Monday, August 20, 2007

US Claims Iranians Are Training Insurgents In Iraq

Megan Greenwell's piece in Monday's Washington Post tells an intriguing story -- but what's the story? It reads like propaganda: a succession of unsubstantiated accusations that move us ever closer to more war in the Middle East.

Iran Trains Militiamen Inside Iraq, U.S. Says
A senior U.S. general said Sunday that about 50 members of an elite Iranian military unit are training Shiite militias south of Baghdad, the first time the U.S. military has alleged that Iranians are aiding insurgents from inside Iraq.

Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, who commands U.S. operations south of Baghdad, said the men were sent by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps -- a military branch that the U.S. government has decided to label a "specially designated global terrorist" -- to train Shiite insurgents in firing mortars and rockets.

"They are facilitating training of Shiite extremists," Lynch told reporters in Baghdad. "We know they're here and we target them as well."

Iran's government has consistently denied any connection between the Revolutionary Guard Corps and insurgents fighting U.S. forces in Iraq, and some military intelligence analysts have concluded there is no concrete evidence of such a link. But U.S. military leaders in Iraq have repeatedly maintained that Iran is providing money, weapons and training to so-called special cell militia groups, generally citing information gathered from interrogations.
We all know by now -- or should! -- how reliable the information that's gathered from American-style interrogations usually is.

The story on interrogation under torture goes more or less like this: The detainee tells the interrogators whatever he thinks they want to hear. The interrogators stop when they hear the song they want their bird to sing.

Is that what makes this story, in which the "Iranians" training the "insurgents" in Iraq were sent there by the only branch of a foreign military or intelligence service that the US has have ever defined as a terrorist group, sound so hollow?

We could use some physical evidence to back up this very serious charge. But we'll not get any. There is no concrete evidence, there was never any concrete evidence; just tips given out for free to the "right" kind of reporters.

Sound familiar? Wasn't that the scenario they used the last time they played this game?

Well, if it works, don't fix it, right?
Lynch said that no Iranians have been captured in his area of command and that U.S. troops have never found any illegal weapons in two months of patrolling 125 miles of the Iran-Iraq border.
Truly impressive, don't you think? No captured "Iranians". No recovered "Iranian arms". They've been fishing 125 miles of border for two months and what did they catch? Nothing! Sweet!!

The WaPo article continues:
But he said that the number of Iranian-made explosively formed penetrators -- sophisticated roadside bombs built to puncture the armor on Humvees -- has increased dramatically in recent months, while the accuracy of Shiite extremists' bombs and mortars has improved significantly.
They've been telling this same tale for months too. Not very long ago, we were supposed to believe Iraq had sophisticated WMD programs. That didn't quite pan out, so now we're expected to believe the Iraqis can't make a roadside bomb all by themselves?

The "explosively formed penetrators" are always described as "Iranian-made", but I cannot recall any evidence proving such a statement, or even purporting to prove it. Perhaps such evidence exists. But if so, why do we never see it mentioned? Surely that would be one of the key pieces of the administration's warmongering puzzle, wouldn't it?

As Patrick Cockburn wrote last week,
The US has been seeking to blame the escalation of Shia militia attacks on Iran but it is more likely that they are the result of growing frustration of the Shia, who make up 60 per cent of the Iraqi population, at what they see as increasing US support for the Sunni.

The Pentagon and White House have launched a campaign to persuade the media that Iran's provision of sophisticated shaped charges is a decisive factor in the war and is causing numerous US casualties. The accusation is denied by Iran and, even if true, the provision of a single type of explosive device is unlikely to be of critical significance in such a complex struggle.
Back to the WaPo for more from Maj. Gen. Lynch:
"The enemy is more aggressive than it used to be and, candidly, in many cases he is more lethal," Lynch said.

Lynch also said Sunni insurgents are using Iranian weapons in southern Iraq, though he said he did not know how the weapons were obtained. More than 90 percent of Iran's population is Shiite, making it unlikely that the Tehran leadership would support Sunni fighters. One possibility, Lynch said, is that Shiites are selling the Iranian weapons on the black market in Iraq.

"I don't know how, but I know for a fact that Iranian munitions are making their way into the hands of Sunni insurgents," Lynch said.
Iranian munitions? That's nothing!!

American weapons are making their way into the hands of virtually everyone.

What can we do about that?

Blaming it on Iran brings us one more tiny step closer to a war that virtually nobody wants. And that tells you everything you never wanted to know about democracy in the United States.

And what can we do about that?

Take a day off work.

Dress in orange, go downtown and hang around for a while.

Do this at the same time as hundreds or thousands of others; a great big peaceful crowd is a wonderful thing.

Then see what possibilities occur to you.