Cliff May peddles Iran-Al Qaeda link, again

Cliff May, who is making gains in the national standings for top U.S. counter-Jihadi, is at it again with his demagoguery about Iran.

May’s latest column for Scripps Howard and the National Review contains some advice for recently elevated Republican House Committee chairs. (You can listen to it!) He gives a “very brief briefing” on the Islamo-threat and, because Iran is the top priority of neoconservatives (especially May’s Foundation for Defense of Democracies), May starts off his briefing with this little-known fact: “In 1979, there was a revolution in Iran.”

Then May gets into it:

Iran is a predominately Shia country but its revolution inspired the rise of militant groups among the more numerous Sunni Muslims of the broader Middle East as well. Al-Qaeda is only the best known.

Sunni jihadis and Shia jihadis are rivals, not enemies. They cooperate and collaborate against common enemies — us, for example. The evidence for this is abundant.

This is a tack May has tried before: linking Iran and Al Qaeda under the “jihadi” banner. The reasoning, from his hawkish perspective on Iran, makes perfect sense: Almost everyone agrees that the U.S. should be taking severe measures against Al Qaeda; ergo, if Iran and Al Qaeda are the same thing, the U.S. should be taking ever-more-severe actions against Iran as well.

In his latest piece doling out advice to Congress, May hints at measures beyond sanctions (my emphasis):

Make up your mind that the jihadis in Tehran will not acquire nuclear weapons — not on your watch. The sanctions imposed by the U.S. in 2010 are an important part of the effort but only a part.

Final point: 2011 is the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Osama bin Laden is alive. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a plan. Are you confident the U.S. has an adequate strategy for frustrating their ambitions?

But the Islamic Republic of Iran and Al Qaeda are not the same thing, as any honest expert in either will tell you. The two actually hate each other.

The connection that May peddles, meanwhile, is just as tenuous as when he made it about Iraq-Al Qaeda links in September 2002, as hawks were ramping up their effort to go to war with that country. He’s even made the same spurious accusation about Iran already, in an article for National Review last fall.

As for substantiating his argument with evidence in any of these cases, May has never really gone beyond ‘Well, they’re all jihadis!’

Ali Gharib

Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; the Buffalo Beast; Huffington Post; Mondoweiss; Right Web; and Alternet. He holds a Master's degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A proud Iranian-American and fluent Farsi speaker, Ali was born in California and raised in D.C.


One Comment

  1. RE: “The connection that May peddles…is just as tenuous as when he made it about Iraq-Al Qaeda links in September 2002” – Ali Gharib
    MY SNARK: “Sticks and stones may break our bones, but facts will never sway us!” ~ Neocon Creed

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