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.
Lobe and Ramsey make a good point here. It seems that Iran is not above giving aid and comfort to al-Qaeda when it suits Iran’s purposes. But you can hardly blame the Iranians, given the attitudes and policies we have adopted toward them. We spat on them when they offered a level of cooperation after 9/11. So for the Iranians “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
In any case I don’t believe this business is going anywhere. Iran doesn’t really need an al-Qaeda chip when we are in the process of throwing in our cards in the Gulf. Iraq will be a pro-Iranian bastion in a year or two. The Iranians just have to be careful not to overplay their hand. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the economic situation is beginning to deteriorate in a way unseen since the 1930s (or since 2008, with the difference that this time there will be no printing press solution). Poltical conflict will sharpen here as well, and not simply because an election is coming up. We may see 1968-like chaos in the relatively near future (2-5 years out). Under such conditions Iran need not fear the U.S. Only an actual blocking of the Strait of Hormuz (an action the Iranians have no reason to take) would provoke a U.S. response.
Actually Jon, I think you misread the article. There is no evidence of Iran doing anything. There are drugs sold and taken in the US, therefore the USG is doing drugs and selling them? No, that’s not indicated either. (I dare say we have more evidence of the USG selling drugs than we have of Iran working with al-Qaeda.
Actually, Scott, I think you misread my comment. After the first sentence acknowledging that Lobe and Ramsey had made a good point, I launched into my own riff on the subject of Iran and al-Qaeda. I didn’t mean to imply that Lobe or Ramsey were saying that Iran is supporting al-Qaeda. If it came across that way, well, I’d say I’m sorry, but I’m really not, so I won’t.
My primary interest is the actual state of affairs in the region, rather than the pontifications of neocon journalists. Lobe and Ramsey are right in what they say about the latter, and so I acknowledged their perception. But then I went off on my own tangent.
Lobe/Ramsey “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.”
Jon “Lobe and Ramsey make a good point here. It seems that Iran is not above giving aid and comfort to al-Qaeda when it suits Iran’s purposes. But you can hardly blame the Iranians, given the attitudes and policies we have adopted toward them.”
So, where is the evidence that Iran has given ANY aid or comfort to al-Qaeda?
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