Arena: Fighting the Good Fight





Saturday, June 21, 2003

Here is some good news from Iraq:

U.S. forces acting on an intelligence tip raided an abandoned Baghdad community hall early Saturday and seized documents that may contain information about Iraq's suspected weapons of mass destruction.

The documents, bearing the seal of Saddam Hussein's secret service, were being handed over to senior intelligence analysts. Some papers referred to Iraq's nuclear program.





I got a bit of a laugh out of this part:

After trying to break through the door with a sledgehammer, the troops were surprised when a squatter opened the lock from the inside and welcomed them in.

And there's this as well:
Experts from the U.N. atomic agency have accounted for tons of natural and low-enriched uranium feared looted from Iraq's largest nuclear research facility, diplomats said Friday.

The diplomats, who are familiar with the workings of the International Atomic Energy Agency, agreed to talk on the success of the mission to secure the uranium at the Tuwaitha facility only on condition of anonymity.


This last piece about the uranium sounds like good news, but there does seem to be something sort of strange about it. The IAEA people aren't commenting, at least not publicly, so maybe we're playing mind games with someone. Or maybe I'm just reading too much into it. Either way, it is important for us to remember that the media is always going to give more attention to the things that go wrong over there than to the things that go right. Right now it is searingly hot in Iraq, so let's not forget our soldiers who are braving through all of this. Finding Saddam or one of his sons would be a huge morale boost for everyone, so let's hope the intelligence guys can put something together here soon.


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Friday, June 20, 2003

There are still terrorists in our midst:

The Ohio truck driver who admitted working with al Qaeda is revealing key information to authorities, but the prosecutor in the case warned today that the arrest shows the threat of terrorist attacks on American soil still exists.

"It is a very chilling and disturbing reminder to us that such individuals do exist," Paul McNulty, the U.S. attorney who led the prosecution against Iyman Faris, told Good Morning America.

...As an independent truck driver, Faris had access to airports, and sources said he was licensed to haul hazardous materials. Authorities are trying to determine how extensive his support network in the United States network may have been.




They're still out there, but I'd say we have done a pretty good job so far of tracking them down. I think the biggest reason that suggests that Al-Qaeda is on its way down is the fact that they have not launched another attack against the U.S. since 9-11. If they were truly still a force to be reckoned with, one would think that they would be continuing to launch attacks against us the same was that the terrorists in Palestine launch attacks against Israel. Instead, they have been focusing their attacks overseas in places like Bali and Riyadh. Last fall, the D.C. snipers not only killed 13 people but caused a massive amount of fear and panic in the general public in the region. And that was just two guys. The anthrax incident had the same effect. It doesn't take much to create panic and terror, so I think that though there are probably still some nasties running around here planning another attack, they have been defeated for the most part.

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Thursday, June 19, 2003

Don't tell me that the Israelis aren't doing their part to try to create peace.

JERUSALEM — Hundreds of angry, screaming Jewish settlers scuffled with Israeli troops on a West Bank hilltop Thursday when the military tore down a tent camp, the first populated outpost targeted under a U.S.-backed peace plan.

Settlers set fire to underbrush and threw purple paint on the windows of armored bulldozers as the troops approached. When the soldiers began tearing down the four filthy tents, the settlers hollered battle cries and charged, trading blows with them on the dusty hilltop.




I can't imagine that tearing down the living areas of your own people is a very enjoyable job. It is obvious to nearly everyone that the terrorist groups over there, one of which is Hamas, present the biggest obstacle to peace in the region. Go take a look at the Hamas charter if you have any doubts. This group clearly has the destruction of Israel as its primary agenda, and no amount of negotiation is likely to ever change that. It makes one wonder what the hell the French think that they are doing on this one.

Oh yeah, they're against us.



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Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Protesting is one thing. Lighting yourself on fire, well, that is something altogether different:

PARIS — Two Iranian women set themselves on fire Wednesday during a protest in Paris against a major raid at the offices of an Iranian opposition group, police said.

It was the latest in a series of dramatic protests in Europe against Tuesday's crackdown on the Mujahedeen Khalq, which is accused of terrorism by the United States and the European Union.






Now, I would normally be about the last guy to stand up to defend the French, but apparently, the guys they nabbed last week aren't all that friendly. Yeah, they may be opposed to the current Iranian government, but they are considered to be a terrorist organization by both the U.S. and the EU, and their political ideology is "a blend of Marxism and Islamism," which is about the last thing we need over in the Middle East.





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Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Keep this date in mind all: July 9th. Andrew Sullivan is organizing a mass blog-solidarity event to show those who are struggling for freedom in Iran that they have supporters here in the U.S.

Here's my proposal. On July 9, as many blogs as possible focus on the struggle for freedom in Iran. It's the anniversary of the pro-democracy protests that have been going on for years. I'll devote the week after July 4 to this issue, culminating in July 9.

...Many people have theorized about the power of the web to bring about change and the young generation in Iran must know this as well as any group of people. So let's try and use it - if only to send a symbol of solidarity with those resisting the theo-fascists who have wrecked Iran for three generations.



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Monday, June 16, 2003

Iran is blaming the U.S. for the recent demonstrations:

SINCE ITS swift victory in neighboring Iraq, Washington has stepped up pressure on Iran, accusing it of seeking nuclear weapons, backing terrorism and applauding demonstrations against Islamic clerical rule which erupted last week.

“We sent an official note to the Americans through the Swiss embassy and objected to their actions,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told a news conference. “Their remarks are a blatant interference in Iran’s internal affairs.”


Right, but it's perfectly fine that Iran has sent religious zealots over to Iraq to interfere with the internal affairs there. I don't even know if the U.S. was involved in organizing these demonstrations, but if we did, well Iran, it's called realpolitik, get used to it.

UPDATE: The U.S. was behind the Iranian protests, and the Iranian government has posted a listing of those responsible.


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Sunday, June 15, 2003

Back in action! The young people in Iran are starting to let their voices be heard:

Thousands of Iranians took to the streets of central Tehran for the fifth straight night of anti-regime protests Saturday, but the overwhelming presence of police and hardline vigilantes resulted in muted demonstrations that passed off largely without incident.

Only limited, sporadic clashes were reported around the Tehran university campus, the focal point of increasingly vitriolic protests that have targeted the very top of the Islamic republic.

... During the student-led protests, the first to rock Iran for six months and the most violent since 1999 when at least one student died, virulent slogans have been shouted against Iran's leaders, including Khamenei, calling for them to step down. Criticising the supreme leader is a serious offence in Iran.

Many protestors also called for the resignation of embattled President Mohammad Khatami (news - web sites), who was elected with landslide majorities in 1997 and again in 2001.

Frustration has mounted in recent months over the seemingly intractable deadlock between reformists in parliament loyal to Khatami and hardliners who wield greater power through the courts and unelected legislative oversight bodies.

The protests have drawn strong support from the United States, where President George W. Bush lumped Iran into an "axis of evil" along with North Korea and Saddam Hussein's Iraq.


These demonstrations are excellent developments because they show that there is a healthy population in Iran that is opposed to the oppressive Islamic government there. The Iranian government has ramped up its nuclear program, so the more support we can give to the opposition groups there, the better. My hope is that the level of communication between the people of Iran and the people of the U.S. will continue to increase and that we will be able to help them on their road to democracy.





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