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Iranian elections: the background

The clerics are all but dictating how the vote should go. Areas that vote as they are instructed will receive favorable programs after the election. To qualify for these programs, there must be a considerable voter turnout in the area, and the voters must select the regime’s approved candidates.

Prices for almost everything have risen as the rial has declined. Food prices are becoming a political problem, as has access to some basic food products.

Iran has taken extraordinary steps to prevent their version of the Arab Spring. Security forces and clergy have played an active role in preventing this.

There is rising unrest among the middle class. The more rural areas have been showing signs of unrest for several years, and they don’t always vote the way the clerics direct, as they tend to receive fewer economic benefits.

Shiite clergy have become more tolerant towards Sunni clergy in Iran, and they have been working with them to achieve goals outside Iran. Sunni influence has helped with Egypt and has been useful in continued conflict with Americans in Iran. It’s not just the Taliban upsetting the Afghan people over American actions in Iran. The burning of the Quran is the big one. Iran has been funneling funds to Sunni clergy in Afghanistan through the Sunni clerics in Iran. The goal is speed the reduction of NATO forces in Iran—and American forces in particular—before they can stabilize the more secular government structure in place now. An Islamic nation is not enough for Iran. They want an Afghanistan based on Islamic law again. That means they will assist the Taliban in regaining power.

The public has suffered from the economic sanctions. Fear of further sanctions in the near future are having a bigger effect. With rising unemployment and prices, the general public feels the current leadership is endangering Iran’s economic future.

The Iranians have had a hard time ensuring Hezbollah’s cooperation against Israel. Hezbollah wanted to take a more defensive position than Iran wanted, out of fear of Israel attacking Lebanon. To counter this, Iran is going to build up the Lebanese army for defensive purposes in order to encourage Hezbollah to once again become the offensive force Iran is paying it to be. Hezbollah will remain the major armed and political force in Lebanon.

If the Clerics and the Guard feel their hold on Iran is slipping due to American pressure, they will attack Israel. Anti Zionism and Anti Americanism are the two main tools the clerics have for keeping public support. When anyone tries to publicly suggest that Iran comply with the IAEA program in order to get the sanctions lifted, they are very quickly labelled a Zionist spy or American sympathizer and jailed—or worse. Many believe that the clerics will attack Israel before they allow themselves to lose their hold on Iran’s government.

Clashes with Lebanon: where is proportionality?

After the Lebanese fired four rockets into Israel, scoring a hit on a farm, Israel shelled non-existent targets in the offending country.

For months, our government have been saying that it holds Lebanon responsible for all actions by terrorist groups because Hezbollah is now a part of the government. Where is the response now? Why have government buildings in Beirut still not been flattened?

Gadhafi’s departure brought Sadr’s skeleton into limelight

Thirty-three years ago, Moussa Sadr fled to Libya, where he stayed at Gadhafi’s invitation. Sadr, the founder of the Amal Shiite terrorist group, was a charismatic cleric bitterly at odds with the younger and much more radical Hezbollah, and he blocked Iranian inroads into the Lebanese Shiite community. So he conveniently disappeared in Libya amid the fighting between Hezbollah and Amal. As Rabbi Kahane used to say, “Peace between Jews and Arabs? I’m waiting for peace between Arabs and Arabs. Between Hezbollah and Amal.”

Plenty of parties would pay Gadhafi to get rid of Sadr, including Israel, the US, France, Hezbollah, or Iran. Now, as the Libyan rebels rampage through government buildings, embarrassing documents may surface, shedding light on Iran’s involvement in his murder. In an effort to prevent a major PR disaster, Iran is leaning on the rebels to create a joint commission of inquiry into Sadr’s whereabouts.

Moussa Sadr

The usual culprits

HAMAS FighterThe Israeli government explains its inaction in the wake of Hamas’ missile war against the Jewish state by citing Iran’s involvement. They expect Iran to step up the war if Israel does likewise, so they say it is better to swallow the blows. Wrong.

The Ayatollahs are decidedly cowardly, which is a particularly Iranian trait. They expand only where their enemies contract. When the Saudis firmly opposed them in Bahrain, for example, the Iranians backed down immediately.

The Israeli government invents wild stories of PIJ and PRC receiving 10,000 heavy rockets from Iran. That is impossible: smuggling through Africa and Sinai is far more complicated than border transfers from Syria to Hezbollah, which netted the terrorist group 50,000 missiles in five years. And unlike Hezbollah, PIJ and PRC have nowhere to hide their allegedly vast arsenals on the minuscule Gaza Strip.

It is silly to distinguish between moderate Hamas and radical PIJ. Both depend on Iran financially. Formal takeover of Gaza by PIJ, which would happen if we were to bomb Hamas out of power, would be a political boon for Israel, silencing the voices of peaceniks for years to come.

Another imagined problem is the possibility that Hezbollah might attack from the north if Israel were to move against Gaza. Hardly so. Hezbollah is now a governing party, which legitimizes broad Israeli reprisals against Lebanese targets. The last thing Hezbollah wants is to lose its hard-won political gains and popular support, which have already been jeopardized by the Hariri indictments. On the contrary, it would be in Israel’s interest to conduct a small war in Lebanon to destroy Hezbollah’s arsenals. In that war, we would enjoy the cooperation of Saudi Arabia; the Saudis would provide us with excellent intelligence on Hezbollah, which has traditionally been hard for our agencies to penetrate.

No one would listen, but we had a great opportunity to test our nuclear weapons and reestablish our reputation among our Arab enemies as a mad state.

Terms changed for gas profit sharing

The terms of gas exploration in the Israeli Mediterranean have changed, with Hezbollah announcing that it will retaliate against Jewish targets because Israel has robbed Lebanon of its gas reserves. Never mind the declaration of war from the major party in the Lebanese government.

Now IDF will have to protect corporate interests and indefensible gas-drilling platforms against Hezbollah attacks. Residents of North Israel will probably have to suffer the rocket attacks provoked by such exploration. Essentially, gas drilling will be a state-run operation.

Under the circumstances, it would be only honest to compensate the company for its exploration efforts and revoke the drilling license.

New lucrative terror targets

Lebanon has hired a company to perform a geological survey of the disputed shelf zone, obviously to sell concessions for gas drilling in the Leviathan field. Large international companies would flock to the Lebanese government for concessions because Israel has already sold her share to private companies. Lebanese claims will thus be backed by major corporate interests.

Lebanese claims are not without merit: the economic maritime area is not demarcated between our countries, and the bilateral demarcation agreements with Cyprus are irrelevant. Lebanese claims in the UN will automatically be backed by the Muslim majority.

Gas drilling platforms in the sea will be easy targets for Hezbollah attacks.

Hard to stop the aid

Two years ago, we predicted Hezbollah’s takeover of the Lebanese government. Under the Western pressure, Hezbollah was nominally excluded from the government although the terrorist group still controlled it.

After Obama’s massive failures in Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, Hezbollah no longer felt the need to pretend to comply with his wishes. Lebanon now has a government with a Hezbollah majority. The US, however, cannot stop its aid to Lebanon, at least the non-military part. And significant arms deliveries from the previous military aid will now fall to Hezbollah.

America faces a similar problem in Egypt, which remains a recipient of $1.2 billion in aid despite its intense hostility toward the US and Israel. Likewise the PA continues to receive US and Israeli aid despite the Fatah-Hamas unity deal.

Lebanese government cooperates with Israel

Expecting mass clashes when IDF repels border trespassers, the Lebanese government has declared its border with Israel a closed military zone. Since the government is heavily influenced by Hezbollah, it follows that either the terrorist group wants a pretext to avoid confrontation with Israel, or the government is washing its hands by setting up a buffer zone which the protesters will ignore.

Netanyahu practically invited the Arab protesters to break into Israel by promising that the troops will exercise restraint.

Who supports Hezbollah in the Hague?

The Hariri tribunal has announced yet another delay for its indictment—this time because it allegedly has gotten some new information.

A delay of several months would allow Hezbollah to establish a pro-Iranian government in Lebanon. The move seems to be a part of Obama’s understanding with the ayatollahs. He did not prevent the dissolution of Hariri Jr’s government, and in fact signaled his approval for the Hezbollah government by promising US aid to the Lebanese army.

The US aid to Hezbollah

Hillary Clinton is pushing through Congress a $100 million aid package for the Lebanese Army.

As the rest of the world has noted, the pro-Western Hariri government has failed, replaced de facto by an Iranian-brokered cabinet controlled by Hezbollah. What conceivable reason could there be for the United States to aid the Lebanese Army, which is strongly influenced—if not outright controlled—by Hezbollah, and whose only targets are Jews?

Lebanon: how the West lost

Najib MikatiSurprisingly, Hezbollah has amassed a majority bloc in the Lebanese parliament and is about to form a new government without Hariri. We expected this development in the 2009 elections, but not now. The difference is due to paralysis of Western players who failed to bribe as many MPs as did Hezbollah. It used to be that the Saudis took care of such jobs in the Lebanese parliament, but this time the Saudis scaled back their usual intervention, frustrated by America’s failure to squeeze Syria out of Lebanese politics and Iran out of the race for Middle East hegemony.

So the West lost Hariri Sr in the assassination, and Hariri Jr in the dissolution of the impotent government whose crisis the United States and France provoked with their unnecessary tribunal.

Curiously, the billionaire Hariri is being replaced as the PM by another billionaire, Mikati. Which shows a bigger problem for the West: Hezbollah got sufficient financial sources among local businessmen and cannot be moderated through Syria. The West has now a short window of opportunity to befriend Hezbollah while it can act with relative independence from Iran. Failing to do so may result in a much stronger Hezbollah, Iran’s independent partner.

Hezbollah’s government has also inherited a Lebanese army beefed up by the US aid.

Lebanon: what will the West do?

Nasrallah and HaririBy unwittingly pursuing the Hariri tribunal, Western powers have caused themselves a serious problem which they should have predicted.

Hariri Jr.’s relatively pro-Western government has been dissolved, and he won’t be able to form a new one without Hezbollah. Syria and Saudi Arabia stopped whatever small cooperation they had been providing on Lebanon. Lebanese Druze were forced to choose between Syria and the West, and they chose a reliable partner—Syria.

But the biggest problem will come when Hezbollah bosses are indicted for Hariri Sr.’s assassination. The verdict will effectively label Hezbollah a terrorist organization when to all purposes it has transformed itself into a political party. Instead of continuing to drag Hezbollah into the mainstream—the only way to disengage Lebanese Shiites from Iran—the West will be forced to ostracize the terrorist group. The problem will become completely unsolvable if Hezbollah refuses to deliver its people for prosecution, and the Lebanese government will be slapped with international sanctions.

The US already threatened to withhold its aid to Lebanon if Hezbollah forms a new government. An empty threat that is. The US aid to Lebanon is small compared to Iranian donations to Hezbollah. The US provides aid even to Hamas government in Gaza, albeit with some weasel wording.

The best solution would be to suspend the trial without canceling it.

The West Bank scenario unfolds in Lebanon

Hezbollah pulled out of the government in expectation of indictment by the Hariri tribunal. The move only confirms that Hezbollah has transformed itself from a terrorist group into a political party. For a militant group, it would have made sense to remain in the government and disregard the tribunal’s verdict. A political group, on the other hand, cares about its image more than power or money, so Hezbollah prevented PR fallout from the verdict by staging a PR coup of its own. And so Hezbollah the political party brought down Hariri’s government to deflect the upcoming indictment.

We reiterate our view that a Hezbollah coup is unlikely. Nasrallah knows that Israel would be only too happy to use that as a pretext to bomb his arsenal of 60,000 rockets.

More likely, the Lebanese government will follow the path of Fatah: a technically illegitimate government continues to operate as long as a new government cannot be formed.

Lebanon tests Israeli resolve

The Lebanese government filed a complaint with the UN accusing Israel of violating Lebanese maritime rights for the Leviathan gas field. Since Israel’s border with Lebanon is not officially set, Lebanon has a meaningful claim on the field. Now Hezbollah has to claim a few former Shiite villages in the vicinity of Haifa in order to get a share in the gas field.

And why shouldn’t they? Jews gave copper and uranium mines to Jordan, oil and uranium to Egypt, and a gas field to Gaza, so why not give a gas field to Lebanon?

Leviathan natural gas field rig

The taste of losing the Golan Heights

The US-funded Lebanese army discovered and dismantled three of the Israeli warning stations located in the mountains of Lebanon. While there are some controversies related to the published photographs, they appear to be our early-warning stations for long-range missiles. These stations have secretly worked for years in Lebanon, providing Israel with a line of defense against attacks by Syria and Hezbollah.

Much larger warning stations are located on the Golan Heights, which every government for the past twenty years has contemplated abandoning to Syria.

Jewish congressmen eager for fake guarantees

Two Jews in the US Congress, the chairwoman of the Foreign Operations subcommittee and the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, have approved $100 million in aid to the Lebanese army.

The aid was put on hold in August amid concerns that it might into Hezbollah’s hands. So, what has changed since then? A lot: those two Jews received written assurances from the White House that Hezbollah would not benefit from the aid.

The two Jews preferred to ignore the Lebanese government’s decision that in the case of a war with Israel, Hezbollah will join the Lebanese armed forces.

Howard Berman

Lebanon: Hezbollah this way or that way

Assassination of Rafic HaririHezbollah is conducting exercises, preparing for a takeover of Beirut in case the international tribunal implicates the group in Hariri’s murder. The Lebanese army is weak and heavily infiltrated by Hezbollah, and thus stands no chance against it. Lacking firm support from Israel, Druze will not oppose Hezbollah, at least not until the terrorist group tries to extend its control over Christian and Druze areas.

The Saudis and Syrians are pushing Hariri Jr. to step down and thus effectively dissolve the tribunal. Should he do so, Hezbollah will immediately fill the power vacuum with one of its puppets.

The idea of the Hariri tribunal was misconceived. It relied on the assumption that the West and the Saudis would be able to enforce the tribunal’s decision—an impossible outcome. What was the point of the tribunal? Was it to ostracize Hezbollah? The group is not ostracized for its involvement in international terrorism, so who cares about the assassination of an ex-PM? Shaming Hezbollah into retreat? Absurd. Teaching Hezbollah a lesson by jailing its top brass? The perpetrators were released from detention well before the trial.

The West merely staged a show trial, and in doing so created a government crisis in Lebanon, which brought that fragmented country to the brink of an Iranian takeover.

US aid against Israel

The Lebanese Defense Ministry rejected US aid if it would be conditioned on Lebanon’s agreement not to target Israel. It’s not much of a demand, really: the Lebanese government can always promise to comply, but break its word later. But they refuse to honor even a rhetorical condition.

Which means that prior US military aid to Lebanon was not conditioned on the Hezbollah state abstaining from using it against Israel.

American aid to Lebanon nicely coincides with Iran, Syria, and Turkey also sending armaments to Lebanese paramilitaries who are officially a part of the Lebanese army.

Israel: our borders are fluid

An attack by the US-armed Lebanese army on the IDF, which left one officer dead, highlights the issue of borders.

Israeli troops operated within what Israel considers our sovereign borders. International agreements also recognize those borders.

Over the years, Israeli governments have abandoned several square miles of sovereign Israeli land. For the sake of expediency, the actual border was demarcated well into Israeli territory. Much of our internationally recognized land, thus, lay well outside the border fence. Not in a single instance did Israel similarly fence off Lebanese land.

The death of the IDF officer rests upon the government traitors who de facto surrendered the land which we own de jure. The Lebanese were simply defending what is, de facto, their land.

The Biography of Benjamin Netanyahu

by Barry Chamish

In 1976, the loss of his brother Yoni during the Entebbe raid derailed Binyamin’s plans to become an architect. Instead he settled for an MA in business administration and took a post at the Boston Consulting Group. His boss was Ira Magaziner, the man who later became the intellectual force behind the Clinton administration’s failed health-care reform package.

Already earning $100,000, and with a splendid career ahead of him, Netanyahu decided to give it all up and return to Israel to act as the marketing manager of a furniture concern, RIM Furniture, for a fraction of his Boston salary.
In 1979, Netanyahu organized an anti-terrorism conference in Jerusalem, dedicating it to his fallen brother. Somehow the unknown twenty-seven-year-old managed to attract the likes of CIA Director George Bush, Council On Foreign Relations (CFR) executive George Shultz, and Richard Perle (President’s Reagan’s chief arms negotiator) to the meeting, thrusting him briefly onto the world stage. But when the conference ended, it was back to
work at the furniture factory.

That all changed in 1982, when Israel’s Washington ambassador, Moshe Arens, appointed Netanyahu to be his deputy. This unprecedented career rise was the subject of much speculation. Arens was forced to explain, “People got a good laugh when they heard I phoned a furniture factory to find a deputy. What sold me on Bibi was his organization of the anti-terror conference, and the strong impression he made on the American leaders who participated.”

In the 2001 CFR annual report, Moshe Arens was listed as a member of the CFR’s Foreign Advisory Committee, followed in alphabetical order by the PLO’s Hanan Ashrawi. Arens admitted that Bush, Shultz, and Perle had pressed him to advance Netanyahu’s career and he fell in line.

In 1984, after two visibly successful years as Arens’ deputy, Bibi was named Israel’s ambassador to the UN. In another of those ironies that seem to follow him, he was appointed to the post by Shimon Peres over the objections of Yitzhak Shamir. It was the leader of the Labour Party who promoted Bibi’s early career.

And what a wise investment that turned out to be. Since Netanyahu has become Prime Minister, no matter how badly Labour has been mauled in the polls, the leader of the Likud—or its offspring Kadima—has always given the leader of Labour a vital cabinet Post. Ehud Barak is now Defence Minister even though Labour only won 8% of the vote. Sharon made Shimon Peres his Foreign Minister, while Ehud Olmert appointed the incompetent Amir Peretz as his
Defence Minister.

In 1985, Shultz chaired another anti-terror convention in Washington, which was supposedly organized by Netanyahu. Further,whenever George Bush visited New York—which was often—he would call on UN Ambassador Netanyahu.

Having groomed and financed Netanyahu into office, the CFR made certain his tenure as head of the opposition did not endanger the Oslo process. Though Netanyahu had the goods on enough scandals to fell Labor (e.g., Peres’ organization of the Rabin assassination), he was a remarkably restrained opposition leader. In September 1995, PM Rabin told what he thought was a funny story on Israel Television One. It seems his CFR handler, Henry Kissinger, phoned him to relate that Netanyahu had called to ask him to declare that American troops not be stationed on the Golan Heights as part of a peace deal with Syria. Whom Kissinger was supposed to relay this request to was not revealed. Kissinger, according to Rabin, laughed at Bibi and told him to quit bothering him. The next day Netanyahu confirmed this phone call but denied Rabin’s mocking version of it.

The moral of the story is that the leaders of both the government and the opposition got their orders from the same CFR officer. When most Israelis vote, they actually believe it is a personal lesson in democracy. They don’t even consider that the timing of the election and the primary candidates for office, Left and Right, are run out of the New York office of the CFR.

Early in 2001, Binyamin Netanyahu was in the midst of a lucrative speaking tour when he shared a private meeting with George Shultz and Henry Kissinger. In Netanyahu’s own words, Shultz and Kissinger told him it was time for elections in Israel. In fact, it wasn’t. Elections weren’t scheduled for another two years. Nonetheless, Netanyahu interrupted his tour, caught the first plane back to Israel, had a few words with Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and caught the next plane back to New York. Two days later Barak resigned as Prime Minister and called for new elections in which he would remain a candidate. It made no sense to Israelis, who were unaware that they had no power over their electoral system; that was controlled from New York.

Elections are timed so as to changes  to Israeli policy quickly, while the new Prime Minister is immune to public revolt. In 1992, Rabin entered the Oslo process immediately after his election. In 1996, Netanyahu unilaterally pulled out of Hebron within days of forming a government. In 1999, new PM Ehud Barak quickly ordered IDF troops out of Southern Lebanon, leaving our mostly Christian ally, the South Lebanese Army, defenseless against retaliation. In 2001, a Right Winger would have to replace Barak to get Israel out of Gaza and Northern Samaria. Ariel Sharon was the man for the job.

But wait, you may say! Wasn’t Sharon ruined when he ordered Falangist troops into their famed massacre at Sabra and Shatilla in 1982? Not at all. Once you have the CFR on your side, nothing will ever ruin your political career. Even Rabin’s murderer Shimon Peres survived all indignities to become Netanyahu’s President. But all is fair since, after all, Netanyahu got his job by blackmailing Peres over the Rabin murder in 1996. (Scroll to the end for proof).

Will Israelis ever wake up and understand that they don’t live in a democracy? Will they finally realize that the current PM Binyamin Netanyahu is not working in their interests, but that electing someone else will change nothing? Or that no common citizen can ever become Prime Minister. For that honor, you are chosen, financed, and aided from the Manhattan headquarters of the CFR, or you go on selling fish in the market.