In January, when President Bush announced his plans to reinforce American troops in Baghdad, Shiite militias were seen as the main worry. Some analysts predicted that bloody clashes with Shiite militants in the Sadr City district in northeastern Baghdad were all but inevitable.Okay.
Instead, during the early weeks of the operation, deadly bombings by Sunni Arab militants have emerged as a greater danger. In particular, the threat posed by the Sunni group Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia was underscored when American troops seized a laptop computer from a senior operative in the group who was killed in late December.
Information from captured materials indicates that the group’s leadership sees “the sectarian war for Baghdad as the necessary main focus of its operations,” according to an intelligence report that was described by American officials.
Let's think about this.
Bush went to war with Saddam, whose Baathist Sunni minority oppressed the Shia Iraqi majority.
Shia Muslims were oppressed by Iraq's Baathist regime for more than 30 years and excluded from the highest ranks of power.Except that created worries that the Iraqi Shia majority will create an alliance with neighboring Shia Iran.
The Financial Times, almost a year ago:
Arab rulers are increasingly frustrated by a changing political order in the Middle East, where the Shia are for the first time in power in Iraq and Shia militia are now engaged in the sectarian conflict with the Sunni minority.And that fear was exacerbated by the disastrously bungled execution of Saddam.
But their fears have been compounded by the muscle-flexing of Shia Iran, a traditional rival now determined to pursue a nuclear programme and consolidate its alliance with Syria, the Shia in Lebanon and some radical Palestinian factions, forming a radical anti-western axis in the face of the more moderate pro-western and Sunni-dominated Arab states.
Saddam's execution became another flash point. Even Sunnis who had little sympathy for Saddam were incensed that the government chose to hang him at the hour of morning prayers on one of the most sacred Muslim holidays (Iraqi Sunnis celebrated the holiday one day before the Shi'ites). The choice seemed to confirm suspicions that Shi'ite political dominance would be a constant humiliation. "It was their way of telling us, 'We're in charge now, and you are so weak that even your holy days have no meaning anymore,'" says media analyst Kadhim al-Mukhdadi. "That morning I gave up hoping that things would get better."And Bush is so worried about Iran that he might go to war with them.
The Iranians have reason to feel paranoid. In recent weeks senior American officers have condemned Tehran for providing training and deadly explosives to insurgents. In a predawn raid on Dec. 21, U.S. troops barged into the compound of the most powerful political party in the country, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and grabbed two men they claimed were officers in Iran's Revolutionary Guards. Three weeks later U.S. troops stormed an Iranian diplomatic office in Irbil, arresting five more Iranians. The Americans have hinted that as part of an escalating tit-for-tat, Iranians may have had a hand in a spectacular raid in Karbala on Jan. 20, in which four American soldiers were kidnapped and later found shot, execution style, in the head. U.S. forces promised to defend themselves.And he's even been funding Sunni allies of al Qaeda, because they're also opposed to potential Shia hegemony.
Some view the spiraling attacks as a strand in a worrisome pattern. At least one former White House official contends that some Bush advisers secretly want an excuse to attack Iran. "They intend to be as provocative as possible and make the Iranians do something [America] would be forced to retaliate for," says Hillary Mann, the administration's former National Security Council director for Iran and Persian Gulf Affairs. U.S. officials insist they have no intention of provoking or otherwise starting a war with Iran, and they were also quick to deny any link to Sharafi's kidnapping. But the fact remains that the longstanding war of words between Washington and Tehran is edging toward something more dangerous. A second Navy carrier is steaming toward the Persian Gulf. Iran shot off a few missiles in those same tense waters last week, in a highly publicized test. With Americans and Iranians jousting on the chaotic battleground of Iraq, the chances of a small incident's spiraling into a crisis are higher than they've been in years.
New Yorker columnist Sy Hersh says the “single most explosive” element of his latest article involves an effort by the Bush administration to stem the growth of Shiite influence in the Middle East (specifically the Iranian government and Hezbollah in Lebanon) by funding violent Sunni groups.And since at least last summer, there have been reports that the Sunni al Qaeda allies known as the the Taliban are resurgent in Afghanistan.
Hersh says the U.S. has been “pumping money, a great deal of money, without congressional authority, without any congressional oversight” for covert operations in the Middle East where it wants to “stop the Shiite spread or the Shiite influence.” Hersh says these funds have ended up in the hands of “three Sunni jihadist groups” who are “connected to al Qaeda” but “want to take on Hezbollah.”
Since early May, a resurgent Taliban militia has launched attack after attack in which more than 300 insurgents, soldiers and civilians have died.In fact, NATO is preparing to fight an imminently expected Taliban offensive.
NATO has pledged a robust response to an expected offensive early this year from Taliban-led insurgents in Afghanistan, as the United States offered to boost aid and possibly provide extra troops.And, of course, during the Cold War, Reagan helped create the Taliban, in the first place, because their predecessors were fighting the Soviet Union.
From the Dkosopoedia:
The Reagan administration and the Saudi governmen gasve weapons, training and vast sums to the Islamists who hated the attempt by the Soviet client Afghan regime because it had attempted to end debt slavery through land reform, end child marriage and educate women. The Taliban and al-Qaeda grew out of the seeds planted by the Reagan administraion in the 1980s.Of course, back then, Reagan was also allied with Saddam, because Saddam was fighting Iran. Reagan sent some guy named Donald Rumsfeld to meet with Saddam, and finesse that support's little hitch over Saddam's use of chemical weapons.
The National Security Archive, at George Washington University:
Soon thereafter, Donald Rumsfeld (who had served in various positions in the Nixon and Ford administrations, including as President Ford's defense secretary, and at this time headed the multinational pharmaceutical company G.D. Searle & Co.) was dispatched to the Middle East as a presidential envoy. His December 1983 tour of regional capitals included Baghdad, where he was to establish "direct contact between an envoy of President Reagan and President Saddam Hussein," while emphasizing "his close relationship" with the president. Rumsfeld met with Saddam, and the two discussed regional issues of mutual interest, shared enmity toward Iran and Syria, and the U.S.'s efforts to find alternative routes to transport Iraq's oil; its facilities in the Persian Gulf had been shut down by Iran, and Iran's ally, Syria, had cut off a pipeline that transported Iraqi oil through its territory. Rumsfeld made no reference to chemical weapons, according to detailed notes on the meeting.Of course, as
Rumsfeld also met with Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz, and the two agreed, "the U.S. and Iraq shared many common interests." Rumsfeld affirmed the Reagan administration's "willingness to do more" regarding the Iran-Iraq war, but "made clear that our efforts to assist were inhibited by certain things that made it difficult for us, citing the use of chemical weapons, possible escalation in the Gulf, and human rights." He then moved on to other U.S. concerns. Later, Rumsfeld was assured by the U.S. interests section that Iraq's leadership had been "extremely pleased" with the visit, and that "Tariq Aziz had gone out of his way to praise Rumsfeld as a person."
James Ridgeway writes in the Village Voice:
When Ronald Reagan dispatched Donald Rumsfeld as his special envoy to meet Saddam Hussein in Baghdad in 1984, the Republican administration was anxious to stop any westward expansion of the Ayatollah Khomeini and his force of Shia madmen, who had taken power in Tehran.Need I go on?
To that end, the U.S. sent war supplies and offered intelligence to Saddam to keep the Iranians from beating Iraq in the war then raging between the two countries.
Do they do anything but fuel the fire, first on one side, then the other?
Is there any greater threat to American national security than a Rebublican American administration?