9 years, 6 months ago
The Guardian brings us a report on the coming summer war with Iran, intended to peak just prior to the report by General David Petraeus to congress in September.
Iran is secretly forging ties with al-Qaida elements and Sunni Arab militias in Iraq in preparation for a summer showdown with coalition forces intended to tip a wavering US Congress into voting for full military withdrawal, US officials say.
“Iran is fighting a proxy war in Iraq and it’s a very dangerous course for them to be following. They are already committing daily acts of war against US and British forces,” a senior US official in Baghdad warned. “They [Iran] are behind a lot of high-profile attacks meant to undermine US will and British will, such as the rocket attacks on Basra palace and the Green Zone [in Baghdad]. The attacks are directed by the Revolutionary Guard who are connected right to the top [of the Iranian government].”
The official said US commanders were bracing for a nationwide, Iranian-orchestrated summer offensive, linking al-Qaida and Sunni insurgents to Tehran’s Shia militia allies, that Iran hoped would trigger a political mutiny in Washington and a US retreat. “We expect that al-Qaida and Iran will both attempt to increase the propaganda and increase the violence prior to Petraeus’s report in September [when the US commander General David Petraeus will report to Congress on President George Bush’s controversial, six-month security “surge” of 30,000 troop reinforcements],” the official said.
“Certainly it [the violence] is going to pick up from their side. There is significant latent capability in Iraq, especially Iranian-sponsored capability. They can turn it up whenever they want. You can see that from the pre-positioning that’s been going on and the huge stockpiles of Iranian weapons that we’ve turned up in the last couple of months. The relationships between Iran and groups like al-Qaida are very fluid,” the official said.
“It often comes down to individuals, and people constantly move around. For instance, the Sunni Arab so-called resistance groups use Salafi jihadist ideology for their own purposes. But the whole Iran- al-Qaida linkup is very sinister.”
Iran has maintained close links to Iraq’s Shia political parties and militias but has previously eschewed collaboration with al-Qaida and Sunni insurgents.
US officials now say they have firm evidence that Tehran has switched tack as it senses a chance of victory in Iraq. In a parallel development, they say they also have proof that Iran has reversed its previous policy in Afghanistan and is now supporting and supplying the Taliban’s campaign against US, British and other Nato forces.
Tehran’s strategy to discredit the US surge and foment a decisive congressional revolt against Mr Bush is national in scope and not confined to the Shia south, its traditional sphere of influence, the senior official in Baghdad said. It included stepped-up coordination with Shia militias such as Moqtada al-Sadr’s Jaish al-Mahdi as well as Syrian-backed Sunni Arab groups and al-Qaida in Mesopotamia, he added. Iran was also expanding contacts across the board with paramilitary forces and political groups, including Kurdish parties such as the PUK, a US ally.
“Their strategy takes into account all these various parties. Iran is playing all these different factions to maximise its future control and maximise US and British difficulties. Their co-conspirator is Syria which is allowing the takfirists [fundamentalist Salafi jihadis] to come across the border,” the official said.
Of course, there are longer term issues to deal with regarding Iran’s nuclear program. In fact, it appears that the erstwhile problems with Uranium enrichment might not be as insurmountable for Iran as previously thought.
One year from now, Iran could possess the means of producing a nuclear bomb – that was the chilling message delivered by Ambassador Dore Gold during an interview with Ynetnews Tuesday.
Gold, who has written numerous books on the Middle East, is President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), and has served as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations.
He was responding to a statement released Tuesday morning by the International Atomic Energy’s Director (IAEA), Mohamed El-Baradei, who said Iran had made massive progress in creating uranium enrichment centrifuges, so much so the world should consider it a ‘fact that Iran can enrich uranium independently.
Gold said the information revealed by El-Baradei undercut previous estimates of when Iran could weaponize its nuclear process …
“If all Iran wanted to do was destroy the State of Israel, it would simply invest in the 1300 kilometer range Shihab – 3 missile, which which it already has,” Gold said, adding that Iran was however developing North Korean missiles with far great (sic) ranges.
The Iranian Mullahs have said that there will be absolutely no negotiation with the U.S., so the U.S. intent to chat Iran out of a nuclear program (following the counsel of the Baker Commission) is as likely to fail as the European effort over the last four years.
Whatever else happens, while Americans are frolicking at the beach and parks this summer, it is sure to be busy for Soldiers and Marines in Iraq, battling more than just Iraqi insurgents. Then unfortunately, this will not end it. The Long War continues.