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Old 10-15-2007, 07:37 AM   #1
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Smile plot to take out Putin in news ... blah blah blah

Geopolitical Diary: An Odd Threat Against Putin

Russia's Interfax news service reported on Sunday that Moscow had learned that a group of suicide bombers was planning to kill Russian President Vladimir Putin in Tehran, where he is due later this week. A Kremlin spokesman essentially confirmed the report, saying, "We cannot comment on this information but we confirm that the president has been informed." The Iranians dismissed the report, saying it was completely without foundation.

The idea of a suicide team going after Putin is not preposterous. Chechen rebels, for instance, would love to pull this off. So would the Taliban, who remember that Putin gave the United States critical support in toppling their regime in Afghanistan, both by supporting the Northern Alliance to work with Washington and by allowing the Americans to use military facilities in the former Soviet Union. There are plenty of Islamist radicals who would like to see Putin dead.

However, they are mostly Sunnis, not Shia. The last thing the Iranians want is to see Putin killed on Iranian soil. Tehran is counting on Russia to serve as a counterweight to the United States during the current crisis in U.S.-Iranian relations. Putin has shown every indication that he is prepared to do just that, making clear to French President Nicolas Sarkozy in a meeting Oct. 10 that further sanctions against Iran would not be appropriate. The death of Putin in a suicide bombing would not serve the Iranian interest at all, and especially not if it happened in Tehran. It is therefore odd that suicide bombers would have chosen Iran as their location. The Iranians are highly motivated to keep Putin alive.

If the one thing the Iranians don't want is a dead Putin, the second thing they don't want is a cancellation of his visit. The last Kremlin leader to go to Iran was Josef Stalin in 1943. For the Iranians, Putin's visit, even in the context of multilateral talks about the Caspian Sea, is a vitally important signal to the United States that the Russians are now firmly on Iran's side. Certainly Putin knew it would be read that way by the Americans, and he was still planning to go to Iran.

Meanwhile, given his persona in Russian politics, Putin is hardly going to cancel a trip to Tehran because of a death threat. That is the one thing he couldn't do. Therefore, if he wanted an excuse not to go, that isn't the one he would come up with -- and certainly not the one he would publicize. If it was Russian intelligence that discovered the plot, we suspect it would be kept secret and Putin would come down with a serious cold if he didn't want to go. And yet, it was the Russians who publicized the threat.

What about the Americans? The one thing the United States doesn't want to see is Putin going to Tehran. U.S.-Russian relations are plummeting. Putin had a singularly bad meeting Oct. 12 with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in which he made it clear that the Russians were prepared to neutralize U.S. anti-missile facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic. He also made it clear that he would continue arms sales to wherever he wants. Rice topped it all off by meeting the next day with Russian dissidents, helping to make it appear more like a Cold War conference than anything seen in years.

The United States might well have picked up a threat and passed it on to the Russians. Certainly, Washington wanted to give Putin every reason not to go to the Tehran summit. The Americans would not manufacture such intelligence. The risk of getting caught is simply too high, and Russia is much too critical. But if they did know something, the Americans would certainly be prepared to pass on anything to Putin that might keep him out of Tehran.

In the end, all we know is that the Russians have publicized intelligence of a planned assassination attempt against Putin, the Iranians have rubbished it and there is every indication that Putin is still going. We don't know who issued the warning. But this certainly does focus even more attention on the Caspian Sea meeting in Tehran -- probably not what the United States would have wanted to do.

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Old 10-15-2007, 08:33 AM   #2
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Question um..........

is there anywhere i can donate for that?
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