Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Iran Contra with a twist

[Update below]

Amy Goodman has a fascinating interview with former congressional aide, Trita Parsi, wherein they discuss the 2003 Iranian offer of negotiation delivered by the Swiss ambassador, which the White House not only dismissed then, but now claim that no one knew about it. Within the conversation, though, an interesting and, indeed, hellacious point is concisely made regarding the much-discussed Seymour Hersh article: that the US is covertly funding Sunni militants, possibly the very ones responsible for most of the American deaths in Iraq. And make no mistake, though Hersh's article discusses this covert funding within the context of Lebanon and opposition to Hezbollah, any money handed to militant Sunni groups like al Qaeda will be more than free to dole that money out wherever convenient and/or needed. And that surely means Iraq.
Amy Goodman: Let me follow up on this point, because it is certainly a key one. Seymour Hersh, in The New Yorker magazine, reporting that the Bush administration and Saudi Arabia are pumping money for covert operations in many areas of the Middle East, including Lebanon, Syria and Iran, in an effort to strengthen Saudi-sported Sunni Islam group and weaken Iranian-backed Shias. Some of the covert money has been given to jihadist groups in Lebanon with ties to al-Qaeda. So, supporting the Sunnis over the Shia and working with Saudi Arabia to funnel that money.

Trita Parsi: And basically says that the United States is not trying to resolve the civil war in Iraq. Rather, it's taking sides in the civil war. And ironically, it's taking the same side as al-Qaeda is doing.

Amy Goodman: And the second part of the story, that John Negroponte, Seymour Hersh reports, may well have resigned his post as National Intelligence director, because of his discomfort that the administration's covert actions in the Middle East so closely echoed the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s.

Trita Parsi: I think one thing to keep in mind in all of this is that the United States does have legitimate grievances with the Iranian government and the policies that they have been pursuing. But the problem is that the line that the Bush administration is pursuing is only making matters worse in the region right now. It is further destabilizing the region. It's further making it more difficult to be able to find a solution to Iraq. The only solution that I can see is to actually bring all the parties to the table.
When a guy like Negroponte has problems with White House policy, you've got to know this administration have moved into a realm of disgrace not imagined in past "realist" administrations.

The Bush White House is covertly funding Sunni militants, which is in direct conflict not with only the Shia militia groups associated with the supposedly US-backed Shia government of Maliki, but is also undermining the government itself by fueling the civil war rather than trying to curtail it. Meanwhile, the White House and the Pentagon dump more American troops into the midst of the civil strife they themselves are exacerbating.

That's quite a system. Fund both sides of the civil war in Iraq while simultaneously arguing that the civil war is the reason we need to stay there for a long, long time. It may not be quite Iran-Contra, but it is very close and, in fact, even more ignominious and reprehensible. The first time, there were no US troops caught in the middle during the Iran-Iraq war.

Suddenly, "support the troops" takes on a whole new meaning. Who knew Bush has actually been talking about al Qaeda?

Update: The General has it all mapped out.


Anonymous Amir said...

It is very interesting that the current US policy is taking a toll on American lives and tax, while it only advances Israeli interests.

9:01 PM  

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