Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

Middle East Update – Qatar, Iran and terrorism

Posted by sanityinjection on June 9, 2017

I find that it’s rather difficult for those of us in the US to find quality, up-to-date analysis of what is going on in the Middle East. As it has for thousands of years, what happens in this region disproportionately affects the rest of the world. So I’m going to try to post periodic updates summarizing what you need to know with my own analysis.

SAUDI – QATAR SPAT: Perhaps the biggest story this week was the intra-Arab diplomatic spat between the small but wealthy Persian Gulf state of Qatar and a group of countries including Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt. These countries not only have suspended diplomatic relations with Qatar but have cut off land and air travel access and ordered Qataris to leave their territory. This creates a serious problem for Qatar since they import most of their food from these countries and will now have to rely on Iran and Turkey for help. The seriousness of the Saudi-led group’s intentions can be understood from the fact that the Saudis will also suffer from the diplomatic break: Qatar supplies natural gas for the Saudis and other countries in the region, and the Qataris have been kicked out of the coalition military forces fighting the Houthis in Yemen. That war is not going well for the Saudis, so you can tell they are pretty pissed if they are willing to weaken their forces there over this dispute. So what is really going on?

Basically, Saudi Arabia and the other states believe that Qatar is not only too soft on Iran, but too cozy with Islamist groups like Hamas, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, and Shiite groups in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The Qatari media outlet Al-Jazeera has been a long time thorn in the side of the other Arab monarchies. But the last straw came recently when Qatar paid ransom money to both Iran and al-Qaeda, which of course will be used to fund more terrorism in the region.

Ultimately, the dispute amounts to an inconvenience for the US, whose military Central Command is based in Qatar. But if the Arabs are successful in pressuring Qatar to move away from it support for Iran and other groups, that could be a positive development from the US perspective. There are reports that a minor exodus of Hamas operatives leaving Qatar has already begun.

TERROR ATTACKS IN IRAN: Also this week, the Iranian capital of Tehran became the latest victim of terrorist attacks. The timing is somewhat suspicious, coming in the wake of the Saudi media campaign linking Iran with Islamic terrorism. What better way to prove that Iran is not in bed with Sunni groups like IS and al-Qaeda than for it to be attacked by them? I’m not going so far as to claim that Iran staged the attacks as a false flag operation on their own people, but I wouldn’t put it past the terrorists to have expedited plans to attack Shiite Iran (whom they view as heretics, in many ways worse than infidels) as a way of trying to counter the Saudi propaganda effort. It’s worth noting that these attacks are the first major terrorist attacks in Iran in over 25 years.

BATTLE OF RAQQA: In Syria, US-backed coalition forces have begun their assault on the IS capital of Raqqa, even as progress continues to be made in driving them out of their other stronghold of Mosul in Iraq. Most analysts expect these campaigns to be successful in essentially ending IS as a “caliphate” or territorial power in Syria and Iraq. However, IS-affiliated groups continue to operate freely in places like Libya, Yemen, and Somalia, so the threat of terrorist attacks is far from over.

PALESTINIANS CARE MORE ABOUT JOBS AND DEMOCRACY THAN FIGHTING ISRAEL: A poll conducted last month of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza produced surprising results suggesting that public opinion among Palestinians may be more open to compromises for peace than the Palestinian leadership would like to admit. Basically, the results showed that Palestinians are more interested in being able to find good jobs and having an honest, responsible government than about issues like whether the US moves its embassy to Jerusalem. From Israel, Palestinians most want freedom of movement and more job opportunities from Israeli companies more than they care about Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Perhaps most astonishingly, 62% of Palestinians in Gaza agreed that Hamas should quit calling for Israel’s destruction and accept the idea of a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders.

These poll results may provide some ammunition for US efforts to broker a new agreement, by calling into serious question the claims of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas that they would face a popular backlash if they compromised with Israel on their positions.

For more info on these and other Middle East developments, I recommend the Washington-based Al Monitor website. You can find there up-to-date reports from each of the regions within the Middle East as well as some of the most insightful and objective analysis to better understand what is really going on underneath the spin.

Advertisements

Posted in Foreign Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Obama’s Middle East policy encourages America’s enemies

Posted by sanityinjection on March 8, 2010

Great column up by Barry Rubin explaining how the Obama Administration’s limp-wristed pursuit of “more sanctions” against Iran has convinced America’s enemies in the Middle East that we are weak:

http://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2010/03/08/obamas_mideast_horror_show_98842.html

I wish that the President would wake up and realize that Russia and China have no real interest in supporting sanctions against Iran, Hezbollah, or any other violent Islamic groups. On the contrary, to them Islamic terrorism within their own borders is a perfect excuse to repress their own people.

The US has had multiple levels of sanctions in place against Iran for 30 years. Sanctions only work if the majority of the world’s economic powers observe them.

How about we get serious? Declare Iran and Syria to be “state sponsors of terrorism” and get all NATO countries to agree to revoke diplomatic immunity so that any Iranian or Syrian diplomat can be arrested on charges of supporting terrorism. Then arrest the entire Iranian and Syrian delegations, put them in jail, then deport them – by slow cargo freighter.

Posted in Foreign Affairs | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

UNICEF needs Tony Lake now!

Posted by sanityinjection on February 18, 2010

The Obama Administration is supporting Tony Lake to be the new Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund – better known as UNICEF. I cannot state strongly enough that I am 120% in support of this nomination!

For those not familiar with Mr. Lake, he is a long-time leftwinger who served as the National Security Advisor under President Clinton fron 1993 to 1997. Yes, Mr. Lake was the single American primarily tasked with safeguarding the security of the United States of America during the years when Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein, Iran, and North Korea were allowed to increase their weapons capabilities unchecked by American action. In fact, it was Lake who was primarily responsible for the failure to adequately follow up on the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. To the extent that there is one individual who bears the most responsibility for failing to prevent the 9/11 attacks, it is Tony Lake.

That’s why I am proud to support Mr. Lake’s candidacy for the important position of Executive Director of UNICEF. I have full confidence that Mr. Lake will do a much better job look after the welfare of children around the world than he did looking after the security of the people of the United States. Furthermore, I expect that his duties as head of UNICEF will take up enough time and energy that he will be unable to offer any of his wisdom on national security issues to anybody from now on.

UNICEF needs Tony Lake….but possibly not as much as the rest of us need UNICEF to need him.

Posted in Foreign Affairs, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Why Iran’s regime won’t fall

Posted by sanityinjection on January 13, 2010

It seems like almost every article in the Western press about the ongoing protests in Iran against the Khamenei/Ahmadinejad government is eager to make comparisons to the 1979 revolution that overthrew the Shah, and speculating as to whether a second revolution is brewing. Most of the time, the authors are simply repeating what they have heard each other say; few of them have much actual knowledge of what life is like in the Islamic Republic.

In contrast, the Asia Times’ Dilip Piro explains why the current protests in Iran are significantly different from the events of 1979 and unlikely to lead to regime change anytime soon:

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/LA14Ak03.html

Posted in Foreign Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

PC police suspend LA sports announcers

Posted by sanityinjection on November 29, 2009

Two sports broadcasters who cover the terminally awful Los Angeles Clippers basketball team were recently suspended for comments they made about a member of the visiting Memphis Grizzlies team who is from Iran.

I started reading the story and was waiting to find out exactly what offensive thing they had said about Grizzlies’ center Hamed Haddadi. I was expecting to read that they had joked about him being a terrorist or made some derogatory remark about Islam. Imagine my astonishment, then, when I got to the end of the story and found out that what had earned the duo a one-game suspension and the opportunity to profusely apologize to Haddadi (through a translator, since Haddadi speaks little English) was precisely this:

  • They mispronounced the word “Iranian.”
  • They expressed surprise that any Iranian nationals play in the NBA.
  • They jokingly compared Haddadi’s looks to the character “Borat”.
  • They complimented Haddadi’s basketball moves.

Seriously? That’s offensive and discriminatory? The only thing that could possibly be offensive is the Borat reference, and that’s pretty much par for the course as far as jokes made at the expense of visiting players. The “Borat” character isn’t Iranian or even Muslim.

Apparently all it took was one person with too much time on their hands who complained to the network to shift the PC police into hyperdrive and send these two announcers into full hand-wringing mode. To his credit, Haddadi, when thoroughly informed as to what had been said about him, didn’t see it as a big deal at all. (In his country, ethnic/religious discrimination generally involves beatings and torture, so you’ll forgive him for his failure to be outraged by a couple of dumb TV comments.) Nor did the Grizzlies organization find the matter worthy of a formal complaint. But hey, it’s Los Angeles, the third most enlightened city in California, so naturally the horse must be beaten to death.

I would have thought this matter would have been eclipsed  by the shocking revelation that somebody actually watches Clippers games on TV all the way until the end, and by the further importance of seeking mental health counseling for that individual rather than taking seriously any complaints from that quarter.

Posted in Domestic News, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

“I prefer to think of it as…the ‘Elaine’.”

Posted by sanityinjection on September 23, 2009

ABC News reports that in Iran, police are diligently protecting the Iranian people from the terrifying scourge of lingerie store mannequins:

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=8648089

I realize this is a very serious moral and political issue, but call me low-brow, all I can think of is the “Seinfeld” episode where Elaine discovers the store mannequin that looks exactly like her posed provocatively in lingerie, and ultimately kidnaps it in order to preserve her dignity, only to find that they are being mass produced:

http://www.sonypictures.com/tv/shows/seinfeld/episode_guide/?sl=episode&ep=515

Posted in Foreign Affairs | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Winners and Losers

Posted by sanityinjection on September 17, 2009

I’m debuting a new feature here at Sanity Injection. Occasionally I get sort of a writer’s block because there are so many things I want to write about and never enough time. So today’s post is going to hit a number of different topics by running down my thoughts on who benefited most (winners) or who was hurt most (losers) by the news developments of the last several days. Let me know what you think; if this format proves to be popular I might make it a weekly feature.

Anyway here goes:

WINNERS:

Ayatollah Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad of Iran – Their crackdown against the election protesters seems to have succeeded for the time being. Meanwhile, Russia refuses to support additional sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program when even the French, who invented the art of sticking one’s head in the sand, are acknowledging that Iran is trying to build a bomb. 

Conservative activistsHundreds of thousands protest peacefully in Washington against the Obama Administration and manage to avoid embarrassing their cause while actually attracting some media attention. Simultaneously, two conservative activists manage to take down the fraud organization known as ACORN (see Losers, below.)

Sharron Thornton – A blinded Mississippi grandmother who has regained her sight after doctors implanted one of her own teeth inside her eye to hold an artificial lens in place. She will soon be able to look at the faces of her youngest grandchildren for the first time.

Hamas – Recent Western focus on the Palestinian civilian victims of the Israeli attack on Gaza ignores years of rocket attacks by Hamas against Israeli civilians, while the terrorist group continues to gradually implement sharia laws making Gazans considerably less free under Hamas than they would be under Israeli control.

RussiaEverything seems to be going right for the Russian government. The media continues to buy into Medvedev and Putin’s good cop – bad cop act; relations with China are improving; no one is lifting a finger to stop the creeping annexation of the “liberated” Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia; unrest in Chechnya and Ingushetia continues to provide a convenient excuse for authoritarianism; and US President Obama, far from holding Russia accountable for anything, has so far given Russia everything it wanted in arms control reductions including signing away the one thing Russia feared, a European missile defense system (see Losers, below.)

LOSERS:

Poland and the Czech Republic – Risked the wrath of their giant neighbor, Russia, by agreeing to host components of the Bush Administration’s missile defense system, only to be stabbed in the back by President Obama’s decision not to move forward with the program. Adding insult to injury, the decision was announced on the anniversary of the day Poland was invaded by Soviet Russia in 1939.

Congressman Joe Wilson, Kanye West, Serena Williams – Rude and offensive behavior apparently crosses all lines of gender, ethnicity, and politics. There is a time and place for expressing your opinions. Learning how and when to do that is part of what being an adult means. Guess these three need to repeat a few grades. Also, am I the only one who suspects that Serena Williams might be using steroids or some similar substance that might have fueled both her iron physique and her violent outburst?

Senator Max Baucus – The head of the group of Senators trying to craft a compromise health care bill ended up having to go it alone with a bill that nobody likes, not even his own Majority Leader.

ACORN – The controversial advocacy group (and favorite target of conservatives) has had all federal funding stripped from it in both House and Senate legislation after conservative activists videotaped its workers giving tax advice to a couple they thought were a pimp and a prostitute. They were also declared persona non grata by the Census Bureau as far as hiring census workers. I would argue the massive voter fraud perpetrated by the group in multiple states, for which they have been the target of prosecution by state authorities, should have warranted this step months ago, but in Washington I guess it takes a prostitution scandal to make you too hot to handle.

Everybody involved with the Hofstra gang rape case – now that the “victim” has recanted her accusations. I feel sorry for the falsely accused men, the unnecessarily frightened Hofstra students, the police whose time was wasted, the real rape victims everywhere who will have that much harder a struggle to be believed, and even the accuser herself, who must be a troubled individual to make up something like that.

Posted in Current Events, Domestic News, Foreign Affairs, Politics, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Iranian reformers call for investigation of Supreme Leader Khamenei

Posted by sanityinjection on August 14, 2009

In a major development in Iran’s constitutional crisis, a group of former reformist lawmakers has written a letter to Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani demanding an investigation of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei:

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=8325689

Although the demand is almost certain to be ignored, such an action is unprecedented in the history of the Islamic Republic. Rafsanjani, a former President of Iran, heads a body called the Assembly of Experts. Under the Iranian Consititution, the Assembly has the power to replace the Supreme Leader, though it has never done so. The reformists argue that the street violence and prison torture of protesters is ultimately the responsibility of the Supreme Leader and calls into question his qualifications and capacity for the office.

It’s important to note that the reformists did not call for the abolishment of the position of Supreme Leader or the weakening of his powers (which would require constitutional change)  but only criticized the individual who holds the office.  The Assembly is composed mostly of conservatives who are unlikely to sympathize with this demand. But for such a demand even to be publicly made at all breaks a major taboo in Iran against direct criticism of Khamenei, and could inspire others to express their opposition to the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad regime.

Posted in Foreign Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Carpe diem on Iran?

Posted by sanityinjection on August 6, 2009

This column by a former CIA spy in Iran identified only by the pseudonym Reza Kahlili paints a chilling picture of domestic and foreign terrorism in Iran and suggests that there will never be a better moment than right now to challenge what he calls the “thugocracy” – the Revolutionary Guards who really run Iran and who are avowed enemies of Western civilization.

Unfortunately, the Obama Administration is so terrified of being viewed as Western meddlers that they prefer to watch from the sidelines while the regime crushes opposition, consolidates it spower, and moves full steam ahead with its plans to arm nuclear missiles and aim them at US and European targets – not to mention Israel. As “Kahlili” asks: Is it better to confront Iran before or after they have an active nuclear option?

Posted in Foreign Affairs | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A few words about Neda Agha-Soltan

Posted by sanityinjection on June 23, 2009

It has been only three days since 26-year-old Neda Agha-Soltan was killed on the streets of Tehran, but in this age of the Internet she has already become known around the world as the martyred symbol of the protest movement in Iran.

And indeed, one would have been hard-pressed to handpick a better symbol. Neda was the New Iranian Woman.  From an average middle-class family and pictured respectably draped in chador, Neda was no rebel against Iranian society; no angry radical but a happy young woman with no great passion for politics. But at an age when her older female relatives might have been married off and having babies, Neda was studying to be a tour operator and taking piano lessons after having attended university to study Islamic philosophy. A photo from her vacation in Turkey shows her dressed in Western clothes, hair uncovered (when in Rome…) The contrast between the two photos of the same woman is the illustration of the tug-of-war operating in Iranian society – seeking modernity and connection with the wider world while trying to retain traditional values:

Neda Agha-SoltanNeda Agha-Soltan

Warned by friends and relatives that attending the street protests was dangerous, Neda reportedly replied: “Don’t worry. It’s just one bullet and its over.” Sadly prescient.

In a way that nothing else could, Neda’s death has exposed the reality of totalitarian oppression that lies beneath the false facade of the “Islamic Republic”. Neda was a threat to no one, except in the sense that by exercising her right to free speech she threatened those who cannot bear to hear the truth about themselves and who fear the voice of the people. Details now emerging suggest that Neda was shot not by the police, but by a Basiji paramilitary operative in plainclothes. The Basijis are a hard-line militia known for brutal attacks on university students and dissenters of any kind – a feared organization of thugs that does the regime’s dirty work outside the law with no accountability and could not exist in a truly free society. They lack only the brown uniforms and beer steins of Hitler’s Sturmabteilung (SA).

Even after Neda’s passing, the regime continues to insult her memory in order to serve the needs of the State:

“Security forces urged her friends and family not to hold memorial services for her at a mosque and asked them not to speak publicly about her, associates of the family said. Authorities even asked the family to take down the black mourning banners in front of their house, aware of the potent symbol she had become. But some insisted on speaking out anyway, hoping to make sure the world would not forget her.”

And the world will not forget. I have no doubt that someday, the spot on which this young woman who wanted to promote tourism was killed, will itself be a tourist attraction for those who would take a moment to remember that freedom is not free, but is only gained at great (and sometimes terrible)price.

Posted in Foreign Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »