in and around Sadr City, keep a close watch on gatherings of men headed to various nexus points... wait for them to get into trucks/cars/buses/etc. to head out of town... and then give them a swell visit from the New Iraqi Army, backed by some aerial ordinance courtesy the US Air Force.

A big 'thank you' to the folks at the Mahdi Army for providing us with forewarning and what to look for!

Hope that Iranian money spends *real* well, wherever you end up. I suggest you spend it *quickly*.

29 July 2006

An agreement to 'disarm' Hezbollah and what it should look like

A hat tip to Captain's Quarters Blog on this news item from an AP Reporter via Yahoo! News.

Now, as they want to consider themselves a 'Guerilla' organization, this military section of Hezbollah can do the fine thing that an aggressor in a war does when they consider themselves defeated: Surrender Unconditionally.

Israel may work out other agreements with the Government of Lebanon, but this military part of Hezbollah should be required to surrender without reservation and without being able to set pre-conditions.

Such a surrender, I would imagine, would consist of the following:

  1. All current Hezbollah fighters, administrators or any members dealing with this military organization are to head to detention areas where they will relinquish their arms, possibly to UN forces that will tally and track each piece of equipment, register each individual and send them on for further processing and demobilization.

  2. All prisoners held by Hezbollah shall be turned over to the UN and third party medical organization for interview and checking upon condition of that individual. Hezbollah captors will be named for each and held accountable for any crimes committed upon prisoners under their oversight.

  3. Hezbollah shall present a complete listing of all of its equipment, men and supplies, their locations. Israeli forces with a UN observer will then go to each of these places and bring such things in for further documenting by the UN. Under no account will the UN do this on its own, it is merely an observer.

  4. All Hezbollah members of the 'Guerilla' forces shall be interviewed by Israeli Military forces, and have a UN observer present in each case to document that nothing illegal has taken place.

  5. All Hezbollah members will be put under Israeli military law for adjudication. If they adjudicate that a member is not worth trying via their system or is not culpable for war crimes, they will be documented as such. Other members to be tried will be held by Israeli military forces and given the normal access to Red Cross/Red Crescent and other things agreed to under the Geneva Conventions by Israel.

  6. All released Hezbollah members will be recorded. If any take up arms against Israel for any reason AGAIN and are captured, they will be summarily executed. If any commits crimes against Israel and is found guilty, they shall be summarily executed.

  7. All Israeli military court proceedings shall be attended by a single UN observer. If the detainee does not wish for an Israeli lawyer, the UN may offer a lawyer or the individual may represent themself in court.

  8. All standard Israeli military recourses are available to these detainees. Israeli military justice has final say on each and every case.

  9. If, in the listing of activities, a UN panel sees a cause for high War Crimes or Crimes Against Humanity by any Hezbollah detainee, they may request to hold an international court proceeding IN Israel after normal Israeli military proceedings are concluded with that individual.

  10. Hezbollah, as a complete political and military organization shall be held accountable for the funds to repair the damage they have caused and pay death benefits to those killed by such attacks.

  11. Hezbollah's political arm shall sign off on a change to their charter that renounces all claims against Israel, renounces all goals against Israel, renounces seeking military domination of Lebanon, renounces all separate State based interactions for arms and military supplies from Foreign Nations, affirms the right of Israel to Exist and that her borders are sacrosanct. Any member of Hezbollah that does not agree to this, shall be considered an OUTLAW by the UN and have warrants for their capture and return to custody put up. If the UN is unwilling to do this, it will be considered a null and void organization for this agreement and other, multilateral oversight and observation shall be sought.

  12. Any identified member of the Hezbollah forces that does not show up, within a given timeframe, shall immediately be declared an OUTLAW and international criminal that is committing a war crime by not honorably standing down.

  13. No part of Hezbollah may place any demands upon Israel and must give up all past claims against Israel.

  14. The State of Lebanon and Israel can work out their differences as they see fit in regards to prisoner exchanges.
That is how a fighting force honorably stands down and surrenders and disarms.

I would expect that Israel would *insist* upon something like this.

Israel has played absolutely and thoroughly to the rules and they would ensure that surrender to them was: Complete, Just and Honorable.

Now it is time for Hezbollah to see if it can *live* with its actions.

The time for 'half-a-loaf' is over. Hezbollah went for everything and when they want to stand down, they must MEAN IT.

Simple rules, not simplistic

What can I say, but that last night I was more in Dreaming than Waking, more towards shadow darkness than shadow light, and was a bit distracted also... I took the wrong insulin. An easy though not incredibly easy mistake to make. One gets used to the action of picking up, measuring, inserting, compensating, withdrawing and then actually giving oneself an injection that often times one does not check the actual bottle one is using. The insulin glargine (tradename Lantus) bottle is taller, thinner and has an unmistakable purple seal and cast to it. Sitting on the other part of my storage area, across from it, is my other insulin (tradename Levemir). My nightly dose is of the latter and not the former, as that is my morning regulatory insulin. Both have long uptake times compared to humalog insulin, and so the pharmokinetics and uptake rates are, within bounds, known. Of the two, the Lantus is longer lasting than the Levemir (24 hours +/-2, vice 8-10 hours), so the former is what gets me round the clock coverage and the latter for the nighttime highs I experience.

There, you now have the exact scientific information of them, but what does one do when such a thing happens. Well, first off, don't panic! Keep your towel handy!

Second, realize that there is a *derived* rule for how the human body reacts with this insulin as has been seen across thousands if not tens of thousands of users. And that rule is: the 3 day rule.

When taking such a long lasting insulin, your body adjusts to this uptake over *time* and that time period for full adjustment is: 3 days. If you make *any* systemic use change of glargine, you must use it for 3 days to understand what your body is doing with this change. So, I am saved by that, as this will *not* be a systemic change and is but a mere hiccup. And the next morning, which is this morning, what do I do?

Well, the pharmokinetics play in here. Last nights dose will last until about the same time *tonight*, and as it is MORE than my daily dose, trying to keep to the daily regimen this morning would over-insulinize my body: I would be keeping extreme track of my blood glucose levels to ensure that I did not drop into an insulin reaction or insulin shock. Thus, I ride out the larger dose with none today. At the end I restart where I left off, take the other insulin tonight and then my normal dose of glargine tomorrow.

So the metadata of this is the 3 day rule. This rule must needs encapsulate the entire pharmacological reactivity of the medication, normal human response to it and general outlook on the medication itself. You *cannot* derive this rule from the pharmokinetics *alone* unless your model system robustly describes the long term activity of the human body. That we do not have, so actual data points tell us how the system responds overall and is *also* encapsulated by this rule. Note that the rule itself explicitly states NONE of this, it tells you merely that your body needs 3 days to adjust to new long-lasting changes to insulin glargine, and so long as you do not make long-lasting changes and merely mis-apply a dose, you have time to think things out and recover.

This concept plays out in many areas be it science, math, politics, or system dynamics: simple rules often govern complex systems and will, of themselves, give rise to complexity.

As an example: Iran, Syria and Hezbollah made a mistake in assuming the world would act as they expected it to when staging a kidnapping of Israeli soldiers and staged an incursion into Israel. They knew the system and expected it to act in one way and one way *only*. But this system is complex, although governed by the simple rules of Nation States. In the complex system of the Middle East, the stasis of the Cold War had been held in place by an interplay of autocratic regimes and concrete lines of religious and ethnic outlook. All of that was built upon fault lines, and the fault lines had been given lubrication in the center of the Middle East where most of them run *through*: Iraq. That area is in heavy seismic shift in all the human realms of society, religion, ethnic outlook, commerce, and outlook. This shifting crosses Nation State boundaries and is re-aligning the Middle East. The simple action to remove a long-term threat in the support of State sponsorship of terrorism has done this. Now that the autocratic regime is gone, the sponsorship has evaporated and, for the first time in decades, the people of this cobbled together Nation finally get to start taking a look at each other as *people* and *individuals*.

There are old grudges there, and they are a leading cause of death these days. And there is sectarian strife due to re-alignment. And ethnic views change through this, too. They are forming the new and adjustable system of coping with the Middle East, and it is a damn hard thing to do. Makes the squabbles between Quakers and Puritans and Catholics and Anglicans and Native religions in the 13 Colonies that became the US seem quaint and naive in comparison. Yet those Colonies knew that if that was not dealt with at the *start* that the New Nation would be disunited and might even start taking up arms against each other on that basis. They opened their history books to the not so distant past and quivered: all that Europe had gone through for hundreds of years could be visited on this New Nation in full force. That was nipped in the bud, so while a Deistic approach that was generalized was *engendered* TO the system, it was not engendered WITHIN the system, so that EVERYONE would have common peace to abide by. That is a simple rule for approach: ascribe what you will TO the system to make it reasonable, but nothing WITHIN the system to make it unreasonable by ALL that must use it.

Iraq, after 3 decades and more of a single dictator, some decade and more of a Fascistic State Party in control and then having a turbulent time before that does *not* have that background and common near history in their minds. The outlook of Iraq is that of *ancient* grudges that have problems going away. Call it the 'Hatfield and McCoy' viewpoint, but writ large with thousands at beck and call, armed with nasty weapons of all sorts. They *also* need to find a system that is ascribed TO many things, but codifies only what ALL can agree to.

That perspective is changing the Middle East as a whole. The chatrooms and message boards are lit up with the free flow of information and ideas from Iraq and realizing that they are hammering out a new way of approaching the world. And desperately striving not to be thrown back into barbarism and sectarian violence forever more. Iran sees this in horror as that is *exactly* what it requires to dominate: a fractured State that it can impose Sectarian rule upon either by the proxy of Sadr or directly. They want Iraq to be one way, and the people of Iraq are heading in a totally different direction and gaining the admiration of the people of the Middle East in that doing. The Center of the Middle East will no longer HOLD the stasis.

These shifts and changes are now evident across the region and changing opinions. It has taken long weeks for regimes to try the old and worn out scripts of 'half a loaf now so the entire loaf might be grabbed later', and those are falling flat. The use of terrorist 'martyrs' are falling flat, when they are not just falling. The bluster of weapons is falling flat. The intimidation via threats is falling flat and starting a sea change of its own as Persia and Assyria conspire to dominate the rest of the Arab nations, including Babylon and Egypt. A simple change, deposing a government and letting things settle by a common assent, has now put a complex set of actions and actors into place. The Arab world *wants* to retreat to the safety of the old stasis. But that safety was ephemeral and now they either adjust... or they will *be* adjusted, either from inside or outside, but that adjustment WILL happen.

Here the simple rule of Nation State ability and outlook for needs is one that can save these Nations: apply them harshly and ask if your Nation will accept being dictated TO by an outsider or if it will stand UP for itself to do those things necessary to keep the Nation independent. Submit or fight. Neutrality gets you into submission as not taking an *active* hand aids those that seek submission.

And so I look upon Jordan, Egypt, KSA and many other States big and small and ask... will they submit and be dictated TO or will they protect themselves so they can BE themselves. At this point a stance *against* Israel is one of SUBMISSION and acquiescence to Persian domination of the Middle East. And so many want to go by the old script of stasis... so that they may be conquered and ruled over, yet again. Give in or stand up for yourselves.

In this case being one of the meek does, indeed, inherit you the Earth... the earth of the grave.

Simple rules to complex results. Never trust those that give you a complex actor and say that 'this is all there is at the start'. Simplistic concepts such as that hold nothing with me... and by keeping to simple rules and applying them to a complex world, I see complex results. Complexity from simplicity. Not given complexity with *no* good underpinnings. The first is attempting to understand, the second is wishful thinking.

As the old saying goes: 'Wishing is not a strategy'.

27 July 2006

The Iranian Foreign Legion: Hezbollah

Hat tip to Instapundit on this!
And great thanks for Counterterrorism Blog for their Analysis!

The Israeli Defense Forces have now described actual unit to unit combat and are giving the world a much clearer vision of what they are fighting and what Iran has been doing for the last few years, if not longer. The Jerusalem Post is used by Conterterrorism Blog and I will extract from that article for their salient point, give you their analysis and then put this into perspective.

First the Jerusalem Post article [italics mine]:

Dozens of Hizbullah gunmen armed with antitank missiles and machine guns and geared up in night-vision goggles and bulletproof vests set a trap for a force of Golani infantrymen led by Lt.-Col. Yaniv Asor, commander of Battalion 51. At 5 a.m. Wednesday, Asor and his men asked the Golani command center for permission to enter an area of the outskirts of Bint Jbail. Col. Tamir Yidai, commander of the brigade, gave the green light for the operation.

Asor and his men moved quickly through approximately 15 one-story homes. But as the troops moved through the narrow alleyways, a strong Hizbullah force sent a wave of gunfire and missiles at the force, killing and wounding several soldiers in the first moments of the fight. As Asor and his men fought to regain control of the situation, other Hizbullah cells outflanked them and opened fire on the force as well as other IDF positions in the town.

The battle lasted for several hours during which Asor and his men sustained heavy casualties and killed at least 40 Hizbullah guerrillas, some in gunbattles at point-blank range. Then the evacuation of the wounded began, which lasted six hours due to incessant enemy fire. Four IAF helicopter pilots risked their lives by landing in enemy territory.
Yes this is a nasty bit of work, but now see the analysis from the Counterterrorism Blog author Bill Roggio [italics in the original]:
There is one problem with the description: the statement "other Hizbullah cells outflanked them" should read "other Hizbullah squads outflanked them." Terrorist cells are by definition clandestine in nature. This ambush was the work of well trained and well armed infantry, conducting attacks at the squad and platoon level.
This is a good analysis of the characterization of the change that has taken place to move Hezbollah from a Terrorist operational group to a Military operational group. And with this the rest of the Iranian military picture starts to fall into place, and much of their activity, or lack of same, also comes to the forefront in regards to their interior military and police forces.

One of the greatest problems the Iranian regime has is that their population is no longer in support of them, due to demographics and acculturation to the West via electronics. In point of fact, the Iranian Army is not seen as a trustworthy operation for anything *other* than defense of Iran and is not receiving offensive training or necessary combat initiative training for offensive operations. They sit, do on-the-spot training and whatever is necessary for internal defense from external threats, but are not highly supported by the regime as any commander within the Army that takes any initiative is seen as a threat. So, the payments and equipment upgrades to the actual military have been minimal, and the regime stresses 'human wave' attacks of volunteers to beat back enemies. Fine against an opponent that is ill-equipped and has no areal denial weapons, but not so good against those that have those things. Light suppression fire over a broad area, as delivered by helicopters, aircraft and support ground vehicles, tends to make the 'human wave' into a bloody mess.

Second and even more problematical, has been the true thuggish behavior of the Revolutionary Guard/Special Guard/Secret Police arms of the Iranian regime. These units are demonstrating loyalist behavior, but not good training in their attempts to put down internal unrest within the Nation. The regime has gone so far as to hire foreign Islamic based thugs that have no ethnic affiliation to the populations of Iran to do things like suppress student protests and popular protests. In this case the Regular Police is *also* kept at their bases or stations and rarely, if ever, used for actual civil unrest suppression work. That work is left up to the ideological adherents and loyalist along with the paid thugs.

So, beyond a few demonstration toys of military nature and working on nuclear devices, where has all of the Iranian military money been going?

We now have the answer: Hezbollah.

The Iranians now employ a totally extra-territorial military group that they have trained and equipped better than their OWN military and police units, even their Republican/Special Guards. This is the Foreign Legion of Iran and, due to its terrorist roots, not accountable to *any* military structure or means of control outside of the directivity given to it by Iran. Giving tens if not hundreds of individuals high class equipment like night vision goggles, combat vests, effective equipment and *training* them to use these things in coordination with other units in the organization and integrate these operations is something done by Professional Military Organizations of Nation States.

Iran now fields an Army that it *directs* but does not directly *control*. They send expensive military tools and trainers for those tools and trainers for integrating operations to Hezbollah and NOT their own military which they do not trust. Iran, by doing this, is seeking hegemony over the Middle East via the proxy of Hezbollah and giving it the necessary tools and equipment to bring the rest of the Arab world to heel and threaten Turkey and South Eastern Europe, perhaps all the way to the lower part of Italy. If Iran can control Lebanon through Hezbollah and supply it with IRBM's, they will have a foreign controlled force to do its bidding in dictating its terms to how the rest of the Middle East should act according to Iran's wishes.

That is *why* Hezbollah used ships for training purposes: they aim to intimidate the rest of the Middle East and rule it via terror and exporting their forces, as needed, to trouble other regimes. Iran was hoping to bide its time and could not let Lebanon stand as a Democratic Nation that could then ask for and GET foreign military support. By roiling the pot in known ways, Iran and Hezbollah hoped to distract attention from the *real* efforts going on to make the missile threat substantial. As we have seen in Great Britain during the Blitz, bombings and rocket attacks do *not* break civilian will to fight, unless there is a Fifth Column within that Nation to degrade that will. By stirring a *little* trouble and getting everyone mad at Israel for responding to threats and kidnappings, they hoped to distract from the undermining of Lebanon and the nuclear program of Iran.

Instead, these players have not noted the scenery change that went on over the last few years. And that change in scenery means that Act II is *not* going to go by the script they expected it to go by. Now their threats are seen as *real* threats, but not by Israel... but by Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain... and many, many other Arab States in the region. They are now being confronted with a radical, totalitarian Iran that will spare no expense to gain hegemony over the Middle East to spread its culture and put the entire region under its yoke of tyranny.

All because little Israel has the *guts* to stand up to them do we know this now.

26 July 2006

Launch Pad 1, or the Nation once known as Lebanon

Having heard of all of these missiles that Hezbollah is using, I decided to do a bit of looking and came up with a nice little graphic to show what is going on with the various missile capabilities:

Graphics Courtesy NGA (NIMA) from the University of Texas at Austin Middle East Map Collection. Much cropping and color work by me to get it to something I could manage!

The missile ranges I picked up from Globalsecurity.org's Iranian Missile page, for the known artillery missiles in the Iranian inventory.

The Zelzal-2 I placed on the border by the sea so one could get an idea of its capabilities, actual launch sites for all rockets are for demonstration purposes only and promises of no ships sunk to make this page! It may be possible to extend the range of this rocket somewhat, possibly by lowering the payload or doing some aerodynamic reworking of it. That, however, is unlikely. This is probably the 'surprise' rocket that Hezbollah keeps talking about, 'able to hit Tel Aviv' from anywhere'.

The Iran-130 family of rockets may be what we are seeing now, especially with respect to the constant attacks on Haifa. Positioned further south, this rocket could, indeed, reach Tel Aviv.

The C-802a cruise missile is put in for comparison's sake and demonstrating how far out to sea it can get to.

Each of these is worrying, in and of themselves, but are not the best that Iran has. To get those to Lebanon via Syria is a non-trivial task, unless it is broken down and then reconstructed in Syria. So the IRBM of Iran, the Shahab, is unlikely to be an immediate threat, but possibly a long range one if a solid hold in Lebanon can be secured. And *that* one is quite threatening, if it can be mass produced... something that Iran has yet to demonstrate as I could only find one test firing of this missile, and that information was released by Iran.

And now adding in the Iranian IRBM:

The Shahab range I got from the Missile Index, for finding all of the known missiles knocking around this planet of ours. Note that the green circle is the known range and has a projected 1,300 km maximum range. This missile is a Traveling (or Tilt) Erector Launcher (TEL) type missile, so takes a while to drive, get in place, erect and launch.

And that, to say the least, is sobering.

Iran is looking to turn Lebanon into Launch Pad 1 for its missiles and threaten the entire Eastern Mediterranean set of ports and shipping. That is what is at stake with this conflict.

The web of the supernote

My thanks to Austin Bay for his article on supernotes (superdollars) which is a quick look at a NYT Sunday Magazine (23 JUL 2006) article on same. It appears that North Korea, in its infinite joy of bollixing up anything it can think of, has decided to counterfeit US $100 bank notes. If you were wondering *why* the US dollar changed in composition, you can finger NoKo for this as they have decided that destabilizing the USD in small Nations and making the paper dollar untrustworthy would diminish the stance of the United States as a whole. Now, synthesizing a bit with the past work on Transnational Terrorism and it's interconnectivity, we can start to piece together the directly known and highly suspected pieces and see what that leads to, if anything.

First is the Known Source: North Korea. They purchased the necessary presses and new variable printing dye technology about the same time as other Nations did. They bought an ink-type that changes from green to magenta while the US one goes from green to black. As a personal note in this, beyond the fact that a dark magenta can do a quick tomfoolery on the eye and look black, as noted elsewhere, a chemical analysis of the ink and its structure should also allow a nefarious Nation with spare time and manpower on its hands to figure out how to do a slight rework so that it goes from green to black. And the notes are actually *too* perfect, as the article explains, actually having higher definition on background items than the REAL dollar bill, thus giving a warning that the Treasury Department will have to make its game significantly more complex to defeat the forgers. The duplicates use the same paper and mix and anti-counterfeit strand mix as the real notes, the same processing techniques, the same drying techniques and duplicate the printing cycle of these notes. Needless to say, North Korea has denied doing this.

The distribution methodology is various and dispersed.

The first source being North Korean diplomats who get a 50/50 mix of real and forged notes for their foreign travels. Thus these notes have a wide, but limited distribution and are at a low level. So if you have ever seen North Korean diplomats and such out at a party passing out $100 bills, the chances are half of them are forged. And only an expert can tell the difference, and then often only with forensic tools. So the first evidence of these things were just one here, then another there, but no cumulative effort made at wide-spread distribution. Just a way to make the NoKo diplomats get a simple pay raise with no effort, I guess.

One of the first noticed individuals (though not appearing on the US Treasury's designated nationals and blocked persons list) in this is Sean Garland of the Official IRA which is yet another IRA offspring.

As in my previous offering it is time to look at the connections of the OIRA:
USSR/Russia - Defector Vasili Mitrokhin alleges that the OIRA sought arms from the KGB (approximately 70 rifles, some handguns and explosives). Some of this may have found its way to the Aldershot Bombing.

Now, where did Mr. Garland meet up with the North Koreans? Why in Moscow where he went to their Embassy. So lets scribble out that *suspected* link to the KGB purported by Mr. Mitrokhin and put in *highly likely* if not *quite certain*. He had then planned to exchange these notes for real ones in Dublin and Birmingham for either pounds or authentic dollars. This does add North Korea into the previous Template of Terror posting and gives a valid reasoning for considering them to be a backer of Transnational Terrorism directly via this route. This also gives a clear indication of linkage between the KGB and North Korea, as it is very, very, very unlikely that the KGB would not know of supernotes being distributed by North Korea.

Second up is the supernotes turning up in the Bekaa Valley in 2000. At that point it was under Syrian control, although Hezbollah operated there and is a direct link to Iran. Iran was the first Nation suspected of forging these notes, but the limited activity made that of questionable import. And at this point that makes the Bekaa Valley only a distribution point for the supernotes, not a true source (although recent events may prove a technology transfer). Iran, though easily suspected, actually has little need for this sort of thing, and anything that would start to make folks in the region uneasy about how they paid their bills would not look good to Iran. Thus we are left with Syria, which was left high and dry after the demise of the Soviet Union, having few natural resources to exploit and being, basically, cash strapped. Now, how does one help to fund a terrorist organization and one's military at the same time? Why, pay the terrorists with FORGED notes! While this is *not* confirmatory, it does form a reasonable supposition that Syria and North Korea conspired, each for their own reasons, to do this.

This would be one of the hardest links between Syria and North Korea made for the supernote trade, if proven to be true. Although what North Korea got out of it is unknown, save that Iran had been working on upgrading long range missiles they got from China. So a bit of triangular trade with Iran giving plans to Syria, Syria exchanging plans to North Korea in exchange for counterfeit supernotes and then paying off Hezbollah as proxy for Iran, thus satisfying all parties. This may be re-enforced by the US Treasury Department's look at Commercial Bank of Syria (CBS), along with its subsidiary Syrian Lebanese Commercial Bank for trafficking with terrorists a via the UN Oil For Food scandal and one wonders if the Syrians were using their own banks for laundering supernotes.

The US looked at Chinese banking, which is natural given Chinese support of North Korea. Eventually one bank, Banco Delta Asia, came up on the prohibition listing from the Treasury Department. And here is where that bank operates:

“Banco Delta Asia is located and licensed in the Macau Special Administrative Region, China. The bank operates eight branches in Macau, including a branch at a casino, and is served by a representative office in Japan. In addition, Banco Delta Asia maintains correspondent accounts in Europe, Asia, Australia, Canada, and the United States.”
This fine establishment has been serving North Korea for banking purposes for 20 years and have given little or no oversight to the dealings of North Korea as it is one of their largest if not THE largest customer they have. Further, senior officials of the bank are working with North Korea in counterfeit operations. A North Korean front company makes near exclusive use of the bank and that company has been cited for being involved with the international narcotics trade and uses the bank for money laundering operations. So the banking realm of State sponsored terrorism is to be included, as well as front companies compromising legitimate banking transactions to launder this money.

Looking further afield into the criminal side of things we have testimony from William Bach from the State Department's Director, Office of Asian, African and European Affairs, to the Senate committee on Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Financial Management, the Budget and International Security on 20 MAY 2003 on the doings of North Korea. NoKo has been involved with the trade of : methamphetamines, endangered species, heroin, counterfeit cigarettes, and the supernote. There is a laundry list of Nations involved as end points for these activities: Japan, Taiwan, Australia, South Korea, Russia, and China to name a few. The testimony then goes on with:
“North Korean traffickers have links to Russian, Japanese, Taiwanese, China-Hong Kong, and Thai organized crime elements. In all cases, the relationship began as one of "wholesaler" with "retailer." North Koreans with large quantities of drugs to sell have sold them to criminal groups with the retail network necessary to move the drugs to consumers. It appears that some organized crime elements (e.g., Yakuza, Triads) approached the North Koreans because they knew that the North Koreans had drugs to sell.

This "wholesaler-retailer" relationship seems to have evolved in recent years. Incidents such as the Pong Su arrests, for example, demonstrate that North Korean traffickers are becoming involved farther down the trafficking chain.”
All of which the good North Koreans attribute to 'plot breeding' by the CIA and Japan.

A bit further afield is the Council on Foreign Relations which has a nice little page on North Korea and its connections to other terrorist States and its own terrorist activities, which would allow yet another means to unaccountably launder this money via another illegal trafficking setup different from mere criminal networks. This list includes: Iran, Syria and Libya as well as Pakistan and Yemen. From this we can show the definitive connections necessary for North Korea to infiltrate its supernotes into the banking system as a whole.

So the basic routes of this are: North Korean diplomats and other individuals doing deals with North Korea, pay off on information and other things to other Nations involved with terrorism and illegal drugs with this money thus putting them into the hands of the criminal underworld and terrorists (who might not like the fact that their money is proven worthless unless they can further launder it through their own banks), use legitimate banks and front companies to launder the supernotes.

Now they may only have a few $10's Million in circulation, but your average AK-47 is $300-$800 with a bit of fanciness to get you up to the high class $1,000 models. And your average RPG-7 launcher costs about $100-$500 each with each anti-tank warhead about $50-$100 each. So even $10,000 is enough to get a few folks started on the road to cheap jihad. This stuff is damned cheap, courtesy of the global armaments and export market, and the fact the AK-47 is so easy to manufacture that village blacksmiths can easily make spare parts and even whole weapons using a single original as a template. Those low-end, hand made in a village ones are on the low end of cost and reliability, but they still get the job done.

Some suppositional dot connecting -

  • So, one series of 'dots' leads this way: North Korea - Syria - Hezbollah - Bekaa Valley, with Iran as part of a triangular trade.
  • Another series of 'dots' leads this way: North Korean diplomats - Official IRA - UK Banks for money laundering.
  • A third series of 'dots' could lead to: North Korea - Pakistan (most likely its Secret Service) - then to the Taliban/ Kashmiri separatists/ al Qaeda.
  • Another series of 'dots': North Korea - Pakistan (AQ Khan nuclear weapons, equipment and information exchange) - then to Taliban/ Kashmiri separatists/ al Qaeda. Note that this one gets North Korea validated nuclear designs for warheads, as well as processing techniques and information.
  • Another series of 'dots': North Korea - Libya (nuclear information and components) - AQ Khan network. In this case the supernotes would be circulating back into the underground nuclear market.
  • And a fun series of 'dots' building off of the Template of Terror work: North Korea diplomats - Soviet KGB - Aum Shinrikyo. This uses the KGB as a filtration service to get work on anthrax, sarin and other capabilities developed by Aum. Now, this is backed up by this article, which points to these connections, but does not take into account that what Aum was buying was manufacturing blueprints and such, and very little in the way of actual components and weapons. Aum wanted to *manufacture* these things, not buy them off the shelf. What Aum offered was high level technical expertise which points to their own, homegrown, anthrax production methodology which actually did produce weaponized anthrax spores. That could have been the back play into North Korea to improve its already existing capabilities. And North Korea was able to get at least one individual sympathetic to it within Aum which would serve as another conduit for information.
  • Another set of 'dots' starts elsewhere: Iraq under Saddam - terrorist connections to al Qaeda and the Taliban - Pakistan (Secret Service) - North Korea. Here the passage is Iraqi chemical and bio weapons manuals being shifting and North Korea using the AQ Khan compromise of the Pakistani Secret Service to get at this material. They could also get their hands on generalized training documents and counter-espionage capability that Saddam was providing to both the Taliban and al Qaeda.

What this brings into focus is that even though these are 'suppositional' dot connections, they are *not* outside the realm of possibility nor even unreasonable. North Korea, by having a limited, but high class manufacturing sector can produce extremely pure drugs for illegal sale (heroin, methamphetamines, viagra) which is far more pure than what can be done by criminal organizations. This capability also gives North Korea the ability to manufacture supernotes and equipment to the highest of technical standards. Their main limitation is the lack of a real industrial base, and so they seek to leverage their extremely limited capabilities as much as possible and create enough currency flow to build their illegal trade. As a source point for high capability industrial techniques North Korea is a menace in the State sponsored terrorism business.

The main problem with Transnational Terrorism is not the actual terrorism... it is the web that fosters it and allows it to grow unaccountably outside the realm of legitimate State control and oversight. One can play 'whack-a-mole' with al Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, PLO, Hezbollah, Hamas, etc., but until this interconnected network of illicit trade sponsored by outlaw States is *ended* that is all the Civilized world will be doing.

Cutting off the top of the weed and *not* getting at its root system.

To kill the roots one must have real Goals in the Global War on Terror, and be willing to use the most powerful assymetric warfare tool available to the United States. Until the roots of this problem are squarely addressed and the internetworking between terrorists and States eliminated, the World will ALWAYS be in 9/10.

25 July 2006

Now about that Civil War in Iraq

Predicting Civil War in Iraq has a long lineage dating quite some time back... lets take a look at the year 2002...

Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), Iraq attack 'may trigger civil war' by James Dao, 22 OCT 2002:

The Iraqi government has displaced about one million people over the last 30 years, creating deep regional and ethnic fractures that could erupt into civil war if President Saddam Hussein is deposed, a new report says.

It says the majority of these internally displaced people are Kurds from northern Iraq whose villages have been razed or mined by the Iraqi military and who have been relocated in temporary, ramshackle communities.

If Saddam is ousted, the report by the Brookings Institution and the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies says, any effort by the Kurds or other ethnic groups to regain control of the fertile, oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk could trigger conflict.


It is estimated that at least 1.5 million people will try to flee Iraq if war breaks out and that another 7 million to 8 million Iraqis will go hungry without foreign assistance. Iran and Turkey have both said they are bracing for a flood of refugees.
Say, notice that Kurdish Civil War anyplace? And how about that mass starvation! See THAT anywhere around? And that "flood of refugees", a veritable torrent that emptied the country, didn't it? Are you sure? The usually reliable for SCIENCE fun-ness, New Scientist, seems to have stepped into it with dire warnings and predictions, too...

New Scientist, Iraq war 'could kill 500,000', by Rob Edwards, 12 NOV 2002:
A war against Iraq could kill half a million people, warns a new report by medical experts - and most would be civilians.

The report claims as many as 260,000 could die in the conflict and its three-month aftermath, with a further 200,000 at risk in the longer term from famine and disease. A civil war in Iraq could add another 20,000 deaths.

Collateral Damage is being published on Tuesday in 14 countries and has been compiled by Medact, an organisation of British health professionals. It comes as the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, is deciding how to respond to a series of deadlines on weapons inspections imposed by the United Nations.


The report has been commended by both medical and military specialists. "It is really important that people understand the consequences of war," says Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics at the British Medical Association.

"All doctors look at war with a very large degree of horror because they know the meaning of casualties," she told New Scientist. "Even in the cleanest, most limited conflicts, people die and people suffer."

General Pete Gration, former Chief of the Australian Defence Forces and an opponent of a war on Iraq, adds: "This is no exaggerated tract by a bunch of zealots. It is a coldly factual report by health professionals who draw on the best evidence available."


It concludes that the resulting death toll will be much higher than either the 1991 Gulf War, which killed around 200,000 Iraqis, or the war on Afghanistan, which has so far left fewer than 5000 dead.
Well, they have good *science* articles, but their foreign affairs wisdom is about what you would expect from folks that haven't any experience in it. Now, could someone *please* point to where all these dead folks actually ARE that were supposed to die in this conflict? I mean, 500,000 corpses is a bit hard to cover up, even for Saddam!

And then there is the ever lovely Worldwatch Institute, that had this lovely article by Michael Renner... Blood and Oil--Alternatives to War in Iraq [26 NOV 2002]. Now, as you probably don't want to go through the hassle of actually signing up and downloading the PDF file, I have done so and gave it a quick... very quick skim and will hand you the juiciest bits. But the tenor of the thing is one of, and I sweeten condense a few pages here, 'America responsible for the problem of Saddam, oil dependency, and worsening global warming by not signing onto Kyoto.' I will say that the good Mr. Renner does a bit of background on the paper, but lack of citations for references so as to cross-check him and his assertions makes this more of a political diatribe:
Installing a U.S. client regime in Baghdad would give American and British companies (ExxonMobil, Chevron-Texaco, Shell, and BP) a good shot at direct access to Iraqi oil for the first time in 30 years—a windfall worth hundreds of billions of dollars. And if a new regime rolls out the red carpet for the oil multinationals to return,it is possible that a broader wave of de-nationalization could sweep through the world’s oil industry, reversing the historic changes of the early 1970s.


But the stakes in all this maneuvering involve much more than just the future of Iraq. The Bush energy policy is predicated on growing consumption of oil, preferably cheap oil. Given rising depletion of U.S. oil fields, most of that oil will have to come from abroad, and indeed primarily from the Gulf region. Controlling Iraqi oil would allow the United States to reduce Saudi influence over oil policy and give Washington enormous leverage over the world oil market.
Mr. Renner is definitely smoking something that clouds the mind, if not the vision. Remember that Nationalizing oil companies is *good* and private oil companies are *bad*. All of this is being done to undermine Kyoto....

So, a bit off track from the original Civil War concept, which I will get back to in just a moment, but here is something that I have never, really, been able to understand: If the US really *did* install/support/'make' Saddam into the nasty tyrant he was, then isn't it a GOOD THING for the US to clean him OUT? Hey! If you make it the fault of the US, then at least admit that we cleaned up on *that* mistake and give some credit with out any *ifs*, *ands* or *buts*. If you are castigating the US, then at least own up to that and recognize that deposing Saddam is something worth high amounts of applause and that supporting the effort to SET THINGS RIGHT is a good thing, also. And put the damn 'proviso' language away and shut up and HELP! That is if you actually know *how* to help and not just protest and vituperate and make speeches and 'symbolic acts of resistance'. You have heard of actually HELPING?

Now, onto 2003... What, you thought I would stop at the mere *beginning* with the doom and gloom forecasts? Not so! And I can even put to task individuals that I LIKE and ADMIRE! In this case it is Strategypage's James Dunnigan with The Coming Iraqi Civil War, 4 APR 2003. I could extract lengthy quotes, but the piece is chock-a-block with information and I will do my best to give a quick summary of the salient features:

  • Iraq is highly factionated along religio-ethnic divides in the population... Shia (60%), Sunni (20%) and Kurds (20%), with the Sunni minority being the backers of the previous regime.
  • Mr. Dunnigan cites OIL as the main problem in Iraq, pointing out that if profits from oil (after maintenance, delivery and production costs are subtracted) each and every individual Iraqi would get $2,000/year. That is the bag of goodies at stake.
  • The Kurds have control over the northern oil fields and questions of their wanting 'reparations' after a war and seeing a 'fair' division of oil profits are sticking points.
  • There are a number of minorities with ethnic Turks and Assyrians and religious christians thrown into the mix.
  • The Sunni's being in control for over a century see themselves as privileged to that position. Also noted is that the Ba'ath Party is an outgrowth of the German National Socialist Party, as Germany spread their doctrine to the region, followed by leaders fleeing there after WWII. They *also* have religious and doctrinal divides, and not all Sunnis are Ba'athists.
  • Then there are Shia Fundamentalists which are a minority of the Shia population and many other divisions within the Shia population.
  • A cultural divide between the latest generation (30 and under) and the older generation that he identifies as the Yuppie/Villagers divide.
And then winds up with this quote: "Democracy can work in Iraq, but not without a lot of work. If democracy doesn't work, expect to see Saddam 2.0 show up. "

The one thing he, apparently, forgot to consider was that Iraq is SO divided that getting a Civil War going is a damned difficult proposition. In point of fact, that is what ALL the folks opining on this forget. But, for all of that, he lays out the key points of concern, just not the things anyone is actually worried about. A real method of equitable distribution of oil revenue has *still* not be laid out by the Iraqi Government and they could do far worse than the *National Trust Fund* idea if they could lock that away from grubby fingered politicians.

Now onwards to a lovely little article, Iraq Close to Civil War, Warn Iraqis by Firas Al-Araqchi at http://www.dissidentvoice.org/ 11 DEC 2003. Here the contention is that the Shia majority will be shortchanged and disenfranchised by elections, that turnover to a real government just *might* be slowed down a bit, that the US was giving too much to the various militias and shortchanging the making of a real military, and that the US, UK and Israel are going to 'siphon off oil' from Iraq. All of which will lead to the aforementioned Civil War. Lovely, isn't it?

Just before that we have Bush's Speech: Internationalizing the Whirlwind, by Kurt Nimmo, 8 SEP 2003, from that same dissidentvoice.org site. Really a lovely haven for moonbattery and wingnuts on the left, full of all sorts of transnational conceptions. But this is the key quote:
The assassination of Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer Al-Hakim "was the opening volley in the coming Iraqi civil war," explains William O. Beeman, director of Middle East studies at Brown University. "The United States will reap the whirlwind."
Has anyone seen a missing whirlwind around?

Of course How America Lost the War, by William Rivers Pitt, 14 APR 2003, also from DV also gives gloom and doom even *before* that:
At this moment, the city of Baghdad is in utter chaos. The Museum of Antiquities in Baghdad, repository of over 5,000 years worth of cultural and regional history, has been utterly destroyed. Mesopotamia and its people have lost an immeasurable portion of their history with this terrible act, one that could have been stopped by a few Marines outside the museum. That simple precaution never happened. Beyond that, the looting has had a darker social edge. The strata of society in Iraq has seen for years the minority Sunnis – who claim Saddam Hussein as their own – ruling over the majority Shia. The orgy of looting that has broken out in Iraq is, basically, the Shia robbing the Sunni. An ever-rising boil of gunplay between these two groups is putting a match to the fuse of religiously-based civil war, and the American troops have done nothing to stop it except recruit members of Hussein's feared police force to try and restore order. So much for regime change.
Damned long fuse, isn't it? Over 3 years in actually trying to burn to *something* that will detonate. And that 'ever-rising boil of gunplay'? Well, add in some terrorist bombings and you have a low, roiling simmer of a hot pot. Now, the only thing I do agree with is the concept of using anyone from Saddam's regime to try and hold peace or much of anything together. But, this joker is criticizing the Bush Administration for doing *something* which everyone else would soon criticize him for *not doing*.

Back to 'other voices' as the dissident sort has had its little bit. We come upon this lovely little gem from Pravda on 1 OCT 2003, Military analyst predicts civil war in Iraq, and their analyst of Dutch origin, professor of military history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Martin Van Krefeld:
"I am sure that soon the coalition troops will have to leave Iraq, but then the whole Middle East will find itself in a complicated situation, while Iraq will become another Afghanistan. There, everyone will fight against everyone: Kurds against Arabs, Shiites against Sunnites. If dozens of thousand of foreign servicemen are now not able to stop the unrest in the country, later it will be even more difficult to do so." When speaking of those who confront the US-British forces in Iraq, Van Krefeld pointed out that they were not only supporters of the deposed Saddam Hussein. "Even ordinary people who do not like their country occupied, fight against the coalition troops, and such people are becoming more and more numerous. Every day guerrilla groups with new names, previously unheard-of, appear. It is this resistance that will force the coalition troops to leave Iraq," the analyst believes.
Yes, Comrade! All those servicemen who are seen has honest brokers and wanted by the Sunni and Kurds and most of the Shia, to boot. They are telling us 'not to leave' as we can guarantee that they can build a better Iraq with our help and protection. And these guerrilla groups and militia are pushing so hard... to kill Iraqi Civilians, having run out of targets that will not shoot back effectively.

And now back to James Dunnigan at Strategypage.com for The Civil War in Iraq, 29 OCT 2003. Now in this article he fingers the fact that Ba'athist holdouts had started to target Iraqi Civilians in an attempt to intimidate the Shia population with their hardy reputation and perserverence. And that all of this will resemble Lebanon's Civil War, but then puts in this little escape hatch paragraph:
But the Americans will be withdrawing as soon as there has been a democratic election. This will establish a government run by Shia Arabs and Kurds. Many Sunni Arabs are willing to fight to the death to prevent this from happening. And their foe in this war is not foreigners, but the Shia and Kurd policemen who are restoring order in the country.
So a nasty, internecine religious war will happen... IF the US leaves after democratic elections. Well, how about those Sunni's realizing that they can't Lord it over the Shia and Kurds and, with being outnumbered and all, *politics* is the path to getting a fair shake. So, exercise the escape hatch... and you find away around the Civil War.

This takes us back to the fine folks down under, Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), US exit may lead to Iraqi Civil War, 19 NOV 2003, with this little bit to think upon:
Council members believe the proposed provisional government, to be appointed by June next year, should control counter-insurgency. Some of its members argue that Iraqi Kurdish forces in the north and the Shiite militias in the south could be used to undermine the Sunni fighters from the centre.

Others insist the Americans be confined to guard duty on Iraq's border and at oil facilities.

All that sounds like the civil war Washington said would never happen during the fierce international debate that preceded its invasion of Iraq in March this year.

The Sunnis are already stirring the pot, claiming the Shiites want to impose an Iranian-style theocracy, and the Kurds are wary they might be caught by these two in a pincer grip
Yes that dreaded 'pincer grip' of the crustacean Shia Fundamentalists. Makes one drool for clarified butter and nutcrackers and little forks to pick it apart... but then they go on later in the article to announce this bit of wisdom:
Nothing happening in Iraq at present could inspire any sensible discussion about pulling US troops out - the CIA reports that the insurgency is bolder and more effective, but the Pentagon says that US troops could be reduced by about 30,000 to 100,000 by May next year.
Actually the insurgency gained the butcher by the name of Zarqawi from Jordan and he helped to start the mass targeting of Iraqi Civilians. I do wish that the insurgency would have left their targeting only to LEGITIMATE military targets for they would be dead and buried by now.

So there you have it by the END of 2003: a Civil War that would be dominate by the Sunnis or Shias or Shias and Kurds or Shias and Sunnis, depending upon whom you listened to, that would really start up once US troops left because the 'resistance' forced them out, or because they left with a democratically elected government in place, or maybe with a US puppet dictator in place, and with such a huge evacuation and actual death from the war that fully 1/3 of the population would have fled to neighboring countries with the dead littering the streets, or maybe with just a bit of looting at an art gallery. But that Civil War was on! Or starting! Or lit to go! Or might happen tomorrow!

And I avoided names like Fisk and Monbiot and Chomsky *deliberately*.

And all because of a population so heavily divided so many ways that they have problems on figuring out what to order for dinner at their political gatherings.

Strangely, if one of these idiotic factions actually had done us the great and good service of declaring a competing government and 'revolution' or some such, they could have been utterly destroyed and taken out of the way by the US and Coalition forces. And you need THAT to have a Civil War, and some attempt to actually make a Governing Body, distinguish your soldiers from the population and raise a damn flag to proclaim your new Government.

THEN you get properly *killed*.

What is going on now is sheer and utter cowardice by all involved. At least in Lebanon they had the decency to attempt to raise government, flags and put on uniforms... even it it was comical Republics of this neighborhood or that neighborhood. That is at least honorable, even while being comical and deserves a salute, even if with a snicker or chortle.

What is going on in Baghdad is purely dishonorable, for they will not put forth any noble goals, proclaim no government, nor set forth their way of protecting the people under them. Those there now that fight only want death:

Death to the enemy, though he changes from day to day.

Death now, unless you might get shot, then best to skulk in the shadows and hope a sniper does not see you putting distance between yourself and weapon.

Death to any you do not like, but since you can't get those women and children will do.

Death always... just please not to me from out of the blue or by bomb or drive-by shooting.
Death so I can get MINE and to hell with everyone else, except a few people I like... who are on the chopping block because of me.
If you give your support to the idea of a Civil War as what is happening in Iraq, these are the ones you are supporting. Iraq has a problem. They have barbarians within their culture and neighborhoods. They must either give up on barbarism and assert Just Law for EVERYONE, or sink into chaos and destruction.

And when that happens, Death will walk their land and take them all.

I support a Free Iraq. Free of injustice. Free of tyranny. Free of mob rule. Free of religious destruction.

This minority that wants to get *theirs* do NOT support those things. The majority that has voted, that signs up for the military and police and actually forces these ones further and further from legitimacy they want those things to keep the long night at bay.

Call it a Civil War and you give barbarians honor they are not nor ever due for their actions. Let them put on a gloss, a mere patina of legitimacy.... so their day may be ended, and they can greet Death personally.

Call it a Civil War and you give NO respect or honor to those killed by these barbarians nor the hard work they have done to try and put a Nation together.

And I shall not give those dishonorable, cowardly barbarians one bit of honor and no remorse at their end. They DESERVE all that is coming to them.

I put my hopes on those who *build* for they are the FUTURE. And they deserve honor for the hard work and perserverence necessary to keep on while barbarians rage. Knowing that those things they do and build will finally rid their Nation of the barbarians.

I already disagree with their Government on some few things, but that does not mean I want them to *fail*. That is the nature of freedom, and honorable disagreement is the path to Civilization.