Iran’s deadly subversion
Evidence mounts of Iran’s role in financing terrorist elements in Iraq, and the Bush administration appears to have decided — correctly, in our view — that it’s time to step up the fight against the most brazen forms of Iranian subversion in Iraq, particularly paying for roadside bombs that kill and maim American soldiers. President Bush’s warning issued to Iran and its rogue-state ally Syria in his address to the nation two weeks ago was not made in a vacuum, but in the course of a stepped up U.S. military campaign to deny Iran and its agents the ability to operate freely in Iraq.
U.S. officials say that growing numbers of U.S. troops in Baghdad and other regions of Iraq where Shi’ite militias operate are being killed by explosive devices supplied by Iran. Last month, American forces captured members of an elite unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard transferring explosives to Shi’ite militias. One official captured in Baghdad was the third-ranking man in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Quds force, which carries out intelligence activities and terrorist training outside Iran. U.S. forces found what appeared to be maps of Baghdad neighborhoods from which Sunnis could be removed, as well as evidence of the force’s participation in Hezbollah’s war against Israel last summer.
On Jan. 11, U.S. officials say, a raid in the Kurdish-controlled city of Irbil captured Iranian “diplomats” who may also have been members of the Revolutionary Guard — a military organization comprised of the most dedicated agents of the regime in Tehran. The Iranians are believed to have been smuggling bombs into Iraq, and even several harsh critics of the war now acknowledge that the Bush administration has a point. For example, the authors of a detailed analysis in the left-wing Guardian newspaper in London concede that the idea “of the Iranians inspiring ‘managed chaos’ to raise the price of the American occupation is, at least, believable. Indeed, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad offered recently to help the Americans out of the quagmire in Iraq on condition that they promise to withdraw.”
Iraqi Kurdish officials publicly express their displeasure with the Jan. 11 raid, and this should hardly be a surprise. On at least three occasions in modern times — in 1963, 1975 and 1991 — the United States encouraged the Kurds to rise against dictators in Baghdad, only to betray them after they took our advice. Mr. Bush is under considerable pressure to abandon the Kurds once again, and they are understandably wary that this may happen in the coming months — only this time with nice-sounding words like “redeployment” used to camouflage the knife in the back. Kurdish (and more generally Iraqi) hesitance can only be reinforced by public displays like the one by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden last week, who warned of a constitutional crisis if U.S. forces crossed the Iranian border in search of terrorists who send bombs into Iraq to kill American soldiers.