The recent surge of terrorist violence in Iran likely is being funded in part by the Bush administration with the support of Congress.
According to a report in the July 7-14 issue of The New Yorker magazine, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh says the U.S. reportedly has been funding the Iranian dissident terrorist group Mujahideen-e-Khalq, or M.E.K.; the Kurdish separatist Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan, or PJAK; and, according to some sources, the Jundallah, or Iranian People’s Resistance Movement.
“Hardly a day goes by now we don’t see a clash somewhere,” retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner is quoted by Hersh as stating. “There were three or four incidents over a recent weekend, and the Iranians are even naming the Revolutionary Guard officers who have been killed.” Gardiner has taught strategy at the National War College and is monitoring the violence in Iran.
The bloodshed in Iran likely has been underwritten by the U.S. Congress which last year acceded to a request from Bush “to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran,” Hersh writes, “designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership.” Bush asked for $400 million for the work.
“The covert activities involve support of the minority Ahwazi Ara and Baluchi groups and other dissident organizations,” Hersh added, noting that “Clandestine operations against Iran are not new” and U.S. Special Operations Forces “have been conducting cross-border operations from southern Iraq, with Presidential authorization, since last year.”
Earlier this year, a militant Ahwazi group claimed to have assassinated a Revolutionary Guard colonel, Hersh noted, and the Iranian government conceded an explosion in the southern city of Shiraz had been a terrorist act. That blast killed a dozen people and injured more than 200. Hersh said it could not be learned if there was any specific U.S. involvement in that incident.
However, the M.E.K., which has been on the State Department’s terrorist list for more than a decade, in recent years “has received arms and intelligence, directly or indirectly, from the United States,” Hersh writes, and some of the newly authorized covert fund money may well flow into their coffers. A Pentagon consultant who was not named told Hersh, “The (Bush) Administration is desperate for results.”
As for the Kurdish PJAK, reportedly getting U.S. covert funding, Hersh quotes Gardiner as noting there has been a marked increase in the number of their armed engagements with Iranians and terrorist attacks on Iranian targets. PJAK fighters last May attacked Revolutionary Guards and in June attacked Iranian border guards.
A former senior intelligence official indicated to Hersh that Vice President Cheney’s office “set up priorities for categories of targets (in Iran) and now he’s getting impatient and applying pressure for results. But it takes a long time to get the right guys in place.”
The official added, “There is huge opposition inside the intelligence community to the idea of waging a covert war inside Iran, and using Baluchis and Ahwazis as surrogates.”
The official was also quoted as saying there had been a meeting in Cheney’s office and “The subject was how to create a casus belli (an event to justify a declaration of war) between Tehran and Washington.”
Hersh also wrote that Admiral William Fallon, who until recently headed the U.S. Central Command with oversight for Iraq and Afghanistan, “resigned under pressure, after giving a series of interviews stating his reservations about an armed attack on Iran.”
Retired Marine General John Sheehan, formerly commander-in-chief of the U.S. Atlantic Command, told Hersh that when Fallon “tried to make sense of all the overt and covert activity conducted by the military in his area of responsibility, a small group in the White House leadership shut him out.”
Hersh quoted a Pentagon consultant as stating, “Fallon went down because, in his own way, he was trying to prevent a war with Iran, and you have to admire him for that.”
In sum, while the Bush regime claims the Iranians are behind attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq, (an assertion fraught with what the New York Times delicately called “significant uncertainties,”) there is no longer any question Bush is doing just that inside Iran; that Cheney is looking for a cause to start a war; and that the White House will fire any flag officer that dares to stand in its way. #
(Sherwood Ross is a resident of Miami, Fla., who writes on military and political subjects. He has worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and for wire services. Reach him at email@example.com).