Monday :: May 5, 2008

Really Really Really Bad

by Turkana

I'm confused. First, the ever-reliable Michael Gordon of the New York Times has an unidentified American official, with ridiculous opacity, claiming that Iran is behaving really really really badly.

Militants from the Lebanese group Hezbollah have been training Iraqi militia fighters at a camp near Tehran, according to American interrogation reports that the United States has supplied to the Iraqi government.

An American official said the account of Hezbollah’s role was provided by four Shiite militia members who were captured in Iraq late last year and questioned separately.

The United States has long charged that the Iranians were training Iraqi militia fighters in Iran, which Iran has consistently denied, and there have been previous reports about Hezbollah operatives in Iraq.

But the Americans say the reports of Hezbollah’s role at the Iranian camp offer important details about Iranian assistance to the militias, including efforts Iran appears to be making to train the fighters in unobtrusive ways.

Material from the interrogations was given to the Iraqi government, along with other data about captured Iranian arms, before it sent a delegation to Tehran last week to discuss allegations of Iranian aid to militia groups.

So, certainly, the Iraqis would want to confront the Iranians about that. Except that Iraq concluded that Iran wasn't actually behaving really really really badly. McClatchy:

The Iraqi Government seemed to distance itself from U.S. accusations towards Iran Sunday saying it would not be forced into conflict with its Shiite neighbor. And Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki ordered the formation of a committee to look into foreign intervention in Iraq.

As the government appeared to back down from its hardening stance against Iran, four marines were killed in Anbar in the deadliest attack in the Sunni province in months.

The government spokesman, Ali al Dabbagh, told reporters Sunday that a committee was formed to find "tangible information" about foreign intervention, specifically Iran's role in Iraq rather than "information based on speculation."

"We don't want to be pushed into any conflict with any neighboring countries, especially Iran. What happened before is enough. We paid a lot," Dabbagh said, referring to the eight years war between the two nations in which an estimated 1 million people died.

But that must not have gone over too well with the people who govern the Iraqi "government." Because it didn't help with the propaganda catapulting. So, as the Washington Post reported, a little later, the Iraqis do actually think Iran is behaving really really really badly, after all!

The Iraqi government said Sunday that it has "concrete evidence" Iran is fomenting violence in Iraq and that a high-level panel had been formed to document the proof.

The statement came as Iraqi officials find themselves trapped between the United States and Iran, which have each accused the other of wreaking havoc in Iraq. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is in a particularly delicate situation because he is close to American and Iranian officials.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh called reporters late Sunday night to clarify remarks he made at a news conference earlier in the day, when he appeared to say that there was no hard evidence that Iran was allowing weapons to come into Iraq. Dabbagh said his comments had been misinterpreted.

"There is an interference and evidence that they have interfered in Iraqi affairs," Dabbagh said in an interview arranged by a U.S. official. When asked how he would characterize the proof that Iranian weapons are flowing into Iraq, he said: "It is a concrete evidence."

The U.S. government has long accused Iran of providing the powerful roadside bombs known as explosively formed penetrators to Shiite militiamen who attack American troops. Iran has denied any such role.

If all else fails, Dabbagh clearly has a future with an American think tank. And as a spokesman on American television.

Turkana :: 1:07 PM :: Comments (5) :: Digg It!