Concerning Iran, the National Intelligence Estimate, and Sunni Arabs

BY Herschel Smith
16 years, 5 months ago

Concerning the poorly named ‘National Intelligence Estimate’ on the state of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, a leading Iraqi newspaper Azzaman has an interesting editorial response.

U.S. President George W. Bush’s statements on dangers of Iran’s nuclear program have become almost meaningless and are made solely for rhetorical parade purposes indicating that Iran is about to reap yet another victory.

This means that war is a possibility only in the imagination of those betting that Iran is no longer a crucial player in the big powers’ geopolitics of the Gulf and Iraq.

As for the Arabs, they now look like simple-minded people who the U.S. administration could drag to the conference in Annapolis to sit down side by side with the Israelis in the belief that a war with Iran was imminent.

Washington has no more option left from now on but to appease Iran with regard to Iraq file. Washington needs Iran’s protection when the hour for withdrawal strikes.

Iran is not naïve and stupid. It has longstanding strategic interests in Iraq with a bearing on developing the country’s oil riches. It wants to link Iraq’s economy intricately with its own so that no government will be in a position in the future to shun Iran’s hegemony.

Washington was late in giving Iran the clean bill of nuclear health. But as arrangements for U.S. withdrawal are being made, it had no choice but to pursue the path of appeasement.

The U.S. should have signed a memorandum of understanding with the government in Tehran rather than Baghdad for plans calling for long-term military presence in the country.

It is not the first time the U.S. dupes the oil-rich Gulf states. The U.S. has deceived these countries several times in the past on fears of external threats.

But belatedly the countries have discovered the U.S. deceit. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad allayed these fears by appealing to them to enter into security partnership to protect themselves against ‘external dangers’ much far beyond the Gulf’s borders.

The Arab Gulf states have come to realize that Iran as a neighbor is the country to stay while America which has been using them has created the Iranian scourge for its own narrow political interests.

This is a scathing rebuke of the NIE and its conclusions.  There is obvious hatred of Persian hegemony in these words, but they are valuable if for no other reason than as a display of what Arab Sunnis think about the U.S. and its “appeasement” of Iran.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates fired at Iran soon after the release of the NIE, saying:

“Astonishingly, the revolutionary government of Iran has, for the first time, embraced as valid an assessment of the United States intelligence community — on Iran’s nuclear weapons program. And since that government now acknowledges the quality of American intelligence assessments, I assume that it will also embrace as valid American intelligence assessments of:

— Its funding and training of militia groups in Iraq;

— Its deployment of lethal weapons and technology to both Iraq and Afghanistan;

— Its ongoing support of terrorist organizations — like Hezbollah and Hamas — that have murdered thousands of innocent civilians; and

— Its continued research on development of medium-range ballistic missiles that are not particularly cost-effective unless equipped with warheads carrying weapons of mass destruction.”

But like those who went before him with Middle Eastern concerns and issues, Gates wrongly ascribes Aristotelian logic to the situation.  The radical Mullahs in Iran care not one bit about their inconsistency, and know all of the things that Gates discusses, while at the same time revelling in the release of the thinking of the U.S. ‘intelligence’ community.  So the damage has been done.

We have pointed out that the U.S. will be in Iraq for years, and possibly decades, due to the inability of Iraq to field armed forces capable of border security and conventional operations.  That day of reckoning to which Azzaman refers when the U.S. withdraws may not be coming for quite some time, and the dancing and celebrating of the Iranian elite may be a tad too soon.  Even U.S. field grade officers recognize the evolving mission for what it is: containment of Iran.

Behind a maze of concrete blast walls rising from a desolate desert landscape that once was the scene of pitched battles between the armies of Iran and Iraq, a new American base is springing to life.

Located 4 miles from the Iranian border near the Iraqi town of Badrah, Patrol Base Shocker has been home to 240 soldiers and contractors, including 55 U.S. troops, a handful of Department of Homeland Security officers and a contingent of soldiers from the Eastern European nation of Georgia since the base became operational in mid-November.

The base lacks the comforts of many of the larger U.S. bases in Iraq, but it is luxurious compared to some of the dozens of small patrol bases that have sprung up around Iraq as part of the new counterinsurgency strategy, most of which are intended to be temporary. Here there are trailers for soldiers to live in, hot showers, a dining facility and a cavernous gym complete with new running and rowing machines.

And though the U.S. troops here were deployed as part of the surge of U.S. brigades dispatched to Iraq earlier this year, they will not be withdrawn when the surge brigades are drawn down, something U.S. commanders have said will happen by the middle of next year.

Instead, the intention is to maintain “a continuous presence” in the border area, training Iraqi border guards, looking for smuggled weapons and monitoring the flow of goods and people from Iran, according to Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch of the 3rd Infantry Division, under whose command the base falls.

The new base along the Iranian border illustrates another shift in the U.S. military’s Iraq mission. From toppling Saddam Hussein to searching for weapons of mass destruction to defeating Al Qaeda in Iraq, checking Iran’s expansive influence within the new Iraq has emerged as a key U.S. goal.

Containing Iran “is now clearly part of our mission,” Lynch said in an interview during a tour of the base.

Clearly Secretary Gates and the leadership at the Pentagon is aware of the Iranian issue, and while we at the Captain’s Journal would like to have seen more done to “persuade” Iran to behave, the wheels are in motion.  But one lesson from the story must be that there is no valid reason and no legitimate excuse for divulging operational security.

In an atmosphere where the Department of Defense crafts regulations concerning military bloggers because they are concerned about OPSEC, it is strange that the national intelligence infrastructure would be so eager to release information that cannot be helpful to U.S. interests, and cannot help but be helpful to the enemy.  Regardless of the information communicated, it was a profoundly bad idea to issue the NIE.  Nothing good came from it.  As a result of the decision to do so, the Iranians are celebrating, and the Sunni Arabs are fearful and angry over being taken for fools once again.

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You are currently reading "Concerning Iran, the National Intelligence Estimate, and Sunni Arabs", entry #822 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Intelligence,Iran,Iraq and was published December 11th, 2007 by Herschel Smith.

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