By Nader Uskowi
A day after the terrorist attacks in Tehran left a nuclear scientist dead and another injured, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatened to bring “each (permanent) member” of the UN Security Council to trial if another similar attack takes place in the country [Press TV, 1 December]. Even with Ahmadinejad’s own standards, the proclamation sounded a bit bizarre! Earlier he had accused the West for the attacks, and now the Chinese and the Russians should run for cover.
Although this sounds exaggerated to Western ears, this is something of a war speech. It's an attempt at the dramatic, such as speeches given by Churchill in 1940. Whether Ahmadinejad succeeds with this is up to the general consensus of listeners. I'm sure the details of this speech were intended primarily for the domestic audience.
For the Iranian perception of the pressure it is facing in response to what it identifies as the WikiLeaks-based psychological warfare campaign (71% of the paltry release are Iran related), the assassination of its scientist and the upcoming nuclear talks, I recommend reading Kaveh Afrasiabi's Leaks test Tehran's nuclear nerve.
But Mark my ears are very eastern, and I was listening to his remarks in an eastern country, and still could not believe my ears!
There is a misconception that the WikiLeaks started with Iran. They first came out couple of months ago, and were mainly focused on Iraq and Afghanistan. Actually they were very unflattering to US intelligence efforts in those two countries. But no conspiracy theorists objected to them. Mr. Afrasiabi also used the occasion to mock US intelligence. Now that some serious cables on Iran are released, we see conspiracy.
Aside from that, for those of us who love history, this is a treasure trove, can not get any better!
But here is the situation so far: in this latest Wikileaks dump, out of over 251,000 cables, a mere 300 have been releases so far and out of these, 71% are related to Iran. Can you account for this? What vetting process is being used to produce this over-emphasis on Iran?
Then you take into account NYT's lopsided reporting on the NK/IRI missile JTA, which didn't mention the Russian position.
And then there's another assassinated scientist preceding upcoming nuclear talks. An orchestrated campaign cannot be so easily dismissed.
But going back to Ahmadinejad's speech, I do not think we are the intended audience for this rhetoric. In a somewhat distant way, his remarks here are similar to Clinton's when she stated Iran did not have to right to enrich uranium. To most Iranian ears, that remark was just as outlandish as these latest offered by Ahmadinejad to Western-based ears, and Nader--good buddy--you are Western-based. :)
I have no idea how WikiLeaks is choosing the order of the batches it releases. I doubt if the government is involved. Notwithstanding that, and at the end of the day, the reality is that these cables, the ones on Iraq and Afghanistan, and now these ones, have not been complimentary to anyone. The US military intelligence came out as the biggest loser during the previous round. This time, Iran, and by the way many other countries, like Afghanistan, Italy and England are sharing the honor. Please read some of them on Afghanistan and Italy and see how bad they are. Simply put, all governments lose when their secrets come out.
My problem with conspiracy approach: even if it was true and somehow someone wanted cables on Iran to come out first, the most important point is not that, but the very content of these cables. Tabnak got it right: Hey, Tehran, We Have a Problem! Our neighbors are begging the US to attack us, and we thought the US was afraid of attacking us, fearing the impact on those very neighbors.
If we start the conversation on the content, then the Iranian government need to answer many questions, not least of it its foreign policy, or lack of, in its own region. Now that the secrets are out, let's put pressure on the governments, form major powers to regional ones, to put their acts together.
On your point on the New York Times. It is all that important that we go directly to the source, i.e. the cables themselves, and analyze them and not wait for the Times to do it for us. When I first posted the account of BM-25, I did not know the Russian position. As soon as I heard something in that effect, I went to the cable itself and thought it was best to basically post the arguments on both sides to (a) get the story right and (b) start a conversation on the merits of each argument. Actually I hope you do the latter. It would be a great service to the students of the Iranian military.
Mark, I deleted the above. Blogger published the comments three times!
Well. Nader, it's good you bring up the previous dump by Wikileaks. There's a big difference between the two. In the previous dump, the Iraq War logs, 391,832 reports were dumped at once.
Here we have a case where over 251,000 docs are to be provided, but only a measly 291 have so far been dumped, with over 70% referencing US narratives on Iran. You say you have no idea of why but are you also saying that this vetting process should not be taken into account, or that this context is in any way trivial? I would disagree.
As to the cable that referenced Iranian ballistic missiles, check my comment on your BM-25 post. I stated I needed to read the actual cable, reason being I suspected the reporting from the NYT (which you based on your post on) was skewed. And my hunch was right.
For those of us that follow Iranian SSMs, the JTA cable really didn't offer any new insights. If anything, it was humorous to see these experts' confusion over the Ashura/Sedjil nomenclatures (something most open-sourced observers had already figured out by then). But the cable has been being trumpeted sensationally in the MSM as further evidence of a supposed Iranian threat for days now, without the balance of the Russian perspective or independent experts.
To me, context is important: in the highly curious vetting process employed in this Wikileaks dump, the perspective of the US narratives contained in the cables themselves, as well as the treatment rendered to these disclosures by the MSM.
Or do you disagree, Nader?
Early priorities for the Iranian operatives included assassinating former Iraqi fighter pilots who flew sorties against Iran during the Iran-Iraq war, according to a December 2009 dispatch from Baghdad. As of the end of last year 180 pilots had been killed, according to the report.
The vetting process is of course important, I was saying I do not know how that process works. WikiLeaks came under tremendous pressure with the first batch for not vetting them and causing harm to the troops. As important as the vetting process is, and it should be studied, not speculated about, the content of these cables are much more important.
I assume the suspicious is the US government is vetting these cables not for security reasons but to harm Iran. This is a big claim, and we need to be careful not to jump to that conclusion so easily. I do believe these cables (these current ones) have harmed US policy as much as anything. I don't think the US said let's go harm our policy but let's get Iran!
Bottom line, let's study these cables see what we can learn. I myself did not expect that strong Arab desire for a military option against Iran. The tone and the urgency of those requests surprised me. Tabnak was right on the money. And in the next few weeks, we need to see how the process unfold, and of course we need to analyze how the vetting process works.
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Pablo, thanks for your kind words.
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