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The Building Blocks of War

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Message Chris Gelken

 The Petraeus report could be the tipping point, but can we really trust it?  

Just how much is Iran involved in, or indeed responsible for, the instability in Iraq?

The answers to this question are often vague, ambiguous and frequently tainted by self interest. 

Last week General David Petraeus, commander of US forces in Iraq, declared that the mortars and missiles fired on Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone were of Iranian manufacture. He further asserted that they were supplied by Iran, and fired by Iranian trained insurgents.  

As for the provenance of the weapons, that is for a forensic ballistics expert to decide. Regarding the rest, well, it depends on who you trust, doesn’t it?  

And next week, Petraeus is going to tell Congress that everything that has gone wrong in Iraq is Iran’s fault.  

By contrast, many Iraq watchers are of the opinion that the recent Baghdad government assault on Basra and the subsequent nation-wide surge in violence was inspired by Vice President Dick Cheney during his recent visit to the region.  Another of the building blocks, apparently, in plans for military action against Tehran.

The aim, they say, was to destroy any support base the Iranians may have among the Shia militias to prevent effective retaliation in the event of a wider conflict. 

Many of those same experts also point to Iran as being largely responsible for brokering a ceasefire.  

Obviously Iran has some influence in Iraq, but is it a positive or a negative influence?  

It would be ridiculous for anyone to suggest that there are no Iranian manufactured weapons in Iraq.

One cannot imagine the number of Iranian weapons that were captured in the course of the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran War.  Weapons that were then stored in ammunition dumps that were inexplicably left unguarded after the US-led invasion of 2003, and subsequently looted.  

But proving a link between the weapons used against the Green Zone and the official sanctioning of their positioning in the hands of insurgents by the Tehran government is rather tricky. 

Having said that, one cannot say with absolute conviction that certain Iranian government agencies are not turning a blind eye and allowing modern weapons across what is a very long, porous and virtually impossible to police the border.

But the question remains whether this is official policy, are the responsible agencies acting under direct orders from government leaders in Tehran?  

On the other hand, was there nothing more than a discreet nod, a surreptitious wink? Perhaps.  

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British journalist currently based in Tehran, Iran.
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