Friday, March 02, 2007

Impending Iran War/ U.S. Arming Sunni Radical Islamists

Seymour M. Hersh is one of America's premier investigative reporters. In 1969, as a freelance journalist, he wrote the first account of the My Lai massacre in South Vietnam. In the 1970s, he worked at the New York Times in Washington and New York; he has rejoined the paper twice on special assignment. He has won more than a dozen major journalism prizes, including the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting and four George Polk Awards.

He is also the author of six books, including The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times BookAward, The Target Is Destroyed: What Really Happened to Flight 007 and What America Knew About It, and The Samson Option: Israels Nuclear Arsenal and Americas Foreign Policy.

At present Mr. Hersh is an investigative reporter for The New Yorker magazine.

I was fascinated by the interview two days ago by Amy Goodman of Seymour Hersh. Hersh is reliable and relentless. You will not often find his material in the daily newspaper.

In his latest piece for the New Yorker Hersh reveals that the main reason John Negroponte has decided to resign as National Intelligence Director, a post that he has only held for a relatively short time --- is that he is uncomfortable with the Bush administration's new covert "re-direction" in deciding to oppose Iran by funding Sunni groups -- some of them connected with radical Sunni factions including al-Qaeda as an effort to pressure Iran and isolate this nation. There is a group of six: the U.S., U.K. Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt who are working together to oppose the influence and power of Shia Muslims including the only real Shia state, Iran.

This is a switch for the U.S. After 9/11 --- our government sought out Sunni radical groups, especially al-Qaeda since it was believed they were behind 9/11.

When we invaded Iraq, we disbanded the Baathist Sunni political party, refused to allow former Baathists to serve in the new government; befriended the Shias (who are the majority in Iraq) and then, found ourselves fighting battles and skirmishes throughout Iraq almost entirely, especially in the beginning, with Sunni militants.

Then we began to worry that the Iraqi Shiites had too close ties with Iran, and that Iran might even be supporting a growing militancy and desire for independence among the Shiites.

Next, those making government decisions here, started moving towards the possibility of regime change in Iran, or, at least heavy bombing of any sites of weapons of mass destruction. (Sounds a little bit like the beginnings of the Iraq War -- doesn't it?)

The Iranian government claims it is developing facilities and technology to provide nuclear power for its population. The Bush administration believes Iran is mostly interested in becoming a nuclear military power. However, Iran has some justification for having military nuclear capability. They are almost surrounded by nuclear nations: Israel, the U.S., Russia, and Pakistan. Iran is a proud country: it was known as Persia in the past and has quite a history of importance; Iranian are Caucasians, not Semite; they are Shia Muslim, not Sunnis. In fact they are the only Shia nation.

"Redirection" is the inside name of this administration for turning its guns from the Sunni Muslims (Iraq, al-Qaeda, other Sunni radical groups) --- towards the Shiite Muslims (Iran, Hezbollah, etc.). Remember that Saddam Hussein (a Sunni) and al-Qaeda were the great, dangerous enemies of the U.S. Now, it is the Iranians and all Shiite radicals groups. And, we have not as yet even caught Osama Bin Laden. And all of radicals that flew into the Twin Towers were Sunnis --- mostly from our great ally: Saudi Arabia!

From my viewpoint and I am not an expert, Iran is a distinct, sovereign country, which has existed more or less in its present geographical spot for centuries. Formally known as Persia; its official language is Farsi, not Arabic. Iranians seem to have a somewhat higher level of sophistication and education than many other Muslim nations. Their President frequently makes "incendiary" comments, but two things to remember: this is his "style" and he cannot start a war----the mullahs who form the Supreme Council supersede him.

Two years ago, Iran sent a request for unlimited, unconditional discussions with the U.S. This official request was made quietly, but was squashed by Cheney. Condi Rice recently said that she knew nothing about it. And, this could be true.

It was hoped by rational Republicans that the power of Cheney --whose advice George W. has almost always followed--- would be "contained" after the Democratic election victory in 2006 and the consequent dismissal of Rumsfeld. First, fire Rumsfeld. There was hope, if not expectation, that Cheney would be relegated to the role of a "typical" vice-president --- not the power behind the throne. Old Time Republicans hoping to find a way to win the Presidency in 2008 concluded not only the combination of Baker, Scowcoft and the elder former President -- together-- could put Cheney under wraps and that they would gain the ear of our current President--- i.e. George W. would listen to Daddy and his buddies instead of Cheney and his crowd of "neocons".

It does not look as though Cheney has been tossed from his horse---as yet. The moving of two major aircraft carrier groups close to Iran; the encouragement and supply of the Kurds and other radical groups to attack Iran; the clandestine presence of our special forces units especially within eastern Iran; the battle plans already drawn up and executable within 24 hours to bomb all of Iran's nuclear facilities with heavy bombs (nuclear bombs that would penetrate the ground and explode have been, for now, taken out of the current plan).

Let's all hope that George W. doesn't have a bad night, wake up, scratch is head and tell Cheney: Let's go for it!

Congress would be wise to begin restricting funds for military operations. However, there is plenty of money available to our executive branch in "black pools", i.e. vast sums of money that are "off the books".

Much of this money is pouring into Lebanon to the Sunni controlled government who turn most of it over to its internal security department to be distributed to radical Sunni groups who hate the Shiites. One of their chief enemies is Hezbollah, a Shiite group which has many followers in Lebanon and even seats in the Lebanese congress. The Hezbollah are seen by many in Lebanon as a party which helps the less fortunate with food and shelter, and which has a tough militant wing capable of resisting Israel.

Generally speaking, though, once this money reaches Lebanon and the Sunnis we have NO control over where their "CIA" chooses to send it. We only know it will fund radical Sunni groups who have not only shown their enmity towards Shiites but have been responsible for terrorist attacks throughout the world -- not to mention our own --9/11.

Here is Seymour Hersh on the "black pools" of money:

And so, we’ve poured a lot of money, illicit money. It was not authorized by Congress. Money went pouring in there (Lebanon). Former retired CIA guys were put in there. Retired people went in there, other agencies. The funds came, nobody is quite sure where. There’s a lot of pools of black money around, a lot of money. Undoubtedly, some was, I’m told, from Iraq. That is, as you know, there were hearings the other week that showed $9 billion in Iraqi oil money mysteriously disappeared and was unaccounted for. Some of that money was washed around. There was also a lot of money found after Saddam fell. We found several caches of huge amounts, you know, hundreds of millions, and billions of dollars in some cases, of cash. We also found money in various ministries. There’s no, realaccountability, and a lot of it could have ended up in black pools. It’s just not clear where the money came from, and it’s not supposed to be clear. What you do is you wash the money in. You get it to certain people. The government of Lebanon underwrites its internal security people.

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 has caused a tremendous increase in radical Muslim (almost all Sunni) terrorist attacks -- not just in Iraq and Afghanistan themselves, but throughout the world: Europe, Asia, Africa.

Today's issue of The Independent, a British newspaper contains these comments:

Iraq was the catalyst for a ferocious fundamentalist backlash, according to the study, which says that the number of those killed by Islamists within Iraq rose from seven to 3,122. Afghanistan, invaded by US and British forces in direct response to the September 11 attacks, saw a rise from very few before 2003 to 802 since then. In the Chechen conflict, the toll rose from 234 to 497. In the Kashmir region, as well as India and Pakistan, the total rose from 182 to 489, and in Europe from none to 297.

A new study, by Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank states:
'Our study shows that the Iraq war has generated a stunning increase in the yearly rate of fatal jihadist attacks, amounting to literally hundreds of additional terrorist attacks and civilian lives lost. Even when terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan is excluded, fatal attacks in the rest of the world have increased by more than one third.'

Indiscriminate funding of Sunni radicals as a way to weaken Iran and Shiites probably will result not only in more attacks against ourselves, our allies and, especially more innocent nations---but antagonize Iran and stiffen its resolve not to dominated by the U.S. either directly or by indirect assaults through our Sunni proxies.

Hersh describes three Sunni radical groups all influenced by the radical fundamentalist Wahhabi sect -- the state religion of Saudi Arabia -- are very active and widespread. It is to these groups, plus others like them, that the "black pool money" we are pouring into Lebanon to arm Sunni radicals supposedly against the Shiites --- will go. As Seymour Hersh says:

But these three groups, two years ago, we would have done everything we could in the United States to arrest them and sent them to Gitmo, Guantanamo, or some other place. Instead, we’re throwing money into the country, into the government, into the internal security apparatus, and the internal security facilities or mechanisms inside Lebanon are underwriting these groups. They, as soon as one group came across the border from Syria, were immediately giving material, a place to live, arms, and resupplied. There are three such groups that are operating.