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Posts Tagged ‘Die Welt’

Opposition: Iran Accelerating Nuclear Weapons Program

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

A new report on the Iranian nuclear arms program compiled by the Iranian opposition group Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) shows that Iran is in fact accelerating its efforts to build a nuclear bomb.

MEK is known for its ties with the CIA and the Mossad and was responsible for the revelation of the Natanz uranium enrichment plant in 2002.

The report was obtained by two major Western outlets, the German paper Die Welt and the Jerusalem Post.

The Post revealed that the headquarters of the Iranian organization dealing with the development of a nuclear weapon (known by its Farsi acronym SPND) is based in Mojdeh, a military facility near Tehran.

SPND has seven sub-divisions, each of them dealing with a different element of the process needed for building a nuclear weapon.

The MEK report appeared three days after a publication by the Washington based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) about the ‘washing’ of a building at Parchin, a military complex southeast of Tehran. The IAEA suspects that this building contains an explosive chamber used to carry out nuclear arms related experiments and has repeatedly demanded access to the complex.  Iran has not yet complied with this demand.

These revelations come a few days before Iran and the major world powers are to resume their talks about the Iranian nuclear program.

EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton last Friday expressed optimism about these talks.

She said: “my ambition is that we come away with the beginning of the end of the nuclear weapons program in Iran.”

Ashton’s use of the term ‘nuclear weapons program’ however, clearly went beyond the usual EU description of Iranian nuclear activities.

Iran expert Emanuele Ottolenghi expects the MEK report to be a game-changer in Western perceptions of Iran’s nuclear program.

Meanwhile, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continued his rhetoric against Israel, calling the Jewish state a ‘mosquito’.

During the same speech Ahmadinejad made a veiled remark about certain developments in Iran that would enable Iran to become a “developed country.” As a result, he said, “Iran’s enemies would not be able to challenge the Islamic Republic anymore.”

German Cartoon Riots: Clubs, Bottles, and Stones

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

In an explosion of violence that reflects the growing assertiveness of Salafists in Germany, on May 5th more than 500 radical Muslims attacked German police with bottles clubs, stones and other weapons in the city of Bonn, to protest cartoons they said were “offensive.”

Rather than cracking down on the Muslim extremists, however, German authorities have sought to silence the peaceful critics of multicultural policies that allow the Salafists — who say they are committed to imposing Islamic Sharia law throughout Europe — openly to preach violence and hate.

The clashes erupted when around 30 supporters of a conservative political party, PRO NRW, which is opposed to the further spread of Islam in Germany, participated in a campaign rally ahead of regional elections in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). Some of those participating in the rally, which was held near the Saudi-run King Fahd Academy in the Mehlem district of Bonn, the former capital of West Germany, had been waving banners depicting the Islamic Prophet Mohammad (see photo here), to protest the Islamization of Germany.

The rally swiftly disintegrated into violence (photos here and here) when hundreds of angry Salafists, who are opposed to any depiction of their prophet, began attacking the police, whose job it was to keep the two groups apart.

In the final tally of the melee, 29 police officers were injured, two with serious stab wounds, and more than 100 Salafists were arrested, although most were later released. A 25-year-old German protester of Turkish origin, suspected of having stabbed the two police officers, remained in custody on suspicion of attempted homicide.

According to Bonn’s police chief, Ursula Brohl-Sowa, “This was an explosion of violence such as we have not witnessed in a long time.”

Germany’s intelligence and security agencies say they are closely monitoring the Salafists, who are increasingly viewed as posing a threat to German security.

Salafism, a branch of radical Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia, seeks to establish an Islamic empire (Caliphate) across the Middle East, North Africa, Europe — and eventually the entire world. The Caliphate would be governed exclusively by Islamic Sharia law, which would apply both to Muslims and to non-Muslims. Salafists also believe, among other disconcerting doctrines, that democracies — governments made by men as opposed to theirs, which was made by the almighty — legitimately deserve to be destroyed.

According to German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, “Salafism is currently the most dynamic Islamist movement in Germany as well as internationally. Its fanatic followers represent a particular danger for Germany’s security. The Salafists provide the ideological foundation for those who then turn violent.”

The interior minister of the German state of Lower Saxony, Uwe Schünemann, said, “The violence of the Salafists in Bonn has once again shown what is behind the mask of supposed religiosity: nothing but brute force.” He also said that the violence was “a direct challenge to liberal democracy as a whole.”

The interior minister of Bavaria, Joachim Hermann, said that: “We cannot tolerate violent retribution and revenge. We apply the rule of law, not Islamic vigilante justice.” He added that Salafists should be “brought to justice and severely punished,” and that “We have to monitor the Salafist scene even more. And we have to be more diligent in cracking down on hate and violence. We cannot allow that terrorists and violent criminals are free to operate under our noses. We need to take action against Salafism and its intolerant, fanatical ideology with all legal means.”

Despite these and many other pronouncements, Salafists still have free reign in Germany: Salafist preachers are known regularly to preach hatred against the West in the mosques and prayer centers that are proliferating across the country.

In recent weeks, Salafists have been engaged in an unprecedented nationwide campaign to distribute 25 million copies of the Koran, translated into the German language, with the goal of placing one Koran in every home in Germany, free of charge.

The mass proselytization campaign — called Project “READ!” — is being organized by dozens of Islamic Salafist groups located in cities and towns throughout Germany, as well as in Austria and Switzerland.

According to the German newspaper Die Welt, the Salafists have launched a “frontal assault” against people of other faiths and “unbelievers.” Die Welt has reported that German authorities view the Koran project, which fundamentalists are using a recruiting tool, as a “most worrisome” campaign for radical Islam. Security analysts say the campaign is also a public-relations gimmick intended to persuade Germans that the Salafists are transparent and “citizen friendly.”

A spokesperson for the Berlin branch of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV) told Die Welt that “the objective of this campaign is to help bring those who are interested into contact with the Salafist scene to influence them in the context of extremist political ideologies.”

The Historic Roots of Contemporary Anti-Semitism

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

On March 18, the Germans will appoint a new President. It is a ceremonial function, which the German political class will bestow on the 72-year old pastor Joachim Gauck, a former human rights activist from East Germany. Gauck is backed by the major German parties, from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian-Democrats and her Liberal coalition partners, to the Socialist and the Green opposition parties.

The far-left party, Die Linke (The Left), however, has put forward its own candidate for the function, 73-year old Beate Klarsfeld. She is not a party member, but has been chosen by Die Linke as a symbolic figure.

Beate Klarsfeld, née Künzel, was born in a German Christian family. She has lived in France since the 1960s, after marrying the French Romanian-born lawyer Serge Klarsfeld. Serge is a Jew, whose father was murdered in Auschwitz. In the 1970s and 80s, the Klarsfelds were famous human rights activists who brought several Nazi war criminals to justice. Like her husband, Beate has always been a strong supporter of Israel.

When last week Beate Klarsfeld was asked who of the various candidates for the French presidential elections next April she supports, she did not name Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the candidate of the far-left Front de Gauche (Left Front), the French sister party of Die Linke, nor François Hollande, the Socialist candidate who is leading in the polls; she named Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s incumbent president who hopes to win a second term. Of all the French presidential candidates, Sarkozy is the one most friendly towards Israel.

Klarsfeld’s pro-Israeli positions are not shared by Die Linke. Three Linke members of the Bundestag, the German Parliament, remained seated when Israeli President Shimon Peres visited the Bundestag in 2010. Several Linke deputies have also taken part in demonstrations where “Death to Israel” was chanted. Some took part in the so-called “Gaza flotilla.” Inge Höger, a Bundestag member, who attended a pro-Hamas conference clad in a keffiyeh [checkered headscarf for men] showing a map labeled “Palestine” across the entire territory of the State of Israel, accused opponents of “misusing the Holocaust” in silencing criticism of Israeli “occupation policies.” The German newspaper Die Welt has called Höger a “flawless anti-Semite” because of her “anti-Jewish statements.” Independent academic observers have warned that positions hostile to both Israel and Jews are increasingly dominant within Die Linke.

With this record, it seems puzzling why Die Linke put Beate Klarsfeld forward as its candidate for the presidency. The answer is probably that the party, knowing that Klarsfeld does not stand a chance, just wants to annoy the ruling German Christian-Democrat establishment — many of whose members still bear a personal grudge against Klarsfeld for her campaign in the 1960s against Kurt Georg Kiesinger, a Christian-Democrat who was West German Chancellor from 1966 to 1969. During the war, Kiesinger, a Nazi Party member, had worked at the propaganda department of the Foreign Ministry. In 1968, Beate Klarsfeld slapped Kiesinger in the face, an action for which she was sentenced to one year in prison – a sentence later reduced to four months probation.

In 2009, Die Linke nominated Beate Klarsfeld for the Federal Cross of Merit in honor of her relentless efforts to bring Nazi criminals to court. The request was turned down by the German government. One year later, in stark contrast to Beate’s treatment by the German political establishment, the French government awarded her husband Serge the title of Commander in the Legion of Honor.

The revelation that, almost seven decades after the defeat of Germany’s Nazi regime, Germany still has more problems with the Klarsfelds than with France, should not come as a surprise. History seems to leave deep cultural impressions which are difficult to eradicate.

Last year, two German economists, Nico Voigtländer of the UCLA in Los Angeles and Hans-Joachim Voth of the university of Barcelona, Spain, published a paper in which they showed a remarkable geographical pattern between the anti-Jewish pogroms in 14th century Germany, 1920s pogroms in Germany, and the electoral strength of the Nazi Party in 1928 (before it became a mass movement attracting all sorts of opportunists).

Their study showed that German towns that blamed the Black Death – the pestilence epidemic – in 1348-1350 on the Jews and subsequently murdered them were much more likely to commit anti-Semitic violence in the 1920s and vote for the Nazis.

Of the 19 pogroms recorded in the 1920s, fully 18 took place in towns and cities with a record of medieval violence against Jews. In the places with a 14th century history of Jew-burning, the Nazi Party received 1.5 times as many votes as in places without it. In cities like Aachen, for example, the Jews were left undisturbed in 1349, while they were massacred in Würzburg. In the 1920s and 30s, Würzburg was again the scene of anti-Jewish violence, while Aachen witnessed no such violence. In the 1928 elections, the Nazi Party got 6.3 percent of the Würzburg vote, twice the national average, while in Aachen it got barely 1 percent.

Experts: Israel’s New Bunker-Busters Can Take Out Iran’s Nuke Plants

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

In an article titled “Israel has the power to knock out Iran’s nuclear facilities” published in the NY York Daily News, Berlin-based reporter Benjamin Weinthal argues that Israel has the military capability to launch a successful attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Weinthal, who is a research fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and has reported on European-Iranian relations for The Wall Street Journal Europe, Slate, The New Republic, The Weekly Standard, National Review Online, Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post and Der Tagesspiegel, says Israel should be able to attack Iran’s facilities successfully on its own,  largely because President Barack Obama has made good on President GW Bush’s promise, and “delivered untold numbers of GBU-28 bunker busters, which can tunnel through concrete before exploding deep underground. President Bush is also rumored to have sold Israel several midair refueling aircraft.”

According to Weinthal, “the vast military complex at Parchin, where Iran denied access to International Atomic Energy Agency inspections last month, has more than 100 buildings, many of which lie deep underground. The uranium enrichment complex at Natanz consists of both buried and ground-level buildings.

“A second enrichment facility is buried deep into the side of a mountain at Fordo, near the holy city of Qom. Burrowed under 300 feet of rock, the Fordo facility is located in a hardened tunnel.”

This is where successive bunker-busting attacks will be required, using GBU-28 bunker busters to knock out Iran’s entire nuclear program.

According to the Military Analysis Network, the Guided Bomb Unit-28 (GBU-28) is a 5,000-pound laser-guided conventional munition that uses a 4,400-pound penetrating warhead. The bombs are modified Army artillery tubes, weigh 4,637 pounds, and contain 630 pounds of high explosives. The operator illuminates a target with a laser designator and then the missile is guided to a spot of laser energy reflected from the target.

“Writing in last month’s daily Die Welt, Hans Rühle, who directed the planning department of the German Defense Ministry from 1982 to 1988, expressed almost supreme confidence that Israel’s Air Force could obliterate Iran’s main nuclear sites,” reports Weinthal. “He believes that with 25 of its 87 F-15 fighter planes and a smaller deployment of F-16 jets, the Israelis could destroy all six of Iran’s key sites.”

When asked by the Jewish Press whether he shared Rühle’s assessment, in light of the military hardware required for the mission and the logistical difficulties that can befall such a complicated operation, Weinthal said:  “I would not describe [Rühle's] views as excessively optimistic.  He clearly identifies the herculean task of destroying the Fordo plant, an enrichment facility that is buried deep into the side of a mountain … Israel’s Air Force has had a singleness of purpose over a period of almost four years in terms of confronting Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities. And, contrary to the efforts by the U.S. Administration last month to undermine Israel’s military capacity to perform complex, long-range strikes, Israel’s pilots have the technology and firepower to obliterate Iran’s key facilities, with a view toward significantly setting  back Tehran’s nuclear program.”

“The one-two punch of surgical military strikes targeting Iran’s primary nuclear sites — coupled with a new round of hard-hitting economic sanctions—might just topple the regime,” Weinthal added.

Ideally, he concluded, “the best of all possible remedies would be a combined military operation to decimate Iran’s 25 to 30 military and nuclear sites, launched by a coalition involving the U.S. , the EU, Israel and perhaps some of the panic-stricken Arab countries, like Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Iran’s nuclear program is, after all,  an intolerable threat to the EU and the Sunni countries in the region.  It seems to me a military strike ought to be merged with an economic regime-change strategy. Iran’s clerical rulers are wedded to their nuclear arms program. Israel and its Western allies can, in the final analysis, only solve the nuclear crisis through the replacement of Iran’s reactionary and jingoistic leadership with a democratic government.

“Unfortunately, the crucial need to support the pro-democracy movement in Iran is vanishing from the policy and military discussions about Iran’s atomic weapons systems .”

J.E. Dyer: Strategic Ambiguity Watch – The Maritime Version

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

No sooner do we establish that (a) Iran wants strategic ambiguity, and (b) Iran’s got it, than we see a fresh round of strategic ambiguity busting out.  Strategic ambiguity looks to be the gift that will keep on giving.

You might think the big news from the last 24 hours would be the report that Iran declined to load a Greek tanker with oil for Greek refineries, thus sparking concerns that the Iranians will cut off oil to hard-pressed Greece entirely.  Tehran has already officially stopped deliveries to France and the UK.  The Europeans are worried that a cut in Iranian oil could sink any hope of a recovery for the Greeks – and that Iran might threaten to extend the embargo to Italy, which also depends on Iranian oil.

In the wake of this report, the Iranian government hastened to announce that it hasn’t cut off shipments to Greece.  So it isn’t clear what’s going on, and strategic ambiguity can check another item off the to-do list.   Gasoline has surged to about $8.10 a gallon in the UK (not yet the $9.00 a gallon being trumpeted by Iranian media), so – check, check!

But that’s not really the big news.  The big news is that the Iranian parliament is working on legislation that would require foreign warships to obtain permission from Iran to pass through the Strait of Hormuz.  How could Iran enforce such a requirement?  Well, that’s exactly the fun of strategic ambiguity.   Maybe they’ll try, and maybe they won’t.  As the Iranians say, ‘it will depend on us.’

Apart from a last-ditch resort to something like mining the Strait of Hormuz (SOH), the most likely Iranian approach would be to take advantage of an incident in the SOH, or even create one, to justify cranking up Iranian oversight of “safety and security” by half a notch or so.  A diplomatic win on that exploratory probe could be leveraged to increase Iran’s effective control incrementally – unless each new measure was directly challenged.  If the US were unwilling to do the challenging, strategic ambiguity would be a lot more fun for Iran than for the rest of us.

You do need a quiescent partner on the other side of the Strait for an oblique approach of this kind.  And sure enough, besides conducting a naval exercise in the Strait of Hormuz (SOH) in mid-February, Iran concluded a new naval cooperation agreement with Oman on the 12th, and plans to conduct a joint naval exercise with Oman in March.  Earlier in February, moreover, the Iranian navy’s commander stated that the Iranian naval task force in the Red Sea would visit the port of Salalah, Oman in March.  That would be a first since the 1979 revolution, and would put the Iranian navy in the company of all the other global navies in the region (including the US Navy), which visit the major port of Salalah on a regular basis.  Iran is establishing a new naval posture as we speak.

The new Iranian naval posture extends its strategic ambiguity to Saudi Arabia.  During the Iranian task force’s triumphal sideswipe at Syria – where the ships reportedly entered port, although the Pentagon “has no evidence of it” (see my comment at this link for a summary of data points on the question) – an Iranian parliamentarian announced that Iran was displaying her naval power in the region, as a warning and a portent.  The ships had stopped in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea port of Jeddah on the way to the Mediterranean, so this saber-rattling didn’t sit well with the Saudis.

Therefore, the Saudi ministry of defense has just issued a statement clarifying the basis on which it authorized the Iranian warships to visit Jeddah.  And the salient point is that Saudi Arabia wasn’t down for the “naval warning” business.  The Saudis understood they were agreeing to a port visit for ships on a training cruise.

In general, the Saudis are feeling squeezed by Iran; a Die Welt report from 15 February, summarized at the al-Akhbar website on the 21st, indicated that Riyadh sponsored a Gulf States  meeting in January to discuss Iran’s continued arms sales to Hezbollah.  The Saudis didn’t openly disclose anything we don’t already know about the Iranian smuggling routes, but apparently they excluded Qatar from the meeting, because they don’t consider the emirate “reliable on issues related to Iran.”

Meanwhile, down south of the Saudi border, Iran continues to supply the Houthi rebels in Yemen – a Shia group that operates as a scourge of Riyadh as well as Sana’a.  On 15 February, Yemeni authorities reported intercepting another ship from Iran carrying heavy weapons for the Houthis.  It is accepted fact in the Arabian Peninsula that Iran’s paramilitary operates from islands in the southern Red Sea, supporting activities in both Yemen and Eritrea.  In a recently translated al-Arabiya interview from June 2011, a Kuwaiti professor stated that Iran leases three islands from Eritrea and uses them for military training.

Hollywood’s Anti-Terror Ad

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

Unless you know your way around the blogosphere or get your news from publications like the Malaysia Sun, Australia’s Sunday Morning Herald or Germany’s Die Welt, you likely missed the story last week that some 84 Hollywood celebrities – actors, directors and producers – had signed an ad condemning Hizbullah and Hamas that appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Hollywood Reporter and Variety.

The American news media apparently failed to find it newsworthy that representatives of an industry known more for championing environmentalism than anti-terrorism – and that, notwithstanding its hugely disproportionate share of Jewish movers and shakers, has increasingly viewed the Middle East through a lens of moral equivalence – would publicly support such a refreshingly unequivocal declaration.

While Jews made up roughly half of the ad’s signatories, notably missing were many of Holly-wood’s most recognizable Jewish names – worthies like Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand, David Geffen, Norman Lear, Richard Dreyfuss, Rob Reiner, Larry David, Debra Messing, Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and more than enough others to easily fill this column and then some.

(Most of the above-mentioned individuals are far from shy when it comes to supporting gay rights, abortion on demand, or the impeachment of Presi-dent Bush. The ridiculous Richard Dreyfuss, for ex-ample, who actually pays someone to advise him on politics, told the National Press Club that “there are causes worth fighting for” such as “the difficult and perhaps embarrassing process of impeachment.”

(H.L. Mencken died when Dreyfuss was a child, but the Sage of Baltimore no doubt had char-acters like him in mind when he described actors as being “full of hot and rancid gases….blatant and ob-noxious posturers and wind-bags.”)

What was really interesting about the anti-Hizbullah ad, though, was that so many of the non-Jewish celebrities who signed it are political conser-vatives, who of course comprise a lonely, often em-battled minority in ultra-liberal Tinseltown.

Interesting, but hardly surprising, in light of recent polls showing that conservatives in general and Republicans in particular are far more suppor-tive of Israel than are liberals and Democrats. In this case, at least, Hollywood is merely reflecting a trend rather than starting one.

Appearing in the ad were the names of actors Bruce Willis, James Woods, Sylvester Stallone, Gary Sinise and Patricia Heaton (“Everybody Loves Ray-mond”), all of whom have received varying degrees of media scrutiny for bucking Hollywood’s leftist trend. (In the documentary “Rated R: Republicans in Hol-lywood,” Heaton told the story of how, at a dinner party in 2004, she happened to mention her support for George Bush and the other guests reacted as though she’d just committed an unspeakably anti-social act.)

Also signing the ad was “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak, whose conservatism is as out in the open as Heaton’s. (“There is a reason the Democrats have had only two presidents since 1968 and have managed to lose control of both houses of Congress in recent years,” Sajak has written. “There is a reason they keep snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. And it’s not fraud and it’s not dirty politics and it’s not stupid voters. It’s the plain and simple fact that the majority of those who vote don’t like them.”)

The biggest surprise among the names on the ad, if one is to judge from the reaction of betrayal expressed by some lefty bloggers, was the veteran actor Dennis Hopper, whose image, based chiefly on a turbulent private life and his starring roles in clas-sic anti-establishment and edgy films like “Easy Rider” (1969) and “Blue Velvet” (1986), is one of a countercultural rebel.

Hopper, though, is anything but countercul-tural, and in fact has acknowledged voting a “straight Republican ticket” for the past 26 years.

“I’ve been a Republican since Reagan,” he re-cently told an interviewer. “I voted for Bush and his father. I don’t tell a lot of people, because I live in a city where somebody who voted for Bush is really an outcast.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/hollywoods-anti-terror-ad/2006/08/23/

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