Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

The National Journal’s Marc Ambinder has uncovered some more details about that ill-fated drone mission the Iranians have been claiming they shot down.

The super-secret drone that Iran claims to have recovered was on a CIA “Focal Point” mission, gathering intelligence and likely crashed though it remains uncertain whether it was able to self-destruct, U.S. officials told National Journal on Tuesday.

Controllers lost contact with the prized stealth unmanned aerial drone, the RQ-170 “Sentinel”, last week over western Afghanistan, said one government official who spoke on condition of anonymity. Based on its projected glide path, officials assume it fell just inside the Iranian border.

Though the CIA has used the Sentinel to monitor Iranian nuclear convoys before, the precise nature of the mission this time is not known.

The Sentinel is the top-of-the-line UAV, with highly sensitive cryptographic and stealth technology. If it indeed reaches Iranian hands undamaged it will represent a compromise in the latest of U.S. stealth technology, said officials with knowledge of the program.

The key question here is whether or not the drone’s self-destruct mechanism was activated before it went down. If it worked and some of the equipment and technology onboard was destroyed, that would at least mitigate some of the damage to U.S. national security. Regardless, as was the case with the stealth helicopter that went down during the Osama bin Laden raid in May, the Pentagon should assume that if the Iranians do indeed have custody of the downed drone, they will be studying its capabilities and will at a minimum attempt to reverse engineer it themselves, or bring in outside help from China or Russia.

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Two must-reads about recent developments in Iran… Both articles are analytical/speculative, but still worth reading and considering.

First, Danger Room’s skeptical take on Iran’s claim at having forced down an RQ-170 drone flying over western Afghanistan.

Second is this report in the L.A. Times connecting several events on the ground in Iran as evidence of possible covert actions against the regime to sabotage its nuclear weapons and missile programs.

Although both articles are largely based on analysis and interpretation of events, they are well worth reading.

I’ve been busy working on a story the past few days, hence my lack of blogging. This story will see the light of day soon. I will post it here when it’s ready.

In the meantime, I’ll point out a few recent articles – most of them from Foreign Policy – which I highly recommend reading.

The Antisocial Network: Flashpoint’s Evan Kohlman looks at how cyber-jihadists reacted to the death of Osama bin Laden.

The Cost of Pakistan’s Double Game: RFE/RL journalist Daud Khattak assesses Pakistan’s complicated and contradictory tolerance and ties to jihadist groups and figures living in the country.

Replacing Bin Laden: Al-Hayat journalist Camille Tawil provides more biographical information and analysis about interim al Qaeda leader Saif al-Adel.

Misnomers and Misdirection: In light of Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress earlier this week in which he said “Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by the Palestinian version of al Qaeda,” my former professor Daniel Byman looks at the differences between Hamas and al Qaeda.

Disgraced John Ensign Back In Legal Jeopardy: Murray Waas reports that Senator John Ensign’s last-minute decision to release more than 1,000 sensitive emails between himself, his lawyers, and his advisers to Senate Ethics Committee investigators could put him in legal jeopardy with the Department of Justice.

John Edwards Could Be Indicted Within Days: The Department of Justice plans to file criminal charges against former presidential candidate John Edwards, according to the Associated Press. The source says an indictment could come within days unless Edwards cuts a deal with prosecutors and pleads guilty to a negotiated charge.

Federal Prosecutors Try To Force New York Times Reporter To Reveal Sources: ABC News reports prosecutors have subpoenaed Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter James Risen to testify at the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Stirling, who is accused of leaking classified information about Iran’s nuclear program to Risen, among other things. Risen plans to ask the court to quash the subpoena, but “sources close to Risen” cited in the article say he is willing to go to jail to protect his sources.

Happy Memorial Day weekend to all!

Hanna Ingber Win noticed an interesting development and wrote it up for Huffington Post:

The official press of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), requested an interview with President Obama, reports AHN.

The Islamic News Agency’s U.N. representative, Khosro Shayesteh told CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk that they have requested the interview and are waiting for a response from Obama to begin a dialogue. “The Iranian request for an interview with Obama comes at an opportune time for U.S.-Iran relations since both President Obama and Iran’s President have offered to begin negotiations, which were stalled during the eight years of the Bush Administration, and because Obama gave his first official interview as President to Al Arabiya,” said Falk.

You can’t argue with the logic behind Shayesteh’s comment given Obama and Ahmadinejad’s recent public statements. And in all fairness, Ahmadinejad has given interviews to foreign media, including CNN. This could be a very interesting first step in American-Iranian talks during Obama’s presidency.

ahmadinejad-un

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, has written President-elect Barack Obama a letter congratulating him for his election victory, and said he hoped the new president would “choose to honor the real interests of people and justice and equity over the insatiable appetites of the selfish minority.” Ahmadinejad also said that people want “fundamental change in the American government’s policies, both foreign and domestic.”

This is an interesting development for several reasons. First, during the campaign Hillary Clinton and John McCain tried to hammer Obama over his willingness to talk to America’s adversaries without preconditions, Iran being one of the countries in question. Second, this is the first time since the Iranian revolution of 1979 that an Iranian president has congratulated an American president-elect.

You can read an English translation of the full text of the letter here.

This could be the beginning of an interesting new chapter in U.S.-Iranian diplomatic relations.

Interesting comments from CIA Director Michael Hayden during an interview with Fox News on what he sees as the potential national security threats to the next administration. The key graphs in the article:

While the increasingly fragile status of impoverished North Korea renders it a special threat, the flood of petrodollars coming from the so-called “Axis of Oil” — Iran, Venezuela and Russia — poses another threat to American security.

Hayden said oil prices, which are still hovering around $100 per barrel, have emboldened these oil-rich nations. “Oil, at its current price … gives the Russian state a degree of influence and power that it would have not otherwise had,” he said.

Russia’s invasion of Georgian territory in August and Iran’s continued work on acquiring nuclear weapons only compound the threat.