Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sy Hersh: The Redirection

The Sy Hersh piece which everyone has been citing as saying there are Pentagon plans to attack Iran is now out - and there's a heck of a lot more to it than just what's been talked about so far.

The main themes are, as I read it, as follows:

  • The White House has decided that Iran is more of a threat than Sunni Islamist terrorism, despite the vast proportion of US casualties being inflicted by Sunni groups such as Al Qaeda and the Iraqi Sunni insurgency.

  • To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East and coƶperated with several key Sunni players, including the Saudi government, Palestinian and Lebanese Islamists and even groups affiliated to Al Qaeda.

  • Standing behind the push are the (Sunni) Saudis, who want to curtail Iranian (read Shiite) advances, and the Israelis, who are working on a "lets you and him fight" strategy of getting both Sunni and Shiite Muslims to weaken themselves by sectarian conflict.

  • The prospects for sectarian war breaking out across the Mid-East are massive, and the Bush administration doesn't know for sure whether it has the tiger or the tiger has it.

  • Covert activities are being run through the Saudis as a cut-out and funder in deals highly reminiscent of the Iran-Contra scandal (and featuring several of the same players). At least part of the missing billions in Iraq have also fallen into the black-ops hole, says Hersh. John Negroponte's unwillingness to repeat history was why he resigned as DNI so mysteriously, according to Hersh's sources.

  • Congress isn't being told about much of this activity, which is co-ordinated and directed from Dick Cheney's office.

    Five pages! Go read it all, then go back and re-read it.

    UpdateWith Hersh's piece in mind, this bit of news may well turn out to be more than a little significant (via David Kurtz at TPM):
    Three Arab states in the Persian Gulf would be willing to allow the Israel Air force to enter their airspace in order to reach Iran in case of an attack on its nuclear facilities, the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Siyasa reported on Sunday.

    According to the report, a diplomat from one of the gulf states visiting Washington on Saturday said the three states, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, have told the United States that they would not object to Israel using their airspace, despite their fear of an Iranian response.

    Al-Siyasa further reported that NATO leaders are urging Turkey to open its airspace for an Attack on Iran as well and to also open its airports and borders in case of a ground attack.
    Meanwhile...Where In The World Is Dick Cheney?
    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - Vice President Dick Cheney landed in the U.S.-allied Arab monarchy of Oman on Sunday and went directly to talks with its foreign minister, Omani government officials said.

    A U.S. embassy spokesman in Oman declined to detail Cheney's plans or the focus of his visit to the sparsely populated oil-producing state, which allows the United States use of four air bases. But an Omani government official said Cheney was to discuss regional security issues, including the U.S. standoff with Iran over its nuclear program. The official, in the capital Muscat, spoke on condition of anonymity because he was unauthorized to speak to the press.

    Oman sits across the strategically important Strait of Hormuz from Iran, through which two-fifths of the world's oil passes.

    The sultanate allows the United States to use the air bases - including one just 50 miles from Iran - for refueling, logistics and storage of pre-positioned military supplies. Little has been revealed publicly about U.S. military ties with the reclusive country, a deeply sensitive topic inside Oman, an isolated country on the southeastern corner of the Arabian peninsula that has been a quiet U.S. military ally for decades.
    I can hear the drums.

    Update Crooks and Liars has the video and transcript of Hersh's appearance on Wolf Blitzer today in which he repeats much of what is in his article and goes into more detail about John Negroponte's sudden demotion and move.

  •