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CASMII Statement on the Latest Allegations by the US Against Iran

Source: Campaign Against Sanctions and Military intervention in Iran
"Unfounded charges sabotage the prospect of bilateral negotiations"
On Monday, July 2nd, a US military briefing in Iraq alleged serious Iranian complicity in anti-US insurgency in Iraq. Brigadier General, Kevin Bergner, an army spokesman, made specific allegations that the Iranian Quds Force had colluded in an assault on American servicemen in Karbala in January during which 5 Americans were killed. Far from presenting a smoking gun (or any actual evidence), this well-orchestrated media event is part of a familiar repetitive pattern of demonization designed to bolster the notion of an "evil" Iran in the minds of the American public. It is aimed at justifying continued occupation of Iraq and hostilities towards Iran, as well as sabotaging the prospect of further US-Iran negotiations which have been requested by Iraq and supported by the Iranian government.
Within hours of the press conference, U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), put out a press release that the Iranian government "has declared war on us.", and "our diplomatic efforts are only likely to succeed if backed by a credible threat of force [1]."
Much like Colin Powell's speech at the 2002 United Nations General Assembly, the venue and aura of Monday's event were fashioned in such a way that one might expect to receive serious evidence that would prove beyond a reasonable doubt the validity of an important accusation, such as "Iranian government is ordering the killing of Americans."
However, the presentation was devoid of any tangible facts and consisted largely of recycled allegations. The only difference, this time, was that US was willing to make a direct statement on the record, implicating Iran in the Karbala attack, something the military had been reluctant to do in the past. Otherwise it was simply a government press release which was echoed almost verbatim, enthusiastically and uncritically, across the spectrum of the major western media.
When the Karbala raid occurred on January 20, 2007, the Bush administration wasted no time pointing fingers at Iran, with no evidence other than the fact that the operation was "meticulously planned" and "sophisticated," essentially saying that this would preclude Iraqis or other Arabs from being able to carry it out.
The Pentagon announced that it was investigating possible Iranian involvement. Noting the lack of evidence, the January 31 story by New York Times suggested a political objective: "tying Iran to the deadly attack could be helpful to the Bush administration, which has been engaged in an escalating war of words with Iran."
On January 26, Bush issued the extraordinary blanket order which authorized the U.S. military to kill or capture Iranian operatives inside Iraq. The order had nothing to do with Iranian involvement in the Karbala raid, other than the fact that the raid provided an opportune time. As noted by Washington Post:
The decision to use lethal force against Iranians inside Iraq began taking shape last summer, when Israel was at war with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Officials said a group of senior Bush administration officials who regularly attend the highest-level counterterrorism meetings agreed that the conflict provided an opening to portray Iran as a nuclear-ambitious link between al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and the death squads in Iraq [2].
In February, the administration released a series of ridiculous pictures depicting collected mortars and other ammunition supposedly supplied by Iran. The pieces had writings like "9-2006" circled by red marker with arrows pointing to the piece saying "this indicates a 2006 production date [9]." Then as now, no actual evidence of Iranian complicity was presented.  But, the media frequently repeated the unsubstantiated claim that such evidence did exist.
The program to blame Iran for Iraq violence was underway well before the compound raid now portrayed as central to the case against Iran.
The key finding in Monday's report is the capture of Ali Musa Daqduq whom the US is claiming is a Hezbollah operative and a liaison between the Quds Force and the Iraqi insurgency. The US military claims that Daqduq has decided to share information about his involvement with the Iranians. Bergner stated Daqduq's confession as thus:
Both Ali Musa Daqduq and Qais Khazali state that senior leadership within the Quds Force knew of and supported planning for the eventual Karbala attack that killed five coalition soldiers [5].
However, even though his picture has been widely disseminated, Daqduq is not made available for any questioning and the transcripts of his interrogations have not been released. In fact there is only one quote directly attributed to Daqduq himself:
Dakdouk told U.S. interrogators that the Karbala attackers "could not have conducted this complex operation without the support and direction of the Quds Force" [6]
If the quote is genuine, the implication is extraordinary. It means that the military's star witness is himself merely speculating about Quds' role. He is deducing such an involvement rather than having first hand knowledge of it.
Daqduq and his accomplices were captured not on Monday but back in March. On March 20th, the US claimed to have killed Azhar al-Dulaimi described as the "mastermind" of the Karbala attack without implicating Iran or the Quds force [10]. On April 26 during a Press conference, General Petraeus described a key document found on Al Dulaimi, as
a 22-page memorandum on a computer that detailed the planning, preparation, approval process and conduct of the operation that resulted in five of our soldiers being killed in Karbala [4].
Petraeus went on to specifically reject any Iranian involvement in the Karbala raid.
Q     And were you saying that there was evidence of Iranian involvement in that operation? I just want to be clear.
GEN. PETRAEUS: No. No. No. That -- first of all, that was the operation that you mentioned, and we do not have a direct link to Iranian involvement in that particular case [4].
Later in the same press conference he repeated that position.
Q     Not necessarily involvement in that specific operation? From the Iranians, I mean.  
GEN. PETRAEUS: Again, not direction, not -- again, we just can't confirm it. I can't say it wasn't there either, but we did not find, if you will, a direct fingerprint to it.
The description that General David Petraeus, the commander of the Multinational Forces in Iraq, gave in April about the 22 page document, is in direct contradiction to that of Brigadier General Kevin Bergner. Petraeus said "No. No. No" to evidence of Iranian involvement; he said there was not "a direct fingerprint to it," whilst Bergner claimed the same 22 page document "showed" that "Quds forces had gathered detailed information of the activities of American soldiers in Karbala [3]."
Since nothing of what the US Military has chosen to disclose has changed between April and now, it begs the question: Why the different postures? Why reject Iranian involvement vehemently back then, and treat it as practically a "slam dunk" case now?
The painful fact for the US is that its "surge" strategy, based on a significant increase of troop deployment in Iraq since January, has completely failed to improve security and reduce bloodshed in the country. For the desperate American military planners, Iran provides a convenient scapegoat for this strategic blunder. 
This explanation is confirmed by the sacking of General Peter Pace as the chairman of the join chiefs of staff. General Pace publicly questioned the Administration's assertions about Iranians supplying the Iraq insurgency, saying in February that there was no evidence that Iran is arming Iraqis [7]. His statements came after Bush's "shoot to kill" order which was issued in January. At the time, AP noted
His remarks might raise questions on the credibility of the claims of high-level Iranian involvement, especially following the faulty U.S. intelligence that was used to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003 [7].
For the Bush Administration, the point is not the unfortunate fate of the 5 US servicemen or the protection of US troops. As Professor Juan Cole observed so aptly:
...some 99 percent of all attacks on U.S. troops occur in Sunni Arab areas and are carried out by Baathist or Sunni fundamentalist (Salafi) guerrilla groups. Most of the outside help these groups get comes from the Sunni Arab public in countries allied with the United States, notably Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies. Washington has yet to denounce Saudi aid to the Sunni insurgents who are killing U.S. troops [8].
In its unsubstantiated allegations, the US is not motivated by a desire for stability in Iraq, for ending the occupation or support for a democratic Iraqi government. If those were the goals, cooperation with Iran would be very high on the agenda. This would include the immediate release of the five Iranian diplomats of the consulate in Irbil, ending support for terrorist organizations against Iran, dismantling covert operations on the Iranian soil, terminating ever increasing American military build-up in neighbouring territories and the Persian Gulf and the immediate resumption of bilateral discussions with Iran.
By fabricating evidence, misrepresenting facts and propagating unfounded charges against Iran, the US leaders actually sabotage the prospect of negotiations with Iran, as urgently sought by the Iraqi government.
This US propaganda drive prepares the American pubic for hostile action against Iran, and supports  pro-war politicians like Sen. Lieberman who exploit these charges as "evidence of Iranian intervention."  It is aimed at justifying the US military presence in the region, while calling on the Bush administration to "confront Iran [11]."
The current Bush policy is headed toward greater conflict by design. It is certain to bring long-term disaster for America and for the region. We ask all those who seek to avoid another catastrophic war to speak up now and alert their elected representatives. CASMII calls on the US government to cease its campaign of demonization of Iran. We call on the US to enter into immediate and comprehensive negotiations with Iran on all points of dispute between the two countries, without imposing any pre-conditions.
For more information please visit or contact CASMII.
(Campaign Against Sanctions and Military intervention in Iran)
11. In the same press release as [1], Sen. Lieberman stated "The Iranian government wants to push the United States out of Iraq. For Congress to mandate a retreat from Iraq will give the Iranians exactly what they want most"

... Payvand News - 7/4/07 ... --

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