2 April 2007
Attack on Iran is the next step in divide and conquer of Middle East
By Daan de Wit
The Dutch in this article was translated into English by Ben Kearney.
The march towards war with Iran continues unabated. As time goes by, the possibility that Iran will be attacked is not lessening, but growing. It will increase the level of chaos in the Middle East, but the question is whether this is an unfortunate consequence or a means to an end.
While expansive war games are being conducted off the Iranian coast and new sanctions are being imposed on Iran, the heat is being turned up in other ways as well. Under the headline US funds terror groups to sow chaos in Iran, The Sunday Telegraph writes: 'In the past year there has been a wave of unrest in ethnic minority border areas of Iran, with bombing and assassination campaigns against soldiers and government officials. [...] Fred Burton, a former US state department counter-terrorism agent, [...] said: "The latest attacks inside Iran fall in line with US efforts to supply and train Iran's ethnic minorities to destabilise the Iranian regime." [...] Funding for their separatist causes comes directly from the CIA's classified budget but is now "no great secret", according to one former high-ranking CIA official in Washington who spoke anonymously to The Sunday Telegraph.'
The current situation involving Iran and the 15 British Marines is reminiscent of the situation prior to the Vietnam War, when the U.S. was provoking Vietnam by way of Operation 34A. It was then that the American government seized upon an alleged incident in the Gulf of Tonkin in order to demonstrate Vietnamese agression, after which Congress gave President Johnson its approval to attack the country. For more details see this article by DeepJournal. Also see: Fake Maritime Boundaries, written by Craig Murray, former British Head of the Maritime Section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
U.S. troop build-up in Persian Gulf
On Tuesday of last week 'a high-ranking security source' told the Russian RIA Novosti that 'U.S. Naval presence in the Persian Gulf has for the first time in the past four years reached the level that existed shortly before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Col.-Gen. Leonid Ivashov, vice president of the Academy of Geopolitical Sciences, said last week that the Pentagon is planning to deliver a massive air strike on Iran's military infrastructure in the near future.' Professor A. Richard Norton, advisor to the Iraq Study Group, made a good point back in mid-February in reference to the American show of power in the Persian Gulf: 'Remember that in 1990-91 and then again in 2003 the very fact that the United States assembled a formidable array of forces in the Gulf region became an argument for using those forces and launching wars. The United States will soon have two carrier task forces on station, and perhaps a third carrier task force will soon be deployed. It will be difficult for the United States to step down from its combative perch without Iran accepting some fairly significant concessions. While many leading Iranian officials fully understand the gravity of the situation, it is nonetheless possible to imagine a series of real or contrived clashes that lead, perhaps unintentionally, to a serious aerial and naval campaign against Iran. Or - to put it simply - to yet another U.S. war of choice.' Tony Blair in a speech to the U.S. Congress: 'September 11th was not an isolated event, but a tragic prologue. Iraq; another Act; and many further struggles will be set upon this stage before it's over.'
Religious strife Middle East: unintended fire to the flames or means to an end?
From the moment he first gained any significance, right up until his death, the life of Saddam Hussein was intertwined with the West, as I wrote previously. Saddam provided his country with the order that the West desired, and together they saw how the country descended into chaos following the overthrow of the Baath regime. There are different viewpoints circulating as to how the Bush administration might be able to create order in Iraq. Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh sees what he calls 'the redirection' of the Bush Administration: Out of fear for Shiite Iran, the U.S. would actively support the Sunnis in the region. Previously it were the Iraqi Shiites who received their support, to the detriment of the Sunni minority, which in general is seen as the core of the Iraqi resistance. The question though is whether or not there is any discussion of an adjustment to American plans. On the one hand, the fact that American plans have been frustrated by the resistance could indeed be an explanation for a reevaluation, but it could also be an explanation for the fact that, contrary to all predictions, Iran hasn't been attacked yet (the newest predictions are talking about this month). On the other hand, there are indications that the discord that exists between the two Muslim groups is the result of a preconceived plan: divide and conquer, culminating in an evenly divided future Middle East. And while two dogs are fighting for a bone...
If there really is a 'Redirection', then the U.S. will end up profiting from the divisions that it itself brought about which resulted from the decision, often described as a blunder, to dismiss the constituent Sunni elements of the police and army en masse. In response to the Sunni insurgency, the Shiites were supported by the U.S. from the beginning. They received military support via Task Force 121, a team of specialists from Special Operations and the CIA. Additional American support came in the form of the coordination and cultivation of a large Iraqi militia. It may be this group that called itself 'Black Flag' in 2004 and took the fight to the insurgents. The resulting internecine conflict between the two Muslim groups not only divided Iraq, but it also put pressure on the situation in the region.
Questions surrounding attack on Golden Mosque
A relatively important moment in the fighting between the Sunnis and the Shiites was the attack on the Golden Mosque in February of 2006. Directly following the destruction of the Shiite mosque, 27 Sunni mosques were attacked and three Sunni imams were killed. Hundreds, if not thousands of people have died as a result of the attack. The strike seemed to be a clearcut case, but further examination raises questions as to who the actual perpetrators of the attack were. The suggestion is now being made that Western specialists were involved. Jassem Mohammed Jaafar, at that time Construction minister, said on Iraqi television: '"According to initial reports, the bombing was technically well conceived and could only have been carried out by specialists"', to which he added that the placement of the explosives had to have taken at least twelve hours. Jafaar: '[...] "holes were dug into the mausoleum's four main pillars and packed with explosives." "Then the charges were connected together and linked to another charge placed just under the dome. The wires were then linked to a detonator which was triggered at a distance'. These statements were borne out by the account of the caretaker of the mosque, as noted by The New York Times: 'The night before the explosion, he said, just before the 8 p.m. curfew on Feb. 21, 2006, on the Western calendar, men dressed in commando uniforms like those issued by the Interior Ministry entered the shrine. The caretaker said he had been beaten, tied up and locked in a room. Throughout the night, he said, he could hear the sound of drilling as the attackers positioned the explosives, apparently in such a way as to inflict maximum damage on the dome. [...] I can describe what was done as exactly like what happened to the World Trade Center," he said. "Bad people used this incident to divide Iraq on a detestable sectarian basis."' Journalist Mike Whitney writes: 'Eyewitness accounts verify that American troops and Iraqi National Guard were active in the area throughout the night and that their cars could be heard running "the whole night until next morning". People living around the mosque were told "to stay in your shop and don't leave the area". At 6:30 AM the American troops left, just 10 minutes before the bombs went off.' '"There are forces seeking to prevent democracy and obstruct the peaceful political and economic development of Iraq. They seek to achieve their goals in a number of ways. But, as I said before, promoting sectarian violence is one of them. There's nothing new here"', according to American spokesperson Adam Ereli.
Pro-Sunni clandestine operations in and around Iran
According to Seymour Hersh, American foreign policy as it relates to Iran - based as it is on the mutual strife between Sunnis and Shiites - has been completely overturned. In his latest article The Redirection, he writes: 'The new strategy "is a major shift in American policy-it's a sea change," a U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel said.' He makes the argument that the rise of the Shiites in Iraq, combined with a powerful Shiite Iran no longer held in check by the threat of Saddam's Sunni-controlled army, has sent chills through Sunni countries in the region, such as Saudi Arabia: 'The Sunni states "were petrified of a Shiite resurgence, and there was growing resentment with our gambling on the moderate Shiites in Iraq," he said. "We cannot reverse the Shiite gain in Iraq, but we can contain it."' According to Hersh this fear explains the readiness of the Saudis to contribute financially to the clandestine pro-Sunni support operations: 'The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process, current and former officials close to the Administration said.' The money comes in part from the Saudis, and the execution of the operations takes place under the guidance of Vice-President Dick Cheney: '[...] former and current officials said that the clandestine side has been guided by Cheney. [...] American military and special-operations teams have escalated their activities in Iran to gather intelligence [...]'. Read more about clandestine operations in Iran in part 4 (October 2005) of this DeepJournal series.
A new Cold War in the Middle East
The divisions between Sunni and Shiite groups could be the beginning of a new Cold War in the Middle East. Following the Cold War against communism and during the subsequent War on Terror, a new war could now arise between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. 'Martin Indyk, a senior State Department official in the Clinton Administration who also served as Ambassador to Israel, said that "the Middle East is heading into a serious Sunni-Shiite Cold War." Indyk, who is the director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, added that, in his opinion, it was not clear whether the White House was fully aware of the strategic implications of its new policy', writes Hersh. But just as with the Cold War, the War on Terror and the new religious divisions, the question is whether the U.S. is the victim or the perpetrator. Whichever the case may be, both Muslim groups are battling each other while Iran as a target is getting more and more in the picture, just as a relatively safe Israel, surrounded by a patchwork quilt of small and fragmented statelets in an oil-rich region.
Influence of the Democratic majority on Bush Administration
Some are pinning their hopes on the Democrats - who now hold a majority in Congress - to avert a military conflict with Iran. But their recent history doesn't offer much in the way of hope. In the years following the 9/11 attacks, they remained silent while the new media amassed fact upon fact, chipping away at the official conspiracy theory of what happened on and around September 11th. The Democratic party didn't exactly stand in the way of the radical legislation which came in the wake of 9/11 either, and what's more, they used the first hundred hours of their majority in Congress to adopt into law the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, whose findings were taken apart piece by piece by Professor David Ray Griffin in his book The New Pearl Harbor. And as to the question of what the most relevant Democrats are saying about Iran - the answer is disappointing. Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama have all made clear that they are not opposed to military action against Iran. DNC Chairman Howard Dean was quite clear at the beginning of last year: '[...] under no circumstances will a Democratic Administration ever allow Iran to become a nuclear power.' One year later he called the Iran of now a greater danger than the Iraq of then. Meanwhile Clinton is making similar statements, but feels that if Bush wants to declare war on Iran he should definitely ask Congress for approval. According to Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, this isn't necessary; under pressure from the Israeli lobby she has introduced legislation ensuring that Bush doesn't have to do this. The Democrats are echoing the rhetoric of the Republican administration. Under the motto 'Don't Let the People Who Brought Us Iraq Define the Questions' Paul Pillar, 'a former national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia, [who] teaches security studies at Georgetown University' is advising first and foremost to ask the right questions, such as: 'If Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, how would that change its behavior and affect U.S. interests? In particular, why would deterrence, which has kept nuclear peace with other adversaries, not work with Iran?'
In spite of democracy, small group dictates
With the appropriate questions not being posed, and with the Democrats having begged off and the build-up to the coming war with Iran only now in this late stage getting the full attention of the Western media, it remains as clear as ever that a small group of extremists - an elite of the elite - are once again prepared to take the world one step further on a path above which most people see only dark clouds gathering. Speaking of this small group of people who have no fear of the gathering storm and who see a shiny pot of gold at the end of it, former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski said to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: 'I am perplexed by the fact that major strategic decisions seem to be made within a very narrow circle of individuals - just a few, probably a handful, perhaps not more than the fingers on my hand. And these are the individuals, all of whom but one, who made the original decision to go to war [with Iraq], and used the original justifications to go to war.' One thing that comes to mind while listening to Brzezinski is a quote taken down by New York Times reporter Ron Suskind that came from the mouth of a White House aide: Suskind writes: 'The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''' Vanity Fair sums up this idea as it translates into the situation with Iran in a long article with a short headline: From the Wonderful Folks Who Brought You Iraq.
Fundamentalist leadership in both U.S. and Iran
In his testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Brzezinski underscores a view held on the role that the U.S. has played in the rise of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's star: 'Our policy has unintentionally - I hope unintentionally, maybe it was develishly clever, but I think unintentionally - helped Ahmadinejad consolidate himself in power and excercised a degree of influence which actually his position doesn't justify. Most Americans when they say president Ahmadinejad, they think he is the equivalent of president Bush, he is not, he is roughly a third level official, who doesn't even control the military resources of the country.' In comparing Bush and Ahmadinejad, investigative journalist Jim Lobe was compelled to make a side-by-side product comparison which brought him to the conclusion: Bush and Ahmadinejad: separated at birth?
One of the similarities between the two leaders lies in their fundamental character. Bush's image, which along with that of the U.S. has taken a beating, is that of the democratic, Christian leader of the free world. That's why he is supported by the Moral Majority in the U.S. The same moral theme can also be seen in Dutch Prime Minister Balkenende. Upon further inspection there are a few things to take note of regarding the exacting image of both gentlemen. Balkenende preaches norms and values, but then does the opposite by refusing to publicly state the reason that The Netherlands sent soldiers to Iraq. Balkenende reconfirms the hypocritical image of fundamentalist Christians. This image is also shaped - alongside the sex abuse scandals in the Church - by George W. Bush, a man who while governor of Texas held the record for death sentences handed out, who now feels that torture is necessary, and who could be held responsible for thousands of American deaths and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi victims. And that's just to name a few. Bush is facilitated by the conservative Christian Erik Prince, director of Blackwater, the most important supplier of mercenaries for Iraq. These leaders of the Moral Majority would nevertheless be nowhere without the Silent Majority, the much more moderate sectors of the population of the U.S. and The Netherlands, for example. While the silence of the Silent Majority and the actions of the Moral Majority keep the wars coming, the conservative Christians, through their active support for Bush and Israel, seem to be eager to bring on exactly that which their guidebook - The Bible - warns against: a great battle in the Middle East which would usher in the End Times.
President Ahmadinejad echoes this vision of the so-called 'End Times' held by the millions of Christians who support Bush; just like them, his view of the future is none too gloomy because he also foresees a final battle and above all redemption for mankind: 'French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy has quoted Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad as saying that one should really hope for "chaos" because "there will be God" afterward. [...] Ahmadinejad has also called for the return of al-Mahdi, a messiah-like figure in Shi'ite Islam, whose reappearance is supposed to restore justice before the end of the world', writes AFP. In this way he's on the same wavelength as the millions of readers of the Left Behind series, which foresees a miraculous catching up of all true Christian believers prior to the apocalypse. Influential Christians such as Joel Rosenberg, whose books are recommended on the Left Behind website, interpret what they read in the newspaper the same way they interpret the Bible, and see in the news the fulfillment of age-old prophecies: '[...] what is particularly curious about the emergence of an even stronger Iran-Sudan alliance this week is that it was foretold 2,500 years ago by the Hebrew Prophet Ezekiel in chapters 38 and 39'. To this statement he adds an article from Haaretz, in which it talks about how 'several Orthodox Jewish groups in Israel are currently making preparations to build and outfit the Third Temple', after which he refers to the title of chapter 13 from his book Epicenter: Future Headline: Jews build third temple in Jerusalem. In a recent contribution, Rosenberg writes: 'I've written before that 2007 is the Year of Decision. But is April about to become the "month of decision"?'
How dangerous is Iran?
The Iranian economy is weak, and as opposed to the U.S. and Israel, Iran has no history of initiating wars (the war with Iraq was the result of an attack by Saddam that was spurred on by the U.S.). Ahmadinejad says that he doesn't want war, and in part 14 of this series it was also shown how he was incorrectly quoted and doesn't want to wipe Israel off the map. While the U.S. is refusing offers of negotiations (1, 2) with Iran, Iran is allowing UN-inspectors to investigate their nuclear program, though they restricted their cooperation recently, and as opposed to the U.S. and Israel, Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. On the other hand Ahmadinejad did organize a conference to promote research into the Holocaust, and he might be lying about his belief that his faith forbids the production of a nuclear weapon. Depending on which cleric you ask, a nuclear weapon would actually be permitted, so long as it is not used offensively (in contrary to the U.S. view). And then there is Iran's support for Hezbollah. When it comes to the facts, there are different ways of looking at it: 'Iran's control over Hezbollah has been steadily declining since approximately 1996, during the reformist presidency of Mohammad Khatami. Money does continue to come "from Iran" to support Hezbollah, but not the Iranian government. Instead, it's private religious foundations that direct the bulk of support, primarily to Hezbollah's charitable activities. [...] the most important reason for not targeting Iran for the continued fighting in Lebanon is that this conflict is antithetical to Iran's interests. [...] If a state is needed to explain the continued existence of groups like Hezbollah, then Iran is an ideal candidate. Ergo, the connection must exist. Such claims serve to bolster the central, but fallacious, political doctrine for the Bush administration that the Global War on Terrorism really exists', writes Professor of Anthropology and Middle East Studies at Brown University, William O. Beeman, author of the book The "Great Satan" vs. the "Mad Mullahs": How the United States and Iran Demonize Each Other.
Contributing research to this article were Willem Grooters, Ben Kearney en David Jongsma.
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