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US War with Iran: Bagdad Offensive and Accusations Against Iran Intensify; US Attack on Iran Expected

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US War with Iran: Bagdad Offensive and Accusations Against Iran Intensify; US Attack on Iran Expected
by William H. White
April 30, 2008

As we conclude in our April 7, 2008 report, "the Bush administration is likely to throw more resources at the US military's now weakened Shiite flank and proceed as though it succeeded. So we expect the Bush administration:

  • to continue to back its now diminished Shiite partners by increasing operations against and laying siege to the Mahdi Army controlled areas of Baghdad;

  • to quickly rebuild/reinforce its offensive capabilities around Basra before resuming operations against the Mahdi Army there;

  • to maintain an overall state of conflict and anti-Iranian environment in Iraq, especially increasing the frequency and volume of apparently baseless accusations that Iran is underwriting attacks against US coalition forces, much as the Weapons of Mass Destruction theme was used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq, meeting requests for evidence with new accusations, which the media dutifully report without qualification."

Since then events have continued to build toward a US attack on Iran, with little movement away from war, after a brief period of cooperation between the Iraqi and Iranian governments to arrange a cease fire in Basra, the situation continues to deteriorate, including repeated US accusations against Iran and Moqtada al-Sadr's threats of a reciprocal escalation for the increasingly bloody siege by US and Iraqi government forces of the Shiite ghettoized slum, Sadr City, in Baghdad.

Event Summary:

  • While we do not discuss specific military deployments, the Bush administration continues its build-up of air, naval and special operations forces in theater, with a flurry of visits by US defense officials to "allies" whose bases or air space would be needed to support the attack on Iran.

  • Secret Bush "Finding" Widens War on Iran, as reported by CounterPunch's Andrew Cockburn on May 2, 2008, "Six weeks ago, President Bush signed a secret finding authorizing a covert offensive against the Iranian regime that, according to those familiar with its contents, 'unprecedented in its scope.'" This indicates the predicted Iran-Iraq border operations have been given a green light.
  • US and Iraqi government forces have laid siege to approximately 3 million people of Sadr City, a mostly Shiite slum in Baghdad, the US command claiming it only wants to stop rocket attacks on the Green Zone, when in fact the US began the offensive in March, long before there were any rocket attacks from Sadr City, while the Mahdi Army had been observing a six month long cease fire. Shiite Iran, which has attempted to mediate a cease fire in Baghdad, as it had in Basra, has repeatedly objected to the US offensive. The US operation, where Shiites supporting the US occupation of Iraq are attacking Shiites opposed to the US occupation, is turning this vast slum into a ghetto, as it is increasingly cut off from the rest of Baghdad and subject to daily military assault, creating a profound provocation of Iran that is essentially invisible to the US public.

  • US has issued repeated threats against the Iranian government, including radio broadcast to Iran by Bush noting, "And the Iranian people have got to understand that the United States is going to be firm in our desire to prevent the nation from developing a nuclear weapon..."

  • Another two naval incidents, one in the Persian Gulf where a US military chartered cargo vessel, Western Venture, fired warning shots at approaching unidentified small boats without known injuries or damage. While adding to regional tensions and increasing oil prices, the incident is likely not a provocative act by either side, but rather much like the other incident at the entrance to Suez Canal, where a boat borne local vendor was shot to death by personnel aboard a US military chartered vessel Global Patriot.

  • Iran remains confidant a US attack is unlikely, which is unfortunate because it may lead to ill advised actions or inactions on the part of the Iranians; however, it is also likely that such statements are being accompanied by Iranian defense preparations, perhaps including assistance with its air defense systems provided by Russia, easily observed by US reconnaissance, as a warning to the Bush administration.

  • Promotion of General Petraeus, replacing Admiral William Fallon as head of U.S. Central Command, or Centcom, which oversees US military activity throughout the Middle East. The US Congress is expected to rubber stamp the promotion, placing this very political, can-do general where he can do the most harmful bidding of the Bush administration.

  • Pictures recently released by the US of Syrian site bombed by Israel on September 6, 2007 appeared to have been doctored [additional analysis]. In addition, there has been a concerted effort to link North Korea to Syrian site, and, in likely short order, to Iran as well.

A New Casus Belli: "Iran Is Killing US Troops"

It now appears the Bush administration has augmented and subordinated the nuclear issue and naval incident as casus belli to the "Iran is killing US troops" propaganda offensive, which immerged with the invention of the so-called "Special Groups" by the US military command, first mentioned by the US Military Command in Iraq on July 2, 2007. They took on new life at the end of March 2008, as reported by Agence France-Presse (AFP) on March 26, 2008, when military spokesman Major General Kevin Bergner, as part of the US Military's effort to "document" Iranian sponsored operations in Iraq, revealed these "Iranian-supported Special Group criminals" were apparently and suddenly everywhere.

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