Monday, February 19, 2007

Bombs Explode & Accusations Fly : US - Iran War Ratchets Up a Few Notches.

1. Two Bombings occurred in Iran

a Second bomb attack ripped through the city of the Iranian town of Zahedan Friday night, a day after another explosion involving an attack on a bus owned by the local Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. No one was injured in the second bombing bombing

``The explosion left no casualties or injuries and didn't cause damages,'' Hasan Ali Nouri, governor of Zahedan, was quoted as saying by IRNA. The Fars news agency said that the blast was a ``sound bomb explosion'' - a device that creates a loud boom but that usually does not cause casualties.

The first bombing, the attack on the bus happening last Wednesday, however was tragic.It killed about 18 people and wounded 31 others.

Footage of the attack on Iran’s Arabic-language station Al-Alam showed that the bus had been blown away to a twisted frame of wreckage by the explosion, and witnesses said the attackers shot at the bus from their car to force it to stop, before stopping the explosives-laden vehicle in the path of the bus, and then evacuated the scene of the attack before the bomb exploded. The bomb is believed to have been detonated by remote control

The official Islamic Republic News Agency said police and insurgents briefly clashed after the explosion at a school in Zahedan late Friday. No one was in the school at the time of the blast.

2. Accusations that the bombs came from US

Shortly after the attacks occurred on Wednesday, Iranian officials accused Britain and the United States of interfering in the country’s affairs and supporting ethnic minority rebels operating at the country’s sensitive border areas, holding the two states, known for their long history of arming and aiding armed groups in the region to implement their political agendas, responsible for the attacks.

Citing “informed source”, Fars news agency reported on Saturday that the explosive devices and arsenals used in the recent wave of explosions that hit the southeastern Iranian city of Zahedan starting Wednesday came from the United States. The Fars report said that documents, photographs and film footage, showed that the explosives and arsenals used in the attacks were American.

Relevant documents, photographs and film footage, which show that the explosives and arsenals used in the attack were American, would soon be made public, an "informed source" was quoted as saying.

Asked to elaborate on the documents proving involvement of the US and Britain in recent incidents in Iran's Sistan and Balouchestan province, he said, "The weapons that the terrorists have used are US and British made. Moreover, the arrested terrorist agents have confessed that they have been trained by English-speaking people."

So far a total of 65 suspects in addition to the three people responsible for the bomb attack have been arrested, the official IRNA news agency reported Thursday, quoting Brigadier General Mohammad Gaffari, a senior police officer in Sistan-Baluchestan province.

The official invited representatives of the United Nations, Human Rights watch and other international bodies to dispatch envoys to Iran to observe the available documents and proofs substantiating involvement of the Untied States and Britain in the recent terrorist attacks, including the blast and shootout on Wednesday.

Iranian intelligence minister Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie said last week that Tehran had identified 100 spies working for the United States and Israel in border areas of the Islamic republic.

3. The basic reality is that Jundallah (Allah's Brigade) is fighting for the rights of impoverished Sunnis under Iran's Shiite government

Zahedan, a dusty and tense border city,the place of the latest attacks, is the capital of Sistan-Baluchestan province that borders both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The province has a substantial Baluch community, a minority Sunni Muslim group. It has long been plagued by lawlessness. The area is a key crossing point for opium from Afghanistan and often sees clashes between police and drug gangs. Afghan bandits in March year last year shot dead 22 people traveling between Zahedan and the neighboring border city of Zabol. Earlier this year, four members of the Iranian security forces were killed in the city when armed men opened fire on their vehicle. In December, a car bomb exploded in Zahedan, killing one person.

Recently it has been hit by a string of attacks and kidnappings blamed on a Sunni group called Jundallah (Allah's Brigade). Jundallah has reportedly claimed responsibility for the Wednesday attack. Jundallah, a shadowy Sunni militant group, is reported to have several plots for assassinating Sunni and tribal leaders to sow discord and foment conflicts between the Shiite and Sunni citizens in Sistan-Baluchestan province.

Jundallah, believed by some to have links to al-Qaida, has waged a low-level insurgency in the area and is led by Abdulmalak Rigi, a member of Iran's ethnic Baluchi minority, a community that is Sunni Muslim and also can be found in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Rigi has said his group is fighting for the rights of impoverished Sunnis under Iran's Shiite government.

Hossein Ali Shahriari, a deputy representing Zahedan in parliament, blasted the Iran police and military for failing to take appropriate security measures, the ISNA agency reported.

"Why does our diplomatic apparatus does not seriously confront the Pakistani government for harboring bandits and regime's enemies? Why do security, military, and police officials not take a more serious action?

"I have no choice but to take my plea to the supreme leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) and ask his eminence to ask the officials to make every effort to restore security," he said.

4. US & Britain are accused not only of sirring up unrest between the Shiites and Sunni in Iran - but also in Iraq

Director General for the political affairs of Sistan and Balouchestan governorate Soltan-Ali Mir said that the US and Britain are behind the recent terrorist attacks in the city of Zahedan, adding, "Washington and London are facing serious challenges as their interests in the Middle-East region have been endangered. Since the Islamic Republic is the main center of anti-US struggles, they are seeking to trouble Iran through a series of challenges, including terrorist attacks and unrests."

"The US and Britain, which allege to be pioneers in the campaign against terrorism, are themselves actually defending the terrorists, training them and providing them with the needed media and financial supports and facilities," he added.

Soltan-Ali Mir further pointed out that the US and Britain intend to create a series of incidents in his province similar to what they have already done in Iraq.

"They intend to kill the Shiites and leave the footsteps at the door of the Sunnis or vice versa. Some of the arrested confessed that they had plans to assassinate religious and tribal leaders of the Sunnis and put the blame on the Shiites in a bid to foment ethnic and religious conflicts," he stated.

Soltan-Ali Mir does not offer speculations why the US and Britain would want this type of unrest, which is claiming the lives of their soldiers currently occupying Iraq.

5. US accuses Iran of providing weapons for militants in Iraq

Reports have said that Qods Force has taken an active role in Iraq since September 2002, when they allegedly began building pro-Iranian militant groups in anticipation of the US led invasion of Iraq in early 2003. Since then they have been accused of providing training and financial support to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army

A New York Times report on February 9, 2007, said that US intelligence has confirmed that Qods Force has provided Shia militants in Iraq with Iranian made explosively formed penetrators (EFP), which have been called the most effective improvised explosive device used against American troops.[33] Many of these have been brought into Iraq at night at the border crossing at Mehran. Two days later US military commanders in Iraq gave a briefing to reporters, in which they displayed EFPs with what they said are Iranian serial numbers. According to them, these devices have killed over 170 Americans in Iraq.[34] President Bush himself reaffirmed the information several days later.[35] Despite this, some members of the US military and intelligence community are unsure if Iranian leaders are actually behind the delivery of weapons.[36]

These claims were denied by senior Iranian leaders. "They condemn us for making problems in Iraq, but they don't have any documentary proof," Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hossaini told reporters. "Lots of this evidence is fake, artificial. For example, when they wanted to start a war in Iraq, they made plenty of evidence that there were lots of weapons in Iraq, though the investigators of the International Atomic Energy Agency said they couldn't find any weapons in Iraq," he said. "Right now they're using weapons [with certain markings], but it doesn't prove where these weapons came from.[37]

6. Nuclear showdown coming between US & Iran

Although Washington has said that it wants the nuclear standoff resolved through diplomacy, it has never ruled out military action to thwart Iran's atomic drive.
These accusations come amid rising tensions between Iran and the West over the Iranian nuclear program, which the United States alleges is cover for a weapons drive.

Iran, however, insists that its nuclear program is purely aimed at generating energy.

7. US already building up military outside Iran

Despite Bush’s insistence that he doesn’t plan to open another battle front in the Middle East, war drums against the Islamic Republic appear to be beating more loudly these days.

The New York Times is currently reporting that the United States and Britain has moved additional warships and strike aircraft into the Persian Gulf region to be within striking range of Iran. Senior U.S. officers told the paper that the increase in naval power should not be viewed as preparations for any offensive strike against Iran. But they acknowledged that the ability to hit Iran Has been increased.

8. Meanwhile Iran launches war games

TEHRAN: Iran’s ideological army, the elite Revolutionary Guards, launched three days of war games on Monday with a succession of missile tests aimed at improving defensive capabilities.

The “Power Manoeuvre” exercises involving 3,000 units of the elite force in 16 of Iran’s 30 provinces come at a time of mounting tension with the United States over Iran’s nuclear programme and allegations it is arming militias in Iraq.

“With the firing of short-, medium- and long-range missiles by the Revolutionary Guards, ‘Power Manoeuvre’ has started,” the state news agency IRNA reported. It is the latest show of force by Iran’s elite military in the face of Washington’s increasingly tough rhetoric although US officials have been at pains to deny speculation of a planned military strike.

IRNA said a total of 750 missiles and canon munitions would be fired during the exercises, being staged less than two weeks after similar manoeuvres by the Guards’ air force and naval units.

Exercise spokesman General Nilforoushan told state television the war games were aimed at “upgrading the capabilities and readiness of defence of the military forces as well as the deployment of munitions and forces in the early hours of a war”.

Posted by Paul Grant (follower of Basho)

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