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Thread: Iran the Next Battlefield - Thread Renamed

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    U.S. grants Ahmadinejad visa for address to UN Security Council
    Haaretz ^ | 19/03/2007



    U.S. grants Ahmadinejad visa for address to UN Security Council
    By The Associated Press


    The United States has granted a visa to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, allowing him to travel to New York to address the United Nations Security Council as it considers new sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program.


    "It has been approved," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters Monday.


    The move, which had been expected, comes after world powers agreed in principle to a new package of sanctions and Iran sought to speak to the council before members vote on a resolution to impose the new measures for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment.


    The United States does not have diplomatic relations with Iran, which it regards as a leading state sponsor of terrorism. The U.S. has repeatedly condemned the country for allegedly trying to disguise an atomic weapons program under the guise of a civilian nuclear energy scheme. Tehran denies the charge.


    As host of the United Nations, the United States is obligated to allow foreign leaders to speak before the world body barring extraordinary circumstances.


    "We have host country obligations and we are going to live up those host country obligations," McCormack said.

    (Excerpt) Read more at haaretz.com ...
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    Default Re: Iran the Next Battlefield - Thread Renamed

    Yet another reason we should kick out the UN...

    We have to let trash like Ackmyweeniesgone and Chavez into our fine country.

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    15 Royal Navy Sailors, Marines Seized By Iranians Off Iraqi Coast
    Fifteen Royal Navy sailors and marines who had boarded a ship suspected of smuggling cars in the Persian Gulf were seized by Iranian naval vessels off the Iraqi coast on Friday, Defence Ministry officials said.

    The British government demanded “the immediate and safe return of our people and equipment.”

    The Defence Ministry said the Royal Navy personnel were “engaged in routine boarding operations of merchant shipping in Iraqi territorial waters,” and had completed a ship inspection when they were accosted by Iranian vessels.

    “We are urgently pursuing this matter with the Iranian authorities at the highest level and the Iranian ambassador has been summoned to the Foreign Office,” the ministry said.

    The seizure comes at a time of rising tensions between Iran and the West, which accuses the Islamic republic of violating a UN calls for it to halt uranium enrichment and open its nuclear program for inspection.

    It also comes amid U.S. accusations that Iran is funding and arming Shiite militias in Iraq, worsening sectarian tensions there.

    The United States, Britain’s chief ally, has built up its naval forces in the Gulf in a show of strength directed at Iran.

    Two American carriers, including the USS John C. Stennis - backed by a strike group with more than 6,500 sailors and marines and with additional minesweeping ships - have arrived in the region in recent months, ratcheting up tensions with Iran.

    The Britons were in two inflatable boats from the frigate HMS Cornwall during a routine smuggling investigation, said a Pentagon official, who spoke on condition on anonymity.

    He said the confrontation happened as the British contingent was travelling along the boundary of territorial waters between Iran and Iraq. They were detained by the Revolutionary Guard’s navy after inspecting a merchant ship believed to be smuggling cars, he said.

    A fisherman who said he was with a group of Iraqis from the southern city of Basra fishing in Iraqi waters in the northern area of the Gulf said he saw the Iranian seizure. The fisherman declined to be identified because of security concerns.

    “Two boats, each with a crew of six to eight multinational forces, were searching Iraqi and Iranian boats Friday morning in Ras al-Beesha area in the northern entrance of the Arab Gulf, but big Iranian boats came and took the two boats with their crews to the Iranian waters.”

    BBC reporter Ian Pannell on HMS Cornwall said the sailors had just boarded a dhow when they were accosted.

    “While they were on board, a number of Iranian boats approached the waters in which they were operating - the Royal Navy are insistent that they were operating in Iraqi waters and not Iranian waters - and essentially captured the Royal Navy and Royal Marine personnel at gunpoint,” Pannell said.

    In June 2004, six British marines and two sailors were seized by Iran in the Shatt al-Arab between Iran and Iraq.

    They were presented blindfolded on Iranian television and admitted entering Iranian waters illegally, then released unharmed after three days.

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    Default Re: Iran the Next Battlefield - Thread Renamed

    Well... damn. I don't know that they will just "release them if they confess" this time.
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    Default Re: Iran the Next Battlefield - Thread Renamed

    Heads up...

    Iran president cancels UN visit



    Mr Ahmadinejad has spoken twice to the General Assembly

    Iran's president will miss a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York on Saturday because the US delayed issuing visas, Iranian officials say.

    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had planned to attend the meeting, at which a vote on imposing fresh sanctions over Iran's nuclear programme is possible.


    But a spokesman for the Iranian mission told the BBC visas for the president's air crew were issued too late.


    Talks on a resolution imposing more sanctions have been paused briefly.


    Negotiations

    The Iranian leader had wanted to address the Security Council before it holds any vote on further sanctions against Tehran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment.


    In December, the Security Council imposed limited sanctions on the country over its refusal to halt the programme which Iran insists is purely peaceful in purpose.


    It is still unclear whether the vote will take place on Saturday as last-minute negotiations continue at the UN headquarters.
    How can they say they are too late to come if the Security Council has not given a date and time for the event?


    US spokesman Richard Grenell


    Britain, France and the US want a Saturday vote but Qatar, Indonesia and South Africa, also members of the Security Council, have concerns.


    The Iranian spokesman told the BBC that instead of the president, Iran's foreign minister and his deputy hoped to attend, travelling on a commercial flight.


    Paperwork

    In response to Iran's claims, a US spokesman pointed out that a definitive date for any Security Council vote has not yet been scheduled.
    "How can they say they are too late to come if the Security Council has not given a date and time for the event?" said Richard Grenell, a spokesman for the US mission to the UN.


    The US embassy in Berne, Switzerland, said it had issued a first batch of some 30 visas on Friday morning and the remainder, a further 40, later in the day once all the paperwork had been completed.


    The BBC's Laura Trevelyan, in New York, says that if Mr Ahmadinejad is not present, the occasion will be considerably less dramatic.
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    Default Re: Iran the Next Battlefield - Thread Renamed

    How can they say they are too late to come if the Security Council has not given a date and time for the event?


    US spokesman Richard Grenell




    I have a strong suspicion he cancelled because of the UK Sailors taken prisoner instead of "late visas".

    Sounds like BS to me on the Visas.
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    Default Re: Iran the Next Battlefield - Thread Renamed

    Iran's president will miss a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York on Saturday

    The United States on Friday issued visas for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his delegation ahead of a vote in the UN Security Council, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

    "The passports with the visas with them have been delivered," McCormack said, adding they were delivered at 10:00 am (0900 GMT) in Bern, Switzerland.
    http://www.pakistantimes.net/2007/03/24/top11.htm

    Mahmud I'maNazi-Nejad is scared to come to the US now with the Brit's having been taken prisoner illegally.

    There were taken because the Islamofascists in Iran desperately want to provoke a war. They will continue to provoke, and eventually they'll get their war.

    Bye-bye Iran.

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    Iran: Sailors "confessed" to illegally entering Iran's waters

    By JPOST.COM STAFF AND AP
    TEHERAN, Iran


    An Iranian military official said Saturday afternoon that the 15 detained British sailors "confessed" to illegally entering Iranian waters.

    The sailors, taken at gunpoint Friday by Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Al Quds soldiers were captured intentionally and are to be used as bargaining chips to be used for the release of five Iranians who were arrested at the Iranian consul in Irbil, Iraq by US troops, an Iranian official told the daily paper Asharq al-Awsat on Saturday.

    In addition, a senior Iranian military official said Saturday that the decision to capture the soldiers was made during a March 18 emergency meeting of the High Council for Security following a report by the Al-Quds contingent commander, Kassem Suleimani, to the Iranian chief of the armed forces, Maj.Gen. Hassan Firouz Abadi. In the report, according to Asharq al-Awsat, Suleimani warned Abadi that Al Quds and Revolutionary Guards' operations had become transparent to US and British intelligence following the arrest of a senior Al Quds officer and four of his deputies in Irbil.

    According to the official, Iran was worried that its detained people would leak sensitive intelligence information.

    Analysis: Who knows who the waters belong to?
    Teheran embassies prepare escape plans


    Iran's semi-official news agency, Fars, reported that the 15 Britons have been transferred to the capital Teheran "to explain their aggressive action." There was no immediate official confirmation of the move.

    The agency said the 15 included "some women." In Britain, officials told the Press Association news agency that at least one woman was among the group.

    Navigational equipment on the seized British boats "show that they (sailors) were aware that they were operating in Iranian waters and Iranian border gurads fulfilled their responsibility," Fars quoted an unidentified official as saying.

    Meanwhile, officials from Western countries expressed concern Saturday that Iran would engage in similar acts in the future in order to discourage the United Nation's Security Council from imposing further sanctions, reported Army Radio.

    Iran had maintained Friday that the British sailors had entered Iranian territorial waters illegally; the United States Naval Forces Central Command (US Fifth Fleet) issued the following statement regarding the incident:

    "At approximately 10:30 a.m. Iraqi time March 23, 15 British naval personnel, engaged in routine boarding operations of merchant shipping in Iraqi territorial waters in support of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1723 and the government of Iraq, were seized by Iranian naval vessels.

    The boarding party had completed a successful inspection of a merchant ship when they andtheir two boats were surrounded and escorted by Iranian vessels into Iranian territorial waters.

    The British government is pursuing this matter with the Iranian authorities at the highest level and on the instructions of the British Foreign Secretary, the Iranian ambassador was summoned to the British Foreign Office. The British Government is demanding the immediate, unconditional and safe return of their people and equipment.

    Royal Navy forces operate as part of Combined Task Force 158. CTF 158's mission is to maintain security and stability in Iraqi territorial waters and to protect the Iraqi oil terminals, under the UN mandate set out in the Security Council Resolutions on Iraq.

    CTF 158 is currently commanded by Royal Navy Commodore Nick Lambert and operates as one of three coalition task forces in the Combined Maritime Forces under the leadership of Commander, US Naval Forces Central Command/US Fifth Fleet, Vice Adm. Kevin Cosgriff," the statement concluded.

    Iranian state television said, however, that this was "not the first time that British military personnel during the occupation of Iraq have entered illegally into Iran's territorial waters," the state TV quoted a foreign ministry official as saying. He was not identified by name.

    Earlier, the British government summoned the Iranian ambassador, Rasoul Movahedian, to the Foreign Office for a meeting, which a department spokesman described as "brisk but cordial."

    During the meeting, Sir Peter Ricketts, the senior civil servant in the department, demanded "the safe return of our personnel and equipment," the spokesman said, speaking on condition of anonymity under department rules.

    Britain's Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett demanded Teheran fully explain the detention, saying in a statement after Movahedian's summons that he "was left in no doubt that we want them back."

    Iran later claimed that the British soldiers and marines have been "detained by Iran's border authorities for further investigation ... of the blatant aggression into Iranian territorial waters," the official also said.

    Iran demanded an immediate explanation from London and "asked that this not happen again," the television said.

    The foreign ministry conveyed Iran's "strong protest" to the diplomat, who was said to be the British charge d'affaires in the absence of a London ambassador to Teheran. The diplomat was also asked to "provide answer as soon as possible" from London.
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    Royal Navy Incident: Iran?s larger trap
    Political Mavens ^ | 24 MARCH 2007 | Walid Phares

    The capture of British Navy servicemen by Iranian forces is not simply an incident over sea sovereignty in the Persian Gulf. It is a calculated move on behalf of Teheran’s Jihadi chess players to provoke a “projected” counter move by London and its American allies. It is all happening in a regional context, carefully engineered by the Mullahs strategic planners. Here is how: The Iranian regime’s master plan is to wait out the remainder of Tony Blair’s mandate (few more months) and the remaining “real time” of President Bush (till about the end of 2007). For the thinking process in Tehran, based on their Western consultants, believe that Washington and London have reached the end of the rope and will only have till 2008 to do something major to destabilize Ahmedinijad regime. As explained by a notorious propagandist on al Jazeera today the move is precisely to respond to the Anglo-American attempt to “stir trouble” inside Iran. Anis Naccash, a Lebanese intellectual supporter of the Ayatollahs regime, appearing from Tehran few hours ago on the Qatari-based satellite and “explained” that the “US and the UK must understand that Iran is as much at war with these two powers in as much as they support the rise of movements and security instability inside Iran.” He added that Khamenei is clear on the regime’s decision to strike: “we will be at war with you on all levels: secret, diplomatic, military and other.” Pro-Iranian propagandists in the region, via media and online rushed to warn that this movement is part of Iran’s counter-strike against any attempt to destabilize the regime. Two major tracks emerge from these statements, the Iranian military maneuvers and the capture of British Navy personnel.

    1) Iran’s domestic front is putting pressure on the Ahmedinijad regime.

    From internal reporting, dissidents and anti-Ahmedinijad forces from various social sectors are practically in slow motion eruption against the authorities. Students, women, workers and political activists have been demonstrating and sometimes clashing with the regime’s security apparatus. Western media didn’t report proportionally on these events over the past few weeks. In addition, ethnic minority areas have been witnessing several incidents, including violence against the “Revolutionary Guards,” including in the Arab and Baluch areas. And last but not least, the defection of a major intelligence-military figure early this month to the West was, according to internal sources, a “massive loss” to the regime and a possible first one in a series.

    2) The regime “need” an external clash to crush the domestic challenge.

    As in many comparable cases worldwide, when an authoritarian regime is faced with severe internal opposition it attempts to deflect the crisis onto the outside world. Hence, Teheran’s all out campaign against the US and its allies in Iraq, Lebanon and the region is in fact a repositioning of Iran’s shield against the expected rising opposition inside the country. Hence the Khomeinist Mullahs plan seem to be projected as follow:

    a. Engage in the diplomatic realm, to project a realist approach worldwide, but refrain from offering real results

    b. Continue, along with the Syrian regime, in supporting the “Jihadi” Terror operations (including sectarian ones) inside Iraq

    c. Widen the propaganda campaign against the US and its allies via a number of PR companies within the West, to portray Iran as “a victim” of an “upcoming war provoked by the US.”

    d. Engage in skirmishes in the Gulf (and possibly in other spots) with US and British elements claiming these action as “defensive,” while planned thoroughly ahead of time.

    3) The regime plan is to drag its opponents into a trap

    Teheran’s master planners intend to drag the “Coalition” into steps in engagement, at the timing of and in the field of control of Iran’s apparatus. Multiple options and scenarios are projected.

    a. British military counter measure takes place, supported by the US. Iran’s regime believe that only “limited” action by the allies is possible, according to their analysis of the domestic constraints inside the two powerful democracies.

    b. Tehran moves to a second wave of activities, at its own pace, hoping to draw a higher level of classical counter strikes by US and UK forces. The dosing by Iran’s leadership is expected to stretch the game in time, until the departure of Blair and of the Bush Administration by its political opponents inside the country’s institutions and public debate.

    In a short conclusion the “War room” in Tehran has engaged itself in an alley of tactical moves it feels it can control. But the Iranian regime, with all its “political chess” expertise, may find itself in a precarious and risky situation. For while it feel that it can control the tactical battlefield in the region and fuel the propaganda pressure inside the West with its Petro-dollars, it may not be able to contain the internal forces in Iran, because of which it has decided to go on offense.

    The Ahmedinijad regime wishes to crumble the international consensus to avoid the financial sanctions: that is true. But as important, if not more, it wants to be able to crush the revolt before it pounds the doors to the Mullahs palaces.

    Dr Walid Phares is a Senior Fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington
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    PM warns of 'different phase' in Iran crisis
    timesonline ^ | March 27, 2007 | Sam Knight and agencies

    Britain's relations with Iran will move into "a different phase" unless Tehran quickly releases 15 British sailors and Marines taken hostage last week, Tony Blair said today.

    The Prime Minister gave the warning while insisting that diplomatic channels remained the preferred route to secure the release of the personnel, who were seized in the disputed Shatt al Arab waterway which divides Iran and Iraq on Friday.

    Asked whether there was any news on the eight sailors and seven Marines this morning, Mr Blair told GMTV: “No, there isn’t, but let me just say our first concern is for their welfare and to get them released as quickly as possible."

    “What we are trying to do at the moment is to pursue this through the diplomatic channels and make the Iranian government understand these people have to be released and that there is absolutely no justification whatever for holding them. I hope we manage to get them to realise they have to release them. If not, then this will move into a different phase."

    The Iranian Ambassador to London, Rasoul Movahedian, was summoned to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for the second time since the abductions yesterday, where Lord Treisman demanded consular access to the 15, who were captured at gunpoint by members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard. A similar request was made by Geoffrey Adams, the British Ambassador to Tehran.

    But so far Tehran has refused, alleging that the service personnel were in Iranian waters as they boarded a dhow carrying suspicious cargo off the coast of Iraq, a charge the Royal Navy and the US military deny. Today Iran's Foreign Ministry repeated its assertion that the sailors and Marines from HMS Cornwall were safe and well but refused to confirm reports that they had been brought to the capital.

    "They are in completely good health. Rest assured that they have been treated with humanitarian and moral behavior," Mohammad Ali Hosseini, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, told the Associated Press.

    Mr Hosseini said that only woman sailor among the group, Leading Seaman Faye Turney, was being held apart from the others, to give her privacy. "Definitely all ethics have been observed," he said.

    He added that the personnel were being interrogated as to whether they entered Iranian waters deliberately or not, suggesting a possible way out of the impasse. The Iranian version of the story is that sailors were arrested in the Armand River, at the northern tip of the Shatt al Arab waterway.

    Last night relatives of Ms Turney, who is 26, spoke of their distress at her capture. In a statement released by the Ministry of Defence, the family said: “While we understand the media interest in the ongoing incident involving Faye, this remains a very distressing time for us and our family. We are grateful for the support shown to us by all personnel involved and appreciate it, but would request that our privacy is respected.”

    This morning the Prime Minister said that there should be no connection between the seizing of the British personnel and the capture of five Iranian officials in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil earlier this year.

    The US military has accused the Iranian men of being part of Tehran's efforts to supply Shia militias with weapons and training and deepen the country's sectarian war.

    “It should have absolutely no bearing at all, because any Iranian forces who are inside Iraq are breaching the UN mandate and undermining the democratically-elected government of Iraq, so they have got no cause to be there at all," said Mr Blair.

    “The two situations are completely distinct. In the end, it is a question really for the Iranian Government as to whether they want to abide by international law or not. I hope that they do and we are working hard to try to persuade them that that is a sensible thing to do."

    The diplomatic barrage will continue today when Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, will use a discussion with the Turkish Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gul, to put pressure on Tehran. Mrs Beckett, who is in Ankara, said she would ask Turkey to facilitate discussions between London and Tehran while discussing the country's faltering bid for EU membership.
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    Default Re: Iran the Next Battlefield - Thread Renamed

    Libertatem Prius!


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    Iran: If U.S. starts war with us, it won't be the one that finishes
    Reuters by way of Haaretz ^ | 26MAR07 | Reuters



    A senior Iranian military official warned the United States against launching any attack on the Islamic Republic, a news agency reported on Monday, two days after the United Nations imposed new sanctions on Iran. "If America starts a war against Iran, it won't be the one who finishes it," Morteza Saffari, naval forces commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards, was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency. "Our people will not even allow one American soldier to enter our country," Saffari said.

    (Excerpt) Read more at haaretz.com ...
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    U.S. Long Worried That Iran Supplied Arms in Iraq

    Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images, for The New York Times


    American soldiers displayed parts of weapons, known as explosively formed penetrators, after finding them last month in a Shiite village near Baghdad. The copper liners in the foreground become projectiles when the explosive devices are set off.


    By MICHAEL R. GORDON and SCOTT SHANE
    Published: March 27, 2007

    WASHINGTON, March 26 — More than 20 months ago, the United States secretly sent Iran a diplomatic protest charging that Tehran was supplying lethal roadside explosive devices to Shiite extremists in Iraq, according to American officials familiar with the message.
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    Multimedia

    Graphic Explosively Formed Penetrators





    The July 19, 2005, protest — blandly titled “Message from the United States to the Government of Iran” — informed the Iranians that a British soldier had been killed by one of the devices in Maysan Province in eastern Iraq.


    The complaint said that the Shiite militants who planted the device had longstanding ties to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran, and that the Revolutionary Guards and Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia had been training Iraqi Shiite insurgents in Iran and supplying them with bomb-making equipment.


    “We will continue to judge Iran by its actions in Iraq,” the protest added.
    Iran flatly denied the charges in a diplomatic reply it sent the following month, and it continues to deny any role in the supply of the lethal weapons. But the confidential exchange foreshadowed the more public confrontation between the Bush administration and Iran that has been unfolding since December.


    In the past four months, the administration has sought to put new pressure on Tehran, through military raids against Iranian operatives in Iraq, the dispatch of an American aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf, as well as the increasingly public complaints about Iran’s role in arming Shiite militias. The American actions prompted criticism that the White House is trying to find a scapegoat for military setbacks in Iraq, or even to prepare for a new war with Iran.


    A review of the administration’s accusations of an Iranian weapons supply role, including interviews with officials in Washington and Baghdad, critics of the administration and independent experts, shows that intelligence that Iran was providing lethal assistance to Shiite militias has been a major worry for more than two years.


    The concern intensified toward the end of 2006 as American casualties from the explosive devices, known as explosively formed penetrators, or E.F.P.’s, began to climb. According to classified data gathered by the American military, E.F.P. attacks accounted for 18 percent of combat deaths of Americans and allied troops in Iraq in the last quarter of 2006.


    Excluding casualty data for the Sunni-dominated Anbar Province, where the explosives have not been found, the devices accounted for about 30 percent of American and allied deaths for the last quarter of the year.
    Some Democrats in Congress, while critical of many aspects of Bush administration policy toward Iraq and Iran, say they are persuaded by the intelligence pointing to an Iranian role in supplying E.F.P.’s. Debate remains about whether Iran’s top leaders ordered the supply of the weapons, about whether the Iranian-supplied devices can be copied in Iraq and about American policy toward Tehran.


    In January, the number of American and allied troops killed by E.F.P. attacks was less than half of December’s total. That trend continued in February.

    Some American officials suggest that this may be a response to their efforts to highlight the role Iran is accused of playing, but another factor may be that many Shiite militants have opted not to confront American troops. The weapon, however, is still a major danger. On March 15, an E.F.P. attack in eastern Baghdad killed four American service members and wounded two others.


    A Devastating Weapon


    E.F.P.’s are one of the most devastating weapons on the battlefield. The weapons fire a semi-molten copper slug that cuts through the armor on a Humvee, then shatters inside the vehicle, creating a deadly hail of hot metal that causes especially gruesome wounds even when it does not kill.

    Many of the E.F.P.’s encountered by American forces in Iraq are both difficult to detect and extremely destructive. Because they fire from the side of the road, there is no need to dig a hole to plant them, so they are well suited for urban settings. Because they are set off by a passive infrared sensor, the kind of motion detector that turns on security lights, they cannot be countered by electronic jamming.


    Adversaries have used the weapon in new ways. On Feb. 12, a British Air Force C-130 was damaged by two E.F.P arrays as it landed on an airstrip in Maysan Province, the first time the device was used to attack an aircraft, according to allied officials. Allied forces later destroyed the aircraft with a 1,000-pound bomb to keep militants from pilfering equipment.


    Over the course of the war, the devices have accounted for only a small fraction of the roadside bomb attacks in Iraq; most bombing attacks and most American deaths have been caused by less sophisticated devices favored by Sunni insurgents, not Shiite militias linked to Iran. But E.F.P.’s produce significantly more casualties per attack than other types of roadside bombs.


    “They were a new type of threat with a great potential for damage,” said Lt. Col. Kevin W. Farrell, who commanded the First Battalion, 64th Armor of the Third Infantry Division, in 2005, when a penetrator punched through the skirt armor of one of the battalion’s M-1 tanks and cracked its hull. “They accounted for a sizable percentage of our casualties. Based on searches of the Baghdad environment we occupied and multiple local Iraqi sources, we believed that they came from Iran.”


    A Gradual Realization


    American intelligence analysts say the first detonation of an E.F.P. in Iraq may have come in August 2003. But their view that Iran was playing a role in the attacks emerged slowly. American officials said their assessment of Iranian involvement was based on a cumulative picture that included forensic examination of exploded and captured devices, and parallels between the use of the weapons in Iraq and devices used in southern Lebanon by Hezbollah.


    “There was no eureka moment,” said one senior American official, who like several others would discuss intelligence and administration decision-making only on condition of anonymity.


    The entire E.F.P. assembly seen repeatedly in Iraq, including the radio link used to activate it and the infrared sensor used to fire it, had been found only one other place in the world, American officials say: Lebanon, since 1998, where it is believed to have been supplied by Iran to Hezbollah.


    According to one military expert, some of the radio transmitters used to activate some of the E.F.P.’s in Iraq operate on the same frequency and use the same codes as devices used against Israeli forces in Lebanon.


    More evidence came from the interception of trucks in Iraq, within a few miles of the Iranian border, carrying copper discs machined to the precise curvature required to form the penetrating projectile. Wrappers for C4 explosive, among other items, were traceable to Iran, officials say.


    An important part of the American claim comes from intelligence, including interrogation of captured militia members, about Shiite militants who use E.F.P.’s and maintain close ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah.


    The militant groups led by Abu Mustafa al-Sheibani have operated one of the most important E.F.P. networks. According to American intelligence reports, his network has been receiving E.F.P. components and training from the Quds Force, and elite unit of the Revolutionary Guard, and Hezbollah operatives in Iran. He is on the Iraqi most-wanted list and the Iraqi criminal court issued a warrant for his arrest in 2005.


    Ahmad Abu Sajad al-Gharawi, a former Mahdi Army commander, has been active in Maysan Province. American intelligence officials say his group was probably linked to the attack on British forces that was cited in the American diplomatic protest. He is also on the Iraqi government’s most-wanted list, and an Iraqi warrant has been issued for his arrest.


    In September 2005, British forces arrested Ahmad Jawwad al-Fartusi, the leader of a splinter group of the Mahdi Army that carried out E.F.P. attacks against British forces in southern Iraq. American intelligence concluded that his fighters might have received training and E.F.P. components from Hezbollah.


    Mr. Fartusi lived in Lebanon for several years, and a photograph of him with Hezbollah members was discovered when British forces searched his home. In the view of American officials that may be circumstantial evidence of an Iranian connection, because American intelligence experts say Hezbollah generally conducts operations in Iraq with the consent of Iran.


    Last week, American-led forces captured Qais Khazali and Laith Khazali, two Shiite militants who were linked to the kidnapping and killing of five American soldiers in Karbala in January, the United States military said. American officials say they have also trafficked in E.F.P.’s.


    Some people who are experts on military matters but who acknowledge they do not have access to the classified intelligence have said the weapons could be made in Iraq. But American officials say they have not found any facilities inside Iraq where the high-quality E.F.P. components are being manufactured.


    Nonetheless, the E.F.P. experience in Iraq appears to have, in turn, influenced developments in Lebanon. The installation of E.F.P.’s in foam blocks painted to resemble rocks, a technique first used in 2005 by Shiite militias in Iraq, appeared last summer in Lebanon when Hezbollah was battling Israeli forces. Previously, Hezbollah had generally placed the devices on tripods at the side of the road, covering them with brush to avoid detection.


    “There’s almost been a cross-pollenization,” one official said.


    American and British forces have been the primary targets in the E.F.P. attacks, but the devices have also been used against Iraqi security forces.
    In June 2005, a Japanese convoy near Samawa was struck by a roadside bomb that used a remote control firing device typically provided by Iran or Hezbollah. Concerned by the attacks, the British government protested through diplomatic channels in Tehran that year. Taking note of the British complaint, the Americans made their protest through Swiss intermediaries in Iran. As evidence of an Iranian role, the American complaint cited a May 29, 2005, E.F.P attack near Amara that killed a 21-year-old British lance corporal, Alan Brackenbury. Iran denied any involvement.


    Discussing Concerns Publicly


    After that diplomatic rebuff, American officials began to broach the topic publicly. In August 2005, Stephen J. Hadley, President Bush’s national security adviser, said allied forces were being made targets of bombs “that seem to have a footprint similar to that of devices used by groups that have historically had Iranian support.”


    In October 2005, the British ambassador to Iraq, William Patey, told reporters in London that Iran was supplying lethal technology that had been used against British troops. Prime Minister Tony Blair added, “The particular nature of those devices lead us to either to Iranian elements or to Hezbollah.” At the time Mr. Blair expressed caution about the certainty of the link to Iran, but in February of this year he said it was clear that Iran “is the origin of that weaponry.”


    Beginning in April 2006, E.F.P. attacks began to rise. With both the diplomatic protests and the public statements having failed to stop the attacks, American officials again began to discuss what to do. The changing nature of the American strategy, with its increased emphasis on challenging Shiite militias in and around Baghdad, made the issue all the more pressing.


    According to officials involved in the discussion, who asked not be identified, one concern was that raiding Iranian operatives in Iraq might provoke Iran to increase lethal assistance to Shiite militants. Another worry was that it might require the American command to divert military and intelligence assets from missions against Sunni insurgents, like Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.


    “For many months American officials were torn between a desire to do something and a wish to avoid confrontation,” Philip D. Zelikow, a former senior State Department official, said in a recent speech. “When a government is conflicted about what to do, the usual result is inaction.”


    As the Bush administration debated what to do, one issue involved the rules of engagement if American forces were to conduct raids against Iranian operatives in Iraq. After the United States Central Command submitted a plan for such raids, one option that was weighed was to declare the Quds Force that is operating in Iraq, to be a “hostile force.”


    Such an order would give the military a clear legal justification for taking action against Iranian officials and operatives in Iraq, and flexibility in planning the raids.


    Other officials said the Iranians were also involved in economic and social programs in Iraq. They argued for a more limited approach, saying that the United States should single out only Iranian operatives found to have “hostile intent” against coalition forces. The Bush administration decided that the raids would be carried out under the more limited rules of engagement for now.


    Meanwhile, in Baghdad, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., then the top American commander, approved plans to brief the news media on the E.F.P. issue — a reversal for military officials, who had been reluctant to highlight the effectiveness of the weapons for fear of encouraging their use.


    “Our intelligence analysts advised our leaders that the historical Quds Force pattern is to pull back when their operations are exposed, so MNF-I leadership decided to expose their operations to save American lives,” said Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the chief spokesman for Multinational Forces-Iraq, as the American-led command is known.


    The Iran Connection


    Some Democratic lawmakers who are critical of the administration’s Iraq policies say they now accept that there is a connection between Iran and the E.F.P. attacks in Iraq, though they emphasize that Iran is not the primary reason for instability in Iraq.


    Senator Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat who opposed Mr. Bush’s troop reinforcement plan, said he believed that the Bush administration was using the E.F.P. issue to distract attention from the difficulties in Iraq. But he said he was persuaded that the weapons were coming from Iran, in part from extensive talks with American and British commanders during trips to Iraq.


    “They want to keep us under pressure in Iraq without causing a major power reaction by us or a major meltdown within Iraq, which puts a failing state on their borders,” Mr. Reed said of the Iranians.


    At a February hearing, Senator Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a critic of the plan to send more troops to Baghdad, pressed Mike McConnell, the new director of national intelligence, to acknowledge that other countries in the region, too, were supplying insurgents in Iraq.


    Mr. Levin, however, said he was “not surprised” by Mr. McConnell’s view that some of Iran’s leaders probably knew of E.F.P. deliveries arranged by the Quds Force, and aides say Mr. Levin believes that the administration has been too cautious about pinning the blame on Iran’s leaders.


    Flynt Leverett, a senior fellow at the New American Foundation and a Middle East specialist who worked for the Central Intelligence Agency and on the staff of the National Security Council, also said he believed that Iran was supplying munitions to Shiite militias.


    But Mr. Leverett said the threat to American troops from Sunni insurgents, who draw on Syria and Saudi Arabia for money and other logistical support, was “orders of magnitude” greater than that from Shiites, and he contended that the Bush administration’s public emphasis on the E.F.P.’s was part of a larger administration strategy to blame Iran “for the failure of the American project in Iraq.”


    In the report it completed in December, the Iraq Study Group called for opening talks with Iran and suggested Iran could take steps to improve security in Iraq by stemming “the flow of equipment, technology, and training to any group resorting to violence in Iraq.”


    “The fact that Iran may be supplying lethal equipment is all the more reason to deal with them,” Lee H. Hamilton, a co-chairman of the panel, said in an interview. “We do think it fortifies the case for engaging Iran.”
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    U.S. Navy Flexes Muscles in Persian Gulf
    AP via SFGate ^ | 3/27/7 | JAMES CALDERWOOD and JIM KRANE

    ABOARD THE USS JOHN C. STENNIS, (AP) -- American warplanes screamed off two aircraft carriers Tuesday as the U.S. Navy staged its largest show of force in the Persian Gulf since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, launching a mammoth exercise meant as a message to the Iranians.

    The maneuvers with 15 warships and more than 100 aircraft were sure to heighten tensions with Iran, which has frequently condemned the U.S. military presence off its coast and is in a faceoff with the West over its nuclear program and its capture of a British naval team.

    While they would not say when the war games were planned, U.S. commanders insisted the exercises were not a direct response to Friday's seizure of the 15 British sailors and marines, but they also made clear that the flexing of the Navy's military might was intended as a warning.

    "If there is strong presence, then it sends a clear message that you better be careful about trying to intimidate others," said Capt. Bradley Johanson, commander of the Stennis.

    "Iran has adopted a very escalatory posture with the things that they have done," he added.

    The exercises began four days after Iranian forces detained the 15 Britons for allegedly being in Iranian territorial waters near the northern end of the Gulf. U.S. and British officials insist the team was properly searching cargo vessels inside Iraqi waters.

    F/A-18 fighter jets roared off the Stennis' flight deck all day, mounting a dozen rapid-fire training sorties against imaginary enemy ships and aircraft. A second task force with the carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower also took part in the drills.

    "These maneuvers demonstrate our flexibility and capability to respond to threats to maritime security," said Navy Lt. John Perkins, 32, of Louisville, Ky., as the Stennis cruised...

    (Excerpt) Read more at sfgate.com ...
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    Russian intelligence sees U.S. military buildup on Iran border
    RIA Novosti ^ | March 27 2007



    Russian military intelligence services are reporting a flurry of activity by U.S. Armed Forces near Iran's borders, a high-ranking security source said Tuesday.


    "The latest military intelligence data point to heightened U.S. military preparations for both an air and ground operation against Iran," the official said, adding that the Pentagon has probably not yet made a final decision as to when an attack will be launched.


    He said the Pentagon is looking for a way to deliver a strike against Iran "that would enable the Americans to bring the country to its knees at minimal cost."


    He also said the U.S. Naval presence in the Persian Gulf has for the first time in the past four years reached the level that existed shortly before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.


    (Excerpt) Read more at en.rian.ru ...
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    Russian stiring the pot? Or Russia telling it like it is, to piss off Iran, and the US at the same time?
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    Iranian Supreme Leader Threatens to 'Strike at Them with All Our Capabilities' If Iran Is Attacked
    Khorasan TV /MEMRI ^ | 3-28-07 | Ali Khamenei

    Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei Threatens to 'Strike at Them with All Our Capabilities' If Iran Is Attacked


    The following are excerpts from a public address delivered by Iranian Leader, Ali Khamenei, which aired on Khorasan TV on March 21, 2007.

    TO VIEW THIS CLIP: http://www.memritv.org/search.asp?ACT=S9&P1=1409


    Ali Khamenei: "When the president of the Iranian people travels to countries in Asia, Africa, and South America, the peoples cry out slogans in his praise. They demonstrate in support of him. When the American president visits countries in South America, which is the backyard of the U.S.A, the peoples there welcome him by burning the American flag..."

    Crowd chanting: "Death to America. Death to America. Death to America. Death to America. Death to America. Death to America. Death to America"

    [...]

    Ali Khamenei: "This means the shaking of the foundations of liberal democracy, of which the West, and above all America, claim to be the standard bearer."

    [...]

    "They talk about democracy, about human rights, about global security, and about the war on terror, but their evil inner self reveals how warmongering they are, reveals how they trample the rights of the peoples, and reveals their great desire and insatiable appetite for the world's energy sources. The peoples see these things. Day by day, the reputation of liberal democracy and of America - the vanguard of liberal democracy in the world - is diminished in the eyes of the world. At the same time, the reputation of Islamic Iran grows. The peoples understand that the Americans are lying, when they claim to be defending human rights."

    [...]

    "They threaten to impose sanctions on us. Sanctions cannot harm us. Haven't they imposed sanctions on us before? We achieved nuclear energy despite sanctions. We achieved scientific progress despite sanctions. We achieved the building of our country despite the sanctions. Under certain circumstances, sanctions can benefit us, because they intensify our will for effort and activity."

    [...]

    "Creating a fuss in order to pressure the Iranian people in this [nuclear] issue, using the U.N. Security Council as a tool, will only harm the forces confronting the Iranian people. I must say this. If they want to use the Security Council as a tool, thus ignoring this indisputable right... So far, we have done everything in accordance with international law, but if they want to violate these laws, we too can and will violate these laws."

    Crowd chanting: "Allah Akbar Allah Akbar. Allah Akbar. Khamenei is the leader. Death to America. Oh noble leader, we are prepared. Oh noble leader, we are prepared. Oh noble leader, we are prepared. Oh noble leader, we are prepared."

    Ali Khamenei: "Pay attention. If they want to use threats, impose [their will], and act aggressively, they should have no doubt that the Iranian people and officials will confront the enemies that want to attack us, and will strike at them with all our capabilities."
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    Default Re: Iran the Next Battlefield - Thread Renamed

    Spring has arrived...
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    Tensions rise as Iran shows video of captured British sailors


    The Associated Press
    Published: March 28, 2007




    TEHRAN, Iran: Iran aired a video Wednesday of 15 captured British sailors and marines, including the only woman captive, who said the group had "trespassed" in Iranian waters. Britain denounced the video as an unacceptable display of prisoners and released what it called proof the group was captured in Iraqi waters.

    British Prime Minister Tony Blair's government also announced it was freezing most contacts with Iran until the country released the crew members.

    Iranian state television, in turn, quoted an unnamed official as saying the first phase of an investigation had determined the British were "definitely" in Iranian waters when seized.

    The sharp public exchanges heightened tensions between Britain and Iran as the incident dragged on into its sixth day, lowering hopes of a quick resolution.

    The standoff, along with massive U.S. naval maneuvers in the Persian Gulf, have sent oil prices rising on world markets.

    The brief video footage, aired on Iran's Arabic language satellite television station Al-Alam, showed the sailors and marines sitting in an Iranian boat in open waters immediately after their capture Friday.

    It also showed what appeared to be a handwritten letter from British sailor Faye Turney, 26, to her family that said, in part: "I have written a letter to the Iranian people to apologize for us entering their waters." She also asked her parents in Britain to look after her young daughter and her husband.

    Turney, wearing a white tunic and black headscarf, was shown eating with sailors and marines and later sitting in a room before floral curtains, smoking a cigarette. She was the only person to be shown speaking in the video, giving her name and saying she had been in the navy for nine years.

    "Obviously we trespassed into their waters," Turney said at one point in the brief video. "They were very friendly and very hospitable, very thoughtful, nice people. They explained to us why we've been arrested. There was no harm, no aggression."

    Earlier Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told The Associated Press that Turney would be released Wednesday or Thursday and suggested that the British vessels' alleged entry into Iranian waters may have been a mistake.

    "This is a violation that just happened. It could be natural. They did not resist," he told the AP.

    But the promise to release Turney did little to allay British anger.

    Before the broadcast, a spokesman for Blair said any showing of British personnel on TV would be a breach of the Geneva Conventions.

    After the footage was aired, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said she was "very concerned about these pictures and any indication of pressure on, or coercion of, our personnel. ... I am particularly disappointed that a private letter has been used in a way which can only add to the distress of the families."

    The third Geneva Convention bans subjecting prisoners of war to acts of violence, intimidation, insults or "public curiosity." Because there is no armed conflict between Iran and Britain, the captives could not technically be classified as prisoners of war.

    Also Wednesday, President George W. Bush discussed the fate of the 15 Britons with Blair over a secured video conference call, White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said.

    "The president fully backs Tony Blair and our allies in Britain," she said.

    The Britons were taken captive Friday after completing a search of a civilian ship near the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab waterway, which forms the border between Iran and Iraq.

    Soon after the sailors and marines were seized, Britain had hoped to resolve the issue quickly. In 2004, six British marines and two sailors were captured by Iran in the Shatt al-Arab waterway but released within days.

    Before the video was aired, the Iranian Embassy in London expressed confidence that the two governments would be "capable of resolving this security case through their close contacts and cooperation."

    But with the standoff dragging on, Blair told the House of Commons that it was "now time to ratchet up the international and diplomatic pressure" on Tehran.

    Britain also released new information about the group's location when seized: the British military said its vessels were 1.7 nautical miles inside Iraqi waters when Iran seized the sailors and marines.

    Vice Adm. Charles Style told reporters that the Iranians had provided a position on Sunday — a location that he said was in Iraqi waters. By Tuesday, Iranian officials had given a revised position two miles east, placing the British inside Iranian waters — a claim he said was not verified by global positioning system coordinates.
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    Heading for war with Iran? (Brit press gets mad)
    Daily Telegraph ^ | 30th March, 2007 | Simon Heffer

    I start to wonder whether it might not be time for us to get as nasty with other countries as they do with us.

    As we wait anxiously to see what will happen to our 15 hostages - for that is what they are - in Teheran, we should feel undiluted rage at the behaviour of other countries and institutions towards us.

    Mind you, when those third parties witness the drivelling weakness of the Foreign Office over the last week, and in particular the pathetic show put up by our Foreign Secretary - who must surely be just about the worst in our history - who can blame them?

    There is no doubt the 15 were in international waters when captured, or that they were undertaking a United Nations mission in pursuit of upholding UN resolutions. Yet the best the UN itself can do is pass a weak-kneed resolution describing its “grave concern”, rather than a tougher one calling upon all nations to “deplore” Iran’s behaviour.

    This is all the fault of Russia, to whom Mr Blair routinely cosies up, and whom the civilised world invites to its annual G8 summit meetings. Russia seems to think it isn’t worth “deploring” the kidnap of our sailors, so we had better start to show Russia what we think of it: by uninviting it from the G8 this year, and every year until it learns some manners.

    When not busy ordering the murders of his opponents, Vladimir Putin seems to enjoy hobnobbing with the leaders of civilised countries, so such a sanction would hurt.

    We don’t have the means to engage in gunboat diplomacy with Iran, and any special forces operation would be fraught with risks both for the hostages and their rescuers.

    For the moment, ever-stricter sanctions on Iran seems the only answer. America is resolute about this. So too, oddly, is the world’s greatest sanction-busting nation, France. So the scope for tightening the economic ratchet on Iran, and the means to do so, look healthy.

    However, we should be under no illusions about the effectiveness of such weapons.

    Saddam Hussein, after all, was put under sanctions for years. Real hardship was caused to his people, but almost none at all to him and his ruling clique.

    President Ahmadinejad of Iran has already threatened Britain about our involvement of “third parties” - that is, the UN - in the present dispute, showing his utter contempt for that organisation.

    He would treat sanctions with similar disdain, happily cutting off the noses of his own people to spite their faces. And all the time, the threat he and his inherent instability pose to us all would never cease growing.

    Whatever the immediate outcome of this crisis, Britain has some hard decisions to make. Is it worthwhile, any longer, to work through the United Nations?

    So long as a morally warped nation like Putin’s Russia calls the shots in the Security Council, no.

    We can make debating points about how odd it is that Putin deplores Islamic nutters when they attack his forces but is relaxed about them attacking ours, but in the end there is no point in bothering.

    The UN showed itself to be weak with Saddam Hussein. It is no better now.

    If we are going to continue to try to be a player in the Middle East, then we have to throw in our lot with the Americans, for no-one else makes the blindest bit of difference there.

    The capricious, and indeed downright wicked, behaviour of the Iranians towards our sailors confirms one other thing: that the civilised world cannot let the Ahmadinejad regime develop nuclear weapons.

    It is not just his oft-repeated enthusiasm for wiping Israel off the face of the earth that should worry us: it is what this madman might decide he wants to do to anyone else within range.

    This is no time for our clueless Government to be mothballing the Navy and cutting down the other services. For, at some stage, Iran’s lethal contempt for the rule of international law is going to mean war.
    Libertatem Prius!


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