December 10/07

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 3,1-12. In those days John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea
(and) saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!"It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said: "A voice of one crying out in the desert, 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.'"John wore clothing made of camel's hair and had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. At that time Jerusalem, all Judea, and the whole region around the Jordan were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.
And do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire.  His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."

Releases. Reports & Opinions
Plan A and Plan B-/By:Walid Choucair/Dar Al-Hayat-December 09/07
NIE failure: It is about the Missiles not the Fissile..By Walid Phares. December 09/08
Symposium: The Mullahs’ “Vice List”.By: Jamie Glazov. FrontPage.December 09/07
Stupid Intelligence-By: Alan M. Dershowitz. FrontPage. December 09/07
Iran's Nuclear Deceptions-By: Kenneth R. Timmerman. FromtPage. 09/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for December 09/07
Bkirki Urges Aoun to Accept Compromise on Suleiman's Election-Naharnet
Amendment Petition Submitted to Berri-Naharnet
Amal Optimistic Over Presidency-Naharnet
Lebanon stuck in political stalemate amid power struggle-Xinhua
MK Sa'id Nafa to be grilled over visit to Syria made without ...
Jerusalem Post
Syria sees isolation fading after Annapolis-Reuters
Geagea Predicts New Alliances After Presidential Election-Naharnet

Iran Facilitates Constitutional Amendment to Elect Gen. Suleiman President-Naharnet
Feltman: Berri Wants an End to Vacuum-Naharnet
Gates: Iran, not Israel, Destabilizes Lebanon-Naharnet
UN Chief Urges Syria's Assad Not to Interfere in Lebanon Vote-Bloomberg
Syria's Assad reshuffles his cabinet: report-AFP
U.S. intel report on Iran was political: Bolton-Reuters
Iran Assessment Creates an Israeli Headache-
Iran's nuclear know-how unimpeded-The Christian Science Monitor

Gates says Iran seeks to cause chaos
By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press Writer
MANAMA, Bahrain - Pentagon chief Robert Gates lashed out at Iran on Saturday for seeking to cause chaos "everywhere you turn" regardless of the blood spilled and said its neighbors must demand that Tehran renounce any intention of pursuing nuclear weapons.
At the same time, the defense secretary endorsed the idea of setting up an independent consortium that, under controlled circumstances, would give countries access to uranium enrichment for civil or development purposes. That process can produce fuel for a nuclear reactor or a weapon.
"We ought to be thinking creatively about how the international community could provide such a thing," Gates said at a global security conference marked by the abrupt pullout of Iranian officials.
In his speech, Gates appealed to Persian Gulf nations to support penalties designed to force Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment. Those nations, he said, also should demand that Iran "openly affirm that it does not intend to develop nuclear weapons in the future."
Iran says its program is aimed at using nuclear reactors to generate electricity. Tehran has rebuffed U.S. demands that it cease enrichment, saying it has a right to do so under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Speaking to a divided group of national leaders and security officials, Gates said Gulf countries must pressure Iran to come clean about its nuclear activities. He said Iran delivers arms to terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan, continues to develop long-range missiles that could carry weapons of mass destruction, and supports Hezbollah, Hamas and other militant organizations.
Members of the audience challenged his rebukes of Tehran, evidence of the divide among Arab nations over the Bush administration's tough stance. Asked if the U.S. would be willing to talk with Iran, Gates said the behavior of Iran's current leadership "has not given one confidence that a dialogue would be productive."
"Everywhere you turn, it is the policy of Iran to foment instability and chaos, no matter the strategic value or cost in the blood of innocents — Christians, Jews and Muslims alike," Gates said in his address at the event organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.
"There can be little doubt that their destabilizing foreign policies are a threat to the interests of the United States, to the interests of every country in the Middle East, and to the interests of all countries within the range of the ballistic missiles Iran is developing," he said.
A U.S. intelligence estimate released last week concluded that Iran actually had stopped atomic weapons development in 2003. That was in stark contrast to a 2005 estimate that said Tehran was continuing its weapons development.
The principal deputy director of national intelligence for the U.S. released an unsolicited statement Saturday defending the latest assessment. "The task of the intelligence community is to produce objective, ground truth analysis. We feel confident in our tradecraft and resulting analysis in this estimate," Donald M. Kerr said.
Iran's president hailed the new finding as a "declaration of victory" for his country. President Bush said last week the latest conclusion would not lead him to discard the possibility of pre-emptive military action against Iran. Nor, he said, would the United States change its policy of trying to isolate Iran diplomatically and seek to impose penalties.
"Look, Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous and Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon," he said after the estimate was released. In October, he had said people "interested in avoiding World War III" should help work to prevent Iran from gaining such information.
His administration has acknowledged that the report may make it harder to build international support to persuade Iran to give up its enrichment program. Gates said in Bahrain the analysis "has annoyed a number of our good friends, it has confused a lot of people around the world in terms of what we are trying to accomplish."
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday in Belgium that the U.S. would not relent in pushing for new penalties against Iran, a position endorsed by NATO and other European allies. Russia ignored such talk.
At the security conference, Gates urged Gulf states to back steps that would force Iran to suspend enrichment and to demand that Iran "openly affirm that it does not intend to develop nuclear weapons in the future."
In a complex region where partnerships do not come easy, Gates said the countries need to pull together and develop regional air and missile defense systems. He also said Gulf nations should cast aside their sectarian differences and support the struggling new government in Iraq.
"The progress is real. But it is also fragile," he said. "The Iraqi government must use this breathing space bought with the blood of American, Coalition and Iraqi troops to pass critical legislation."
Gates ended his speech with a grim warning against underestimating the United States.
Some countries, he said, "may believe our resolve has been corroded by the challenges we face at home and abroad. This would be a grave misconception."
Nazi Germany, imperial Japan, Fascist Italy and the former Soviet Union all made that miscalculation, Gates said. "All paid the price. All are on the ash heap of history."

Absi is in Syria and Fatah al Isalm is in Gaza
Saturday, 8 December, 2007
Beirut - According to intelligence reports based on Al-Qaida website Fatah al Islam has relocated to Gaza in Palestine . The same report also states that Shaker al -Absi, the fugitive leader of Fatah al Islam who has escaped from the Nahr- el Bared Palestinian refugee camp in north Lebanon, following the final assault by the Lebanese army is now in Syria with his wife. Fatah al Islam fought the Lebanese army for 106 days . At the end of the battle the Lebanese army declared victory and Fatah al Islam militants were disbanded. Many of them are now in Lebanese jails but some were able to escape.

U.S. intel report on Iran was political: Bolton 2
BERLIN (Reuters) - U.S. intelligence services were seeking to influence political policy-making with their assessment Iran had halted its nuclear arms program in 2003, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said.
Der Spiegel magazine quoted Bolton Saturday as saying the aim of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), contradicting his and President George W. Bush's own oft-stated position, was not to provide the latest intelligence on Iran.
"This is politics disguised as intelligence," Bolton was quoted as saying in an article appearing in next week's edition.
Bolton described the NIE, released Monday, as a "quasi-putsch" by the agencies, Der Spiegel said.
The NIE said Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program four years ago but was continuing to develop the technical means that could be applied to producing weapons. This contradicted the oft-stated position of President Bush that Iran is actively trying to develop an atomic weapon.
In Washington, a senior official at the office of the Director of National Intelligence, defended the NIE and said intelligence agencies were confident in their analysis.
"National Intelligence Estimates contain the coordinated judgments of the intelligence community regarding the likely course of future events and the implications for U.S. policy," said Deputy Director of National Intelligence Donald Kerr.
"The task of the intelligence community is to produce objective, ground truth analysis," he said in a statement. "We feel confident in our analytic tradecraft and resulting analysis in this estimate."
The hawkish Bolton has long criticized Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the Vienna-based U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), for refusing to declare that there was hard evidence Tehran was trying to develop nuclear weapons.
ElBaradei said the new NIE "somewhat vindicated" Iran, which has always denied allegations it was secretly trying to build atom bombs.
Earlier this year Bolton said: "Regime change or the use of force are the only available options to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapons capability, if they want it."
U.S. intelligence has shouldered much of the blame for the Bush administration's unfounded allegations that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had revived his nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs, the official justification for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
**(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; additional reporting by Deborah Charles in Washington; Editing by Ralph Boulton)

Lebanon gets a taste of Evil
Saturday, 8 December, 2007
By Andrew Lee Butters
The Axis of Evil stand-up comedy team passed through Beirut this week, just in time to coincide with the political farce playing out in Lebanon's parliament, which is still unable to agree upon a candidate to for the presidency, empty since last month.
"Who need's a president?" said Maz, an Iranian-American, as he mocked the jaded Lebanese audience. "You've got the sea. You've got the mountains. You've got Miss Lebanon! A president would just mess things up. Tonight we party!"
Axis of Evil, made of three Americans of Middle Eastern descent, is known in the States for playing with the often paranoid stereotypes that Americans have about Arabs and Muslims. Ahmed Ahmed, the MC, bemoans the fact that he has such a hard time at airport security because a well-known terrorist shares the same name. But then he wonders how pissed off the the other Ahmed must be when people think he's a comedian and ask him to tell a joke. "I'm a terrorist, goddamit!"
The group's Middle Eastern tour is also getting a lot of laughs out of local foibles. Some of the funnier ones I remember include: "When Arabs hook up they never say 'Your place or mine?' They say, 'Where are your parents, and how big is your car?'" Or on how an Arab version of the TV game show "The Price Is Right!" should be called, "This Price Is Not Right!" Or how everyone in Jordan had already seen the Axis of Evil DVD when the group doesn't have a distributor in Jordan. "It's the Middle Eastern distribution system," said Ahmed Ahmed, who is Egyptian-American. "One person buys it, and everyone else copies it."
The team is hoping that by supporting emerging Middle Eastern stand-up acts, and by heaping scorn equally on all sects and creeds, they'll do their part for peace in the region. "Is there any religious group that doesn't actually think it's superior to everyone else," said Aron, the Palestinian-American. "'No, were not the Chosen People, but we do come highly recommended.'"Source: Time Middle East Blog

Iran Assessment Creates an Israeli Headache
Fri Dec 7, 2:00 AM ET
Israeli officials were shocked and disappointed by the U.S. intelligence agencies' report downgrading the risk of Iran building nuclear weapons. That's because not only do some of the key conclusions of the latest National Intelligence Estimate undercut some of Israel's own assessments, they also seem to dim the likelihood of the U.S. taking military action against Iran's nuclear facilities - a step the Israelis had been quietly urging the White House should sanctions fail to stop Iran's uranium enrichment program. With the new U.S. assessment, one Israeli cabinet official told TIME, "It looks like this ends the military option against Iran for now. Israel won't attack alone. Iran's facilities are too many and spread too far apart."
At the Annapolis peace talks last month, the Israeli team - Prime MInister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak - didn't have high expectations for making headway on the Palestinian issue, but they were confident of pressing their case on Iran to a receptive White House. Instead, Barak was taken aside by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and told that new intelligence persuaded the Americans that Iran wasn't such a big threat after all.
The Israelis politely disagreed. As Barak later told Israeli Army Radio, "It seems Iran in 2003 halted for a certain period of time its military nuclear program, but as far as we know it has probably since revived it." He added: "We are talking about a specific track connected with their weapons building program, to which the American [intelligence] connection, and maybe that of others, was severed." The Israeli defense minister implied that the new U.S. assessment was "made in an environment of high uncertainty."
Israeli intelligence sources told Time that for the past five years, Mossad, Israel's equivalent of the CIA, had made spying on Iran its top priority, and that its assessment is that Iran would be weapons-ready by 2009.
Israeli officials believe their intelligence services are privy to all the information on Iran gathered by their American counterparts, and vice versa. "We stand naked in front of each other, hiding nothing," claimed one Israeli intelligence officer, adding that the two nations' spy agencies often work in tandem to avoid any overlap. Israelis believe the U.S. has reached different conclusions from the same information because it does not feel the threat of Iran's missiles as acutely as Israel does.
Ephraim Halevy, ex-chief of Mossad and now an academic, tells TIME that what hasn't changed, is that the view - reiterated in the NIE - that Iran is "capable of producing a nuclear weapon." He adds, "You put that together with Iran's devious ways and evasive tactics with the U.N. atomic inspectors, and you have a very real threat." Dr. Ephraim Kam, Deputy Director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, concurs. "Even if it's true that Iran has shut down its military nuclear program, it can start it up at any time," he says.
Israeli intelligence officials plan to ask Washington for clarifications about the NIE report. "It has many inner contradictions," says one cabinet official involved in intelligence matters. Israeli officials don't want to disagree too openly or publicly with the Americans, but they also don't want world opinion to dismiss the threat of Iran becoming a nuclear power. Foreign Minister Livni has instructed Israeli embassies to maintain a focus on the menace that she says Iran poses to Israel and the West.
For Israel, Iran remains enemy Number 1. As the cabinet official put it, " It's not as if Iran has become Switzerland, only making chocolate. The Iranians still have missiles that can hit us, and they still support Hezballah and Hamas, and they are still calling for the destruction of Israel." That's why Washington's new assessment of Iran's capabilities and intentions is unlikely to reassure those responsible for Israel's security.

Stupid Intelligence
By Alan M. Dershowitz | Friday, December 07, 2007
The recent national intelligence estimate that concluded that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 is just about the stupidest intelligence assessment I have ever read. It falls hook, line and sinker for a transparent bait and switch tactic employed not only by Iran, but by several other nuclear powers in the past.
The tactic is obvious and well-known to all intelligence officials with an IQ above room temperature. It goes like this: There are two tracks to making nuclear weapons: One is to conduct research and develop technology directly related to military use. That is what the United States did when it developed the atomic bomb during the Manhattan Project. The second track is to develop nuclear technology for civilian use and then to use the civilian technology for military purposes.
What every intelligence agency knows is that the most difficult part of developing weapons corresponds precisely to the second track, namely civilian use. In other words, it is relatively simple to move from track 2 to track 1 in a short period of time. As Valerie Lincy and Gary Milhollin, both experts on nuclear arms control, put it in a New York Times Op Ed on December 6, 2007:
“During the past year, a period when Iran’s weapons program was supposedly halted, the government has been busy installing some 3,000 gas centrifuges at its plant at Natanz. These machines could, if operated continuously for about a year, create enough enriched uranium to provide fuel for a bomb. In addition, they have no plausible purpose in Iran’s civilian nuclear effort. All of Iran’s needs for enriched uranium for its energy programs are covered by a contract with Russia.
“Iran is also building a heavy water reactor at its research center at Arak. This reactor is ideal for producing plutonium for nuclear bombs, but is of little use in an energy program like Iran’s, which does not use plutonium for reactor fuel. India, Israel and Pakistan have all built similar reactors—all with the purpose of fueling nuclear weapons. And why, by the way, does Iran even want a nuclear energy program, when it is sitting on an enormous pool of oil that is now skyrocketing in value? And why is Iran developing long-range Shahab missiles, which make no military sense without nuclear warheads to put on them?
“…the halting of its secret enrichment and weapon design efforts in 2003 proves only that Iran made a tactical move. It suspended work that, if discovered, would unambiguously reveal intent to build a weapon. It has continued other work, crucial to the ability to make a bomb, that it can pass off as having civilian applications.”
Duh! What then can explain so obvious an intelligence gaffe. One explanation could lie in the old saw that “military intelligence is to intelligence as military music is to music”. But I simply don’t believe that our intelligence agencies are populated by the kind of nincompoops who would fall for so obvious an Iranian ploy. The more likely explanation is that there is an agenda hiding in the report. What then might that agenda be? To find a hidden agenda one should always look for the beneficiaries. Who wins from this deeply flawed report? Well, certainly Iran does, but it is unlikely that Iranian interests could drive any American agenda. Lincy and Milhollin surmise that: “We should be suspicious of any document that suddenly gives the Bush administration a pass on a big national security problem it won’t solve during its remaining year in office. Is the administration just washing its hands of the intractable Iranian nuclear issue by saying, ‘[i]f we can’t fix it, it ain’t broke?’”
My own view is that the authors of the report were fighting the last war. No, not the war in Iraq, but rather what they believe was Vice President Cheney’s efforts to go to war with Iran. This report surely takes the wind out of those sails. But that was last year’s unfought war. Nobody in Washington has seriously considered attacking Iran since Condolleezza Rice and Robert Gates replaced Cheney as the foreign policy power behind the throne.
Whatever the agenda and whatever the motive this report may well go down in history as one of the most dangerous, misguided and counterproductive intelligence assessments in history. It may well encourage the Iranians to move even more quickly in developing nuclear weapons. If the report is correct in arguing that the only way of discouraging Iran from developing nuclear weapons is to maintain international pressure, then the authors of the report must surely know that they have single-handedly reduced any incentive by the international community to keep the pressure up.
If Neville Chamberlain weren’t long dead I would wonder whether he had a hand in writing this “peace in our time” intelligence fiasco.
I wish the intelligence assessment were correct. So does most of the media, which accepted its naïve conclusion with uncritical enthusiasm. The world would be a far safer place if Iran had indeed ended its efforts to develop deliverable nuclear weapons. But wishing for a desirable outcome does not make it so. Pretending that a desirable outcome is happening, when the best information indicates that it’s not, only encourages the worst outcome.
The authors of this perverse report, which is influencing policy so immediately and negatively, will have much to answer for if their assessment results in a reduction of pressure on Iran—which is the only nation actually to threaten to use nuclear weapons to attack its enemies—to stop its obvious march toward becoming the world’s most dangerous nuclear military power.

Misestimating the Iranian Nuclear Strategy”
NIE failure: It is about the Missiles not the Fissile..

By Walid Phares (bio)
The end product of this top US evaluation of the Khomeinist menace is not so different, unfortunately, from previous assessments in the 1990s which dismissed – or evenThe release to the US Congress of the NIE Iranian threat report has unleashed a wave of discussions streaming directly into the debate about the war on terror. From there, obviously, the ripple effects of the findings – plus their politicization - are feeding the critics of the War in Iraq; but more importantly, impacting both the friends and the foes of the United States, including principally the Iranian regime.
Basically, Americans and their allies are faced with a new assertion, created by this intelligence estimate, that the decision makers in Tehran had already abandoned their nuclear military strategy as of 2003; and hence, the US and its coalition would be at fault if it engaged in any military action against targets inside Iran. Specifically, due to American intelligence conclusions, the public - both domestic and international - are being led to believe that in the fall of 2003, the Iranian leadership had decided to stop its process of building an atomic weapon; and that further, today, in the fall of 2007, there isn’t an Iranian nuclear threat to America, to the region and to the international community.
Thus, logically, as a conglomeration of various interests is using the NIE findings as tacit approval for shielding the Iranian regime, Washington naively has trapped itself with the product of the best of the best in its national intelligence apparatus. Every word now used by this writer will be put to the task of demonstrating to my readers that, if anything, this NIE Report has revealed a major systemic problem with United States national security analysis; and that further, America’s ability to understand and detect threats against itself has been compromised.
ignored - the threat posed by our other foes: Jihadists, Salafists in general, and al Qaeda in particular. This NIE report is drawing significant debates at critical times; but the most serious conclusion I would make about its findings is that the systemic crisis, about which the 9/11 Commission warned the US Government and public, is still alive and evolving.
Here are talking points to demonstrate why the message of the report is flawed; how it is being used against US national security interests; and what the consequences will be of this derailment in threat analysis.
1. The NIE findings based their final conclusion - that the Iranian regime had abandoned its nuclear strategy - on information obtained from Iranian officials who stated they’d stopped their nuclear program in the fall of 2003. So, our best senior analysts’ conclusions are based on statements made by Iranian regime cadre known for their deceptive tactics. The document insisted that the findings didn’t attempt to analyze the Iranian regime’s intention but instead were meant merely to assert that Tehran is changing attitude; but yet the key assumptions made by the NIE bosses used the statements of the regime, not the intentions behind these statements, to construct conclusions about a course of action. That would be the equivalent of considering the statements of Adolf Hitler as true when he assured Britain and France that the invasion of Czechoslovakia was the end of his Nazi program in 1938.
My counter argument is that stopping a single production process of a nuclear weapon is not equivalent to putting an end to a strategic policy of obtaining such arms. A real change in Iranian strategy would be indicated only if the office of Ayatollah Khamenei and the central powers of his regime openly would state that they have abandoned the pursuit of military nuclear power. That has not happened; and worse, the opposite has been happening. The ruling elite have been increasingly boasting about their intention to achieve nuclear parity and their right to obtain these weapons and even to use them.
Note well: the NIE’s referral to the 2003 decision by the Khatemi Government to halt its previous method of obtaining the nukes is not the equivalent of Mohammar Qaddafi’s strategic choice to abandon the pursuit of WMDs, or the South African and Ukrainian choice to de-proliferate, as examples.
2. The NIE architects chose not to inform policy makers and the public about the wider context in which that specific 2003 decision was made, or about the subsequent steps in the Iranian nuclear strategy. Such selectiveness crippled the political conclusion of the document. Not to analyze why a foe halted a process, while he resumed many other processes to obtain even greater results, derails US analysis of the enemy’s global strategies.
Indeed the real story is that the Iranian regime reconfigured its previous nuclear strategy - gradual build up – because by the end of the summer 2003, with “hostile forces” (the US-led coalition) deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq, they knew if they didn’t alter the pursuit of that initial route, they could expect a lethal reaction. Since the US strategic intentions weren’t clear in the eyes of the Iranian strategists, they acted as if Washington and its allies were moving forward to disarm Iran’s regime. The Khatemi Government, preferring to avoid an unbalanced confrontation, decided to suspend the open build-up of nuclear power, because it simply concluded that the US would be able to strike them from two borders. Hence, the Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guard) seized the nuclear program and reconverted it in the underground. Thus, the global strategy wasn’t halted, but an alternative strategy was begun.
3.In 2004, a US election year, the deep American divide over the War in Iraq was
perceived by the Iranian hardliners as an aid to re-launch the rapid-pace nuclear race. Ironically, it was the efforts of the so called “antiwar” movement within the United States that encouraged the Jihadists of Iran to reignite the military nuclear program. By early 2005 Ahmadinejad was brought to power, and greater Syro-Iranian backing of terror in Iraq was employed to weaken the hostile forces to the west of Iran. From an Iranian perspective, one of the “insurgency’s” goals was to give Tehran the time and the ability to run faster towards deploying the nuclear weapons-to-be.
4. The NIE failed to see and explain that the 2003 decision was a change of strategy not a halt to a strategy; for the Ahmadinejad plan was to ensnare the US in Iraq so that it couldn’t destroy the process of Iran’s shifting the balance of power in its crucial early stages. Tragically, what was missed in Washington is that Tehran was building the missiles before completing the fissile. While attention was focused on the uranium enrichment process, the Pasdaran were setting up the delivery system, i.e., the actual threat system.
The bomb part of the Iranian nuclear strategy was the last stage, while the missiles were the most urgent to acquire first. Strategically it makes sense, because if the Iranians had produced a weapon, it could have been taken out via airpower without the risk of a second strike (since the delivery system would have been absent). But if the missiles were obtained before, the world couldn’t intervene preemptively against them. And when the bombs were ready (through assembly or purchase) they would be locked on the rockets. At that particular time, unilateral strikes against the Iranian weapons would run the risk of Iranian missile counter attacks against the free world.
Tehran played it very wisely and outmaneuvered its enemies in the West; it got away with the missiles, which are now advanced and deployed. Hence all that the Khomeinists need to achieve by the end of 2007, as their delivery systems are developed, is a conclusion in Washington that will deter it from acting against the nukes, the fusion centers, the launching ramps and other types of deployment. This NIE report has paved the way for that decision.
By cleverly convincing the American intelligence community and the public that Tehran had already abandoned the whole nuclear strategy in 2003, Iran has delegitimized America’s ability to act against the missiles. Hence the field is wide open for the secret nuclear program to accelerate, as the delivery system is being completed. By the time America discovers it has been duped, the nukes will be sitting on top of the missiles. All the Jihadi strategic planners had to do was to use America’s political systems against itself. Hence, because the NIE analysts failed to provide the global context of the Iranian strategy and have been pressing for a political agenda over national security priorities, Iran’s Khomeinists are winning, regardless of who will occupy the White House in January 2008.
Our next President will be faced with security crises by far more dramatic and formidable than any challenges we’ve witnessed since 9/11: Iranian missiles with Jihadi bombs aimed at two thirds of the world.
**Dr. Walid Phares is the Director of Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and a visiting scholar at the European Foundation for Democracy. He is the author of the War of Ideas.

Plan A and Plan B
Walid Choucair
 Al-Hayat - 09/12/07//
There is no doubt that the recent decision by the Lebanese majority March 14 to nominate army general Michel Sleiman for the presidency took the opposition and its regional allies, Syria and Iran, by surprise. Opposition forces did not state a position for days afterwards, at a time when many hoped that it would recognize the step as a compromise by March 14 and would welcome it accordingly, instead of harboring suspicions, stalling and asking foreign powers questions.
Given previous statements by many in the opposition that they would accept such an arrangement and by even more who themselves nominated Sleiman before the majority's acceptance of his candidacy, Hizbullah and Amal's silence in the face of majority's willingness to put aside its reservations about amending the constitution was an opportunity to assimilate the surprise and decide on the next moves to make.
It is no secret to Lebanese moderates that Damascus strove for a presidential vacuum, and that the leader of the Future Movement MP Saad Hariri's decision to nominate General Suleiman was aimed primarily, among other things, at filling this vacuum as fast as possible. For Damascus, a vacuum is effectively an extension of Lahoud's term in that it keeps Lebanon's institutions paralyzed and its politics stalemated. It also prompts foreign powers to seek Syria's help in exchange for securing its interests in Lebanon, the wider Middle East or its international relations. Iran is doing the same, holding on tightly to its assets in Lebanon and taking serious measures to ensure they are preserved. At the end of the day, a vacuum grants Syria a role in determining the next president and allowing him to come to power, whoever he may be.
The bare minimum was reaching a vacuum, if only for a day. For France's contact with Damscus, amid European and American negotiations, produced the desired result... In an elaborate attempt to secure the extension of Lahoud's reign in the form of a vacuum, Hizbullah made an offer to Hariri that they knew he would refuse, and he in turn made them an offer to avoid a vacuum that they could not refuse. The maneuvering by Syria's allies was inevitable. Many of them saw the majority as having suffered a major blow by accepting Suleiman - an acceptance they attribued to a US-Syrian rapprochement and an American abandonment of March 14. These opposition members are thus employing a tool they blasted the majority for using, accusing them of treason for their links to Washington.
The opposition's insistence on preconditions for amending the constitution to allow for Suleiman's election is an attempt to capitalize as much as possible on the vacuum before exiting from it. It also stems from Hizbullah's and Syria's atttempt to 'renominate' Suleiman such that he is the choice of the opposition alone - not that of Hariri, the majority or its foreign supporters. Thus, Suleiman must be made to recognize his debt to Hizbullah and Syria, since they are ostensibly the only ones who can end the vacuum - not the majority in its agreeing to amend the constitution, nor Egypt or Saudi Arabia for supporting its position. The majority's resorting to Suleiman succeeded in shortening the period of a vacuum to a matter of days instead of weeks, or weeks instead of months. Yet it has not been shortened as much as the majority hoped. The opposition, in its efforts to extend the vacuum, is now directing its energies at shifting the vacuum to the cabinet by obstructing the naming of a prime minister. This is the aim of its current demands. The aim is to weaken the majority with a series of steps, the most prominent being the prevention of Fouad Siniora's continued premiership in light of the failed attempts to overthrow him over the past year and a half.
Plan A consists of securing a prime minister from outside of Al Mustaqbal and Saad Hariri, because the priority is to deprive Hariri of the country's prominent Sunni Muslim seat of power and weaken him in the lead up to the parliamentary elections of 2009.
As for Plan B, it involves setting conditions for the formation of the government should it fall under Hariri's leadership, in order to stall his achievements - if not guarantee his outright failure. The idea if to force him to compromise with Syria as head of a toothless government in order to help us forget its role in killing his father... and hopefully undermine Hariri's popularity as a result