Archive | Iran

How Syria is Iran’s route to the sea

“Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world. It’s their route to the sea.” So said Mitt Romney at the Monday debate. The Associated PressThe GuardianThe Telegraph, New York, U.S. News,  Brad DeLong, Rachel Maddow’s Maddowblog,  Comedy Central, and The Daily Kos promptly seized the opportunity to show off their superior geographical knowledge, pointing out that Iran has a coastline. The explicit or implicit explanation was that Romney does not even know basic geography. “Romney Flubs Geography” announced the A.P. headline on the Washington Post website. Readers in search of more sophisticated coverage  might have turned to Yahoo! Answers:

Q. Why did Romney say that Syria is Iran’s “route to the sea”? …when 1) Iraq stands between Syria and Iran, and 2) Iran already has the Persian Gulf, not to mention the Indian Sea?

A. Romney was speaking in the context of the debate topic on foreign policy and the sanctions restricting the finances and trade of Iran. Although Iran is indeed located on the seacoast of the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf, the international trade sanctions have restricted and impeded its ability to transport armaments and other goods through its own seaports. To defeat these trade sanctions, Iran has resorted to using its air transportation to transport goods through an air corridor in Iraqi airspace into Syria and its seaports, such as Latakia.

Fact-checkers who actually investigate the facts might have started with expert websites such as StrategyPage. A 2006 article titled Syrian Delivery System for Iranian Nukes details the extensive seaborne smuggling operations carried out by Syrian companies operating out of Syrian ports. The article concludes:

Iran was generous with its “foreign aid” because Syria provided support for terrorists Iran backed. Now Iran is keen

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Now There’s a Photoshop for You

Here’s the photo of Netanyahu’s Iranian bomb / red line image, from his speech today to the UN:

And here’s a version by David Ferguson (Snicker Snack Baby):

Thanks to Powerline and Instapundit for the pointer.

UPDATE: A commenter asked why I thought the cartoon was interesting; I hope that others perceive some of this themselves — a joke isn’t really funny if it has to be explained, and a picture is worth a thousand words — but for those who are curious, my thinking is that this cartoon works well because it packs in so many mutually interacting messages (whether or not intended by the author).

1. First, focusing on Netanyahu, imagine Netanyahu actually displaying this cartoon in the UN, especially with the serious facial expression that he’s wearing. That’s pretty absurd, given the meltdown that it would generate, which is a bit funny by itself.

2. But at the same time, while it’s absurd that Netanyahu would show the cartoon, the cartoon likely captures pretty well (I can’t read Netanyahu’s mind, but it’s a good inference) what Netanyahu is actually thinking. To him Ahmadinejad and much of the rest of Iran’s hardliners are exactly the Turban Bomb Mohammeds that the cartoon depicts.

3. What’s more, deep down inside (or maybe not so deep) Netanyahu and many other Israelis, especially ones on Netanyahu’s side of the political divide, likely secretly wish that someone would indeed go into the UN chamber and show the Turban Bomb Mohammed = Iran cartoon. In a sense, the cartoon is thus a picture of what might be (again, no-one knows, but political cartoons like this aren’t about conveying provable information) Netanyahu’s dream the night before his speech: That he might go into the UN and thumb his nose at his enemies this way. [...]

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Cyberwar: Iran Counterattacks?

Guernica1 Iran is to cyberwar what 1930s Spain was to airwar – contested ground where everyone tries out new technology and tactics.  After being on the receiving end of Stuxnet, which sabotaged the Natanz enrichment plant and showed that cyberweapons could replace cruise missiles, it looks as though the Iranian government has gone on the offensive.

The Dutch government’s electronic certification authority, DigiNotar, was compromised by a hacker in July of this year.  DigiNotar handled the hack badly, trying to fix the problem without disclosing it. As a result, DigiNotar’s credentials are being revoked by all of the major browsers.  This means that most web users will not be able to verify the bona fides of any site that DigiNotar has vouched for.  That includes a lot of Dutch government sites, and there are some reports that the Dutch government is leaning on Microsoft to keep the credentials operative for another week.  It also means that DigiNotar will be either out of business or buried in lawsuits that could also reach its parent, VASCO Data Security International. DigiNotar

The hacker who pulled off the compromise has posted messages claiming that the hack was revenge for Dutch peacekeepers’ surrender of thousands of Muslim men to Serb militias during the Balkan wars; the men were executed. The hacker says nothing about Iranian government sponsorship.

So why do I think the Iranian government was involved?

To understand that requires a bit of background about the role of certificate authorities on the Internet.  One of Netscape’s cleverest technological innovations was its solution to the problem of Internet eavesdropping.  It used public key encryption to encrypt the channel between a website and each user.  The user could look up a site’s public key and use that key to encrypt all of the user’s communications with the site.  [...]

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Saudis and Other Arab States Want U.S. to Attack Iran’s Nuclear Program

So say documents leaked by Wikileaks. This shouldn’t be very surprising, but over the last several years I’ve seen many, many commentators (update: as has Jeffrey Goldberg) claiming that the only parties plugging for U.S. military action against Iran are Israel and its American “Likudnik” supporters. [Update: Omri Ceren provides some examples of “experts” who claimed that the Saudis opposed U.S. military action against Iran. For examples of focus on the “Israel lobby” with no mention of Arab support, see Stephen Walt and Joe Klein. Andrew Sullivan, however, suggests that it’s “preposterous” to think that such people exist. It would be nice if they were actually just products of Jeffrey Goldberg’s Zionist imagination, but no such luck.] Don’t expect many mea culpas, either.

In other Wikileaks news, Iran used the services of the Iranian Red Crescent, including Red Crescent ambulances, to smuggle men and weapons into Lebanon during the Israel-Lebanon War in 2006. Expect no condemnatory press releases from Human Rights Watch.

UPDATE: It’s quite a blow to conspiracy theorists, is it not, that the combined weight of two of their favor bogeymen, “the Zionists” and “the Arabs” haven’t been able to get the U.S. to take military action against Iran. [...]

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