As the American presence dissipated, the Shi’ite majority, led by Maliki, quickly sought to consolidate power and mete out retribution on their former Sunni rulers.
Maliki’s aggressive consolidation of power immediately aggravated domestic tensions. Rising to power in mid-2006, by 2007 he had staffed the higher positions of government with Shia loyalists. Then he began distancing his government from Sunni and Kurdish leaders, despite Petraeus’ reassurances to Sunni leaders.Sponsored Ads
In 2009, he accused the Sunni security forces, known as the Sons of Iraq, of being infiltrated by Al Qaeda and Saddam-loyal Ba’athists — and analysts expressed worry that Maliki would actually declare war on the Sons of Iraq the moment the U.S. exited the country. This was rough treatment for the group that was largely responsible for taming Al Qaeda in Iraq and bringing peace to the restive western Anbar province.
China’s departing president and Communist party leader, Hu Jintao, gave a clear signal on Thursday that the generational changes among Beijing’s rulers will not soften the country’s increasingly aggressive conduct of its territorial disputes with its neighbours.
Coming after months of increasingly sharp confrontations between Chinese ships and coast guard vessels from Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam in waters around disputed islands, this reaffirmation of China’s ambitions will raise concern in neighbouring capitals.
This is just one more sign that things are not going to get better. The weather forecast is for more storms ahead.
Shirin Ebadi, Iran’s leading human rights activist, explains why on attack on the country’s nuclear program is just what the mullahs have been yearning for.
But Ebadi points to another problem. War with Israel, she says, may rescue the Iranian regime at a time when it is extremely unpopular at home and is clinging to power with an iron fist. “It is the only thing that can save the regime,” she said. “A war will stir nationalistic feelings and rally the people behind the government to defend the country. It will be catastrophic for the [Iranian] people, the country, and the region, but it will save Iran’s rulers.”
Iran’s economy is in a dire state, she says, which adds to people’s frustration with the government. The value of its currency, the rial, has plunged by more than half against the dollar since last December. Inflation is over 23 percent, according to the Iranian central bank, and most people are struggling to keep food on their tables. The price of bread, the staple food in Iran, rose 40 percent in the month of June.
What she fails to realize is that war is coming regardless of Israel. All the key players – Israel and its neighbors, and Iran – are primed and ready for war. One way or another it is going to start.
Hamas leader Mahmoud A-Zahar and deputy commander of its military arm, Marwan Issa, spent the second week of September in Beirut and Tehran finalizing and signing protocols covering a binding commitment by the radical Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip to join Iran, Syria and Hizballah in a war on Israel, debkafile’s exclusive military sources disclose.
When President Obama took office, the Iranians had barely enough enriched uranium for one nuclear bomb and were limited to an enrichment level of 3.5 percent. Today, Iran has mastered the enrichment to the 20 percent level, a critical step to weaponization, and has announced that it soon will enrich to more than 50 percent in order to provide nuclear fuel for future nuclear-powered vessels.
More than 11,000 centrifuges are currently spinning at the Natanz nuclear facility, an increase of 3,000 from just months ago. Hundreds of centrifuges are enriching uranium to the 20 percent level at the previously secret Fordow facility deep in a mountain.
The latest IAEA report as of May verified that Iran has enough enriched uranium for six nuclear bombs, should it advance enrichment to weaponization grade.
By charging Bo Xilai’s wife with murder, China’s political leaders have set a dangerous precedent.
What this analysis reveals — and what the case against Bo and his wife shows — is that political security for China’s top rulers today has deteriorated so much that, in some crucial ways, they might feel that they are back to the bad old Maoist days. Elite disunity and vicious infighting is now the rule, not the exception. This cannot be reassuring news for a regime ruled by individuals whose daily nightmare is that they will one day become another Bo Xilai.
The words that came out of the mouth of Iran’s vice president could have come from Nazi Germany’s propaganda minister Goebbels in 1938, or from a contemporary neo-Nazi hate pamphlet. That these words reflect the thinking of a top-level government official from a regime that appears to be seeking nuclear weapons capability, even in the face of international sanctions that are crippling to its citizens, should give all sensible people pause. Beyond the argument as to whether or not Iran’s rulers are rational, would allowing such a regime to possess nuclear weapons and the ballistic missiles that could deliver them to any target in the world really be a rational act on the part of the rest of the world?
Col. Adam Zusman, Home Front Commander of Israel’s Dan region (Tel Aviv and its environs), told AFP Tuesday, June 12, “In case of a missile attack on the centre of Israel, especially unconventional attacks and if buildings are destroyed, the population from Tel Aviv and other cities will be evacuated and relocated in other areas of the country.”
The officer did not say to where the roughly two million inhabitants of the Dan region’s core towns of Tel Aviv, Bat Yam, Holon, Petakh Tikva, Ramat Hasharon, Ramat Gan, Givatayim, Bein Brak, Herzliya, Or Yehuda, Givat Shmuel and Kiryat Ono, would be evacuated. debkafile’s military sources estimate they will be relocated in the southern mostly desert Negev region. The outer Gush Dan ring includes some 3 million people.
Col. Zusman said Israel continued to face serious threats from Iran and its allies, the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah and Gaza’s Hamas rulers. He did not refer to Syria.
At the start of his three-part attempt to understand modern China, Niall Ferguson shows us the smog-covered city of Chongqing.
In the last five years, he tells us, the population of this megalopolis has quadrupled. It now numbers 30 million people. But Ferguson’s real mission is to get beyond the sheer scale of China and do some explaining, which he does brilliantly.
His main point is that ever since the First Emperor pulled the two million square miles and numerous ethnic groups of China together, its rulers have relied on authoritarian rule to stop it flying apart. So Chinese society is all about the Confucian idea of “harmony” (ie know your place) rather than what Westerners think of as freedom. The threat to all this, though, is the “cancer” in Chinese public life: corruption on a scale it is hard to imagine.
A large and multifaceted crisis is unfolding in China. The world’s most important rapidly-developing economy is running out of clean fresh water. As things get worse, this crisis will lead to an increase in global food prices, to a slowdown in China’s rate of GDP growth and possibly to a new set of tensions with its neighbors, especially Russia, which, in Siberia, controls the only large supply of fresh water near enough to meet China’s needs.
China is home to about 20% of the world’s population and about 7% of the world’s water, Traditionally, the correct management of water for transportation, irrigation and flood control was one of the ways the Chinese people could determine if the Emperor and his dynasty had the “Mandate of Heaven” or not. With the “Mandate of Heaven,” the leadership had the legitimacy and the authority to rule; without it, the people assumed that political trouble and a change of rulers was on its way.
William McNeil in his 1964 study of world history, “The Rise of the West,” described the “Mandate of Heaven “:…