Someone at the Pentagon has let the cat out of the bag — and apparently, it’s a Persian. Citing “US officials”, ABC News reported earlier today that the US has smoking-gun evidence that Iran has supplied the insurgents in Iraq with sophisticated weaponry used to attack American soldiers:
U.S. officials say they have found smoking-gun evidence of Iranian support for terrorists in Iraq: brand-new weapons fresh from Iranian factories. According to a senior defense official, coalition forces have recently seized Iranian-made weapons and munitions that bear manufacturing dates in 2006.
This suggests, say the sources, that the material is going directly from Iranian factories to Shia militias, rather than taking a roundabout path through the black market. “There is no way this could be done without (Iranian) government approval,” says a senior official.
Iranian-made munitions found in Iraq include advanced IEDs designed to pierce armor and anti-tank weapons. U.S. intelligence believes the weapons have been supplied to Iraq’s growing Shia militias from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which is also believed to be training Iraqi militia fighters in Iran.
Evidence is mounting, too, that the most powerful militia in Iraq, Moktada al-Sadr’s Mahdi army, is receiving training support from the Iranian-backed terrorists of Hezbollah.
I find the timing of this revelation very interesting. We know the James Baker-led Iraq Study Group has prepared its recommendations, because they’ve been busy leaking them a week ahead of the deadline. We know that they will urge the Bush administration to reverse almost thirty years of foreign policy and engage Teheran in direct negotiations regarding security for Iraq. We also know that the Joint Chiefs have already decided to oppose the main thrusts of the ISG.
Now, suddenly, ABC News finds out that the Pentagon has found the Imam Label on insurgent weapons. Does it appear to anyone else that someone at the Department of Defense has decided to pre-empt the ISG and its call for negotiated surrender to state-sponsored terrorism?
We heard the rumor last week that Hezbollah had been training Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army, perhaps hosting as many as 2,000 militia fighters. ABC adds to that as well, revealing that the Pentagon believes Sadr to have over 40,000 fighters in his irregulars, much higher than anyone supposed before this. The Iranians have built up quite a force in Iraq, and now that we’re on the verge of hearing from the ISG, we now find out that the Iranians have been conducting a proxy war against us. Not that the news surprises those who have followed the situation, but the extent of their success is worrisome.
This may be the backlash of the generals against the so-called realists. No one in the command structure wants to see the US retreat from Iraq; even the retired generals who have hurled so much criticism at Donald Rumsfeld made it clear that we have to prevail in Iraq. This puts the White House in a huge bind; with this in the open, the US has to respond to the Iranians, and a summit would be seen as a massive capitulation. On the other hand, the ISG’s long-awaited report raised expectations of a change in near- and medium-term strategy, expectations that will cause political repercussions once dashed.
If the report is true and the Iranians have been directly supplying the insurgents with the materiel that has killed and wounded many American soldiers, then we have to finally acknowledge that the war on terror has evolved into a confrontation with terrorism’s leading state sponsor. The Bush administration has spent a lot of effort in denying this, working through the UN Security Council and the EU. It cannot ignore it any longer, and in the end, we knew that we would have to confront Iran and Syria in some fashion if we wanted to put an end to state-sponsored terrorism.
Does that mean a shooting war? I hope not; it’s one of the worst options, although not the worst. We have other options, including economic and diplomatic pressure. We can also go after the weak sister in the Axis, Syria, as a means of isolating Iran even further, and Syria with its string of assassinations has provided a lot of the necessary provocations for that.
One fact seems certain: we cannot engage Iran as a partner in Iraqi security while it arms the people killing our troops. And that appears to be the motivation for this latest revelation.