Gee Whiz, Iran Training Militia, Who Knew?

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by Larry C Johnson

Well, the New York Times just got sucked in again to help the Bush Administration make the case for starting a war with Iran and Syria. Sorry, but how obtuse can some folks be? I refer to the so-called news reported by Michael Gordon and Dexter Filkins in today's New York Times. The essence of their breathless report is that Iran, via Hezbollah, is training the Shia militia in Iraq. Well, NO SHIT SHERLOCK! Consider this quote from today's article:

Iran has facilitated the link between Hezbollah and the Shiite militias in Iraq, the official said. Syrian officials have also cooperated, though there is debate about whether it has the blessing of the senior leaders in Syria.
For informed readers, you will recall that Pat Lang and I wrote about this in August of 2005. We said:

FACT 1: Iran is well on its way to achieving de facto control of significant portions of Iraq. Tehran is backing shia cleric, Ali Sistani (a Persian, not an Arab) and Muqtada al Sadr. The Iranians are funneling money and training to supporters inside Iraq. The Iraqi shia control the political process and comprise the majority of the security forces that are deployed and operating with any effect in Iraq. The Iranian leaders and their Iraqi shia counterparts privately must wonder at their good fortune and can only conclude that God (Allah) is really on their side. Where they failed to dislodge Saddam Hussein during a bloody 8 year war that left Iran with more than a million casualties (in fact, Iraq defeated Iran) the Iranian leaders now have their supporters and agents occupying key political positions in Iraq. Best of all, the United States, which had backed Saddam during the first Gulf War, did the dirty work and deposed the Baath party, the Sunni leadership, and Saddam. Iran did not sit by passively watching the change, they jumped into the fray and helped the Shia in Iraq seize the reins of power through the ballot box.
Iran and Hezbollah helping the Shia in Iraq is old, old news. The consequences of that assistance were readily apparent almost two years ago. And now we get the spectacle of the New York Times, sans Judith Miller, helping start up the war drums again. Sorry, this is more spin to manipulate the public debate.

Rather than derail the case for talking to Iran, this should spur us on. There are several things that Iran is worried about that dovetail with our interests. For example, Iran believes the resurgence of the Taliban is a deliberate policy of the United States. In other words, Iran has good reason to fear a reinvigorated Taliban. Gee, guess what? So do we. Of course, if you talk to Iran rather than send more U.S. boys and girls to die in a mindless conflict, you might actually accomplish something that could advance the cause of peace in the region.

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