March 22, 2006
About That Iran/al-Qaeda Relationship!Topics: Iran
The Los Angeles Times reports that U.S. intelligence is trying to determine what relationship, if any, there is between the Iranian leadership and the known Al Qaida leaders that reside in the nation. Previous reports indicate there could be up to 25 high-ranking Al Qaida leaders inside Iran that are known to reside inside the nation by the Iranian government. The reports indicate these leaders are either in house-arrest, held up in Revolutionary Guard houses and/or bases or they are allowed to roam somewhat free. Chad at In The Bullpen has a roundup on the issues, although he is much kinder to Josh Meyer's political agenda than I would be.
As to a possible "why" behind the Iran/al-Qaeda relationship, I found an almost "entertaining" comment in a piece entitled, "Prospects of Terror: An Inquiry Into Jihadi Alternatives": "... watching American forces at work in Axis Number One only a five-minute Tomahawk flight across the Persian Gulf must have been a sobering experience, particularly as Iraqi progress in 2005 began to free the most powerful land force in the world for potential duties elsewhere"(i.e. Iran).
Here are some excerpts from the section dealing with Iran that helps put the Iran issue into perspective:
The Iranian electoral system is one that fools a lot of people, almost all of whom are eager to claim that the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "proves" something. In practice, a council of ayatollahs, answerable to no one, selects the candidates, using criteria known only to themselves. In Ahmadinejad's case, they went on to instruct local mullahs to order their flocks to vote for him. That may be an "election" in some sense of the term, but none that we recognize in this hemisphere.Now, however, it's time to end Iran's little game, and shut it down - the hard way if necessary! As U.S. senator and former presidential candidate John McCain said recently: "There is only one thing worse than the US exercising a military option (against Iran), and that is a nuclear-armed Iran." We have no choice, we must stop Iran from having nuclear weapons, and the probable Iran/al-Qaeda relationship makes it all the more imperative.
The question remains as to why. The Iranian president is a figurehead, a mask for a theocratic despotism. Why go to such effort to elect a figurehead?
Iranian internal politics, the endless battles between "moderates" and "hard-liners", can't be ruled out. But we also can't overlook the Iranian view of international affairs. They have not forgotten the phrase "Axis of Evil", or the fact that Iran is number two on that list behind Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Everywhere they look, Kuwait, Dubai, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq, they find the U.S. military looking back. Under those circumstances, watching American forces at work in Axis Number One only a five-minute Tomahawk flight across the Persian Gulf must have been a sobering experience, particularly as Iraqi progress in 2005 began to free the most powerful land force in the world for potential duties elsewhere.
But the Iranians were also aware of the use to which Axis Number Three, North Korea (with which they had closely collaborated in the development of ballistic missiles), had put their nuclear weapons program. So they reached down into the country's political structure, plucked out the loudest, noisiest blusterer they could find (an ex-Revolutionary Guard and a "Twelver" to boot), one who could be depended on not to wilt under the spotlight, and threw him in front of the cameras.
It's interesting how closely the Iranian propaganda effort has matched that of North Korea's - the same stop and start activities with their nuclear programs, the same empty multinational negotiations, the same headline threats followed by back-door concessions. So far it has worked as well for Iran as it has for North Korea--Iran has become a problem, but, since the problem involves nuclear weapons, one that must be handled with caution.
Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev did much the same thing in the 1950s, boasting that the Soviets were turning out nuclear-armed rockets "like sausages" and were simply blazing to fire some and see what they could do. This had results - it dampened any vague Western impulses toward aiding the Hungarian rebels in October 1956, and at the same time raised second thoughts concerning the Suez incursion.
It even had an effect on U.S. presidential politics, through the notorious "missile gap" that played a large role in the 1960 election.
But in the long run, it didn't work out well for the USSR - the U.S. response was a crash ICBM program which succeeded in deploying over 1,000 missiles by the mid-60s. Something similar is likely for Iran. Ahmadinejad has succeeded in uniting not only the U.S. and Europe, but also, mirabile dictu, the UN. By any rational analysis, Iran is in a worse position than it held last year. But from the point of view of the Iranians, they have bought some time.
Posted by Richard at March 22, 2006 10:51 AM
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- About That Iran/al-Qaeda Relationship! - Mar 22, 2006