Saturday, April 07, 2007

Goading Iran Into War

For weeks now, it's been an article of faith over on the extreme right that five Iranians captured in US raids in the Kurdish town of Irbil in January numbered at least two very high ranking members of the revolutionary guard among their number. The raids were part of Bush's stated intention to "seek out and destroy the networks" of Iranians his administration say are aiding Iraqi insurgent groups.

The problem is, they snatched the wrong people.

"It (the house) was not a secret Iranian office. It is impossible for us to accept that an Iranian office in Irbil was doing things against coalition forces or against us. That office was doing its work in a normal way and had they been doing anything hostile we would have known that," Barzani said.

"They (the Americans) did not come to detain the people (the five Iranians) in that office. There was an Iranian delegation, including Revolutionary Guards commanders, and they came as guests of the president. He was in Sulaimaniyah. They came to Sulaimaniyah and then I received a call from the president's office telling me that they wanted to meet me as well."

..."They (the commanders) came here and they came openly. Their meetings with the president and myself were reported on television. The Americans came to detain this delegation, not the people in the office," he said. "They (Americans) came to the wrong place at the wrong time."
Other Iranians arrested by the US as being suspected of involvement in arming groups to attack US troops have been in Iraq at the explicit invite of Iraqi senior leaders too. And this points up the logic gap in the Bush administration's narrative.

These arrested Iranians have been in Iraq by Iraqi invite to openly visit such figures as the Iraqi President, Prime Minister, National Secuity Advisor, Chair of the Iraqi national security committee, a leader of the largest Sunni political party and the President of the Kurdish region. In some cases, they've been arrested in these peoples' homes.

If that's the size of the conspiracy to help Iran kill US and British troops, it's time to acknowledge that Iraq is a sovereign state and get the f**k out of Dodge. The Iraqi government obviously prefer Iran to the US and we should happily go along with that decision.

It's either that, or the whole thing is a scam, in flagrant violation of Iraq's sovereignty and express intentions, to kidnap Iranian delegates with the express purpose of goading Iran into over-reacting and thus create a pretext for war.

Who, other than the White House, would be involved in such a scam?

Well, here's a big hint from noted neocon and Iranian regime-change proponent Kenneth R. Timmerman in a February op-ed for noted rightwing webzine NewsMax:
The U.S. government, aided by an intelligence specialist from an Iranian opposition group, continues to interrogate Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers arrested in Irbil in northern Iraq on Jan. 10.

NewsMax learned about the interrogations from Iranian exiles in Europe and the United States.

Six Iranians were arrested at an office in Irbil that the Iranians have described as a "consulate." One of them has since been released. The United States has not released the names of the individuals being detained, but Iranian exiles believe one of them is Hassan Abbasi, a well-known strategist who is close to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Abbasi is known by his friends as "the Dr. Kissinger of Islam," according to Iran Press News, which has offices in Europe and the United States.

He is also reputed to be "the guru of the Islamic Republic's Revolutionary Guard Corps," IPN added.

Iranian sources have identified three senior Revolutionary Guards officers among the captives and said they have described Iranian terrorist networks in Iraq during interrogations led by an intelligence expert from the opposition Mujahedin-e Khalq group.
The Mujahedin-e Khalq, of course, are the neocons favorite terror group - involved in just about every Iranian scare story you've ever seen - and a group Iran has accused the US of using for proxy terror attacks on targets in Iran. They are about to be prosecuted by Iraq for human rights violations back when they were Saddam's lapdogs.

In the lexicon of neocon story plants, "exiles in Europe and the United States" usually means the MeK's political wing based in Paris and it's spokesman in the US. So this really means that the MeK told Timmerman that the MeK were involved in the seizure and interrogation of these Iranian diplomats. If true (and the MeK are masters of telling self-aggrandising lies) then it looks very like the MeK are who fingered them to the US as Quds leaders in the first place.

Timmerman himself is a figure of questionable integrity who nevertheless is still afforded considerable opportunity to proseletyze for Iranian regime change by the rightwing media in the US. Back in March of 2006, for instance, I posted on his "creative misinterpretation" of a Jane's article as saying that Iran had bought nuclear warheads from North Korea. Jane's swiftly confirmed that the article had said no such thing but as far as I know Timmerman has never either apologised for or retracted his false claim. In February again, he wrote an op-ed for the New York Post which began:
THERE'S a new myth being pumped by the anti-Bush crowd, that somehow the president is once again "hyping" intelligence to make the case for war.
If it's a myth, then that's only because the Bush administration - and the MeK - have people like Timmerman to do their hyping for them.