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Charges vs. Iran recall pre-Iraq-war hysteria
The danger of a U.S. attack on Iran appears to be mounting following a series of increasingly aggressive Bush administration actions.
On Feb. 11, U.S. military officials staged a tightly controlled news briefing in Baghdad, presenting purported evidence that Iran is providing new weaponry targeting U.S. troops in Iraq. The officials insisted on anonymity, barred cameras from the briefing room and provided no transcript of their statements. Without offering any direct evidence, an official said, “We assess that these activities are coming from senior levels of the Iranian government.”
British journalist Patrick Cockburn, writing in the UK Independent, called the allegations “bizarre.” He and many other commentators noted that the U.S. has been fighting a Sunni-based armed insurgency in Iraq that is “deeply hostile to Iran.”
According to Cockburn, about 1,190 U.S. soldiers have been killed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Most of these devices are constructed from heavy explosives taken from the arsenals of the former regime, he said. The term the Bush administration is now using, explosive formed penetrators (EFPs), “may have been chosen to imply that a menacing new weapon has been developed.”
A Feb. 10 New York Times article uncritically reported the U.S. claims about the new explosive device. Buried in the article is the acknowledgment that its “first suspected use” in Iraq “occurred in late 2003” and that it has been used ever since.
Asking “why now?” about these U.S. accusations, BBC world affairs correspondent Paul Reynolds writes, “The fear among some is that the U.S. is softening up world opinion for an attack on Iran.” The allegations about Iranian weapons killing U.S. troops “could be laying the groundwork for a ‘self-defense’ justification,” he notes. Another possible motive, he suggests, is “the old tactic of blaming someone else for your own problems” in Iraq.
The bipartisan Iraq Study Group Report recommended that the U.S. begin “extensive and substantive” talks with Iran and Syria, with no preconditions, to solve the Iraq crisis. Instead, commented Cockburn, President Bush has taken “a precisely opposite line, blaming Iran and Syria for U.S. losses in Iraq.”
Navid Shomali, international secretary of Iran’s Tudeh (Communist) Party, said the administration has chosen to try to “coerce” Iran into “accepting U.S. hegemony in the Middle East.”
Any intensification of military conflict in the region is against the interests of the people of Iran, the region and the globe, Shomali emphasized.