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Entries in David Ignatius (11)


Iran Opinion: Ahmadinejad 100, US Media 0 

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Piers Morgan on homosexuality: "Who has said that if you like or believe in doing something ugly and others do not accept your behaviour, they are denying your freedom?"

All the journalists have to get their fifteen minutes of Ahmadinejad. Just so they can prove for the umpteenth time that they might one-up him by asking him the same questions that he has answered umpteenth times before. And, in the process, getting one-upped themselves.

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Iran Interview and Analysis: Ahmadinejad's Show Begins with Washington Post --- An Easy Ride on Nukes, And Nothing on Human Rights

An extract from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's interview with Piers Morgan of CNN

Perhaps most striking is the Washington Post interview is the lack of concern with any developments inside Iran, and thus any consideration that these may be linked to the Islamic Republic's foreign policy. There is nothing here on the economic situation, nothing on the political manoeuvring within the system, nothing about the 2013 Presidential election, and --- perhaps inevitably --- nothing about the post-2009 repression and human rights.

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Syria Analysis: The Narrow Intelligence of US Intelligence Services

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta warns of the presence of Al Qa'eda in Syria

Like all of us, the CIA has been caught off-guard by the pace of events in Syria. The advance of insurgents in parts of the country might have been expected, but suddenly the battle was in Damascus. Then came Wednesday's surprise: the bomb that decimated the top ranks of the Assad regime.

So what does a responsible intelligence service do? It launches a public-relations campaign.

The CIA got in touch with its long-time if unofficial Press Secretary, David Ignatius of The Washington Post, and the Obama Administration also fed lines to Helene Cooper of The New York Times. The message? Ignatius declares, "President Obama is seeking a 'managed transition' in Syria with the twin goals of removing President Bashar al-Assad as soon as possible and doing so without the evaporation of the authority of the Syrian state."

Using Ignatius and Cooper's transcripts, what are the CIA's priorities in that managed transition?

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The Latest from Iran (21 April): Getting It Right on Politics and Nuclear Talks

See also Iran Snap Analysis: The New Battle Within Tehran Over the Nuclear Talks
The Latest from Iran (20 April): A Golden Sign of Trouble?

1855 GMT: All-Is-Well Alert. Little did we know how our Caption Competition, "Ahmadinejad and Rafsanjani --- Best Friends Forever?", would capture the spirit of the day....

Mehr proclaims, "Rafsanjani Greets Ahmadinejad's attandance in EC [Expediency Council] Meeting", noting that it was the first time in three years that the President had troubled himself to attend a Council session.

Mehr further notes, "The secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, presented a report of the negotiations that were held between Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) in Istanbul on April 14."

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Bahrain Propaganda 101: Foreign Minister Gets a Boost from Washington's Journalists

On Wednesday, during a talk by Bahraini activist Maryam Al Khawaja, I ventured the comment that the "success" of the Bahraini regime's propaganda effort would not come through social media, where its supporters' efforts have become a source of annoyance at "trolling" or of comedy. Nor was Bahrain's monarchy getting much value of the US and British PR firms who, for quite expensive contracts, were trying to dress up State press releases as "news" and putting out clumsy opinion pieces on The Huffington Post.

Instead, I suggested, the "success" would come through mainstream Washington journalists. Sometimes this is through the re-cycling of the regime's claims, citing unnamed sources --- see the recent effort by David Ignatius of The Washington Post. Sometimes, it is the attempt by a regime official to use an article as a podium for the right line.

Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy magazine gives us an example of the latter with his "Bahrain Foreign Minister on DC Charm Offensive"....

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Iran Special: How Bahrain's Foreign Minister Fed "The Plot" to Top Washington Post Columnist

Bahrain Foreign Minister Al-KhalifaEarlier this week we wrote of how David Ignatius, the star columnist of The Washington Post, was being used by US and Saudi officials to spin the story of the Iranian plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador to Washington.

Indeed, Ignatius was doing much more: he put out the claim that Tehran was behind the slaying of a Saudi official in Pakistan (on 16 May in one paragraph of Ignatius' story, in July in another paragraph). Iran was involved in the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and threats against Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Beirut. And Gholam Shakuri, the Qods Force officer indicted in The Plot, "had helped organize militant Shiite protesters in Bahrain".

And now the rest of the story....

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Iran Analysis: Duelling Propaganda Banjos Play Over Backroom Manoeuvres

David Ignatius of The Washington PostThe Iranians, of course, have their own machinery to churn out the line that the so-called Plot is an American attempt to divert attention from its internal problems, including the challenge of Occupy Wall Street, while the US Government has Eli Lake at Newsweek and David Ignatius of The Washington Post as its messenger boys.

All this is loud enough to drown out other developments. One of those is the fencing to take advantage of The Plot while avoiding an escalation to conflict beyond the political battle.

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Syria Feature: A US Plan to Replace Assad? (Ignatius)

As the Obama administration steps up its support for regime change in Syria, the Arab Spring is moving into what could be its hottest phase. The puzzle is how to help the Syrian opposition gain power without foreign military intervention — and without triggering sectarian massacres inside the country.

For months, as protests mounted in Syria, President Obama waited to see if President Bashar al-Assad could deliver on his talk of reform. Last week, the administration all but gave up on him and switched gears — and began working actively for a transition to a democratic regime.

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Today's Worst Iran Analysis: It's all about (the) US 

Esfandiar Rahim-MashaiDavid Ignatius of The Washington Post pronounces on the current crisis between the Supreme Leader and President Ahmadinejad, "When there’s political upheaval in Tehran, it’s often interwoven with the explosive question of possible outreach to the United States."

In other words, the dispute is all because "[Ahmadinejad right-hand man] Esfandiar Rahim] Mashaei is said to have initiated a series of contacts attempting to open a dialogue with the United States".

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Pakistan: Tankers Burn While Petraeus and Washington Fiddle and Fret

The News in Pakistan reports, "Six people were killed and dozens sustained critical injuries [late Sunday night] when a group of bike-riding terrorists sprayed bullets at 28 Nato oil tankers and set them ablaze by throwing chemicals at them."

The Express Tribune is more conservative in its estimate, "At least 11 oil tankers carrying supplies for Nato forces stationed in Afghanistan were gutted and four people were killed when gunmen mounted a late night attack on a filling station in Islamabad."

Whatever the numbers, Sunday's attack is merely the latest development in an episode stemming not only from "terrorism" but from a dispute between US military commanders and the Pakistani Government. Upset at American bombings and raids that killed Pakistani troops as well as civilians and insurgents, Islamabad suspended permission for NATO tankers to cross the border and supply forces in Afghanistan. And sitting tankers make pretty attractive targets.

Steve Hynd calls out the US military and, specifically, American commander David Petraeus for the escalation in violence:

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