Sunday, April 6, 2008

Iran Fighting In Iraq For Self-Preservation

Many people have argued that a secular, Shia dominated democracy on Iran's border presents the greatest threat to the theocracy. Michael Ledeen discusses why Iran feels it has little option but to wage a proxy war against the U.S. and the Iraqi democracy. Our soldiers are dying at Iranian hands. When will we respond?


This from Michael Ledeen at PJM:

Those many pundits and politicians who have insisted on talking about “civil war” in Iraq imagined a sectarian clash, Sunni against Shi’ite, not the recent sort of conflict of radical Shi’ite militias against government troops and police. Meanwhile, on the other side of the sectarian divide, Sunni tribesmen banded together to defeat Sunni terrorists from al Qaeda in Anbar Province, again a seemingly counter-intuitive event. Sunnis and Shi’ites are fighting enemies of their own sects, not one another. What is one to make of it?

A big clue to understanding this apparent mystery came a couple of weeks ago, when rockets were lobbed into the “Green Zone” in Baghdad, where many diplomats, intelligence officers and military leaders (including ours) live and work, along with key Iraqi Government personnel. General Petraeus quickly and explicitly blamed Iran for the attacks. “The rockets that were launched at the Green Zone… were Iranian-provided, Iranian-made rockets…All of this in complete violation of promises made by President Ahmadinejad and the other most senior Iranian leaders to their Iraqi counterparts.”

Similar remarks about the nefarious Iranian role in Iraq came from Petraeus’ former deputy, General Raymond Odierno, just two weeks ago in Washington. He wryly observed that Iranian President Ahmadinejad felt secure in Baghdad because the attacks there were under Iranian guidance and control.

The Shi’ite militias and al Qaeda in are also closely tied to Iran. Many of the news reports wrongly suggest that the Shi’ite insurgents are under the leadership of Moqtadah al Sadr, the son of a murdered leading cleric and for several years the chieftain of the private Mahdi Army, named after the Shi’ite Messiah. He and his troops were famously armed, paid and trained by Iran, and were as feared as al Qaeda, whose late leader, Abu Musab Zarqawi, long operated out of Tehran and worked closely with Hezbollah’s late chief terrorist, Imad Mughniyah.

All this attention to Moqtadah is at odds with his actual behavior: he long since abandoned the battlefield. Missing from Iraq for many months, he recently resurfaced with the surprising announcement that he had gone to Iran to devote himself to religious. The Iranians had fired him, and they restructured the Mahdi Army into smaller, more autonomous groups. The recent violence came from the new units, headed by Iranian officers, agents, and recruits who, Tehran hoped, are not well known to Coalition and Iraqi military intelligence.

Iran, then, is the common denominator of recent events in Iraq: the mullahs organized the rocket attacks in Baghdad, they have supported al Qaeda in Iraq from the beginning, and they have a major role in the activities of the Shi’ite militias. It is going to be very difficult, indeed virtually impossible, to achieve durable security in Iraq without forcing an end to Iran’s many murderous activities there. That is the bottom line of the events of the past two weeks, and it is very good news that the Iranians were soundly defeated in several cities, from Basra to Baghdad. It is also good news to see that, once it was clear that their proxies were being decimated, they quickly cut and ran. That was evident from Moqtadah’s constant flip-flops in his propaganda on behalf of the mullahs. One day, he was proclaiming an extention of the cease-fire. A few days later, he was calling for armed “resistance.” Barely twenty-four hours afterwards, he was suing for peace. It was also evident from the Iranian regime’s urgent talks with the Iraqi government; Khamenei wanted to pose as a peacemaker, in his usual mafia method of first attacking, then offering security.

The current “peace agreement” is worthless; it will last only until the next time the mullahs feel strong enough to launch another assault. General Petraeus knows that, and he dramatically underlined his conviction that the mullahs will violate any agreement that would prevent new terrorist attacks. He is surely right; the survival of the Tehran regime is threatened by progress in Iraq towards greater tranquility and government accountability to its electorate. The mullahs know that the Iranian people want a free choice, and, if permitted to make that choice, would throw out the current regime in favor of a more tolerant government that would end its support for terrorism throughout the region. No offers from Secretary of State Rice, and no negotiations from this or any future president, can change those realities, and the mullahs are unlikely to honor any agreement that would constitute an admission of defeat in Iraq and threaten their hegemony in Iran. . . .

Read the entire article.

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