Friday, December 30, 2005

Rock The Casbah

Via Americablog, it appears that we may be setting the stage for a pre-emptive strike on Iran's nucular facilities.

This Der Spiegel article has the details:

It's hardly news that US President George Bush refuses to rule out possible military action against Iran if Tehran continues to pursue its controversial nuclear ambitions. But in Germany, speculation is mounting that Washington is preparing to carry out air strikes against suspected Iranian nuclear sites perhaps even as soon as early 2006.

Hear that creaking sound? That's the kinks straightening out of ol' V. D. Hanson's love sausage.

The most talked about story is a Dec. 23 piece by the German news agency DDP from journalist and intelligence expert Udo Ulfkotte. The story has generated controversy not only because of its material, but also because of the reporter's past. Critics allege that Ulfkotte in his previous reporting got too close to sources at Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND. But Ulfkotte has himself noted that he has been under investigation by the government in the past (indeed, his home and offices have been searched multiple times) for allegations that he published state secrets -- a charge that he claims would underscore rather than undermine the veracity of his work.

According to Ulfkotte's report, "western security sources" claim that during CIA Director Porter Goss' Dec. 12 visit to Ankara, he asked Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to provide support for a possibile 2006 air strike against Iranian nuclear and military facilities. More specifically, Goss is said to have asked Turkey to provide unfettered exchange of intelligence that could help with a mission.

It's entirely likely that, not unlike Ahmadinejad's weird hortatory jabs at Israel, this is somewhat for show -- for now. As Bush has already pointed out (and was actually correct in doing so), all options are on the table. Right now it's unrealistic because Russia and China have already registered their serious disapproval of such a pre-emptive strike. And we're no longer in a position where we can just unilaterally give the finger.

So chances are that the next move is actually up to Iran, whether they want to keep fucking aorund in their theatrical attempts at nationalism, or if they're going to settle down. It might not hurt to reach out to them through the Euros, but that ain't gonna happen. So we do our little dance.

According to DDP, during his trip to Turkey, CIA chief Goss reportedly handed over three dossiers to Turkish security officials that purportedly contained evidence that Tehran is cooperating with Islamic terror network al-Qaida. A further dossier is said to contain information about the current status of Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program. Sources in German security circles told the DDP reporter that Goss had ensured Ankara that the Turkish government would be informed of any possible air strikes against Iran a few hours before they happened. The Turkish government has also been given the "green light" to strike camps of the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Iran on the day in question.

This is where it gets a bit scary. Now, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that, prior to 2001, al Qaida had hooked up with the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan. We got Pakistan to reluctantly cooperate, but there's every sign that many elements of the military and intel agencies there may still be covertly helping al Qaida in general, and bin Laden in particular.

Then you have the Bushies' assertion that al Qaida was also in cahoots with Saddam Hussein. So, by the US goverments estimation, that would have been three national governments that al Qaida held some sort of sway over.

And now Iran, which would be four governments supposedly in the thrall of a terrorist gang. This would be suicidal on Tehran's part, and they know it. There's simply no upside for them to be involved with al Qaida, and risk being found out. (Though again, there has never seemed to be any real urgency about weeding out the pro-al Qaida forces in Musharraf's army, even though at least one of his top generals, who had breakfast with Bob Graham and current DCI Porter Goss on the morning of 9/11/2001, had been found to have wired $100K to Mohammed Atta.)

Here's my best uneducated guess. Former Afghan "freedom fighter" turned Taliban asset Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is known to have a base in northern Iran, where he goes back and forth across the Afghan border with impunity. Tehran lets him because, well, he's a religious whackjob fundamentalist warlord. But we've probably had the opportunity to take out Hekmatyar in Afghanistan, but like most warlords there, he's got his base.

This is speculation, I'll admit, but it's damned odd that this supposed al Qaida connection in Tehran is being bandied about. This administration ran out of "wolf" cards long ago, so we'll see where this leads.

1 comment:

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