Iran Training Pro-Iran Factions in Iraq
There’s some buzz on both sides of the blogosphere over a number of press stories on the Iran-Iraq nexus.
- In the NYT, James Glanz and Mark Mazetti report that, “Investigators say they believe that attackers who used American-style uniforms and weapons to infiltrate a secure compound and kill five American soldiers in Karbala on Jan. 20 may have been trained and financed by Iranian agents.” The evidence: the attack was sophisticated, used some particularly high-tech counterintelligence gear, and some suspects have pointed to Iran during interrogation. Further “it would dovetail with assertions by several Iraqi officials that Iran is financing and training a small number of splinter groups from the Mahdi Army to carry out special operations and assassinations.”
- FOX News reports that a planned Baghdad presser detailing the contents of a “dossier” against Iran that “would contain specifics including shipping documents, serial numbers, maps and other evidence which officials say would irrefutably link Iran to weapons shipments to Iraq” has been “put on hold for several reasons, including concerns over the reaction from Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — as well as inevitable follow-up questions that would be raised over what the U.S. should do about it.” Richard Clarke tells them, “I think it’s very hard to escape the conclusion that, in all probability, the Iranian government is knowingly killing U.S. troops.”
- At ABC, Richard Esposito and Maddy Sauer report that, “The most deadly improvised explosive devices being used against U.S. soldiers in Iraq continue to come from Iran, and Iran continues to provide more tactical training, according to explosive experts working with the U.S. military.”
- In TIME, Bob Baer weaves several very tangential strands from a twenty-five year period to deduce that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps may be gearing up for revenge-based attacks against American targets.
This has the generally sober Josh Marshall speculating about a ginned up propaganda campaign as a “predicate for a military attack on Iran.” Ogged is on the bandwagon, too, dubbing it “More crazed propaganda from the war machine” and has him “trying to find just one alarming fact among the alarmist innuendos.”
On the Right, Dan Riehl doesn’t “understand pushing something like this if you don’t plan on doing anything about it. And I don’t think Bush is planning on attacking Iran.” Greg Tinti hopes, “Maybe this will help persuade liberals and their pals in the media that it’s at least possible that Iran has something to do with the violence in Iraq.” Ed Morrissey worries, “We’ve let too many of these incidents pass without consequence to the mullahs, and every unanswered insult begets more of the same.” Michelle Malkin is staying tuned.
Frankly, I’d be quite surprised, indeed, if some Shiite militant factions in Iraq weren’t being trained, financed, and otherwise aided by Iran. They practically invented the export of well-trained terrorist groups and have been at it since roughly 1979. It’s in their interest to see the Americans defeated and to see the most radical Shia elements emerge as the most powerful force in Iraq.
Iran’s active participation in the killing of American forces, of which there is ample evidence regardless of their involvement of this incident, is an act of war. On the other hand, it’s not at all clear what we can realistically do about it. We could certainly turn the place into a glass parking lot or topple the mullah’s and occupy the country, overstretched force or no. But the repercussions of either move would be far worse than the status quo.
Perhaps TigerHawk is right and there is an elaborate plan by the Bush administration to signal threats to Iran, have them reinforced by predictable hand-wringing from the Left, and then leveraged into a diplomatic settlement. Or perhaps this is just a matter of reporters doing their job and it’s a mere coincidence that several Iran-related stories are surfacing at the same time.
UPDATE: Then there’s CENTCOM Commander-nominee Adm. William J. Fallon’s testimony yesterday to the Senate:
Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), while calling the use of military force against Iran “the very last resort,” suggested that the United States use its Navy to conduct “battleship diplomacy” and create a “ring of deterrence” around Iran. He also suggested that European nations “send a ship or two to also add to the strength of the signal we’re trying to send to that country, that we’re not going to permit them to go forward with nuclear power.”
“Does that have any interest or appeal to you, that concept?” Warner asked Fallon.
“Senator, the whole idea is most appealing,” Fallon replied, “because we’ve got plenty to do right now with active combat operations ongoing in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it’s clear to me that to date, the Iranians have not been playing a constructive role in addressing any of these, and in fact are challenging us in other areas.”
Of course, one would think full-on war with Iran would add to, rather than subtract from, the burden. (This is buried on A11 of WaPo, oddly.)