Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Comment is Free Blog has an interesting comment.

"There is universal consensus that Muslim dictatorships, supported by the west, are the root of evil. They destroy political culture, kill extra-judicially and their repression foments violence.

The primary opponents of these dictators are the populist Islamists. They want to vote; except after voting they want to appoint an extra-constitutional body of clerics to strike down legislation they do not approve of."

Most interesting is the comment about the extra-constitutional body of clerics.

Could this be Iran?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Iran Sanctions Editorial in Washington Post

Interesting conclusion:
If this diplomatic offensive fails, President Bush or his successor is likely to face a choice between accepting Iran's acquisition of the means to build nuclear weapons and ordering military strikes to destroy its facilities. That's why it is senseless and irresponsible for those who say they oppose military action -- including a couple of the second-tier Democratic presidential candidates -- to portray the sanctions initiative as a buildup to war by Mr. Bush. We've seen no evidence that the president has decided on war, and it's clear that many senior administration officials understand the package as the best way to avoid military action. It is not they but those who oppose tougher sanctions who make war with Iran more likely.

This is true tough sanctions will just potentially stave off a conflict.

But I doubt it. The ruling religious regime, as chronicled in other posts have a different agenda. And a little bit of sanctions will not effect them too much.

In fact a little depravity for religious extremists is expected and relished.

This is a train wreck waiting to happen.

More grumbling about Iran's nuclear ability around the standard blogs (on my link list)

Let's look at conventional forces:

Air Force

The Shah (according to link) had purchased a formidable air arm which decimated the Iraq Air force during the eight year Iraq-Iran war.

With Boeing 707 tankers the F14's have a range of 2500 km. Thus also have a formidable offensive capability.

If you marry this with a buying power of oil in the last few years:

(i.e. scrolling to the current state of air power purchases)

At least 115 combat aircraft flew to Iran, out of the total of 137-149 aircraft flown to Iran or crashed enroute [including 15 Il-76s and some number of civilian airliners]. According to an official Iraqi statement, the aircraft included 115 combat aircraft, among them 24 Mirage F1s, 4 Su-20 Fitters, 40 Su-22 Fitters, 24 Su-24 Fencers, seven Su-25 Frogfoots, nine MiG-23 Floggers, and four MiG-29 Fulcrums. Reports that Saddam Hussein ordered 20 Tu-22 bombers to Iran appear unfounded. In 1993 it was reported that Russia was to provide Iran with spare parts, armaments, and operating manuals for the Iraqi jets that flew to Iran during the Gulf War. In 1993 it was reported that China had bought an unknown number of these MiG-29s from Iran, in exchange for Chinese missile technology and a nuclear power station. The two countries had reportedly reached agreement on the exchange in late 1992, with Iran having delivered some of the MiG-29s by the end of 1992. In 1998 Iraq and Iran had high-level meetings to discuss ending their state of war and other matters, including Iraq's request to have its airplanes back. Iran denied it had used any of the Iraqi fighter planes. If Iran had kept the Iraqi planes grounded for the entire time, they are probably nonfunctional -- the Iranians may not be able to start the engines or operate the hydraulics. Other reports suggest that some Su-24s have been added to Iran's existing inventory, some Su-20/22s were in Revolutionary Guard service. The Iraqi Su-25s, MiG-23s and Mirage F1s were thought by some to be not in service, due to age, low capability (MiG-23s) or too few numbers (Su-25). Other reports suggest that Iran had overhauled Iraq's fleet of 24 Mirage F-1B fighters and placed them into service.

An unknown number of "new" Su-25s were delivered to the Iranian Revolution Guards Corps Air Force (IRGCAF) in 2003. Where these Frogfoots originate from is unclear.

In July 2003 Chengdu Aircraft Industrial Corporation (CAIC) unveiled the new ‘Super-7’ or Chao Qi fighter plane to the public. The new Super-7 is “an all-purpose light fighter, required to have all-weather operation capabilities, be capable of performing the dual tasks of dogfight and air-to-ground attack, and have the ability to launch medium-range missiles. Mass production of the fighter will not begin until two and a half years of research are completed. The plane is being produced to be sold abroad to developing nations. China already has received orders from Iran and some African countries.

There have been reports of some 10 F-8Ms "Finback", 7 Tu-22Ms, 19 MIG-27s, and several MIG-31s (Russia's most modern fighter aircraft, US$40 million) being present in Iran, but these are not confirmed.

On 30 July 2007 the Jerusalem Post reported that Iran was negotiating with Russia to buy 250 Sukhoi Su-30 “Flanker” fighter-bombers. Israeli defense officials were investigating the potential Iran-Russia deal, in which Iran would pay $1 billion a dozen squadrons’ worth of the jets. Iran would also buy 20 Ilyushin Il-78 Midas tankers that could extend the fighters’ range as part of the deal. The move was seen as a response to the new American plans to sell billions of dollars’ worth of weapons to potential Iranian adversaries in the Middle East - Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel. This report came soon after other deals to sell advanced Su-27 and Su-30 combat fighters to Indonesia, Malaysia and Venezuela.


So the move by Putin to come down to Iran was likely some kind of clincher for arms purchases - $1Bil for a dozen Su-30 Fighter Bombers, and if 250 were discussed that is now a ~$20Bil transaction.

Certainly enough for a closing transaction sales call by Putin. Has a lot of historical and current data on the SU-30 and its variants...

Doing a Google search has uncovered India and Venezuela purchase of this Fighter-Bomber.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Iran: Secretive Assembly Of Experts Begins Fourth Term

February 20, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- The Assembly of Experts, an 86-member body of clerics that ostensibly elects Iran's supreme leader and supervises his work, today opened its fourth term since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Members of the assembly were elected to their eight-year terms on December 15. The assembly's authority in overseeing the supreme leader would appear to give it a decisive role in Iranian politics, but as with other institutions in the Islamic Republic, its power is more theoretical than actual.


It is interesting how they elect their leaders... It has to do with a quasi tribal system, where they elect these religious elders, and out of these elders an ayotollah is elected - or supreme religious leader.

8year terms means that longevity is achieved and long-term stability.

Within the article it states that just now it is legitimate to discuss who the next ayatollah will be.
Assembly of experts:

Robin Wright, a foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times and the author of The Last Great Revolution: Turmoil and Transformation in Iran (2000) compares the Assembly of Experts to the Vatican's College of Cardinals, and writes that it is the "most obscure of Iran's many [governing] bodies."

I am not sure if that is a good analogy, since the cardinals are not elected to 8year terms. I believe a roman cardinal is a cardinal for life, barring something unforeseen (gross negligence).

One must remember the tribal history of Iran.

It is not surprising that reporters do not get the historical underpinnings of other societies.
Who is really running Iran now???

Following Ayatollah Khomeini's death on 3 June 1989 of a heart attack, Khamenei assumed the role of supreme spiritual leader. The Assembly of Experts (Ulama) met in emergency session on June 4 and elected President Khamenei the new Valy-e-Faqih (supreme spiritual leader), simultaneously promoting him to the status of ayatollah. And Hojatoleslam Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, speaker of the Majles (parliament) was elected as a president.

I will need to find out who this assembly of experts is.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

When "Persia" became Iran: 1935 It looks like Farsi is spoken in a portion of Afghanistan also.

From Farsinet:
Farsi - Persian Language Persian Language, also known as Farsi, is the most widely spoken member of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian languages, a subfamily of the Indo-European languages. It is the language of Iran (formerly Persia) and is also widely spoken in Afghanistan and, in an archaic form, in Tajikistan and the Pamir Mountain region.

Persian is spoken today primarily in Iran and Afghanistan, but was historically a more widely understood language in an area ranging from the Middle East to India. Significant populations of speakers in other Persian Gulf countries (Bahrain, Iraq, Oman, People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates), as well as large communities in the USA.

Total numbers of speakers is high: over 40 million Farsi speakers (about 50% of Iran's population); over 7 million Dari Persian speakers in Afghanistan (25% of the population); and about 2 million Dari Persian speakers in Pakistan.

In Afghanistan Farsi is spoken almost everywhere and close to 60 % of Afghanistan's total population speak Farsi or Dari.
Languages of Iran

Islamic Republic of Iran, Jomhouri-e-Eslami-e-Irân. 67,503,205. National or official language: Western Farsi. Literacy rate: 70% to 75% among those 6 years old and over (1995–1996 Iran Statistical Center). Also includes Eastern Farsi (1,000,000), Hulaulá (300), Tajiki, Turkish (2,570), people from Afghanistan (3,000,000), Kurds from Iraq (120,000), Shi'a Arabs from Iraq. Information mainly from E. Drower 1939; R. Macuch 1965; I. Garbell 1965; T. Sebeok 1969, 1970; G. Doerfer et al. 1971; R. Oberling 1974; D. L. Stilo 1981; R. D. Hoberman 1988a, b. Blind population: 200,000 (1982 WCE). Deaf population: 3,978,055. Deaf institutions: 50. The number of languages listed for Iran is 77. Of those, 75 are living languages and 2 are extinct.

Western Farsi is the official language of Iran
Pakistan plans all-out war with militants - from article in Asian Times

"An all-out battle for control of Pakistan's restive North and South Waziristan is about to commence between the Pakistani military and the Taliban and al-Qaeda adherents who have made these tribal areas their own.

According to a top Pakistani security official who spoke to Asia Times Online on condition of anonymity, the goal this time is to pacify the Waziristans once and for all. All previous military operations - usually spurred by intelligence provided by the Western coalition - have had limited objectives, aimed at specific"

This could be a bad sign for Iran - as a defeat for Al-Queda in Waziristan Pakistan will allow the American forces to focus on other things.
The following link in defensindustrydaily
Hezbollah/Iran's rockets
In the aftermath of the recent fighting between Iran/Syria proxies Hezbollah and Israel, a few after action reviews and assessments have begun to trickle in. While war is inseparable in practice from political strategy, and the Olmert government's interference in military planning & operations was significant and negative, DID has searched for analyses that offer more of a techno-tactical assessment. Details have been far sketchier than one is used to for American conflicts, but a hazy picture is beginning to emerge and evaluations are being made of the two forces' effectiveness. Hezbollah can safely be characterized as a state within a state and was aided by Iranian forces. Accordingly, this conflict featured most of the accoutrements of full state conflicts: Armed UAVs (apparently used by both sides), air and missile strikes with corresponding air defense activity, anti-ship cruise missiles, tanks vs. advanced anti-armor missiles (incl. AT-13s and Milans), et. al. As such the performance of the two forces and their equipment is of serious interest to defense observers around the world.


Interesting to note the known involvement of Iran's influence in a recent conflict with Israel.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Ahmadinejad speech

From a speech on Al-Quds day:

"Referring to the supporters of Zionism, the Chief Executive said, "Why don't you allow the black box of Zionist crimes to be opened?!"

"The oppressed Palestinians have been deprived of all their human rights for over 60 years now. Today, the problem Quds is facing is not a Palestinian or even a Middle Eastern issue; it is global!"

"Zionism is a global threat, and is not only harming Palestine. The establishment of the Zionist regime and the all-out support (some countries extend to it) is an insult to human dignity," he added.

"Some powers believe their destiny is to protect the interests of the disgraced Zionist regime. Western countries which are pioneers in secularism and impiety support the Zionist regime as if it were the holiest task in the world."

Supporting Zionism is so important for them that they don't even allow anyone to question the establishment of the Regime, Ahmadinejad stated.


Ahmadinejad is speaking to his base - (Al-Qud), and thus this is red meat. It is not out of the realm of possibility to say that most of Islam would be happy if Israel the country would disappear. Islam remembers history - the historical timeframe of ~660 - ~1948 where there was no Israel.

Sen. Byrd is saying we are again on the path to war in a similar vein as to the Iraq war run-up.

with little to show for eventually (no WMD found eventually).

The Iran -US - World conflict to come is a bit more complex than slinging verbal spitballs (he also comments on the US declaring Al-Qud a terrorist organization - and the Iranians declaring the CIA and the US military a terrorist org).
Video by Sen. Byrd about Iranian stance:

The problem with the honorable senator's recollection of history is that the US has always looked at it's short term results with other countries. This has not always looked favorably upon the historical analysis and introspection of these decisions.
Anti-Iran website (Regime Change in Iran)

"Ayatollah al-Hassani is an outspoken critic of Iranian meddling in Iraq and has called for Iran’s embassy in Baghdad to be closed. READ MORE

In June, his supporters held a protest outside the Iranian consulate in Karbala and torched Iran's consulate in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

They were protesting against a program aired on Iran’s state-run satellite channel al-Kowthar against the Shiite cleric.

Iran has at least seven Arabic-language television stations and more than two dozens journals spreading its propaganda in Iraq.


The problem with a peace movement (in the US and other western countries) is that the peace movements do not take into account the actual actions of the various parties involved in the (potential) war.

In Iran vis a vis US you have the Ahmadinijad presidency, the mullahs, the tribes against Iraq, Afghanistan. And of course the absolute animus versus Israel.

If one adds nuclear ambitions to this volatile mix... peace is the last item on a very long list.

The above post is a website that is anti-Iran in the sense of the current political powers. But on their website they proudly display the Iranian flag, and if you asked them about soccer results they would not have a question on their mind as to what would happen. (everyone is pro-Iran).

Except for the most stringent Islamic adherent which considers any sport sacrilege.

Tribal society thoughts...

It is hard for us westerners to relate to tribal societies.

We live in a media driven relatively peaceful republic. Where Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and actually most of the middle eastern countries have long roots in tribal sociology.

Maybe we can relate with an analogy (analogies are imperfect but do make you think from a different angle).

How about this:

Imagine you are watching a classic US Western movie... actually the whole world is familiar with this because of the Hollywood dissemination of the last 100 years.

In the last of the Mohicans there were several tribes (also called nations)

Some were violent and some eventually got annihilated.

So when you read tribal society - think about the American Indian movies that you have seen.

How did they make decisions? They always conferred into a pow wow - discussing among themselves and then finally asking the elder --- which had a huge weight with his voice.

But this was not the final voice --- it was a sort of village decision with the elders and wise people making a significant contribution.

then after the decision is made... no looking back.


Time after time we hear of Iraqi Anbar Province sheiks (equivalent to American Indian elder?)

making decisions... I am sure they did not unilaterally come up with the decision.

Within Scottish Clans of pre-1600 time frame this was also similar... (Braveheart the movie).

I am trying to relate movies because we are so media driven... although the middle east has its own peculiarities since religion also plays a part (whereas all American Indians were of a
similar religion).

For example a Shiite tribe is not going to be too excited about making a long-term commitment with a Sunni tribe ( or would always be watching it's back or something).

Anyway it is a simplification, but could help people in understanding the tribal system from a different angle.
Alternet post about why the anti-war movement should do everything possible not to go to war with Iran.


Three story lines unfolded earlier this month which underscore just how easily manipulated the American people, via the media, are when it comes to the issues of Iran and weapons of mass destruction. In the first, Rear Adm. Mark Fox, a spokesperson for the U.S. military in Iraq, let it be known that U.S. forces had captured a “known operative” of the “Ramazan Corps,” the ostensible branch of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard command responsible for all Iranian operations inside Iraq. This “operative,” one Mahmudi Farhadi, was, according to Fox, the “linchpin” behind the smuggling of “sophisticated weapons” into Iraq by the Quds Force.

We’ve heard this story before. In January of this year a similar raid by U.S. forces in Irbil netted six Iranians, five of whom are still in U.S. custody. Senior American officials let it be known that these Iranians were likewise members of the Quds Force, and included that organization’s operations director. All were tied to the (unspecified) transfer of arms and munitions into Iraq from Iran. The Iranian government claimed, and the Iraqi government confirmed, that the detained Iranians were all attached to a trade mission in Irbil, where they oversaw legitimate commerce between Iran and Iraq along the Kurdish frontier."


Also the matter of DaqDuq (sorry I do not want to copy the 3 preceding paragraphs as background - you have to read the whole article for background (DaqDuq is a leader of a militia in Iraq supposedly financed by a faction within Iran) :

"And what of Daqduq himself? It seems that his Iraqi sponsor, Qais Khazali, had fallen out of favor with Muqtada al-Sadr over the strategic direction being taken, and sometime in 2006 split away from Sadr’s Mehdi Army, taking some 3,000 fighters with him. In the lawless wild-West environment which dominates Iraq in the post-Saddam era, the formation of splinter militias of this sort is an everyday occurrence. Radical adventurers have historically been drawn to places of conflict, which would explain the presence of Daqduq. And it would not surprise me to find that Qais Khazali had secured funding from extremist elements inside Iran which operate outside the mandate of government, including some from within the Iranian Revolutionary Guard itself. But the notion of Iran and Hizbollah aligning themselves directly with a splinter element like the “Khazali network” is highly unlikely, to say the least."


But the very next paragraph is the nugget inside this post:

"But fiction often mirrors reality, and in the case of Iran’s Quds Force, the model drawn upon by the U.S. military seems to be none other than America’s own support of anti-Iranian forces, namely the Mujahedin el-Khalk (MEK) operating out of U.S.-controlled bases inside Iraq, and Jundallah, a Baluchi separatist group operating out of Pakistan that the CIA openly acknowledges supporting. Unlike the lack of evidence brought to bear by the U.S. to sustain its claims of Iranian involvement inside Iraq, the Iranian government has captured scores of MEK and Jundallah operatives, along with supporting documents, which substantiate that which the U.S. openly admits: The United States is waging a proxy war against Iran, inside Iran."


The article does not give a background to MEK. MEK has been in Iraq even during the days of Saddam Hussein.

Doing a Google search on "MEK anti-iran"

Gives many hits on news reports of the State department declaring MEK a terrorist group.

including this:
From link:

Since the invasion of Iraq, the U.S. has struck up an alliance with the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, an Iranian dissident force which has a long record of committing terrorist atrocities and even collaborating with Saddam Hussein in suppressing the 1991 Shia uprising in southern Iraq.


The MEK has a long history of anti-Iran and pro-Saddam actions. Which is why the Iraqi government wants MEK to leave.

My personal worry about a group like that is that it can be bought to do another faction's dirty work.

This is likely standard fare in a tribal society... where one tribe is doing things with and against other tribes.