Posts Tagged ‘ Iran ’

Rough week. TGIG


Bit rough, eh? ;-)*

For sure, we all know about the AWU nonsense, so there’s no need to go on about that tonight. But I hope everyone’s aware of Gillard’s latest time warp to the Dark Ages proposal. (thanks, Bolta).

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon’s proposed changes massively expand the list of characteristics people can be offended by, expanding the jurisdiction into shops, workplaces and sporting clubs.

The regime will provide a new weapon in the war on free speech by even including “political opinion” as a ground on which people can be discriminated against.

This extraordinary change makes even innocuous political expressions subject to the law – a person need only be offended or insulted in order to make out a claim. Shop owners displaying signs in support of a political candidate may now be legally discriminating against employees who want the other guy to win…

Not only do the changes represent an extraordinary attack on freedom of speech, they also undermine fundamental legal principles derived from 800 years of common law. They would reverse the onus of proof, forcing employers to prove that they are innocent of discrimination.

Saw that yesterday. Make of that what you will.

Um, what else? Oh, the Israel/Palestine thing. Well, Israel says they’re happy, so let’s not worry about the 12 Hamas rockets fired into Israel since the ceasefire, nor their thanking of Iran… the guys who supplied those fancy rockets that could and did hit Tel Aviv.

Anyway, enough. Music.

Infected Mushroom. Arguably one of the best EDM acts on the planet, and perhaps the best out of Israel.

*what? TGIG? Thank God it’s good.

UPDATE

No, not the bloody pic, the bloody week. I had a good week. Sorry, I mixed metaphors with that Roxon/Gillard pic. Very messy. Sorry. Please try and enjoy the music and/or comment… I need another drink and a smoke.

Carry on.

Friday Night Party Music


Yes, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Not that I haven’t been keeping up, but have been pretty busy in the new line of work (freelance ESL) – loving it – and, well, have been trying to get the stress levels down a bit.

Tim Blair may be a funny blogger, Andrew Bolt may be a serious blogger, but lately, whenever I’ve really gotten stuck into it, I just start getting angry.

I’m not convinced that is a good thing.

Nevertheless, as I said, I’ve been keeping an eye on things, mainly via the excellent Michael Smith and Larry Pickering (whose Facebook site seems to be having a better time of things today).

That national debt hit 250 bil today – nice one Julia and Wayne. That’s a bit over 11 grand of government debt every man, woman, and child now has to pay off on top of whatever personal debt one may have.

Julia’s off strutting her stuff at the UN General Assembly. Bit rough when one wakes up, turns on Australia Network, and she’s talking. If you’ll allow one to dream unrealistically for a tic, if we lose our bid for a seat on the (joke of a) UN Security Council, does that mean we’d have a good excuse to stop paying our dues? Whatever grand idea the UN might once have been, it is an inept shadow of it’s former self, packed to the rafters with corruptocrats.

Why do we have to put up with the likes of Iran’s Ahmadinejad ranting away up there? I’m not convinced his idea of “peace” is the same as our idea of peace.

Nevertheless, Netanyahu did an exceptional job, so maybe there’s some value left there.

But I digress. As an Aussie, my focus should be on Gillard’s performance. Go to Michael Smith, have a look around, and you see that it is in fact some international MSM picking up the story of the AWU/Slater&Gordon scandal!

If it were to happen, what a venue for that to blow up in the PM’s face. That said, it might not “blow up” but it might be enough to tilt the balance in Finland or Luxembourg’s favour. That might not be such a bad thing, lol. However, it’s a little embarrassing that international media will cover something that, generally speaking, Australian MSM won’t.

There’s lot’s there at both Larry’s and Michael’s sites; Ashby’s 50K payout, the debt, boat people, Nauru, AWU, Paul Howes… you name it, but I reckon I’ve gone into all that stuff enough for a Friday evening, indeed a Friday evening that is the beginning of a little mini-break over here in Korea.

Chusok. And actually, personally, I’m taking about nine days off, so again, forgive me if I don’t immerse myself in grubby politics during that time.

Besides: China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan; things are heating up just a tad too much over various disputed islands. One lot is between Japan, China, and Taiwan which you may have heard about. The other lot is between Japan and Korea. Apparently these islands/islets are of intense historical importance, so I guess the massive reserves of natural gas having noting to do with it (It’s Friday – no links). Man, China seems really stoked on getting that aircraft carrier (thanks, Russia!) – with another homemade one on the way. Hu Jintao had the Mao suit on and everything! And, well, I guess Korea’s pretty happy upon receiving 3 bil worth of Apache helicopters.

Fun times.

And yes, well noted is that the Persian Gulf is a fun place to be also these days (there is a way perhaps that we could be less dependent and without having to throw billions more taxpayer dollars at bankrupt solar experiments).

Oh, and there’s some kind of US election or something going on? All I say about that is that 4Corners was a bit deceptive when they promoted a doco about Mitt Romney but it turned out to be little more that 45 minutes of why Mormons are so bad with the occasional reminder that Mitt is a Mormon. It was actually a rerun of a BBC doco, but whatevs, and was aired months earlier in Australia but it was on Australia Network this week. The reporter, John Sweeney, has done two anti-Mitt/anti-Mormon docos that I know of (no – not linking).
Meh. Enough.

In much more pleasing news at this moment in time, Deadmau5 released >album title goes here< on Wednesday.

:-)

PS Most western op.eds telling you what “Gangnam Style” is all about are rubbish. But here and here are two good ones.

Mohammed in the nud reprint: game on?


Who ever said we couldn’t depend on the French?

Game on.

Western powers and several of their Middle East allies have deployed an enormous naval fleet to the Persian Gulf just days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again suggested that his country may soon launch a preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The fleet includes ships from 25 nations, include three full US carrier groups, each one with a complement of more aircraft than the entire Iranian air force. Military officials cited by London’s Daily Telegraph said the buildup is part of a new annual exercise, but their was no secrecy about the fact that the “enemy” in the exercise is Iran.

Always remember the pizza!

Sensitive thugs


Sensitive lot, aren’t they, over in northern Africa and the Middle East?

Turn on, say, CNN, and we’re witnessed to violent, inflamed protests in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, the Kashmir region, Yemen, Morocco, and Israel and the Palestinian territories.

And why? Well the catalyst for the protests which – no coincidence, surely – began on September 11, are over a crappy, low budget film depicting Mohammed as a thug and pedophile. Most of us would have happily lived out our lives having not the slightest inkling this film ever existed, except that an Egyptian sheik got wind of it, translated the YouTube trailer in to Arabic and, let’s face it, used it to light a fire under the ever-simmering hatred of the West, and the US in particular as the bastion of the West.

The film was ordinary to say the least, but that’s the price you pay for freedom, and in particular, freedom of speech – a cornerstone of free democratic nations (which incidentally, the Left in Australia has managed to dig up). I’d much rather have freedom and be offended once in a while than to live in a country where even freedom of thought is blasphemy, indeed punishable by death.

What we also know – or think we know – is that the bloke who made the film is one Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, FKA Sam Becile; technically a Coptic Christian (they make up around 10% of Egypt’s population), but as information comes to light, it turns out he’s a pretty shady guy with multiple names and social security numbers, has been convicted for narcotics offenses as well as bank fraud.

So basically, he’s a troll – not someone to be liked.

However, what I also don’t like is all the finger-pointing that has gone on “back home”. TBH, I’m not really that proud of my “Bye, Libya” post below (although a number of US lawmakers, both Democrat and Republicans, have called for a washing of hands also). But what really disgusts me is that whilst corpses have been paraded around the streets, and the senseless violence is ongoing, the Left have used this as an opportunity to attack US presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.

Now, for sure, the Right have also used this to attack sitting Democrat President Barrack Obama.

Yet, there is one key difference, it must be pointed out, that does not make what’s good for the goose good for the gander.

Romney has no actual political power, and in no way has been involved in any type of US government decision making when it comes to things such as an effective, appropriate response, coordination with the State Department, and security conditions on the ground which may have at least saved a few important lives.

The opposite is true for Obama. Geneva convention or not (the host country provides most security at embassies and consulates), the situation being what it was leading up to those abhorrent attacks, the Obama administration should have had proper security forces in place.

It did not.

And talk about gaffes in rhetoric – and the Left has been quick to jump on a perceived yet actually non-existent gaffe in Romney’s rhetoric – Obama comes out and says Egypt is neither enemy nor ally; a gaffe which the State Department had to correct and reiterate that Egypt, er, technically is an ally, in the legal definition of the word.

Not that Obama is being punished in the media for that massive faux pas

Double standards? Remember when Obama recently and most irresponsibly inflamed home grown violence by declaring that if he had a son, his name would be Trayvon Martin?

Still, that’s hardly the first example of collective, selective, faux leftist outrage.

But I digress, and fall into the same trap I’m blaming leftists for also doing.

The real bad guy here isn’t Obama. Nor is it Romney. Nor is it that film maker, not in a country that upholds freedom of speech, however offensive.

No, the real bad guys are those thugs who murdered the US Libyan ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens and three others including two former Navy Seals.

The real bad guys are those thugs staging their violent protests all over the middle east and northern Africa.

The real bad guys are people like that sheik who found that obscure video and used it to incite an entire nation, indeed regions, to hatred and violence.

The real bad guys are the ruling Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt who have called for a banning of Freedom of Speech in the West, and who have also called for *cough* peaceful protests this Friday, Islamic prayer day.

While emotions are still running high, can we in the West, on the Left and the Right, please remember who the real bad guys are (hint: it’s not each other).

Iran to EU: No oil for you!


Iran goes all pre-emptive. Sanctions against their oil exports to the EU were set to take effect in July, but Iran has becided to cut it off now, namely to Britain and France.

Meanwhile, little bombs here, little bombs there?

Afghanistan: an end in sight?


I don’t buy into the claim that the war in Afghanistan was illegal, immoral or that it wasn’t worth going in there and kicking some Taliban butt.

That said, we’re not really getting anywhere, are we? Thus, the following is probably the best course of action.

THE US and Afghan governments have begun secret* three-way talks with the Taliban, Afghan President Hamid Karzai told The Wall Street Journal, disclosing an important breakthrough in efforts to end the 10-year war.

Mr Karzai, whose government had protested being left out of recent talks between Washington and the insurgents, added he believes most Taliban are “definitively” interested in a peace settlement.

Now an assertation by Karzai doesn’t exactly carry much weight IMO, but let’s hope he’s right on this occaision. It looks like this report out of the Pentagon backs what Karzai is saying.

The Pentagon on Wednesday offered new details of its plan for shifting from a combat mission in Afghanistan to one focused on training and advising Afghan forces as they gradually shoulder more of the combat burden.

The Army identified five U.S.-based brigades, as well as an Army Reserve organization, that will be reconfigured and sent to Afghanistan between April and August to “generate, employ and sustain” Afghan forces.

The Army called this a “new mission” after more than 10 years of fighting in Afghanistan.

And there’s this interesting and hopefully positive development, as well.

Karzai’s comments came as he prepared to meet the leaders of neighbouring Pakistan and Iran in Islamabad on Thursday for a summit set to focus on security issues, including the Taliban insurgency and support for it from within Pakistan. He did not give any further details about the contacts.

Now I’m no military strategist hotshot, but I really don’t think the West has to worry too much about Taliban strikes on our home soil or Iran cutting off its oil supplies if the US/NATO has a less active role in the region. Iran needs the money and/or gold more than ever thanks to sanctions; gold which they’re reportedly using to by grain (from Australia no less) and which others are reportedly using to buy Iranian oil.

*BTW, the talks aren’t really “secret” are they when word of them is splashed across the WSJ and the Australian.

Why the desire to pull the troops out of Iraq in the first place?


In the Australian today:

NO sooner did President Barack Obama welcome home American troops from Iraq and laud that country’s stability and democracy than an unprecedented wave of violence across Baghdad and elsewhere revealed the severity of Iraq’s political crisis.

Unfortunate, yet hardly surprising, even to the most casual of observers.

And whilst I can understand (yet not agree with) the Left’s position not to send troops into Iraq in the first place – an argument, largely moot, for another day – what I don’t understand is their fervish desire to pull the troops out.

It always smacked of idealism, ideology, rather than hard-nosed practicality.

After all, what was so bad with having a US troop presence there to help maintain Iraq’s fragile democratic stability?

One could argue that I am biased because a) I am centre-right politically and b) because I live in South Korea, a nation that has had a US troop presence – some 37,000 28,000 or so currently – since the armistice between North and South Korea and have seen what a permanent US troop presence looks like.

I am happy to accept those labels and can gladly tell you that such a presence ain’t that bad.

By and large,  US bases in Korea – and Japan for that matter – haven’t been a problem.

Sure, issues pop up from time to time, but if one looks at the big picture, then a strong US presence here can only be seen as a good thing, a safe option, a pretty darn good insurance policy against North Korea trying anything major on.

Almost 60 years we’ve had US troops over here without any major problems. In fact, many major problems (a full-scale Nork attack comes to mind) have arguably been averted thanks to this presence.

So, why the rush to leave Iraq essentially free of any US military  before even a decade is up and before, as is clear now, the job is done?

OK, so perhaps it’s a bit like comparing apples and oranges. US troops in Korea, aside from those stationed at the DMZ, aren’t on active duty as they were in Iraq.

However, it’s not a completely dissimilar situation. Perhaps a good analogy would be to compare mandarins and oranges.

US troops not only provided safety and stability in the fledgling democracy that is Iraq – a country still steeped with sectarian and tribal rivalries – but surely they also provided a deterrence to anybody or any groups who want to destabilise the nation.

What takes years to build can take mere seconds to destroy, and I fear a lot of hard work is being undone on the whim of a flawed, feel-good, ideology.

So why?

The only practical reason that I can see for Obama pulling his troops out of Iraq is that with an Iranian confrontation looming which includes action needed in Syria, Iraq frankly isn’t important enough any more or at best, an impractical option for a potentially over-stretched military.

Of course, Obama – a man of the progressive Left – can’t actually come out and say that but it is reasonably well-known to those who don’t just get their news from the MSM that Obama is actually more of a war-time president than Bush was, having committed more troops to both Iraq and Afghanistan, and for a longer period of time.

So whilst the MSM might play along with the “bringing the troops home” narrative, the evidence indicates this simply isn’t the case.

Some 20,000 marines, seamen and air crews from half a dozen countries, a US nuclear aircraft carrier strike group and three US Marine gunship carriers are practicing an attack on a fictitious mechanized enemy division which has invaded its neighbor. It is the largest amphibian exercise seen in the West for a decade, staged to simulate a potential Iranian invasion of an allied Persian Gulf country and a marine landing on the Iranian coast. Based largely on US personnel and hardware, French, British, Italian, Dutch, Australian* and New Zealand military elements are integrated in the drill.
Bold Alligator went into its operational phase Monday, Feb. 6, the same day as a large-scale exercise began in southern Iran opposite the Strait of Hormuz. This simultaneity attests to the preparations for a US-Iranian showdown involving Israel behind the words on Feb. 5 of US President Barack Obama (“I don’t think Israel has decided whether to attack Iran”) and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Feb. 3 (“The war itself will be ten times as detrimental to the US.”).

(*BTW, I don’t recall Aussie PM Gillard highlighting that one.)

And this:

As the US and Israel carried on bickering over the right time to strike Iran’s nuclear sites, their war preparations continued apace. debkafile’s military sources report that flight after flight of US warplanes and transports were to be seen this week cutting eastward through the skies of Sinai on their way to Gulf destinations, presumably Saudi Arabia, at a frequency not seen in the Middle East for many years.

Add into this mix reports that China will reportedly help Saudi Arabia build a nuclear bomb, and that both China and India have started paying Iran for its oil in gold thus helping thwart current US/UN sanctions (more of which were recently thwarted by Russia and China), then we see a stage set for a showdown and we see the reality that rhetoric aside, Obama won’t be bringing many troops home at all.

To someone who doesn’t know any better, it’s as if Russia, India, and China – all wannabe first chickens to the trough – are ganging up on America.**

PS Who wouldn’t love to be a fly on the wall listening in to what the US is really saying about China? Their ever-expanding use of soft power is in many ways, stuffing it all up for America. China must surely be becoming an ever-increasing pain in the neck.

This leaves Australia in an interesting position. Our main export partner is China. Our main ally is the US. We send China our goodies to help them get rich and rival America. We practice shooting our guns with America to help keep America on top.

And yet China and America are also so deep in each other’s pockets. America buys China’s goods. China buys America’s debt.

Fun times.

** I highly recommend reading The Lucifer Principle by Howard Bloom. Part of the book talks about the pecking order of nations.

Er, OK


You go, big guy.

Iran’s ambassador to Moscow:

“Iran is in a very good position to deliver retaliatory strikes on America around the world. Even if it attacks, we have a list of counter actions. … An attack on Iran would be suicidal for them.”

You just know Obama is shaking in his Air Jordans.

Will Israel strike Iran in April?


Possibly.

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has been outspoken about a possible Israeli offensive against Iran taking place as of April and one American TV channel theorized simplistically Friday, Feb. 3, about Israel’s tactics. At the same time, no US source is leveling on the far more extensive American, Saudi, British, French and Gulf states’ preparations going forward for an offensive against the Islamic Republic.

Tehran too is gearing up for conflict: The Iranian Guards Ground Forces chief Brig. Gen. Mohammad Pakpour Saturday, Feb. 4 announced the start of a three-week exercise in southern Iran and the Strait of Hormuz under conditions of war. debkafile: The “exercise” is in fact an Iranian military buildup ahead of a possible American or Israel attack.

debkafile’s military sources report a steady flow of many thousands of US troops for some weeks to two strategic islands within reach of Iran, Oman’s Masirah just south of the Strait of Hormuz and Socotra, between Yemen and the Horn of Africa.

Read on.

It appears the UN isn’t all that interested.

Watching CNN this morning, it seems Obama isn’t interested in a military strike at the moment, but the former US ambassador to Iran did indicate there are various other efforts still available, including further sanctions on Iran’s central bank.

And via JM Heinrichs, some lessons on Iran by David P. Goldman.

Will sanctions persuade Iran to stop building nuclear weapons? No such question can be answered with finality, but it is more likely that the Obama administration’s graduated sanctions will accelerate Tehran’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. The Obama administration, according to news accounts, is aghast that Israel might take preemptive action rather than give sanctions time to work. Sanctions, though, are more likely to prompt Iran to stake everything on the nuclear card. The last time the West dealt with a similar case, the prospect of economic collapse and the fear of regime change motivated the outbreak of World War II.

Iran is planning to double its defense budget even though its currency is collapsing. These are related events: in the medium term, the free-fall of Iran’s rial constitutes a transfer of wealth to the government from what remains of Iran’s private sector. As the Washington Post reported yesterday, “The government, which receives oil revenue mostly in dollars and euros, is profiting from the rial’s decline, analysts said. ‘Their income is in dollars, so a strong dollar helps them to buy more rials to pay their bills,’ said one prominent economist, who asked not to be identified, for fear of reprisals.” At least for the time being, sanctions strengthen the relative position of the regime, while undermining its long-term staying power — unless, of course, Tehran begins a new set of regional wars under a nuclear umbrella.

Read on.

Also via JM:

@Blazing Cat Fur

Frankly, I see Obama forcing Israel into a tight spot.

UPDATE

Is Obama so reluctant to get involved military with Iran because, despite the narrative, it’s actually going abyssmally in Afghanistan?

From the keyboard of a Lt. Col. who was on the ground:

What I saw bore no resemblance to rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground.

Entering this deployment, I was sincerely hoping to learn that the claims were true: that conditions in Afghanistan were improving, that the local government and military were progressing toward self-sufficiency. I did not need to witness dramatic improvements to be reassured, but merely hoped to see evidence of positive trends, to see companies or battalions produce even minimal but sustainable progress.

Instead, I witnessed the absence of success on virtually every level.

H/T JM

As Iran inches ever closer to the bomb…


Not the best news for a Sunday…

Tehran media trumpeted the news Sunday, Jan. 8 that Iran’s deep underground uranium enrichment site at Fordo near Qom goes stream soon, thereby crossing another line in its faceoff with the West on its weapons program. The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Fereydoun Abbasi Davani told the Kayhan daily: … 20 percent, 3.5 percent and four percent enriched uranium can be produced at this site.” debkafile’s military sources report that 60 percent is equally feasible, just one step before weapons grade.

And once it’s online, we can’t attack it. Something had better be done pronto before it’s too late.

We waited too long with North Korea and now look where we are.

Meanwhile, South Korea is wise to reconsider its dependence on Iran’s oil.

UPDATE

Ex-military bloke JM Heinrichs in comments says there would, actually, be a few ways to render even a deep underground facility ineffective.

UPDATE II

The situation is ramping up.

Iran launched a military maneuver near its border with Afghanistan on Saturday, the semi-official Fars news agency reported, days after naval exercises in the Gulf increased tensions with the West and pushed up oil prices.

And this:

Tension in the oil shipping lanes of the Gulf looks set to intensify amid indications that Iran, Israel and the US will hold military exercises designed to test weaponry and tactics.

Unlikely


Still, who knows with this kind of stuff.

Iran guided the CIA‘s “lost” stealth drone to an intact landing inside hostile territory by exploiting a navigational weakness long-known to the US military, according to an Iranian engineer now working on the captured drone’s systems inside Iran.

Via Instapundit who notes, “If true, the GPS spoofing is a huge issue.”

A good question left unanswered


And that question is:

Why didn’t Obama just destroy the drone when he had the chance?

UPDATE

Another drone crash, this time in the Seychelles.

“no accident”


The middle east is a volatile enough region as it is. What an even bigger headache it would be if Iran ever fully realises their nuclear weapon capabilities.

AN IRANIAN nuclear facility has been hit by a huge explosion, the second such blast in a month, prompting speculation that Tehran’s military and atomic sites are under attack.

Satellite imagery seen by The Times confirmed that a blast that rocked the city of Isfahan on Monday struck the uranium enrichment facility there, despite denials by Tehran.

The images clearly showed billowing smoke and destruction, negating Iranian claims yesterday that no such explosion had taken place. Israeli intelligence officials told The Times that there was “no doubt” that the blast struck the nuclear facilities at Isfahan and that it was “no accident”.

Indeed; turning the screws.

And some of the fallout from the new sanctions imposed on Iran?

Britain has evacuated all its diplomatic staff from Iran, Western diplomatic sources told Reuters on Wednesday, a day after protesters stormed and ransacked its embassy and a residential compound.

UPDATE (via JM)

A decent look into what could happen to oil prices – various scenarios – in the event of a war with Iran.

Trouble in Syria


As Syria’s Assad regime countinues to slaughter its own people (including the killing and torture of 256 children), it is fast turning into a standoff between Russia and the US in the region.

The Syrian crisis aassumed a big power dimension this week with the build-up of rival United States and Russia naval air carrier armadas in Syrian waters, debkafile’s military sources report.

The USS George H.W. Bush arrived Wednesday, Nov. 23, in the wake of the three Russian warships anchored earlier opposite Tartus which established a command post in the Syrian port. They will be augmented by Russia’s only air carrier the Admiral Kuznetsov, which is due in mid-week.

By deploying 70 ship-borne fighter-bombers plus three heavy guided missile cruisers and five guided missile destroyers opposite Syria, Washington has laid down military support for any intervention the Arab League in conjunction with Turkey may decide on.

Bashar Assad can see for himself that Washington has hoisted a nuclear aerial umbrella to protect its allies, Israel, Turkey, and Jordan, against the retaliation his armed forces high command pledged Friday for the deaths of six Syrian air force elite pilots in an ambush Thursday.

But why would Russia be so concerned about Syria? Well, as usual, it’s a case of follow the money.

Russia has a strong financial stake in the survival of the Assad regime. But it also opposes Western intervention on principle – particularly in the wake of NATO’s Libya campaign.

We’re talking a financial stake to the tune of $20 billion.

And (from that link), it gets messier.

Much of the funding for the arms deals reportedly is underwritten by Iran, which signed several defense agreements with Syria from 2005. That enables some of the weapons allegedly to be quietly transferred to Iran thus circumventing a United Nations ban of arms exports to the Islamic Republic.

Now isn’t that just fine and dandy.

Russia also claims it prefers stability essentially over the West’s preference for democracy. It says the alternative to these regimes, instead of being democracies, could indeed be much worse.

More on that stability mantra here:

Putin promised Russians stability, a word he repeated often throughout his speech. In countering criticism that he has tightened his control at the expense of democracy, Putin insisted that Russia needs a “stable political system” to guarantee “stable development” for decades to come.

Indeed.

Presumably, Russia didn’t like what happened in Eqypt either.

A second day of voting has begun in Egypt in the first elections since former President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown with indications of a high turnout in Cairo and other big cities.

The first day of polling for a new parliament was mainly peaceful.

Voting was extended by two hours to cope with long queues and few security problems were reported.

And from that link, the BBC’s Cairo correspondent, Kevin Connolly:

Most parties seem to agree though that Egypt is on course for a record turnout. An indication of the pent-up appetite for democracy – allowed free expression at last.

PS No wonder Russia didn’t like Obama’s InstaWar-that-wasn’t-actually-a-war in Libya. It could well cost them $10 billion in lost business deals if the new government there decides it’s not interested in deals Ghaddafi signed before his ousting.

UPDATE (Via JM)

It may well not be as tense between the US and Russia as my earlier links suggest.

Calm down, the aircraft carrier is not off Syria

With little having been disclosed to the public at this point, and no assurance as to what is actually being planned or proposed, speculation is rampant.  DEBKA and the Russian agency RT are hyperventilating today over a report that USS George H W Bush (CVN-77) has anchored off the Syrian coast.  But Bush actually pulled into Marseilles on the 25th for a long-scheduled port visit (and posted photos from a reception in Marseilles on Saturday at her Facebook page).  French local press confirms the carrier’s presence.

The Russians may or may not have dispatched three warships to Tartus to signal that they don’t want a Western intervention in Syria, and that they want to protect their alliance with the Assad regime.  The report originated with Syria, and Russia is being coy about the ships.  It would be very easy to disprove the Syrian news story, if the ships aren’t there.  And they may well be, calling in Tartus from the anti-piracy station off Somalia, as a Russian anti-piracy task force did in September.

Meanwhile, reports that the Russian carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is in the Med are premature.  As of 24 November, the carrier and her escorts were still in the Northern Fleet operations area in the Barents Sea, awaiting a pre-deployment inspection.  The transit to the Strait of Gibraltar will take at least 8 days once it starts; the Russian media report that Kuznetsov will be in the Med in December.  Her deployment has been scheduled for some time; of course her activities are indicators of Russian national interests, but they aren’t necessarily an indication of reaction to yesterday’s news.

UPDATE II (via JM)

Kerching!

Not an ammo dump?


You know, the Iranian “ammo dump” that blew up yesterday, killing their missile program’s big cheese?

An Iranian exile group claimed Saturday that a blast near Tehran hit a missile base run by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, disputing the Iranian government’s account that it occurred at an ammunition depot.

Interesting. We’ll likely never know but, of course. ;-)

Iran’s gas pipelines and military installations have been hit by several mysterious blasts in recent years, and Tehran has accused the West of engaging in a campaign of sabotage and assassination against the regime.

Why would anyone want to sabotage Iran?

*snicker*

In other military news about governments we don’t really like…

China launched two satellites Wednesday as part of a decade-long rapid expansion of earth-monitoring capabilities that also buttress the country’s growing military prowess.

Yaogan-12, the primary cargo of the launch, is the twelfth model in a series of “remote sensing” satellites that many analysts believe are tasked with gathering military intelligence. China, which has never acknowledged a defense-related launch, claims that the satellite will be used for “scientific experiments, land survey, crop yield assessment, and disaster monitoring.”

Not for military purposes?

Yeah, right.
H/T JM

UPDATE (sorry, was about to knock off work, JM, and didn’t open these links)

Ze plot thickens…

Our sources report increasing evidence that the first explosion was caused by a failed effort to mount a possible nuclear warhead on a Shahab-3 intermediate-range missile.

Reports there of foreign engineers been taken to the military hospital (to avoid any embarrassing leaks) instead of a regular hospital.

But then there’s this…

US blogger Richard Silverstein said Saturday that Israel was the mastermind behind the blast the killed at least 17 people at an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps base near Tehran.

In his blog, Tikun Olam, Silverstein quotes an Israeli expert as saying that the Mossad was responsible for the explosion, in collaboration with the Iranian militant opposition group Mojahedin-e-Khalq.

One thing’s for sure. A bit of “ammo” exploding surely wouldn’t do that much damage and be heard and felt miles and miles away.

It’s all very James Bond.

UPDATE II

Iran will have five nukes by April 2012. Only 2-3 months left for military option

Great site, JM. That, and Strategy Page, too (pity I can’t access SP at work though)

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