Last week newspapers were abuzz about a July 28 treasury Department’s press release titled “Treasury Targets Key Al-Qa’ida Funding and Support Network Using Iran as a Critical Transit Point.”
As Jim Lobe points out in his must-read article on the event
- The statement marked the first on-the-record accusation by a senior administration official under President Barack Obama that the Islamic Republic has a specific agreement with the terrorist group.
The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post failed to emphasize that none of the 6 individuals added to OFAC’s SDN list were Iranian and that no allegation was made about Iran directly supporting Al Qaeda. No Iranian official was sanctioned either.
According to the treasury, the link exists with Syrian national Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil who is allegedly operating out of Iran while working for Al Qaeda.
Lobe reports that some Washington observers said the statement is “almost certain to increase pressure from neo-conservatives and other hawks, especially Republicans in the US Congress, to take stronger action against Tehran.”
On July 29, the Washington Post’s “Right Turn” blogger Jennifer Rubin asked neoconservatives Reuel Marc Gerecht and Jonathan Schanzer of the hawkish Foundation for Defense of Democracies to respond to the treasury’s statement. Both made alarmist claims about the alleged “Iranian-al-Qaeda ties” by citing the 9/11 Commission Report.
But as Lobe notes, “[t]hat al-Qaeda has had a presence in Iran has long been accepted by US officials and independent observers, including the 9/11 Commission” but “[t]he nature of the relationship…has always been a source of contention.”
Rubin also quotes an unsigned Wall Street Journal article that repeats her criticism of sanctions on Iran but adds
- The Obama Administration has come a long way since the days when it thought it could strike a “grand bargain” with Iran’s mullahs, and yesterday’s move is another good step.
The thrust of Rubin’s post is, however, focused on criticizing “the left” for supporting sanctions on Iran. She does not state what route she prefers the Obama administration take instead.