Iran is still supporting, funding, training surrogates who operate inside of Iraq — flat out. They have not stopped. And I don’t think they will stop. I think they will continue to do that because they are also concerned, in my opinion, of where Iraq is headed. They want to try to gain influence here, and they will continue to do that. I think many of the attacks in Baghdad are from individuals that have been, in fact, funded or trained by the Iranians.
Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Cdr, Multi-National Forces-Iraq, quoted in Americans Release Iranian Detainees to Iraq, NYT, 9 July 2009
The NYT reports that, today, the U.S. military in Iraq released five senior operatives of Iran's Qods Force / IRGC. The question is why?
Iran cannot coexist with a secular, Shia democracy on their border. It stands for everything that Iran's theocracy is not. Thus, the mad mullahs of the theocracy have shown every willingness to kill and cause mayhem inside Iraq in an effort to turn that country into another Lebanon, ruled by a Shia militia whose loyalty is to Iran's Supreme Guide. The U.S. has been capturing Qods Force / IRGC soldiers in Iraq since 2006. The IRGC members the U.S. captured in Iraq were the men on the ground leading and funding Iran's effort. Iran's theocracy has not, will not, and indeed, cannot stop its efforts in Iraq. So what could possibly justify the U.S. releasing five senior Qods Force/IRGC members to return to Iran. And today, such a policy is thrown into stark relief as the people of Iran are marching in the streets, braving brutal repression at the IRGC.
The NYT claims the release is "unexpected" and difficult to comprehend. The official line is that it was done per a request from the Maliki government, though "senior Iraqi officials seemed to know little about the release." So what gives? Michael Ledeen ties it to the release of Roxana Saberi, and it seems the only explanation that makes sense.
Several weeks ago, Roxana Saberi, a U.S. citizen of Iranian decent, moved to Iran as a reporter where she was eventually made a pawn of Iranian regime. Arrested for espionage, she was subject to a kangaroo trial and ordered jailed for eight years. Days after she was jailed, Ahmedinejad intervened and she was, as the WSJ noted at the time, "unexpectedly released". That was the "quid" - the unanwered question being what was the "pro quo." Today we may well have an answer with the first of what may be numerous releases of Iranian IRGC members in Iraq who orchestrated "deadly attacks" as part of the effort to Lebanize that country.
This from Michael Ledeen:
. . . [I]n an appalling act of appeasement, we released five Revolutionary Guards officers in Iraq, so that they could go to Tehran (and I doubt they will join the nocturnal chanters). . . .
The timing could hardly have been worse, and I’m sure the White House is roundly annoyed that this happened just on a day when the regime’s claws and fangs were so publicly exposed. The White House had set the release up for several days ago, but then the Almighty–in the form of intense sandstorms that made it impossible to fly in and out of Tehran–intervened.
If my information is correct – and I must say I have rarely had a story so vigorously denied by my own government – this is part of the deal for Roxana Saberi, who, you’ll remember, was miraculously released from an Iranian prison a couple of months ago. These IRGC commanders – with, I am told, hundreds of lower-level Iranian terror facilitators to come in the next days and weeks – were Iran’s price for freeing the American hostage.
I had inklings of this, and said so at the time. So I’ll take the opportunity to remind everyone who follows Iranian matters, that the mullahs’ hostages are never released for humanitarian motives. They are ransomed. The only question is the price.
When I asked some folks in the government, about a week ago, if we were preparing to release these people, they acted as if I’d asked if the Vice President were about to convert to Islam. But the releases have started. . . .
At the next briefing on Iraq from Gen. Odierno, he needs to be asked explicitly about this. I cannot see our militrary agreeing to repatriate these individuals who have been reponsible for the killing and maiming of hundreds of U.S. soldiers.
As to Ms. Saberi, her plight was sympathetic, but she had to know before she went there that the mad mullahs were always capable of acting like mad mullahs. Under no circumstances should we have agreed to release Qods Force members to secure her freedom. That said, it is an act I would not in the least put past the Obama administration.