Captain's Quarters Blog

« Crystal Meth Destabilizing The Euro ... Literally | Main | Pelosi's Unforced Error »

November 14, 2006
Iran Politicking For Control Of Al-Qaeda

While Tony Blair signaled a new interest in dialogue with Iran, the mullahcracy has conducted negotiations with al-Qaeda to promote pro-Iranian leadership, the London Telegraph reports. In truth, neither development represents much of a change in policy:

With the British and American governments looking for an exit strategy from Iraq, the Prime Minister admitted that they needed Iran's co-operation to prevent the country descending into civil war and to secure an overall Middle East peace settlement.

But the revelation that Iran is working hard to establish a closer relationship with bin Laden's fanatics, who provoked the war against terrorism with the attacks on September 11 2001, is likely to undermine severely Downing Street's attempts to effect a rapprochement. Iran is also suspected of arming insurgent groups in southern Iraq – many of which have links to al-Qa'eda – that have been responsible for many of the roadside bomb attacks against British troops.

But intelligence officials have been most alarmed by reports from Iran that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is trying to persuade al-Qa'eda to promote a pro-Iranian activist to a senior position within its leadership.

The Iranians want Saif al-Adel, a 46-year-old former colonel in Egypt's special forces, to be the organisation's number three.

Al-Adel was formerly bin Laden's head of security, and was named on the FBI's 22 most wanted list after September 11 for his alleged involvement in terror attacks against US targets in Somalia and Africa in the 1990s. He has been living in a Revolutionary Guard guest house in Teheran since fleeing from Afghanistan in late 2001 [emphasis mine -- CE].

Iran has allowed elements of AQ leadership to remain within their borders, hosting them in order to help promote Islamist terrorism. This should come as no surprise to anyone; for a while, Osama himself was rumored to be in Iran, and Iran has not made much effort to conceal their guests. The Iranians claimed that they were detaining the terrorists, but they have never produced them for extradition or offered to do so.

And why should they? The Iranians are pragmatists within their own Islamist bent. They support Hamas and Hezbollah despite the Sunni and Shi'ite natures of the two groups, respectively. Teheran has less interest in denominational differences at this point than in winning the overall clash of civilizations. They want to drive the West from the Middle East and make themselves the center of the new Caliphate. At some level, the Guardian Council understands that a new Caliph will have to work with Sunni, Shi'a, and Sufi alike in order to gain control of the ummah.

Blair's speech has much less significance than first reactions suppose as well. What Blair actually said differs little from public pronouncements by the US and UK for the last several years. He told the Iranians that Britain wants open dialogue -- but only after Teheran makes fundamental changes:

“It is a perfectly straightforward and clear strategy. It will only be defeated by an equally clear one: to relieve these pressure points one by one and then, from a position of strength, to talk.

“Offer Iran a clear strategic choice: they help the Middle East peace process, not hinder it; they stop supporting terrorism in Lebanon or Iraq; and they abide by, not flout, their international obligations.

“In that case, a new partnership is possible. Or alternatively they face the consequences of not doing so: isolation.”

In other words, abandon terrorism and their support for terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, shut down the nuclear-weapons program, and then the West will treat Iran as a strategic partner in the region. That's hardly a policy shift -- it's the carrot we've been offering Iran for years. We have offered full diplomatic relations, a large amount of technical aid, open trade with the West, and economic assistance in exchange for their eschewing of terrorism and nuclear weapons, and assistance in normalizing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That offer goes back to the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration made the same offer formally over the summer, an offer the Iranians have mostly ignored.

This speaks to no great policy shift. If the Iranians stopped being radical Islamists, or at least radical expansionists of radical Islam, what Western country wouldn't engage with Teheran? And if that came to pass, they would certainly be in a position to offer positive assistance in stabilizing Iraq.

And pigs might fly, too, because the mullahs have no intention of moderating their Islamism, not for guns or money.

The Blair speech makes perfect sense in its context, and it provides no conflict or change from previous policy decisions. The Iranian effort to take control of AQ makes perfect sense for their worldview, and might succeed, given the state of AQ leadership and their need for vast reserves of funds. It's just a little more open than it was before -- and that may be a good development for the US. It might remind people that all of the elements of radical Islam are more than willing to combine efforts to fight the West, and that Iran will always be the epicenter of the movement.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 14, 2006 5:25 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry is

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Iran Politicking For Control Of Al-Qaeda:

» First Cup 11.14.06 from bRight & Early
... [Read More]

Tracked on November 14, 2006 11:01 AM

» Video: Blair calls for “partnership” with Iran, if…;
Bush cool to asking Iran, Syria to help on Iraq
Report: Iran grooming Bin Laden’s successor
from Bill's Bites
'No softening' on Iran and Syria Britain's policy towards Iran and Syria has not softened, Downing Street says, despite the prime minister's call for them to help bring stability to Iraq. In a major foreign policy speech in London, Tony [Read More]

Tracked on November 14, 2006 3:58 PM

» Iranian Nukes & Resistance: Blair's Way from Mensa Barbie Welcomes You
Hopefully, there may not be a need for this to get much uglier... And Captain Ed has this to say: Iran Politicking For Control Of Al-Qaeda Article excerpt: It is a perfectly straightforward and clear strategy. It will only be defeated by an equall... [Read More]

Tracked on November 15, 2006 1:45 PM


Design & Skinning by:
m2 web studios

blog advertising


Proud Ex-Pat Member of the Bear Flag League!