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Sunday, April 27, 2008

US Warns Iran of Retaliation Over Iraq Action

US Warns Iran of Retaliation Over Iraq Action
April 27, 2008 - The Times - Sarah Baxter in Washington

America's top military officer has ratcheted up the pressure on Iran by issuing an unusual public warning that the Pentagon is planning for “potential military courses of action”.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, blamed the Iranian government and Quds force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard for its “increasingly lethal and malign influence” in Iraq. He said conflict with Iran would be “extremely stressing” for America’s overstretched forces, but added: “It would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capability.”

Mullen said he was increasingly concerned about Iran’s growing involvement in supplying munitions and training to rebel Shi’ite militias and “killing American and coalition soldiers in Iraq”. Speaking at a Pentagon news conference late on Friday, he said recent operations in the southern port city of Basra had revealed “just how much and how far Iran is reaching into Iraq to foment instability”. A Pentagon source said the admiral’s frankness was “extremely significant” and could pave the way for some form of attack on Iran. However, Mullen said: “The solution right now still lies in using other levers of national power, including diplomatic, financial and international pressure.”

Mullen’s tough rhetoric came shortly after General David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq responsible for the troop surge, briefed Congress about the “nefarious activities” of the Quds force in stirring violence in Iraq. There were a total of 923 civilian deaths in Iraq last month, the highest number since August 2007. “We should all watch Iranian actions closely in the weeks and months ahead, as they will show the kind of relationship that Iran wishes to have with its neighbour,” Petraeus said. Petraeus was nominated last week to take over as commander of all US forces in the Middle East from Admiral William Fallon, who resigned in March after becoming an outspoken critic of American policy towards Iran. Petraeus has been asked to prepare a briefing on the extent of Iranian involvement in Iraq. It will include the recovery of weapons with date stamps showing that they were recently manufactured in Iran. American officers claim that Iran is responsible for new, highly dangerous roadside bombs in Iraq and accuse Iranian-trained militants of responsibility for the deadliest rocket and mortar attacks on Baghdad’s green zone.

“The question is not if Iran is unhelpful in Iraq,” said Philip Crowley, a retired air force colonel and defence expert at the Center for American Progress in Washington. “The question is what to do about it.” Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, said last Monday that Iran is “hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons”. He added that war would be “disastrous” but the military option must remain on the table. However, a senior defence source said the administration regarded Iran’s nuclear programme and its interference in Iraq as separate problems, requiring different tactics and solutions.

Moqtada al-Sadr, the Iranian-backed radical Shi’ite cleric, called on his followers at Friday prayers to stop fighting Iraqi troops and unite against “the occupiers” – US troops.

Iran News Round Up [Michael Rubin]
(Thanks to Ali Alfoneh for his compilation and Meir Javedanfar for his suggestions)
· Former president Mohammad Khatami, while voting for the second round of parliamentary elections, answers a journalists' question regarding his readiness to run for presidency: "I have retired."
· Radical cleric Hadi Ghaffari incited physical fights with pro-Karrubi reformists present at a University of Tabriz debate.
· Initial results from Tehran show the Grand Principalist Alliance won the second round of parliamentary elections. More.
o English language report on run-offs.
o Photo essay of results announcement.
· Ayatollah Kashani urges the government to pay more attention to the inflation, but adds that "presence of the people in the scene during the second round of parliamentary elections shows the strength of the regime."
· Mousavi Lari wonders what emergency made Ahmadinejad change the minister of interior right before the second round of parliamentary elections.
o Rafsanjani says the incident shows the necessity of a "real reform of the election procedures as described in the law."
o Commander Afshar, the person in charge of the conduct of the parliamentary elections, says the press "imposed change of the minister of interior to the government."
Religion, Culture, and Society
· Ayatollah Javadi Amoli: " University text books should become Islamized…The universities should be cleansed of secular books."
o Minister of higher education Zahedi: "The fundamental texts of the humanities at our universities are extracted from Western sources...the conditions should be ripe to adorn such studies with the thoughts expressed in the Quran, sayings of the great men of religion and on this foundation make the connection between such material and the scientific matters...Why should we not use divine methodology in the fields of psychology and psychiatry?"
· Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri comments upon Iranian religious philosopher Abdol-Karim Soroush's claim that the Quran is not the words of God, but the words of the prophet Muhammad.
· A schoolteacher’s depressing report about the Islamic Republic's "Generation X.”
Human Rights and Labor
· The student monthly Patogh of journalism department at Emam Sadeq University shut down by Ahmadzadeh Kermani, the 29-year-old dean of the university.
· For the second consecutive day, 100 students stage a sit-in at the Department of Industrial Engineering of Sahand University in Tabriz. According to the placards, the students are demanding resignation of Dr. Zahed, vice dean of the university responsible for security matters, abolition of separation of the sexes, abolition of all the rulings of the disciplinary committee of the university, and ending sexual discrimination when it comes to the students’ right to participate in cultural matters. Photo essay.
· President of Unemployed Workers Union jailed.
Military and Security
· According to Akhbar-e Rooz, two alleged Kurdish smugglers, 15 and 21 years old, killed in skirmishes with the Law Enforcement Forces.
· Malay authorities bar the Islamic Republic from an arms exhibit.
· According to some reports, the Islamic Republic embassy in London has denied a visa to English footballer David Beckham out of fear of "chaos" and "uproar of fans" in Iran.
· The Islamic Republic denies an incident in the Persian Gulf in which a U.S. ship allegedly fired warning shots near an Iranian vessel.
Economy and Trade
· Member of a commission investigating the tobacco business in Iran says the Iranian president has been misinformed with regard to concessions in the industry.
· A report from the Islamic Republic customs discloses that public enterprises importing meat and butter import the products at subsidized prices, but sell them on the market at inflated prices.
· Ahmadinejad in Hamadan: "The [bank] interest we had before was against the Shari'a."
· Right wing economist Khosh-Chehreh distances himself from Ahmadinejad, criticizes the economic policies of the government.
· Ali Safar-Ali, chief of the largest shipping company of the Islamic Republic, Bonyad, says most Iranian ships sail under "free" flags to evade sanctions.
Photo of the Day
· Ahmadinejad helps woman who faints after meeting him.
04/26 12:23 PM

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