Archiv für den Tag 1. Juni 2012

Iran, Saudi Arabia, and a Global Game of Risk

by ANDREW SCOTT COOPER

89755433-saudi-arabias.jpgLooming Saudi decision on its stockpiled oil pivotal to U.S., Iranian economies.

 

Andrew Scott Cooper is the author of The Oil Kings: How the U.S., Iran and Saudi Arabia Changed the Balance of Power in the Middle East. Dr. Cooper has worked at the United Nations and Human Rights Watch. He holds advanced degrees in history and strategic studies from Columbia University, the University of Aberdeen, and Victoria University.

When it comes to Iran, what do the Saudis want? More to the point: what can they do?A year ago, a senior member of the Saudi royal family threatened to drop a financial super bomb on Iran’s economy. Prince Turki al-Faisal, former chief of Saudi intelligence, explained to NATO officials that if „dysfunctional“ Iran tried to take advantage of unrest in the Middle East and persisted with its uranium enrichment program, the Saudis were prepared to take decisive action. The Iranian regime’s „hold on power is only possible if it is able, as it barely is now, to maintain a level of economic prosperity that is just enough to pacify its people.“ Flooding world oil markets with surplus Saudi crude would drive oil prices down and deny Tehran the billions required to balance its budget, finance its nuclear ambitions, and maintain social harmony.

Fast forward to May 2012 and oil is still priced at over $100 per barrel, Iran’s nuclear program is moving forward, and the Saudis have not moved against the oil markets. Was Prince Turki serious when he delivered his threat, or was it intended as a bluff in an increasingly dangerous game of high-stakes strategic poker? Are the Saudis biding their time, waiting to flood the market when the Iranians least expect it? Regardless of his motives, Prince Turki may have unintentionally exposed serious shortcomings in the Desert Kingdom’s much vaunted petro-power.

With petroleum responsible for 80 percent of income from exports, there is no doubt that Iran’s economy is perilously exposed to unexpected price fluctuations in the oil markets. On at least four separate occasions in recent decades the Saudis have used their preeminent status as OPEC’s „swing producer“ to saturate oil markets, deliver price relief to Western consumers, and hammer their neighbor’s economy. Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags

Report: Obama Intensified Cyberwar against Iran Nuclear Program

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic press and excerpts where the source is in English. 

CyberWarNodboy.jpg2 p.m. IRDT, 12 Khordad/June 1 In a Friday New York Times article adapted from his forthcoming book, Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power, David E. Sanger reports on how President Barack Obama accelerated a campaign of cyberweapon attacks on Iran’s nuclear program that was initiated under his predecessor. According to the article,

Mr. Obama decided to accelerate the attacks — begun in the Bush administration and code-named Olympic Games — even after an element of the program accidentally became public in the summer of 2010 because of a programming error that allowed it to escape Iran’s Natanz plant and sent it around the world on the Internet. Computer security experts who began studying the worm, which had been developed by the United States and Israel, gave it a name: Stuxnet.At a tense meeting in the White House Situation Room within days of the worm’s „escape,“ Mr. Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency at the time, Leon E. Panetta, considered whether America’s most ambitious attempt to slow the progress of Iran’s nuclear efforts had been fatally compromised. […]

Told it was unclear how much the Iranians knew about the code, and offered evidence that it was still causing havoc, Mr. Obama decided that the cyberattacks should proceed. In the following weeks, the Natanz plant was hit by a newer version of the computer worm, and then another after that. The last of that series of attacks, a few weeks after Stuxnet was detected around the world, temporarily took out nearly 1,000 of the 5,000 centrifuges Iran had spinning at the time to purify uranium. […]

[O]fficials gave differing assessments of how successful the sabotage program was in slowing Iran’s progress toward developing the ability to build nuclear weapons.Internal Obama administration estimates say the effort was set back by 18 months to two years, but some experts inside and outside the government are more skeptical, noting that Iran’s enrichment levels have steadily recovered, giving the country enough fuel today for five or more weapons, with additional enrichment.

 

The revelations about the emphasis placed by the White House on expanding and enhancing its cyberwarfare capabilities in responding to the perceived threat of Iran’s nuclear program echo a report from earlier this week. For the Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima detailed the Pentagon’s launch of a five-year, $110 million public-private research program, dubbed Plan X, that is focused on innovative technologies in the field of cyberwarfare. According to the report’s description of Plan X,

Among the goals will be the creation of an advanced map that details the entirety of cyberspace — a global domain that includestens of billions of computers and other devices — and updates itself continuously. Such a map would help commanders identify targets and disable them using computer code delivered through the Internet or other means.Another goal is the creation of a robust operating system capable of launching attacks and surviving counterattacks. Officials say this would be the cyberspace equivalent of an armored tank; they compare existing computer operating systems to sport-utility vehicles — well suited to peaceful highways but too vulnerable to work on battlefields.

The architects of Plan X also hope to develop systems that could give commanders the ability to carry out speed-of-light attacks and counterattacks using preplanned scenarios that do not involve human operators manually typing in code — a process considered much too slow.

Source: Teheran Bureau

Iranian Homosexuals Speak Out

By Jeff Seldin, VOA

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says they do not exist. And in Iran, merely trying to be themselves is a crime that brings shame on their families. But now, Iranian homosexuals are starting to speak out about what it means to be gay and about the lengths to which they have gone to escape persecution.

The day begins as normal for Arash and Nima. But for them, just walking out the door is a reminder they are no longer at home in Iran.

„“The LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered people) are a part of vulnerable class of the Iranian society,“ stated Arash. Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags

Birthday Celebration For Nine Iranian Political Prisoners

By Taraneh Bani Yaghoub, Focus on Iranian Women; photos by Alieh Matlabzadeh

In a program held in Tehran on Sunday, the birthday of nine Iranian political prisoners was celebrated. Families of the prisoners along with some of the supporters of the Green Movement participated in this program.

The stars of Khordad: Political prisoners Nasrin Sotoudeh, Majid Tavakkoli, Bahman Ahmadi Amooei, Abdollah Momeni, Hassan Naeilmipour, Saeid Malekpour, Bahman Sadeghi Nour, Mehdi Khodaei and Massoud Pedram have been incarcerated due to their beliefs.

 


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Fritillaria imperialis in southwestern Iran

YASUJ, Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province — The Crown imperial or Kaiser’s Crown (Fritillaria imperialis) is a member of the genus Fritillaria, family Liliaceae. It is native to a wide stretch from Anatolia across the plateau of Iran — including the southwestern province of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad — to Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Himalayan foothills.
 

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