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United for Peace of Pierce County - COMMENTARY: Financial Times calls US anti-Iran case ‘unconvincing’ and probably wrong

The Financial Times of London denounced the American presentation of evidence that Iran is arming enemies of the U.S. as “unconvincing" and said it "resembles, albeit in a minor key, Colin Powell's misrepresentation four years ago.”[1]  --  In an editorial, the influential daily called the Explosively Formed Penetrator a “much-mystified weapon” that the internet could be as much involved in spreading as Iran.  --  And the notion that Iran is attacking the supporters of a Shia government that it is spending much capital supporting while risking the wrath of a bellicose U.S. is highly counterintuitive.  --  No, it is not Iran, but “the Bush administration that is responsible for the debacle in Iraq — including enhancing Iran's influence among the Iraqi Shia.” ...


Comment & analysis

Editorial comment


Financial Times (UK)
February 13, 2007

The much-postponed presentation of the case that Iran is arming opponents of the U.S. army in Iraq finally took place in Baghdad on Sunday. It was unconvincing and resembles, albeit in a minor key, Colin Powell's misrepresentation four years ago to the United Nations Security Council on Iraq's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction.

The former secretary of state's allegations were not borne out by the facts, but they did smooth the path to invasion. The Bush administration's recent bellicosity towards Iran may only be the tactical application of pressure, but it is very risky.

Cloaked in anonymity, U.S. officials said Iran is responsible for a device known as an Explosively Formed Penetrator, which has killed 170 American soldiers in Iraq. This much-mystified weapon began life as a weapon Hezbollah used against Israel in south Lebanon. It was known as a roadside bomb and the main requirements were to assemble it, point i,t and disguise it. In Iraq it became known as an improvised explosive device (IED), viciously effective but now coated with a spurious veneer of technological sophistication.

The main ingredient of the IEDs used by Iraqi insurgents is the high explosive the U.S. left unsecured in nearly 100 arms dumps. Hezbollah, which is Iranian-backed, has helped the most anti-American Shia militia, Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi army. It may also have imparted its roadside bomb expertise but so, frankly, could the internet.

The Bush administration may be taking aim, ultimately, at Tehran's nuclear ambitions. But what it is describing here is not rocket science.

Of the current average of 75 suicide bombers a month, nearly all are Sunni and many come from Saudi Arabia -- a U.S. ally and wellspring of Sunni jihadism. The Shia forces most closely aligned with Iran and trained by its Revolutionary Guards, the Badr militia and the Da'wa, are the allies upon which Washington depends in Iraq. Indeed, the Da'wa party of prime minister Nouri al-Maliki is one of the founders of Hezbollah. It is the Bush administration that is responsible for the debacle in Iraq -- including enhancing Iran's influence among the Iraqi Shia.

It is not rebranded roadside bombs, moreover, that have shot so many U.S. helicopters out of the sky in Sunni areas recently. Those weapons certainly are not coming from Shia Iran.

If Washington wants to beat the war drums it should do so more credibly, and for a purpose; Tehran is again signalling it may compromise over uranium enrichment. A smart diplomatic offensive would test Iranian intentions with a calibrated mix of penalties -- including escalating sanctions that the European Union signed up to yesterday -- and rewards. The latter would need the U.S. to be willing to talk to Iran about security guarantees. In the current stand-off, there is, regrettably no sign of that.