June 07, 2007

Colossal Evasion


From ABC News: Document: Iran Caught Red-Handed Shipping Arms to Taliban.

NATO officials say they have caught Iran red-handed, shipping heavy arms, C4 explosives and advanced roadside bombs to the Taliban for use against NATO forces, in what the officials say is a dramatic escalation of Iran's proxy war against the United States and Great Britain.

"It is inconceivable that it is anyone other than the Iranian government that's doing it," said former White House counterterrorism official Richard Clarke, an ABC News consultant.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stopped short earlier this week of blaming Iran, saying the U.S. did not have evidence "of the involvement of the Iranian government in support of the Taliban."

But an analysis by a senior coalition official, obtained by the Blotter on ABCNews.com, concludes there is clear evidence of Iran's involvement.

"This is part of a considered policy," says the analysis, "rather than the result of low-level corruption and weapons smuggling."   

Iran and the Taliban had been fierce enemies when the Taliban was in power in Afghanistan, and their apparent collaboration came as a surprise to some in the intelligence community.

"I think their goal is to make it very clear that Iran has the capability to make life worse for the United States on a variety of fronts," said Seth Jones of the Rand Institute, "even if they have to do some business with a group that has historically been their enemy." 

The coalition analysis says munitions recovered in two Iranian convoys, on April 11 and May 3, had "clear indications that they originated in Iran. Some were identical to Iranian supplied goods previously discovered in Iraq."

UPDATE I -- June 10: From CNN: Iran confirms detention of fourth Iranian-American.

UPDATE II -- June 11: From CBS News: Lieberman: Bomb Iran If It Doesn't Stop.

The United States should launch military strikes against Iran if the government in Tehran does not stop supplying anti-American forces in Iraq, Sen. Joe Lieberman said Sunday on Face The Nation.

"I think we've got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq," Lieberman told Bob Schieffer. "And to me, that would include a strike into... over the border into Iran, where we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers." ...

He said that he has seen evidence that the Iranians are supplying insurgents and foreign fighters in Iraq.

"By some estimates, they have killed as many as 200 American soldiers," he said.

Unfortunately, like Bush, Lieberman also advocates continued diplomatic efforts with Iran, but he adds "we can't just talk to them."

"If they don't play by the rules, we've got to use our force, and to me that would include taking military action to stop them from doing what they're doing."

UPDATE III -- June 13: From CNN: Iran arming Taliban, U.S. claims.

The United States has "irrefutable evidence" that Tehran is transferring arms to Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, a top U.S. diplomat told CNN Wednesday, noting that NATO forces have intercepted some of the arms shipments.

"There's irrefutable evidence the Iranians are now doing this and it's a pattern of activity," U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns told CNN.

"If you see the Iranians arming Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank and, of course, arming Shia militants inside Iraq itself. It's very violent and very unproductive activity by the Iranian government."

And one that puts Tehran contrary to the U.N. Security Council, Burns said.

"Iran is operating against the last Security Council Resolution 1747, passed on March 24, which said that Iran must not transfer arms outside of Iran, and here it is doing it in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Afghanistan, and in Iraq, so Iran is in outright violation of its Security Council commitments," according to Burns.

In late May, U.S. and British officials simply said that weapons crossing the border from Iran to Afghanistan may be winding up in the hands of the Taliban, the hard-line Islamic militia that is battling U.S.- and NATO-led forces in Afghanistan.

Posted by Forkum at June 7, 2007 04:05 PM