Wednesday, December 01, 2010

So many worried about Iran

Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) files a major report on issues involving the Iraq-Iran border. Assertions are presented as fact and it appears all assertions are coming from the US military plus a few key local Iraqi sources. The report can be read many ways but the best is probably as a reflection of American military anxiety and possibly the roll-out for extending the US military presence in Iraq as appears apparent in this sentence: "Top Iraqi commanders have said that their lack of a regionally competitive air force and the country's fledgling border guard force will leave them highly vulnerable to external threats after U.S. forces pull out completely at the end of 2011."

From US government concerns over Iran to Saudi Arabia concerns over it, Iraq and Pakistan. The Guardian publishes a US embassy cable from April 9, 2009:



10. (S) The Secretary said the U.S. is looking to see if Iran can be engaged in any productive manner and noted that Special Advisor Ross would travel to the region soon for consultations. AbZ told the Secretary that UAE feels threatened by Iran today, even though Iran does not yet have a nuclear capability. AbZ asserted that the UAE is even more worried about Iranian intentions than is Israel. AbZ encouraged the U.S. to consider a GCC plus 3 and P5 plus 1 joint meeting.


Iraqi GCC plus 3


11. (S) The Secretary expressed interest in the Iraqi invitations for a GCC plus 3 meeting in Baghdad, at a date to be determined. She noted the value of the GCC plus 3 mechanism not only for furthering Arab engagement with the Iraqi government during a time of transition, but as a way to send a message to Iran that Iraq has broad support in the Arab world.




12. (S) The Secretary told AbZ that the U.S. needs help to stem the flow of funds from the Gulf to the Taliban. She noted that one area of potential action is reviving training related to bulk cash smuggling.

13. (S) Thanking the UAE for hosting the Friends of Pakistan preparatory meeting, the Secretary said she hopes AbZ would attend the April donors conference in Tokyo. AbZ confirmed that he plans to attend and said that the UAE will make a "strong" pledge, but no decision has been made on an exact dollar figure.

14. (S) AbZ express concern over Saudi Arabia's decision not to make a pledge at the Tokyo conference. AbZ said that the Saudis have never liked the Pakistan Peoples Party, and support Nawaz Sharif. In addition, AbZ posited that Saudi Arabia suspects that Zardari is Shia, thus creating Saudi concern of a Shia triangle in the region between Iran, the Maliki government in Iraq, and Pakistan under Zardari. Feltman noted a pattern of Saudi behavior of withholding financial assistance - not supporting March 14 in Lebanon, not sending funds to the PA, and not planning a pledge for Pakistan. Otaiba added that Saudi Arabia also failed make a commitment at the G20 meeting.

WikiLeaks has another major release. For an overview of the latest release by WikiLeaks, we'll note this from Sunday's KPFA Evening News:

Anthony Fest: The whistle blower website WikiLeaks released another trove of confidential documents today. Last month WikiLeaks released thousands of Pentagon documents most associated with the US occupation of Iraq. In contrast, the documents made public today include thousands of diplomatic cables -- communications between the State Dept and Washington and US consulates all around the world. The documents cover both the George W. Bush and the Barack Obama administrations. WikiLeaks gave an advance look at the documents to several media organizations including the New York Times and the British newspaper the Guardian. Those publications now have articles on their websites analyzing the documents. WikiLeaks says it will post the documents on its own website in the coming days although it has said its site was the target of a cyber attack today. The documents release is certain to provoke tension between the US and its allies. For example, some of the cables say that Saudi donors are the largest financiers of terror groups. Other cables detail the cover-up of US military activities. One of them records a meeting last January between US Gen David Petreaus and the president of Yemen about air attacks against rebels in Yemen. The president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, tells Petraeus, "We'll continue to say they are our bombs and not yours." According to the Guardian, the documents reveal that some Arab leaders had privately urged an air attack against Iran and that US officials had been instructed to spy on the United Nations' leadership. Among the other disclosures are deep fears in Washington and London about the security of Paksitan's nuclear weapons. Another document asserts massive corruption at high levels of the Afghanistan government saying the Afghan vice president traveled to the United Arab Emirates carrying $52 million in cash. Still other documents disparage the British military in Afghanistan.

Iraq and Iran are the topic of many cables released by WikiLeaks. Ryan Grim (Huffington Post) notes a July 31, 2008 cable addresses Egyptian concerns:

Iraq: Don't Pull Out Too Soon

¶4. (C) Turning to Iraq, Senator Kerry asked Mubarak if he had
changed his opinion of Prime Minister Al Maliki after Iraq's
successful stabilization efforts in Basra and Sadr City.
Mubarak said he "I am not critical. He came to Cairo. I gave
him my phone number but he hasn't called us." He noted that
Egypt offered to host and train Iraqi forces, but that the
offer had not been acted upon by the Iraqis. He said the
U.S. "cannot withdraw until you strengthen the armed forces
and police. Until then you have to stay."

Beware The Iranians

¶5. (C) Mubarak's top concern for the stability of Iraq and
the region is Iran. He believes that "as a result of the
invasion of Iraq, Iran is spreading everywhere." He urged the
U.S. to be wary of what Iran says. "They are big, fat liars
and justify their lies because they believe it is for a
higher purpose." He said he believes this opinion is shared
by other leaders in the region. Nonetheless, he opined that
no Arab state will join the U.S. in a defense relationship
vis-a-vis Iran out of fear of "sabotage and Iranian
terrorism." He said Iran's sponsorship of terrorism is
"well-known but I cannot say it publicly. It would create a
dangerous situation." Mubarak said that sanctions are the
best hope for containing Iran, but Arab states won't dare to
endorse them.

It'll be interesting to see how that one plays out re: John Kerry. Drop back to a March 2004 statement he made that some saw as controversial and that the Bush administration criticized him for. How close is he to foreign leaders? That was the question in 2004 when he began boasting. AFP emphasizes a WikiLeaks release in which Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarack, insists that the US should "allow a dictator to take over" Iraq. Which may explain US support for Nouri al-Maliki.

Heather Langan (Bloomberg News) reports on another cable detailing a briefing between US Adm Mike Mullen, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the head of Egypt's spy program Omar Suleiman: "Suleiman added that the Egyptian intelligence service had begun “recruiting agents in Iraq and Syria,” according to the cable. He also said the U.S. shouldn't limit its focus on Iran to one issue at a time, such as the Islamic republic’s nuclear program."

Turning to violence, AKI reports that Iraqi Christian Fady Walid Jibrai was at his Mosul grocery store when assailants killed him yesterday. Xinhua adds that his brother was wounded in the shooting and also details other violence yesterday.

We'll close with this from Women's Voices, Women Vote:

A major new study from the Pew Foundation and Time Magazine proves what Women's Voices. Women Vote discovered first: the face of the American family is changing and the number and power of unmarried Americans are growing rapidly.

This new report from the Pew Research Center on Social & Demographic Trends documents the number of unmarried Americans has risen dramatically - in 1960, close to three-quarters of (72%) Americans were married; today about half (52%) are married. Today, 47% of women in the U.S. are unmarried, up from just 30% in 1960. That means one out of every two American women is single, separated, divorced or widowed.

And this trend plays out along political parties. According to the Pew study, 67% of Republicans are married compared to 45% of Democrats. The number of unmarried Americans and women are growing and this has political repercussions - as WVWV has detailed for several cycles. Their research has found unmarried women to be one of the most progressive voting blocs in this country and one of the fastest growing demographic groups.

Women's Voices. Women Vote was the first to identify the power of marital status in voting behavior, and we have worked and will continue to work tirelessly to reach out to and engage unmarried women.

Unmarried women make up 22% of the electorate, and that number will only continue to grow. As the American family changes, WVWV remains committed to reaching out to and engaging these women in order to ensure their voices are heard in our democracy. As we move into 2011 and beyond, WVWV will continue to expand our understanding of the changing nature of American society to develop and implement groundbreaking programs to reach this growing and critical segment of the electorate.

You can read more about the study here.

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