Overblog
Suivre ce blog Administration + Créer mon blog
23 septembre 2008 2 23 /09 /septembre /2008 12:13
Le Hezbollah se déploie dans les monarchies du Golfe

jeudi 18 septembre 2008 - 18h40, par Khaled Asmar - Beyrouth

Logo MédiArabe.Info

Après les informations inquiétantes sur la présence de cellules dormantes du Hezbollah dans plusieurs pays européens, le quotidien koweïtien « Al Seyassah » s’appuie sur des sources britanniques pour alerter les pays du Golfe sur la présence d’unités combattantes du parti chiite libanais sur leur sol.

Selon le quotidien koweïtien, plusieurs centaines de combattants du Hezbollah libanais, ayant reçu un entrainement militaire en Iran, ont infiltré les pays du Golfe depuis janvier dernier, afin de « militariser » la communauté chiite dans ces pays. Il s’agit notamment du Koweït, de l’Arabie saoudite, des Emirats arabes unis et du Bahreïn. Leur mission est d’organiser la déstabilisation de ces monarchies et de s’attaquer aux intérêts nationaux vitaux (économiques et stratégiques) et aux Occidentaux (ambassades et entreprises), si les Etats-Unis et/ou Israël menaient des opérations militaires contre l’Iran.

Les sources britanniques affirment que « les services de renseignement européens ont localisé au moins 450 combattants chiites libanais qui se sont déjà rendus dans le Golfe entre janvier et juillet 2008, souvent grâce à de faux passeports, en provenance du Liban ou en passant par la Syrie, le Maroc, la Jordanie ou l’Egypte. D’autres ont pu passer directement depuis l’Irak vers le Koweït et la province est d’Arabie, à majorité chiite. Des immigrés Libanais dans ces pays auraient confirmé la présence de ces agents, et les auraient dénoncés aux autorités compétentes », ajoutent les mêmes sources.

Ces informations confirment les soupçons du Bahreïn notamment quant à la présence de camps d’entrainement sur son territoire, financés par les Gardiens de la Révolution. Ces camps préparent la jeunesse chiite bahreïnie (majorité) à la guérilla pour déstabiliser cette petite monarchie.

Notons que Londres s’était déjà inquiété de l’infiltration du Hezbollah dans plusieurs dizaines de pays dans le monde, et avait renforcé les mesures de contrôle des mouvements de fonds au profit du parti chiite. Cette présence massive du Hezbollah, notamment en Europe, empêche le Vieux Continent de prendre la moindre position hostile contre le mouvement, hésitant même à le considérer comme une organisation terroriste, sans doute par crainte de sa riposte (en Europe et contre la FINUL).

Traduction et synthèse de Khaled Asmar

Lire l'article original : Al Seyassah - Koweït

Partager cet article
Repost0
17 septembre 2008 3 17 /09 /septembre /2008 19:53
Cyberpresse

Le lundi 15 sept 2008

Les États-Unis pourraient vendre des bombes anti-bunkers à Israël

Agence France-Presse

Washington

Le Pentagone a notifié au Congrès américain un projet de vente à Israël de 1000 bombes GBU-39 de faible diamètre (SDB), ainsi qu'une série d'équipements militaires pour une valeur totale de 77 millions de dollars.

L'information a été transmise au Congrès pendant le week-end par l'Agence de Coopération en matière de défense et de sécurité (DSCA), qui dépend du Pentagone, selon un communiqué disponible sur le site internet de la DSCA.

Ces bombes ont la capacité de pénétrer de 1,8 mètre dans du béton armé. Elles auraient en outre 50% de chances d'atteindre leur objectif dans un rayon d'environ 5 mètres, réduisant ainsi les risques de dommages collatéraux.

Selon le Jerusalem Post, ces bombes pourraient être utilisées par Israël en cas d'intervention militaire contre les installations nucléaires de l'Iran, dont certaines sont protégées par d'épaisses constructions similaires à des bunkers.

Partager cet article
Repost0
11 septembre 2008 4 11 /09 /septembre /2008 19:14
Iran's Role in 9/11 Attack

September 10, 2008
Newsmax
Kenneth R. Timmerman







In an auspicious passage that went virtually unreported at the time, the 9/11 Commission revealed in July 2004 that they “now have evidence suggesting that 8 to 10 of the 14 Saudi ‘muscle’ operatives traveled into or out of Iran between October 2000 and February 2001.”

The “muscle” operatives were the 9/11 hijackers who overpowered airline crew members, slit their throats, and terrorized passengers so the al-Qaida pilots could seize control of the airliners and fly them into their targets.

The Commissioners concluded that there was “strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of al-Qaida members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11, and that some of these were future 9/11 hijackers.”

“We believe this topic requires further investigation by the U.S. government,” the Commissioners wrote.

This heavily-redacted passage in the July 2004 final report of the 9/11 Commission provided a tantalizing glimpse into the information gathered by the U.S. intelligence community — mainly from national technical means — on Iran’s material involvement in the 9/11 attacks.

And yet, until now it has been widely ignored by the intelligence community, Congress, and most of the press.

I first revealed the inside story of what the 9/11 Commission found out about Iran’s involvement in the 9/11 plot in my 2005 book Countdown to Crisis: the Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran.

Among other things, I discovered from sources on the Commission that the “senior Hezbollah operative” who accompanied the al-Qaida muscle hijackers on flights from Saudi Arabia and Beirut to Tehran was none other than Iran’s star terrorist, Imad Fayez Mugniyeh.

Either Mugniyeh’s presence on those flights was hard evidence that Iran was actively and materially involved with the future al-Qaida terrorists, or it was a “remarkable coincidence,” the 9/11 Commission report stated.

I also interviewed a former Revolutionary Guards Colonel who gave paramilitary and intelligence training to al-Qaida terrorists at a specialized training camp in Iran before 9/11.

Former FBI assistant director Oliver “Buck” Revell tracked Mugniyeh during the 1980s because of his involvement in the deadly bombings of the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, among other attacks.

“Mugniyeh is more dangerous and has killed more people and tortured more people than any other terrorist,” Revell told me earlier this year.

“Whenever he’s under pressure, he goes to Iran. He’s the creature of the IRGC [the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps]. He’s the international link between Hezbollah and the IRGC.”

Not long after the 9/11 attacks, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage called Mugniyeh’s Hezbollah “the A-Team of terrorists, and maybe al-Qaida is actually the 'B' team.”

Armitage never accused Hezbollah or Mugniyeh of involvement in the attacks, but was referring to their twenty-five-year history of killing Americans.

Mugniyeh was assassinated on February 12, 2008, when he turned on the ignition of his Mitsubishi Pajero in a highly-secure neighborhood of Damascus, Syria. He had just left a meeting with the head of Syrian intelligence, Rostam Ghazali, and with a senior Iranian intelligence officer.

Most commentators speculated that Mugniyeh had been assassinated by the Israelis, because of his ongoing role as Hezbollah’s military chief. But a Newsmax source close to Hezbollah speculated that he had been killed by the Iranians.

“Haj Radwan [a nom de guerre for Mugniyeh] knew too much, and had outlived his usefulness to the Iranians,” the source said.

New York Times reporter Philip Shenon also examined Iran’s involvement in the 9/11 plot in his recent book, The Commission, which details the political infighting among the staff and commissioners as they debated whether to apportion blame between the Clinton and Bush administrations for missing the signs of the impending attacks.

But Shenon — like the published 9/11 commission report itself — falls short of naming Imad Mugniyeh as the “senior Hezbollah operative” who was Iran’s liaison with al-Qaida.

A senior member of the 9/11 Commission staff confirmed this information to me again just a few months ago. “You mean, someone doesn’t know it was Mugniyeh?” he told me.

Despite the Commission’s calls for “further investigation” into Iran’s role in the 9/11 attacks, no agency of the United States government has delved into this subject in the four years since the report was published.

The boxes of highly-classified documents detailing what the intelligence community learned about Iran’s involvement with al Qaeda — many of which were identified in footnotes to the pages of the report dealing with Iran — were returned to their originating agencies once the Commission completed its work, where they have been forgotten like an old aunt dying of dementia.

Imad Mugniyeh’s ties to al-Qaida go back at least to 1993, according to Osama bin Laden’s former bodyguard, Ali Mohamed.

Mohamed, an Egyptian special forces officer who came to America in the 1980s and enlisted in the U.S. Army, was later considered a “confidential informant” by the FBI as they were investigating the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

At the same time he was talking to the FBI, however, Mohamed was traveling back and forth to Sudan, where bin Laden had moved in the early 1990s.

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew McCarthy interviewed Mohamed at one point when he was still a confidential informant. “The more I listened to him, the more I’m thinking, this guy is not a witness, he’s a terrorist!” he told me.

Mohamed was arrested later for his role in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and ultimately made a plea bargain with the U.S. government.

During his “allocution” at his sentencing hearing in October 2000, he revealed his personal knowledge of Iran’s early ties to his boss, Osama bin Laden.

“I arranged security for a meeting in the Sudan between Mugniyeh, Hezbollah’s chief, and bin Laden,” Mohamed told the court.

That meeting took place in 1993, and was a historic “terrorist summit” that laid the ground work for a “cease fire” between Shiite Muslim Iran and the radical Sunnis of Bin Laden’s organization, according to former ABC news reporter and author, Peter Lance.

“Hezbollah provided explosives training for al-Qaida and al Jihad. Iran supplied Egyptian Jihad with weapons,” Mohamed said at his sentencing hearing.

Egyptian Jihad was the al-Qaida component run by Ayman al-Zawahri, the man who is still wanted in Egypt for master-minding the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat.

Zawahri is bin Laden’s top deputy. He was also the al-Qaida operative who had the best connections with Iran, former Iranian intelligence officers tell Newsmax.

Earlier this week, however, al Jazeera reported receiving a copy of a 90-minute video by Zawahri that blasted Iran’s leadership for “co-operating with the Americans in occupying Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Those bitter words may have been a ploy aimed at disguising al-Qaida’s long-standing ties to Iran, and at reassuring al-Qaida foot-soldiers that the terrorist group had not lost the war in Iraq, but had been undermined or sabotaged by fellow Muslims.

The 9/11 commission also described an al-Qaida team that “traveled to Iran to receive training in explosives” after the initial 1993 meeting between bin Laden, Mugniyeh, and an Iranian general in Khartoum.

“Bin Laden reportedly showed particular interest in learning how to use truck bombs such as the one that had killed 241 U.S. Marines in Lebanon in 1983,” the Commission report states.

Mugniyeh designed the twin truck bombs that killed the marines and another 68 French soldiers in October 1983. Fifteen years later, al-Qaida pulled off a similar attack, hitting two U.S. embassies in Africa with truck bombs that exploded just minutes apart but in different countries.

Iran’s role in the 9/11 conspiracy remains one of the best kept secrets of the United States government.

“Al-Qaida also forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in the Sudan and with the government of Iran and its associated terrorist group Hezbollah for the purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies in the West, particularly the United States,” the original 1998 indictment against bin Laden for the Africa embassy bombings revealed.

But the passage was redacted in later versions of the indictment, perhaps to conceal intelligence sources.

I revealed key details of the Iran/al-Qaida relationship in "Countdown to Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran."

• Top al-Qaida leaders, including Ayman al Zawahri and Saad bin Laden, traveled to Iran in early 2001 to win Iranian cooperation in the 9/11 plot, according to an Iranian eyewitness of those meetings. Top among their requests were assistance in getting al-Qaida operatives into and out of Afghanistan without being detected by U.S. intelligence networks in Pakistan.

• The CIA was warned of Iran’s growing ties with al-Qaida, and of Iran’s intention to carry out a massive terrorist operation against the United States jointly with al-Qaida, by an Iranian defector who walked into the U.S. Embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan in July 2001. The CIA dismissed the warning and called the defector “a fabricator.”

• Not long before 9/11, a private company used as a front by Iranian intelligence purchased a Boeing 757/767/777 simulator through commercial contacts, according to another Iranian defector who had personal knowledge of the companies and individuals involved in the purchase. Iran did not then, and does not today own such aircraft. The planes hijacked on 9/11 were Boeing 757s and Boeing 767s.

• Several al-Qaida operatives convicted of terrorist crimes in Europe have said in open court that before 9/11 they were ordered to get travel documents from Iranian embassies in Europe and to travel through Iran to reach Afghanistan as a means of eluding U.S. surveillance.

• The United States government detected a “rat line” set up by Iran to evacuate several hundred al-Qaida terrorists and their families from Afghanistan to Iran in late 2001 and early 2002. The Iranians used army helicopters, fixed wing aircraft, and convoys of Nissan Patrols for the al-Qaida rat line.

• Since then, Iran has continued to provide shelter, sanctuary, training and other material support to al-Qaida operatives and served as a rear base for al al-Qaida operations in neighboring Iraq.

• U.S. negotiations with Iran in early 2003 fell apart after Iran refused to hand over Saad Bin Laden and other top al-Qaida operatives then living in Iran.

• The U.S. severed all contacts with Iran in May 2003, after they intercepted orders from al-Qaida operatives in Iran to a cell in Saudi Arabia to initiate a bloody wave of terrorist attacks in Riyadh that the Saudis called their 9/11.

• Imad Mugniyeh was Iran’s chief liaison to al-Qaida both during the preparation phase of the 9/11 plot, and afterwards.

• Several sources report that Osama bin Laden visited Iran to meet with senior government leaders in November 2004.

Despite this wealth of evidence, the conventional wisdom within the U.S. intelligence community continues to assert that Iran did not assist al-Qaida because of the religious differences between them.

“The conventional wisdom is idiotic,” former CIA Director R. James Woolsey told me.

“I don’t remember what so-called expert was saying that Shia Islamists will never cooperate with Sunni Islamists or with secular terrorists, but I’ve thought this line of reasoning on totalitarians was wrong since I was a sophomore in college,” Woolsey said.

Since 2006, the U.S. military has discovered Iranian-made weapons with Sunni insurgents in Iraq, and has documented Iran’s active assistance to Sunni groups.

“Today, it’s well known that Iran has been transferring weapons to al-Qaida and to the Taliban — sleeping with the Devil, so to speak — because it suits their larger political purpose of attacking America,” said Edward Luttwak, a senior associate at the Center for Security and International Studies in Washington, DC.

link to original article

Partager cet article
Repost0
10 septembre 2008 3 10 /09 /septembre /2008 00:07
The Revolutionary Guards' Role in Iranian Politics

by Ali Alfoneh
Middle East Quarterly
Fall 2008, pp. 3-14
http://www.meforum.org/article/1979

Send RSS

Almost three decades after the Islamic Republic's founding, former Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commanders are infiltrating the political, economic, and cultural life of Iran. Half the members of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's cabinet are former IRGC officers,[1] and he has appointed several IRGC officers to provincial governorships. The IRGC's rise has been deliberate. Facing both external opposition to Tehran's pursuit of an indigenous nuclear enrichment capability and internal pressures for political and economic reforms, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei considers the IRGC officer corps more apt at crisis management than the bureaucratic teams of either former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (1989-97) or Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005). IRGC chief General Mohammad Ali Ja'fari's announcement of internal restructuring to prepare the IRGC to counter "internal threats to the Islamic Republic"[2] reflects the organization's expanding role. The Council of Guardians, which screens candidates before elections, privileged IRGC veterans, who won the bulk of seats in the March 2008 parliamentary elections. Whereas there has always been tension within the Islamic Republic's elite concerning whether the Revolutionary Guards' political or military role should be dominant, recent shifts suggest the debate is concluding as the IRGC cements a commanding influence over political decision-making.

Legal Framework
 

Basij volunteers receive small arms training. The Basij is an auxiliary paramilitary force, subordinate to and under the direction of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. After students held peaceful demonstrations in July 1999 to protest the closure of a reformist newspaper, IRGC commander Yahya Rahim Safavi mobilized the Basij to attack the students' dormitory.

   
Within the Islamic Republic, the debate over the IRGC's political role is essentially a legal question. On December 4, 1979, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini formally created the IRGC by decree although it had existed in some form for several months before.[3] The statute of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps provided the earliest legal framework for the organization's operations. According to Payam-e Enghelab, the IRGC's official organ, the statute was prepared by "some brothers from the Guards" and ratified by the Council of the Revolution,[4] the de facto highest governing body, in the months after Khomeini returned to Iran.[5]

The Islamic Republic had ratified its first constitution the day before, on December 3, 1979. Article 150 declared,

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps … is to be maintained so that it may continue in its role of guarding the revolution and its achievements. The scope of the duties of this corps and its areas of responsibility, in relation to the duties and areas of responsibility of the other armed forces, are to be determined by law with emphasis on brotherly cooperation and harmony among them.[6]

A strict reading of Article 150 shows that the Guards' intervention in politics is not constitutionally mandated, yet at the same time such behavior is not legally prohibited. Nowhere does the constitution define the "enemies" against which the IRGC is obliged to guard the revolution. It is even unclear whether the IRGC's primary role will be defense against external threats, in which case it should act as an army, or internal threats, in which it might act as a police force.

Again, the Guards provided their own guidance on these issues. On March 19, 1980, "Obligations of the Guards" appeared in Payam-e Enghelab.[7] In it, the IRGC stated that

Cooperation with the government in military and security matters, [including] pursuit and arrest of armed counterrevolutionary movements. … Disarming unauthorized persons. … Investigation and intelligence gathering. … preserv[ation] of the public order at demonstrations and gatherings in order to prevent disruption of law and order … [and] support for freedom and justice-seeking movements of oppressed people under the supervision of the Council of the Revolution, and with authorization from the government.

The July 25, 1981 issue of Payam-e Enghelab defined "the two main tasks of the Guards" as "guarding the principle of government by the supreme jurist and the principle of jihad." Therefore, the article concluded, "the Guards cannot be robbed of a political dimension or ideological beliefs."[8]

The statute of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, passed by parliament on September 6, 1982, enshrined these principles in law[9] but differentiated between individual and institutional activities. The statute prohibited individual guardsmen from political activity and made "non-membership in political parties, groupings, and institutions … [a] condition of being a member of the Revolutionary Guards"[10] but enabled ample avenues for the Guards to intervene as a whole. Indeed, the statute's first chapter charged the Guards, under the supreme leader's direction, to "realize the divine ideology and expand the rule of God through the legislation of the Islamic Republic of Iran," and in the second chapter enabled the IRGC to "reinforce the defense body of the Islamic Republic through cooperation with other armed forces and military training and organization of popular forces."[11]

From its very start, therefore, Islamic Republic law made the Revolutionary Guards not only a military organization deterring foreign threats but also a political-military organization tasked with fighting domestic opposition. Article 2 of the statute's second chapter defined an IRGC role as the "legal fight against elements or movements who aim at sabotaging or dismantlement of the Islamic Republic or act against the Islamic Revolution of Iran," and Article 3 stressed the IRGC's mission also as a "legal fight against elements waging an armed struggle to nullify the authority of the laws of the Islamic Republic."[12] Today, many proponents of the Guards' expansionist role cite this legal framework to justify IRGC interventions.[13]

A History of Politicization

The Islamic Republic leadership has continuously used the Guards to suppress internal dissent. Khomeini actively employed the Revolutionary Guards to coerce and, when necessary, crush former political allies as he consolidated power within the revolution's broad coalition. The IRGC's Payam-e Enghelab provides an interesting window into the shifting fortunes of Khomeini's former allies and how, with Khomeini's blessings, the Guards destroyed them one after another.

The first group Payam-e Enghelab attacked was the Tudeh, Iran's communist party. In a March 1980 column, writer Mohammad Eslami Moballeghi accuses the Tudeh of being a Marxist-Stalinist entity and warns that officials should ignore the Tudeh's claim that it has become a "follower of the Imam [Khomeini]."[14] The paper continued to vilify the Tudeh, often calling its members infidels.[15] While the regime tolerated Tudeh for a little while longer, the writing was on the wall. By February 1983, its top leaders had all been incarcerated.[16]

Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan, who presided over the first post-revolutionary transitional government, opposed the IRGC's existence outside the control of the formal power centers[17] and warned the Iranian public of the "imminent danger" of the Guards' intervention in politics. He begged Khomeini to enforce the principle of the military's nonintervention in political affairs, to no avail.[18] Khomeini desired a complete purge of the system.

In a 1981 retrospective, Payam-e Enghelab praised the future Revolutionary Guardsmen's work in destabilizing the Bazargan government, especially their seizure of the U.S. embassy, a move that forced Bazargan's resignation. The paper declared that the hostage affair

showed the true nature of gangs and groups and deviant lines, whose positions had alienated them from the nation and [forced them to] oppose the line of the Imam [Khomeini]. … Was it not for this affair, assessment of these intellectual and political movements would have taken years … The affair "cleansed the revolution from impure elements."[19]

In a column, a certain Brother Eslami explained the reasons for the purge when he wrote: "Socialism, nationalism, modernism, and liberalism are all the entrance avenues of imperialism and materialism."[20]

Indeed, while the Iranian government today demands U.S. apologies for the CIA's role in ousting Prime Minister Mohammad Musaddiq, in the first years of the revolution, the regime considered Musaddiq a nationalist who had opposed clerical conservatives and, therefore, an enemy. In February 1981, Payam-e Enghelab called Musaddiq and Iranian nationalists "agents of the SAVAK, Israel, and the United States" and quoted Khomeini: "Let them get lost! We have suffered in their hands. We want Islam, and nothing but Islam."[21] By April 1981, Payam-e Enghelab openly accused National Front members of treason against the Islamic Republic.[22]

The Guards next set its sights on the Mojahedin-e Khalq organization, a onetime ally of Khomeini, and on Abol-Hassan Bani-Sadr, the first president of the Islamic Republic. Khomeini had also appointed Bani-Sadr to be commander in chief of the armed forces.[23] As Bani-Sadr used his power of appointment to weaken and constrain the Guards,[24] the IRGC targeted both Bani-Sadr and the Mojahedin-e Khalq. Payam-e Enghelab regularly depicted them as enemies of the velayat-e faqih (guardianship of the jurisprudent) principle upon which the theocracy and Khomeini's rule both rested.[25] Victorious after the Iranian parliament declared Bani-Sadr "politically incompetent" on June 21, 1981, then-speaker of the parliament Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani explained to the readers of Payam-e Enghelab that Bani-Sadr had worked consistently against the regime.[26] Such character assassination intensified in the next month's issue.[27]

The Islamic Revolution's myriad factions purged, the radical clergy successfully consolidated power.

The Khamenei and Rafsanjani Presidencies

With Bani-Sadr's dismissal, Ali Khamenei assumed the presidency (1981-89). Both he and his successor, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (1989-97) may have benefited from the Guards' purge of their enemies and competitors, but both feared the IRGC's inherent volatility. They sought to bureaucratize political decision-making and professionalize and depoliticize the Guards, along with the rest of the bureaucracy of the Islamic Republic.

Here, the Mehdi Hashemi affair is particularly illustrative. Seyyed Mehdi Hashemi was director of the Bureau of Assistance to the Islamic Liberation Movements in the World, an organization within the greater Revolutionary Guards framework charged with exporting the revolution. As the brother of the son-in-law of Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, Khomeini's designated successor, he was also well-connected politically.

In the mid-1980s, the Iranian leadership felt it important to project an impression of pragmatism in its foreign relations. The government tried to rein in extra-governmental bodies such as Hashemi's and reach out to former adversaries, including the United States. Hashemi and his followers grew frustrated with what they saw as the Iranian leadership's betrayal of its hard-line principles. To retaliate, they leaked word of the secret contacts between the Reagan administration and Rafsanjani, an episode that developed into the Iran-Contra affair.[28] Arrested by Iranian security in 1986 after the leak, Hashemi and forty followers each "confessed" to a long list of crimes. On September 28, 1987, Hashemi was executed. While Mehdi Hashemi's execution was an integral part of a plot to bring down Ayatollah Montazeri by Khomeini's son, Ahmad, and then-parliamentary speaker, Rafsanjani,[29] the case also demonstrates the reassertion of civilian supremacy against armed extra-governmental agencies.[30]

After Khomeini's death in 1989, the Iranian political elite feared resurgent IRGC political intervention, and so they presented both the public and the Guards with Khomeini's "Political and Divine Testament," which read:

My emphatic counsel to the armed forces is to observe [and] abide by the military rule of noninvolvement in politics. Do not join any political party or faction. No military man, security policeman, no Revolutionary Guard, or Basij may enter into politics. Stay away from politics, and you'll be able to preserve and maintain your military prowess and be immune to internal division and dispute. Military commanders must forbid entrance into political ties by the men under their command.

And, as the revolution belongs to all the nation, its preservation is also the duty of all. Therefore, the government, the nation, the Defense Council, and the Islamic Consultative Assembly are all charged with the religious and national responsibility to oppose, from the very beginning, any interference in politics or any action against the interests of Islam and the country by the armed forces, regardless of category, class, branch, and rank. Such involvement will surely corrupt and pervert them. It is incumbent on the leader and the Leadership Council to prevent such involvement of the armed forces by decisive action so that no harm may beset the country.[31]

While Khomeini was clear on the IRGC's noninvolvement in politics, some guardsmen believed that the noninterference between the political and military spheres should be mutual. In 1991, as the Pentagon deployed tens of thousands of troops to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in preparation for Kuwait's liberation, mutinous units of the Revolutionary Guards, allegedly with the blessing of Ahmad Khomeini, attempted to launch missile attacks against U.S.-led coalition forces in Saudi Arabia to trigger an armed conflict between Iran and the United States. Regular Iranian army forces and Guards members under the command of IRGC chief Mohsen Rezai, then a Rafsanjani loyalist, rushed to the missile battery at Khorramshahr to prevent the missiles' firing.[32] After this incident, Ahmad Khomeini lived an isolated life until he died under mysterious circumstances in March 1995.

During his presidency, Rafsanjani continued his policy of depoliticizing the armed forces. But in so doing, he may have created new problems. To dissuade the IRGC from political involvement, he effectively bribed them, funding a central role for the IRGC in postwar reconstruction schemes.[33] This placated many IRGC commanders, but not all of them. A year before Khatami's victory, for example, Rezai warned an assembly of anti-riot force commanders in Tehran that "the cancerous tumor of liberalism is spreading in some corners of our country."[34] Throughout May 1996, Guards commanders made public statements against "liberals," a reference to Rafsanjani and his technocratic elite. The IRGC and its allies—the paramilitary Basij and vigilante group Ansar-e Hezbollah[35]—used force to back the commander's words, attacking cinemas and universities. Rezai defended the Basij actions: "The duty of the Basij Force is not only security and protection, but … challenging the counterrevolutionary forces."[36] As the civil-military tension continued, however, the civilians won another battle. On May 23, 1997, Khatami won a landslide election. On September 9, 1997, a month after Khatami's inauguration, Khamenei replaced Rezai. The longtime commander of the IRGC had paid for his opposition to "liberals" such as Rafsanjani and Khatami.

A Khatami Backlash

Khatami's landslide victory demonstrated popular support for political and social reform. Many Revolutionary Guardsmen, however, feared that Khatami could be another Mikhail Gorbachev: He might be sincere in his loyalty to regime ideology but might inadvertently unleash forces that would spin out of control and destroy the system.

Yahya Rahim Safavi, who owed his appointment as IRGC chief to his moderate and noninterventionist views, became a radical opponent of the reform movement. Speaking to senior IRGC navy commanders on April 27, 1998, he asked, "Can we withstand American threats and domineering attitude with a policy of détente? Can we foil dangers coming from [America] through dialogue between civilizations?" He then trained his sights on Ataollah Mohajerani, the reformist minister of Islamic Guidance and Culture: "I argued with Mr. Mohajerani for one hour and told him that his path threatened our national security and asked him if he knew where he was going," Safavi said. "Newspapers are published these days that threaten our national security. I am after uprooting anti-revolutionaries everywhere. We must behead some and cut out the tongues of others." Then, turning on the universities, he complained, "Liberals have taken over our universities, and our youth are chanting ‘Death to dictatorship' slogans."[37] Soon after, the IRGC's public relations department warned about "newspapers and poisoned and suspicious pens which have taken advantage of the free atmosphere in the country and the meekness and patience of revolutionary forces to inculcate sick ideas and debased thoughts in order to distract public opinion from the conspiracies and enmities of the sworn enemies of Islamic Iran."[38] Safavi continued attacking Khatami and mobilized the Basij to counter the student movement.[39]

Tensions erupted in July 1999 when paramilitary forces attacked a student dormitory after the students held a peaceful demonstration against the closure of a reformist daily. Within days, student protests spread nationwide and threatened to spin out of control. Khamenei and the IRGC commanders considered the protests as a threat to the regime's foundations. On July 12, twenty-four top IRGC commanders sent Khatami a letter demanding immediate action, declaring, "Our patience has run out. We cannot tolerate this situation any longer."[40] Khatami stood aside as they suppressed the uprising.

Safavi continued his interventions after the restoration of calm. A constant theme of Safavi's justification was the need to defend against U.S. plots although these were more imaginary than real. In May 2002, he accused "uninformed people, traitors, and internal political factions" of aiding the United States by

creating suspicion among the people; undermining the nation's resistance against America's domination; changing some articles if not the entire constitution; attacking fundaments of revolution; separating the government from its religious and revolutionary aspect; and creating doubts and hesitation in the principles of the order of the Islamic Republic and the government's ability to overcome the country's difficulties.[41]

Speaking in Mashhad, Safavi warned against "the suspicious acts and behavior of some people siding with the U.S. policies and interests in the country," and added that some of these might even be working in governmental organizations.[42] He subsequently sent a letter to Parliamentary Speaker Mehdi Karrubi, asking him to control the "extreme behavior of some Majlis deputies" and reminding him that taking legal action against elements and movements involved in sabotaging the Islamic Revolution remained a core IRGC mission.[43] Indeed, the IRGC soon began using special courts to harass and intimidate opponents. It lodged criminal complaints against dissenting clergy, such as Asadollah Bayat, summoned to a Special Clerical Court in Qom after he criticized Safavi's remarks in a press interview.[44]

The IRGC also used the courts to silence the media. On July 12, 2000, the IRGC filed a complaint against the weekly Omid-e Zanjan at Branch 1408 of Tehran's Public Court for insulting the IRGC and its commander in an article criticizing their interference in politics.[45] Safavi also condemned the student publication Mowj for "insulting the Lord of the Age," the so-called Hidden Imam.[46] Mowj was only one of several dozen newspapers and magazines banned during the Khatami presidency.[47] Despite his criticism and intimidation of the Khatami administration, Safavi drew a fine line between legal interference and treason. Speaking at the Fada'iyan-e Emam combat camp, he said that the IRGC and Basij supported the Khatami government but hoped to strengthen it, though he added that "intellectuals and writers must respect the sanctity and honor of the forces which are defending the revolution, the system, the government, and the people."[48]

Rise of the Guards under Ahmadinejad

Iranian presidents can serve only two consecutive terms. On June 24, 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the mayor of Tehran, won a surprise victory in a runoff election to determine who would succeed Khatami. As president, Ahmadinejad distinguishes himself from his predecessors in several regards. Unlike most previous presidents of the Islamic Republic, with the exception of the short presidencies of Bani-Sadr and Mohammad Rajai, Ahmadinejad was not a cleric or even the son of a cleric. His humble provincial background and his family's migration to Tehran, his admission to the Polytechnical University in Narmak (the former University of Science and Technology), all personified the politicized, new middle class that emerged from the shah's unbalanced modernization schemes.[49] But Ahmadinejad also distinguished himself from his fellow revolutionaries in another regard. Despite participation in the revolution and some role with the Students Following the Line of the Imam, the group that seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran, it was the war with Iraq that shaped Ahmadinejad's political fortunes. Not satisfied with Rafsanjani's attempts to bribe them out of politics and fearful of political oblivion, the generation that fought trench warfare demanded their share of political influence. Their infiltration of centers of power in Iran was blessed not only by their soldier-president but also by the supreme leader and his representatives in the Revolutionary Guards.[50]

IRGC intervention in internal Iranian politics has peaked under Ahmadinejad. While the presence of former IRGC officers in the cabinet is not a new phenomenon, their numbers under Ahmadinejad—they occupy nine of the twenty-one ministry portfolios—are unprecedented. Nor do these commanders-turned-ministers only occupy secondary posts. The ministers of energy, welfare and social security, industries and mines, justice, culture and Islamic guidance, petroleum, defense, commerce, and cooperatives are all war veterans and former IRGC or Basij officers.

Ahmadinejad has continued this takeover with appointments of governors and deputy governors to Iran's thirty provinces. He systematically swept provincial governorships of Rafsanjani and Khatami supporters, replacing them with officials recruited from the ranks of the IRGC, the Basij, and the Islamic Republic prison administration. The governors of Kerman, West Azerbaijan, Khuzestan, Hamadan, and Ilam are all IRGC veterans while the governors of Zanjan, Lorestan, Isfahan, and South Khorasan are veterans of the prison administration. To head the administration of West Azerbaijan, Kermanshah, Hormozgan, and Khorasan Razavi, Ahmadinejad tapped associates from his time as Tehran mayor. These lists are not comprehensive but rather depend upon available biographical materials of appointees. It is possible that the IRGC and security presence is even higher.

The significance of such appointments is great. As journalist Kasra Naji's discussion of Ahmadinejad's tenure as governor of Ardebil demonstrates, governors exert considerable influence on presidential elections both by diverting public funds to candidates and by transferring income from trans-border smuggling operations to campaigns. Naji writes that Ahmadinejad was engaged in such activities to support parliamentary speaker Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri, the hard-line front-runner in the 1997 campaign, which Khatami ultimately won.[51] By appointing his old comrades as governors of the thirty provinces of Iran, Ahmadinejad expects the same support in the 2009 presidential campaign.

The 2008 parliamentary elections solidified the IRGC's political infiltration and demonstrated that the supreme leader supports the IRGC's growing role. According to the minister of interior, 7,168 candidates registered for the elections,[52] of whom 31.5 percent were veterans of the Iran-Iraq war. By January 22, 2008, the Council of Guardians had approved the candidacy of about five thousand candidates, or 69 percent of the registrants. Of the 31 percent whose candidacy was not approved, two-thirds were simply disqualified, and the remaining one-third were members of the outgoing parliament who had approval of their credentials revoked.[53] The Ministry of Interior provided a number of excuses to those who failed to qualify: 69 candidates had missed the deadline to file paperwork; 131 had a record of treason, fraud, or embezzlement; and 329 persons had a bad reputation in their neighborhood. In addition, 188 individuals were deemed to have deficient educational background or lacked five years of senior professional experience.[54] The bulk of those disqualified, the ministry explained, had lost their right to candidacy for narcotics addiction or involvement in drug-smuggling, connections to the shah's pre-revolutionary government, lack of belief in or insufficient practice of Islam, being "against" the Islamic Republic, or having connections to foreign intelligence services.[55] If such measures were not enough to bar undesired candidates from winning the parliamentary elections, Khamenei also appointed former IRGC commander Ali-Reza Afshar to oversee the elections. Another IRGC veteran, Ezzatollah Zarghami, who now heads Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), refused to air remarks by reformist candidates.

While not all biographies of incoming parliamentarians are available, the list is dominated by the Comprehensive Principalist Alliance led by Rezai, by former secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Larijani, and Mohammed Bagher Qalibaf, former IRGC commander and current Tehran mayor. The winning candidates are a veritable who's who of IRGC veterans.

Not surprisingly, the IRGC commander in chief, Safavi, embraced the Ahmadinejad government. Speaking to trainees participating in the Velayat Programme of the Student Basij, Safavi defended the regime: "Some political groups are trying to weaken the new administration and pitch up the people's demands. … These groups are trying to obstruct the work of the new administration."[56] Several months later, as criticism of Ahmadinejad intensified, Safavi warned, "We know you, and we will sort you out in due course. The IRGC will stand against anyone who intends to confront the revolution."[57]

But Safavi's expression of loyalty towards Ahmadinejad was not enough to secure him the position, and by September 1, 2007, Maj.-Gen. Mohammad Ali Ja'fari succeeded Safavi as the commander in chief of the IRGC.

Ja'fari's appointment is an important development in the structural dynamics of the Guards. In a September 2007 speech, he confirmed the IRGC's new role:

The Revolutionary Guards are not a one dimensional military organization. The mission of the Guards is guarding the revolution and its achievements against internal threats … The current strategy, which has been clarified by the leadership of the revolution, differs from the strategies of the [war] years. The main mission of the Guards today is countering internal threats.[58]

Ja'fari later described the IRGC as not "solely a military organization" but also a "political and ideological organization."[59]

Mohammad Kowsari, another IRGC commander, said the Guards' intervention in politics has been "successful" since those who left school to fight at the Iraq-Iran war front can now enter "a new scene" to preserve the "Islamic nature of the regime."[60] Indeed, the supreme leader's representative to the organization urged the officer corps to take an active role in parliamentary politics.[61]

Khamenei's decision to mobilize the IRGC officer corps has not gone unchallenged. Seyyed Hossein Mousavi Tabrizi, a former member of the Assembly of Experts and former prosecutor-general of the Islamic Republic, protested against what he called "a military takeover" ahead of the latest round of parliamentary elections in Iran.[62] Former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, currently chair of both the Expediency Council and the Assembly of Experts, protested against the Guards' intervention in politics. Speaking in his capacity as the leader of Friday prayers in Tehran, Rafsanjani warned, "No one should allow himself to monopolize such forces [the IRGC and the Basij] since such an act would be an act of treason against them [the armed forces] and against the country."[63] Ayatollah Yusuf Sane'i declared military intervention "opposed to democracy."[64] Most dramatically, Seyyed Hassan Khomeini, grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, also criticized the IRGC's growing involvement in politics,[65] provoking a storm of attacks against him and the Khomeini household.[66]

After the March 14, 2008 elections, the Islamic Republic's reformist faction complained that the Ministry of Interior, the election's organizer, had been transformed into a "military base."[67] Mehdi Karrubi, a former parliamentary speaker and an unsuccessful presidential candidate in 2005, was more refined, asking rhetorically, "Does it mean that if two individuals are engaged in a rivalry during elections, this force [the IRGC] should engage supporting one of the two?"[68] Karrubi may have meant his question to be rhetorical, but within the Islamic Republic today, it has no easy answer.

Ahmadinejad and Khamenei do not intend the IRGC's and Basij's insertion into politics to be temporary. On April 30, 2007, two decades after the Basij's nominal independence from the Guards, Ja'fari again imposed formal IRGC control over the Basij in order better to fight "internal enemies."[69] Sobh-e Sadeqh weekly, successor to Payam-e Enghelab as mouthpiece of the IRGC, addressed the apprehension of civilian politicians in a long piece meant to assuage those worried by the Guards' new role. But far from choosing a conciliatory tone towards the critics of the Guards, Yadollah Javani, head of the political bureau of the IRGC's Joint Command Council, explained,

In case a movement, or a party, or group has the political or cultural potential to topple [the regime], one can't expect the Guards to deal with it militarily. Under such circumstances, the duty of the Guards is political and cultural resistance. Therefore, and because the Guards is needed to get involved in political or cultural work, one can't restrict the nature of the Guards into the military sphere alone. [70]

Conclusion

While democracies fear external enemies, undemocratic regimes fear their own populations, whose choices and aspirations they suppress by military means. In the short term, Khamenei's tactic might work. A unified and consolidated elite composed of the IRGC officer corps enables the Islamic Republic to maintain a tough international stance while repressing unrest at home. But the price for such policy will prove high. Not only will it politicize civil society and radicalize university students, labor activists, women in urban centers, and civil rights activists against the regime, but it will also alienate traditional regime supporters such as the bazaar merchant class, Rafsanjani-era technocratic and economic elites, and Khatami-era reformers whose hopes are already frustrated. More dangerously, the supreme leader's sole reliance on the Revolutionary Guards—should the IRGC manage to preserve its cohesion as a social group in Iranian politics—make Khamenei a prisoner of his own Praetorian Guard, paving the way for a military dictatorship. As the Islamic Republic approaches its thirtieth anniversary, the Iranian president has commissioned a "symphony of the glorious Islamic Revolution."[71] To judge by the current political trends in Iran, the symphony will most probably be a military march.

Ali Alfoneh is a doctoral candidate at the department of political science, University of Copenhagen, and visiting research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He thanks the Royal Danish Defence College for their support and Mohsen Sazegara, co-founder of the Revolutionary Guards, for his advice.

[1] See data collected in Ali Alfoneh, "Ahmadinejad versus the Technocrats," Middle Eastern Outlook, American Enterprise Institute, Washington, D.C., May 2008.
[2]
Hamshahri (Tehran), Sept. 29, 2007.
[3] Kenneth Katzman, The Warriors of Islam. Iran's Revolutionary Guard (Boulder: Westview Press, 1993), pp. 30-4, 51, 81-2; Mohsen Rafiqdoust, Khaterat-e Mohsen Rafiqdoust (Tehran: Markaz-e Asnad-e Enghelab-e Eslami, 2004), pp. 131-7.
[4] Payam-e Enghelab (Tehran), Feb. 16, 1981.
[5] Majid Sa'eli Kordeh-Deh, Showra-ye Enghelab-e Eslami-ye Iran (Tehran: Markaz-e Asnad-e Enghelab-e Eslami, 2005), pp, 20-40.
[6] "The Army and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. The Constitution of Islamic Republic of Iran," Sec. Three.
[7] Payam-e Enghelab, Mar. 19, 1980.
[8] Payam-e Enghelab, July 25, 1981.
[9] "Asasnameh-ye Sepah-e Pasdaran-e Enghelab-e Eslami," Islamic Republic of Iran, at Tooba Islamic Research Center, Tehran, accessed June 30, 2008.
[10] "Asasnameh-ye Sepah-e Pasdaran-e Enghelab-e Eslami," Madeh-ye 34 Dal, Islamic Republic of Iran, at Tooba Islamic Research Center, accessed June 30, 2008.
[11] "Asasnameh-ye Sepah-e Pasdaran-e Enghelab-e Eslami," Islamic Republic of Iran.
[12] Ibid.
[13] "Nirou-ha-ye Mossalah; Voroud ya Adam-e Voroud – Barresi-ye Mabani-ye Jorm-Engari-ye Fa'aliyat-e Siyasi-ye Nirou-ha-ye Mossalah," Sobh-e Sadeqh (Tehran), Dec. 31, 2006.
[14] Payam-e Enghelab, Mar. 19, 1980.
[15] Payam-e Enghelab, Jan. 31, 1981.
[16] David Menashri, Iran: A Decade of War and Revolution (New York: Holmes and Meir, 1990), pp. 280-3.
[17] Katzman, The Warriors of Islam, pp. 51-2.
[18] Nehzat-e Azadi-ye Iran (Iran Freedom Movement), June 14, 1981.
[19] Payam-e Enghelab, Jan. 31, 1981.
[20] Payam-e Enghelab, Jan. 31, 1981.
[21] Payam-e Enghelab, Feb. 28, 1981.
[22] Payam-e Enghelab, Apr. 4, 1981.
[23] Katzman, The Warriors of Islam, pp. 53-7.
[24] "Nameh-ye Agha-ye Bani-Sadr be Agha-ye Khomeini, 25 Khordad 1359" in Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr, Nameh-ha az agha-ye Bani-Sadr be Agha-ye Khomeini va digaran, Firouzeh Bani-Sadr, ed. (Frankfurt: Entesharat-e Enqelab-e Eslami, 2006), pp. 54-8.
[25] Payam-e Enghelab, June 13, 1981. For Bani-Sadr's account of the IRGC opposition to his presidency, see Bani-sadr, Nameh-ha az agha-ye Bani-Sadr be Agha-ye Khomeini va digaran, pp. 60-2.
[26] Payam-e Enghelab, June 27, 1981.
[27] Payam-e Enghelab, July 11, 1981.
[28] Report of the President's Special Review Board (Tower Commission Report), The White House, Washington, D.C., Feb. 26, 1987.
[29] Hossein-Ali Montazeri, "Khaterat-e faqih va marja'e ‘alighadr, hazrat-e ayatollah-'ozma Montazeri," pp. 600-19, accessed June 30, 2008.
[30] Babak Ganji, Civil-Military Relations, State Strategies and Presidential Elections in Iran (Wilts, U.K.: Conflict Studies Research Center, 2005), p. 5.
[31] Ruhullah al-Musawi al-Khomeini, "The Last Message. The Political and Divine Will of His Holiness Imam Khomeini," Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA, Tehran), Feb. 15, 1983.
[32] The Independent (London), Feb. 3, 1991.
[33] Ali Alfoneh, "How Intertwined Are the Revolutionary Guards in Iran's Economy?" Middle Eastern Outlook, American Enterprise Institute, Washington, D.C., Oct. 2007.
[34] The Iran Brief (Middle East Data Project, Bethesda, Md.), June 3, 1996.
[35] Michael Rubin, Into the Shadows: Radical Vigilantes in Khatami's Iran (Washington D.C.: Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2001), pp. 44-88.
[36] The Iran Brief, June 3, 1996.
[37] The Iran Brief, May 4, 1998.
[38] IRNA, May 3, 1998, in BBC Monitoring Middle East: Political, May 4, 1998.
[39] IRNA, June 2, 1998, in BBC Monitoring Middle East: Political, June 3, 1998.
[40] Jomhuri-ye Eslami (Tehran), July 19, 1999.
[41] Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA, Tehran), May 21, 2002, in BBC Monitoring Middle East: Political, May 21, 2002.
[42] IRNA, May 23, 2003, in BBC Monitoring Middle East: Political, May 23, 2003.
[43] IRNA, Nov. 12, 2003, in BBC Monitoring International Reports, Nov. 12, 2003.
[44] Aftab-e Yazd (Tehran), Dec. 3, 2000, in BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, Dec. 5, 2000.
[45] IRNA, July 12, 2000, in BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, July 14, 2000.
[46] Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Tehran), Sept. 27, 1999, in BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, Sept. 29, 1999; for an annotated version of Mowj, see Michael Rubin, "Iran's ‘Blasphemous' Play," Middle East Quarterly, Dec. 1999, pp. 83-6.
[47] Iran Report, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Newsline, May 1, 2000.
[48] Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Network 1 (Tehran), July 31, 1999.
[49] For biographical information on Ahmadinejad's social background, see Yossi Melman and Meir Javedanfar, The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the State of Iran (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2007), pp. 1-20; Kasra Naji, Ahmadinejad: The Secret History of Iran's Radical Leader (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008), pp. 1-57.
[50] Ali Alfoneh, "Iran's Parliamentary Elections and the Revolutionary Guards' Creeping Coup d'Etat," AEI Middle Eastern Outlook (Washington, D.C.), Feb. 21, 2008.
[51] Naji, Ahmadinejad, pp. 36-40.
[52] "Ettela'iyeh shomareh-ye 8 setad-e entekhabat-e keshvar adar khosous-e amar-e qat'i-ye sabt-e-nam-shodeh-gan-e entekhabat-e majles-e hashtom," Islamic Republic of Iran Ministry of Interior, accessed Feb. 12, 2008.
[53] "Ettela'iyeh shomareh-ye 10 Setad-e Entekhabat-e Keshvar," Islamic Republic of Iran Ministry of Interior, accessed Feb. 12, 2008.
[54] "Ettela'iyeh Vezarat-e Keshvar dar-bareh-ye bargozari-ye entekhabat-e hashtomin dowreh-ye Majles-e Showra-ye Eslami," Islamic Republic of Iran Ministry of Interior, accessed Feb. 12, 2008.
[55] "Ettela'iyeh shomareh-ye 10 Setad-e Entekhabat-e Keshvar," accessed Feb. 12, 2008.
[56] Siyasat-e Rouz (Tehran), Aug. 13, 2005, in BBC Monitoring Middle East Political, Aug. 27, 2005.
[57] Fars News Agency (Tehran), Jan. 16, 2006, in BBC Monitoring Middle East Political, Jan. 16, 2006.
[58] Hamshahri, Sept. 29, 2007.
[59] Agahsazi (Tehran), Feb. 29, 2008.
[60] Agahsazi, Mar. 9, 2008.
[61] Sobh-e Sadeqh, Mar. 3, 2008.
[62] E'temad (Tehran), Nov. 24, 2007.
[63] Entekhab (Tehran), Nov. 30, 2007.
[64] Emrooz (Tehran), Feb. 23, 2008.
[65] Tabnak (Tehran), Feb. 9, 2008.
[66] Nowsazi (Tehran), Feb. 12, 2008; Ansar News (Tehran), Feb. 19, 2008; Agahsazi, Feb. 20, 2008.
[67] Baharestan-e Iran (Tehran), Mar. 14, 2008.
[68] Agahsazi, May 10, 2008.
[69] Kayhan (Tehran), Apr. 30, 2007.
[70] Sobh-e Sadeqh, May 19, 2008.
[71] Fars News Agency, Mar. 4, 2008.

Related Topics: Iran | Fall 2008 MEQ

To receive the full, printed version of the Middle East Quarterly, please see details about an affordable subscription.

Partager cet article
Repost0
7 septembre 2008 7 07 /09 /septembre /2008 20:15
Iran's Faltering Economy

by Michael Rubin
Euro-Atlantic Quarterly
July 2008
http://www.meforum.org/article/1978

Send RSS

While the international community focuses upon Iran's nuclear program, Iran's faltering economy dominates the Islamic Republic's domestic debate. In his 2005 election campaign, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad famously promised to bring Iran's "oil [money] to the table of every Iranian." Oil prices may have more than tripled to over $130, but few Iranians see benefit. Across the Iranian political spectrum, officials and even the president's former allies have blamed Ahmadinejad's policies for runaway inflation and shortages of basic commodities. Outgoing Finance Minister Davoud Danesh-Jafari, acknowledged Iranians' frustration as he stepped down in May 2008, "In economics, a government is not judged by its intentions."

As Ahmadinejad increases subsidies and spending, inflation has become Iran's chief domestic issue. While the government acknowledges an inflation rate of 18 percent, parliamentarians and central bank officials say the real rate is closer to 25 or 30 percent.

Inflation has hit certain commodities hard. This past winter, bread prices increased between 200 and 700 percent across northern Iran. To alleviate prices, the government shipped bread from Tehran to the northern prices, sparking shortages and bread lines in Tehran. As a brutal winter dumped record snow across northern Iran, the Revolutionary Guards deployed to northern Iran to counter potential unrest amidst gasoline, kerosene, and electricity shortages.

Inflation continues. According to the National Bank, rice prices rose 90 percent this spring. The price of other basic foodstuffs has increased 30 percent. On May 19, the head of the Butcher's Guild complained that declining purchasing power was undercutting the public's ability to eat meat, once a staple of Iranian cooking.

Politicians are distancing themselves from their president. Parliamentarian Hossein-Ali Shahriari, an ideological ally of Ahmadinejad, quipped, "The economic team of the government is the main reason behind rising prices." Former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani quipped, "You can't improve the economy by raising beggars."

Ahmadinejad has remained stubborn in the face of accelerating inflation. He has ordered bank to lower interest rates to ten percent and clashed with the director of the Central Bank after he refused. Sarmayeh, Iran's main financial daily, ridiculed Ahmadinejad's new finance minister after he denied any relationship between interest rates and inflation. As the Central Bank issues 100,000 rial notes for the first time, the government's only proposed solution is to knock zeros off Iran's currency. Ahmadinejad refuses to accept responsibility and instead, in a number of speeches in April and May, has blamed shadowy mafias and conspiring competitors.

Austerity measures have failed due to lack of fiscal discipline. Upon questioning, Oil Minister Gholam-Hoseyn Nowzari acknowledged that the Iranian government spent $4 billion above budgetary limits to import gasoline obviating the self-sufficiency sought by rationing.

Privatization schemes have also languished. While announcements of impending factory privatizations are many, sales are few. The reformist daily Aftab-e Yazd observed, "The misguided policies of the government hit us harder than the sanctions of the foreigners."

As tempers rise, however, Ahmadinejad calls on Iranians to have faith. During the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini famously quipped, "You can't have a revolution over the price of a watermelon." As the Islamic Revolution nears its 30 year anniversary, Ahmadinejad may test that proposition.

Related Topics: Iran

Partager cet article
Repost0
2 septembre 2008 2 02 /09 /septembre /2008 08:44
Georgia Crisis Plays to Iran's Advantage - For Now

September 01, 2008
The Financial Times
Roula Khalaf, Middle East Editor



Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad has been unusually cautious in reacting to Russia’s battle with the west over Georgia.

Unlike his Syrian counterpart, who had lavished praise on Moscow and justified its military intervention, the Iranian president last week went only as far as to criticise obliquely those who were lambasting Russia.

“Countries that do not belong to a region do not interfere with the countries of that region,” he declared at the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation summit.

It is to Iran’s advantage to stay on the sidelines as a new geopolitical game unfolds, and Tehran tries to figure out its place in it.

True, Tehran stands to benefit as Russia raises the price of its co-operation with other United Nations Security Council members on curbing the Iranian nuclear programme.

But it is not unthinkable that Moscow would eventually try to buy its way out of the European crisis by offering more forceful help on Iran.

In the short term, trouble in another part of the world is surely good news for Mr Ahmadi-Nejad. It buys his scientists time to keep those centrifuges spinning and mastering nuclear technology.

And it fits perfectly with the Iranian strategy of delaying the nuclear crisis at least until the next US president takes over.

The Iran nuclear dispute has disappeared from the headlines only a few weeks after it seemed to be coming to a head. This summer world powers, including Russia, renewed an offer of economic and political incentives to Tehran to persuade it to halt its uranium enrichment programme. Iran reacted by dragging its feet.

People close to the regime whispered to all who were willing to listen that Iran was interested in the package’s sweetener. Under the European offer, Iran could, as a first step, freeze only the expansion of uranium enrichment activities and the UN would stop its pursuit of more sanctions.

When speculation was mounting that Israel could launch military strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities – thanks to apparent American opposition, the speculation has since subsided – the US agreed, for the first time, for a senior US official to take part in face-to-face talks with an Iranian negotiator.

Iran, however, celebrated the concession and offered nothing in return. Instead of an expected Yes or Maybe at the Geneva talks, diplomats received an Iranian counter offer of endless talks about talks. Iran’s attitude frustrated all participants, including the Russians, and raised the prospect of a more determined international front against Iran. Moscow, however, was still uneasy about imposing a fresh round of UN sanctions.

Now, with the US and western European governments condemning Russia for intervening in Georgia and recognising the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, its resistance will harden.

But it is too early to assume that, if the world faces a resurgent and more aggressive Russia, Iran will be off the hook.

For one thing, the crisis could encourage the European Union to follow the US example and impose a further raft of unilateral sanctions against Tehran.

Moscow’s aim, moreover, appears to be to assert itself near its borders, not necessarily to provoke a wider global conflict. And while its relations with Iran have been friendly, Moscow fears an Iranian nuclear bomb as much as, if not more than, the US. Russia’s history of intervention in Persia, meanwhile, leaves Iranians wary of its intentions.

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s prime minister and former president, hinted last week that co-operation over Iran hinged on the west’s talking to Russia about its own concerns. But he also made clear that Russia had backed three UN sanctions resolutions on Iran because it was in its own “national interests”.

Iranians can rejoice for now at the erupting tensions in Europe. But it is doubtful that they will be counting on Russia to get them out of the nuclear dispute.

link to original article

Partager cet article
Repost0
31 août 2008 7 31 /08 /août /2008 13:13
West fears Russia will supply anti-aircraft missiles to Iran

Sunday Telegraph says proposed deal between Moscow, Tehran 'causing huge alarm' in US and Israel. 'Purchase of S-300 missiles would 'change the game', significantly improve Iranian defenses against any air strike on its nuclear sites, Pentagon official quoted as saying

Ynet

Published:  08.31.08, 13:24 / Israel News

"US intelligence fears the Kremlin will supply the sophisticated S-300 system to Iran if Washington pushes through NATO membership for its pro-Western neighbors Georgia and Ukraine", The Sunday Telegraph reported.

Islamic Republic Forces

Top Iranian general: Any attack against us will lead to world war / Dudi Cohen

'Unbridled greediness of American, Zionist leadership pushing world to edge of the cliff,' says Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri, deputy head of Iran’s Armed Forces Headquarters, 'should such a conflict erupt, the phony and artificial regimes will be annihilated'
Full Story

 

According to the report, the proposed deal is causing huge alarm in the US and Israel as the S-300 "can track 100 targets at once and fire on planes up to 75 miles away".

 

The UK-based newspaper quoted Pentagon adviser Dan Goure as saying that the acquisition of S-300 missiles would "change the game", as it would significantly improve Iranian defenses against any air strike on its nuclear sites.

 

"This is a system that scares every Western air force," he said.

 

Senior US intelligence operatives told The Telegraph that they believe Russia is planning to use a stand-off over the S-300 to create a foreign policy showdown that would test the mettle of a new US president.

 

The report said Republican candidate John McCain has taken a strongly anti-Kremlin line on a series of international issues and backed Georgia's desire to join NATO. His Democratic rival Barack Obama has also indicated he supports NATO membership for Georgia.

 

"The message from Moscow is very clear," George Friedman, director of Stratfor, a leading US private intelligence agency, told The Telegraph. "They are saying if you don't stop meddling in our sphere of influence, this is what we are going to do.

 

"Back Georgia and Ukraine for NATO membership and you'll see the S-300 to Iran. It is a very powerful bargaining chip and a major deterrent to US actions in the region. Moscow is playing very strategically on America's obsession with Iran," he was quoted as saying.

 

'Iran certainly thinks it has a deal'

The Telegraph's report said "Moscow has been infuriated by the steady encroachment of NATO into the former Soviet bloc and the recent granting of independence to the ex-Serbian province of Kosovo against its wishes," and mentioned Syrian President Bashar Assad's recent visit to Russia to discuss military deals "in a deliberate signal of how it could cause trouble for Washington".

 

A senior US intelligence operative who recently returned from the Middle East told The Telegraph Russia is believed to have struck a tentative deal to sell the S-300 to the Islamic regime. The British daily added that there were reports that Russia has "already moved some basic components for the system to its close ally Belarus, ready for possible transfer to Iran".

 

"Moscow cannot simply threaten to strike the deal," the official told The Telegraph. "Iran certainly thinks it has a deal. And the Israelis believe that a deal has been reached but that they can still block it."
According to The Telegraph, outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is expected to pass that message on to his counterpart Vladimir Putin and President Dmitri Medvedev when he visits Moscow next month. Israel has already ended military assistance to Georgia in an effort to placate Russia, the report said.

 

Russia has denied previous assertions by senior Iranians that a deal has already been finalized on the S-300.
Partager cet article
Repost0
30 août 2008 6 30 /08 /août /2008 12:01

'Israel won't allow a nuclear Iran'

Israel will not allow Iran to attain nuclear capability and if time begins to run out, Jerusalem will not hesitate to take whatever means necessary to prevent Iran from achieving its nuclear goals, the government has recently decided in a special discussion.

Labor MK Ephraim Sneh.

Labor MK Ephraim Sneh.
Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

According to the Israeli daily Ma'ariv, whether the United States and Western countries succeed in thwarting the Islamic Republic's nuclear ambitions diplomatically, through sanctions, or whether a US strike on Iran is eventually decided upon, Jerusalem has begun preparing for a separate, independent military strike.

So far, Israel has not received American authorization to use US-controlled Iraqi airspace, nor has the defense establishment been successful in securing the purchase of advanced US-made warplanes which could facilitate an Israeli strike.

The Americans have offered Israel permission to use a global early warning radar system, implying that the US is pushing Israel to settle for defensive measures only.

Because of Israel's lack of strategic depth, Jerusalem has consistently warned in recent years that it will not settle for a 'wait and see' approach, merely retaliating to an attack, but will rather use preemption to prevent any risk of being hit in the first place.

Ephraim Sneh a veteran Labor MK who has recently left the party, has reportedly sent a document to both US presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama. The eight-point document states that "there is no government in Jerusalem that would ever reconcile itself to a nuclear Iran. When it is clear Iran is on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons, an Israeli military strike to prevent this will be seriously considered."

According to Ma'ariv, Sneh offered the two candidates the "sane, cheap and the only option that does not necessitate bloodshed." To prevent Iran's nuclear aspirations, Sneh wrote, "real" sanctions applied by the US and Europe were necessary. A total embargo in spare parts for the oil industry and a total boycott of Iranian banks would promptly put an end to the regime, which is already pressured by a sloping economy and would be toppled by the Iranian people if they have outside assistance, he said.

The window of opportunity Sneh suggests is a year and a half to two years, until 2010.

Sneh also visited Switzerland and Austria last week in an attempt to lobby them against the Iranian threat. Both countries have announced massive long-term investments in Iranian gas and oil fields for the next decade.

"Talk of the Jewish Holocaust and Israel's security doesn't impress these guys," Sneh said wryly.

Hearing his hosts speak of their future investments, Sneh replied quietly "it's a shame, because Ido will light all this up." He was referring to Maj. Gen. Ido Nehushtan, the recently appointed IAF commander and the man most likely to be the one to orchestrate Israel's attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, should this become a necessity.

"Investing in Iran in 2008," Sneh told his Austrian hosts, "is like investing in the Krupp steelworks in 1938, it's a high risk investment." The Austrians, according to Sneh, turned pale.

In related news, a top official said Friday that
Iran had increased the number of operating centrifuges at its uranium enrichment plant to 4,000.

Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Reza Sheikh Attar, who visited the Natanz plant last week, said that Iran was preparing to install even more centrifuges, though he did not offer a timeframe.

"Right now, nearly 4,000 centrifuges are operating at Natanz," Attar told the state news agency IRNA. "Currently, 3,000 other centrifuges are being installed."

Meanwhile, the pan-Arabic Al Kuds al Arabi reported Friday that Iran had equipped Hizbullah with longer range missiles than those it possessed before the Second Lebanon War and had also improved the guerrilla group's targeting capabilities.

According to the report, which The Jerusalem Post could not verify independently, Hizbullah was planning a massive rocket onslaught on targets reaching deep into Israel's civilian underbelly in case Israel launches an attack on Iran.

AP contributed to this report

Partager cet article
Repost0
30 août 2008 6 30 /08 /août /2008 08:27

Venezuelan Ties to Hezbollah


ICT Database Staff


In June of 2008 the United States government accused two Venezuelan men, both of Lebanese decent, of maintaining ties with the terrorist organization Hezbollah[1]. This is not the first time government officials and citizens of Venezuela have been found to engage in business with militants, nor is it likely to be the last. The Lebanese population has been a part of the Venezuelan community for almost three decades; and, accordingly, Hezbollah cells have become embedded within the society as well[2]. But, according to documents produced by the United States' government and statements issued by former Venezuelan officials, it has been under the government of President Hugo Chavez that the terrorist organization has truly thrived, and it is under his authority that Hezbollah has begun to pose an even larger threat to the Western world[3].

The Lebanese population had become a large part of Venezuelan society by the time Chavez came to power in 1999[4]. According to a 2002 report released by the U.S. Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of State, radical Islam has become prominent throughout the Latin American region, and Venezuela, specifically Margarita Island, has become a focal point for the Arab population[5]. Evidence shows that the Venezuelan president and his government actively aid militants, specifically in the acquisition of illegal documents; these documents make it possible, and especially easy, for terrorists and terror organizations to thrive in the region[6]. Chavez's maintains a strong relationship with several state sponsors of terror, or countries that support terror organizations[7]. Consequently, Hezbollah cells and members have been located on the peninsula which Colombia and Venezuela both share, Guajira[8].

The Arab Population and Terrorist Activity on the Guajira Peninsula

Easy access to false identification makes this region highly attractive to militants. In Colombia, Hezbollah has not been found to be one of the main actors especially when compared to the activity of cells which exist in the tri-border region. However, according to data provided by the U.S. Library of Congress, Hezbollah is prominent in the small village Maicao. Maicao is located on the border with Venezuela in the Guajira peninsula. There, Islamics control 70 percent of commerce; the orthodox Islamic community numbers 4,670 out of 58,000 total residents; but 8,000 people are of Arab decent; of the Sunni and Shi’ite members of the community the Shi’ite most regularly aligns itself with radical Islamic thought. Studies by U.S. officials show that Maicao is also a popular tourist spot for other orthodox Islamics. Many residents donate 10 percent, sometimes even 30 percent of their incomes to Hezbollah. Similar to the findings of the INSIGHT report, money is then sent through banks in Maracaibo, Venezuela and Panama; personal deliveries by emissaries also exist, a U.S. source reported to O Globo according to the Library of Congress report. Maracaibo is a city in the Venezuelan piece of the peninsula.[9]

The Arab population in Maicao has the capacity fuel its own education system, businesses and cultural institutions. Maicao is also the free trade capital of the La Guajira Department. And, regardless of the fact that the city is infamously known for its black market and money laundering, it has little interference from lawmakers and law enforcers. One of the few incidences came when a radio broadcaster was accused of issuing Hezbollah propaganda on 15 August 1997. Since the community straddles the border, the heavy involvement in the black market and money laundering inevitably flows over the border into the Zulia State of Venezuela. U.S. Government studies have shown that money laundering, which originates with the narcotrafficking in the region, is used to hide funds used to fund terrorist activity across the globe.[10]

Similar to the border-city of Maicao, Venezuela’s Margarita Island is a popular tourist spot for orthodox Islamics. Eighty percent of businesses on Margarita Island are owned by the Arab population on the Island.[11] In that past several years, many of these businesses and business owners have been found to have ties to illicit activities, money laundering, and the BMPE.[12] In 2003, an analyst visiting the island described it as a “‘fortress’ with armed guards outside.”[13] Margarita Island seems to be the center of a "terrorist financial network stretching throughout the Caribbean to Panama and the Cayman Islands” the INSIGHT article reported. In August 2001, three Afghanis were caught upon their arrival in the Cayman Islands for traveling on fake Pakistani passports; they carried $200,000 in cash. According to British officials Arabs were behind money laundering efforts through Cayman banks, as well.[14]

The BMPE is a process used by drug smugglers in Venezuela and Colombia as well as other Latin American states to clean drug money. Profits, in the form of U.S. dollars, from sales in the United States are difficult to bring over the border; dollars are heavier than the drugs and once over the border extremely difficult to convert pesos once in the Latin American countries. Instead, peso brokers sell the dollars to Colombian businessmen, who purchase products from legitimate American companies and then sell the products for pesos. The pesos returned to the peso Broker are funneled back to the traffickers after a percentage is taken out by the broker.[15]

The report released by the U.S. Library of Congress maintains that profits received in this region are sent to fund acts of terrorism run by Hezbollah cells and other organizations such as al-Qai’da. For example, the U.S. government studies found that funds from the 26 February 1993 terror attack came from terrorist cells that moved money through Colombia. One of the men believed to be a large financier, Mohamed Ali Farhad of Syrian-Lebanese decent, was a part of a cigarette trade which included his clan, which he allegedly heads, and another worth $650 million. Farhad, a shareholder of a casino on Margarita Island and the owner of an American textiles store there, has sent many large checks to fund terrorist organizations, namely Hezbollah. Farhad has also been tied to the Mansur Free Zone Trading Company N.V., which is based in Netherlands Antilles. According to the U.S. authorities, the Mansur clan came into the forefront of the illicit drug trade when it inherited the narcotrafficking territories run by the Cosa Nostra's Cuntrera-Caruana clan, when it began to work in with the Cali Cartel in Venezuela. Another man accused of terrorist activity, “‘Sinforoso Caballero,’” ran the Border Business Group and Cabadi Investments from March to October 1993, the report stated. The business was allegedly used to move the funds of the two Arab clans that are based in Maicao.[16] A strategy report released by the U.S. Department of State International Narcotics Control (INCSR) in March 1997 cited “‘Sinforoso Caballero’” as a money laundering organization of which 35 members were arrested in October of 1993. Due to judicial corruption, the INCSR stated, the case got “bounced” around to several courts, was dismissed by the Tachira judge it finally resided with in May 1994 and was reopened the following December; by the close of 1996 the case remained undecided.[17] “Caballero,” himself, was arrested in 1997 the Library of Congress reported.[18]

Nasser Mohammed al-Din, a close friend of Chavez and "powerful entrepreneur," is another member of the Arab population on Margarita Island. He was listed in the report withheld from the U.S. and given to INSIGHT by intelligence sources. Chavez has been found to pay frequent visits and often stays at Mohammad al-Din's on the Island. According to presidential pilot Major Juan Diaz Castillo, his home was the site of the bi- and tri-weekly visits with Cuban President Fidel Castro as recently as 2003.[19]

Combating Terrorist Activity

At the turn of the century, the Library of Congress report cited, the Venezuelan intelligence made attempts to put a stop to the terrorist activity. In 1996, an operation run by the DISIP discovered a 15-person cell living in the tourist center of Margarita Island was identified; one, Yousset Farhat, was believed to be a local clan member. In 1997, suspected Hezbollah members, Wahid Mugnie and Ali Makke, were arrested by DISIP. In October 2001, bank accounts in Zulia State were investigated by the Judicial Technical Police of Venezuela (PTJ) and the International Police (Interpol). Large sums of money and equally large transfers were found in the accounts believed to be held by terrorist organization members and supporters. After the attacks on 11 September 2001, three men of Lebanese decent, with reported residences in Maicao, but believed to be living elsewhere in the La Guajira Department, were placed on the U.S. State Department’s list of terrorists.[20]

As the businesses on Margarita Island and in Maicao exemplify, legitimate companies are often used as a disguise to funnel money to illegal organizations, particularly Hezbollah[21]. When a DISIP agent acted undercover with a Lebanese group he found the organization funded Hezbollah through local businesses in areas like Margarita and on Baralt Avenue in Caracas, an October 2006 El Nacional reported.[22] The two travel agencies owned and operated by Fawzi Kan’an which were named in the U.S. Department of Treasury’s (DOT) press release on 18 June 2008 are both found on Baralt Avenue. Biblos Travel Agency and Hilal Travel Agency, according to the U.S. government are both used to “courier funds to Lebanon.”[23]

The Biblos Travel Agency also known as Biblios Travel, Biblos Travel CA, Biblos Travel, C.A., is located at Avenida Baralt, Esquina Madero Edifico Santa Isabel II, PB, Loc. 1 Caracas, Venezuela.[24] The AP reported the Venezuela-based agency was owned and operated by Kan’an until a year ago, 2007, when Kan’an shut it down.[25] The press release from the DOT did not state that the agency had been closed; it reported that the travel agency was actively used as a front to send money to Lebanon.[26]

The Hilal Travel Agency, which opened in April 2001, is also based in Venezuela. It is also known as Hilal Travel C.A. and located at Avenida Baralt, Esquina Madero, Edifico Santa Isabel, Caracas, Venezuela, business identification number, 80074366.[27] According to the AP report on 19 June 2008, Kan’an was in the process of closing this agency, too, when they interviewed him.[28] In an earlier AP article on 18 June 2008, Kan’an, whom reporters reached at a number listed for Biblos Travel Agency, was said to have stated in the phone interview that both agencies had been closed for one year.[29] Kan’an plans to open a new travel agency and claims that the closing of Biblos and Hilal is in no way related to U.S. allegations.[30]

In addition to the businesses, the United States Department of Treasury named two Venezuelans accused of having ties with Hezbollah.[31] Ghazi Nasr al Din and Fawzi Kan'an were found to have been involved with terrorist training, conspiracies and fundraising within Venezuela, Lebanon and Iran.[32] The men are allegedly links between the Venezuelan government and Hezbollah in Lebanon.[33]

Ghazi Nasr Al Din is a Venezuelan Diplomat and President of the Shi'a Islamic Center in Caracas. He was born 13 December 1962 in Lebanon. His Venezuelan Identification number is 18.190.527; his Venezuelan passport number is B-047256.[34]

Nasr al Din has, according to the DOT, used these positions to provide financing to Hezbollah leaders and operatives.[35] Mohamad Mtayrek, a Lebanese immigrant to Venezuela and one of the managers of the Imam al Hadi Venezuelan Islamic Center, the largest Shiite Muslim center in Caracas, stated the Center had no ties to Hezbollah. Though he knows him, Mtayrek would not comment on Nasr al Din specifically.[36]

Before Nasr al Din became a Venezuelan Diplomat to Lebanon he was Charge d' Affaires at the Venezuelan Embassy in Damascus, Syria. In the Venezuelan Embassy in Lebanon he serves as the Director of Political Aspects.[37] The Associated Press reported that there was some confusion as to whether Nasr al Din’s was currently stationed in Syria or Lebanon, though the DOT document lists, clearly, that he is currently stationed in Lebanon.[38]

Nasr al Din's interactions with and activities on behalf of Hezbollah largely includes soliciting finances from Hezbollah supporters, specifically within Venezuela. According to the DOT report Nasr al Din has provided donors with information on effective fundraising methods and the proper bank accounts established for depositing the fundraised and donated money directly into the hands of Hezbollah. In January 2006, Nasr al Din brought two Hezbollah lawmakers from the Lebanese Parliament to Caracas to enhance fundraising efforts and, also, to publicize the establishment of a Hezbollah-funded community center and office within Venezuela.[39]

U.S. authorities reported that Nasr al Din also aided in the travel preparations to send Hezbollah operatives to participate in a training camp in Iran.[40] According to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), in 2005, Nasr al Din organized a trip of Hezbollah members to Iran, where he supposedly organized a group.[41]

His aliases include: Haj Ghazi Nasseredine, Ghazi Nassereddine, Gazi Nasseridine, Gazi Nasser El-Din, Ghazil Nasser Al-Din, Haj Ghazzi Nassereddine, Ghassan Attef Salame Nasserddine, Ghassan Nasr El Din Ghassan, Ghazi Nasserddine, Ghazi `Atef Nasraldine, Atef Salameh Nasserdine Ghasan, and Hajj Ghazi `Atif Nasr al-Din.[42]

Fawzi Kan’an, born in Lebanon, is a naturalized Venezuelan citizen as of 16 December 1977; the AP reported that he moved to Venezuela in 1986 in an attempt to escape the fighting.[43] His naturalization number is 2108, his passport number is 0877677 and his identification number is V-6.919.272. The documentation provided by the U.S. Department of Treasury lists three birthplaces: Lebanon, Baalbeck, Lebanon and Betechelida, Lebanon. The document listed three birthdates as well; 7 June 1943, February 1943 and 1 June 1943, respectively. According to the DOT, Kan’an is the owner of two residences in Caracas, Venezuela: Calle 2, Residencias Cosmos, Fifth Floor, Apartment 5D, La Urbina Caracas, Venezuela and Esquina Bucare, Building 703, Second Floor, Apartment 20, Caracas, Venezuela.[44]

The DOT cited Kan’an as a major financier of Hezbollah. He sent large sums of money to Hezbollah in Lebanon from his fundraising efforts and donations received in Venezuela. Kan’an also frequently aided in the travel of Hezbollah members, and has traveled, himself, to Lebanon to meet with ranking Hezbollah members to “discuss operational issues” and to train in Iran with other Hezbollah operatives.[45]

Kan’an has denied all allegations and ties to Hezbollah.[46] In an interview with the Associated Press, he stated he did not “know the group, [did not] know anyone.”[47] He stated that he did not have any assets within U.S. jurisdiction, nor had he ever traveled to Iran. During the interview he answered phone calls in Arabic.[48] He also told the AP that he does not work anymore.[49]

He is also known as: Fazi Canaan, Faouzi Can'an, Fouzi Kanan, Fauzi Kanaan, Fauzi Ganan and Maustaf Fawzi (Faouzi) Kanaan.[50]

U.S.-Venezuelan Relations

Strained relations which have existed between the United States and Venezuela were exacerbated by the accusations put forth by the U.S. government on 18 June 2008. The Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) at the DOT, Adam J. Szubin, criticized the Venezuelan government for “providing safe harbor” to Hezbollah operatives.[51] Officials from both the DOT and Department of Justice (DOJ) stated that an in-depth inter-agency process, involving the State Department as well, occurred before any actions against the Venezuelan men were taken. The DOJ failed to comment on whether a criminal investigation has begun or would begin.[52]

On Thursday, 19 June 2001, Venezuelan officials denied U.S. allegations. Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro stated that there were no terrorists in Venezuela; “‘if they want to search for terrorists, look for them in the White House,’ he said.”[53] Venezuelan Minister of Communication Andrés Izarra stated that none of the U.S. government's accusations warranted investigation.[54] Particularly, since no formal complaint came from Lebanon; and, since Hezbollah currently holds the majority in the Lebanese legislature none have been expected to follow.[55]

On Friday, 20 June 2008 President Chavez accused the U.S. of bringing the allegations against the Venezuelan men in an attempt to bring himself before the international court; the U.S. made the accusations to “‘see if the world will make a move,’” the AP quoted.[56] According to statements issued by Izzara, the Venezuelan government finds Hezbollah to be a legitimate party in Lebanon. This, in return, has given the American government more reason to make accusations that Venezuela provides Hezbollah members refuge an El Universal article stated.[57]

The Venezuelan government's definition of terrorism states that terrorism is an act against innocent civilians; it does not include accidental casualties. According to the Venezuelan media, the attacks from Hezbollah in the past 80 years against the American and French military headquarters in Beirut have been "asymmetric" acts of war.[58] The article published on 19 June 2008 in El Universal complained of the "stupid" manner in which the American government treats other nationalities, including diplomats it specified. The article added that Hezbollah intended to speak out on the matter, but no date was given.[59] Roy Daza, the president of the Commission of the Political Exterior of the National Assembly in Venezuela, stated that the accusation against the two Venezuelans was a vain attempt to destabilize the government of President Chávez and isolate the Venezuelan state. He accused the United States government of attacking that of Venezuela, customarily, from time to time.[60]

Venezuelan Government Officials Have Ties to Terrorism

In addition to the illegal operations of many Venezuelan government agencies and offices, such as the falsification of documents, Nasr al Din's alleged ties to Hezbollah are not the first to be uncovered and declared by the United States. Tarek William Saab Halabi, a member of MVR and formerly the National Assembly deputy, currently serves as the governor of the Venezuelan state Anzoátegui; he won 57% of the vote in 2004. His election, according to MVR party members, was corrupt; the nominated candidates were “handpicked” and “‘protected by (MVR leaders) Tarek William Saab and Freddy Bernal’” they claimed.[61] Two years earlier Saab was refused entry into the United States for suspected ties to international terror groups.[62] “Terror Threat from Venezuela: Al Qaeda Involved,” published 27 December 2002 cited that Bernal had been caught by U.N. forces in an attempt to smuggle weapons from Iraq to Saudi Arabia.[63] Also, Saab and Abdel Elsabayar, both of Arab decent, were accused of aiding in the release of three men suspected to be behind the 1994 bombings in Argentina. The study conducted by Tel Aviv University found that three men arrived in Venezuela, on Margarita Island, from Colombia in November 1999; they were released following their arrest on 7 July 2002.[64] A letter from Chavez to the terrorist trainer, El Chacal (the jackal), provides evidence of his personal ties to terrorists an 24 June 2008 El Universal article reported. The letter discovered was addressed to his fellow countryman or "'distinguido compatriota'" and concluded with "con profunda fe en la causa y en la misión, ¡por ahora y para siempre!," meaning "with profound faith in the cause and in the mission, for now and forever!"[65]

Venezuela's Ties to State Sponsors of Terror

Ties between Venezuela and Lebanon and states that sponsor terror such as Syria and Iran have only increased since the summer of 2006 U.S. officials have reported.[66] Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has strengthened his country’s ties to Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua as well. Venezuela remains his closest and most important ally in the region; they have formed the “Axis of Unity” against the United States.[67] A report released by the Nine/Eleven Finding Answers (NEFA) organization on 1 April 2008 found that as the leader of a state sponsor of terrorism and because of his direct link to Hezbollah, Ahmadinejad’s relationship with Chavez poses a direct threat to the United States.[68] The DOT cites that the Iranian government has provided weaponry, monetary resources and training facilities for Hezbollah operatives in Lebanon; the same is occurring in Venezuela.[69]

Similar to the sentiment in Lebanon, Chavez is extremely popular in Iran, too, studies have shown. An article published 17 March 2008 by the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI) stated that the American government does not focus enough on the threat that has been developing in Latin America as a result of the relationships between these states. Though Hezbollah has been present in Latin America for over a decade, AEI reported, only under the leadership of Ahmadinejad has there been a “sustained effort” to establish relations in Latin America; specifically an anti-American bloc. Funding for his efforts has been plentiful; millions of dollars have been spent.[70]

Beyond meetings, public forums and rallies, such as frequent television appearances of Iranian officials in Venezuela, Ahmadinejad and Chavez have cemented the relationship between their two countries with direct flights, economic relations and a banking system.[71] As of 12 July 2007, when Global Research announced that Venezuela and Iran were to invest $4 billion in a new oil project, 33 bilateral energy accords had already been signed between the two governments.[72] Two Iranian factories opened in Caracas in June 2007.[73] In March of 2007 the first plane on the airline between Tehran and Caracas landed at its stopover, Damascus, Syria.[74] The state controlled airlines, Conviasa of Venezuela and Iran Air of Iran planned to run weekly flights between the two nations with Damascus stopover.[75] The Iranian ambassador to Venezuela stated that the flights would serve to strengthen the relations between the countries’ governments and citizens; according to the statement issued there are many families scattered between Iran, Syria and Venezuela.[76] Chavez “‘is much loved in our country and our people want to come here to get to know this land’” the Ambassador Abdullah Zifan reported when the flight plans were announced in February 2007.[77]

Most recently, Fars News Agency released an article on 23 June 2008 which announced the Venezuelan and Iranian governments' plans to establish a joint bank. This announcement came in conjunction with a claim by the Venezuelan Planning and Development Minister Haiman El Troudi that the two countries will have 30 industrial projects running by the close of 2008. According to the plans, the bank, based in Tehran, will have $1.2 million to begin with used to finance projects in “infrastructure, housing and technology.” The Fars News Agency reported that some political observers found it “much interesting that just as Tehran and Caracas announced the new deal, the US has started making new charges about Hezbollah activity in Venezuela.”[78]

Conclusion

The charges made most recently are not without evidence. President Chavez has proven time and again that he actively supports terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah.[79] The activities in places such as Margarita Island and the false identification papers found on militants attempting to cross the U.S. border only serve to substantiate these claims[80]. And, as he strengthens the ties between Venezuela and state sponsors of terror, he continues to reinforce these suspicions; all this is reason for great concern among citizens of the Western world[81].

Work Cited

American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI), “Iran's Global Ambition”, 17 March 2008.

AP via The Seattle Times, “Anger and fear mix with empathy as world remembers Sept. 11”, 12 September 2006.

AP via KansasCity.com, "Chavez refutes US Hezbollah charges", 21 June 2008.

AP via IHT “Lebanese Born businessman living in Venezuela denies helping finance Hezbollah”, 19 June 2008.

Associated Press (AP) via Israel Insider, “Lebanese in Venezuela back Chavez's threat, Jewish groups express concern”, 10 August 2006.

Associated Press (AP) via Miami Herald, “US targets Hezbollah links in Venezuela”, 18 June 2008.

Associated Press (AP) via Atlanta-Journal Constitution, “Venezuela rebuffs US on Hezbollah aid”, 19 June 2008.

Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, U.S. Department of State, “Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, U.S. Department of State”, March 1997.

CNN, “U.S.: Two Venezuelans are supporting terrorism” 18 June 2008

Fars News Agency (FNA), “Iran, Venezuela To Establish Joint Bank”, 23 June 2008.

Fars News Agency (FNA), “Iran, Venezuela to Start Direct Flights”, 10 February 2007.

Federal Observer, “MAKING THE CASE: For War Against Iraq”, 2003.

Global Researcher, “Venezuela, Iran to Invest $4 billion in Joint Oil Project in Orinoco

Belt”, 12 July 2007.

GlobalSecurity.org, “US Says Latin American Terrorism Backed by Iran", 25 September 1995.

The Guardian, “Profile: Imad Mughniyeh”, 13 February 2008.

INSIGHT, “About Insight: About Insight Cutting-edge political intelligence from Washington”, 2008.

INSIGHT, “Chavez plans for terrorist regime: Venezuelan security officials say that President Hugo Chavez is plugging terrorist networks into the country's infrastructure, embracing jihadists and Castroites" 7 January 2003.

Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), “First Tehran-Caracas plane lands in Damascus,” 2 March 2007.

Library of Congress, “A Global Overview of Narcotics-Funded Terrorist and Other Extremist Groups”, May 2002

Long War Journal, “US designates two Hezbollah operatives in Venezuela as terrorists”, 19 June 2008.

El Nacional, "Hezbolá niega que los venezolanos acusados por EE UU sean sus miembros," 19 June 2008.

El Nacional, “To Annihilate Criminals and the Corrupt,” 27 October 2006.

National Review Online (NRO),”Operation Syria”, 2 May 2003.

New York Times (NYT), “Venezuela and Iran Strengthen Ties With Caracas-to-Tehran Flight”, 3 March 2007.

Nine/Eleven Finding Answers, “What the FARC Papers Show Us about Latin American Terrorism”, 1 April 2008.

OSC Report, “Highlights: Venezuela Crime and Narcotics Issues 17-21 Nov 06”, 22 November 2006.

People’s Daily Online, “Latin American countries condemn Israeli brutal attack on Lebanon”, 31 July 2006.

Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), “The Black Market Peso Exchange" 19 April 2002.

Quinto Dia, “Lo que dijo US News que tanto indignó a Chávez What U.S. News said that both indignant Chavez” 10 October 2003.

Tel Aviv University, “Venezuela 2002-3”, 2003.

U.S. Department of State, “Country Reports on Terrorism”, 28 April 2006.

U.S. Department of the Treasury (DOT), “Treasury Targets Hezbollah in Venezuela” 18 June 2008.

El Universal, "Hezbolá niega que los dos venezolanos acusados por EEUU sean sus miembros," 19 June 2008.

El Universal, "EEUU acusa a diplomático venezolano de trabajar para hizbula", 18 June 2008.

El Universal, “In party election to designate candidates to local polls Chávez' MVR members report electoral fraud”, 12 April 2005.

El Universal, "Líbano no ha protestado al diplomático señalado," 20 June 2008.

El Universal, "Roy Daza: Acusaciones que vinculan a venezolanos con el Hezbolá pretenden aislar al país", 22 June 2008.

El Universal, “Tarek Saab solicitará reunión a embajador de Estados Unidos”, 3 October 2002.

El Universal, "Venezuela y Hezbolá," 24 June 2008.

Venezuelanalysis.com, “Popular Participation Forum Holds Caracas 9-11 Peace March”, 12 September 2006.

Venezuelanalysis.com, “Venezuela Launches New Social Program for Poor Children”, 17 June 2008.

Venezuelanalysis.com, “Voices of Lebanese Refugees in Venezuela’s Embassy”, 17 August 2006.

Washington Post, “Hezbollah Chief Defiant at Huge Rally”, 23 September 2006.

Washington Post, “U.S. ties Caracas to Hezbollah aid,” 7 July 2008.

World Net Daily, “Venezuelan IDs help terrorist enter U.S.”, 26 October 2006.

World-Check, “If you finance the Taliban, Al-Qaida, Hezbollah and the FARC, expect a designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism”, 30 March 2008.



Notes:

[1] U.S. Department of the Treasury (DOT), “Treasury Targets Hezbollah in Venezuela”, 18 June 2008.

[2] Library of Congress, “A Global Overview of Narcotics-Funded Terrorist and Other Extremist Groups”, May 2002.

[3] Library of Congress, “A Global Overview of Narcotics-Funded Terrorist and Other Extremist Groups”, May 2002 and INSIGHT, “Chavez plans for terrorist regime: Venezuelan security officials say that President Hugo Chavez is plugging terrorist networks into the country's infrastructure, embracing jihadists and Castroites", 7 January 2003.

[4] AP via IHT “Lebanese Born businessman living in Venezuela denies helping finance Hezbollah”, 19 June 2008.

[5] Library of Congress, “A Global Overview of Narcotics-Funded Terrorist and Other Extremist Groups”, May 2002.

[6] World Net Daily, “Venezuelan IDs help terrorist enter U.S.”, 26 October 2006.

[7] Nine/Eleven Finding Answers, “What the FARC Papers Show Us about Latin American Terrorism”, 1 April 2008 and American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI), “Iran's Global Ambition”, 17 March 2008

[8] Library of Congress, “A Global Overview of Narcotics-Funded Terrorist and Other Extremist Groups”, May 2002.

[9] Library of Congress, “A Global Overview of Narcotics-Funded Terrorist and Other Extremist Groups”, May 2002.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Quinto Dia, “Lo que dijo US News que tanto indignó a Chávez What U.S. News said that both indignant Chavez”, 10 October 2003.

[14] INSIGHT, “Chavez plans for terrorist regime: Venezuelan security officials say that President Hugo Chavez is plugging terrorist networks into the country's infrastructure, embracing jihadists and Castroites", 7 January 2003.

[15] Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), “The Black Market Peso Exchange", 19 April 2002.



[16] Library of Congress, “A Global Overview of Narcotics-Funded Terrorist and Other Extremist Groups”, May 2002.

[17] Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, U.S. Department of State, “Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, U.S. Department of State”, March 1997.

[18] Library of Congress, “A Global Overview of Narcotics-Funded Terrorist and Other Extremist Groups”, May 2002.

[19] INSIGHT, “Chavez plans for terrorist regime: Venezuelan security officials say that President Hugo Chavez is plugging terrorist networks into the country's infrastructure, embracing jihadists and Castroites", 7 January 2003.

[20] Library of Congress, “A Global Overview of Narcotics-Funded Terrorist and Other Extremist Groups”, May 2002.

[21] Ibid.

[22] El Nacional, “To Annihilate Criminals and the Corrupt,” 27 October 2006.

[23] U.S. Department of the Treasury (DOT), “Treasury Targets Hezbollah in Venezuela”, 18 June 2008.



[24] Ibid.

[25] Associated Press (AP) via International Herald Tribune (IHT) “Lebanese-born businessman living in Venezuela denies helping finance Hezbollah”, 19 June 2008.

[26] DOT, “Treasury Targets Hezbollah in Venezuela” 18 June 2008.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Associated Press (AP) via International Herald Tribune (IHT) “Lebanese-born businessman living in Venezuela denies helping finance Hezbollah”, 19 June 2008.

[29] Associated Press (AP) via Atlanta-Journal Constitution, “Venezuela rebuffs US on Hezbollah aid”,19 June 2008.

[30] Associated Press (AP) via International Herald Tribune (IHT) “Lebanese-born businessman living in Venezuela denies helping finance Hezbollah”, 19 June 2008.

[31] DOT, “Treasury Targets Hezbollah in Venezuela”, 18 June 2008.

[32] Ibid and El Universal, "Hezbolá niega que los dos venezolanos acusados por EEUU sean sus miembros," 19 June 2008.

[33] Washington Post, “U.S. ties Caracas to Hezbollah aid”, 7 July 2008.

[34] DOT, “Treasury Targets Hezbollah in Venezuela”, 18 June 2008.

[35] Ibid.

[36] Associated Press (AP) via Atlanta-Journal Constitution, “Venezuela rebuffs US on Hezbollah aid”, 19 June 2008.

[37] DOT, “Treasury Targets Hezbollah in Venezuela”, 18 June 2008 and El Nacional, "Hezbolá niega que los venezolanos acusados por EE UU sean sus miembros", 19 June 2008.

[38] DOT, “Treasury Targets Hezbollah in Venezuela”, 18 June 2008 and Associated Press (AP) via Atlanta-Journal Constitution, “Venezuela rebuffs US on Hezbollah aid”, 19 June 2008.

[39] DOT, “Treasury Targets Hezbollah in Venezuela”, 18 June 2008 and El Universal, "Venezuela y Hezbolá," 24 June 2008.

[40] DOT, “Treasury Targets Hezbollah in Venezuela”, 18 June 2008

[41] El Universal, "Venezuela y Hezbolá", 24 June 2008.

[42] DOT, “Treasury Targets Hezbollah in Venezuela”, 18 June 2008

[43] Ibid and Associated Press (AP) via International Herald Tribune (IHT) “Lebanese-born businessman living in Venezuela denies helping finance Hezbollah”, 19 June 2008.

[44] DOT, “Treasury Targets Hezbollah in Venezuela”, 18 June 2008

[45] DOT, “Treasury Targets Hezbollah in Venezuela”,18 June 2008 and El Universal, "Venezuela y Hezbolá", 24 June 2008.

[46] Associated Press (AP) via Atlanta-Journal Constitution, “Venezuela rebuffs US on Hezbollah aid”, 19 June 2008.

[47] Associated Press (AP) via International Herald Tribune (IHT), “Lebanese-born businessman living in Venezuela denies helping finance Hezbollah”, 19 June 2008.

[48] Ibid.

[49] Associated Press (AP) via Miami Herald, “US targets Hezbollah links in Venezuela”, 18 June 2008.

[50] DOT, “Treasury Targets Hezbollah in Venezuela”, 18 June 2008 and El Nacional, "Hezbolá niega que los venezolanos acusados por EE UU sean sus miembros", 19 June 2008.

[51] DOT, “Treasury Targets Hezbollah in Venezuela” 18 June 2008

[52] CNN, “U.S.: Two Venezuelans are supporting terrorism”, 18 June 2008

[53] Associated Press (AP) via Atlanta-Journal Constitution, “Venezuela rebuffs US on Hezbollah aid”, 19 June 2008 and El Universal, "Líbano no ha protestado al diplomático señalado", 20 June 2008.

[54] El Nacional, "Hezbolá niega que los venezolanos acusados por EE UU sean sus miembros", 19 June 2008.

[55] El Nacional, "Hezbolá niega que los venezolanos acusados por EE UU sean sus miembros", 19 June 2008 and El Universal, "Venezuela y Hezbolá", 24 June 2008.

[56] AP via KansasCity.com, "Chavez refutes US Hezbollah charges", 21 June 2008 and El Universal, "Roy Daza: Acusaciones que vinculan a venezolanos con el Hezbolá pretenden aislar al país", 22 June 2008.

[57] El Universal, "EEUU acusa a diplomático venezolano de trabajar para hizbula", 18 June 2008.

[58] El Universal, "Venezuela y Hezbolá", 24 June 2008.

[59] El Universal, "Hezbolá niega que los dos venezolanos acusados por EEUU sean sus miembros", 19 June 2008.

[60] El Universal, "Roy Daza: Acusaciones que vinculan a venezolanos con el Hezbolá pretenden aislar al país", 22 June 2008.

[61] El Universal, “In party election to designate candidates to local polls Chávez' MVR members report electoral fraud”, 12 April 2005.

[62] El Universal, “Tarek Saab solicitará reunión a embajador de Estados Unidos”, 3 October 2002.

[63] Federal Observer, “MAKING THE CASE: For War Against Iraq”, 2003.

[64] Tel Aviv University, “Venezuela 2002-3”, 2003.

[65] El Universal, "Venezuela y Hezbolá", 24 June 2008.

[66] U.S. Department of State, “Country Reports on Terrorism”, 28 April 2006.

[67] Nine/Eleven Finding Answers, “What the FARC Papers Show Us about Latin American Terrorism”, 1 April 2008 and American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI), “Iran's Global Ambition”, 17 March 2008

[68] Nine/Eleven Finding Answers, “What the FARC Papers Show Us about Latin American Terrorism”, 1 April 2008

[69] U.S. Department of the Treasury (DOT), “Treasury Targets Hezbollah in Venezuela” 18 June 2008.

[70] American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI), “Iran's Global Ambition”, 17 March 2008.

[71] New York Times (NYT), “Venezuela and Iran Strengthen Ties With Caracas-to-Tehran Flight”, 3 March 2007.

[72] Global Researcher, “Venezuela, Iran to Invest $4 billion in Joint Oil Project in Orinoco Belt”, 12 July 2007.

[73] American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI), “Iran's Global Ambition”, 17 March 2008.

[74] Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), “First Tehran-Caracas plane lands in Damascus,” 2 March 2007.

[75] New York Times (NYT), “Venezuela and Iran Strengthen Ties With Caracas-to-Tehran Flight”, 3 March 2007.

[76] Fars News Agency (FNA), “Iran, Venezuela to Start Direct Flights”, 10 February 2007.

[77] New York Times (NYT), “Venezuela and Iran Strengthen Ties With Caracas-to-Tehran Flight”, 3 March 2007.

[78] Fars News Agency (FNA), “Iran, Venezuela To Establish Joint Bank”, 23 June 2008.

[79] NSIGHT, “Chavez plans for terrorist regime: Venezuelan security officials say that President Hugo Chavez is plugging terrorist networks into the country's infrastructure, embracing jihadists and Castroites", 7 January 2003.

[80] Library of Congress, “A Global Overview of Narcotics-Funded Terrorist and Other Extremist Groups”, May 2002 and World Net Daily, “Venezuelan IDs help terrorist enter U.S.”, 26 October 2006.

[81] American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI), “Iran's Global Ambition”, 17 March 2008.

Partager cet article
Repost0
27 août 2008 3 27 /08 /août /2008 21:33
Le Hezbollah s’implante au Venezuela
28 août 2008 - israel-infos.net

Selon l’édition de mercredi du quotidien Los Angeles Times, les responsables occidentaux de la lutte antiterroriste estiment que le Hezbollah se sert désormais du Venezuela comme d’une "base militaire" à partir de laquelle plusieurs de ses opérations sont planifiées. Le journal a par ailleurs indiqué que le Parti de Dieu tente d’exploiter les bonnes relations qu’entretient le président Chavez avec la République islamique d’Iran.


Lire l’ensemble de la revue de presse de "israel-infos.net"

Des sources sécuritaires américaines, rapportées par le Los Angeles Times, ont fait état de la "volonté commune" de Hassan Nassrallah, Secrétaire général du Hezbollah, et du chef du régime des mollahs, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, de "frapper Israël qu’ils accusent d’avoir liquidé Imad Moughnieh", le "stratège numéro un" de l’organisation chiite éliminé en février dernier, en plein cœur de Damas.

Le quotidien a enfin souligné que des "agents secrets" du Hezbollah, mais également des instructeurs militaires et même des guides religieux, opèrent au Venezuela depuis de nombreuses années. Rappelons que le mouvement libanais pro-iranien figure en bonne place sur la liste des groupes terroristes établie par les responsables de la sécurité aux Etats-Unis.

Etranger

Un Israélien enlevé au Nigéria


Selon une information diffusée par l'ensemble des médias mercredi, un homme d'affaires israélien a été kidnappé, la veille, au Nigéria, à l'entrée d'un parking de la cité pétrolière de Port-Harcourt, dans le sud du pays.

Un porte-parole du ministère israélien des Affaires étrangères, Yossi Lévi, a notamment déclaré au site Internet Ynet : «Tout ce qu'il est possible d'affirmer pour le moment, c'est que peu avant minuit, mardi, un citoyen israélien a été enlevé, dans un secteur connu pour être le théâtre d'affrontements réguliers entre diverses factions politiques et communautés». L'ambassadeur d'Israël au Nigéria, Moshé Ram, s'est immédiatement rendu sur les lieux, où une représentante de la police, Rita Inoma Abi, lui a annoncé que «le chauffeur de l'homme dont on est sans nouvelles a été arrêté car il semble impliqué dans ce kidnapping», sans révéler davantage de détails.

Le Bureau national de lutte antiterroriste a d'ailleurs récemment publié une mise en garde, destinée aux israéliens séjournant à l'étranger, contre les risques d'enlèvements que des agents du Hezbollah, en poste hors du Moyen-Orient, pourraient tenter de commettre durant cette période.

Hezbollah presence in Venezuela feared
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
Marcelo Garcia / AFP/Getty Images
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, left, greets his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, last year.
The Lebanese Shiite militia, linked to deadly attacks in Argentina in the 1990s, may be taking advantage of Chavez's ties with its ally Iran, terrorism experts say.
By Chris Kraul and Sebastian Rotella, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
August 27, 2008
BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -- Western anti-terrorism officials are increasingly concerned that Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shiite Muslim militia that Washington has labeled a terrorist group, is using Venezuela as a base for operations.

Linked to deadly attacks on Jewish targets in Argentina in the early 1990s, Hezbollah may be taking advantage of Venezuela's ties with Iran, the militia's longtime sponsor, to move "people and things" into the Americas, as one Western government terrorism expert put it.

 
As part of his anti-American foreign policy, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has established warm diplomatic relations with Iran and has traveled there several times. The Bush administration, Israel and other governments worry that Venezuela is emerging as a base for anti-U.S. militant groups and spy services, including Hezbollah and its Iranian allies.

"It's becoming a strategic partnership between Iran and Venezuela," said a Western anti-terrorism official who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the issue's sensitivity.

Several joint Venezuelan-Iranian business operations have been set up in Venezuela, including tractor, cement and auto factories. In addition, the two countries have formed a $2-billion program to fund social projects in Venezuela and elsewhere in Latin America.

Those deepening ties worry U.S. officials because Iranian spies around the world have been known to work with Hezbollah operatives, sometimes using Iranian embassies as cover, Western intelligence experts say.

In June, Assistant Secretary of State Thomas A. Shannon said Iran "has a history of terror in this hemisphere, and its linkages to the bombings in Buenos Aires are pretty well established."

"One of our broader concerns is what Iran is doing elsewhere in this hemisphere and what it could do if we were to find ourselves in some kind of confrontation with Iran," Shannon said.

Fears about the threat from Hezbollah's global networks intensified after the slaying in February of Imad Mughniyah, a notorious leader of the militia, in Damascus, the Syrian capital. Hezbollah and Iran accused Israel and promised revenge, putting Western authorities on guard against attacks on Israeli or Jewish targets around the world.

Although the Bush administration is embroiled in political conflict with the Chavez government, allegations that Hezbollah and Iranian spies operate in Venezuela date to the 1990s, before Chavez took office.

The most concrete allegations of a Hezbollah presence in Venezuela involve money-raising. In June, the U.S. Treasury Department designated two Venezuelan citizens as Hezbollah supporters and froze their U.S. assets.

Treasury officials formally accused Ghazi Nasr al Din, a Venezuelan diplomat of Lebanese descent, of using posts at embassies in the Middle East to support financing for Hezbollah and "discuss operational issues with senior officials" of the militia.

Nasr al Din "facilitated the travel" of Hezbollah members to and from Venezuela and to a "training course in Iran," according to Treasury officials. The president of a Shiite Muslim center in Caracas, he served as a diplomat in Damascus and later in Beirut, authorities say.

The second Venezuelan targeted by Treasury is Fawzi Kanan, a Caracas-based travel agent. He is also alleged to have facilitated travel for Hezbollah members and to have discussed "possible kidnappings and terrorist attacks" with senior Hezbollah officials in Lebanon. The Treasury allegations did not specify whether the alleged discussion involved plots for kidnappings in Venezuela or elsewhere.

In comments to a Venezuelan reporter, Kanan dismissed the charges as lies. The Venezuelan government has strenuously denied that it is harboring militants.

In March 2007, the intensified ties between Venezuela and Iran led to the start of weekly IranAir flights from Tehran to Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, that stop in Damascus.

The flights were highlighted in the State Department's annual assessment of global terrorism, which noted in April of this year that Venezuelan border officials at the Caracas airport often neglected to enter the arriving passengers into their immigration database and did not stamp passports. The Venezuelans have since tightened up on their procedures, informed sources say.

Despite those improvements, the IranAir flights also feature in recent intelligence gathered by Western anti-terrorism officials. Agents of Iran's Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah have allegedly set up a special force to attempt to kidnap Jewish businesspeople in Latin America and spirit them away to Lebanon, according to the Western anti-terrorism official. Iranian and Hezbollah operatives traveling in and out of Venezuela have recruited Venezuelan informants working at the Caracas airport to gather intelligence on Jewish travelers as potential targets for abduction, the Western anti-terrorism official said.

The allegations were reinforced by a statement last week by the Israeli government, issuing an alert to citizens warning that Hezbollah plans to kidnap Israelis around the world to retaliate for the Mughniyah assassination.

Hezbollah has long operated in the Lebanese communities of Latin America. In addition to receiving a multimillion-dollar infusion from Iran, the militia finances itself by soliciting or extorting money from the Lebanese diaspora and through rackets such as smuggling, fraud and the drug and diamond trade in South America and elsewhere, Matthew Levitt, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Congress in 2005.

Three years ago, police in Colombia and Ecuador broke up an international cocaine-smuggling ring that functioned in Latin American countries, including Venezuela, and allegedly sent profits to Hezbollah in Lebanon. The lawless "tri-border" region connecting Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina has been a center of organized crime activities and finance linked to Hezbollah, Western anti-terrorism officials say.

Hezbollah operatives based there participated, along with Iranian spies, in the car bombings in Buenos Aires of the Israeli Embassy in 1992 and a Jewish community center two years later that killed a total of 114 people, an Argentine indictment charges.

In the aftermath of that indictment, filed in 2006, Hezbollah and its Iranian sponsors, chiefly the Revolutionary Guard, decided to shift from the increasingly scrutinized tri-border area to other countries, including Venezuela, Western anti-terrorism officials say.

"It preserves the capability of Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guard to mount attacks inside Latin America. . . . It is very, very important to Iran and Hezbollah right now."

chris.kraul@latimes.com

rotella@latimes.com

Kraul reported from Bogota and Rotella from Madrid.
Partager cet article
Repost0

Présentation

  • : Le blog de Gad
  • : Lessakele : déjouer les pièges de l'actualité Lessakele, verbe hébraïque qui signifie "déjouer" est un blog de commentaire libre d'une actualité disparate, visant à taquiner l'indépendance et l'esprit critique du lecteur et à lui prêter quelques clés de décrytage personnalisées.
  • Contact

Traducteur

English German Spanish Portuguese Italian Dutch
Russian Polish Hebrew Czech Greek Hindi

Recherche

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.

 

 

Les news de blogs amis