Afghanistan - "a newly formed national force — the Afghan Special Operations Unit — will have the authority to search houses and private compounds and arrest suspected insurgents, Afghanistan’s Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak said Sunday. U.S. forces will provide support “only as required or requested,” according to the agreement, which was signed by Wardak and General John R. Allen, the commander of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan." Washpost
Wardak (and his son) are reputed to be at the heart of Karzai government money corruption in Afghanistan. They also maintain relations with the "opposition" that are good enough to clear the way for logistics convoys. Surely General Allen knows that these operations will leak like a sieve when it is convenient to Wardak and company. Another coffin nail for the US presence in Afghanistan. pl
Egypt - Umar Suleiman knows he has little chance of becoming president of the degenerating mass that is post Mubarak Egypt. Umar Suleiman is not on trial. He was questioned and released without injury to his rights as a citizen. Why? He was head of the GID, the Egyptian EXTERNAL intelligence service, not the INTERNAL service. He did not work for the Ministry of the Interior (Police Ministry) Both of those are on trial or awaiting trial. It was not US's job to oppress Egyptians. It was theirs'. He is known to be uninterested in money as a basis for existence on the Mubarak or Wall Street models. He is a devout Muslim without taint of Islamist zealotry. He likes the West, and the US? Excuse me if I do not apologize on his behalf. Israel? Well, it was his duty. Why has he done this foolish thing in deciding to run? He is 75 years old. If we were still in touch I would have advised him not to do this... Amre Moussa will probably win. pl
Yemen - Last year I tried to make the point on a number of occasions that the union of North and South Yemen is unstable and may not last. That seems even clearer now. The former North Yemen country (YAR) continues to be dominated by confederations of Zeidi Shia (Fivers) tribesmen. These are highly self aware and heavily armed forces among which many have served in the Armed forces and were trained by the US, the UK, France and the USSR. The Zeidi Shia are nothing like the Twelvers in Iraq and Iran but a connection is relentlessly sought by the ignorant. The former South Yemen (PDRY) is overwhelmingly Sunni Arab, organized into largely de-racinated city swellers and sedentary villagers in the far flung wadis of the south. The PDRY was a Marxist-Leninist state. That set of ideas was taught in state schools for decades. Ali Abdullah Saleh was no saint but he was also no Marxist. Following his departure he was replaced with a "Sunni" general from the greater Aden area. That man knows that to maintain power he must rid himself of the Zeidi tribesmen that fill the armed forces and security services. Maliki understands the same thing in Iraq, His situation is merely the mirror image. The attempted purge of Zeidi officers that led to the airport seizure is the first act in this drama not the last. AQ in Yemen watches on the sideline. It knows that it would have far more running room in an independant South Yemen than it ever will have in the Zeidi country. pl
Israel - Ehud Bark was on Zakariya's GPS show today. I knew him when he used to say that Israel could do anything with its bayonets but "sit on them." I liked him better then even if he was closely linked to the Pollard Affair. He told Zakariya today that 1-MAD is not possible with Iran and therefore containment is not possible, 2- He predicted that Iran will build ICBMs for its as yet non-existent weapons and therefore Israel is trying to save the world from its own stupidity, 3- He does not believe that sanctions will dissuade to Iranians from their putative nuclear weapons program. IMO his vision of the true effect of the present sanctions is the reduction of Iran to a peasant and therefore harmless state. He reiterated that there is a limit to Israel's patience. IMO opinion this discourse makes the war or peace issue a question of American ability to deter Israel.
US Intelligence - In what is clearly a government press release, the US published today an exposition of the quality of its information regarding Iranian programs. Two staff journalists at the Washington Post wrote this up from rather complete interviews granted by what are described variously as former senior intelligence officials. Let us not be coy. If these were anything but recent former directors of the CIA the men in question would be headed for indictments. The story reeks of of the CIA is its role as propagandist. The subtle denigration of the rest of the IC is familiar. Is this story a bad thing? No! It is good! The target audiences are; Israel, Iran and the Zionist 5th Column in the US Congress and media. The message is clear. The US will know well in advance if Iran decides to build weapons. pl