3 years ago
More from Wikileaks (courtesy of WSJ):
Leaked U.S. diplomatic cables provide new details on the U.S. assessment of how Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps has promoted Tehran’s influence in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
The demise of archenemy Saddam Hussein, with whom Tehran fought an eight-year war in the 1980s, presented the Iranians with an unprecedented opportunity, and they appear to have exploited it from Day One.
The leadership of the Qods Force—the Guards’ paramilitary and espionage arm—”took advantage of the vacuum” in the aftermath of the fall of Mr. Hussein’s regime to begin sending operatives into Iraq when “little attention was focused on Iran,” according to an April 2009 dispatch from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The cable was part of a trove of classified U.S. diplomatic communications made public this week by WikiLeaks.
Early priorities for the Iranian operatives included assassinating former Iraqi fighter pilots who flew sorties against Iran during the Iran-Iraq war, according to a December 2009 dispatch from Baghdad. As of the end of last year 180 pilots had been killed, according to the report.
But Iran’s broader goals have been the establishment of “an economically dependent and politically subservient Iraq” and the undermining of rivals, in part through paramilitary means, the cables suggest.
Iran’s ambassador to Iraq Hassan Danaie-Far denied in a recent interview that Iran was meddling in Iraq’s affairs or supporting militias.
Since 2003, Qods Force commander Brig. Gen. Qasim Soleimani has been “the point man directing the formulation and implementation” of the Iranian government’s Iraq policy “with authority second only” to the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to another dispatch from Baghdad dated November 2009.
Through his officers and “Iraqi proxies,” Gen. Soleimani “employs the full range of diplomatic, security, intelligence, and economic tools to influence allies and detractors in order to shape a more pro-Iran regime in Baghdad and the provinces,” according to the same dispatch.
Some Qods Force operatives have entered Iraq under the guise of charities or the Iranian Red Crescent—the Islamic version of the Red Cross—according to an October 2008 dispatch from America’s Iran Regional Presence Office based in the Gulf Arab emirate of Dubai.
The cable, which cites an “Iranian with detailed knowledge of the country’s Red Crescent” as a source, says the organization contracted companies affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards to build clinics in Baghdad and the predominantly Shiite cities of Basra, Hilla, Karbala and Najaf to the south. The clinics were used “for treatment but also as warehouses for military equipment or military bases if needed.”
Other Iranian operatives came in as diplomats, including some allegedly as senior as Tehran’s former ambassador to Iraq Hassan Kazemi-Qomi, who is described as “an associate” of the Qods Force in the November 2009 dispatch. His successor, Mr. Danaie-Far, was a naval commander in the Revolutionary Guards.
In addition to training, funding and arming Shiite militias in Iraq involved in attacking U.S. interests, Gen. Soleimani has overseen economic development assistance to Iraq and the promotion of bilateral trade that reached an annual level of almost $4 billion by the end of 2009. He also oversaw the furthering of Iranian “soft power” through activities such as the renovation of Iraq’s revered Shiite shrines by Revolutionary Guards-owned companies, according to several dispatches.
The Iranian commander also “enjoys longstanding close ties” with several top Iraqi officials such as President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, according to a dispatch from Baghdad.
The November 2009 cable says Iran hands out cash payments to “Iraqi surrogates,” which include some of the political parties currently in power. It says while exact figures are unknown, Tehran’s financial assistance is estimated in the cables at $100 million to $200 million a year, with an estimated $70 million going to the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) party, which was based in Iran before Mr. Hussein’s fall.
In one cable, U.S. diplomats in Baghdad say sensitivity by Iraqi leaders toward being seen as “Iranian lackeys” will ultimately constrain Iran’s influence in Iraq.
Even though both countries are majority Shiite Muslim, they embrace opposing clerical traditions. Iraq’s revered Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is Iranian-born but rejects Iran’s clerical rule.
One dispatch that followed a visit by U.S. diplomats to Mr. Sistani’s base in Najaf last year said the reclusive cleric personally prohibited the enrollment of Iranian students at seminaries in the city in order to prevent infiltration by the Revolutionary Guards.
Right. Like Iranian meddling inside of Iraq is some sort of newly-discovered fact. It was known years ago. Take careful note. I have been watching this man General Qassem Suleimani, and have specifically called for his assassination. It would have been better for Iraq had this man been dead long ago. Note also that I have more recently called for more assassinations of Iranians in key places within the Quds forces.
This follows a rich tradition here at The Captain’s Journal, where I called for the assassination of Moqtada al Sadr. It’s simple. Reverse executive order 12,333 prohibiting assassinations. It’s way past time to wield this simple but effective tool.
Concerning the assassination of Iranian nuclear physicists which I applauded just recently, the New York Post has taken what I perceive to be a very significant step. They have endorsed the same thing.
Who is killing the great nuclear scientists of Iran?
That is, as long as enough of them are offed to stymie development of a deliverable Iranian nuke.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he knows who’s behind the recent drive-by bombings of the scientists. He sees “the hand of the Zionist regime and Western governments” — by which he means Israel and the United States.
Maybe. (The answer will no doubt be in the next WikiLeaks dump.)
According to news reports, unidentified assailants riding motorcycles carried out two bombings in Tehran on Monday, attaching explosives to the scientists’ cars and detonating them remotely.
One attack killed Majid Shahriari, manager of a “major project” for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization and an expert in neutron transport — a key stage in the chain reactions behind nuclear weapons.
The other bomb seriously injured Fereydoon Abbasi, a senior Ministry of Defense scientist who’s said to work closely with the notorious Revolutionary Guard and reportedly is believed by Western intelligence to be a key figure in Iran’s drive to build nukes.
As one unnamed US official told the Times: “They’re [both] bad people, and the work they do is exactly what you need to design a bomb.”
Israel, of course, has been warning about an Iranian nuclear arsenal for some time now — and is believed to have been behind last summer’s Stuxnet computer-worm attack, which reportedly sent Iran’s nuclear centrifuges out of control.
If the US government has finally come to realize that a more hands-on approach is needed — and, as the latest WikiLeaks disclosures show, Washington is being pressed hard by a clearly terrified Arab world — that’s all to the good.
Not so significant for a Military Blogger. Monumentally significant for a main stream news organization, even one which leans more conservative. To the New York Post: welcome. My position actually cost me readers (I know because of demands to remove e-mails from my auto-distribution). I suspect that it will for you as well. But I’m not in this to max out my readers. I have a stake in what we do in this transnational insurgency in which we unfortunately find ourselves. I suspect you feel that you do as well.