Sunday, June 25, 2006



To reach a conclusion about Iran's choice of this approximate date we also have to look at "neo-Iran" as it has evolved since Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad became President in August, 2005. He immediately set forth into implementing a palace coup against the old timers and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and now strives for Iran to be the leader of a global Moslem take over. The Ahmadi-Nejad gang has tried already to jettison the word “Republic” and call the Iranian regime the Islamic government of Iran. The United Nations refused to accept the name change. Earlier, Ayatollah "the Crocodile" Mesbah Yazdi (leader of the Hojatieh sect of Shia Islam) said that Ayatollah Khomeini did not really want to use the word “Republic” and the vote of the people is not what really counts in the Islamic government, after all, the word of the Faghih (loosely "Allah's representative on earth") or Velayat Faghih (the clerical law imposed by that person) is above the law and people’s vote. But the old timers like Kahrubi, Rafsanjani and others protest that Khomeini respected the people’s vote and that is why he called his new regime the Islamic Republic of Iran not the Islamic government of Iran. At first, the power pulls by both sides - the entrenched clerics with something to lose and riches salted away around the world - and the "spartan" Ahmadi-Nejad and his fellow Revolutionary Guard Commanders, who had not had time - perhaps not even the desire - to amass wealth, had an ebb and flow where neither side could dominate. For example, the purchase of the "Aircraft of Allah" Airbus jet by the Islamic Republic for Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei from the Sultan of Brunei and conversion of an Islamic ruler's aircraft to an even more Islamic configuration, required for Iranian use, was certainly motivated less by the pomp and prestige factor than by the fear of flying in the decrepit aircraft owned by Iran. But the Ahmadi-Nejad "gang" labelled it ostentatious and proposed to sell it off as decadent and anti-Islam. After this plane sat for a long time in Toulouse earning them a fortune in parking fees, France eventually disregarded the embargo of sales of US technology to Iran – 20% of the European Airbus contained American components and parts – and delivered it to Iran. Nor was the USA happy with France's further sale to Iran and maintenance of the Falcon executive jet, one of which later crashed killing senior Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) commanders. With the "disappearance by death" of ten or eleven of the most senior Islamic enemy commanders, the USA may have secretly smiled. An overhead, unmanned Predator could not have achieved more. The crash of an old C-130 cargo plane December 6th, 2005, in Tehran which killed 119 people both in the plane and on the ground, may have triggered a tit for tat kill frenzy. Dozens of popular journalists were among the passengers that never came home, giving rise to rumors of a hard-line putsch of the media by President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad's camp. Shortly followed by an attempt on his life in a convoy attack on December 14th 2005, in Sistan/Baluchistan, a mostly Sunni tribal province in Southern Iran. His "I am one of the people" mentality or cunning security, had him ride a public bus instead of in the convoy, so he escaped. The Falcon crash, which killed those listed below, was a flight handled by French ground crews whose allegiance might have been compromised to create an instrument failure. The pilots mysteriously ran out of fuel. All of those dead were potential supporters of the "neo-gang" though not as strongly as the younger commanders who were closer to Ahmadi-Nejad. In fact the Ground Forces to which all of them belonged or were affiliated, were more inclined to favor the older clerics. Removing them cleared the deck for Ahmadi-Nejad to replace them with men more loyal to him.

Those killed were: General Ahmed Kazemi, the commander of the IRGC's ground forces, * Brigadier General Gholam-Reza Yazdani, IRGC artillery commander, * Gen. Shahramoradi Hanif Montazer-Qaem, IRGC Ground Forces Intellligence chief, * Brigadier General Saeed Mohtadi, commander of the 27th (Mohammed) Division * Hamid Azinpour, aide to General Kazemi * Brigadier General Saeed Suleimani, commander of operations for IRGC ground forces * Gen Safdar Reshadi, Deputy Commander of Ground Forces. The other dead IRGC commanders killed in the crash were identified as follows: Mohsen Assadi, aide to General Kazemi Colonel Ahmad Elhaminejad Colonel Morteza Bassiri Initial reports suggested that Brigadier General Qassem Suleimani was among those killed in the crash, but later reports stated that the dead Brigadier General was Saeed Suleimani, the commander of operations for the IRGC ground forces. Slanted by some as serious retaliation for his alleged "murder" of so many press members and other philosophical opponents in the C-130 crash, the event is hard to place at the door of either the old guard senior Mullahs like Khamenei and former President Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani or perhaps France betraying them. Speculation has also proffered an American or Israeli Special Forces operation to weaken the IRGC. Here we return momentarily to "Allah's Plane".

With scary air crashes by outdated, barely serviced aircraft, Ahmadi-Nejad decided to use the "Allah Plane" to travel to Saudi Arabia.

When the C-130 radioed it was in an emergency situation, instead of being allowed to return to Tehran's main airport to land, it was held in a pattern and then told to head for a desert airport. The reason? Tehran airspace was "closed" till the "Allah Plane" took off with the new President. None of the seasoned pilots accepted to fly the C-130, which was finally foisted on a young, inexperienced pilot, as obligatory performance of his national duty.

Another reason was that the powers in charge tried to avoid a major disaster happening so close to home with journalists on board and journalists within easy reach of the debris. Which would not have been the case if the crash has happened in mid-desert. Technically speaking, "Allah's Plane" killed over 100 people - most of them journalists who could not be counted on to support the "gang". But why August 2006? Realizing he had to gain the upper hand, Ahmadi-Nejad began replacing everyone in a mid-lower, mid-ranking and everything in between to the very top government positions with his trusted allies, chosen among the Revolutionary Guard Commanders. He replaced almost everyone both in the capital city of Tehran and throughout every province. From the Governor on down. While getting his cabinet approved, he had a go at all the banking organizations and management positions putting his people in place and recently retired some 40 University professors to open up teaching positions to be carried out by proponents for his own brand of Islam - Hojatieh.

On the international scene, with which he had no experience then and still has almost none, he changed many ambassadors, too, recently recalling even more of them.

He watched his nuclear negotiators (whom he also changed) continue to buy time as Iran scrambled to acquire uranium fuel refining capability to weapons grade levels.

NOT to acquire nuclear weapons - he already has at least four operational nuclear missiles - and about half a dozen other nuclear warheads possibly useful for an EMP (electro-magentic pulse) weapon - but to have the capacity to build many more to influence Iran's position in the global gamesmanship he has set in motion. And appears to be winning!

Here we approach the August date. Firstly, July is much too early for Iran.

He needs about the August amount of time to have at least one operational, new Shahab4 long range missile with a North Korean nuclear nose cone he can remove from a Shahab3.

I would posit the sudden North Korean intended test launch of their long range - up to 14,000 kilometers - missile is a proving launch for Iran and to receive payment from Iran for this equipment.

North Korea has little incentive to nuke America but lots of motive to provide - for a hefty price - the same capability to Iran.

Futhermore, reports state that mid-August is the date Ahmadi-Nejad expects to go to Mashhad and announce from the shrine there of the Saint of Miracles, Imam Reza, that Iran has managed to refine weapons grade uranium.

Which when combined with technology bought through A.Q. Khan of Pakistan clearly puts them in a position of a nuclear power and thus required to be treated with kid gloves by the rest of the world.

Specially the Western world but no less so by Arab States of the region and Moslem States in African and the far East.

Thus the first step to Iran becoming the most prominent Moslem power - albeit Shia - and Ahmadi-Nejad the modern Nasser of Islam.

In the meantime, it appears that the US State Dept. has prevailed in imposing a policy of negotiation instead of military threat and reports point to President Bush taking the military option off the table and espousing internal regime change.

If we fail to take action in time, we will face a much tougher fight down the road, including nuclear attacks by Iran. Perhaps not inside the USA at first, though the Hojatieh mindset in charge over there invites this as a part of their necessary, intended apocalypse to bring back their 12th Imam - but certainly on Israel, on at least one European country and probably an EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) bomb over the USA.

Interesting to watch here is neo-Iran's announcement that by September gasoline (petrol) will be rationed and no longer imported. Puzzled by this absolute invitation for unrest by the populace, analysts fail to realize that restricting the amount of fuel for transportation also restrains people's ability to travel and is a form of self-imposed curfew.

Reports that the Iranian Oil industry workers plan to strike and upset production is also unusual unless linked to gasoline (petrol). During the start of the revolt against the late Shah's government in 1978, oil company refinery workers went on strike but their effect, intended to hurt revenues, for the most part, was to limit the amount of available kerosene, which created enromous hardships as it was used to heat homes and offices. Winters can be fairly severe in Iran and this happened in Autumn and continued through winter.

And finally the potential election of a new Supreme Leader - for which position the Hojatieh spiritual leader of Ahmadi-Nejad, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, will be vying, takes place around November, so shortly on the heels of the hoped for announcement that uranium has been refined to weapons grade. Which he hopes will be the clincher for a changing of the guard at the very top. Both in Iran and in the USA, where critical elections may change the landscape for both.


The following comments by Rear-Admiral J. S. concern Iraq: Seventh Infantry Division (“The Bayonets”) Fort Carson General and Flag Officers Conference on Iraq, at Fort Carson, COEarlier this week I (a Rear Admiral) attended a retired general and flag officer conference at Fort Carson, Colorado. The conference was hosted by Major General Bob Mixon, Commanding General of Seventh Infantry Division, which calls Fort Carson its home. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Fort Carson, it is a huge installation located to the south of Colorado Springs; it’s in the process of becoming one of the larger Army installations in the country (26,000 soldiers); and it is the test location for the new “modular brigade” concept that will reflect the Army of tomorrow by 2008. It is also the home post of the largest number of troopers who have served multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq and, regrettably, the largest number of troopers who have died in combat there over the past three years. There are Fort Carson units going to and returning from the combat area virtually on a monthly basis.The conference was primarily organized to explain the modular brigade concept, and it featured a panel of officers who had either very recently returned from commands in the combat zone or were about to deploy there in the next two months. Three of the recent returnees were Colonel H.R. McMaster, Colonel Rick S., and Captain Walter Szpak. McMaster is the commander of the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment, the unit that, through very innovative and population-friendly tactics, rid the city of Tal Afar of insurgents. For which the Mayor of that Iraqi city has profusely thanked our troops. McMaster is considered the foremost U.S. expert on modern insurgent warfare, has written a book on the subject which is widely circulated at the war colleges and staff colleges, and he was asked to testify before Congress when he returned from the 3rd ACR combat deployment. He is obviously one of the great combat leaders that has emerged from the war and is highly respected (some would say revered) by his troopers and his superiors alike. Colonel S. is assigned to the 10th Special Forces Brigade and he headed up all of the 31 special forces A-teams that are integrated with the populace and the Iraqi Army and national police throughout the country. Many of these are the guys that you see occasionally on the news that have beards, dress in native regalia, usually speak Arabic and don’t like to have their identities revealed for fear of retribution on their families (thus the Colonel S.) Captain Szpak was the head of all the Army explosive ordnance teams in Iraq. He and his troops had the job of disarming all the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and explosive formed projectiles (EFPs) that were discovered before they were detonated. They also traveled around the country training the combat forces in recognizing and avoiding these devices in time to prevent death and injury. IEDs and EFPs are responsible for the vast majority of casualties experienced by our forces. Despite the objective of the conference (i.e., the modular brigade concept), it quickly devolved into a 3½ hour question and answer period between the panel and the 54 retired generals and admirals who attended. I wish I had a video of the whole session to share with you because the insights were especially eye opening and encouraging. I’ll try to summarize the high points as best I can. · All returnees agreed that “we are clearly winning the fight against the insurgents but we are losing the public relations battle both in the war zone and in the States”. All agreed that it will be necessary for us to have forces in Iraq for at least ten more years, though by no means in the numbers that are there now. They opined that 80% to 90% of the Iraqi people want to have us there and do not want us to leave before “the job is done”. The morale and combat capability of the troops is the highest that the senior officers have ever seen in the 20-30 years that each has served. · The Iraqi armed forces and police are probably better trained right now than they were under Saddam, but our standards are much higher and they lack officer leadership. · They don’t need more troops in the combat zone but they need considerably more Arab linguists and civil affairs experts. · The IEDs and EFPs continue to be the principal problem that they face and they are becoming more sophisticated as time passes. Extended Comments: Public Affairs: We are losing the public affairs battle for a variety of reasons. First, in Iraq, the terrorists provide Al Jazeera with footage of their more spectacular attacks and they are on TV to the whole Arab world within minutes of the event. By contrast it takes four to six days for a story generated by Army Public Affairs to gain clearance by Combined Forces Command, two or three more days to get Pentagon clearance, and after all that, the public media may or may not run the story. Second, the U.S. mainstream media (MSM) who send reporters to the combat zone do not like to have their people embedded with our troops. They claim that the reporters get “less objective” when they live with the soldiers and marines – they come to see the world through the eyes of the troops. As a consequence, a majority of the reporters stay in hotels in the “Green Zone” and send out native stringers to call in stories to them by cell phone which they later write up and file. No effort is made to verify any of these stories or the credibility of the stringers. The recent serious injuries to Bob Woodruff of ABC and Kimberly Dozier of CBS makes the likelihood of the use of local stringers even higher. Third, the stories that are filed by reporters in the field very seldom reach the American public as written. An anecdote from Col. McMaster illustrates this dramatically. TIME magazine recently sent a reporter to spend six weeks with the 3rd ACR as they were in the battle of Tal Afar. When the battle was over, the reporter filed his story and also included close to 100 pictures that the accompanying photographer took. TIME published a cover story on the battle a week later, allegedly using the story sent in by their reporter. When the issue came out, the guts had been edited out of their reporter’s story and none of the pictures he submitted were used. Instead they showed a weeping child on the cover, taken from stock photos. When the reporter questioned why his story was eviscerated, his editors in New York responded that the story and pictures were “too heroic”. McMaster had read both and told me that the editors had completely changed the thrust and context of the material their reporter had submitted. As a sidebar on the public affairs situation, Colonel Bob McRee, who was also on the panel and is bringing a Military Police Battalion to Iraq next month, invited the Colorado Springs Gazette to send a reporter with the battalion for six weeks to two months. He assured the Gazette, in writing one month ago, that he would provide full time bodyguards for the reporter, taking the manpower out of his own hide. The Gazette has yet to respond to his offer. Ten More Years: The idea that we will have troops in Iraq for ten more years sounds rather grim, even though by contrast, President Clinton sent troops to Bosnia and Kosovo nearly ten years ago. And they’re still there with no end in sight. While Iraq is clearly a different situation right now, the panelists believe that within a few years at the most, it will become very much the same – a peace keeping, nation building function among factions that have hated one another for centuries. There is factionalism and there was bitter fighting in the Balkans before NATO intervened and with peace keepers, the panelists believe that Iraq will be a parallel situation. This, by the way, is why they all believe that linguists and civil affairs military personnel are so necessary for the future. Colonel S. went out on a limb by suggesting that if most of the troops in Iraq were deployed home “tomorrow” he could have the entire country “pacified” and the terrorist situation brought under control with just one brigade of special forces. Since these guys are linguists, civil affairs experts, among many other skills and talents, he may not be too far wrong. Iraqi Attitudes: The panelists agreed that the public affairs problem manifests itself most significantly in the American public belief that the people of Iraq want us out of their country which we are occupying. They have served in different parts of the country but each agreed that we are wanted and needed there. I refer you to the anecdote from Col. McMaster and the thousands of pictures available on the internet of the U.S. forces shown in very cordial relations with the locals. Of course, our media’s obsession with Abu Graib and, if the initial reports regarding the small group of Marines at Haditha prove to be true, then those attitudes will change somewhat. But as one of the panelists pointed out, the atrocities suffered under Saddam were much worse and much more common. Morale and Capabilities: Two weeks ago, the local TV channels showed a 3rd ACR re-enlistment ceremony held at Ft. Carson and officiated by Colonel McMaster. Mind you, this unit has just returned from a one-year combat tour of hard and bloody fighting in Iraq and will likely return there again in eight to ten months. Of the 670 soldiers eligible for re-enlistment, 654 of them held up their right hands and signed on for another four years. Incredible! The Army goal for re-enlistments for fiscal year 2006 was for 40,000 soldiers to extend their active duty commitments. With four months remaining in the fiscal year, they have already exceeded their goal of 40,000 and may have to go back to Congress for authorization to exceed their force structure manning limitations. Since Congress has been pontificating for the past couple of years that the Army is woefully under strength, that should not pose any difficulty. Iraqi Forces: Every one of the returning commanders had experience in joint operations with the Iraqi soldiers – and in the case of some of them, with the local and national police. They are all are supportive of the quality of the forces, but culturally, they believe that we may be expecting too much from them as a pre-condition for handing over greater responsibility for area control. McMaster said that he worked with the army and the police at Tal Afar and was not the least bit reluctant to assign major responsibilities to them in the operations that were conducted. Col. S.’s Green Berets, on the other hand, caught a national police lieutenant who was directing the emplacement of an IED by cell phone in order to disrupt a convoy – immediately after the lieutenant had been briefed on the convoy’s route. The good news in this situation was that they were able to reroute the convoy, safely, and track the lieutenant’s entire network through the use of the speed dial on his phone. Having terrorist infiltrators in both the army and the police force remains a problem. But by no means does that detract from the courage and determination of those who are loyal to the new Iraq. Explosive Devices: The combined command in Iraq is becoming increasingly effective in countering the significant threat posed by the IEDs and EFPs. The frequency of attacks has decreased in large part through training to recognize the threat, the new technology (UAVs – unmanned aerial vehicles or drones, for example) which help to discover where the devices are emplaced, the infiltration of some of the terrorist cells, etc. However, the technology being used by the terrorists is also improving measurably. In the past six weeks, two bomb making sites were found, raided and the bad guys arrested. In both cases, the head bomb makers were master’s degree graduates (one in chemistry and one in physics) from American universities. That’s a lot of brain power to bring into the fight, but we also have some pretty talented people in the military, industry and academia who are doing their best to even the odds. (And, as per Ge. Casey, Iran has been providing ever increasing amounts of armaments, training and funding). Conclusion: This is more than I had intended to write on the subject – so what’s new a lot of you might say – but it is a subject that doesn’t get the proper balance from other sources, in my judgment at least. I trust the information that we received far more than anything that I have heard or seen in our usual news sources. The most disturbing thing that I heard was that our MSM is changing the stories filed by their own people on the scene because they sound “too heroic”. The over riding opinion that I came away from the conference with is that we have incredibly talented and professional leaders who are facing up to the challenges and are making inexorable progress toward the goals of our nation. We’re fortunate to have courageous and valorous people on the combat front, even though there seems to be a serious dearth of these same types of people in Congress and the mainstream media.

Friday, June 23, 2006


While I try to get back "on subject" during the week-end, here's something to keep you reading. I will be adding to all sections, including an article here by me. Thank you all for returning over and over to visit the site which is getting more and more viewers from all over the world and is being expanded with some Farsi bilingual posts in a new section. I have a ton of all kinds of stuff to post and write but have to set aside other responsibilities to get it done. Including a very serious, large scale business and operating plan that will be shelved over the weekend. Several more sites have put up links to me here and the word is spreading that there's decent thought and material to be had. Even if it relates to a perfect laptop. PLEASE pass the link to all your friends and contacts. And for what it's worth I get a dozen visits every week from inside Iran, so spread the word there, too.
Some of you had said that you are planning a trip to Greece. I just received this from friend Stella which will be a great help to you. Kalo Taxidi! Athens Survival Guide
Matt Barrett's Guide to Athens, Greece 2006
This is my index page for all my Athens Survival Guide. Save it to your favorite places so you can find it again. There are thousands of pages of information and it is easy to get lost. This guide will give you the tools to survive and thrive in my favorite city: Athens, Greece. Introduction: About Athens Basic Athens Information Walking In Athens Travel Agents & Services Getting Out of Athens Other Helpful Athens Info Athens Photo Tours & Articles Other Greece Websites Other Matt Travel Sites Basic Athens Information Getting to Athens: Tips on flights for bargain huntersand info on ferries from Italy When To Go: The weather for Athens by the seasonand what to pack Arrival in Athens:What to expect when you get off the plane including changing money and getting to the city Hotels in Athens: Where to stay and how to staythere cheaply Travel Agents in Athens:In my opinion these are the best Athens Plaka Guide: My favorite town in the shadow of the acropolis Athens Restaurants: A helpful Guide to good eating Greek Food: What to eat and how to say it and how it looks Acropolis of Athens: You can't miss this Late Night in Athens: What to do when dinner is over Staying in Contact:Internet Cafes and Phones Breakfast in Athens: If there is no room service there are options Psiri Nightlife Center of Athens Athens Nightlife: Club listings The Best Coffee in Athens The New Attika Zoological ParkThe 2nd largest bird collection in the world! The Athens Metro is Here! George the Famous Taxi Driver: Athens most valuable asset Buses: Instructions and variety The Athens Coastal Tram Museums of Athens: Listing and Description Matt's Tips for Jetlag and Insomnia Schedules and Faresfor Trains, Buses and, Airport Shuttles Practical Athens InformationHospitals, Currency, Country Info etc Return to Top Walking in Athens Map of Athens Monastiraki Flea Market: Ever on Sundays The Athens Market: My favorite place Shopping in Athens Omonia and Beyond Getting Better all the Time Sunday in Abysinia Square: Athens Antique Paradise Kolonaki and Lykavitos: Greece's answer to Park Ave National Gardens: The Amazon rainforest in downtown Athens Strollering Through Athens: Traveling with Children or this ThissionA pretty cool place to Be Syntagma Square: It's Back! The 1st Cemetery The Great Outdoors: The Greenery is plentiful and expanding In Search of Old Buildings Who says Athens is a concrete jungle? Kerameikos Ancient Cemeteryof Athens Information for Wheelchair Usersfrom an Athens 2004 Paralympic Athlete A Walking Trip in Pireaus New Sightseeing Bus Return to Top Services in Athens Travel Agents in Athens: Only the Best Hotels in Athens: Where to stay and how to stay there cheaply Yachts, Sailboatsand Sailing Schools Gold and Jewelery: Where to buy Melissinos: The Poet-Sandalmaker of Athens George the Famous Taxi Driver Churches in AthensAA Meetings too Villas of GreeceApartments in Athens too What Things Cost inRestaurants and Shops Assistance for Foreigners Residence permits, employment, weddings, education, immigration and more Limousine ServiceAirport-Business and Tours Art and Artistsin Athens and Around Greece Athens Guide for Palm Pilotwith GPS Maps Return to Top Getting Out of Athens Rafina & Other Day-Trips: Beaches too Aegina, Poros and Hydra: The nearby Islands How to Go to Greek Island Step by Step Directions The Argolis Mycenae, Epidavros and Nafplio Fantasy Travel of GreeceMainland , the islands, cruises and More! Beaches of AthensWhere to Swim Ferry Boats in Pireaus: Helpful map and information Lake Vouliagmeni You Don't have to go far to find natural healing springs The Curse of Eleusis Did the theft of a statue 200 years ago curse the land of Eleusis? George's Taxi Excursions: Get out of town the fun way Travel Agents: My Recommendations Car Rentals: The Best agencies in Athens The Temple of Poseidon at Sounion Lavrion Going Home Weekly Ferry Schedules Return to Top Other Helpful Athens Info Map of Central Athens Books: What to read to enhance your visit to Greece Bureacracy in Athens: A True story Rain in Athens?: Just in case... Gifts: What to bring home from Athens or what to bring as gifts to Athens. The Language: Speak Greek in Two Months! Patsa: Life-enhancing soup of the working class What Music to Buy My Favorite Greek CDs Fear of War and Terrorism: Don't worry. Athens is Safe Amvrazi and Vrettos:Two of my favorite journalists in Athens. Newspapers: What to read and where to find them The OlympicsYes they are over but you can stilllook at my photos Stray Dogs: An Athenian problem The Athens MarathonThe original Marathon Souvlaki: Greece's Gift to Fast Food Socrates Drank The Conium:Greece's Greatest Rock Group Something new and helpful isMatt's Travel Tips. Bringing A Group?Helpful work-page for Churches, schools, cultural organizations coming to Greece Crime and Scams Return to Top Summer EventsIncluding Athens Festival, Herod Atticus, Epidavros, Lycabettus and Megaron Photo Tours of Athens and Other Stuff On The Acropolis: A Photo Journey Lykavittos: The View from the Top Matt's Best of Athens Page Central Market Photo Journey Flea Market Photo Journey Ermou Street Photo Journey National Museum Photo Tour Temple of Olympian Zeus Matt Barrett for Mayor?Read the Athens News Endorcement Psiri Photo Tour Athens Photo Album Laiki Farmers Markets Athens: The Way It Used To Be Byzart Tthe Ancient Greek Jewelry of Andrea Jerome Geniko Emborio EklektonProionton Naxos Street People of Athens Naxos Lamb and CheeseMarket in Psiri The Great Snowstormof 2002 Christmas in Greece: If you are thinking of traveling to Greece for the Christmas Holidays NEW! The Elgin MarblesThey are not in Athens yet but they may be soon. This is their story. Travel Links Return to Top Questions about Athens or Greece? You can e-mail If you find my Athens Survival Guide useful and you would like to show your appreciation why not let people know about the site on the numerous travel boards on the internet or linking to it from your blog or website. Because I don't have the big advertising budgets of the major travel sites many people don't find me until after they have made all their plans and wish they had found my information sooner. Help spread the word about Matt Barrett's Greece Travel Guides. If you found these guides helpful and want to help continue the work, please support the services I recommend.
Without their help these pages and this website would not exist. Return to Top The Athens Survival Guide is Copyright 1998 and updated continuously by Matt Barrett

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


NOTE: I have been receiving feedback from readers who are under the impression that Iran is claiming giving up Zarghawi as a whitewash and distraction.

Quite the contrary - Iran has been caught with its pants down for betraying one of their own assets and supporting someone who has slaughtered so many Shi-ites.

A couple of days ago a car was gunned down and two Iranians killed. The Iranian consulate in the South was attacked by Shias who were incensed that Iran had been supporting Zarghawi while he slaughtered Shias.

The Islamic Regime of Iran does NOT want credit for Zarghawi. Their usual treachery has begun to bite them in the butt! Or stab them in their gut.

They would love this story to disappear.

Zarghawi's Last Words "Prepare My Virgins"
IRAN TOLD HAMAS, HAMAS TOLD THE JORDANIANS, THE JORDANIANS TOLD THE AMERICANS (Washington D.C.) - and the Americans invited the Iraqis to join in to bolster the new government's ministerial positions. Nobody really knows exactly why "anything" but speculation can be reasonably accurate. Might the cash-strapped Hamas have been angling for the $25 million bounty on which to operate? Or was this a gift from Hamas to the West aimed to potentially reinstate Jordan as the land of the Palestinians as was originally intended long ago and now so feared a possibility - with 60% of Jordanians of Palestinian descent - that Jordan has requested a halt or slow down to American efforts to form a Palestinian State.

Did Iran offer Zarghawi as a precursor to their dubious offer to help the USA in Iraq if the nuclear matter of sanctions were dropped?

Iraqi Security Adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie offered this English translation of a document captured from Zarghawi, which contains multiple reasons Iran decided the liability of using Zarghawi over shadowed his usefulness after becoming a double edged sword cutting both ways: "The situation and conditions of the resistance in Iraq have reached a point that requires a review of the events and of the work being done inside Iraq. Such a study is needed in order to show the best means to accomplish the required goals, specially that the forces of the National Guard have succeeded in forming an enormous shield protecting the American forces and have reduced substantially the losses that were solely suffered by the American forces.

This is in addition to the role, played by the Shi'a (the leadership and masses) by supporting the occupation, working to defeat the resistance and by informing on its elements.

As an overall picture, time has been an element in affecting negatively the forces of the occupying countries, due to the losses they sustain economically in human lives, which are increasing with time. However, here in Iraq, time is now beginning to be of service to the American forces and harmful to the resistance for the following reasons:

1. By allowing the American forces to form the forces of the National Guard, to reinforce them and enable them to undertake military operations against the resistance.

2. By undertaking massive arrest operations, invading regions that have an impact on the resistance, and hence causing the resistance to lose many of its elements.

3. By undertaking a media campaign against the resistance resulting in weakening its influence inside the country and presenting its work as harmful to the population rather than being beneficial to the population.

4. By tightening the resistance's financial outlets, restricting its moral options and by confiscating its ammunition and weapons.

5. By creating a big division among the ranks of the resistance and jeopardizing its attack operations, it has weakened its influence and internal support of its elements, thus resulting in a decline of the resistance's assaults.

6. By allowing an increase in the number of countries and elements supporting the occupation or at least allowing to become neutral in their stand toward us in contrast to their previous stand or refusal of the occupation.

7. By taking advantage of the resistance's mistakes and magnifying them in order to misinform. Based on the above points, it became necessary that these matters should be treated one by one:

1. To improve the image of the resistance in society, increase the number of supporters who are refusing occupation and show the clash of interest between society and the occupation and its collaborators. To use the media for spreading an effective and creative image of the resistance.

2. To assist some of the people of the resistance to infiltrate the ranks of the National Guard in order to spy on them for the purpose of weakening the ranks of the National Guard when necessary, and to be able to use their modern weapons.

3. To reorganize for recruiting new elements for the resistance.

4. To establish centers and factories to produce and manufacture and improve on weapons and to produce new ones.

5. To unify the ranks of the resistance, to prevent controversies and prejudice and to adhere to piety and follow the leadership.

6. To create division and strife between American and other countries and among the elements disagreeing with it.

7. To avoid mistakes that will blemish the image of the resistance and show it as the enemy of the nation.

In general and despite the current bleak situation, we think that the best suggestions in order to get out of this crisis is to entangle the American forces into another war against another country or with another of our enemy force, that is to try and inflame the situation between America and Iran or between America and the Shi'a in general.

Specifically the Sistani Shi'a, since most of the support that the Americans are getting is from the Sistani Shi'a, then, there is a possibility to instill differences between them and to weaken the support line between them; in addition to the losses we can inflict on both parties. Consequently, to embroil America in another war against another enemy is the answer that we find to be the most appropriate, and to have a war through a delegate has the following benefits:

1. To occupy the Americans by another front will allow the resistance freedom of movement and alleviate the pressure imposed on it.

2. To dissolve the cohesion between the Americans and the Shi'a will weaken and close this front.

3. To have a loss of trust between the Americans and the Shi'a will cause the Americans to lose many of their spies.

4. To involve both parties, the Americans and the Shi'a, in a war that will result in both parties being losers.

5. Thus, the Americans will be forced to ask the Sunni for help.

6. To take advantage of some of the Shia elements that will allow the resistance to move among them.

7. To weaken the media's side which is presenting a tarnished image of the resistance, mainly conveyed by the Shi'a.

8. To enlarge the geographical area of the resistance movement.

9. To provide popular support and cooperation by the people.

The resistance fighters have learned from the result and the great benefits they reaped, when a struggle ensued between the Americans and the Army of Al-Mahdi. However, we have to notice that this trouble or this delegated war that must be ignited can be accomplished through:

1. A war between the Shi'a and the Americans.

2. A war between the Shi'a and the secular population (such as Ayad 'Alawi and al-Jalabi.)

3. A war between the Shi'a and the Kurds.

4. A war between Ahmad al-Halabi and his people and Ayad 'Alawi and his people. 5. A war between the group of al-Hakim and the group of al-Sadr.

6. A war between the Shi'a of Iraq and the Sunni of the Arab countries in the gulf.

7. A war between the Americans and Iran. We have noticed that the best of these wars to be ignited is the one between the Americans and Iran, because it will have many benefits in favor of the Sunni and the resistance, such as:

1. Freeing the Sunni people in Iraq, who are (30 percent) of the population and under the Shi'a Rule.

2. Drowning the Americans in another war that will engage many of their forces.

3. The possibility of acquiring new weapons from the Iranian side, either after the fall of Iran or during the battles.

4. To entice Iran towards helping the resistance because of its need for its help.

5. Weakening the Shi'a supply line.

The question remains, how to draw the Americans into fighting a war against Iran?

It is not known whether America is serious in its animosity towards Iran, because of the big support Iran is offering to America in its war in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

Hence, it is necessary first to exaggerate the Iranian danger and to convince America and the west in general, of the real danger coming from Iran, and this would be done by the following:

1. By disseminating threatening messages against American interests and the American people and attribute them to a Shi'a Iranian side.

2. By executing operations of kidnapping hostages and implicating the Shi'a Iranian side.

3. By advertising that Iran has chemical and nuclear weapons and is threatening the west with these weapons.

4. By executing "exploding operations" in the West and accusing Iran by planting Iranian Shi'a fingerprints and evidence.

5. By declaring the existence of a relationship between Iran and terrorist groups (as termed by the Americans).

6. By disseminating bogus messages about confessions showing that Iran is in possession of weapons of mass destruction or that there are attempts by the Iranian intelligence to undertake terrorist operations in America and the west and against Western interests."

Speculation also abounds on multiple aspects pinpointing this terrorist's location and his last moments, ranging to opposite ends of the spectrum. This includes Coalition Forces beating him to death instead of acknowledging their medic tried to keep him alive (much more useful to us than dead) and 'he rolled off the stretcher to escape', was replaced, then died mumbling something nobody could decipher. Was it "Prepare my Virgins"? As good a phrase as any to indicate he addressed Allah, though as the half-witted thug born and raised in a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan, he may well have simply cursed his captors unprintably with his last breath. One vengefully satisfying fact is certain. Before he died, he had full defeated knowledge of capture by his enemy. His mind must have raced asking who had betrayed him, never thinking his own murderous viciousness had delivered him to his foes. Or that the $25 million reward dangled by the USA had cemented his final betrayal by a colleague. Iran was the conduit for his betrayal but his savage slaughter of Shiites tipped the scales for them to consider giving up a useful tool. Again, speculation abounds that the Sunnis made a deal with Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki to deliver Abu Musab Al-Zarghawi to him in return for appointing a Sunni Minister of Defense. Though this may have possibly played a role, it was the terrorist's savage brutality and his ruthless, gleeful killing, which contributed to his ousting from under an established insurgent veil of secrecy. Nobody liked him. Others posit that Al Qaeda may have tired of his thirst for blood and been instrumental in passing the word to their senior man in Iraq, Waliya Arbili to either rein in Zarghawi or remove him to prevent further erosion of support for insurgents in Iraq. Specially of the non-Iraqi ilk. Zarghawi screaming abuse at Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad in a tape released June 6th, 2006, criticizing the empty words of "destroying Israel off the map" but in fact doing nothing to achieve this.

Remember, Zarghawi was a Palestinian. He came from a refugee camp in a town called al-Zarghaa in Jordan but was not a Jtrue ordanian. His prime objective as a Palestinian was always and remained the destruction of Israel. Human error in white also contributed to Zarghawi's capture - his white truck. Jordanian security forces amazingly provided a location for him from his gun-jamming video in the middle of nowhere. How could anyone recognize the desert area from the little view provided? Probably nobody, but a white truck shown in the video and seen by Jordanian spies operating in and around a certain area, could have been the end of the ball of string, which later unraveled. Jordanian Special Forces were involved though their exact role has not been clarified.

HAMAS, for its part, appeared to have leapt at the opportunity to soothe recent tensions with the Jordanian Government. April and May 2006 had seen a series of arrests in the Kingdom of HAMAS operatives captured with weapons and explosives which were alleged to have been used against Jordanian Government targets throughout the country.

According to the Jordanian Government, the HAMAS weapons caches included automatic weapons, submachineguns, ammunition, hand-grenades, mines, different types of explosives, GRAD missiles, LAW anti-tank missiles, and Katyusha rockets (some of which were reportedly Iranian made).

With his spiritual mentor and advisor Sheikh Abd al-Rahman fingered and then cross-linked with various sightings of the white truck, the end became almost inevitable. Here comes the human error. Not repainting the truck, even with cans of spray paint, every so often to change its appearance. Factory white looked good, so white it remained. Nobody in the town where Zarghawi grew up considered him any brighter than a half-wit, so little wonder. Interestingly enough in the first Gulf war, we knew where Saddam Hussein was at any given time after we discovered he was using a bus to move around and transmit his public messages. Luckily for him our policy at the time did not include terminating him. Additionally, Zarghawi's rising star inside Iraq, his growing operational control and involvement in European terrorist actions and nascent activities in Canada and potential strikes in the USA itself, using East European/Balkan Moslems, Hispanic, specially Puerto Rican gangs, African-American Moslems and eventually rising to prominence above Ossama Bin Laden himself, may have been dominos in his downfall. Dominos which Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Ossama's second in command in Al Qaeda might well have been happy to set up, as he too, was being overshadowed. Two days before he was killed Al-Jazeera televison lauded Zarghawi as a prominent leader, as a key and highly important person in the struggle against the Coalition and the West and the Al Qaeda prince of the region. An hour after news of his death reached them they did a 180 and began saying that Zarghawi getting killed was no big deal since he was an unpopular, low level maverick and not truly important to Al Qaeda's cause in Iraq. Though Shia Iran continued to train and fund Zarghawi, having had a track record together through the pro-Iran Ansar Al-Sunna, located mostly in the North Eastern Iraq, on both sides of the Kurdish border, his indiscriminate killing of both Sunnis and Shias, specially Shias like the school children he took off a minibus and executed, made his usefulness a double edged sword. And finally pushed Iran to deep six him when negatives outpaced his positives. True, he was fomenting major trouble for the Coalition Forces and a possible sectarian if not civil war, but he had also crossed that invisible line that separates even terrorists from a sheer evil very few can stomach. And, he was having major disagreements with Al Qaeda's second most senior representative in Iraq, Waliya Arbili to the point Bin Laden had to appoint a local resident, Abdulhadi al-Iraqi, over both their heads to maintain some semblance of order. Abdulhadi's difficult task of preventing a bloody power struggle among Al Qaeda factions, foreign insurgents and Iraqi born ones, inside Iraq, may have become much more difficult with the demise of not only Zarghawi, concurrently with several of his top aides and two female intelligence personnel, but also because of the intelligence garnered and operatives arrested in 17 immediate raids by combined Coalition and Iraqi forces - between the attack on Zarghawi and the announcement of his death. Some 39 related raids the next day and over 400 after that, further poked large holes in the torn fabric of the terrorist insurgency, leaving the field open for leaderless younger "militants" wanting to follow Zarghawi's ideals to struggle for positions of recognition in Iraq's terror organizations. Thereby, triggering a surge in intelligence from Iraqis with little, less or no respect for the newer, young Ansar al-Islam operatives appearing on the scene. Abdulhadi may need all the help he can get from Bin Laden's reported choice of replacement of Zarghawi, a little known operative named Abdullah bin Rashid Al-Baghdadi. However, other reports state the Egyptian, Al-Mesri, claims to have been selected to fill the void. This in itself creates a potential conflict while they vie for position in the new hierarchy, offering leaks and intelligence coups. Al-Jazeera reports of an unknown person with a pseudonym of al Muhajer (the Immigrant) as the new boss of the Ansar al-Islam show part of the turmoil Al Qaeda faces. Positively speaking, the rips in the Iraqi organizations and the intelligence feasts from the 56 locations may force Al-Zawahiri and Bin Laden to reveal themselves as their need to communicate faster to repair the gaps, clashes with their need for secure concealment. Over 150 later raids and a massive 40,000 person campaign by the new Iraqi government with some 7,000 US military personnel backing them up, may deal an insurmountable blow to Iraq's insurgency. With so many missing from the old structure, Iran appears t have decided to move more forcefully into the game. With much bigger fish to fry than just Iraq and with a wealth of senior Al Qaeda members as guests inside Iran, including Bin Laden's son, Iran may upgrade its efforts from acting by proxy to more definitive, direct intervention. They are already more deeply involved in Al Qaeda activity in North Africa than is generally known. Inside Iraq, Iran has an estimated 40,000 specially trained agents, Iranian nationals or Iranian-Iraqi citizens, scattered among the major cities, infiltrated into Shia mosques and blended into Moqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi militia in Southern Iraq. Though, with Zarghawi gone, much of the incentive to join the Mehdi militia may disappear as sectarian violence fomented by Zarghawi will diminish and the need to protect Shias from his slaughter will no longer be a recruiting call that everyone will heed. Taking a leaf from Khomeini's revolution inside Iran, where mosques became hubs for his take over plans, Iranian intelligence agents have additionally set up Islamic libraries in many major cities in Iraq, through which they recruit, fund, organize and control anti-Coalition and anti-Iraqi government activity. This set up, while technically secular, provides cover for Islamic jihadist meetings, indoctrination, safe houses and similar clandestine needs.

Generally considered an unintelligent child and later a mindless, minor thug as he was growing up in Jordan, Zarghawi operated on his cultural background and upbringing as a Palestinian refugee camp denizen. Like Arafat, who was thrown out of every Arab country for fomenting trouble against his host government, Zarghawi had no allegiance to Jordan and probably never formally received Jordanian citizenship. His indiscriminate killing of Iraqis, specially of the Shia persuasion, reviled as they are by Sunnis, was in keeping with his feeling no allegiance to anyone in Iraq either. Anymore than he did toward Jordanians when he blew up a wedding party in a hotel or tried to use a dirty bomb to attack Jordanian Security. After all, he was not killing his fellow Palestinians, who were the only ones for whom he might feel any affinity. Like the paramilitary Basiji in Iran, mostly mercenary Arabs, Palestinians or Taliban Afghans, having no hesitation or compunction in killing Shia Iranians to suppress street or student demonstrations, Zarghawi took pleasure in killing Iraqis, Jordanians and Westerners. With no other claim to fame, since he used others for strategic or tactical brainpower, ruthless spilling of blood gave him the notoriety he sought to recruit a following. He was death personified, which in the terrorist world provides a loathsome charisma. Various other matters continue to roil in Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Iran. The new government's confrontation with the insurgency while Al Qaeda has been disrupted extends to also warning Syria to stop permitting insurgents to enter or flee Iraq by way of that country, including a warning that Iraqi military will not hesitate to make incursions into Syrian territory in pursuit of insurgents or to suppress their operations near the border regions on the Syrian side.

With Iraq also concerned by Iran and Iran's Palestinian allies in Hamas and Syrian support of them, Iraq and Jordan have established a new alliance to face the Palestinian threat – mostly to Jordan – and to co-operate on capturing and killing foreign insurgents using Jordanian territory as border crossing points.

Provocative operations into Jordan from HAMAS bases in Syria would not have occurred without approval from Damascus. Equally, Damascus would not have undertaken such levels of attempted strikes — the second of their kind attempted and foiled in the Kingdom in as many years from Syrian bases — without serious consultation with their most important strategic partner, Tehran.

The Iranian Government deliberately selling out one of its former assets — even though Zarqawi was nominally an al-Qaida leader — has direct parallels to the deliberate selling out of the al-Qaida leader in Saudi Arabia, Saleh al-Oufi, in August 2005.

When Saleh al-Oufi disobeyed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and persisted with attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure instead of supporting the major effort of the time, to escalate the Iraq conflict, the bin Laden leadership leaked al-Oufi’s whereabouts to the Saudi security forces. Saleh al-Oufi and several of his colleagues were killed in firefights with Saudi security forces on August 18, 2005.

The direct parallels between the al-Oufi and Zarqawi incidents raise the question once again of the depth of Osama bin Laden’s links with Iran, and whether bin Laden himself is still in Iran and coordinating his actions with those of Iran.

Meanwhile, intelligence indicates major, still unspecified terrorist plans are being put into place against Western targets but despite the nearly 500 targetted raids inside Iraq and capture of a treasure trove of information, pinpointing where the now looming clouds will drop their rain, continues to a mystery intelligence forces of many nations pursue with great diligence.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

PLANNING IRAN TAKE OVER (always check the Latest Newsbriefs for shorter, recent updates - link in left hand column)

PRE-PLANNING TAKE-OVER Woman Power the Solution

OK, so we listen to Alan Peters in his article "Iran, Justified Final Solution" (article link at left)and we bomb the hell out of the Revolutionary Guard, the Basiji, the Ghods Brigade and wipe out all the military armories and warehouses, fuel and transport depots and use deep penetrating non-nuclear bombs to bury the entrances to all the nuclear facilities. We kill some 400,000 elite military personnel in doing the above and sadly have collateral damage of some 30,000 civilian deaths as the "smart" Mullahs, who could not care less about their own people, have located sensitive nuclear and military sites under populated areas. Human shields of unknowing, unwilling and innocent Iranians to make us hesitate. Hesitate long enough so Iran can then destroy the lives of millions with nuclear and oil weapons as soon as possible or blackmail the world into appeasance. No matter what anyone says publicly, facts on the ground indicate Iran already has at least four operational nuclear warheads inside missile cones and ready to go. So having done all this, what do we do then? The people, suddenly unhampered by threats from the now evaporated military bodyguards of the Mullahs, seethe out of their homes and cut every mullah throat or hang them from every lamp-post between Tehran and Shemiran along the road which used to be called Pahlavi Avenue. They even have our "Most Wanted" list to pinpoint some of the more elusive ones. And now, who steals the show in the ensuing chaos? The Mojaheddin who lost it to the clerics because the mosques were the only organized network once the Shah's government was dragged down – mostly by civil servants themselves? The very recent gathering of broad spectrum opposition leaders in London, ranging from dyed in the wool Communists, liberal Mossadeghi Nationalists, all the way through to the other end of Constitutional Monarchists, connected by various proponents for a republic in between appear to be taking action to avoid a vacuum. So far, they managed to choose a nine-member council charged with organizing a large congress within the next three months to discuss and try to put in place an Administration that will take over in the event the Mullahs vanish. Until recently, all meetings like the London one, with a Berlin meeting as a prime example quickly fell apart as coalitions split up and personal dissent ruled the day. My way or the highway became the catchword even among groups of similar political philosophies, many of whom would only support a leader of their choice, not someone else in their "party". Reminds me of early days in London right after the 1979 Khomeini pestilence of Iran where this false cleric's return to a Shia country not his own – as an invader with no Persian blood in his veins and a Sunni theological upbringing, was technically no different to the Mongol invasion by Genghis Khan. One of the very first demonstrations against him, organized by Royalists faithful to the late-Shah, was outside the Iranian Consulate. I counted 27 people, including myself, who showed up; of whom some 20 were organizers. Of the 20 organizers – all royalists led by a mid-ranking police officer in one group, a former employee of the Shah's twin sister and his group and a couple of other groups, none would speak to each other. All claiming the exclusive right to represent the Monarchy and co-operation the very last thing to which they would agree. Luckily, in retrospect, they all knew or got to know me and all talked to me, so I became the hub of a wheel that eventually fielded demonstrations – along with the pro-Bakhtiar followers – of some 12,000 marchers. The nine-member council now has to play the same role with an even greater disparate set of opinions and political philosophies. The one hope is that everyone, including the powers that be in the EU and the USA seem to have realized the time has come for unity of purpose to put in place an interim Administration, rather than a government and separatism can come later when elections of some kind can be held. What still lacks in all this would be a charismatic leader to be the glue for the effort. The young Shah has a catalytic but not yet quite a charismatic presence, though his speeches are beginning to sound more like his father's and the other alternative is a student figure like Ahmad Batebi, who lacks political experience beyond getting badly hurt by the Mullahs and became a visible icon but not a clear leader elders could follow comfortably.. The real solution for organizing the "aftermath" chaos is to turn to the women of Iran. Unlike women in other countries in the Middle East region, women have for the longest time been the power behind the throne and manipulated the men who called the shots. Women in Iran, specially under the late-Shah played greater and greater roles themselves instead of behind the scenes. Some, like Shirin Ebadi, turned traitor and act as a stalking horse for the Mullahs' "democratic legitimacy" similarly to the role adopted by former President Khatami. On the other hand, every neighborhood in every town or city in Iran has one or several powerful women of strong beliefs for the good of their locale. Not the chador wearing, unprincipled, "Daughters of Fatemeh" kind who are Mullah shills and derive their power from the clerics but the white haired or somewhat younger "activists", who fume and suffer under the Mullahs. Identify these and put them in charge of their neighborhoods. Let them form the local "Committees" (Komiteh) that the clerics put in place to quickly wrest control from the Mojaheddin. Iranian women, more than Westerners, bond quickly when given common cause, though like their counterparts worldwide can be over competitive with those of a same or similar age group. On the other hand, respect for age and "seniority" which is noticeably lacking in the Western world, allows a neighborhood elder to provide leadership. Woman power, about which we expend countless, almost worthless verbiage in the West, could be the easiest solution for administration at the neighborhood level and consequently with links to each other set up beforehand, provide a network that will overcome the chaos of the overthrow.