Tuesday, 3 February 2009

NATO General suggests member states could get supplies from Iran! Doh!

John Craddock, his eye on the wider picture
or his head stuck up his Khyber Pass?

Okay now before people condemn this idea as being entirely devoid of common sense and the mutterings of a blimp like retard lets evaluate. Firstly the guy saying it is General John Craddock, a senior NATO general and thus hopefully at least no fool at all. Secondly there may be some merit in engaging Iran diplomatically over the resurgent Taleban insurgency. After all it is most likely that Tehran does not wish to see the Taleban back in Kabul. However that is about it, the Iranian theocracy will most certainly not want to see a NATO victory or democracy taking root now on two countries that border it (the other being Iraq).

Other problems are the fact that credible reports have been made that Iran is actually supplying Taleban elements with munitions. That is definitely a problem just as it proved and to an extent still does in Iraq. Most importantly this would hand Iran in effect full power to influence the outcome of NATO operations, operations to which they will almost certainly be opposed to. In other words NATO would go from being currently severely hampered to actually defeated in Afghanistan when the mullahs call off the supplies. Perhaps I'm missing something and the Iranians actually do want to help and not just swallow a load of dollars whilst being duplicitous (like Pakistan). Personally with my limited knowledge I would favour a supply route through the Caucasus, although again that would be with a political price. Anyway here is the article from AP.


Young Activist said...

There is really no way for anyone outside of the Iranian and American governments to know for sure whether or not Iran is arming the Taliban, but considering all of the strategic factors concerned this looks more like U.S posturing than anything. What strategic or ideological motivations would Iran have in arming Sunni fundementalists on their border?

Paul said...

Good question YA, the motivation however is simple the aim of the IRGC and other radical elements of the Iranian regime is anti-western Jihad. Of course such a policy is short sighted in Afghanistan but what the Mullahocrcy will fear is the US (and NATO) triumphing again on a country that borders them. But then again consider the fact that a war or 'Jihad' has been declared against the USA and the west since 1979 anyhow. Khomeini said so and to this day 'death to the USA' is the regular refrain on a Friday afternoon in Tehran's mosques.

Of course the Iranian regime is Shia; however they have equipped radical Sunni elements for terror before examples including Hamas. They have also supplied weapons and training to Shia extremists in Iraq and Hezbollah in the Lebanon. I would be more surprised if they were not arming Taleban elements.

Young Activist said...

Actually, the U.S is arming al-Quadea affiliated groups carrying out "destabilization campaigns" (i.e: terrorism) within Iran's borders. Iran is arming Hamas because the Shia are a minority Islamic sect, but Iran is vying for leadership of the Islamic world, to do this they need to confront an enemy that all Muslims hate and that transcends sectarian lines. Plus, Hamas is already militarily preoccupied and they aren't on Iran's doorstep, so they don't really pose a threat to the Iranian regime. Of course they would be arming Shia groups, but this is a entirly different, at least from their perspective than arming Sunni extremists.

The Iranians are not stupid, they realize that the removal of the two regional checks on their power, the Taliban on their eastern border and Saddam Hussein on their western border was a huge blessing, they even cooperated heavily in ousting the Taliban, there is no way they would do anything that would reverse that. It is conceivable that they would try to destabilize the country to force the U.S out, but there are plenty of armed groups they would assist before the Taliban. If you look at the websites of these Sunni extremists they hate Iran more than they hate the west, they are both strategically and ideologically opposes to each other than they are to the U.S, I see no reason why the Iranian would arm the Taliban. I do see a political interest however for the U.S would to spread the perception that they are cooperating. So looking at the circumstantial evidence (there really isn't any hard evidence accessible to the general public) it would appear that this is a PR stunt by the U.S and not anything substantive.

The U.S and their western allies will never be able to triumph in Afghanistan. No foreign army has ever subdued that nation even though many superpowers from Alexander the Great, to the British Empire, to the Soviets have tried. It just isn't possible given the local culture and terrain. The Iranian know this, the Afghans know this, and really anyone who knows anything about the region knows this. I don't think the Iranians have the slightest concern that the western nations will not eventually pull out.

And with the "death to USA" thing. There are extremists in Iran, there are extremists in every country, but in the Iranian culture saying death to something is like saying damn something in western culture. They say death to traffic when they are in a traffic jam. Much like people in the U.S or U.K might say "damn those kids" without meaning that they hoped they burned in hell people in Iran just say death to something to express frustration with it. While a literal translation might serve the interests of the hawks in the U.S and U.K it doesn't convey the general sentiments being expressed.

Paul said...

YA, your comments are wrong of course. That said they start well and get gradually more unbalanced until the final paragraph which borders on hilarious. You clearly are an apologist for the Iranian regime I know, but to claim that 'death to the USA' in Iran is akin to a UK person saying 'damn those kids is nothing short of fantastic. It is not even an exercise in cultural relativity to say so just plain daft! But if as you are saying that all that comes out of Iran is rhetoric, how do you explain the storming of Embassies, the taking of hostages, the supply of EFPs to Shia militants in Iraq, supplying weapons to Hamas, threatening genocide repeatedly? You understand my drift? There is an undercurrent of very real terroristic acts that underpins what the Iranian radical clergy say.

Back on topic I understand what you say with regards to Afghanistan and the supply of weaponry. My opinion is like yours supposition; I strongly suspect that Tehran does not wish to see NATO succeed in Afghanistan. Their motives would be instead to transplant the Karzai regime with an anti-western one complaint to their demands. I may be wrong of course but I very much doubt that the Iranians would support any policy that was to see western power remain in Afghanistan. Besides my real concern in this post, is that running supplies through Iran will place the entire outcome of the mission upon Iranian goodwill, a serious gamble.

It's true that some radical Islamists are opposed to the spread of the Iranian regime. However they definitely do not hate them more than the west, they view the conflict as an inter-Islamic thing and no business of the west. As to suggesting that the US is supporting Al Qaeda aligned movements in Iran do you have a credible source? I feel that again is absurd, not least as the US and Iraqi governments defeated Al Qaeda in Iraq. Presumably Iraq is from where such non-existent missions would be launched.

Young Activist said...

This is your problem, you have a very narrowly defined conception of the world and you automatically label anything that deviates from this as absurd. This is a dangerous method of thinking. If you were born in Iran thinking like this, to give one example, you would be able to confidently list "the outrages of Great Satan" and anyone who suggested to you that there is more to the west than its foreign policies would be declared "wrong of course", "unbalanced", bordering on "hilarious", and "an apoligist for the [American] regime". There is no balance in your opinions, the central tennet of your views seem to be the west is inherently right so anyone who has a grievance with it must be a barbarian. Yet, you are unable to articulate an intelligent and clear position based on the entire breadth of information. So let's start with the evidence of my "absurd" accusation of U.S collaboration with al-Qadea linked, and other terrorist, groups

From the Asia Times Online:
"Jundullah is a purely militant outfit whose objective is to target Pakistan's pro-US rulers and US and British interests in the country. Members receive training in Afghanistan and South Waziristan, and it is now actively recruiting.

The organization produces propaganda literature, including documentary films, and has a studio named Ummat. It does similar work for al-Qaeda's media wing, which is called the al-Sahab Foundation.

These media outlets incite the sentiments of Muslim youths by producing films showing Western - particularly Israeli and US - "atrocities" against Muslim communities. This is the basic tool through which a new generation of jihadis is being raised.

Jundullah was allegedly headed by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the al-Qaeda operational commander of the September 11 terrorist attack in the US. He was arrested in Pakistan early last year."


From The New Yorker
"One of the most active and violent anti-regime groups in Iran today is the Jundallah, also known as the Iranian People’s Resistance Movement, which describes itself as a resistance force fighting for the rights of Sunnis in Iran. “This is a vicious Salafi organization whose followers attended the same madrassas as the Taliban and Pakistani extremists,” Nasr told me. “They are suspected of having links to Al Qaeda and they are also thought to be tied to the drug culture.” The Jundallah took responsibility for the bombing of a busload of Revolutionary Guard soldiers in February, 2007. At least eleven Guard members were killed. According to Baer and to press reports, the Jundallah is among the groups in Iran that are benefitting from U.S. support.

The C.I.A. and Special Operations communities also have long-standing ties to two other dissident groups in Iran: the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, known in the West as the M.E.K., and a Kurdish separatist group, the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan, or PJAK.

The M.E.K. has been on the State Department’s terrorist list for more than a decade, yet in recent years the group has received arms and intelligence, directly or indirectly, from the United States. Some of the newly authorized covert funds, the Pentagon consultant told me, may well end up in M.E.K. coffers. “The new task force will work with the M.E.K. The Administration is desperate for results.” He added, “The M.E.K. has no C.P.A. auditing the books, and its leaders are thought to have been lining their pockets for years. If people only knew what the M.E.K. is getting, and how much is going to its bank accounts—and yet it is almost useless for the purposes the Administration intends.”


I have no sympathies for the Iranian regime. I am a liberal and I am not a Muslim. Why would I have any sympathies for a repressive Islamic Republic? However, I feel the need to confront reactionaries who seem to think that all Iranian are a bunch of fanatic extremists and who exaggerate everything about Iran in order to bolster their preconceived fantasies of an east vs. west clash. Of course, those extremists in the west who are unable to see any conflict past the narrow vision of a clash of civilizations will automatically assume that everyone who doesn't share their views must be working for the other side. The best thing the west could do to undermine the Iranian regime is to deprive them of an enemy to attack in order to legitimize themselves. The Iranian populace is the most liberal in the Middle East. They achieved a liberal democracy on their own in the 1950's, which the U.S and U.K overthrew for oil money, and a majority of them would like to see a return to that system.

I don't deny that Iran is supplying Shia radicals in addition to Hamas. This would make sense, they have a strategic interest in this. However, as they do not have an apparent strategic, or ideological, interest in supporting the Taliban, without reliable verification this allegation seems more like posturing by those who assume that everyone who dislikes them form a monolithic group.

Terrorism is a tactic, not an ideology. It is something that almost every major state engages in. So its hard for me to buy the argument that because one side is using terrorism to advance its interests the other side is automatically right in confronting it. Look up the al-Shiffa attack or the Rainbow Warrior bombing, in addition to the support for the other groups I mentioned, for just two recent examples of terrorism by western states. Should the U.S and France therefore treat themselves the same way they treat the Iranian regime?

I do not claim that what comes out of Iran is all rhetoric, although most of it is, and I am not here to defend the Iranian regime like you are to defend western governments. Some Iranian students held a few westerners hostage for a year. The U.S held the whole country hostage for more than two decades, the U.S shot down an Iranian passenger jet, the U.S overthrew the nation's democratic government, its time to move on, at any rate if your keeping score what the U.S and the U.K have done to Iran is infinitely worse than what the Iran has done to the U.S.

I doubt Iran has any worries about NATO "winning" in Afghanistan. No one has ever been able to subdue that nation and foreign troops cannot remain there forever. What would a victory even look like?

You betray your ignorance about Islam and the Middle East in general when you claim "It's true that some radical Islamists are opposed to the spread of the Iranian regime. However they definitely do not hate them more than the west, they view the conflict as an inter-Islamic thing and no business of the west." Extremists do not consider it an "inter-Isalmic thing". the Koran forbids the killing of fellow Muslims, Sunni extremists do not view Shia as Muslims, they consider them infidels. But they are worse than the west. They are situated in the middle of the Islamic world, they want to control the Muslim world and its holy sites, and unlike the westerners they deny they are infidels. The Iranian regime is a far bigger threat to Sunni extremists than the west ever could be.

Paul said...

'I do not claim that what comes out of Iran is all rhetoric'. Actually YA you did earlier with your point about 'death to America' being equivalent to a western 'damn these kids'. You have simply withdrawn from that position. As to the allegations that the US is supplying Al Qaeda organisations in Iran. That is all they are allegations. However let’s look at your sources. Firstly in mentioning Jundallah you cite the example of Khaled Sheikh Mohammad. A strange choice that for you to use as a basis for arguing US collusion as KSM is due to stand trial for 9/11! He has been indicted in Guantanamo bay; however the new administration may likely try him in America. It will be interesting to see if he mentions at his trail any relationship with US intelligence.


However there as you provided other 'sources' that make claims of US collusion with Jundallah. Some of these have been discredited most notably the ABC story run by Ross and Debat. Debat admitted himself it seems that he was in the habit of fabricating stories. Thus his journalistic credentials are questionable at least.


As to the MEK they appear to be on a cease-fire and are in any fact confined to bases in Iraq. Previously they served as a front organisation for Saddam's Intelligence services.


Of course YA, none of this actually proves that these elements are NOT receiving covert help for the US. However the sources you provided do not seem to stand up to well to critical scrutiny. As such neither of us can make a definitive case. I would suggest that on balance it is not the case as the US have their hands full with Al Qaeda in any case. Certainly however it would be sensible to forge links with groups opposed to the Iranian theocracy though just not Salafist groupings. Incidentally MEK was not and is not a Salafist group.

Oh and as to:
'You betray your ignorance about Islam and the Middle East in general when you claim "It's true that some radical Islamists are opposed to the spread of the Iranian regime. However they definitely do not hate them more than the west, they view the conflict as an inter-Islamic thing and no business of the west." Extremists do not consider it an "inter-Isalmic thing". the Koran forbids the killing of fellow Muslims, Sunni extremists do not view Shia as Muslims, they consider them infidels. But they are worse than the west.'

This is not true either; just go on any Islamist website for the answer. Certainly there is not fondness for the Shia, however by about 100 to 1; you will see criticisms of the west outweigh paranoia about Iran by a huge margin. I do not agree with you that Iran cold be a potent enemy of Al Qaeda, the theocracy is as dangerous and aspires to obtain nuclear weapons. What is urgently required is a dialogue with those Iranians that want democracy. In 1979 the US was sick of the Shah and refused to back him. The revolution was initially regarded as being favorable by the Carter regime. Sadly the lunatics took over and ruined the country. For further information read Bowden, 'Guests of the Ayatollah'.