Saturday, June 16, 2007

Cheney's move to connect Iran to the Taliban didn't work

Doesn't anyone remember that Iran helped the U.S. in Afghanistan? That Iran hates the Taliban?
Gambit to link Iran to the Taliban backfires

By Gareth Porter

WASHINGTON - A media campaign portraying Iran as supplying arms to the Taliban fighting US and North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces in Afghanistan, orchestrated by advocates in the US administration of a more confrontational stance toward Iran, appears to have backfired. Last week, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, General Dan McNeil, issued unusually strong denials.

The allegation that Iran had reversed a decade-long policy and was now supporting the Taliban, conveyed in a series of press articles quoting "senior officials" in recent weeks, is related to a broader effort by officials aligned with US Vice President Dick Cheney to portray Iran as supporting Sunni insurgents, including al-Qaeda, to defeat the United States in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

An article in the London Guardian published on May 22 quoted an anonymous US official as predicting an "Iranian-orchestrated summer offensive in Iraq, linking al-Qaeda and Sunni insurgents to Tehran's Shi'ite militia allies" and as referring to the alleged "Iran-al-Qaeda linkup" as "very sinister".

Iran long regarded the Taliban regime as its primary enemy and was the first external power to support Afghan forces in an effort to overthrow it. It is not merely a sectarian Sunni-Shi'ite divide but the Pakistani government's patronage of the Taliban that has made them irreconcilable enemies of Iran.

The line being pushed by the Cheney group in the US administration that Iran is supplying the Taliban with arms appears to be based on a highly imaginative reading of some recent intelligence reporting on Iranian contacts with the Taliban. A source with access to that reporting, who insists on anonymity because he is not authorized to comment on the matter, said it indicates that Iranian intelligence has had contacts with the top commanders of the Taliban's inner shura - the leadership council in Kandahar.

However, the source also said these intelligence reports do not provide any specific evidence of an Iranian intention to give weapons to the Taliban.
Afghanistan specialist Seth Jones of the Rand Corporation, who visited Afghanistan most recently this year, said some elements of the Iranian government may be involved in arms trafficking but it is "very small-scale support" and Iran does not want to strengthen the Taliban.

NATO commanders in Pakistan have long been aware that the Taliban have been dependent on Pakistan for their arms and ammunition. The London Telegraph reported on Sunday that a NATO report on a recent battle shows that the Taliban fired an estimated 400,000 rounds of ammunition, 2,000 rocket-propelled grenades and 1,000 mortar shells and had stocked more than a million rounds of ammunition, all of which came from Quetta, Pakistan, during the spring months.
So why aren't we attacking Pakistan?


mapaghimagsik said...

awww, poor Dick

ellroon said...

He just doesn't get any respect....