Friday, January 12, 2007

Pentagon Increases Intelligence Activities Against Iran

President Bush -- in his address to the nation on Wednesday -- gave a major hint that Iran is in the crosshairs. The administration has been blaming the Shiite Islamic Republic for interfering with the U.S. security operations in Iraq for some time now. Some are wondering if payback time may be near.

Even as President Bush seeks larger numbers of troops to stabilize Iraq, the Pentagon is intensifying operations there on another front: challenging Iran over its alleged role in destabilizing its Arab neighbor.

Yesterday, multinational forces including U.S. troops detained six Iranian officials in Iraqi Kurdistan suspected of aiding Shiite Muslim militants in Iraq. It was the second detainment by U.S.-led forces of Iranian officials in Iraq in less than a month. ...

(T)he Pentagon has significantly increased its intelligence activities targeting suspected Iranian agents and Shiite Muslim militants, U.S. intelligence officials said. Besides working with Iraqi security forces, the U.S. has intensified information-sharing with dissident Iranian groups such as Mujahedin-e Khalq, according to officials associated with the group.

U.S. officials say the intensifying actions targeting Iran are central to the new White House push to underpin the shaky government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. They come against a backdrop of growing, broader tensions between Washington and Tehran, over Iran's suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons, U.S. efforts to curb Iran's financial transactions and Tehran's moves to increase its influence throughout the Middle East.

Nicholas Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs, said the administration is seeking to counter Iranian provocations across the region as part of a broader strategy. "Iran needs to learn to respect us," he said. "And Iran certainly needs to respect American power in the Middle East." ...

Of particular concern to Pentagon planners is the alleged role of Qods Force, the international arm of Tehran's Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, in trafficking IEDs into Iraq, intelligence officials said. The guard corps is believed to have developed close ties to both the Mahdi Army, a Shiite militia headed by the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and the Badr Brigade, the militant arm of Iraq's largest Shiite political party, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

The Pentagon moves in Iraq to arrest Iranian diplomats in both Irbil and Baghdad over the past month were directly aimed at trying to stanch the flow of IEDs and other armaments into Iraq, U.S. officials involved in the program said. The U.S. has alleged that the Revolutionary Guard corps has used front companies and religious foundations to move some of these armaments over the Iran-Iraq border. And U.S. officials said they have extensive intelligence showing many of the diplomats detained were senior members of the corps. ...

Of more concern to U.S. lawmakers is the potential that these U.S. actions against Iran could escalate. Under one possible scenario, U.S. forces could cross into Iran or Syria in pursuit of suspected insurgents or their allies, or use alleged Iranian activities inside Iraq as a pretext for a wider assault on Iran. The fear is that any such military activities could ignite a wider conflict.

"The potential for sparking a wider conflict is great," said Trita Parsi, an Iran analyst and president of the National Iranian American Council in Washington. "I think that if we're going for a confrontation with Iran, the pretext will be Iraq."


Anonymous Mary's Berry said...

The US's diplomatic tone vis a vis Iran is getting all the more belligerent and incalcitrant.

W blames the massive failure in Iraq on Iranian crossborder meddling. American peri-Iranian diplomatic weasling and cajoling is in high gear to secure the basing capabilities key to launching an attack on Iran. The fruits of these wranglings are not yet adequately secured. Meanwhile, many a fool supposes Israel will head up an attack. Leaks to the press that appear to support such a scenario are rife - but they are but SOP obfuscations. Anywayzzz....

1/12/2007 12:57 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...


Your info about additional basing permissions being necessary would fit the info I have received saying that U.S. aircraft carrier availability will remain too thin for quite some time.

1/13/2007 10:32 AM  

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