Iran’s bloody hands

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

It is get­ting in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to deny Iran’s de­struc­tive role in Iraq and the re­al­ity that coali­tion forces have failed to come up with a long-term so­lu­tion to the prob­lem. Ac­cord­ing to Col. Don­ald Ba­con, a spokesman for coali­tion forces in Iraq, the elite Quds Force — which is af­fil­i­ated with Iran’s Is­lamic Revo­lu­tion­ary Guard Corps — has brought in Hezbol­lah per­son­nel to train Iraqi Shi’ite mili­tia mem­bers. Last week, a five-mem­ber par­lia­men­tary del­e­ga­tion from Iraq vis­ited Iran, re­port­edly to meet with Gen. Ghas­sem Soleimani, head of the Revo­lu­tion­ary Guards, in an ef­fort to per­suade him to end the sub­ver­sion.

But it’s dif­fi­cult to see how send­ing Iraqi par­lia­men­tar­i­ans on pil­grim­ages to Tehran will per­suade the regime to change its be­hav­ior for the bet­ter. By con­trast it’s rel­a­tively easy to see how such be­hav­ior, when not backed up with a cred­i­ble threat of ac­tion to back it up, could well em­bolden the regime. The mes­sage cur­rently be­ing sent to Tehran is one of vac­il­la­tion and con­fu­sion. Two weeks ago, for ex­am­ple, Iraqi of­fi­cials went pub­lic with com­plaints of Ira­nian arms smug­gling. Al­though Tehran last year told Prime Min­is­ter Nouri al-Ma­liki that it would stop in­ter­fer­ing in Iraq, the Bagh­dad gov­ern­ment said that Ira­nian-made weapons with man­u­fac­ture dates this year have been found in Basra. But on May 4, Iraqi par­lia­men­tar­i­ans re­turn­ing from Iran an­nounced that they be­lieve Tehran wants to end the vi­o­lence in Iraq.

Yet in an in­ter­view May 6 with edi­tors and re­porters at The Wash­ing­ton Times, Iraqi Am­bas­sador to the United States Samir Su­maid­aie put Ira­nian be­hav­ior in a more neg­a­tive light, stat­ing that there is “very strong sus­pi­cion and a lot of ev­i­dence” that Iran is sup­ply­ing arms to Iraqi mili­tias.”There comes a point when the ev­i­dence is over­whelm­ing,“ he said. Mr. Su­maid­aie said that Iraqis liv­ing in places like Basra and Bagh­dad’s Sadr City neigh­bor­hood are pleased with the fact that the Ma­liki gov­ern­ment has moved force­fully against mili­tias. Iraqis have be­come so des­per­ate for ac­tion against mili­tias that ran­domly ter­ror­ize them, the am­bas­sador said, that many have adopted an al­most fa­tal­is­tic at­ti­tude to­wards the prob­lem. “Kill us, but kill them, too,” is the at­ti­tude that many Iraqis now hold, he told us.

The ques­tion now is whether any cam­paign against mili­tias will achieve long-term suc­cess if ter­ror­ist bases across the border in Iran con­tinue to be off-lim­its to reprisal from coali­tion forces. For­mer U.N. Am­bas­sador John Bolton is now call­ing for U.S. airstrikes on Ira­nian camps where en­emy fight­ers are trained for war in Iraq, some­thing that would be a ma­jor step to­wards mil­i­tary con­fronta­tion with Tehran. What is clear is that the sta­tus quo — where Iran uses its ter­ri­tory to pro­vide sanc­tu­ary for peo­ple who kill and maim Amer­i­can GIs with­out hav­ing to worry about a di­rect re­sponse — sim­ply isn’t work­ing.

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