September 2012 Archives

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I have reprinted below an email from my friend, Ali Baghdadi (with permission).

Ali is a sincere and articulate Muslim man, and I think he explains the case for Islam against the West very well.

This article is not directly about Israel/Palestine, and yet injustices in the ‘Holy Land’ are at the very heart of the grievances of Muslims against the West worldwide.

You don’t have to agree with every word Ali says to appreciate the sobering reality he is pointing to. Are the chickens finally coming home to roost?

Father Dave

Ali Baghdadi

Chicken Come Home to Roost

Defaming the Prophet of Islam Cannot Pass Unnoticed

By: Ali Baghdadi

The killing of the US ambassador in Benghazi Libya and three of his colleagues, reminds us of a powerful and expressive statement made by  Malcolm X of the Nation of Islam, in the aftermath of the assassination of President John Kennedy, “Chicken come home to roost”.  This simply means that, sooner or later, the violence that America carries out abroad turns against it.

I have met with these brave fighters,… They are Libyan patriots who want to liberate their nation.  We should help them.” – Senator John McCain in Benghazi, Libya April 22, 2011.

Those “brave fighters” are the killers of the US diplomats, who were among thousands of demonstrators protesting a US produced movie, “The Innocence of Muslims”, mocking, defaming and abusing the Prophet of Islam, are in reality allies, a creation and a tool of the US government.  They belong to al-Qaeda, a group that the United States and Saudi intelligence dearly love, finance, arm, train and rely on for doing their dirty work.  The claim that al-Qaeda is a US enemy is a lie and a smoke screen designed to mislead public opinion.

The violent demonstrations and turmoil targeting US embassies and consulates spread like wild fire to most Muslim countries.  The Prophet of Islam is a red line that must not be crossed.  He captures the esteem and veneration of over 1.5 billion people worldwide, and accusing him as a murderer, homosexual, and child molester provokes the great majority of his followers.  It cannot pass unnoticed.  Millions of men and women are prepared to give their lives in the defense of the “last Messenger of God” whom “He sent as a mercy to mankind”.

At present, with the help and direction of the United States, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, al-Qaeda forces located in Iraq, Yemen, Jordan, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Pakistan, Chechnya and other parts of the world, are entrusted with a new task.  They are ordered to go to Syria through neighboring countries and join other al-Qaeda terrorists to bring the “un-Islamic” government of President Bashar al-Assad down.  When Syria presented international organizations with documentation showing the brutal hit and run actions carried out by al-Qaeda terrorists, the US government acknowledged their presence.  It was recently reported that “Tariq al-Fadhli, jihadist leader of Southern Yemen insurgency and a man trained by Bin Laden, has successfully negotiated with US and Saudi officials to send 5,000 fighters via Turkey to aid Syrian rebels”.  Syria, with Iranian support, is the last Arab fortress that refuses to succumb to Israeli and Western hegemony.

Al-Qaeda was used earlier to topple Libyan leader Muammar al-Qathafi, through an ugly and savage war led by the NATO forces.  Over 160,000 Libyans lost their lives, and more than 200,000 were injured or maimed.  Libya’s infrastructure was destroyed and Libya as a state lost its sovereignty and independence.  All now agree that the war was for oil, greed and dominance and it had nothing to do with freedom and democracy.

Al-Qaeda has been on the United States payroll in Iraq and several other countries for over 30 years.  To keep Iraq in turmoil, al-Qaeda, Salafi and Wahhabi “Muslims”, have been planting bombs that target their fellow Shiite Muslims.

The movie, which is actually part of a crusade led by Israel and the West, is intended to dehumanize Muslims.

The enemies of Islam and its adherents seem to have a short memory.  Muslims don’t.  The burning of the Quran in Florida by a Christian priest, the urination on the Quran and Muslim dead in Afghanistan by US soldiers, the cartoons to demonize and malign Prophet Muhammad by a Danish “artist”, and the water boarding of Muslim prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and other parts of the world by US interrogators, are not easily forgotten.  The “War on Terror” that took over a million lives in Iraq since the US 2003 invasion, as well as the unlimited US support of Israel, explain the degree of rage, anger, indignation and hate Muslims have for the United States government and its allies.

Muslims demand an apology from the US and the arrest and trial of the producers and financiers who are responsible for the death of US diplomats, as well as the thousands of casualties among Muslim demonstrators.  Muslims argue that freedom of speech should not mean insulting the faith of others.  If it is against the law In Europe and even here in California to question the “holocaust”, it is more appropriate to make it illegal to show contempt to religious belief of any group.

Instead of understanding and recognizing the sensibilities of Muslims for an act that she herself labels as “disgusting and reprehensible”, US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, describes the rage of millions of Muslims across the globe as “tyranny of the mob”, that Muslim leaders should use the utmost force to quell.

The US is deploying warships to Libyan and Egyptian shores. It is reported that US Special Forces have already entered Libya, and US drones have been flown in Libyan air space.  Marines are being sent to bolster US presence in the Middle East.

Those who hide their heads in the sand, and pretend to not see or hear; those who attempt to not remember the recent past; those who do not learn from history, will be doomed to repeat its mistakes, over and over again.  It is tragic! 

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This week marks the 30th anniversary of the massacre of Sabra and Shatila. Thank you Sonja Karkar for this informative and comprehensive reminder of the tragedy. Lest we forget!

The never-ending horror story:
Sabra and Shatila 30 years later

Sonja Karkar

Counterpunch 16 September 2012

It happened thirty years ago – 16 September 1982.  A massacre so awful that people who know about it cannot forget it.  The photos are gruesome reminders – charred, decapitated, indecently violated corpses, the smell of rotting flesh, still as foul to those who remember it as when they were recoiling from it all those years ago. For the victims and the handful of survivors, it was a 36-hour holocaust without mercy.  It was deliberate, it was planned and it was overseen.  But to this day, the killers have gone unpunished.

Sabra and Shatila – two Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon – were the theatres for this staged slaughter.  The former is no longer there and the other is a ghostly and ghastly reminder of man’s inhumanity to men, women and children – more specifically, Israel’s inhumanity, the inhumanity of the  people who did Israel’s bidding and the world’s inhumanity for pretending it  was of no consequence. There were international witnesses – doctors, nurses,  journalists – who saw the macabre scenes and have tried to tell the world in  vain ever since.

Each act was barbarous enough on its own to warrant fear and loathing.  It was human savagery at its worst and Dr Ang Swee Chai was an eye witness as she worked with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society on the dying and the wounded amongst the dead.  What she saw was so unimaginable that the atrocities committed need to be separated from each other to even begin comprehending the viciousness of the crimes. [1]

People Tortured. Blackened bodies smelling of roasted flesh from the power shocks that had convulsed their bodies before their hearts gave out – the electric wires still tied around their lifeless limbs

People with gouged out eye sockets.  Faces unrecognisable with the gaping holes that had plunged them into darkness before their lives were thankfully ended.

Women raped.  Not once – but two, three, four times – horribly violated, their legs shamelessly ripped apart with not even the cover of clothing to preserve their dignity at the moment of death.

Children dynamited alive. So many body parts ripped from their tiny torsos, so hard to know to whom they belonged – just mounds of bloodied limbs amongst the tousled heads of children in pools of blood.

Families executed.  Blood, blood and more blood sprayed on the walls of homes where whole families had been axed to death in a frenzy or lined up for a more orderly execution.

There were also journalists who were there in the aftermath and who had equally gruesome stories to tell, none of which made the sort of screaming front page headlines that should have caused lawmakers to demand immediate answers.  What they saw led them to write shell-shocked accounts that have since vanished into the archives, but are no less disturbing now. These accounts too need to be individually absorbed, lest they be lumped together as just the collective dead rather than the systematic torture and killing of individual, innocent human beings.

Women gunned down while cooking in their kitchens. [2]  The headless body of a baby in diapers lying next to two dead women. [3]  An infant, its tiny legs streaked with blood, shot in the back by a single bullet. [4]  

Slaughtered babies, their bodies blackened as they decomposed, tossed into rubbish heaps together with Israeli army equipment and empty bottles of whiskey. [5]  An old man castrated, with flies thick upon his torn intestines. [6]  Children with their throats slashed. [7]  Mounds of rotting  corpses bloated in the heat – young boys all shot at point-blank range. [8]

And most numbing of all are the recollections of the survivors whose experiences were so shockingly traumatic that to recall them must have been painful beyond all imaginings.   One survivor, Nohad Srour, 35 said:

“I was carrying my one year-old baby sister and she was yelling “Mama! Mama!” then suddenly nothing.  I looked at her and her brain had fallen out of her head and down my arm. I looked at the man who shot us. I’ll never forget his face. Then I felt two bullets pierce my shoulder and finger.  I fell.  I didn’t lose consciousness, but I pretended to be dead.”[9]

The statistics of those killed vary, but even according to the Israeli military, the official count was 700 people killed while Israeli journalist,  Amnon Kapeliouk put the figure at 3,500. [10] The Palestinian Red Crescent  Society put the number killed at over 2,000.[11]  Regardless of the numbers,  they would not and could not mitigate what are clear crimes against  humanity.

Fifteen years later, Robert Fisk, the journalist who had been one of the first on the scene, said:

“Had Palestinians massacred 2,000 Israelis 15 years ago, would anyone doubt that the world’s press and television would be remembering so terrible a deed this morning?  Yet this week, not a single newspaper in the United States – or Britain for that matter – has even mentioned the anniversary of Sabra and Shatila.”[12] 

Thirty years later it is no different.

The political developments 

What happened must be set against the background of a Lebanon that had been invaded by the Israeli army only months earlier, supposedly in ‘retaliation’  for the attempted assassination of the Israeli Ambassador in London on 4  June 1982.  Israel attributed the attempt to Arafat’s Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) then resident in Beirut. In reality, it was a rival militant group headed by Abu Nidal.   Israel wanted to oust the PLO from  Lebanon altogether and on 6 June 1982, Israel began its devastating assault  on the Lebanese and Palestinian civilian population in the southern part of  Lebanon.  Lebanese government casualty figures numbered the dead at around  19,000 with some 30,000 wounded, but these numbers are hardly accurate  because of the mass graves and other bodies lost in the rubble. [13]

By 1 September, a cease-fire had been mediated by United States envoy Philip Habib, and Arafat and his men surrendered their weapons and were evacuated from Beirut with guarantees by the US that the civilians left behind in the camps would be protected by a multinational peacekeeping force.  That guarantee was not kept and the vacuum then created, paved the way for the atrocities that followed.

As soon as the peacekeeping force was withdrawn, the then Israeli Defence Minister Ariel Sharon moved to root out some “2,000 terrorists” he claimed were still hiding in the  refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila.  After totally surrounding the refugee camps with tanks and soldiers, Sharon ordered the shelling of the camps and the bombardment continued throughout the afternoon  and into the evening of 15 September leaving the “mopping-up” of the camps  to the Lebanese right-wing Christian militia, known as the Phalangists.  The next day, the Phalangists – armed and trained by the Israeli army – entered  the camps and proceeded to massacre the unarmed civilians while Israel’s  General Yaron and his men watched the entire operations.  More grotesquely,  the Israeli army ensured there was no lull in the 36 hours of killings and  illuminated the area with flares at night and tightened their cordon around  the camps to make sure that no civilian could escape the terror that had  been unleashed.

Inquiries, charges and off scot-free

Although Israel’s Kahan Commission of Inquiry did not find any Israeli directly responsible, it did find that Sharon bore “personal responsibility” for “not ordering appropriate measures for preventing or reducing the danger of massacre” before sending the Phalangists into the camps. It, therefore, lamely recommended that the Israeli prime minister consider removing him from office. [14] Sharon resigned but remained as Minister without portfolio and joined two parliamentary commissions on defence and Lebanese affairs.  There is no doubt, as Chomsky points out “that the inquiry was not intended for people who have a prejudice in favour of truth and honesty”, but it certainly gained support for Israel in the US Congress and among the public.  [15] It took an International Commission of Inquiry headed by Sean MacBride  to find that Israel was “directly responsible” because the camps were under  its jurisdiction as an occupying power. [16] Yet, despite the UN describing  the heinous operation as a “criminal massacre” and declaring it an act of  genocide [17], no one was prosecuted.

It was not until 2001 that a law suit was filed in Belgium by the survivors of the massacre and relatives of the victims against Sharon alleging his personal responsibility. However, the court did not allow for “universal jurisdiction” – a principle which was intended to remove safe havens for war  criminals and allow their prosecution across states. The case was won on appeal and the trial allowed to proceed, but without Sharon who by then was  prime minister of Israel and had immunity.  US interference led to the Belgian Parliament gutting the universal jurisdiction law and by the time the International Criminal Court was established in The Hague the following year, the perpetrators of the Sabra and Shatila massacre could no longer be tried because its terms of reference did not allow it to hear cases of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide pre-dating 1 July 2002. Neither Sharon nor those who carried out the massacres have ever been punished for their horrendous crimes.

The bigger picture

The length of time since these acts were carried out should be no impediment to exposing the truth.  More than 60 years after the Nazi atrocities
against  the Jews in Europe, the world still mourns and remembers and erects monuments and museums to that violent holocaust.   How they are done, to  whom they are done and to how many does not make the crimes any more or less  heinous. They can never be justified even on the strength of one state’s  rationale that another people ought to be punished, or worse still, are  simply inferior or worthless beings. It should lead all of us to question on  whose judgment are such decisions made and how can we possibly justify such  crimes at all?

The atrocities committed in the camps of Sabra and Shatila should be put in the context of an ongoing genocide against the Palestinian people.  The MacBride report found that these atrocities “were not inconsistent with wider Israeli intentions to destroy Palestinian political will and cultural identity.” [17] Since Deir Yassin and the other massacres of 1948, those who  survived have joined hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fleeing a litany  of massacres committed in 1953, 1967, and the 1982 invasion of Lebanon.  And  the killing continues today, the most recent being the 2008-2009 Gaza massacre –  that 3 week merciless onslaught, a festering sore without relief as the people are  further punished by an impossible siege that denies them their most basic rights.

Thus were the victims and survivors of the Sabra and Shatila massacre gathered  up in the perpetual nakba of the slaughtered, the dispossessed, the displaced and  the discarded  – a pattern of ethnic cleansing perpetrated under the Zionist plan  to finally and forever extinguish Palestinian society and its people.

This is why we must remember Sabra and Shatila, thirty years on.

Sonja Karkar is co-founder of Australians for Palestine (AFP), an  advocacy group that provides a voice for Palestine at all levels of  Australian society.  She is the editor of the website  www.australiansforpalestine.com…

Footnotes:
[1]  Dr Ang Swee Chai, “From Beirut to Jerusalem”, Grafton Books, London, 1989
[2]  James MacManus, Guardian, 20 September 1982
[3] Loren Jenkins, Washington Post, 20 September 1982
[4]  Elaine Carey, Daily Mail, 20 September 1982
[5]  Robert Fisk, “Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War”, London: Oxford University Press, 1990   [6] Robert Fisk, ibid.
[7] Robert Fisk, ibid.
[8] Robert Fisk, ibid.
[9]  Lebanese Daily Star, 16 September 1998
[10] Amnon Kapeliouk, “Sabra & Chatila – Inquiry into a Massacre”, November 1982

[11] Schiff and Ya’ari,, Israel’s Lebanon War, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1984,
[12]  Robert Fisk, Fifteen Years After the Bloodbath, The World turns its Back, shaml.org…, 1997
[13] Noam Chomsky, “The Fatal Triangle” South End Press, Cambridge MA, p.221
[14] The Complete Kahan Commission Report, Princeton, Karz Cohl, 1983, p. 125     (Hereafter, the Kahan Commission Report).
[15]  Chomsky, ibid. p.406

[16]  The Report of the International Commission to Enquire into Reported Violations of International Law by Israel during Its Invasion of the Lebanon, Sean MacBride, 1983 (referred to as the International Commission of Inquiry or MacBride report)
[17]  United Nations General Assembly Resolution, 16 December 1982

[18] MacBride report, ibid. p.179

LINKS: www.australiansforpalestine.net…
www.counterpunch.org…

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Father Roy writes: Does the proposal in the report sound reasonable to you?  I’ve done some highlighting.

I have a secret suspicion that Hamas and Fatah have already reconciled.  They’re waiting for the appropriate time to make the announcement.  Of course I could be mistaken.  I’ve been mistaken in the past. One wonders how long Fatah and Hamas will find it necessary to keep us waiting.  Please read on for a possible clue. 

Peace,Roy

A Surprising Proposal from Israel

C. Hart 

As Jerusalem leaders watch developments in the Middle East and on Palestinian streets, one high ranking Israeli Knesset member has signaled to Egypt that Cairo leaders could renew their mediation efforts between Israel and Hamas. This comes as a surprise because Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would rather downplay any contacts that Israel might have with Hamas.

During a briefing at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, MK Ronni Bar-On, Chairman of the Israeli Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and a member of the Kadima opposition party, spoke to journalists and diplomats. He reflected on Egypt’s previous mediation role in freeing Israeli POW Gilad Shalit. For five years, a Hamas-affiliated clan was holding Shalit in an unknown location in the Gaza Strip until he was freed on October 18, 2011, as part of a prisoner exchange. Many in Israel were concerned that terrorists with blood on their hands, who were released from Israeli jails during the exchange, would eventually conduct suicide bombings against the Jewish State; but, to-date, that has not happened.

What has happened is that terrorists operating from the Gaza Strip have continued to launch rocket attacks on Israeli southern communities. Israel’s defense forces (the IDF) have retaliated in order to maintain deterrence, claiming they will not tolerate such attacks. They put the responsibility on the Hamas government regardless of which terrorist organizations are operating. Yet, at the same time, some Israeli leaders are showing a renewed interest in Egypt becoming a future diplomatic moderator between Israel and Hamas.

Egypt’s current President Mohammed Morsi has ties to the Moslem Brotherhood, and the Brotherhood is the mother organization of Hamas. Israel wants to preserve the peace treaty with Egypt, and hopes to maintain a quiet border with Egypt and Gaza. The recent terror attacks emanating from the Sinai, conducted by Bedouin terrorists associated with Al-Qaeda and other unidentified radical groups, have disrupted the calm along Israel’s border with Egypt. This has resulted in an IDF troop build-up in the south and the near completion of a fence along the Philadelphi Corridor. For now, Morsi has shown his ability to crackdown on the Sinai terrorists, while keeping peace with Israel.

Bar-On sees the latest outbreak of Sinai violence as an attempt to escalate hostilities between Egypt and Israel. He believes Morsi should not only continue to exert authority over the Sinai Peninsula, but also return Egypt to its role as a leading political powerbroker in the Middle East.

“We have the precedent of the influence that Egypt had on the Hamas organization during the tenure of President Mubarak, even on the Gilad Shalit process exactly a year ago.”

Bar-On explained that when that process was taking place, leading Hamas figures were operating out of Syria. They have now fled Syria’s civil war and are strengthening their position in Egypt.

“This may, by all means, influence the attitude of Hamas to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Reflecting on the recent attacks on the U.S. embassies in Cairo and Benghazi, Bar-On was quick to tell his diplomatic colleagues at the Jerusalem briefing that Egypt is not an enemy of the U.S. or Israel. He admitted that it has been a cold peace between Israel and Egypt over the past 35 years, and the Egyptian elite are still not ready to recognize the good relations between both states. But, he acknowledged that Israel would like to continue observing a peaceful frontier with Egypt, indicating that Morsi could see the benefit of Israel being a friendly neighbor.

“We hope the new leadership will realize the importance of a moderate Egypt in the region.”

To clarify his position, Bar-On was quick to state the three pre-conditions set by the Quartet in order for Israel to accept any direct relationship with Hamas:

(1) Recognizing the state of Israel; (2) renouncing all violence; (3) and, accepting all previous agreements signed by all parties involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Bar-On also emphasized that Israel will strive to maintain the peace agreement with Egypt while making sure the Jewish State is ready for any negative developments.

“It is clear that Egypt must fight terror within its border. Mind you, this war on terror must not compromise the security of the people of Israel and therefore must be coordinated.”

Bar-On was referring to reports that Egypt did not obtain permission from Israel, as required by the peace treaty, to recently move tanks and heavy equipment into the Sinai in order to conduct a military campaign against Islamic terrorists. He also sees the Sinai problem as far from being solved. At the same time, Bar-On signaled to Egyptian diplomats that should Morsi’s new regime continue to uphold the peace accord, it will open a window of opportunity.

“It could shift the way Hamas is used to negotiate. Such thoughts remain as hopes and not something we see when we look at the intelligence reports.”

Critics of Morsi fear that he will use his power base to turn Egypt into a country that expresses Islamic fundamentalism through an emphasis on Sharia Law. While Bar-On does not yet see signs of a pan-Islamic bond among countries in the region, Middle East analysts point to a new surge in Sunni power with the Moslem Brotherhood leading the way.

Bar-On acknowledges that a vacuum in politics will always be filled. Since there is no democracy in the Middle East (except for Israel), extremists are taking advantage of instability in the region. Nationalistic and religious parties are reaping the fruits of the current revolutions. The region could still collapse into anarchy, and Bar-On sees opportunities for Israeli-Palestinian peace fading away. During the briefing in Jerusalem, he called on Palestinian leaders to let go of all agendas and really try to make a difference.

“If negotiations do not get back on track we will be closing what could be possibly the last possibility for peace.”

During the Israeli New Year, government leaders are in the process of making crucial decisions, looking to solve long-term threats, not only for the benefit of the Jewish State, but for the stability of the Middle East. Foreign Ministry diplomats along with Israeli politicians continue to remind the international community that Israel is their strong ally and the only government truly open to the Western world. They want to make sure that the current Arab Spring does not turn in to a fundamentalist and jihadist winter threatening global peace.

Knowing that the current Hamas leadership will benefit from an upsurge in regional Islamic extremism, some of Israel’s leaders seem to be banking on false hope that the Jewish State could do future business with Hamas. The thought that Hamas could be reigned-in by Egypt is a far cry from current realities. Furthermore, the deadlocked peace process with the Palestinians, and continued violence on the streets, is not exactly a hopeful path towards a sweet and happy New Year; but, some Israelis remain eternal optimists.

C. Hart is a news analyst reporting on political, diplomatic, and military issues as they relate to Israel, the Middle East, and the international community.

Read more: www.americanthinker.com…

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Father Roy writes:   Surely President Obama wants to avoid another world war.  Perhaps Obama has informed Netanyahu … behind closed doors … that if Israel fires missiles towards Iran that US warships stationed in the Persian Gulf will blast Israel’s missiles out of the air.   Peace, Roy

US And Britain Send Warships To The Persian Gulf To Prepare For An Israel Strike On Iran

Sep. 16, 2012

An armada of U.S. and British naval power is amassing in the Persian Gulf in the belief that Israel is considering a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s covert nuclear weapons program.

Warships, aircraft carriers, minesweepers and submarines from 25 nations are converging on the strategically important Strait of Hormuz in an unprecedented show of force as Israel and Iran move towards the brink of war.

Western leaders are convinced that Iran will retaliate to any attack by attempting to mine or blockade the shipping lane through which around 18 million barrels of oil passes every day; approximately 35 per cent of the world’s petroleum traded by sea.

A blockade would have a catastrophic effect on the fragile economies of Britain, Europe, the United States and Japan, all of which rely heavily on oil and gas supplies from the Gulf.

The Strait of Hormuz is one of the world’s most congested international waterways. It is only 21 miles wide at its narrowest point and is bordered by the Iranian coast to the north and the United Arab Emirates to the south.

In preparation for any pre-emptive or retaliatory action by Iran, warships from more than 25 countries, including the United States, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, will today begin an annual 12-day exercise.

The war games are the largest ever undertaken in the region.

They will practise tactics in how to breach an Iranian blockade of the strait and the force will also undertake counter-mining drills.

The multi-national naval force in the Gulf includes three U.S. Nimitz class carrier groups, each of which has more aircraft than the entire complement of the Iranian air force.

The carriers are supported by at least 12 warships, including ballistic missile cruisers, frigates, destroyers, and assault ships carrying thousands of U.S. Marines and special forces.

The British component consists of four British minesweepers and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Cardigan Bay, a logistics vessel. HMS Diamond, a brand-new £1billion Type 45 destroyer, one of the most powerful ships in the British fleet, will also be operating in the region.

In addition, commanders will also simulate destroying Iranian combat jets, ships, and coastal missile batteries.

In the event of war, the main threat to the multi-national force will come from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps navy, which is expected to adopt an “access-denial” strategy in the wake of an attack, by directly targeting U.S. warships, attacking merchant shipping, and mining vital maritime chokepoints in the Persian Gulf.

Defense sources say that although Iran’s capability may not be technologically sophisticated, it could deliver a series of lethal blows against British and U.S. ships using mini-subs, fast attack boats, mines, and shore-based anti-ship missile batteries.

Next month, Iran will stage massive military maneuvers of its own, to show that it is prepared to defend its nuclear installations against the threat of aerial bombardment.

The exercise is being showcased as the biggest air defence war game in the Islamic Republic’s history, and will be its most visible response yet to the prospect of an Israeli military strike.

Using surface-to-air missiles, unmanned drones, and state-of-the-art radar, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and air force will combine to test the defenses of 3,600 sensitive locations throughout the country, including oil refineries and uranium enrichment facilities.

Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili, commander of the Khatam al-Anbiya air defence base, told a conference this month that the maneuvers would “identify vulnerabilities, try out new tactics and practise old ones”.

At the same time as the Western maneuvers in the Gulf, the British Response Task Forces Group — which includes the carrier HMS Illustrious, equipped with Apache attack helicopters, along with the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle — will be conducting a naval exercise in the eastern Mediterranean. The task force could easily be diverted to the Gulf region via the Suez Canal within a week of being ordered to do so.

The main naval exercise comes as President Barack Obama is scheduled to meet Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, today to discuss the Iranian crisis.

Many within the Obama administration believe that Israel will launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities before the U.S. presidential elections, an act which would signal the failure of one of Washington’s key foreign policy objectives.

Both Downing Street and Washington hope that the show of force will demonstrate to Iran that NATO and the West will not allow President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian leader, to develop a nuclear armory or close Hormuz.

Sir John Sawers, the head of MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service, reportedly met the Israeli prime minister and Ehud Barak, his defense secretary, two weeks ago in an attempt to avert military action against Iran.

But just last week Mr. Netanyahu signaled that time for a negotiated settlement was running out when he said: "The world tells Israel ‘Wait, there’s still time.’ And I say, ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?’"

“Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.”

The crisis hinges on Iran’s nuclear enrichment program, which Israel believes is designed to build an atomic weapon. Tehran has long argued that the program is for civil use only and says it has no plans to build a nuclear bomb, but that claim has been disputed by the West, with even the head of MI6 stating that the Islamic Republic is on course to develop atomic weapons by 2014.

The Strait of Hormuz has long been disputed territory, with the Iranians claiming control of the region and the entire Persian Gulf.

Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps recently boasted that “any plots of enemies” would be foiled and a heavy price exacted, adding: “We determine the rules of military conflict in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.”

But Leon Panetta, the U.S. defence secretary, warned that Iranian attempts to exercise control over the Strait of Hormuz could be met with force.

He said: “The Iranians need to understand that the United States and the international community are going to hold them directly responsible for any disruption of shipping in that region — by Iran or, for that matter, by its surrogates.”

Mr. Panetta said that the United States was “fully prepared for all contingencies” and added: “We’ve invested in capabilities to ensure that the Iranian attempt to close down shipping in the Gulf is something that we are going to be able to defeat if they make that decision.”

That announcement was supported by Philip Hammond, the Defense Secretary, who added: “We are determined to work as part of the international community effort to ensure freedom of passage in the international waters of the Strait of Hormuz.”

One defense source told The Sunday Telegraph last night: “If it came to war, there would be carnage. The Iranian casualties would be huge but they would be able to inflict severe blows against the U.S. and British forces.

“The Iranian Republican Guard are well versed in asymmetrical warfare and would use swarm attacks to sink or seriously damage ships. This is a conflict nobody wants, but the rhetoric from Israel is unrelenting.”

Editor’s note: Business Insider Military & Defense Editor Robert Johnson will be attending these maneuvers in the Persian Gulf this week.

Read more: www.businessinsider.com…

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Father Roy writes:Paul R. Pillar worked for 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency and rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts.  He is now a visiting professor at Georgetown University for security studies.  I’ve highlighted one sentence in his essay pasted below and his concluding paragraph.  

Peace, Roy

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/76/Paul_pillar.jpg/192px-Paul_pillar.jpg

Paul Pilar

source: www.middle-east-online.com…

Has Netanyahu Gone Too Far?

The National Interest | September 14, 2012

By Paul Pilar

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is demanding that President Obama set a precise “red line” regarding Iran’s nuclear program, meaning a commitment to go to war even if Iran is not actually building a nuclear weapon. Ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar sees a possible turning point in the U.S.-Israeli relationship. 

Maybe this time the Israeli prime minister has gone too far in his bullying and arrogance in dealing with the United States of America — so far as to undermine the habits and attitudes in the United States that have made such swagger possible in the first place.

“This time” can refer to Benjamin Netanyahu’s attention-getting outburst this week in which he criticized the Obama administration’s posture regarding Iran’s nuclear program, demanding that the United States impose a clear “red line” and declaring that those who do not impose such lines “don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.”

The harshness of Netanyahu’s blast took aback even some American politicians accustomed to falling in line in the customary way on matters related to Israel. Sen.  Barbara Boxer of California said in a letter to Netanyahu, as “one of Israel’s staunchest supporters in Congress,” that she was “stunned” by Netanyahu’s remarks.

Boxer is a Democrat who no doubt was also trying to soften any political impact of this latest indication of ill will between the Israeli prime minister and the U.S. president. But her response was still one indication of how far Netanyahu had gone beyond the bounds of what supposedly is a relationship between friends and allies.

“This time” also could refer more generally to the whole warpath-blazing campaign of agitation about the Iranian nuclear program. That campaign clearly is mainly an Israeli thing, and especially a project of Netanyahu and his rightist government.

Historians decades from now will be trying to explain how the superpower of the day allowed itself to get so preoccupied with a still-nonexistent weapon in the hands of a second-rate power that, even if the weapon came into existence, could not pose a threat to U.S. interests anywhere near what the preoccupation implies.

Israel, with its longstanding and sizable nuclear arsenal of its own as well as its conventional regional military superiority, also does not face a threat that warrants all the agitation and warmongering.

Maybe preventing the mere possibility of an Iranian nuclear weapon would mean Israeli leaders would think only once and not twice before the next time they throw their weight and armed might around in Gaza or Lebanon or someplace else. And the drum-beating about Iran does divert attention away from that pesky matter involving political rights and self-determination for Palestinians.

Perhaps there is seeping into the consciousness of more and more informed Americans the realization that Netanyahu — with his drum-beating, his complete rejection (in defiance of the policies of the United States and other Western powers) of the very idea of negotiations with the Iranians, and his demand for red lines — is trying to lead America by the nose into a war that would be profoundly against U.S. interests.

And it would be a war fought primarily to maintain Israel’s regional nuclear weapons monopoly and — also not in U.S. interests — untrammeled ability to throw its weight around. Even for those attuned less to specific calculations about U.S. interests and more to general concepts of right and wrong, Netanyahu has provided much to offend.

A military attack launched to damage or destroy somebody else’s nuclear program — launched, no less, by a state that long has had nuclear weapons completely outside any international monitoring or control regime — would be an act of aggression clearly in violation of international law.

The infliction of casualties involved, inflicted to maintain the aggressor’s nuclear weapons monopoly, would be an immoral act. And yet Netanyahu says those who may object to any of this “don’t have a moral right” to do so. Incredible.

The prime minister’s behavior can be interpreted in multiple ways. His latest tantrum may be part of his effort to sink the re-election chances of the incumbent U.S. president, in favor of an alternative who would be beholden to interests whose primary affinity is to the Israeli right, by accentuating Barack Obama’s supposed inability to get along with Israel. This is probably at least part of the explanation for the behavior.

Some have questioned Netanyahu’s stability and temperament, in ways that go beyond merely having a short temper. Some Israeli commentators have spoken most recently in terms of Netanyahu “going berserk” or being a “mythomaniac” guided by a sense of heroic mission.

Given all we have heard, in connection with Iran’s nuclear program, about the hazards of irrational or fanatic people with their fingers on the button, perhaps we should ask about Netanyahu: is this a man who can be trusted with nuclear weapons?

Even assuming rationality on the prime minister’s part, there probably is an emotional element involved in his recent outburst in the sense of someone used to getting his way being flummoxed by even the slightest push-back. Netanyahu probably has been conditioned, through such experiences as speaking to Congress with a gallery stacked with AIPAC supporters, to believe that the bullying will always work.

Even sensible and mild push-back, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s statement that the United States is not going to set deadlines on the Iranian nuclear issue, then becomes disturbing to him.

Netanyahu also may have been reacting to increased acceptance in mainstream discourse in the United States of the concept that an Iranian nuclear weapon would not be the calamity he insistently portrays it as and that trying to preclude one would certainly would not be worth starting a new war.

Going beyond the Iranian nuclear issue, perhaps we are seeing some fear that the whole political edifice that has enabled Netanyahu and other Israeli prime ministers to get their way in the United States is showing some cracks. It ought to crack. After all, the overall nature of the relationship, in which the superpower that lavishes billions of aid and dozens of United Nations vetoes on the smaller state gets pushed around by the latter, rather than the other way around, is crazy and illogical.

Ultimately the power of the edifice depends on fear of confronting that power. Theoretically to break down that edifice it would take one courageous American political leader, in a bold FDR-like move, to point out that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

That is not about to happen, and the lobby in question will fight hard to make sure it does not happen. But over the last few years some cracks have become visible. Some people thought they saw a crack at the Democratic National Convention when repeated voice votes were required to override the “noes” that opposed the platform plank about declaring Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel.

Maybe Netanyahu’s arrogance, greater than the norm even for Israeli prime ministers dealing with the United States, may be a force that eventually reshapes the relationship. It can do so by making it painfully clear to Americans what they are dealing with.

M. J. Rosenberg evidently is talking about this when he goes so far as to say that Netanyahu “poses an existential threat to the Jewish state.” He is referring to the damage being done to the relations with the superpower patron — that “all Netanyahu is accomplishing with his ugly saber-rattling is threatening the survival of the US-Israel relationship.”

That may well be the effect of Netanyahu’s behavior on the relationship, but perhaps we should not speak of this in terms of threats. Replacing the current pathological relationship with a more normal one certainly would be good for U.S. interests.

Ultimately, however, it also would be good for the interests of Israel, which, in order to get off its current path of endless conflict and isolation, desperately needs the sort of tough love that it is not getting now.


Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is now a visiting professor at Georgetown University for security studies. (This article first appeared as a blog post  at The National Interest’s Web site. Reprinted with author’s permission at consortiumnews.com….)