15 August, 2005

Iran/Iraq war?

Some rumor is going around that Iran is supplying Iraqi insurgents with weapons. Rumsfeld made a big stink about this. This follows in a long trail of absurdist rumors (like Iran was helping al-Qaeda out and allowed them safe passage through their territory).

I'm on the downward slope this week, and the world is looking very black. So I must resist the urge to call the people spreading these incredible rumors brainless cock-knobs. Instead, Juan Cole on the subject. It makes no kind of sense for Iran to be supporting a Sunni insurgency directed primarily against other Shi'a Muslims and a friendly government. It makes no sense when their goons are comfortably in command of the situation. And yet the stories persist. Makes you wonder if they might be leading up to something...

Now, if you'll excuse me, I must go find something to strangle.


Excellent post. 

Posted by Saurav

Rumsfeld didn't say that Sunni guerrillas were being armed by Iran, did he? In the linked CNN story, he said that arms shipments from Iran (the place, not necessarily the government) were found in Southern Iraq. The Telegraph story goes further and says that Iran the government is maintaining a militia in Southern (Shia) Iraq. I don't see anything so strange about either of these happening.

Militias in Southern Iraq might not have access to the seemingly endless supply of explosives available to those in central Iraq, so they might have to import them, and Iran is the natural place to smuggle them from.

As far as Iran maintaining a militia, Iran helped organize Hezbollah from a band of disjoint, internally-feuding Shia political parties to one of the best guerrilla forces in the region. Why not do the same for an Iraqi militia? The time period they were said to have armed and trained the militia was largely before they had such superior access to the Iraqi government.

Sure, this could be black psy-ops, but Rumsfeld is crazy enough as he is, you don't need to put more words in his mouth. Am I missing something else he said? It's only the fact that CNN confuses "Iraqis" with "insurgents" and makes some innuendo about shaped charges that makes it seem like it has anything to do with central Iraq. 

Posted by Dan

He didn't say anything so explicit, but he doesn't have to; the echoes are already distorting what he said. Few Americans can be bothered to distinguish between Sunni insurgents and Shia Iran.

The telegraph story, you'll note, is sourced only based on a leaked military paper. Rumsfeld's claim is also based on military source. These seem rather too well-timed to be coincidental.

I'm willing to believe that there's some truth to the idea that Iran gave support to militias previously. But now the Badr Brigades are practically running Basra. SCIRI and al-Dawa are sitting in power in the central government. The appearance of these military-sourced rumors seems much more like deliberate plants. 

Posted by saurabh

On another point, does Rumsfeld sound incredibly whiny to you when he says "Iran is not being helpful"? What would Rumsfeld say if Iran amassed all its forces on the border to prevent smuggling? 

Posted by Dan

I guess it's obvious that the stories are in the paper because the military wants them to be. One of them is just reporting on a press conference, after all.

I guess this leads to two questions: 1) Are they accurate? I really don't know. Neither yes nor no seem obvious answers to me.

2) Why does the military want stories on Iran in the news?

Here's a list of possible answers:

1) They're preparing the propaganda road for an invasion.
2) They're preparing the propaganda road for a bombing.
3) The "foreign fighters" excuse for continuing the war on Iraq needs some fresh invigoration.
4) They want to prepare universal sanctions against Iran.
5) ????

The thing is, besides as a propaganda tool, I just don't see what the U.S. is going to do with it. Do these feints scare Iran? They don't have enough soldiers to attack Iran; bombing Iran would only make Iran give more aid to anti-U.S. fighters. I have no clue what they're up to, just that everything...is...under...control.

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