With friends like these….

March 23, 2007

Things are heating up in northern Iraq:

The US is scrambling to head off a “disastrous” Turkish military intervention in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq that threatens to derail the Baghdad security surge and open up a third front in the battle to save Iraq from disintegration.

Senior Bush administration officials have assured Turkey in recent days that US forces will increase efforts to root out Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) guerrillas enjoying safe haven in the Qandil mountains, on the Iraq-Iran-Turkey border.

But Abdullah Gul, Turkey’s foreign minister, MPs, military chiefs and diplomats say up to 3,800 PKK fighters are preparing for attacks in south-east Turkey – and Turkey is ready to hit back if the Americans fail to act. “We will do what we have to do, we will do what is necessary. Nothing is ruled out,” Mr Gul said. “I have said to the Americans many times: suppose there is a terrorist organisation in Mexico attacking America. What would you do?… We are hopeful. We have high expectations. But we cannot just wait forever.”

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Several other factors are adding to the tension between the Nato partners:

· The firm Turkish belief that the US is playing a double game in northern Iraq. Officials say the CIA is covertly funding and arming the PKK’s sister organisation, the Iran-based Kurdistan Free Life party, to destabilise the Iranian government.

· US acquiescence in plans to hold a referendum in oil-rich Kirkuk in northern Iraq. Turkey suspects Iraqi Kurds are seeking control of Kirkuk as a prelude to the creation of an independent Kurdistan.

· Plans by the US Congress to vote on a resolution blaming Turkey for genocide against the Armenians in 1915. Faruk Logoglu, a former ambassador to Washington, said that if the resolution passed, relations “could take generations to recover”.

· Record levels of Turkish anti-Americanism dating back to 2003, when Turkey refused to let US combat forces cross the Iraq border.

I wrote about Israel training the Kurds as a buffer to Iran a while back. What we are seeing is just another example of how the US government has completely ignored the historical hatred felt between two groups of people in the Middle East. While our troops are busy killing Iraqis for peace, the rest of the region is falling apart at the seams.

And then we get this:

LONDON, March 23 (Reuters) – Iran captured fifteen British Royal Navy personnel during a “routine boarding operation” in Iraqi waters on Friday, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said.

Iran’s ambassador in London has been summoned and Britain is demanding the immediate safe release of the sailors.

Let’s give the British the benefit of the doubt for a second and say they were not doing anything wrong. Then why would Iranian forces grab them? To start a war? Think Lebanon last summer. No, me thinks there is much more going on. Iran doesn’t want to get into a conflict with the US or the UK. So I will refrain for further speculation on this until more information comes out. In the mean time let us remember the Iranian reformist Mohammad Khatami, who Bush shunned out of power with the famous “Axis of Evil” speech. Khatami is still out there trying to stop a confrontation between Iran and the US:

In an interview with an Iranian newspaper, former Mr Khatami conceded that the outside world does have legitimate worries about Iran’s nuclear programme that need reassuring.

He said Iran did not want a nuclear bomb but it should use patience and tolerance to remove the concerns of those who worry about the risks of proliferation.

Mr Khatami stressed Iran should insist on its right to nuclear technology, but he said courage should be shown to avoid a crisis, or at least minimise the damage.

“I believe we should pay a certain price, and pay it bravely, for talks and not head towards crisis as well as guaranteeing our rights in future,” he said.

“We must try to prevent the adoption of another resolution.”

He is trying to stop a resolution that aims to turn Iran into Iraq circa post first Gulf War, when the embargo plunged Iraq into third world status. Never forget that this is the man Bush pushed from office because the neocons needed a more radical Iranian leader to help build their war support. More from Khatami:

In a wide-ranging interview Monday night, Khatami said Iran is not intent on eliminating Israel and accepts a two-state solution that includes both Israel and a new Palestine — on terms acceptable to the Palestinians. He basically contradicted the recent angry rhetoric of his hard-line successor, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has denied the Holocaust and has called for Israel to be wiped off the map.

“The practical policy of the Islamic republic has never been to eliminate or wipe Israel off the map. And I don’t believe that this policy has changed with the change of president,” Khatami said in an interview in New York, where he is attending a United Nations conference. “You’ve never heard me reject the right of anyone to exist,” added Khatami, who is scheduled to speak at the University of Virginia and the Washington National Cathedral on Thursday.

Meanwhile the US is supporting terrorism in Iran:

Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi alleged that in the recent past, US intelligence operatives in Afghanistan had been meeting and coordinating with Iranian militants, apart from encouraging the smuggling of drugs into Iran from Afghanistan. He said the US operatives were working to create Shi’ite-Sunni strife within Iran.

American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has copiously written about recent US covert operations inside Iran. With reference to the incidents in Zahedan, Stratfor, a think-tank with close connections to the US military and security establishment, commented that the Jundallah militants are receiving a “boost” from Western intelligence agencies. Stratfor said, “The US-Iranian standoff has reached a high level of intensity … a covert war [is] being played out … the United States has likely ramped up support for Iran’s oppressed minorities in an attempt to push the Iranian regime toward a negotiated settlement over Iraq.”

Iran is fast joining ranks with India and Afghanistan as a victim of trans-border violence perpetrated by irredentist elements crossing over from Pakistan. Tehran, too, will probably face an existential dilemma as to whether or not such acts of terrorism are taking place with the knowledge of Musharraf and, more importantly, whether or not Musharraf is capable of doing anything about the situation.

Iran, perhaps, is somewhat better placed than India or Afghanistan to resolve this dilemma, since it is the US (and not Pakistan) that is sponsoring the trans-border terrorism. And what could Musharraf do about US activities on Pakistani soil even if he wanted to? The Iranians seem to have sized up Musharraf’s predicament.

So we are supporting extremists, the same people who supported bin Laden, giving them aid to attack Iran. One has to wonder if the reason we haven’t gone into Pakistan to get bin Laden is because we want his supporters to help us take down Iran. If true, then the whole War on Terror is a farce being used to cover US imperialism in the Middle East.

Let me put this another way. The US government is supporting the very people that attacked us on 9-11 in an effort to overthrow the government of a sovereign nation. Instead of working with the reformists a couple of years ago, our government decided to stir up the extremists in order to further the cause of perpetual war in the Middle East region. We support terrorism.

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