Saturday, February 10, 2007

Iran in Iraq, and Back to Anna: Upping the Ante in Complexity

Anna Nicole Smith's death is big news.Why is that, you may ask? We'll get to that. But let us focus elsewhere for a few moments first.

From this morning's
New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 — The most lethal weapon directed against American troops in Iraq is an explosive-packed cylinder that United States intelligence asserts is being supplied by Iran.

The assertion of an Iranian role in supplying the device to Shiite militias reflects broad agreement among American intelligence agencies, although officials acknowledge that the picture is not entirely complete.

In interviews, civilian and military officials from a broad range of government agencies provided specific details to support what until now has been a more generally worded claim, in a new National Intelligence Estimate, that Iran is providing “lethal support” to Shiite militants in Iraq.

The focus of American concern is known as an “explosively formed penetrator,” a particularly deadly type of roadside bomb being used by Shiite groups in attacks on American troops in Iraq. Attacks using the device have doubled in the past year, and have prompted increasing concern among military officers. In the last three months of 2006, attacks using the weapons accounted for a significant portion of Americans killed and wounded in Iraq, though less than a quarter of the total, military officials say.

ABC News reported on the sophistication and Iranian origins of these devices in 2005 in this report here.

MSNBC featured a report on EFP's lethality late last year, which can be found here.

EFPs are basically shape charges, which channel the power of an IED explosive into a narrow cone of energy to punch through armored vehicles and wreak havok inside. Most of the intelligence reports cited in the news stories relate that the components are too sophisticated to be fabricated within Iraq, and instead come from Iranian machine shops and factories.

Additionally, the Washington Post had a story today detailing Iran's efforts seize Al Qawda terrorists travelling through Iran en route to Iraq:

Last week, the CIA sent an urgent report to President Bush's National Security Council: Iranian authorities had arrested two al-Qaeda operatives traveling through Iran on their way from Pakistan to Iraq. The suspects were caught along a well-worn, if little-noticed, route for militants determined to fight U.S. troops on Iraqi soil, according to a senior intelligence official.

The arrests were presented to Bush's senior policy advisers as evidence that Iran appears committed to stopping al-Qaeda foot traffic across its borders, the intelligence official said. That assessment comes at a time when the Bush administration, in an effort to push for further U.N. sanctions on the Islamic republic, is preparing to publicly accuse Tehran of cooperating with and harboring al-Qaeda suspects.

Meamwhile, skepticism about Iranian involvement in Iraq resonates in the West, especially on the Left:

Pilger suggests another motivating factor for Bush’s new possible war: “As the American disaster in Iraq deepens and domestic and foreign opposition grows, Neocon fanatics such as Vice-President Cheney believe their opportunity to control Iran's oil will pass unless they act no later than the spring.”


While the Senate Armed Services Committee debates the faulty intelligence the Bush administration’s used to take us to war against Iraq, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is continuing to cite iffy intelligence about Iran and its involvment in Iraq. . . Note that Gates is not talking about Iran's efforts to acquire nukes and he is not talking about the threat Iran poses to Israel. The context of attacking Iran is and will continue to be because of its activities in Iraq. Following up on posts here and here, I again posit that this is because the administration would aim to justify any attack on Iran through the Iraq AUMF. Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Joe Biden, just to name a few Democratic leaders, have all vowed their refusal to grant the Bush administration authority to attack Iran.

These declarations are reassuring, but Congress needs to do more. The Democratic leadership needs not to focus on the administration attempting to get separate authority to attack Iran, but to investigate the administration's current efforts to bolster their claims about Iran's involvement in Iraq.

The intersection of foreign policy, military strategy, domestic politics, Sunni/Shia rivalry, and international terroris makes for a complicated weave, does it not? It is no wonder that the government finds itself in a conundrum as it determines its next moves in Iran and Iraq.

And it makes sense that most Americans would choose to ponder the death of Anna Nicole Smith, rather than the unravel the complexity of America's role in the Middle East. It is easy enough to ruminate on the tragic end of a beautiful but troubled woman for everyone involved, whether one is a citizen, a reporter, editor, or the like; most would rather talk about the senselessness of Ms. Smith's passing, and leave the problems we face in the world to someone else.


The Guardian advances a story that the U.S. will soon be prepared to launch strikes against Iran:

US preparations for an air strike against Iran are at an advanced stage, in spite of repeated public denials by the Bush administration, according to informed sources in Washington.

The present military build-up in the Gulf would allow the US to mount an attack by the spring. But the sources said that if there was an attack, it was more likely next year, just before Mr Bush leaves office.

Meanwhile, identifying the father of the late Anna Nicole Smith's infant and heir grows more complex, keeping pace with the Iran/Iraq storyline:

Anna Nicole Smith's death became even more bizarre than her life yesterday as a series of bombshell revelations uncovered an ever-growing web of sexual intrigue - including the startling claim that her late billionaire husband may be the father of her infant daughter.

The stunning disclosure comes in a no-holds-barred manuscript written by her half-sister Donna Hogan obtained exclusively by the Daily News.

Hogan alleges that her sister froze the sperm of 90-year-old J. Howard Marshall years ago, and believes she may have used it to become pregnant.

Stay alert, stay alive, readers!


Harrison said...

Two aQ operatives, but at what price?

"Committed" is too much of a stretch, even for the treasonous Defeatocrats of the left.

Furthermore, aQ is merely one dimension in the Iraqi spectrum: Sunni insurgents unaffiliated to aQ, Shiite militias and Iranian operatives would still be roaming the neighbourhoods of Iraq nonetheless.

Who are we trying to convince of Iranian complicity? Even the Iranians must be certainly amused at us scrambling for scraps of evidence when they are blatantly doing it in the open for all to see.

Is it a severe case of Stockholm Syndrome?

The Democratic leadership needs not to focus on the administration attempting to get separate authority to attack Iran, but to investigate the administration's current efforts to bolster their claims about Iran's involvement in Iraq.

Weird thing is, Bush has explicitly stated that the US would not attack Iran (just like it promised Syria a few years back), so why does the DailyKos choose to take the administration to task for a path of action that it has clearly rejected (regrettably)?

Don't take the administration's Iran bait--keep the focus on Iraq on getting us out of that quagmire. That’s the surest way to prevent the widening of the war to Iran.

Yes, keeping the narrative of defeatism strictly to Iraq conveniently eliminates any sort of serious deliberation that is required to solve the predicament. Democrats have chosen to abandon geopolitical realities and the macro-view because of their thinly veiled ignorance of the nature of the "quagmire": it is regional, not state-level; it is rife with proxy actors, not an internal security problem of the state.

What I believe is that Democrats are not blind, and are actually sensible people who can recognise that Iran has been hurting us for decades and will continue to do so. But it is precisely so that they are privy to the same information as we do and still choose to discard logic for their vested power interests.

And that is exactly what is so vile and repulsive about them.

Harrison said...

Fait accompli or not? Is there a secret consensus within the administration's ranks, or is the house divided on confronting Iran?