Monday, October 29, 2007

United States Ties with Terrorism--Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed

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Ties with Terror

Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed

Cold War Creature

Most of us recall that Osama bin Laden is a creation of the CIA. He was employed as a key player in the Afghan war against Soviet occupation. Under his CIA contract, and backed by Saudi finances and Pakistani military intelligence, he built the multi-million dollar CIA-financed underground Tora Bora tunnel complex “to serve as a major arms storage depot, training facility and medical center for the Mujaheddin, deep under the mountains close to the Pakistan border.”1

“Delighted by his impeccable Saudi credentials,” records former ABC News reporter John Cooley, “the CIA gave Usama free rein in Afghanistan, as did Pakistan’s intelligence generals.”2 Bin Laden was so enthusiastic that he soon began to pay “with his own company and funds, for recruitment, transportation and training of the Arab volunteers who flocked, first to Peshawar, and to Afghanistan.… By 1985 bin Laden had collected enough millions from his family and company wealth.… to organize al-Qaida.”2

From ‘freedom fighters’ to ‘terrorists’, from Reagan to Bush Jnr, dirty hands have been stirring the dirt in poverty stricken, but strategically central Afghanistan.
From ‘freedom fighters’ to ‘terrorists’, from Reagan to Bush Jnr, dirty hands have been stirring the dirt in poverty stricken, but strategically central Afghanistan.

A Hidden Agenda

According to the conventional wisdom, US ties with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda ended with the victory of the Afghan war against the Soviets. In the post-Cold War period there was no reason to continue funding the ‘mujahideen’. But this convenient narrative falls apart upon closer inspection. Swiss TV journalist Richard Labeviere, in his book Dollars for Terror based on several years of archival research and interviews with US and European intelligence sources, quotes a CIA analyst on the long-term objectives of US ties with Muslim terror networks. Hinting at a policy involving the ongoing use of al-Qaeda to secure regional US strategic interests, continuing throughout the 1990s, the CIA official stated:
“The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvelously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia.”

In other words, the CIA had envisaged that it would maintain ties with the “Islamists” of Afghanistan that were used to repel the Soviet occupation. US intelligence had planned to continue to use Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda beyond Afghanistan’s borders. The CIA had always seen vast potential to use the terrorist network established by bin Laden during the Cold War in an international framework in the post-Cold War era against Russian and Chinese power, i.e. in Eastern Europe, the Balkans and Central Asia.4

The US Woos the Taliban

The US government was well aware that the Taliban had been harbouring Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda since June 1996, as revealed by official documents. Bin Laden was expelled by Sudan to Afghanistan in early 1996 at US insistence. He had publicly declared war against the US in August 1996. He had lauded that year’s bombings in Saudi Arabia killing 19 US servicemen as “praiseworthy terrorism”, promising future attacks against US targets in November 1996, and confessing complicity in attacks on US military personnel in Somalia in 1993 and Yemen in 1992. There was already a mass of evidence linking him to the 1995 bombing of a US military barracks in Riyadh; the 1993 World Trade Center attacks; and a 1994 assassination plot against President Clinton in the Philippines.5 But none of this stopped the US from flirting with Enemy No. 1.

When the Taliban took control of Kabul in 1996, signaling the faction’s domination of Afghanistan, respected French observer Oliver Roy noted that: “When the Taleban took power in Afghanistan (1996), it was largely orchestrated by the Pakistani secret service [ISI] and the oil company Unocal, with its Saudi ally Delta.” At this time, Pakistan’s support for the Taliban was approved by public and private Saudi authorities, the CIA, and the American oil company UNOCAL.6

Unholy Matrimony

Why the continued interest in Afghanistan? This has been aptly explained by Elie Krakowski, former Special Assistant to the US Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy (1982-88), a man who “knows more about Afghanistan than just about any man on American soil,” according to Tony Snow of Fox News. Afghanistan “is the crossroads between what Halford MacKinder called the world’s Heartland and the Indian sub continent”, writes Krakowski.

“It owes its importance to its location at the confluence of major routes. A boundary between land power and sea power, it is the meeting point between opposing forces larger than itself. Alexander the Great used it as a path to conquest. So did the Moghuls. An object of competition between the British and Russian empires in the 19th century, Afghanistan became a source of controversy between the American and Soviet superpowers in the 20th. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, it has become an important potential opening to the sea for the landlocked new states of Central Asia. The presence of large oil and gas deposits in that area has attracted countries and multinational corporations… Because Afghanistan is a major strategic pivot what happens there affects the rest of the world.”7

When the Taliban consolidated its rule in 1996, US State Department spokesperson Glyn Davies explained that the US found “nothing objectionable” in the event. US approval was further revealed by Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Near East and South East, Senator Hank Brown, who announced: “The good part of what has happened is that one of the factions at last seems capable of developing a new government in Afghanistan.”8 US support of the Taliban did not end there, but continued throughout most of the 1990s. Professor William O. Beeman, an anthropologist who is Director of Middle East Studies at Brown University specializing in Islamic Central Asia, points out:
“It is no secret, especially in the region, that the United States, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have been supporting the fundamentalist Taliban in their war for control of Afghanistan for some time. The US has never openly acknowledged this connection, but it has been confirmed by both intelligence sources and charitable institutions in Pakistan.”9

“The Taliban will probably develop like the Saudis,” commented one US diplomat in 1997, highlighting the US vision for a ‘free Afghanistan’. “There will be Aramco [consortium of oil companies controlling Saudi oil], pipelines, an emir, no parliament and lots of Sharia law. We can live with that.”10

Pipeline-istan

Thus, in December 1997, Taliban representatives were invited as guests to the Texas headquarters of UNOCAL, to negotiate their support of the pipeline. Meanwhile, UNOCAL had already begun training Afghans in the skills required for pipeline construction, with US government approval: “A senior delegation from the Taleban movement in Afghanistan is in the United States for talks with an international energy company that wants to construct a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan to Pakistan.

“A spokesman for the company, Unocal, said the Taleban were expected to spend several days at the company’s headquarters in Sugarland, Texas… A BBC regional correspondent says the proposal to build a pipeline across Afghanistan is part of an international scramble to profit from developing the rich energy resources of the Caspian Sea.… Unocal… has commissioned the University of Nebraska to teach Afghan men the technical skills needed for pipeline construction. Nearly 140 people were enrolled last month in Kandahar and Unocal also plans to hold training courses for women in administrative skills. Although the Taleban authorities only allow women to work in the health sector, organisers of the training say they haven’t so far raised any objections.”11

UNOCAL was not alone in its dealings with the Taliban. The notorious US energy corporation ENRON, which had close ties to the US government, was also deeply involved. Enron performed the preliminary feasibility study on the gas pipeline, which was paid for with a $750,000 grant from the US Agency for Trade and Development.12

Furthermore, US intelligence sources and former ENRON officials have confirmed that Enron “gave the Taliban millions of dollars”, apparently with the US government’s blessings, “in a no-holds-barred bid to strike a deal for an energy pipeline in Afghanistan-while the Taliban were already sheltering Osama bin Laden.” Atul Davda, who worked as a senior director for ENRON’s International Division until the company’s collapse, stated that: “Enron had intimate contact with Taliban officials. Building the pipeline was one of the corporation’s prime objectives.” One CIA insider commented that: “Enron was wooing the Taliban and was willing to make the Taliban a partner in the operation of a pipeline through Afghanistan. Enron proposed to pay the Taliban large sums of money in a ‘tax’ on every cubic foot of gas and oil shipped through the pipeline.”

More than $400 million was paid by Enron for the feasibility study on the pipeline “a large portion” of which “was payoffs to the Taliban,” according to the CIA source. An FBI official similarly confirmed that: “When Clinton was bombing Bin Laden camps in Afghanistan in 1998, Enron was making payoffs to Taliban and Bin Laden operatives to keep the pipeline project alive. And there’s no way that anyone could NOT have known of the Taliban and Bin Laden connection at that time, especially Enron.”13

Al-Qaeda: Ongoing Intelligence Asset?

A number of reports and studies demonstrate that US governments have continued to sponsor al-Qaeda in a new theatre of war, designed to destabilize US rivals in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. As the London Spectator noted:
“America’s role in backing the Mujahideen a second time in the early and mid-1990s is seldom mentioned… From 1992 to 1995, the Pentagon assisted with the movement of thousands of Mujahideen and other Islamic elements from Central Asia into Europe, to fight alongside Bosnian Muslims against the Serbs… If Western intervention in Afghanistan created the Mujahideen, Western intervention in Bosnia appears to have globalised it.”14

This policy had nothing to do with aiding Bosnians - it was more concerned with exacerbating the conflict in order to generate a justification to expand regional US military hegemony. Much of the details of the alliance have been authoritatively documented in the official Dutch inquiry into the 1995 Srebrenica. Professor Richard Aldrich of the University of Nottingham described the Dutch inquiry’s most salient findings, based on five years of unrestricted access to Dutch intelligence files and interviews with key officials:
“Now we have the full story of the secret alliance between the Pentagon and radical Islamist groups from the Middle East designed to assist the Bosnian Muslims - some of the same groups that the Pentagon is now fighting in ‘the war against terrorism’. Pentagon operations in Bosnia have delivered their own ‘blowback.’… Mojahedin fighters were… flown in, but they were reserved as shock troops for especially hazardous operations… Rather than the CIA, the Pentagon’s own secret service was the hidden force behind these operations.”15

US officials were well-aware of the implications of their post-Cold War alliance with al-Qaeda in the Balkans. They knew that one of bin Laden’s top lieutenants was commanding a league of operatives in Bosnia, which during the 1990s had thus become a “staging area and safe haven” for al-Qa’eda. Nevertheless, a conscious decision was made to continue allowing the growth and activities of al-Qaeda mujahideen forces in Europe throughout the 1990s.16

Extensive military intelligence training and assistance was provided to the KLA - now fighting with US backing in Macedonia under the banner of the NLA - during the Kosovo conflict in the late 1990s by both American and British forces. This training continued despite the fact documented in a 1999 Congressional report by the US Senate Republican Party Committee that the KLA is closely involved with:
* “The extensive Albanian crime network that extends throughout Europe and into North America, including allegations that a major portion of the KLA finances are derived from that network, mainly proceeds from drug trafficking; and * “Terrorist organizations motivated by the ideology of radical Islam, including assets of.… the notorious Osama bin-Ladin - who has vowed a global terrorist war against Americans and American interests.”17

Indeed, the KLA and NLA have been funded by bin Laden to the tune of millions of dollars, and al-Qaeda fighters have joined their ranks as well as trained them, to the point that experts describe the KLA/NLA as al-Qaeda’s arm in the Balkans. None of this has prevented the US from providing military intelligence assistance to the latter.18

The British government is no stranger to the secret alliance with al-Qaeda. Apart from being integrally involved in the previous Balkans operations, as revealed by former British intelligence agent David Shayler who worked at MI5’s Counterterrorism desk: “British secret service agents paid up to £100,000 to al Qaeda terrorists for an assassination attempt on Libyan leader Colonel Gadaffy in 1996.” As a result of his revelations, he has been under trial in the UK for the disclosing classified intelligence information.19

No ‘War on Terror’

If the British and American governments have harboured, financed and provided military assistance to al-Qaeda to pursue covert operations in line with strategic interests, then in reality the ‘War on Terror’ is a myth. Clearly, the US and UK governments have continued to provide covert support the Osama bin Laden’s international terror network throughout the post-Cold War period. During this time, numerous terrorist attacks against Western targets orchestrated by bin Laden have occurred. It is not only bin Laden who is responsible for anti-Western terrorism - the West is also culpable. Terror, it seems, is a tool of the powerful designed to support secret illegal operations, inculcate fear into mass consciousness, manipulate public opinion, and engineer domestic support for a foreign policy of imperialism.

Footnotes

1. Rashid, Ahmed, ‘How a Holy War against the Soviets turned on US,’ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 23 September 2001.
2. Ibid., p. 222.
3. Cooley, John K., Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, American and International Terrorism, Pluto Press, London, 1999, p. 119.
4. Labeviere, Richard, Dollars for Terror: The United States and Islam, Algora Publishing, New York, 2000.
5. Turnipseed, Tom, ‘A Creeping Collapse in Credibility at the White House’, Counterpunch, 10 January 2002.
6. Scott, Peter Dale, ‘Afghanistan, Turkmenistan Oil and Gas, and the Projected Pipeline,’ Online Resource on Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden, 21 October 2001, http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~pdsco….
7. Krakowski, Elie, ‘The Afghan Vortex,’ IASPS Research Papers in Strategy, Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, Jerusalem, No. 9, April 2000.
8. Cited in Rashid, Ahmed, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn., 2000, p. 166.
9. Beeman, William O., ‘Follow the Oil Trail - Mess in Afghanistan Partly Our Government’s Fault,’ Jinn Magazine (online), Pacific News Service, San Francisco, 24 August 1998, web-site at http://www.pacificnews.org/jinn.
10. Cited in Rashid, Ahmed, Taliban, op. cit., p. 179.
11. BBC News, ‘Taliban in Texas for Talks on Gas Pipeline,’ 4 Dec. 1997.
12. Info-Prod Research [Middle East] Ltd., Middle East News Items, 22 November 1998.
13. ‘Enron Gave Taliban $Millions’, National Enquirer, 4 March 2002.
14. O’Neill, Brendan, ‘How we trained al-Qa’eda’, The Spectator, 13 September 2003.
15. Aldrich, Richard J., ‘America used Islamists to arm the Bosnian muslims: The Srebrenica report reveals the Pentagon’s role in a dirty war’, The Guardian, 22 April 2002, http://www.guardian.co.uk/yugo/arti….
16. O’Neill, Brendan, op. cit.
17. Craig, Larry E., The Kosovo Liberation Army: Does Clinton Policy Support Group with Terror, Drug Ties?: From ‘Terrorists’ to ‘Partners’, United States Senate Republican Policy Committee, Washington DC, 31 March 1999, http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/d….
18. Grigg, William Norman, ‘Behind the Terror Network,’ The New American, 5 November 2001, Vol. 17, No. 23, http://www.thenewamerican.com/tna/2….
19. McGowan, Patrick, ‘Calls for Secret Shayler Trial,’ Evening Standard, 15 October 2002, http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/….
Published Monday, October 25th, 2004

Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed is the author of “Behind the War on Terror: Western Secret Strategy and the Struggle for Iraq” and the international bestseller “The War on Freedom: How & Why America was Attacked, September 11, 2001″.
World Crisis Web

http://www.world-crisis.com/analysi…

Thursday, October 25, 2007

New Sanctions Against Iran Will Accomplish Nothing - NAM

New Sanctions Against Iran Will Accomplish Nothing - NAM



New Sanctions against Iran Will Accomplish Nothing

New America Media, Commentary, William O. Beeman, Posted: Oct 25, 2007

Editor's Note: The United States has once again implemented economic sanctions on Iran, accusing it of developing nuclear weapons. Like the earlier sanctions, these will not accomplish anything either, writes NAM contributor William O. Beeman.

The Bush administration declared new economic sanctions against Iran Oct. 25. The sanctions, announced by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, like those already in place, will accomplish nothing except to increase international tensions.

The new sanctions are an extension of a long-standing failed policy first begun under the Reagan administration, and extended under the Clinton administration. The United States is acting totally alone; it is not supported by any other nation.

American dealings with Iran have failed in large part because the United States has never articulated what it wants to accomplish. They mostly consist of calls for Iran to cease doing things that Iran says it is not doing in the first place.

The principal accusations against Iran include: developing nuclear weaponry, supporting terrorist groups, and providing arms to Iraqi insurgents. The United States then tries to prove that Iran is indeed carrying out the things it is accused of. The Iranians counter with further proof that the accusations are baseless, and the exchange repeats.

There has never been any proof that Iran’s domestic nuclear energy program is directed at developing nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), charged with inspecting nuclear facilities under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, to which Iran is a signatory, has repeatedly asserted that no evidence of Iranian nuclear weapons development exists. Iran’s leaders also maintain that they are not developing nuclear weapons. The country’s spiritual leader, Ali Khamene’I, has declared that nuclear weapons development is illegal in the Islamic Republic.

The Bush administration obscures these inconvenient facts with statements like those made recently by President Bush, who said Oct. 17, "If you're interested in avoiding World War III . . . you ought to be interested in preventing [Iran] from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon," implying that the weapons are currently being developed.

Iran’s level of support for terrorist groups is also far lower than it seems. Iran provided humanitarian support for the Hamas-led government of the Palestinian Authority after Israel and the United States established an international embargo of funds for that government. Although Iran was instrumental in the founding of Lebanese Hezbullah, Tehran no longer has any effective influence or control over this group, which has evolved into an active political party with a large number of parliamentary representatives and government officials in Lebanon today. In his new book, neoconservative Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute maintains that Iran supports Al-Qaeda, and that Iran was instrumental in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States - but this assertion and similar claims that Iran supports the Taliban make no logical sense. Both conservative Sunni Al-Qaeda and the Taliban reject Shi’ism, the state religion of Iran, as a heresy, and sanction the killing of Shi’ites.

Finally, there is no proof that Iran is supporting attacks against Americans in Iraq. As analysts Seymour Hersh, Gareth Porter and others have pointed out, the Bush administration, having failed to establish that Iran is actually developing nuclear weapons, has turned in desperation to the claim that Iran is supplying explosive devices to militias in Iraq through the offices of the Revolutionary Guard and its specialized Quds force. General David Petraeus himself has admitted that no Iranian Quds force member has ever been captured in Iraq, and evidence of Iranian-supplied weapons in Iraq is nebulous.

The U.S. sanctions will fail because Iran still has many friends. Europeans still have extensive trade with Iran. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently warned the United States not to think of attacking Iran. On Oct. 16, the nations bordering the Caspian Sea, including Iran, issued a declaration in which the countries agreed that none would allow their territories to be used as a base for military strikes against any of the others. India has renewed talks with Iran to establish a pipeline between the two nations. Iran has a positive balance of trade with China, as well as India. China’s leadership has repeatedly declared that Iran’s nuclear energy program is not an international threat. Japan continues to be an important Iranian trade and diplomatic partner.

It's little wonder that the new sanctions are being greeted with skepticism by the international community of nations. The sanctions are so insubstantial that it seems they are actually designed to fail. Increasingly, it seems that the United States itself does not believe in them, but has only imposed the sanctions as a prelude to military action. As in the build-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the world awaits the announcement from the White House that, "having tried everything," nothing was left except bombing Iran.

William O. Beeman is professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota. He is president of the Middle East Section of the American Anthropological Association, and has conducted research in Iran for more than 30 years. The second edition of his book, "The 'Great Satan' vs. the 'Mad Mullahs': How the United States and Iran Demonize Each Other," will be published by the University of Chicago Press.

©2007 William O. Beeman and New America Media. This article may be freely reproduced and distributed for any non-commercial purpose. For commercial use, please contact the author or New America Media ( Peter Micek pmicek@newamericamedia.org | 415-503-4170)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

David Wurmser--neocon hawk

David Wurmser has been at the elbow of the Bush administration at every step as a primary advisor. His extreme hawkish views on Iran and Syria have come close to being standard policy. If the U.S. launches an attack on Iran, Wurmser can be held as one of those responsible. See the article below and know what incredible obstacles sane people have to deal with in this current administration.

Best,

Bill Beeman



US 'must break Iran and Syria regimes'
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/10/05/wiran105.xml


By Toby Harnden in Washington


Last Updated: 2:09am BST 05/10/2007












America should seize every opportunity to force regime change in Syria and Iran, a former senior adviser to the White House has urged.

Profile: US hawk David Wurmser
Toby Harnden: David Wurmser - a neocon unbowed


US 'must break Iran and Syria regimes'
By Toby Harnden in Washington
Last Updated: 2:09am BST 05/10/2007



America should seize every opportunity to force regime change in Syria and Iran, a former senior adviser to the White House has urged.

Profile: US hawk David Wurmser
Toby Harnden: David Wurmser - a neocon unbowed


David Wurmser: 'If we start shooting, we
must be prepared to fire the last shot'


"We need to do everything possible to destabilise the Syrian regime and exploit every single moment they strategically overstep," said David Wurmser, who recently resigned after four years as Vice President Dick Cheney's Middle East adviser.

"That would include the willingness to escalate as far as we need to go to topple the regime if necessary." He said that an end to Baathist rule in Damascus could trigger a domino effect that would then bring down the Teheran regime.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, the first since he left government, he argued that the United States had to be prepared to attack both Syria and Iran to prevent the spread of Islamic fundamentalism and nuclear proliferation in the Middle East that could result in a much wider war.

Mr Wurmser, 46, a leading neo-conservative who has played a pivotal role in the Bush administration since the September 11th attacks, said that diplomacy would fail to stop Iran becoming a nuclear power. Overthrowing Teheran's theocratic regime should therefore be a top US priority.

advertisementIran was using Syria as its proxy against Israel and among Sunni Arabs and both regimes had to be overthrown, he insisted.

"It has to be, because who they are is now defined around provoking a wider clash of civilisations with the West. It is precisely to avoid this that we need to win now."

Both countries were part of a "proliferation consortium", possibly in league with North Korea, that is helping Teheran to acquire a nuclear bomb, he said.

If Iran was seen to be powerless to prevent regime change in Syria, Mr Wurmser claimed, Teheran's prestige would be undermined just as the Soviet Union's was when it failed to come to the aid of Syrian forces during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

Regime change was possible because Syria was "weak and rattled" while Iran had adopted a "go-for-broke strategy" of stirring up regional tensions to overcome the reality that "the foundations of the regime in Teheran are fragile".

A situation such as last year's attack on Israel by Hezbollah, which was backed by Iran and Syria, could provide an opportunity for US intervention.

Although Mr Wurmser's recommendations have not yet become US policy, his hard-line stances on regime change in Iran and Syria are understood to have formed the basis of policy documents approved by Mr Cheney, an uncompromising hawk who is deeply sceptical about the effectiveness of diplomatic pressure on Teheran.

Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State and an advocate of multilateral diplomacy, currently holds sway within the Bush administration but Iran's intransigence on the nuclear issue and its role in the Iraq insurgency could well shift the balance back towards Mr Cheney.

Limited strikes against Iranian nuclear targets would be useless, Mr Wurmser said. "Only if what we do is placed in the framework of a fundamental assault on the survival of the regime will it have a pick-up among ordinary Iranians.

"If we start shooting, we must be prepared to fire the last shot. Don't shoot a bear if you're not going to kill it."

Mr Wurmser emphatically denied recent allegations he told a small group that Mr Cheney intended to press Israel to launch strikes against Iran in order to provoke a retaliation that the US would then respond to.

It was "fantastical" to suggest that he or Mr Cheney would "try to cause a war that the president expressly doesn't want", he said. "Everything that was done was to execute the policies of the president and not to subvert them."

Mr Wurmser, an outspoken proponent of removing Saddam Hussein in the years before the 2003 invasion, was highly critical of British forces in southern Iraq. "Being in Basra, the British had a major role to play and they didn't really play it very well.

"Under British presence, the Iranians extended their power considerably. British troops are still there but Iraqis see them as dead men walking.... everybody's looking towards who is the real power that fills the vacuum and that then translates into an Iranian-American confrontation in that area."

British withdrawal, he said, could be a plus for the US. "It frees our hand to deal aggressively with their [Iran's] structures. Once we have responsibility for that area, we'll have to do what we need to do and that could well mean troops on the ground."

Although he conceded many mistakes had been made by the US in Iraq, Mr Wurmser said there were now reasons for optimism. "While Iraq became more violent, it also became in some ways the international bug-zapper of terrorists.

"It was the light that attracted all the terrorists of the world. And that became the battleground, and this is a decisive battle. I think the battle is turning in our favour now, and this is a defeat that it will take the al-Qaeda world a long time to recover from."

In the meantime, the US still had the power to deal with Iran militarily. "If we decided from no preparation to doing something in Iran, while it would cause a lot of heartburn among many people in the Pentagon, we could do it.

"I would never underestimate the raw capability of the United States in any off-the-shelf situation. If that's what we decided to do, things can be done."

Publishers wishing to reproduce photographs on this page should phone 44 (0) 207 931 2921 or email syndication@telegraph.co.uk



Information appearing on telegraph.co.uk is the copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited and must not be reproduced in any medium without licence. For the full copyright statement see Copyright










David Wurmser: 'If we start shooting, we
must be prepared to fire the last shot'


"We need to do everything possible to destabilise the Syrian regime and exploit every single moment they strategically overstep," said David Wurmser, who recently resigned after four years as Vice President Dick Cheney's Middle East adviser.


"That would include the willingness to escalate as far as we need to go to topple the regime if necessary." He said that an end to Baathist rule in Damascus could trigger a domino effect that would then bring down the Teheran regime.


In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, the first since he left government, he argued that the United States had to be prepared to attack both Syria and Iran to prevent the spread of Islamic fundamentalism and nuclear proliferation in the Middle East that could result in a much wider war.


Mr Wurmser, 46, a leading neo-conservative who has played a pivotal role in the Bush administration since the September 11th attacks, said that diplomacy would fail to stop Iran becoming a nuclear power. Overthrowing Teheran's theocratic regime should therefore be a top US priority.



advertisement


Iran was using Syria as its proxy against Israel and among Sunni Arabs and both regimes had to be overthrown, he insisted.

"It has to be, because who they are is now defined around provoking a wider clash of civilisations with the West. It is precisely to avoid this that we need to win now."

Both countries were part of a "proliferation consortium", possibly in league with North Korea, that is helping Teheran to acquire a nuclear bomb, he said.

If Iran was seen to be powerless to prevent regime change in Syria, Mr Wurmser claimed, Teheran's prestige would be undermined just as the Soviet Union's was when it failed to come to the aid of Syrian forces during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982.


Regime change was possible because Syria was "weak and rattled" while Iran had adopted a "go-for-broke strategy" of stirring up regional tensions to overcome the reality that "the foundations of the regime in Teheran are fragile".


A situation such as last year's attack on Israel by Hezbollah, which was backed by Iran and Syria, could provide an opportunity for US intervention.

Although Mr Wurmser's recommendations have not yet become US policy, his hard-line stances on regime change in Iran and Syria are understood to have formed the basis of policy documents approved by Mr Cheney, an uncompromising hawk who is deeply sceptical about the effectiveness of diplomatic pressure on Teheran.


Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State and an advocate of multilateral diplomacy, currently holds sway within the Bush administration but Iran's intransigence on the nuclear issue and its role in the Iraq insurgency could well shift the balance back towards Mr Cheney.


Limited strikes against Iranian nuclear targets would be useless, Mr Wurmser said. "Only if what we do is placed in the framework of a fundamental assault on the survival of the regime will it have a pick-up among ordinary Iranians.


"If we start shooting, we must be prepared to fire the last shot. Don't shoot a bear if you're not going to kill it."

Mr Wurmser emphatically denied recent allegations he told a small group that Mr Cheney intended to press Israel to launch strikes against Iran in order to provoke a retaliation that the US would then respond to.


It was "fantastical" to suggest that he or Mr Cheney would "try to cause a war that the president expressly doesn't want", he said. "Everything that was done was to execute the policies of the president and not to subvert them."


Mr Wurmser, an outspoken proponent of removing Saddam Hussein in the years before the 2003 invasion, was highly critical of British forces in southern Iraq. "Being in Basra, the British had a major role to play and they didn't really play it very well.


"Under British presence, the Iranians extended their power considerably. British troops are still there but Iraqis see them as dead men walking.... everybody's looking towards who is the real power that fills the vacuum and that then translates into an Iranian-American confrontation in that area."


British withdrawal, he said, could be a plus for the US. "It frees our hand to deal aggressively with their [Iran's] structures. Once we have responsibility for that area, we'll have to do what we need to do and that could well mean troops on the ground."


Although he conceded many mistakes had been made by the US in Iraq, Mr Wurmser said there were now reasons for optimism. "While Iraq became more violent, it also became in some ways the international bug-zapper of terrorists.


"It was the light that attracted all the terrorists of the world. And that became the battleground, and this is a decisive battle. I think the battle is turning in our favour now, and this is a defeat that it will take the al-Qaeda world a long time to recover from."


In the meantime, the US still had the power to deal with Iran militarily. "If we decided from no preparation to doing something in Iran, while it would cause a lot of heartburn among many people in the Pentagon, we could do it.


"I would never underestimate the raw capability of the United States in any off-the-shelf situation. If that's what we decided to do, things can be done."

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

William O. Beeman No Gays in Iran… But Many Same-Sex Couples (New America Media)

http://news.newamericamedia.org/news/view_article.html?article_id=3a90d68c4ee619b83cd450f0661f0343



No Gays in Iran… But Many Same-Sex Couples
New America Media, Commentary


William O. Beeman, Posted: Sep 26, 2007

Editor’s Note: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s comment that homosexuality does not exist in Iran like it does in the West is true in a sense, writes anthropologist William Beeman. In fact, same-sex relations in Iran do look very different from what is called gay behavior in the West.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was derided for his statement in a Sept. 24 speech at Columbia University that homosexuality doesn't exist in Iran. Though many Americans may find it incredible, differences in the construction of sexual behavior do exist across cultures.

As an anthropologist, I can state with confidence that sexuality varies tremendously between cultures. The notion that one is either "gay" or "straight" does not accord with what we observe in human sexual behavior, which is far more flexible. This categorization is an artifact of American culture, which glories in binary categories for classifying people. Folks that identify as "bisexual" (yet another ambiguous category) in the United States often get grief from both the gay and straight community for "deluding" themselves about their sexuality.

Of course it is impossible to discern precisely what President Ahmadinejad meant in his remarks. But what is true is the construction of same-sex behavior and, indeed, same-sex affection in Iran is extremely different than in Europe and America. There has been a recent phenomenon of Western-style "gay culture" emerging in Iran – replete with gay bars, clubs and house parties – but this is very new, largely limited to the upper classes, and likely not known to President Ahmadinejad, whose social milieu is the middle and lower-middle class. This recent Western-style gay phenomenon is distinct from ordinary same-sex behavior as practiced traditionally in Iran. Indeed, there was not even a word for homosexuality in Persian before the 20th century. It had to be invented. The term used by President Ahmadinejad was “hamjensbaz,” a neologism that literally means, “playing with the same sex.”

In Iran, same-sex sexual behavior is classified rigidly into active and passive roles. The Arabic terms “fa’el” and “maf’oul” (active and passive – actually grammatical terms used to describe active and passive verbs) were the common designation for these roles. The passive partner is still called by the Arabic term “obneh,” or, more crudely, “kuni.” (Kun means anus.) The active vs. passive same-sex preference is well known in the Western world, but it is constructed quite differently in Iran and other Arab and Mediterranean cultures.

Active partners in Iran do not consider themselves to be “homosexual.” Indeed, it is a kind of macho boast in some circles that one has been an active partner with another male. Passive partners are denigrated and carry a life-long stigma if their sexual role is known, even after a single incident. They have been deflowered, as it were, in the same way that women might lose their virginity, and they are considered to be "xarob" or "destroyed."

In actual fact, many men are "versatile" in their sexual activity but if they are known to have relations with other men, they will always claim in public to be the active partner. Same-sex relations between females are undoubtedly practiced, but this is the deepest secret in Iran, and rarely talked about at all.

Emotional relations are very different. Men and women both may become exceptionally attached to people of the same sex, to the point that Westerners would swear that they must have a sexual relationship. It is not necessarily so. Kissing, holding hands, weeping, jealousy, physical contact and all the signs of partnership can exist without any sexual activity or, indeed, with an undercurrent of absolute horror that it might take place, because of the active-passive split in sexual classification and men's fear of being pegged as a passive partner. A man who truly loves another man doesn't want to degrade him by making him a passive sex partner.

More typically, male teenagers who become exceptionally attached may marry sisters in order to become kin to each other, thereby creating a lifelong bond. There is even a quasi-marriage ceremony based on the idea of “muta,” or temporary marriage, through which two men or two women can become fictive “siblings.” This takes care of many things, allowing intimate relations, and intimacy between family relations, but also imposing an even stronger taboo against sexual relations, which would be considered incest.

Iranians who come to Europe and the United States may "discover" that they are "gay" once they are liberated from the rigid cultural system that binds them into these polarized active-passive roles.

To be sure, sodomy is punishable by death in Iran, but such executions have been historically extremely rare compared with the routine incidence of same-sex sexual behavior in Iran. Much was made in the United States of two boys who were executed in the city of Mashhad a few years ago for "being homosexual," as the Western press put it. However, they were executed because they had essentially committed what we would call statutory rape on an under-aged boy. The boy's father was beside himself with rage and grief, and pressed charges. In many such cases, the shame of the family and the victim himself is so great that no one ever finds out.

In the end, both the United States and Iran classify sexuality in a way that fails to accord with the range of actual human proclivities. However, there is no doubt that the two systems are very different.

William O. Beeman is professor and chair of the department of anthropology at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. He has been conducting research in Iran for more than 30 years, and is a fluent speaker of Persian. He is author of Language, Status and Power in Iran and The "Great Satan" vs. the "Mad Mullahs": How the United States and Iran Demonize Each Other, the second edition of which will be published later this year by the University of Chicago Press.


©2007 William O. Beeman and New America Media. This article may be freely distributed for any non-commercial purpose. For commercial use, please contact the author or New America Media