“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Good News From a Bad World

The BBC is reporting some interesting news:

  • Abbas has declared the Hamas militia illegal. Hamas says it will double the size of it's security force to 12,000 men. The bad news is that the U.S. is sending $86.4 million to Abbas' security forces.

  • From Iraq, al-Maliki has told critics of Saddam's execution to "butt out". This came after Hosni Mubarak called the execution "barbaric." He also said:
    ...that Iraqi troops were now fully prepared to tighten security in the capital with US forces operating in support.

    The new neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood operation which starts this weekend would be carried out regardless of the groups' political affiliations, he added.


    1. In a crazy world, I point out to readers of the EB and BC that "skipsailing" has gone off the deep end.


    2. whit,

      That divorce must have really hurt. I have noticed his use of the blogosphere as a theraputic venting mechanism.

    3. How would these RoE work in Iraq?

      “‘They have dug huge trenches around Ras Kamboni but have only two options: to drown in the sea or to fight and die,’ reported Colonel Barre "Hirale" Aden Shire, the Somali Defence Minister, who said that Ethiopian aircraft would be used in the attack.”

      The options of surrender, arrest, and catch & release are missing.

    4. On topic, more good news...

      Almost exactly a year ago today. A small Falcon jet - favored by top Iranian military officers - crashed in northwest Iran near the Turkish border. Among those killed were Brig.-Gen. Ahmad Kazemi, commander of the elite Revolutionary Guard ground forces division, and at least 12 other officers. Kazemi had been responsible for the production and development of Iran's Shihab ballistic missile series, capable of delivering a nuclear warhead into the heart of Europe, not to mention Israel.

      Since last January's crash, air travel for Iranian military officials has become increasingly dangerous. On November 27, a military transport plane crashed just after take-off from Teheran. More than 40 people were killed including 30 members of the Revolutionary Guard, some of them reported to be close advisers to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. A week before, a helicopter crashed into the central town of Najafabad, killing six, including a senior Revolutionary Guard officer.

      The combined effect of these crashes has diminished the high command of the Revolutionary Guard.

    5. elijah, that is very interesting. is this a coincidence?

    6. Gafney or Hewitt speculated it might be inside stuff related to coming deaths/successions of leadership.

    7. rufus said...
      Is Maliki getting religion, or just "gaming" us, some more?

      Is alSadr STILL alive?

    8. rufus,

      With not too much effort, we could dream up some unfortunate accident overtaking Mr. alSadr. So, yeah, it is the fault of the US.

      It would be heartbreaking if both Mr. Maliki and Mr. alSadr came to bad ends, in a natural sort of way, of course.


    9. I do not believe in coincidences, more likely sytematic interruption of Iranian command and control to disrupt the ability to plan operations and conduct them.

      Maliki is playing a dangerous game as he will soon have to pick sides.

      Why the troop surge now; to deal with Iran in Iraq? (Warning this is going to be a long post, sorry to those of you not interested.

      Iran is entrenhed in Iraq. The first way is through the activities of the al-Quds Forces, the special command division of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC). The second approach is by funding and arming Shi’ite militias, the most prominent of which is the SCIRI’s 25,000-strong armed wing, the Badr Organization of Reconstruction and Development. Senior members of the Badr Org. and the al-Quds Forces have a closely coordinated relationship. Intelligence reports have indicated that Iranian
      officers are directing operations under cover in units of the Badr Organization. The Mahdi Army also
      receives important Iranian assistance, but on a much smaller scale. The IRGC Commander is General Yahya Rahim-Safavi and the Deputy Commander is General
      Mohammad Bager Zulgadr. The al-Quds Forces Commander is General Qassem Soleimani. Generals
      Zulgadr and Soleimani are two most senior officers responsible for Iran’s large covert program in Iraq and have a direct link to the Office of the Leader. Additionally, intelligence estimates have identified four other IRGC generals and nine IRGC colonels that are directly responsible for covert operations in Iraq. The al-Quds Forces mainly function as a large intelligence operation skilled in the art of unconventional warfare. Current intelligence estimates puts the strength of the force at 5,000. Most of these are highly
      trained officers. Within the al-Quds Forces, there is a small unit usually referred to as the “Special Quds
      Force” which consists of the finest case officers and operatives. The senior officers attached to this unit conduct foreign covert unconventional operations using various
      foreign national movements as proxies. The forces operate mainly outside Iranian territory, but maintain numerous training bases inside Iran as well. Al-Quds international operations are divided into geographic
      areas of influence and various corps. The most important and largest cover Iraq, Saudi Arabia (and the Arabian Peninsula), and Syria / Lebanon. The smaller corps cover Afghanistan, Pakistan/India, Turkey, the Muslim Republics of the former Soviet Union, Europe / North America, and North Africa (Egypt, Tunisia,Algeria, Sudan, and Morocco). The goal of Iran is to infiltrate all Iraq-based militias by providing training and support to their members.
      For example, al-Sadr’s estimated 10,000-strong Mahdi Army, which gets logistical and financial support from al-Quds, also receives training in IRCG camps in Iran. Moreover, nearly all of the troops in the Badr Org. were trained in these camps as well. In addition, most senior officers acquired their skills in
      specialized camps under the control of the al-Quds Forces. Intelligence estimates that al-Quds currently operates six major training facilities in Iran, with the main facility located adjacent to Imam Ali University in Northern Tehran. The other most important training camps are located in the Qom, Tabriz, and Mashhad
      governorates. There are also two similar facilities operating on the Syrian-Lebanese border.
      According to a senior general in the Iraqi Defense Ministry and a critic of Iran, the Iranians have set up the most sophisticated intelligence-gathering network in the country, to the extent that they have infiltrated
      “every major Iraqi ministry and security service.” There is also an intelligence directorate that has been set up within the Revolutionary Guard that is under the command of the al-Quds Forces devoted exclusively to
      monitoring the movements of US and Allied forces in Iraq. Many members of the newly created police and Iraqi forces are controlled by Shi’ite officers who, in some form or another, previously belonged to SCIRI or other groups affiliated with Iran. Recent intelligence indicates that IRGC officers are currently operating in Iraq in certain Shi’ite militias and actual army and police units. The degree of penetration of these organizations is difficult to assess, and it is virtually impossible to distinguish between Iraqi Shi’ite militias and police units, both of which are profoundly influenced by Iran, and in some cases are under Iranian control. Iranian manipulation has filtered down to street level as well. Ordinary police and military officers now
      have a stronger allegiance to the Badr Organization or the Mahdi Army than to their own units. And of course, these organizations are deeply connected to Iran. According to the head of intelligence of an allied
      country that borders Iraq, “the Iranians have not just pulled off an infiltration, in certain regions in Baghdad and Basra, it’s been a complete takeover.”

    10. elijah,

      Some commenters here and at the BC would argue that the "brawn" can function in the absence of the "brain". They are also people who would argue that anyone can manage GE.

    11. Elijah, where did you get all that information?

    12. Is Egypt seeking a nuclear bomb?
      By Ynetnews January 5, 2007

      Is Egypt declaring its intentions to develop nuclear weapons? Thus it appeared in a speech delivered by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Thursday on the occasion of meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Sharm e-Sheikh.

      "We don't want nuclear weapons," Mubarak stated, "But since they appear highly present in the area, we must defend ourselves."

      Recently Egypt announced that it was striving to attain nuclear capabilities. President Mubarak himself, as well as his son Jamal, were questioned on the issue and declared that their nation needed nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and Egypt's nuclear program would be aimed at overcoming the deficiency in fuel and natural gas reserves.

      However, now it appears that if Iran develops nuclear power, Egypt will no longer be satisfied with devoting its nuclear resources to peaceful purposes alone. link

    13. 2164th,

      If I recall correctly, the information came from The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) website, a document titled - Iran: If Diplomacy Fails.

    14. Swerving back toward reality,
      Aristides said:

      "One hopes that the Administration has been quietly and steadily building a rock-solid case against Iran, and that any time now it will unleash its accusations with such righteousness and in such number as to bring the issue to a head. Bush-as-pulsar and all that.

      I think it would work. I just don't have any faith anymore that it will happen.

    15. My o my.

      The Master of all Plans has lost faith?

    16. doug & DR,

      Soon he, skipsailing, and assistant village idiot will be breaking out the pitchforks and building the pyre. Disappointed fanatics are dangerous - garbage in, garbage out.

    17. I nearly said, "Hell hath no Fury like a woman scorned", but I thought it unnecessarily cruel.

    18. What kind of news is this

      If things go according to plan, a pilot will first launch a conventional laser-guided bomb to blow a shaft down through the layers of hardened concrete. Other pilots will then be ready to drop low-yield one kiloton nuclear weapons into the hole. The theory is that they will explode deep underground, both destroying the bunker and limiting the radioactive fallout.

    19. Hope I can get a piece in time for the sorties....

    20. Hope we have been successful in our dealings with Mara Salvatrucha and their middle eastern associates here in the U.S. Iran has their own surprises.

      Egypt, Jordan, and Syria have given the green light (either take Iran out or watch a nuclear arms race in the Midle East).

      Lebanon and Gaza - perhaps we will turn our enemies one against the other

    21. ppab says:

      "Piece in Our Time"