April 9, 2004

Iranian Proxy War

It looks like Iran might be in a hot proxy war with the United States.

Via Roger L. Simon comes this report at Project Free Iran by Alireza Jafarzadeh, president of Strategic Policy Consulting and Fox News analyst.

For months, Iran has been building a secret underground network of military and intelligence cells that has put it in a position not only to challenge the U.S. and others, but also to gradually gain control the reigns of power after the June 30th handover.

By allocating vast resources, including tens of millions of dollars, to the task of building and spreading an overt network of mosques, local organizations, charity groups, medical and cultural centers, Tehran has also covertly created a number of new Iraqi surrogate groups, including the Hezbollah especially in the south. (This entity is separate from Iraqi Hezbollah, which operates openly). The group has been casing U.S. forces, gathering intelligence and building its military structure. It is headquartered in Al-Amarah, but is also active in a number of other cities including Al-Kut. Several Iranian Intelligence Ministry agents held extensive talks with Hezbollah officials in Al-Kut on February 15th to coordinate their actions.

In addition, Iran has formed the Nasiriyah-based 15th Shaban and the Basrah-based Seyyed ol-Shohada groups. At least a half a dozen other Iranian sponsored groups are now operating in Baghdad and other places.

Iranian agents have been commuting back and forth to and from Iraq regularly, using different border crossings along the 900-mile frontier with that country. Tehran has, for instance, used the Mandali-Monthariya border in February to send into Iraq a significant number of intelligence agents, who specialize in operations and roadside bombings against the coalition forces.

MEMRI (The Middle East Media Research Institute) has more:
A source in the Quds Army of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard revealed to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat(4) information relating to the construction of three camps and training centers on the Iranian-Iraqi borders to train elements of the "Mehdi Army" founded by Muqtada Al-Sadr. The source estimated that about 800-1,200 young supporters of Al-Sadr have received military training including guerilla warfare, the production of bombs and explosives, the use of small arms, reconnoitering and espionage. The three camps were located in Qasr Shireen, 'Ilam, and Hamid, bordering southern Iraq which is inhabited largely by Shi'a Muslims.
Also, Winds of Change reports that Radio Farda says Iran is giving 70 million dollars per month to organizations in Iraq, including al-Sadr's militias, with the objective of violently expelling the coalition forces.

I really don't know how credible this stuff is. But I will say this.

If true, this is a declaration of war by Iran. If Iran is going to send men into Iraq to kill our soldiers and subvert the nascent democracy we are within our rights to respond with force inside their territory.

That is not to say it would be wise for us to do so at this time. Maybe we should and maybe we shouldn't. At this moment, today, I would suggest we wait and see if we can get Iran to back down through diplomacy. But if this fighting in Iraq escalates and Iran refuses to let up, we may not have another viable option. We'll be at war with Iran either way. And if they are willing to cross the border and we are not, they will have the upper hand. That cannot stand. We didn't go all the way to Iraq to let Iran turn it into their fundamentalist sock puppet.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at April 9, 2004 2:54 PM
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