Lots of news about Iran lately, none of it good:
PENTAGON – It?s the number one killer of American troops in Iraq: roadside bombs.
The massive roadside bomb that killed 14 Marines Wednesday flipped their 37-ton vehicle on its top and blew it some 40 feet down the road.
Tonight, there?s disturbing information that some of the most sophisticated of these deadly weapons are reportedly coming from Iran.
U.S. military and intelligence officials tell NBC News that American soldiers intercepted a large shipment of high explosives, smuggled into northeastern Iraq from Iran only last week.
The officials say the shipment contained dozens of “shaped charges” manufactured recently. Shaped charges are especially lethal because they?re designed to concentrate and direct a more powerful blast into a small area.
?They?ll go right through a very heavily armored vehicle like an M1-A1 tank from one side right out the other side,? says retired U.S. Army General Barry McCaffrey.
Military officials say there?s only one use for shaped charges ? to kill American forces ? and insurgents started using them in Iraq with deadly effectiveness three months ago.
Intelligence officials believe the high-explosives were shipped into Iraq by the Iranian Revolutionary guard or the terrorist group Hezbollah, but are convinced it could not have happened without the full consent of the Iranian government.
Strange bedfellow’s, that’s for sure. But we have seen much stranger with Osama and Saddam becoming associates of opportunity.
Then there is the news of a military helicopter opening up on a group of protestors:
At least 11 people were reportedly killed after police opened fire on protestors from both the ground and military helicopters in the air.
?Following the recent unrest in certain Kurdish towns, riots broke out yesterday in the town of Saqqez and a group that was previously unheard of called the Militant Students Organisation caused trouble by damaging a number of shops, banks, and government property?, Jomhouri Islami wrote.
?The troublemakers, while throwing stones and other material at banks, attacked the governor?s office in Saqqez as they moved along?, the semi-official daily, which is close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, reported.
?It is said that two of the troublemakers were shot at when they tried to disarm agents of the State Security Forces?, it added.
Eye-witnesses reported that anti-government protests began in Saqqez at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, as hundreds of young people took to the streets and attacked government buildings and set fire to several vehicles belonging to security forces.
The only good news out of this story is that demonstrations are still happening even tho the Iranian military is killing them:
Witnesses reported that women took part in great numbers during today?s clashes with the security forces. One witness described how several women attacked policemen who had detained a teenage boy and freed him.
In Hahlou Square, protestors chanted ?Down with Khamenei?, referring to Iran?s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The Islamic Republic News Agency is blaming the violence on “anarchists”.
… News agencies have reported trouble in the northern areas over the past two weeks, though the scale of the unrest has been unclear.
The protests in the Kurdish areas came after the killing of a Kurdish activist by Iranian security forces in the city of Mahabad on July 9. Since then, anti-regime demonstrations have erupted in the mainly Kurdish towns of Sanandaj, Mahabad, Sardasht, Piranshahr, Oshnavieh, Divandareh, Baneh, Sinne, Bokan and Saqiz.
In the worst violence so far, Iranian security forces are reported to have killed at least 12 Kurdish demonstrators and injured more than 70 in a clash in the city of Saqiz on Wednesday.
Witnesses said the unrest began just before noon as hundreds of protesters attacked a paramilitary outpost with sticks and stones. Government buildings, including the governor’s office, were also attacked and some were ransacked.
Protesters then gathered in the main square, chanting “Down with Khamenei”, the country’s supreme leader.
Witnesses said that security forces responded with live bullets, and some protesters were fired at by helicopters.
Ganji is near death, and Sa?id Farzaneh writes about the effects of his protest:
In recent days Ganji has been in the news and in the consciousness of many Iranians as well as leading international politicians and personalities, world public opinion and human rights advocates. A glance at the Iranian media, however, demonstrates the Islamic regime?s absolute determination to present Ganji?s saga as no big deal. The latest statement from the head of Iran?s judiciary is based on the argument that Ganji did not help his own predicament during his temporary release, making outspoken statements openly questioning the absolute rule of Supreme Leader Ayattolah Khamenei.
I have read many opinions about Ganji?s hunger strike, signed petitions supporting his demands but begging him to stay alive, and written letters to my Member of Parliament. I have received a reply expressing his concern as well as the plea of the British foreign minister on behalf of the European Union Presidency to the Iranian leaders to safeguard Ganji?s life.
I am, however, alarmed by the lack of any efforts by some of us at understanding where Ganji is coming from and accepting him for what he has decided to do. In an opinion by the blogger Hossein Derakhshan entitled , he writes: ?Only a dead Ganji would give Mr. Bush a unifying symbol (a martyr) for the future phases of their desperate efforts to change the regime of Iran from outside. That?s why they are all loving him so much. Because a dead Ganji will not be able to have nuanced opinions and could easily be hijacked by the neoconservatives for their own agenda. The authoritarian regime of Iran is smart enough to keep Ganji alive and to use him for their own future plans? … Ganji, in my mind, has started a game in which the only winner will again be Khamanei and the biggest loser would be himself ? and of course Mr. Bush.?
Derakhshan is not the only person who is judgemental about Ganji?s decision and steadfastness in his political beliefs, and somehow miraculously links it with ?Mr. Bush? or neo-conservatives? designs for regime change in Iran.
This is a serious misconception based on a number of falsehoods:
1. The Iranian regime is entitled by some undeniable rights or conventions to imprison those who criticise its leader and call for him to go. I am sitting peacefully in my London office and I can state categorically that ?the Queen must go?! At most I would be branded as a minority republican sympathiser not in line with mainstream British political opinion. The Ayatollah said the same thing about the Shah so many times from 15 Khordad 1342 (1963) to Jan 1979 and his maximum punishment was exile to Turkey, Najaf and then Paris.
2. A regime change can and will only happen in Iran from outside. Therefore, Ganji is not acting according to his own will but rather Mr. Bush?s. This is a misconception based either on the premise that all transitions to ?democracy? are somehow instigated by outside (the West) and therefore the people in Russia, Poland, Ukraine, and so forth have just been pawns in this grand scheme; or that, as in the case of Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran?s transition to democracy will only happen as a result of direct forceful interference by a US-led coalition. This view emanates from a sense of disempowerment, frustration and helplessness that ordinary people, like Ganji, me and you can change things and ascribes any political change to outside powers.
3. Ganji?s actions and decisions become devoid of their personal, human dimension. Ganji is a ?political animal? and yes he has been calculating his every step in response to the many letters from friends and threats from foes such as notorious Sa?id Mortazavi, Tehran?s chief prosecutor-inquisitor, who has constantly been ?negotiating? the terms of his freedom with him. But in the end he is also a human being and can decide for himself whether he is to ?eat his words? and stay his stay in the dungeons of his captives or to take some other course of action he feels appropriate based on his newfound viewpoint.
Of course like many other Iranians I fear for Akbar?s health and well-being. I want him alive and well, and the prospect of his death like with any needless loss of human life lingers heavily on my shoulders. But whatever happens next I have no doubt: Ganji never dies.
And finally, the Bush administration is considering denying the visa of President Elect Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad to address the UN:
The Bush administration is considering taking the unprecedented step of preventing a visting head of state from addressing the United Nations in New York by denying a visa to Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, Iran’s new elected conservative president.
Officials said a decision rested on investigations into whether Mr Ahmadi-Nejad was involved in the 1979 US embassy hostage crisis and the killing of an Iranian-Kurdish dissident leader in Vienna in 1989. Iran denies his involvement in either event. READ MORE
A top Iranian official confirmed Thursday that Mr Ahmadi-Nejad, who took office on Wednesday, planned to address the UN Millennium Summit and its annual General Assembly next month. His US visa application is expected to be submitted on Friday.
As he should. No terrorist should be allowed in this country, just because Clinton allowed a terrorist in during his years does not mean Bush should.