With the advent of Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress and the unfolding of the Lewis Libby perjury trial, the famous “16 words” are back and, in the most literal possible sense, with a vengeance. It is not only on MSNBC or in the pages of the Atlantic Monthly — which had a cover story on Presidential lying — that “Bush lied!” is again the order of the day. In Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on Iraq last month, one Senator after another seized the opportunity to assail the administration’s credibility. “I have not been told the truth again […]

TEHRAN, Iran — What was the Soviet ambassador’s car doing, parked inside the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, during the height of the Cold War? Relations between staunch U.S. ally Riyadh and committed adversary Moscow were at an all-time low, as Soviet arms and funding were being delivered to a number of Arab nationalist, anti-royalist regimes, such as Nasserite Egypt, Marxist Southern Yemen and Baathist Syria. “What is the ambassador doing in our embassy?” Abdurrahman Ar-Rashed, the current editor of Saudi-owned pan-Arab daily Asharq Al Awsat, recalls asking of then-Saudi Ambassador to London, Sheikh Nassir Al-Manqoor. “We do not […]

The mosque’s golden dome gleamed like a fallen sun, burning out the mud-colored city of Samarra with its broken shops and acres of cinderblock poverty. Two slender minarets framed the dome in regal style and a grid of delicate scaffolding wound around it, suggesting repairs planned and then stalled, probably because of the war. From the neighborhoods beyond, streams of black smoke bled into the winter sky above satellite dishes and slack electric wires. I watched the dome through the battered back window of a U.S. medevac helicopter as it descended to retrieve wounded soldiers at a makeshift landing zone. […]

The loss in Iraq of seven U.S. helicopters in the past month has been the cause of much concern in the Department of Defense, and rightly so. The military says seven helicopters have been shot down since Jan. 20, a number that exceeds the total for 2006. The recent spike in successful attacks indicates another evolution in insurgent tactics. Insurgents in Iraq follow the classic pattern of innovation cycles. They identify a need, come up with a new idea to meet it, develop this idea into a product, and introduce it into the field. Thus, the insurgents have recognized the […]

article card

Corridors of Power is written by veteran foreign affairs correspondent Roland Flamini and appears in World Politics Review every week by Sunday morning. Click here for the Corridors of Power archives. WHERE IN THE WORLD IS MOQTADA AL-SADR? — The cleric is not in Tehran, but in Kufa, southern Iraq, according to a Western source. Stories that he has fled across the border are incorrect, according to Albrecht Gero Muth, a former adviser to Kofi Annan when the latter was U.N. Secretary General, who remains in contact with al-Sadr. Presumably, the rumors are designed to focus on al-Sadr’s link with […]

The conventional wisdom among neoconservatives who advocated an invasion of Iraq is that Bush administration incompetence explains what has gone wrong. The problem, they say, lies in the execution of what they still maintain was a noble idea: that invading Iraq would put anti-American forces in the Middle East on the defensive and initiate the spread of democracy through the enhancement of U.S. dominance of the region. This collective washing of hands culminated in a series of interviews with well-known neoconservatives in the January 2007 issue of Vanity Fair. Those interviewed pointed towards the Bush administration’s operational mistakes and bureaucratic […]

article card

Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank reacted with joy at news that the two main Palestinian factions at long last reached an agreement last week during meetings in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The details of the agreement between Hamas and Fatah, however, indicate that this deal represents a defeat for many of the key players in the Middle East. The crowded side where the losers from this agreement now stand includes Palestinian moderates, Washington, Israel, the European Union, and — confusing the situation — Iran. Besides Hamas, the winners’ side includes Saudi Arabia, the sponsor of the Mecca talks, which […]

The U.S. military is working on an array of non-lethal weaponry for use in both Iraq and Afghanistan in hopes of curtailing civilian casualties, according to military officials. Some non-lethal devices for crowd control and thwarting suspected suicide bombers are already in use in Iraq, albeit in a limited capacity, though most have yet to make a debut on the battlefield or at checkpoints. That could soon change. Last month, the Pentagon unveiled what appears to be the flagship of its non-lethal deterrent arsenal, a system that uses focused “millimeter waves” of energy to create an intolerable heat sensation on […]

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of articles by Rhea Wessel on the rights of Muslim women in Europe, particularly Turkish women in Germany. The stories will appear occasionally on World Politics Review. Read the rest of the articles in the series here. STUTTGART, Germany — Hülya Kalkan recently joined the growing ranks of German women of Turkish descent who have written condemning accounts of their young lives. In her book, “I Just Wanted to be Free,” published in 2005, Kalkan relates how she and, a few years later, her younger sister Esme narrowly escaped being forced […]

Five years before the Islamic Revolution, Iran produced 6.1 million barrels of oil a day. By the end of 2006 the Iranian oil industry was only pumping 3.9 million barrels a day, 5 percent below its OPEC quota. Barely able to produce any oil for export or cope with escalating domestic demand, Iran’s energy industry has been sliding steadily toward crisis. Yet Iran’s oil reserves are second only to Saudi Arabia’s, and its gas supply is eclipsed only by Russia’s. Having vast energy reserves and the technology to extract and refine them, however, are two different things. A mega-deal struck […]

The Bush administration’s current suspicion that Iran plans to manufacture nuclear weapons is not the first time that Washington has faced such intentions from Tehran, but earlier the circumstances were different. In the late 1970s, U.S. intelligence learned that Iran’s ruler, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, had secretly set up a nuclear weapons development program. According to the Washington-based Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation, between 1974 and 1978 the Iranians were carrying out “laboratory experiments in which plutonium was extracted from spent [nuclear] fuel using chemical agents.” Plutonium is an ingredient for nuclear weapons. The difference between then and now […]

Since shortly before the inception of the Turkish Republic, in 1923, a journalist has been murdered on average every 1.5 years in Turkey, columnist Oktay Eksi recently lamented in the Hurriyet newspaper. In the last 15 years alone, according to a recent report of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, “18 Turkish journalists have been killed for their work, making it the deadliest country in the world for journalists.” Like a blow from an axe, the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink two weeks ago has cut yet another deep gash into Turkey’s already embattled democratization and intellectual freedom. […]

Despite flat oil exports and a struggling economy, Iraq has embarked on a comprehensive program to re-arm its embattled security forces. The country is buying American patrol planes, Italian naval vessels, Russian helicopters and armored vehicles co-produced by American and British firms. The new equipment is utilitarian stuff — optimized for patrols in and over Iraq’s teeming cities and on its smuggler-infested waters rather than for attacks on external foes — and reflects the complete inward focus of Iraq’s military. But the purchases do little to solve the forces’ nearly complete lack of logistics capability. In early January, working through […]