Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Kurds and Talibs and Iranians! Oh no!

News item June 12:

"Kabul, Afhanistan --- Iran gives political support to President Hamid Karzai's Western-backed government in neighboring Afghanistan, but might also be aiding Taliban as a way of hedging its bets, NATO's top general here said yesterday." [AP]

U.S. Army General Dan McNeill said in an interview that there is "ample evidence" that Iran is helping Karzai's government with road building and the like. But, he adds, "I don't doubt that somewhere the Iranians may have helped the Taliban. . . So what does this add up to? It makes me think of a major American corporation that will give political campaign money to three or four different candidates for president of the United States. Somebody is going to come out on top. The corporation wants to be alligned with whoever comes out on top." [What?]

A day later, undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns comes out and tells CNN there is "irrefutable evidence" that weapons shipments to the Taliban were "coming from the government of Iran."

On the same day from Germany, Sec Def Gates says, "I haven't seen any intelligence specifically to this effect, but I would say, given the quantities that we're seeing, it is difficult to believe that it's associated with smuggling or the drug business or that it's taking place without the knowledge of the Iranian government." [NYT]

[See more about Afghanistan at LTAD, where I did most of my blogging today]

What the hell is going on here, you ask?

Well, clearly, the Sec Def has learned the lesson of Colin Powell, so he's not going to come right out and spew some wild allegation he can't hang his hat on . . . but there is someone who doesn't mind making things up and working the intel around the facts it later on.

Newsweek reports:

"In the last few weeks, Cheney's staff have unexpectedly become more active participants in an interagency group that steers policy on Afghanistan, according to an official familiar with the internal deliberations. During weekly meetings of the committee, known as the Afghanistan Interagency Operating Group, Cheney staffers have been intensely interested in a single issue: recent intelligence reports alleging that Iran is supplying weapons to Afghanistan's resurgent Islamist militia, the Taliban, according to two administration officials who asked for anonymity when discussing internal meetings.

An official familiar with the interagency group's deliberations said that Cheney's aides kept asking what sounded like leading questions, demanding to know whether there was any Iranian entity other than the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps—the state security force Washington accuses of arming Iraqi insurgents—that could be responsible for the arms shipments. Cheney's aides, the official added, appeared less interested in other more mundane items on the Afghanistan policy committee's agenda."

What a surprise, huh?

[Check out what Cheney is really up to from Harry Shearer's latest installment of Dick Cheney: Confidential

And then there's the Kurds:

Here's an added little bonus to this story that sort of speaks to the morrass we've got ourselves into

Perhaps you've heard about our good friends the Turks who are at the moment chomping at the bit to go into northern Iraq and clear out the PKK fighters our good friends the Iraqi Kurds are harboring --- or at the very least tolerating. (In fact, the Turks seem to have already gone into northern Iraq on "hot pursuit" (not an incursion!) raids into Iraq; the most recent incident, that we know of, being earlier this month when 600 Turkish commandos entered Iraq near the Turkish border town of Cukurka.)

In the multi-sided labyrinth of competing interests that would make even Gerry Kasporov get a headache, it turns out that a PKK bombing of a Turkish train may have helped us out even as they're antics threaten to ignite a regional conflagration that could make Iraq look like a tea party.

Newsweek reports:

"A little-noticed train accident in Turkey last month offered new clues about alleged Iranian efforts to stir up trouble in the Mideast. The train was carrying two shipping containers of explosives and small to medium-size weapons like rocket-launcher pads . . . Three U.S. officials familiar with current intel, who asked for anonymity due to the sensitive topic, told NEWSWEEK they believe the train was ferrying the equipment from Iran to Syria: from there, they believe, it would have been sent to the Lebanese movement Hizbullah, a longtime client of Tehran . . . Authorities believe the train derailed after Kurdish separatists blew up the tracks. . . Two of the U.S. officials said that many U.S. analysts believe someone high up in the Tehran regime must be authorizing the arms deliveries. But one U.S. and two British officials (who, concerned about diplomatic sensitivity, also asked for anonymity) said there was no smoking-gun intercept or document proving the ayatollahs' complicity."


Keep in mind that while we're complaining about Iran sending weapons to the Talibs and Hezbollah, we're sending weapons and money to various shadowy Sunni groups inside Lebanon who may or may not have links to al-Qaeda and may or may not hate the Shiites of Hizbollah more than they hate us. According to Sy Hersh, remember, our good buddy Prince Bandar (Bush) of Saudi Arabia assured his good buddy Dick Cheney: "We’ve created this movement, and we can control it."

I'm going to take a handfull of Tylonal, more at a later time.


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