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August 06, 2007

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It's a fact that Iran is intentionally arming Iraqi insurgent groups to accelerate American withdrawal from Iraq, it is overwhelmingly common knowledge, from American military to ISF to average Iraqis on the street.

I understand why you might speculate that this is how some weapons might fall into insurgent hands, but to assert it as your suspicion that removes culpability and intent from the Iranian government, in the face of contrary evidence is odd. For example, see here:

O officials say they have caught Iran red-handed, shipping heavy arms, C4 explosives and advanced roadside bombs to the Taliban for use against NATO forces, in what the officials say is a dramatic escalation of Iran's proxy war against the United States and Great Britain.

"It is inconceivable that it is anyone other than the Iranian government that's doing it," said former White House counterterrorism official Richard Clarke, an ABC News consultant.

http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2007/06/document_iran_c.html

You think the government of Iran would arm Sunni extremists in Afghanistan - the Taliban, one of their longtime mortal enemies - but not arm at least Shia insurgents and militias in Iraq? Of course not.

I sympathize with being rationally averse to war with Iran, but what they're doing to assert their interests in Iraq is still what they're doing to assert their interests in Iraq.

Regards.

how come nobody is insisting we invade Saudi Arabia ?

Bill,

When you say that "its a fact...overwhelmingly common knowledge", does that mean that more or fewer people believe it to be true than accepted the "fact" that Iraq had an advanced nuclear program before the war?

Sorry to rehash old stories, but given that supposedly "everyone" just "knew" that Iraq had all manner of advanced WMD, despite any empirical evidence, and how that turned out to be completely wrong, please forgive my skepticism.


Also, on a side note, Iran as a state has a faily complex government apparatus. Instead of bald statements about exactly what Iran "wants", it might be more fruitful to express your analysis in terms of what various factions in the Iranian governmen are trying to achieve. If you lack the information needed to do that, then perhaps making bald statements about what Iran wants is ill-advised.

I would be very cautious about "overwhelming common knowledge", otherwise we would also have to believe that Saddam organized 9/11, that "we" found his huge stockpiles of WMDs and possibly that he used nuclear weapons against US troops (not to forget the Kuwait incubators).
That the Iranian government secretly arms the Taliban and at the same time provides valuable military information to NATO (as everyone but Bush acknowledges) doesn't pass a smell test.
That the Iranian government is not eager to stop the Iraqi Shia getting weaponry, I am inclined to believe but if that would be a sufficient reason to go to war, the US should begin nuking itself, followed by Israel, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Russia, China... Iran would barely make the top 10 list.

That the Iranian government secretly arms the Taliban and at the same time provides valuable military information to NATO (as everyone but Bush acknowledges) doesn't pass a smell test.
Didn't the US help both sides in the Iran-Iraq war?

I have little doubt that the Iranians are helping some groups that are fighting Americans in Iraq. I have little doubt that the Americans are helping some groups that are fighting the Iranian government. I have little doubt that many other countries (including the United States) are helping various factions in Iran that are at least sometimes fighting Americans. None of that is a reason for going to war with Iran or any other country.

I sympathize with being rationally averse to war with Iran, but what they're doing to assert their interests in Iraq is still what they're doing to assert their interests in Iraq.

I'm not sure if the "this isn't a good reason to go to war with Iran" talk is in response to Bill's comment, but nowhere did he say that we should be going to war with Iran.

It used to be that everybody knew that shaped charges being used against US troops could only be coming from Iran. Then we found a production line for exactly those shaped charges inside Iraq, being operated by insurgents.

The neocons have done such an extraordinary job of sowing fear through lies that the reasonable standard of evidence for anything the neocons claim is much, much higher than it would be for most people. The story of the boy who cried wolf is relevant here. Recall that in the end, the wolf really did show up. Maybe Iran really is doing the things the neocons would have us believe. If so, any negative consequences of our fully justified skepticism lie at the feet of the neocons.

It's likely that arms and equipment issued to Iraqi security forces by the USA may have made their way to the black market, and from there to insurgents. However, that doesn't mean that Iran is free from blame.

AK's are one thing, they're as common as dirt in the Middle East. Steyr precision sniper rifles are another matter entirely.

Iran bought 800 of those weapons for use in Iran, and more than 100 were later recovered from insurgents in Iraq. Hmm, I wonder how they got from Iran to Iraq?

It might also be worth noting that Iran supplying Iraq with guns at this time would be a bit like supplying the beach with some sand.

I do love all this administration's whining about Iranian meddling in Iraq, at a time when the has over 150,000 heavily armed soldiers roaming the landscape after having invaded and deposed the prior regime.

I do wonder if they ever think about the contradiction, but I doubt they do.

Iran bought 800 of those weapons for use in Iran, and more than 100 were later recovered from insurgents in Iraq. Hmm, I wonder how they got from Iran to Iraq?

Were those tracked to the Iranian shipment through their serial numbers?

Iirc the Steyr company was unable to determine, whether those sniper rifles were actually those sold to Iran, especially because other countries have bought licences to produce them too. The last info I got on the case was still the US claiming identity and the company claiming to have not even been asked by the US about it (which casts severe doubts on the whole thing).
Looks like another case of "possible but lacking proof".

...and the company claiming to have not even been asked by the US about it

The company wasn't supplied with serial numbers and was not allowed to inspect the weapons. StrategyPage says:

But were the Iraqi snipers indeed using Austrian-made armor-piercing .50 caliber weapons?

Perhaps not. There was little official American reaction to the discovery of the sniper rifle cache in February. In March, Steyr-Mannlicher claimed that U.S. authorities had yet to ask it for help in tracing the weapons, a simple matter of checking serial numbers, or even letting Austrian technicians examine the rifles. The Americans never approached the Austrian firearms firm. On March 29, Vienna's Wiener Zeitung quoted U.S. Central Command spokesman Scott Miller as admitting, "No Austrian weapons have been found in Iraq."

If an armed society is a polite society, then violence in Iraq should be asymptotically approaching zero...

OT - anyone read this story? Or this one?

We live in Kafka's world these days.

Yeah, Lederman had a post about the Mayer article. I'm trying to prepare my stomach for reading it.

I'd be surprised if the Iranians weren't running guns to somebody or other in Iraq. But then again, if the show were on the other foot, and Iran invaded, say, Canada, I'd be astonished if we didn't float weapons across the Detroit River. We have essentially zero grounds for complaint about these activities. When we end *our* imperial misadventure, then we can start regaining a speck of moral credibility.

Nations and Rules have been giving arms to those fighting their enemies for thousands of years. We gave arms to the Afghans. The USSR and China gave arms to the North Vietnamese (and, hence, to the VC). Hell - Athens and Sparta gave money and weapons to each others enemies. Iran giving arms to at least some Iraqi proxies is only to be expected.

This isn't a call for War - which would be stupid and counterproductive - but lets be reasonable. Predicting Iran is supplying out enemies in Iraq is not a hare-brained theory - it is just the expectation that Iran will act normally to the occupation of a neighbor by an threat/rival.

Iran giving arms to at least some Iraqi proxies is only to be expected.

a general question:

is the thought that Iran is literally giving these weapons to their allies in Iraq, or are they merely assumed to be selling them to whoever wants to buy ?

And don't forget all those weapons dumps we failed to secure during the invasion...

I know someone who worked at in the command in question at the time (2005) to be specific. And he said it was pretty bad. They would issue uniforms, weapons and pay to Iraqi soldiers. And because they have no banking system to speak of they then had to let them go for the weekend so that they could take the money home. When (and if) they came back, many of the Iraqi's would claim to have "lost" both uniform and weapon and demand a new one.

Seeing as you don't just loose a weapons in a country with a violence problem like Iraq, they either sold it for extra money or they gave it to their family for protection.

Iran giving arms to at least some Iraqi proxies is only to be expected.

Ah, yes. And so the various claims that are supposed to provide evidence but don't are -- fake but accurate.

I think we need to consider that it's possible iran is not actually providing weapons to anyone in iraq, even though it's predictable that they would, and it's not out of the ordinary that they would, and it's certainly something we would do if the tables were turned, and nobody credible disputes that we are arming dissident groups in iran.

We were wrong about Saddam's WMDs in a precisely analogous situation. We could be wrong again even though there's just as much reason to think we're right this time. Since once again the evidence that supports what we assume is fake.

Iran giving arms to at least some Iraqi proxies is only to be expected.

Ah, yes. And so the various claims that are supposed to provide evidence but don't are -- fake but accurate.

I think we need to consider that it's possible iran is not actually providing weapons to anyone in iraq, even though it's predictable that they would, and it's not out of the ordinary that they would, and it's certainly something we would do if the tables were turned, and nobody credible disputes that we are arming dissident groups in iran.

We were wrong about Saddam's WMDs in a precisely analogous situation. We could be wrong again even though there's just as much reason to think we're right this time. Since once again the evidence that supports what we assume is fake.

It's a fact that Iran is intentionally arming Iraqi insurgent groups to accelerate American withdrawal from Iraq

And, of course, from Iran's point of view, we, the nation that labels them a part of the "Axis of Evil", have well over 100,000 troops, close to 200,000 if you include private security forces, occupying our former client state, and their next door neighbor and historical rival.

I think it would be most excellent if Iran stayed the hell out of it, but I'm not suprised if they don't.

It might also be worth noting that Iran supplying Iraq with guns at this time would be a bit like supplying the beach with some sand.

Precisely.

Thanks

Yeah, Lederman had a post about the Mayer article. I'm trying to prepare my stomach for reading it.

I'm a subscriber, so it'll be in my mail later this week.

Here is what is needed.

The next President needs to repudiate the policies and practices of the Bush administration in clear, firm, and unambiguous terms.

The basic human rights guaranteed by the US Bill of Rights and the Geneva Conventions need to be affirmed and enforced in law and policy. All Bush-era laws and executive findings to the contrary need to be repealed and rescinded.

Folks responsible, at an executive policy level, for the policies that violate our laws and international laws should be held responsible, including jail time if appropriate.

The basic, fundamental, God-given dignity of each human person must be respected.

I don't think any of this will happen. Do you?

What is the world like if it doesn't?

Thanks -

It's a fact that Iran is intentionally arming Iraqi insurgent groups to accelerate American withdrawal from Iraq.

Which insurgent groups? The Sunnis? You mean the ones that various Saudis are supplying also?

And Iran is not arming Iraqi factions to speed US departure -- Iranians probably prefer that we sit there and bleed ineffectually. They are arming their Shia friends (most of the major factions in the government that we support) in order to secure long term favor with the groups that will rule Iraq.

We are fighting to support the same Iraqi factions that the Iranians are arming.

The historic position of the US has been that neutrals have the right to trade war material to belligerents. We traded with the French during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, and with the Allies during WW I and II. In all three instances, we ultimately went to war ourselves, in defense of our rights.

A cynic could say that the US went to war when their investment in the British was threatened by the possibility of the other side winning*.
There were people in important positions that saw the opportunity in both World Wars to significantly weaken Britain** without allowing it to be defeated. This does of course not mean that the US acted/acts solely out of ignoble motives but that US intentions were/are not actually purely philanthropical.

*The US and Nazi Germany were effectively at war (in the North Atlantic) quite some time before Hitler did Roosevelt the favor of actually declaring war.
** quotes on demand

What proof does anyone have as to Iran's involvement in Iraq, other than the administration's say-so?

I call bullshit. Just like Saddam's WMDs, just like the lack of torture camps, just like "we're not engaged in domestic spying."

What's wrong with America, that we accept this crap at face value? After we've been lied to so many times?

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