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6 novembre 2008 4 06 /11 /novembre /2008 17:20
Can a Nuclear Iran Be Contained or Deterred?

by Michael Rubin
Middle Eastern Outlook
November 5, 2008

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As Iran's nuclear program has developed, the Bush administration appeared to draw a red line: a nuclear weapons-capable Islamic Republic would be unacceptable. On August 8, 2004, for example, then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice told NBC News that the United States "cannot allow the Iranians to develop a nuclear weapon" and that President George W. Bush would "look at all the tools that are available to him."[1] In an October 27, 2006, Oval Office meeting with NATO secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Bush remarked, "the idea of Iran having a nuclear weapon is unacceptable."[2] A year later, Bush declared that "Iran will be dangerous if they have the know-how to make a nuclear weapon."[3] If Bush's statement was a red line then, today it appears to have been more a rhetorical flourish than a policy truth.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has said that if the Iranian nuclear program continues apace, the Islamic Republic can become a nuclear weapons-capable state.[4] While Bush remains enigmatic on how far he will go to prevent Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons if diplomacy and economic sanctions fail, top administration officials hint that the Pentagon is not prepared to use military force, even as a last resort.[5] Though strategic bombing of Iranian nuclear targets is off the table in the waning weeks of the Bush presidency, top U.S. military officials like General John Abizaid, former commander of Central Command, and Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, argue that the United States can contain or deter a nuclear Iran. On July 21, 2008, for example, Abizaid explained, "I don't believe Iran is a suicide state. . . . Deterrence will work with Iran."[6] Whether deterrence and containment against a nuclear Iran deserve the faith Abizaid and Mullen hold in them, the options are unclear.

Will Iran Use Nuclear Weapons?

Should the Islamic Republic possess nuclear weapons, the nightmare scenario is that it would use them in a first strike, most likely against Israel. Elimination of Israel remains a cornerstone of Islamic Republic ideology. Despite revisionist questioning about whether Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad really promised to "wipe Israel off the map,"[7] both University of North Dakota law professor Gregory S. Gordon and Joshua Teitelbaum, senior research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center at the University of Tel Aviv, have chronicled well over a dozen recent Iranian statements promising Israel's destruction. As Teitelbaum notes, "What emerges from a comprehensive analysis of what Ahmadinejad actually said--and how it has been interpreted in Iran--is that the Iranian president was not just calling for 'regime change' in Jerusalem, but rather the actual physical destruction of the state of Israel."[8]

There is reason to take the worst case scenario seriously. While giving the official state sermon at Tehran University on December 14, 2001, for example, former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, current chairman of the powerful Expediency Council, argued that it might not be far-fetched to envision use of nuclear weapons against the Jewish state. Amid chants of "Death to Israel," he declared, "The use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. . . . It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality." Even if Israel responded with its own nuclear arsenal, the Islamic Republic has the strategic depth to absorb and withstand the retaliation, and so the price might be worth it. "It will only harm the Islamic world," he argued.[9] When it comes to Iranian desires to possess nuclear weapons rather than simply a civilian nuclear energy program, Rafsanjani's statements have become the rule rather than the exception.

On February 14, 2005, for example, Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer Kharrazi, secretary general of the Iranian Hezbollah, declared, "We are able to produce atomic bombs and we will do that. We shouldn't be afraid of anyone. The United States is not more than a barking dog."[10] And, on May 29, 2005, Hojjat al-Eslam Gholam Reza Hasani, the supreme leader's personal representative to the province of West Azerbaijan, declared possession of nuclear weapons to be one of Iran's top goals. "An atom bomb . . . must be produced," he said. "That is because the Quran has told Muslims to 'get strong and amass all the forces at your disposal.'"[11] The following year, Mohsen Gharavian, a Qom theologian close to Ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi, one of the Islamic Republic's staunchest ideologues, said it was "only natural" for Iran to possess nuclear weapons.[12]

Not every Iranian religious figure has been so bellicose. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has said, "We do not need a nuclear bomb. We do not have any objectives or aspirations for which we will need to use a nuclear bomb. We consider using nuclear weapons against Islamic rules."[13] His statements, especially in the context of evidence of Iranian nuclear developments, should not be taken at face value. They may be taqiya, religiously sanctioned dissimulation meant to lull an enemy. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic, not only spoke repeatedly of the necessity to engage in taqiya,[14] but he also practiced it, telling the Western audience in the weeks before his return to Iran, for example, "I don't want to be the leader of the Islamic Republic; I don't want to have the government or power in my hands."[15]

Of course, Western policymakers should not take bellicose statements as fact and dismiss automatically more conciliatory approaches. As long as the messages remain mixed and covert nuclear activities unexplained, however, realists must treat Iranian intentions with suspicion. At the very least, Western policymakers should not base their approach to Iran on a single statement by the supreme leader, contradicted as it is by evidence of a sometimes covert and continuing nuclear program.

Can Iran Be Deterred?

Should achievement of nuclear weapons capability make such debates moot, then what policy options short of military strikes would the West have? Alongside any diplomatic or economic strategy, the United States and its allies would have to rely on deterrence or containment. Both are military strategies. Successful nuclear deterrence requires two conditions: First, the Iranian leadership must prioritize the lives of its citizenry above certain geopolitical or ideological goals. Second, the deterring power--in this case, the United States--must be willing to kill hundreds of thousands of Iranians should authorities in Tehran or their proxies ever use nuclear weapons. On both questions, there is a disturbing lack of clarity.

At its heart, the Islamic Republic is an ideological regime. Many visitors to the Islamic Republic may be rightly impressed by Tehran's vibrant political culture, but when push comes to shove, the Iranian leadership believes sovereignty derives from God and must be channeled through the supreme leader. The ambitions and values of ordinary people are subordinate to the will of God as interpreted by the supreme leader and the apparatus established to serve him. Hence, the Council of Guardians constrains any outlet for ordinary Iranians by disqualifying any potential political leaders whose governing philosophy does not conform to Khamenei's narrow views. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), its associated paramilitary Basij, and assorted state-sanctioned vigilante groups exist to enforce ideological discipline and punish those who fail to conform.[16]

Is Abizaid correct when he argues that the Islamic Republic is not suicidal? It is a crucial question. During the Cold War and after the Soviet Union's nuclear breakout, the United States had no choice but to deter. An ideological clash may have driven the Cold War, but neither Moscow nor Washington believed the other side to be suicidal. Each superpower pursued its interests but checked its own ambitions so as not to provoke a nuclear war that would destroy its home country. Despite mutually assured destruction, deterrence almost broke down on several occasions, bringing the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war: the Berlin crisis, the Cuban missile crisis, and the downing of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 each nearly escalated beyond control. In retrospect, deterrence brought neither the security nor the stability to which some historians and many current policymakers ascribe it. At the very least, nuclear deterrence is a highly risky strategy.

The Soviet leadership was not suicidal, but how does the Iranian leadership approach questions of mass death? If Western politicians project their own value system onto their foes when calculating opponent decision-making, then they would assume that their Iranian counterparts would not be willing to absorb a nuclear attack. Such reasoning, however, ignores the role of ideology in the Islamic Republic.

Regardless of what most Iranians think, the Islamic Republic ascribes to a set of values far different from our own. Ahmadinejad shocked the West when, soon after taking office, he called for Israel's destruction; dismissed the Holocaust as a fabrication; and hinted that he channeled the Hidden Imam, also known as the Mahdi, Shia Islam's messianic figure.

Mahdism is not new to the Islamic Republic. After the first parliamentary elections in May 1980, Khomeini instructed the victors to offer their "services to the Lord of the Age, May God speed his blessed appearance."[17] Nevertheless, most parliamentarians at the time rooted themselves in the more pragmatic policy debates swirling around construction of the new system. Ahmadinejad, however, heightened emphasis on apocalyptic thought when he argued that Mahdism is "the defining strategy of the Islamic Republic" and that human action could hasten the Mahdi's return.[18] Indeed, it is this aspect of Ahmadinejad's thought that is especially dangerous because it suggests that Ahmadinejad believes that he and his fellow travelers could perhaps hasten the Mahdi's return by precipitating violence, setting the stage for the return as prophesied in some readings of Islamic texts.

Ahmadinejad is not alone in such beliefs. Mesbah-Yazdi, his religious mentor, argues that the "superiority of Islam over other religions is stressed in Qur'an, which calls on believers to wage war against unbelievers and prepare the way for the advent of the Mahdi and conquering the world."[19] In his study of apocalyptic thought in Iran, Mehdi Khalaji, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who trained for fourteen years in the seminaries of Qom, noted, "Ahmadinejad appears to be influenced by a trend in contemporary apocalyptic thought in which the killing of Jews will be one of the most significant accomplishments of the Mahdi's government."[20] Certainly it is plausible that Ahmadinejad might, like Rafsanjani, believe Islamic interests make Iran's weathering a retaliatory nuclear strike worthwhile. If this is true, and the interpretation is certainly plausible, then traditional deterrence becomes impossible.

Within the convoluted power structure of the Islamic Republic, however, the presidency is more about style than substance. Ahmadinejad may embody a heterodox ideology, but would he control nuclear weapons? Herein lies the difficulty with assessing a nuclear Iran's behavior: very little is known about the Islamic Republic's nuclear command and control. Ahmadinejad may not have direct power, but his accession to the high-profile presidency shows the acceptability of his views within the Islamic Republic's power circles. Ahmadinejad derives his power from the IRGC and may reflect significant ideological strains within the force. It is not likely that the Islamic Republic will establish safeguard mechanisms until it has acquired nuclear weapons technology. This can create a very dangerous situation. In 1999, Western officials scrambled to avert a nuclear confrontation between India and Pakistan over the Kargil district in Kashmir. As generals pushed their armies and governments to the brink of all-out hostility, neither Delhi nor Islamabad had established the mechanism of control to prevent accidental or rogue use of their atomic arsenal.

What is known about Tehran's command and control does not inspire confidence. The IRGC has, over the past decade, expanded its dominance over all aspects of Iranian politics, economy, and security.[21] The same hard-line clerics--Mesbah-Yazdi and Ayatollah Kazem al-Haeri, for example--to whom Ahmadinejad and his IRGC compatriots turn for religious guidance promote the most radical exegesis. Mainstream Iranians may not subscribe and, indeed, may even ridicule Ahmadinejad's messianism, but those who control the weapons may feel differently and embrace the idea that nuclear weapons can and should be used in a holy struggle against Israel or other enemies.

For Western advocates of a deterrence strategy, chain of command and control over weaponry should not simply be a theoretical concern. Indeed, there has already been a close call caused by a rogue commander within the Revolutionary Guards. In 1991, as the Pentagon amassed forces in Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Shield, a mutinous IRGC unit allegedly sought to launch a conventional missile attack against the assembled U.S. troops. Had such an attack occurred, it would have likely initiated a far wider conflict. IRGC loyalists, however, averted the missile launch when they seized control of the rogue base.[22] It is certainly ironic that the same Western commentators and officials who ascribe adversarial Iranian behavior to rogue IRGC elements rather than the central government also appear to place the greatest faith in the efficacy of nuclear deterrence against the Islamic Republic.

Can Iran Be Contained?

An Iranian nuclear first strike might be the nightmare scenario for U.S. policymakers, but it is not the most likely one. Should Tehran acquire nuclear arms, the Iranian leadership may feel itself so immune from consequence that it has no obstacles to conventional aggression, whether direct or by proxy. While Western officials may think that the United States can deter Iran, Iranian officials may believe that their nuclear capability will enable them to deter the West. Indeed, in September 2005, the hard-line monthly Ma'refat opined, "Deterrence does not belong just to a few superpowers," and cited the Quranic verse declaring, "Against them [your enemies] make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into the hearts of enemies of God and your enemies."[23]

Many analysts say that a nuclear Iran need not be dangerous. Author and essayist Glenn Greenwald, for example, argued--falsely--that Iran "has never invaded another country."[24] Putting aside the nineteenth-century Iranian invasion of Afghanistan, Iran's 1971 occupation of Abu Musa and the Tunb Islands (claimed by the United Arab Emirates), and its 1982 drive into Iraq (after beating back the 1980 Iraqi invasion), the Iranian military has often acted irregularly or by proxy, sparking insurrections in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iraq, Bahrain, and perhaps the Palestinian Authority as well. On May 3, 2008, former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami acknowledged as much. Speaking at the University of Gilan, he argued that the current Iranian strategy of exporting revolution by means of "gunpowder and groups sabotaging other countries" was inconsistent with what he argued was Khomeini's preference for soft power.[25]

It is irresponsible to argue, as former nuclear-inspector-turned-peace-activist Scott Ritter has, that Iran does not pose a strategic threat to the United States and its interests.[26] At its core, the Islamic Republic is an ideological regime with a mission to export its revolution embedded both in its constitution and in the IRGC structure.[27] The preamble to the Islamic Republic's constitution, for example, states that "the Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps . . . will be responsible not only for guarding and preserving the frontiers of the country, but also for fulfilling the ideological mission of God's way; that is, extending the sovereignty of God's law throughout the world."[28]

It also includes reference to a Quranic verse urging, "Terrify thereby the enemy of God and your enemy . . . and whatsoever you expend in the way of God shall be repaid you in full; you will not be wronged."[29] The IRGC has taken this mission to heart. In the three decades of its existence, it has supported terrorism from Baghdad to Buenos Aires and has conducted assassinations in the United States, France, Germany, Austria, and Denmark.[30]

Too much reliance on containment should worry U.S. policymakers, given the mixed assessments of previous incarnations of the policy at a time when the Islamic Republic was only a conventional power. The first concerted U.S. containment policy against the Islamic Revolution was initiated in 1993 when, in the face of both Iranian and Iraqi attempts to subvert stability and the regional status quo, the Clinton administration launched its dual containment strategy. "So long as we can rely on our regional allies--Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council], and Turkey--to preserve the balance of power in our favor in the wider Middle East region, we will have the means to counter both the Iraqi and Iranian regimes," Martin Indyk, then-senior director for Near East and South Asian affairs at the National Security Council, explained in 1993. He conceded, however, that containing Iran would be more difficult than restraining Iraq. "When we assess Iranian intentions and capabilities, we see a dangerous combination for Western interests," Indyk explained, citing Tehran's support for terrorism, its violent opposition to the Middle East peace process, its attempts to subvert friendly Arab governments, its desire to dominate the Persian Gulf through military means, and its clandestine nuclear weapons program.[31]

In a rebuttal to Indyk's approach, F. Gregory Gause III, an associate professor of political science at Columbia University, wrote, "Dual containment requires the unlikely cooperation of a number of other nations. . . . Meanwhile, Europe and Japan have been unwilling to isolate Iran economically."[32] If Egypt and other regional allies like Turkey did not embrace containment fifteen years ago, they are less likely to do so today. Turkey especially has become a less reliable ally, and some of its politicians are more likely to sympathize with the Islamic Republic than the United States, if for no other reason than to maintain a "good neighbor policy."[33] Germany remains resistant to economic sanctions. While German chancellor Angela Merkel has assured her Western allies that Germany would reduce trade with the Islamic Republic because of Tehran's nuclear defiance,[34] her ambassador in Tehran assured Iranians that German companies would not only maintain their trade, but would actually increase it, albeit through middlemen in the United Arab Emirates.[35]

Containment is also expensive and, when challenged, can escalate into a shooting war. On March 7, 1987, as Iran and Iraq engaged in attacks on international shipping in the Persian Gulf, the Reagan administration offered to reflag eleven Kuwaiti tankers, an operation that was code-named Earnest Will. Between July 24, 1987, and September 26, 1988, the Pentagon deployed an aircraft carrier, four destroyers, a guided missile cruiser, three frigates, and several smaller boats. On the first day of operation, the reflagged supertanker Bridgeton hit a mine, the first of four mine strikes that month. As a result, the U.S. Navy began more intensive minesweeping operations. On September 21, 1987, U.S. forces seized the Iranian boat Iran Ajr as it mined international waters. In the ensuing fight, U.S. helicopters engaged with Iranian speedboats. The following year, in Operation Praying Mantis, U.S. forces struck Iranian oil platforms and forces after a mine crippled the guided-missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts.[36]

It is difficult to assess the cost of any military action, but, conservatively, Operations Earnest Will and Praying Mantis cost hundreds of millions of dollars and required significant infrastructure and support networks. The attack on the Roberts, for example, necessitated not only force in the region to enable retaliation, but also support services in Dubai for its repair. Any containment strategy more expansive than protecting eleven tankers would be exponentially more expensive.

What Is Required to Contain Iran?

Any containment operation against a nuclear Iran would require more than the single battle group that participated in Operation Earnest Will. Should the Islamic Republic acquire nuclear weapons, it may become dangerously overconfident as it convinces itself that its conventional, irregular, or proxy forces can operate without fear of serious reprisal from the United States, Israel, or any other regional power. In order, therefore, to contain a nuclear Iran, the United States and its allies in the region will need to enhance their military capability to counter the likelihood of successful Iranian conventional action. There are two strategies that U.S. policymakers may pursue separately or in tandem. First, U.S. defense planners might examine what U.S. force posture would be necessary for the United States unilaterally to contain a nuclear Iran. Second, U.S. officials must gauge what investment would be necessary to enable neighboring states to do likewise. Put more crudely, this requires calculating under what conditions and with what equipment regional states could successfully wage war against Iran until U.S. forces could provide relief. If the Pentagon has pre-positioned enough equipment and munitions in the region, this might take three or four days; if not, it could take longer.

If U.S. forces are to contain the Islamic Republic, they will require basing not only in GCC countries, but also in Afghanistan, Iraq, Central Asia, and the Caucasus. Without a sizeable regional presence, the Pentagon will not be able to maintain the predeployed resources and equipment necessary to contain Iran, and Washington will signal its lack of commitment to every ally in the region. Because containment is as much psychological as physical, basing will be its backbone. Having lost its facilities in Uzbekistan, at present, the U.S. Air Force relies upon air bases in Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Oman, and the isolated Indian Ocean atoll of Diego Garcia.

There is less to these facilities, however, than meets the eye: under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Turkish government has grown closer to the Islamic Republic and has sought to limit U.S. Air Force use of the Incirlik Air Base; Turkish negotiators have even demanded veto power over every U.S. mission flown from Incirlik.[37] Oman, too, has been less than reliable in granting U.S. freedom of operation. According to military officials familiar with the negotiations between U.S. and Omani officials, the sultanate initially refused the U.S. Air Force permission to fly missions over Afghanistan from its territory in the opening days of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001, a campaign that, in the wake of 9/11, had far greater international support than would any containment actions against Iranian forces. Both the congressional desire to curtail the U.S. presence in Iraq and Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki's demands that the United States evacuate the country on a set timetable make any use of the Kirkuk and Ali air bases in that country as part of containment operations unlikely. Saudi Arabia has many airfields but, because of domestic unease with a U.S. presence in the kingdom, only allows the United States to maintain a small combined air operations center for U.S. aircraft in the Persian Gulf.

While the United States maintains 228,000 troops in the Near East and South Asia, all but 5,700 are stationed in Iraq or Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom or in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.[38] These troops would, presumably, return home upon the completion of their missions. Kuwaiti officials have made clear that they do not envision hosting a permanent U.S. presence. The Kuwaiti government designates portions of Camp Arifjan as temporary and insists that when U.S. forces depart, no trace of their presence should remain. In practice, according to officers with the 45th Field Artillery Brigade operating facilities in Kuwait, this means that U.S. officers must spend weeks engaging the Kuwaiti bureaucracy if they wish to do so much as pave a road through their tent city.

Almost half of the troops stationed in the region outside of Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan are afloat, which highlights the need for naval bases and shipyards. The U.S. 5th Fleet uses facilities in Bahrain and ports in the United Arab Emirates. Both countries, however, remain vulnerable to Iranian missiles and airstrikes.

Upgrading regional facilities would support containment strategies that rely on a long-term U.S. regional presence as well as Washington's deferral of the primary containment responsibilities to Iran's neighbors. In order to upgrade the GCC states' military capacity, in May 2006, the Bush administration launched a "Gulf Security Dialogue" aimed at improving the GCC militaries' interoperability, their defense capabilities, and the states' counterterrorism abilities and critical infrastructure protection.[39] As mandated by section 36(b) of the Arms Export Control Act, the White House on August 3, 2007, informed Congress of its intention to sell Bahrain six Bell 412 air search and recovery helicopters, the sum price for which, if all technology options are exercised, might be as high as $160 million. Such helicopters, however, can do little to protect the tiny island nation of Bahrain, whose sovereignty Iranian officials on occasion still question,[40] from an Iranian onslaught.

Two months after signaling the Bahrain sale, the administration notified Congress of its intention to upgrade three Kuwaiti L-110-30 aircraft (a civilian version of the C-130) at a sum cost as high as $250 million. Subsequent notifications regarding Kuwait included maintenance and logistics support for Kuwait's F/A-18 aircraft, sale of eighty PAC-3 missiles, Patriot missile system upgrades, and 2,106 TOW-A and 1,404 TOW-B missiles, the total cost of which would be higher than $1.3 billion. Proposed arms sales to Saudi Arabia are even greater and include light armored vehicles; high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles; advanced radar; sniper targeting pods; and, most controversially, nine hundred Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) tail kits to create high precision smart bombs. The United Arab Emirates itself may purchase three hundred AGM-114M3 Blast Fragmentation Warheads and nine hundred AGM-114L3 Hellfire II Longbow missiles, upgrades for three E-2C airborne early-warning aircraft, 288 Patriot Advanced Capability-3 air defense missile systems, 224 AIM-120C-7 Advanced Medium Air-to-Air Missile Air Intercept Missiles, two hundred JDAM tail kits, and more than two hundred one-ton bombs.[41] The shopping list of equipment may seem technical, but it underscores both the complexity and the expense of preparing for containment.

Even with such upgrades, and assuming Congress does not disapprove the sales--188 members of Congress have expressed concern--it is unclear whether the GCC states could contain Iranian aggression for long. No GCC state with the exception of Saudi Arabia has strategic depth. If Iraq could overwhelm Kuwait in a matter of hours, so, too, could Iran overwhelm Bahrain--the central node in regional U.S. naval strategy--or Qatar, where the U.S. army pre-positions much of its heavy equipment.

A quick glance at the Iran-GCC military balance is not reassuring. Iran has 663,000 military service personnel, including regular army, IRGC, and Basij. Saudi Arabia, in contrast, has only 214,500 military personnel, and the combined total for the other five GCC states is a paltry 131,300. Iran falls short on fighter aircraft (332 versus 496 for the GCC) but is near parity on battle tanks (1,710 versus 1,912) and dominates with combat vessels (201 versus 94).[42] While Iran may fall short in certain categories, it has a superior ballistic missile capability to any immediate neighbors besides Pakistan. Iran's Shahab-3 missile has performed erratically during tests but now reportedly has a two-thousand-kilometer range. As the Gulf Security Dialogue sales indicate, the GCC states are scrambling to recover from this missile deficit.

Iran's other neighbors cannot bring much to the containment table. Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan's militaries are negligible. The Russian invasion of Georgia has eliminated the possibility of assistance from Tblisi. Uzbekistan and Armenia are, in practice, hostile to U.S. strategic concerns.

Turkey, with its 514,000 troops, nearly four hundred fighter aircraft, and 4,400 tanks, is in theory a NATO ally and, as such, interoperable with the U.S. military. It could bring significant resources to the table, but it is an unreliable ally unlikely to participate in any serious containment; nor will Iraq or Afghanistan who, for years to come, will be more concerned with ensuring internal stability than participating in regional containment. Indeed, with the exception of Turkey, every other Iranian neighbor remains vulnerable to Iranian political or infrastructure sabotage, as incidents such as the Khobar Towers bombing and the 1995-96 Bahraini riots demonstrate.[43] A Kuwaiti parliamentarian has even accused the IRGC of infiltrating Kuwait.[44]


The Bush administration has treated deterrence and containment as rhetorical pillars, but, beyond the Gulf Security Dialogue, few in Washington appear willing to take the measures necessary to deter or contain a nuclear Iran. Even in the unlikely event they would achieve Iraqi acquiescence, neither Barack Obama nor Joe Biden support permanent bases in Iraq,[45] even though such facilities would be the cornerstones of a containment policy. Simply put, without permanent bases in Iraq, a nuclear capable Islamic Republic cannot be contained.

While Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) laid down the necessary marker to support a deterrence strategy when she declared that the United States could "obliterate" Iran should the Islamic Republic use nuclear weapons, Obama's criticism of her statement[46] undercut the commitment to retaliation upon which any deterrence policy must rest.

It may be comforting to Abizaid, Mullen, and the electorate to believe that the United States can deter or contain Tehran's worst ambitions, but absent any preparation to do so, Washington is instead signaling that the Islamic Republic has a green light to claim regional dominance and, at worst, carry out its threats to annihilate Israel. At the same time, absent any effort to lay the groundwork either for containment or deterrence, Washington is signaling to its allies in the region that they are on their own and that the U.S. commitment to protect them is empty. Arab states and Iran's other neighbors may calculate that they have no choice but to make greater accommodation to Tehran's interests. Should Israeli officials believe that the West will stand aside as Iran achieves nuclear capability and that a nuclear Islamic Republic poses an existential threat to the Jewish state, they may conclude that they have no choice but to launch a preemptive military strike--an event that could quickly lead to a regional conflagration from which the United States would have difficulty remaining aloof.

Michael Rubin, editor of the Middle East Quarterly, is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. AEI research assistant Ahmad Majidyar and associate editor Christy Hall Robinson worked with Mr. Rubin to edit and produce this Middle Eastern Outlook.


1. David E. Sanger, "Rice Says Iran Must Not Be Allowed to Develop Nuclear Arms," New York Times, August 9, 2004.
2. Nazila Fathi, "Using a 2nd Network, Iran Raises Enrichment Ability," New York Times, October 27, 2006.
3. "Bush Says Iran Remains a Threat," BBC News, December 4, 2007.
4. "IAEA Chief: Iran 'on Path' to Atomic Weapon," Associated Press, September 26, 2008.
5. Helene Cooper and David E. Sanger, "Iran Strategy Stirs Debate at White House," New York Times, June 16, 2007.
6. Martin Walker, "Which Iran Is in Charge?" United Press International (UPI), August 4, 2008; and "U.S. Admiral Urges Caution on Iran," BBC News, July 2, 2008.
7. Jonathan Steele, "Lost in Translation," Guardian (London), June 14, 2006.
8. Joshua Teitelbaum, What Iranian Leaders Really Say about Doing Away with Israel: A Refutation of the Campaign to Excuse Ahmadinejad's Incitement to Genocide (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2008); and Gregory S. Gordon, "International Law and Incitement to Genocide" (presentation, seminar on "Understanding the Challenge of Iran," Yale University, New Haven, CT, April 30, 2008).
9. Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Tehran), December 14, 2001. Translated by BBC Worldwide Monitoring.
10. "Iranian Hardliner Says Iran Will Produce Atomic Bomb," IranMania.com, February 14, 2005.
11. Baztab News Agency (Tehran), May 29, 2005.
12. "Muslim Cleric Sanctions Nuclear Weapons," UPI, February 19, 2006.
13. Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network 1 (Tehran), June 4, 2006. Translated by Open Source Center.
14. Ruhollah Khomeini, Islam and Revolution, trans. and ed. Hamid Algar (London: KPI, 1981), 34, 72, 95, 133, 144, 147.
15. Quoted in Jalal Matini, "The Most Truthful Individual in Recent History," Iranshenasi 14, no. 4 (Winter 2003).
16. Ali Alfoneh, "Iran's Parliamentary Elections and the Revolutionary Guards' Creeping Coup d'Etat," Middle Eastern Outlook, no. 2 (February 2008), available at www.aei.org/publication27549/.
17. Quoted in Mohebat Ahdiyyih, "Ahmadinejad and the Mahdi," Middle East Quarterly 15, no. 4 (Fall 2008): 27-28.
18. Ibid., 32.
19. Ibid., 31.
20. Mehdi Khalaji, Apocalyptic Politics: On the Rationality of Iranian Policy (Washington, DC: Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2008), 24.
21. Ali Alfoneh, "Iran's Parliamentary Elections and the Revolutionary Guards' Creeping Coup d'Etat."
22. Ali Alfoneh, "The Revolutionary Guards' Role in Iranian Politics," Middle East Quarterly 15, no. 4 (Fall 2008): 8, available at www.aei.org/publication28594/.
23. Mohebat Ahdiyyih, "Ahmadinejad and the Mahdi": 32-33; and Quran 8:60.
24. Glenn Greenwald, "Tom Friedman's Latest Declaration of War," Salon.com, May 14, 2008.
25. "Khatami: Dar Zamineh-e tahrif andisheh-ha-ye hazirat-e Imam 'alam khatar mikonam" [Khatami: I Find Danger in the Distortion of His Excellence the Imam's Thoughts], Emrooz (Tehran), May 3, 2008.
26. Scott Ritter, "The Big Lie: Iran Is a Threat," Britannica Blog, October 8, 2007, available at www.britannica.com/blogs/2007/10/iran-is-a-threat-the-big-lie/ (accessed October 31, 2008).
27. See Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, art. 154; and Wilfried Buchta, Who Rules Iran? The Structure of Power in the Islamic Republic (Washington, DC: Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Berlin: Konrad Adenaeur Stiftung, 2000), 69.
28. Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, preamble.
29. Quran 8:30.
30. Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC), No Safe Haven: Iran's Global Assassination Campaign (New Haven, CT: IHRDC, May 2008); INTERPOL, "INTERPOL Executive Committee Takes Decision on Amia Red Notice Dispute," news release, March 15, 2007; and Brigadier General Kevin Bergner (press briefing, Combined Press Information Center, Baghdad, July 2, 2007).
31. Martin Indyk, "The Clinton Administration's Approach to the Middle East" (presentation, Soref Symposium, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Washington, DC, May 1993).
32. F. Gregory Gause III, "The Illogic of Dual Containment," Foreign Affairs, March/April 1994.
33. See, for example, "Turkey, Iran Seal Cooperation," Turkish Daily News, July 30, 2004; and Serkan Demirtafl, "Ankara Cold to U.S. Warning on Iranian Bank," Turkish Daily News, January 30, 2008.
34. "Merkel: Ravabat-e tejari-ye Alman ba Iran boyad kahesh yabad" [Merkel: Germany Must Reduce Its Trade Relations with Iran], Donya-e Eqtesad (Tehran), November 21, 2007.
35. Iranian Students News Agency (Tehran), November 21, 2007.
36. George C. Wilson and Molly Moore, "U.S. Sinks or Cripples 6 Iranian Ships in Gulf Battles; No American Losses Reported, but Helicopter Missing," Washington Post, April 19, 1988.
37. "Negotiations about Incirlik Air Base Continue," Turkish Daily News, March 5, 2007.
38. U.S. Department of Defense, "Active Duty Military Personnel Strengths by Regional Area and by Country," December 31, 2007, available at http://siadapp.dmdc.osd.mil/personnel/MILITARY/history/hst0712.pdf (accessed October 30, 2008).
39. Christopher M. Blanchard and Richard F. Grimmett, The Gulf Security Dialogue and Related Arms Sale Proposals (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, October 8, 2008).
40. Husayn Shariatmadari, "Ahvaz-i Kucheh-i Baghi" [Street Garden Song], Kayhan (Tehran), July 9, 2007.
41. Ibid.
42. Michael Rubin, Meeting the Challenge: U.S. Policy toward Iranian Nuclear Development (Washington, DC: Bipartisan Policy Center, 2008), 32, available at www.aei.org/publication28717/; and Jane's Sentinel Country Risk Assessments database.
43. Michael Eisenstadt, "The Long Shadow of Khobar Towers: Dilemmas for the U.S. and Iran" (PolicyWatch 414, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, October 8, 1999); and Douglas Jehl, "Bahrain Rulers Say They're Determined to End Village Unrest," New York Times, January 28, 1996.
44. "Asrar-e namayandeh Kuwaiti ba Ada'ye khod aliyeh sipa" [Tenacity of Kuwaiti Parliamentarian's Claims of IRGC Infiltration], Shahab News (Tehran), September 14, 2008.
45. Obama for America, "Barack Obama and Joe Biden's Plan," available at www.barackobama.com/issues/iraq (accessed October 31, 2008).
46. "Obama: Clinton's 'Obliterate' Iran Statement Too Much Like Bush," CNN.com, May 4, 2008

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5 novembre 2008 3 05 /11 /novembre /2008 18:29
Des signes inquiétants d'infléchissement de la politique américaine à l'encontre de l'Iran, bien avant tout "péril Obama". Elle remonte à l'attitude conseillée par, notamment, le rapport Hamilton-Baker, le Council on Foreign Relations, lors de rencontres Brzezinski (conseiller d'Obama)- Gates (à la sécurité nationale), relayé ensuite par les édulcorations du rapport de la NIE en novembre 2007,  de la virtualité de tout danger réel ou encore des "mises en garde" de l'échec potentiel d'une "aventure militaire", etc. L'élection du Président apparaît ainsi autant comme l'aboutissement d'un processus déjà en cours que l'effet d'une "brillante et convaincante réussite personnelle"... Obama reste l'enfant légitime de différents groupes d'influence au sein et en périphérie de l'Administration, dans le plus pur style des politiques étrangères Powell, puis Rice.
Israël craint l’ouverture d’un bureau américain à Téhéran avant la passation de pouvoirs

Revue de la presse israélienne du service de Presse de l’ambassade de France en Israël

mercredi 5 novembre 2008

Selon le Haaretz, malgré les estimations selon lesquelles il n’y aura pas de changement radical dans la politique américaine vis-à-vis d’Israël, Jérusalem craint la politique que pourrait mener Barack Obama sur le dossier iranien. On redoute notamment l’ouverture d’une représentation américaine à Téhéran avant même l’entrée du nouveau président à la Maison Blanche.

En effet, Barack Obama, qui déclarait durant sa campagne qu’il engagerait un dialogue avec le régime iranien, prendra ses fonctions alors que les Etats-Unis ont déjà lancé une démarche pour briser l’isolement de l’Iran. Ces dernières semaines, Israël a à plusieurs reprises fait part à l’administration Bush de son fort mécontentement face à l’intention américaine d’ouvrir un bureau d’intérêts à Téhéran. Jérusalem a également fait passer des messages concernant l’Iran à l’entourage de Barack Obama alors que celui-ci était en pleine campagne présidentielle.

Selon un document interne présenté lors d’une conférence du ministère israélien de Affaires étrangères, Israël ne sera pas le premier sujet à l’ordre du jour dans la politique étrangère du nouveau président, qui devra d’abord trouver des solutions à la crise en Irak et en Afghanistan, ainsi qu’aux relations avec la Russie. On estime néanmoins que l’investissement américain dans la région se traduira par la nomination d’un envoyé spécial pour le processus de paix au Proche-Orient.

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4 novembre 2008 2 04 /11 /novembre /2008 13:49
Iran - La Garde révolutionnaire recrute pour des opérations suicide aux États-Unis à être menées par le Hezbollah

Point de bascule

mardi 4 novembre 2008

Le 1er novembre 2008, le site iranien Tabnak, qui est identifié au Secrétaire du Conseil Expediency et à l’ancien commandant des IRGC Mohsen Rezaï, a indiqué que des dépliants ont récemment été distribué en Iran appelant le public, en particulier les jeunes, à s’inscrire pour des opérations de martyre à être menées par le Hezbollah libanais.

Lire l’article sur : http://pointdebasculecanada.ca/

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2 novembre 2008 7 02 /11 /novembre /2008 23:57
Iran arming 'liberation armies'

October 28, 2008
Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran is supplying weapons to "liberation armies" in the Middle East, a top Revolutionary Guards commander said, offering the first official confirmation the country provides weapons to armed groups in the region.

Gen. Hossein Hamedani, deputy commander of a volunteer militia that is part of the elite Revolutionary Guards, did not provide specific details in the report on the state-run Borna news. The U.S. military has accused Iran of arming Shiite militias in Iraq, and Iran is widely believed to provide weapons to Lebanon's militant Shiite Hezbollah group.

"Not only are our armed forces self-sufficient, liberation armies of the region get part of their weapons from us," Hamedani said, according to the report on Borna's Web site late Sunday.

In the past, Iran — a majority Shiite country — has denied arming Hezbollah, saying it only provided political and financial support. The Iranian government has also denied providing weapons or financial support to Shiite militants fighting U.S. forces in Iraq.

But the U.S. military has said it has evidence that elements of the Mahdi army, an Iraqi militia loyal to anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, have been armed by Iran.

Hamedani also said Iran has no shortage of advanced missile systems.

"Our chemical engineers have upgraded Iran's missile capability," he was quoted as saying.

Hamedani didn't elaborate, but Iranian officials have said they successfully tested a solid fuel motor for the medium-range Shahab-3 ballistic missile, a technological breakthrough for Iran.

Experts say solid fuel increases the accuracy of missiles in reaching targets. But many in the West have expressed doubt about Iran's professed military accomplishments.

Iran launched an arms development program during its 1980-88 war with Iraq to compensate for a U.S. weapons embargo. Since 1992, Iran has produced its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, missiles and a fighter plane.

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31 octobre 2008 5 31 /10 /octobre /2008 11:29
Israël n'a rien à attendre de l'élection américaine. Ni Obama ni Mc Cain ne seraient en mesure d'adopter les mesures nécessaires à sa défense régionale. L'assemblée générale de l'Onu a déjà, préalablement, applaudi à tout rompre au discours au vitriol d'Ahmadinedjad, en spetembre à New York. La duplicité du monde est un dangereux précédent. La théorie compromissionniste selon laquelle il ne serait question que de rhétorique pour l'Iran, tâchant d'asseoir sa suprématie régionale n'est qu'un leurre. Sinon, comment expliquer que malgré des sanctions économiquement coûteuse, les Ayatolahs n'aient pas, ne serait-ce que, freiné leurs ambitions nucléaires? C'est qu'il s'agit d'y parvenir à n'importe quel coût humain, économique, financier, diplomatique. Il n'est absolument pas impensable, techniquement et pratiquement, au vu de l'absence de contrôle sur les trafics en direction du Hezbollah, que les Mollahs ne parviennent un jour à équiper celui-ci en composants nucléaires (bombes sales) suffisants pour provoquer des pertes humaines et dégâts difficilement réversibles sur le sol israélien... Israël a besoin plus que tout d'unité nationale et ne compter que sur lui-même pour faire face au désistement US sur cette question depuis plus d'un an et à la faillite totale de l'ONU, résolue à dérouler des ponts d'or aux maîtres de Téhéran. L'élection ou non d'Obama à ce niveau n'est qu'un énième avatar d'une politique décidée depuis belle lurette et à laquelle l'Administration Bush n'a su répondre que par des bégaiements. L'Amérique ni plus ni moins que le reste du monde est apathique et indifférente au sort d'Israël, il est temps pour le pays de prendre réellement son sort entre ses mains.
No compromise with Iran

Israel must take stand against evil instead of counting on world to curb Iran threat

Robert D. Onley


Iran's Ahmadinejad should not be applauded by world Photo: Reuters

Published:  10.31.08, 00:51 / Israel Opinion

Regardless of who is elected next week in the United States, Israel must adamantly defend herself against Iran – indeed she will have no other choice. Neither Barack Obama nor John McCain are likely to adequately step up to protect Israel in the event that Iran officially "goes nuclear" in the very near future. Local responsibilities preclude such adventurism.


While many Israelis hold out hope that Barack Obama will stridently defend their land, holding negotiations with the fanatic leaders of Iran only serves to approve Iran’s reckless, brash foreign policy in recent years. The sheer fact that the UN General Assembly applauded President Ahmadinejad’s vitriolic speech in September should serve as a stark, frightening reminder that Iran’s ultimate goal remains the complete destruction of Israel – and that the world ostensibly agrees.


On the global stage, any leader combining the words “Zionist regime” should be publicly ostracized and disposed of, not congratulated and praised. The world body’s duplicity is horrifying.


There exists a misguided perception globally that Iran is only playing rhetorical games to increase its regional supremacy. Indeed, rhetoric is certainly a significant part of Ahmadinejad’s posturing, but beneath his insidious speeches lays a fundamental apocalyptic vision shared by the Ayatollahs above him. Official Iranian military parades with enormous Shahab-3 missiles painted with the words “Death to Israel” are not merely provocative symbols – they are overt physical manifestations of Iran’s deadly intentions.


Thus, the Islamic nation’s ongoing disregard for the UN sanctioning process should serve as obvious proof that Iranian leaders are not simply playing mind games. Rather, Iran is pushing full-steam ahead on concrete plans to match its present rhetoric with a powerful future capability.


Israel needs unity
Perhaps a more immediate existential threat remains Iran’s obvious arming and intensive strengthening of its proxy army Hizbullah. Advanced missiles and anti-aircraft weaponry are flooding into the south of Lebanon at an alarming rate. The very fact that such "resistance" weapons are entering the state at all should be evidence enough for Israelis to call for immediate international action. Moreover, the botched 2006 war should not dissuade Israelis from undertaking further defensive military incursions.


Hizbullah's supposed missile potential to strike further south into Israel is an even more pressing concern. Add onto this Iran’s possible future ability to equip Hizbullah with a nuclear device, and the need for the absolute removal of Hizbullah from the region is plainly obvious.

What Israel needs now is unity. While this may not emerge from the currently disabled Knesset and its unstable leadership, Israelis cannot falsely place their hope with the future American president, or even more misguidedly, with the United Nations. The world has proven itself to be entirely indifferent to Israel’s plight, given its weak-kneed stance against a possible nuclear Iran.


Israel’s only true hope for security comes from its own forces, its people, and a strong, united voice against the forces of evil that are ever-faster surrounding her. The day when Israel must take its future its own hands has come. It is time for Israel to take a stand against evil.

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29 octobre 2008 3 29 /10 /octobre /2008 23:18
L'Iran, la bombe - Grande conférence le 4 décembre à Paris

Réservez votre soirée du 4 décembre

Bruno Tertrais : spécialiste de stratégie nucléaire, il a notamment écrit deux ouvrages sur le sujet, La France et la dissuasion nucléaire, ainsi qu’un Que sais-je ?, L’Arme nucléaire. Maître de recherche à la Fondation pour la recherche stratégique (FRS), professeur à l’Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris, membre de l'International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) et expert de l’organisation Strengthening the Global Partnership, ancien directeur de la commission des affaires civiles de l’OTAN.

Frédéric Encel, Docteur en géopolitique habilité à diriger des recherches (HDR). Directeur de recherche à l'Institut français de géopolitique, professeur de relations internationales (ESG), Maître de séminaires à Sciences-Po Paris, auteur de L’Art de la guerre par l’exemple, Flammarion, 2000, Géopolitique de l’Apocalypse. La démocratie à l’épreuve de l’islamisme, Flammarion, 2002, Comprendre le Proche-Orient - Une nécessité pour la République, Bréal, 2006

Jean-Sylvestre Mongrenier : Chercheur associé à l’Institut Thomas More, Chercheur à l'Institut Français de Géopolitique (Université Paris VIII Vincennes-Saint-Denis). Auteur du Dictionnaire géopolitique de la défense européenne (ed. Unicomm, 2005), de La France, l’Europe, l’OTAN : une approche géopolitique de l’atlantisme français (ed. Unicomm, 2006), co-auteur de La Russie, de Poutine à Medvedev (Institut Thomas More/DAS, ed. Unicomm, 2008).

Masri Feki, politologue égyptien, diplômé de l'Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Toulouse, président de l'Association Francophone d'Etudes du Moyen-Orient (AFEMO), fondateur du Middle East Pact (MEP), auteur de L'Iran paradoxal, dogmes et enjeux régionaux (Collectif), Editions L'Harmattan, Géopolitique du Moyen-Orient, Studyrama, Paris, 2008, L'axe irano-syrien, géopolitique et enjeux, Studyrama, Paris, juillet 2007.

20 h - 22h30
Jeudi 4 Décembre 2008

Amphithéâtre BSA diaconesses
18, rue du sergent Bauchat
75012 PARIS
Métro : Nation

Uniquement sur inscription à demander auprès de Primo

PAF : 10 euros

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26 octobre 2008 7 26 /10 /octobre /2008 12:29

Après 30 années d'interruption, vers des relations diplomatiques américano-iranienne?


Par Mati Ben-Avraham
Rubrique: Actualité
Publié le 26 octobre 2008 à 08:19

Selon diverses sources d’informations, aussi bien à Washington qu’à Jérusalem, l’administration Bush envisage de renouer des relations diplomatiques avec l’Iran, relations interrompues voici trente ans. Le président américain attendrait, dit-on, la mi-novembre pour l’annoncer publiquement.

Pour ceux qui ont relevé, avec attention, la fréquence des contacts, ces temps derniers, entre personnalités des deux pays dans des forums divers, cette intention prêtée à l’administration Bush américaine ne constitue pas véritablement une surprise. Elle va dans le droit fil d’un rapport signé par James Baker, l’ancien secrétaire d’ Etat.

Elle s’inscrit également dans une démarche inaugurée avec Kadhafi. Rappelons-nous : classé Etat-Voyou par les Etats-Unis dans les années 1980, la Lybie a fait l’objet de sanctions économiques, de frappes aériennes, d’une mise au ban du monde occidental. Et puis, sans crier gare, en laissant son allié israélien hors du coup qui plus est, la Maison blanche changeait radicalement de politique vis-à-vis du leader libyen. Les relations se rétablissaient. C’était en 2004. Depuis, Kadhafi est non seulement fréquentable, mais très fréquenté.

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25 octobre 2008 6 25 /10 /octobre /2008 09:54
TheStar.com | Columnist | Diplomatic efforts going nowhere, Israelis say
Diplomatic efforts going nowhere, Israelis say
Security group believes it may be too late to counter threat militarily
Oct 24, 2008 04:30 AM


TEL AVIV–Diplomatic efforts to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons are going nowhere, and it may already be too late to counter the threat by military action, say several top Israeli security experts.

"No serious action is being taken," said Emily Landau, senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies, a privately funded Israeli think-tank.

"It's difficult to avoid the disturbing conclusion that Iran will not be deterred by the international community."

Despite the fears of many Israelis, however, and even though Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad regularly rails against the Jewish state and has mused several times about its eradication, Landau and other experts say an attack on Israel is not the main reason for Tehran's pursuit of a nuclear bomb.

"Iran is seeking to achieve a nuclear capability in order to enhance its regional influence," Landau said. "Israel is not Iran's primary concern. It's fourth or fifth."

But, in a briefing yesterday for foreign journalists, Landau and several of her colleagues at the institute stressed a nuclear-empowered Tehran – even if it were never to use its nuclear weaponry in battle – would fundamentally alter the geopolitical landscape, not just in the Middle East but around the globe.

"The Persian Gulf states are already in a state of near panic," she said.

"In a very real sense, this is a global problem."

Ephraim Kam, deputy director of the think-tank, said he considers it unlikely that Tehran would unleash a nuclear attack on Israel, but he admitted he could not be sure.

Such uncertainty presents this country's political leaders with a wrenching dilemma, he said.

"If it's only a 10 per cent probability that Iran will attack Israel, still it's a chance, and it would be terrible," Kam said.

"I don't envy the prime minister."

According to Kam, only two countries possess both the technological means and, possibly, the political will to carry out a pre-emptive strike against Iran – the United States and Israel.

"If the Americans decide not to do it, the job will be in the hands of Israel," he said.

Landau said Iran's nuclear program is probably too advanced to be successfully countered by a military force.

Even so, she and Kam agreed the military option should be kept on the table as a pressure tactic, even if it is not put into practice.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported this week that Iran might be considering using conventional weaponry to launch a pre-emptive strike at Israel, an effort to prevent an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.

But Kam said he finds this prospect illogical and unlikely, both because Tehran lacks the muscle to disable Israel militarily and because such an attack would almost certainly be used by Israel to justify a massive counter-strike.

"I don't see Iran's interest in such an option," he said.

The U.S. intelligence community concluded late last year that Iran abandoned its nuclear-weapons program in 2003, shortly after the U.S.-led invasion of neighbouring Iraq, but Israel believes that Tehran has since resumed its pursuit of an offensive nuclear capability.

"There is almost a consensus that this is the situation," Landau said.

Israel believes Iran is two to three years away from having a functioning nuclear bomb with the means to deliver it, probably using retrofitted Sahab-3 missiles.

Other estimates suggest that Tehran is considerably further away from possessing an effective nuclear capability – from three to eight years.

In 1981, Israeli warplanes attacked and destroyed an Iraqi nuclear facility at Osirak near Baghdad, but experts say a military operation to knock out Iran's nuclear program – most of which is located deep underground – would be vastly more complex.

Although it refuses to acknowledge the fact, Israel is known to possess nuclear weapons, the only country in the Middle East with such a capability.

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25 octobre 2008 6 25 /10 /octobre /2008 01:01
Iraqi forces kill, capture Iranian agents

A US military map of Iran's operations inside southern Iraq. This 2007 map formed the basis of The Ramazan Corps and the ratlines into Iraq. Click to view full size.

Iraqi troops continue to encounter Iranian agents in eastern Iraq. One Iranian was killed and another was captured during a clash in Al Kut in Wasit province, an Iraqi Army officer told Voices of Iraq.

"The forces killed and detained the two Iranians during clashes that broke out in Sheikh Saad district in south of Kut," Major Aziz Latief, an officer from the 2nd Quick Reaction Force told the Iraqi newspaper.

The men were armed with four machine guns and hand grenades. The captured Iranian agent admitted "they came from Iran to implement armed operations in Iraq."

Al Kut has been a center of Iranian activity in Iraq's east. The city served as a strategic distribution hub for weapons smuggled into Iraq from across the border in Mehran, Iran. From there, weapons were distributed to tactical locations, where they were employed against Iraqi and Coalition forces as well against Iraqi politicians. The Iraqi Army dislodged the Iranian-backed Mahdi Army from Al Kut during operations during the summer of 2008.

Iraqi forces have captured eight Iranian agents and killed one since Oct. 18. Iraqi police captured three armed Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps officers in Al Kut on Oct. 20. Border guards captured four more in Mandali in Diyala province, which also borders Iran.

All nine Iranians are likely members of Qods Force, the elite special operations branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. Qods Force has established a command to direct operations inside Iraq, and has been working to undermine Iraq's security and political environment.

The recent surge of Iranian operatives killed or captured over the past week indicates Qods Force may be ramping up operations inside Iraq, and that Iraqi intelligence on Iranian activities is improving, a US military officer familiar with Iran's operations in Iraq told The Long War Journal. Qods Force may also be looking to take a more active role in directing operations at the tactical level inside Iraq, the officer said. Prior to this week, only a handful of Iranian operatives, along with a Lebanese Hezbollah leader, have been reported captured inside Iraq.

Iraqi and Coalition forces have maintained the pressure on the Iranian-backed terror groups operating inside Iraq during the month of October. Two Iranian-trained Special Groups fighters have been killed and 76 have been captured during since Oct. 1, according to numbers compiled by The Long War Journal. Fifty-three have been captured since Oct. 13. Fourteen of those captured were members of the Hezbollah Brigades. The Hezbollah Brigades is an Iranian-backed terror group that has been behind multiple roadside bombings and rocket attacks against US and Iraqi forces in Baghdad.

Background on Iran's backing of the Shia terror groups

Flash Presentation on the Ramazan Corps and the Iranian Ratlines into Iraq. Click the map to view. A Flash Player is required to view, click to download.

Qods Force has supported various Shia militias and terror groups inside Iraq, including the Mahdi Army, which it helped build along the same lines as Lebanese Hezbollah. Iran denies the charges, but captive Shia terrorists admit to being recruited by Iranian agents, and then transported into Iran for training.

Iran established the Ramazan Corps immediately after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime to direct operations inside Iraq. The US military says Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah have helped establish, fund, train, and arm, and have provided operational support for Shia terror groups such as the Hezbollah Brigades and the League of the Righteous. The US military refers to these groups as well as the Iranian-backed elements of the Mahdi Army as the "Special Groups." These groups train in camps inside Iran.

US and Iraqi forces have captured several high-level Qods Force officers inside Iraq since late 2006. Among those captured are Mahmud Farhadi, one of the three Iranian regional commanders in the Ramazan Corps; Ali Mussa Daqduq, a senior Lebanese Hezbollah operative; Qais Qazali, the leader of the Qazali Network; and Azhar al Dulaimi, one of Qazali's senior tactical commanders. The US has imposed sanctions on Major General Ahmad Foruzandeh, the former Qods Force commander, and Abdul Reza Shahlai, a deputy commander in Iran's Qods Force, for backing Shia terror groups inside Iraq.

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25 octobre 2008 6 25 /10 /octobre /2008 00:11
Waiting for Godot!

October 24, 2008
Iran va Jahan
Shaheen Fatemi

Why should an entire nation, far away from America, be interested or even anxious about the outcome of elections in a foreign country? Under normal circumstance, the interest of the Iranian people in the American elections, at most, should be that of curiosity and not much more.

Are people in India or Spain or for that matter practically any other country, perhaps with the exception of Iraq, Israel and Afghanistan, necessarily anxious or even interested? I doubt it. Most probably if it were not for the disastrous foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) over the past thirty years, we would not be asking this question today.

Those who some thirty years ago manipulated the genuine desire of the Iranian people for reform at the time of the late Shah into a bloody revolution had no agenda or plans for governing the country. Their lack of competence was obvious from the day one when they formed the very first so-called ‘provisional government.’ This fact was so obvious at the time that even Khomeini’s hand-picked prime-minister, Mehdi Bazargan, admitted to this fact and publicly regretted the fact that the revolution had succeeded so fast and so easily! Perhaps one must add that the only item on their obstructive agenda was those vague notions expressed in Khomeini’s cryptic religious writings: wishing to re-establish antiquated Islamic rules in a modern and western-oriented society.

It did not take long, even for the slowest of the so-called new leaders, to realize that their prescriptions are not only outdated but will be ridiculed by most of the population. I believe it is because of this dilemma and out of sheer sense of incompetence that they chose the path of terror and xenophobia.

Within days people were shocked to see hundreds and thousands of executions ordered by the Sharia courts under the direct orders of Khomeini. To re-enforce this state of terror and confusion, some common hoodlums, masquerading as students, were ordered to occupy the American Embassy in Tehran and incarcerate 53 American diplomats as hostages for four-hundred and forty-four days.

While thirty years have passed since those dark days in the history of Iran but the regime still remains incompetent in solving the problems of the country and still continues its policy of domestic terror and foreign misadventures. The only new element is its desire to ensure its longevity under the cover of nuclear black-mail. Perhaps, if it were not for this latest development and IRI’s agitations against Israel, Americans would have made their peace with the regime long ago, ignoring the gross violations of human rights and the plight of the Iranian people.

In the meantime, five Presidents, three Republicans and two Democrats have come and gone without any tangible impact on the scene. Many years ago, those Iranians who had high hopes and believed in the American rhetoric expected concrete actions, of the kind which was used against the racist regime of South Africa, but were soon disappointed. Iran is neither South Africa nor Burma, Iran has oil and the industrialized countries need oil. Whoever is elected will not be able to do much for the cause of the Iranian people. Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, or Bush II, and whoever is elected later this month, are contained and directed by the American foreign policy establishment which is dominated by major oil company lobbyists. Waiting for Americans is waiting for Godot

link to original article

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Magie de la langue hébraïque

A tous nos chers lecteurs.


Ne vous est-il jamais venu à l'esprit d'en savoir un peu plus sur le titre de ce blog ?

Puisque nous nous sommes aujourd'hui habillés de bleu, il conviendrait de rentrer plus a fond dans l'explication du mot lessakel.

En fait Lessakel n'est que la façon française de dire le mot léhasskil.

L'hébreu est une langue qui fonctionne en déclinant des racines.

Racines, bilitères, trilitères et quadrilitères.

La majorité d'entre elle sont trilitères.

Aussi Si Gad a souhaité appeler son site Lessakel, c'est parce qu'il souhaitait rendre hommage à l'intelligence.

Celle qui nous est demandée chaque jour.

La racine de l'intelligence est sé'hel שכל qui signifie l'intelligence pure.

De cette racine découlent plusieurs mots

Sé'hel > intelligence, esprit, raison, bon sens, prudence, mais aussi croiser

Léhasskil > Etre intelligent, cultivé, déjouer les pièges

Sé'hli > intelligent, mental, spirituel

Léhistakel > agir prudemment, être retenu et raisonnable, chercher à comprendre

Si'hloute > appréhension et compréhension

Haskala >  Instruction, culture, éducation

Lessa'hlen > rationaliser, intellectualiser

Heschkel > moralité

Si'htanout > rationalisme

Si'hloul > Amélioration, perfectionnement


Gageons que ce site puisse nous apporter quelques lumières.

Aschkel pour Lessakel.



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