The Times breaks the story: we're detaining the enemy in Iraq!
The American military is holding at least four Iranians in custody in Iraq, including senior military officials, according to a New York Times reported released today.
According to senior Iraqi and American officials, the Iranians in question were seized in raids conducted last week against groups suspected of carrying out sttacks on Iraqi security forces and civilians. Two Iranian diplomats were also apprehended, but were subsequently "turned over to Iraqi authorities and released."
Much to the chagrin of the Times, the government did not immediately disclose the evidence against the Iranians, and declined to identify those being held. The paper quoted one official as saying that "a lot of material" was seized in the raid, but added that he "would not say if it included arms or documents that pointed to planning for attacks."
According to the Times:
A senior Western official in Baghdad said the raids were conducted after American officials received information that the people detained had been involved in attacks on official security forces in Iraq. "We conduct operations against those who threaten Iraqi and coalition forces," the official said. "This was based on information."Let's take a time out to appreciate the end of that last sentence - you know, the part where the American newspaper, in the city primarily targeted on 9/11, refers to a suicide-bombing, civilian-targeting organization, and its ilk, as "groups that the Americans regard as terrorist organizations." I never cease to be amazed by the preposterous pretentiousness involved in such condescending, pseudo-"enlightened" statements, although clearly I should have long since become desensitized to such ridiculousness.
Much about the raids and the identities of the Iranians remained unclear on Sunday. American officials offered few details. They said that an investigation was under way and that they wanted to give the Iraqi government time to figure out its position. A Bush administration official said the Iranian military officials held in custody were suspected of being members of the Quds force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. It has been involved in training members of Hezbollah and other groups that the Americans regard as terrorist organizations.
OK, back to the story at hand. From the Times:
American and Iraqi officials have long accused Iran of interfering in this country’s internal affairs, but have rarely produced evidence. The administration presented last week’s arrests as a potential confirmation of the link. [National Security Council spokesman Gordon] Johndroe said, “We suspect this event validates our claims about Iranian meddling, but we want to finish our investigation of the detained Iranians before characterizing their activities.”It is indeed an opportunity for the Iraqi government to decide, and demostrate, just what they are willing to tolerate. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is reportedly "unhappy with the arrests," and his displeasure is understandable if looked at from the point of view of many who have been displeased - at best - with his inability (and apparent unwillingness) to stem the Iranian insurgence and domestic sectarian violence within the nation. The publicization of this development - the detainment of Iranians suspected of active plotting and terroristic activity within Iraq - not only throws the spotlight on Iran, as they will have to answer for their own people having been caught in Iraq, but also puts the onus on the fledgling Iraqi government, forcing them into taking a public stance on Iranian insurgence and activity within their country.
The development was being viewed skeptically on Sunday by some Iraqis, who said that they suspected that the timing was intended to reinforce arguments by some in the administration that direct talks with Iran would be futile.
An administration official in Washington disputed that, saying, “When the military conducted the raids, they really didn’t know who they were going to find.”
The United States is now holding, apparently for the first time, Iranians who it suspects of planning attacks. One senior administration official said, “This is going to be a tense but clarifying moment.”
“It’s our position that the Iraqis have to seize this opportunity to sort out with the Iranians just what kind of behavior they are going to tolerate,” the official said, declining to speak on the record because the details of the raid and investigation were not yet public. “They are going to have to confront the evidence that the Iranians are deeply involved in some of the acts of violence.”
The Times's whistle-blowing effort, in this case, should play directly into America's hands in two ways, as Iran is shown to be actively - and potentially provably - working to further destabilize Iraq, and as the Iraqi government, whom we have been trying for some time now to stand up for itself, is forced to do just that, if it does not wish to aquiesce fully - and publicly - to Iran.
America is doing the right thing here: apprehending the enemy, regardless of origin, in a combat area. For their sake, and for ours, the leadership of Iraq needs to fully recognize that Iran is no friend of theirs in the region, and to finally take a public - and private - stand for their allies (us), and against their enemy, Iran. In the meantime, we can only watch, wait, and hope - and know that, should any sensitive or secret developments take place (especially those which would work against us, and to the advantage of our enemies), the New York Times will be there, doing its best to break the story and make it known to the world.