From today's New York Times:
Bush Declares Iran's Arms Role in Iraq Is Certain
It does seem a little odd however that Iran- while no doubt supportive of the Shia extremists blamed by Bush for the death of around 170 US troops- would be named as the prime cause of violence while the external supporters of Sunni insurgents who killed most of the remaining 2,800 dead Americans get a pass.
I wonder why no fingers are being pointed at Sunni states terrified of Iranian- and by extension, Shia- power like Jordan and Saudi Arabia. It has been credibly alleged by various intelligence agencies that Saudi Arabia has been arming and training Sunni extremists so that they have to fight the Shia in Iraq, not at home (and more credibly than any allegation leveled at Iran). That sounds like a familiar justification, doesn't it? The Saudis also recently made overtly bellicose noises at the time of the Baker Hamilton Report about intervening in Iraq should the Americans withdraw. I wonder why we aren't pointing fingers across Iraq's southern border rather than it's eastern one?
I dare say Iran is meddling in Iraq. It is in their interests to do so, as anything that keeps the Americans flustered and in reactive mode keeps the Americans out of Tehran. But as for the very specific charges made by the President against them, I'm not so sure. How would such easily traceable, amateur tactics be in their interest?
I'm going to hear Bush out in the vain hope that he's learned his lessons and is playing with a straight bat this time, but foremost in my mind when assessing his arguments will be the following:
1) With the Shia in control of the most important arms of government- including the ministries responsible for the police and army- why do they need home-made IEDs when they have access to government munitions dumps? Many of the unofficial militias and death squads seem to have no problems getting their hands on the latest uniforms for disguises and they are always armed to the teeth.
2) Did anyone reference Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's (himself a Kurd) recent visit to Tehran where offical promises of defense supplies were made to him by the Iranians? An event so un-cloak and dagger that it was reported in a profile of the man in the New Yorker? Are legitimately supplied weapons- some Iranian, some old Iraqi, some even American- being syphoned off by the insurgents? And if so, are we going to declare war on ourselves for losing track of weapons and money that found their way into the hands of the various insurgencies?
3) The number of references to Iranian-Al Qadea links that are ideologically unlikely to exist. First hint: when the adminstration flacks start referring to "Al Qadea leaders under house arrest" in Iran while deemphasizing the key word, "arrest".
4) The dispositions of the various Iraqi Shia groups, from the more mainstream Iraq-for-the-(Shia)-Arabs-not-Iranians followers of Ayatollah Al Sistani, through the more gangsterish Mahdi Army of Sadr, to the explicitly pro-Iranian Badr Brigades found mostly in the south. Who feels imune from the security crackdown? Who is reacting the most boldly? Whose actions most closely mirror official Iranian pronouncements?
5) Do members of Bush's administration appear to be speaking from a script? Sycronized references to "smoking guns" etc should be a real tip off that they are full of it. Again.
UPDATE: Alexander Cockburn in a similar vein, with more on the alleged Iranian weapons technology, here.