Relations with the U.S. and Iraq
This page > Iran Role in Iraq U.S. Response to Iran

Iran has become a large player in Iraq, and the Bush administration has been using accusations of Iranian meddling in Iraq both to excuse failures and buttress arguments for attacking Iran. As a result, articles on this site covering these aspects of the Iran relationship have been moved from the News and Analysis and Commentary pages to this separate page devoted to Iran.

(reverse chronological order)
(author links are to the best information we can find on the author)

Iran's Role in Iraq (actual and alleged)     (TOP)

  1. Where Are Those Iranian Weapons in Iraq, 21 May 2008
    Gareth Porter, IPS News
    "The U.S. military command in Iraq continues to talk about an alleged pipeline of Iranian weapons to Iraqi Shiites opposing the U.S. occupation, implying that they have become dependent on Iran for indirect-fire weapons and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). But U.S. officials have failed thus far to provide evidence that would support that claim, and a long-delayed U.S. military report on Iranian arms is unlikely to offer any data on what proportion of the weapons in the hands of Shiite fighters are from Iran and what proportion comes from purchases on the open market. . . [Maj. Gen. Kevin] Bergner's refusal to address [the question of Iranian arms at the May 8 news conference] reflects a fundamental problem with the U.S. claims about Iranian weapons in Iraq: if there are indeed any Iranian rockets and mortars, and RPGs in the Mahdi Army's arsenal of stand-off weapons, they represent an insignificant part of it."   This article goes on to give specific enumerations of various types of weapons and the insignificant numbers of Iranian origin.
  2. Bogus Claim, al-Maliki Stall U.S. Plan on Iran Arms, 15 May 2008
    Gareth Porter, IPS News
    This article provides additional insight on the non-existence of Iranian arms described in the article below. It describes the administration plans for a massive media blitz on the supposed Iranian interference in Iraq designed to persuade Congress and the public that Iran must to be attacked. It notes the oddity of the fact that, outside the article mentioned below, the collapse of this plan is apparently not considered newsworthy.
  3. Iran shifts attention to brokering peace in Iraq, 14 May 2008
    Scott Peterson and Howard LaFranchi, Christian Science Monitor
  4. Sadrists and Iraqi Government Reach Truce Deal, 11 May 2008
    Alissa J. Rubin, New York Times
    "The Iraqi government and leaders of the movement of the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr agreed Saturday to a truce, brokered with help from Iran, that would end more than a month of bloody fighting in the vast, crowded Sadr City section of Baghdad. . . The deal would allow the sides to pull back from what was becoming a messy and unpopular showdown in the months leading up to crucial provincial elections. It is not clear who won, how long it would take for the truce to take effect or how long it would hold. But at least for now it would end the warfare among Shiite factions. The Iranians helped end the standoff by throwing their weight behind the government after a delegation of Shiite members of Parliament visited Iran earlier this month, according to three people involved in negotiating the truce. Under the terms of the agreement, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki's government would gain control over Sadr City, now a largely lawless area, and in turn give members of Mr. Sadr's militia who were not actively involved in the fighting a guarantee that they would not be arrested. . ."
  5. The elusive Iranian weapons, 8 May 2008
    Tina Sussman, Los Angeles Times
    In a briefing on the huge amount of ordinance found by Iraqi government forces since the Basra/Sadr-City offensive began in March, the use of the word Iran is notably absent, after U.S. ordinance experts could find no evidence of Iranian origin. In response to a question about a "neighboring country's" interference, the General DOES say "I think everyone takes those threats very seriously. And certainly the prime minister's recent initiative that the Government of Iraq has undertaken to discuss directly with their neighbor the flow of illegal arms and the training and funding of extremists here in Iraq signals the seriousness that the Government of Iraq takes concerning those unhelpful influences." This apparently refers to the Iraqi delegation to Tehran to present the "evidence," which, as it turned out, returned to Iraq and retracted their accusations.
    (Note:  In an interesting comment to the article (5/11, 9:18 PM), a Michael Gass, "Formerly of the 39th EOD Squadron Incirlik AB Turkey," who says he did ordinance inspection in northern Iraq in 1991, and then came back in 2006 as a private contractor for the same purpose, says "We found munitions from every country, just as any third world country purchases them. We found Russian, Czech, French, Chinese, you name it. What I NEVER found was any specifically Iranian ordnance. EVER.")
  6. Iraq [Government] Increasingly Caught Between US and Iran, 5 May 2008
    Scott Peterson and Howard LaFranchi, Christian Science Monitor
    The US has released its latest terrorism report, upping the number of US/Iraqi soldiers from "hundreds" to "thousands". The Iraqi government sent a delegation to Tehran to complain about Iranian interference. But a day later the Iraqi government backpedaled. "'We do not want to start a conflict with Iran,' says Iraqi spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh. 'We need our own government documentation of this interference, not from the Americans, not from the media.' He suggested Sunday that Iraq had no "hard evidence" of Iran's involvement or of the 2008 markings on seized weaponry, and that a top-level committee would be formed to investigate. . . [Iranian] Spokesman Salah al-Ubaydi was quoted in Asharq al-Awsat saying the Iraqi government was 'trying to find excuses' for poor fighting in Basra by blaming Iran. The weapons caches in Basra are 'quite normal because Iran sells weapons to anyone who wants and [the] al-Sadr movement, Al Qaeda, and the parties in Iraq's political process have Iranian weapons,' Mr. Ubaydi told the newspaper. 'Therefore it is quite natural to find Iranian weapons because they are sold and bought and any party can buy them.'"
    (Note:  See article on quiet U.S. acknowledgment of lack of evidence of Iran as source of ordinance.)
  7. U.S. and Iran Find Common Ground in Iraq's Shiite Conflict, 21 April 2008
    James Glanz and Alissa J. Rubin
    This article comments on the complex, convoluted, and sometimes contradictory logic driving the two big external powers in Iraq. The U.S. supports a government that's willing to have it stay in Iraq, fighting against al-Sadr's Mahdi Army that wants the U.S. out of a unified Iraq. Meanwhile, Iran is supporting the same government because it is willing to have Iraq divided into semi-autonomous regions, including one in the neighboring oil-rich south over which Iran would have considerable influence -- a breakup opposed by al-Sadr, who stands a good chance of a significant victory in the south in October's provincial elections. In Baghdad, on the other hand, The U.S. military is involved in an attack on Sadr City that the Iranians strongly oppose.
  8. Iran Top Threat To Iraq, U.S. Says, 12 April 2008
    Karen DeYoung, Washington Post
    Although U.S. officials have said that the late-March debacle in Basra and Sadr City was due to poor planning on the part of Prime Minister Maliki, Defense Secretary Gates now claims it was evidence of an increase in Iranian weapons, training and direction for the Shiite militias -- Iran's "malign" influence.
  9. Iranian who brokered Iraqi peace is on U.S. terrorist watch list, 31 March 2008
    Warren P. Strobel and Leila Fadel, McClatchy Newspapers
    "The Iranian general who helped broker an end to nearly a week of fighting between Iraqi government forces and Shiite Muslim militiamen in southern Iraq is an unlikely peacemaker. Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, who helped U.S.-backed Iraqi leaders negotiate a deal with radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr to stop the fighting in Iraq's largely Shiite south, is named on U.S. Treasury Department and U.N. Security Council watch lists for alleged involvement in terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear and missile technology. His role as peacemaker, which McClatchy first reported Sunday, underscores Iran's entrenched political power and its alliances in Iraq, according to analysts. . . 'Iran showed that they could mediate this cease-fire while the U.S. has shown very little influence,' said Joost Hiltermann, the deputy program director for the Middle East and North Africa at the private International Crisis Group. 'The United States is eager to accuse Iran of playing a damaging role in Iraq, but the bottom line is that Iran and the United States have a lot of things in common.'"
  10. Is Iran Winning the War in Iraq?, 26 February 2008
    Robert Dreyfuss, Alternet
    An analysis of the paradoxical influence of Iran in Iraq. On the one hand: "Despite its very public saber-rattling against Iran, however, the United States has spent most of the past five years in a de facto alliance with Iran in support of the Shiite-led (and US-installed) regime in Baghdad. The most powerful component of that regime, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) and its disciplined Badr Corps militia, is also Iran's closest Iraqi ally. Taking advantage of the political vacuum created by the US destruction of Saddam Hussein's government, Tehran has established a vast presence, both overt and covert, in Iraq, with enormous influence among nearly all of its western neighbor's Shiite and Kurdish parties. 'The American military occupation of Iraq has facilitated an Iranian political occupation of Iraq,' says Chas Freeman, a former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia." On the other hand: ". . . despite Iran's enormous influence in Iraq, most Iraqis -- even most Iraqi Shiites -- are not pro-Iran. On the contrary, underneath the ruling alliance in Baghdad, there is a fierce undercurrent of Arab nationalism in Iraq that opposes both the US occupation and Iran's support for religious parties in Iraq. In recent months, this nationalism has begun to express itself in many ways . . . 'There is such a thing as Iraqi nationalism, and the default position tends to be one of hostility toward Iran,' says Freeman. 'Removing the US occupation as the focus of nationalism will almost certainly lead to a renewal of that nationalism's focus on Iran.'"

U.S. Response to Iran     (TOP)

  1. U.S. puts brakes on Israeli plan for attack on Iran nuclear facilities, 13 August 2008
    Aluf Benn, Haaretz
    Israel has presented Washington with a request list for offensive hardware and diplomatic support that Washington interpreted as plans for an attack on Iran in the next few months. Washington has rejected the request on the grounds that it would harm American interests, demanding a prior warning of any attack and offering instead to beef up Israel's missile defense capabilities, which Israel has rejected. U.S. National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen had told the Israelis in June that Iran was far from getting nuclear weapons, and that the U.S. would not permit overflights of Iraq for any attack on Iran. The U.S. also leaked information Israeli military exercises related to Iran and doubts about the accuracy of Israeli intelligence, interpreted by Israel as strong opposition to an attack on Iran. Israel, for its part, had tried to get the U.S. to tone down its negative relationship with Russia (such as the anti-missile installations in Eastern Europe) in the hopes of enlisting Russia's support for the stalled sanctions against Iran.
  2. To Provoke War, Cheney Considered Proposal To Dress Up Navy Seals As Iranians And Shoot At Them, 31 July 2008
    Faiz Shakir, Think Progress
    At a journalism conference, Seymour Hersh commented that at the time of the January naval incident in the Straits of Hormuz, a meeting was held in the Vice President's office to consider ways to provoke a war with Iran. One of the items considered, but rejected (and thus editorially eliminated from Hersh's July New Yorker article on the subject), was to "dress up Navy Seals as Iranians, put them on fake Iranian speedboats, and shoot at them." Hersh made no implication that Cheney had proposed this, only that it was considered at a meeting in his office, but thought it important that a meeting was held to think of ways to provoke a war with Iran. Elsewhere it has been pointed out that this has simply not appeared in the mainstream press.
  3. Iran Shows Its Cards, 14 July 2008
    Scott Ritter, Truthdig
    Ritter offers an extensive enumeration of likely non-limited results of a "limited" military attack on Iran.
    "The good news is that the military planners in the Pentagon are cognizant of this reality. They know the limitations of American power, and what they can and cannot achieve. When it was uncertain how Iran would respond to a limited attack, either on their nuclear facilities or bases associated with the Revolutionary Guard Command, some planners might have thought that the U.S. could actually pull off a quick and relatively bloodless attack. Now that Iran has made it crystal clear that even a limited U.S. attack would bring about a massive Iranian response, all military planners now understand that any U.S. military attack will have to be massive. . ." and that will require major logistical efforts that cannot be hidden.

  4. Preparing the Battlefield, 7 July 2008
    Seymour Hersh, The New Yorker
    Hersh reports on a Presidential "Finding" that has been used to authorize a lot of undercover activity in Iran. It received acceptance by the Congressional leadership's "Gang of Eight," but there appears to be a difference of interpretation of that Finding. Congress is supposed to be consulted on covert operations, but only operations by the CIA. The greatley expanded covert operations in Iran are being carried by the military's Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), under the President's commander-in-chief role, to "prepare the battlefield," though much support work is dependent on the CIA. This has greatly damaged the oversight capabilities of Congress.
    Hersh also reports that Admiral Fallon's resignation had a lot to do with his belief in chain-of-command responsibility. His strengths as a strategic thinker were being compromised by the White House's refusal to keep him informed of what was being done inside Iran and their giving Special Operations unprecedented priority over clearly-defind chain-of-command. Hersh quotes retired Marine general and former commander of the Atlantic Command Jack Sheehan:
    "The coherence of military strategy is being eroded because of undue civilian influence and direction of nonconventional military operations. If you have small groups planning and conducting military operations outside the knowledge and control of the combatant commander, by default you can't have a coherent military strategy. You end up with a disaster, like the reconstruction efforts in Iraq."
    Hersh also points out that the recent upsurge in violence, whether caused by the U.S. directly or by dissident groups with U.S. weapons and communications gear, is a help to the Iranian regime, because blaming the CIA is easy in a country that remembers the CIA's 1953 coup and suppoort for Shah Reza Pahlavi's oppressive rule. Military experts quoted by Hersh lay out a large variety of reasons why working with ethnic or dissident groups in Iran is inappropriate to the situation in Iran and seriously counterproductive, including strengthening ties between Iran and Iraq. The Special Ops people in the Pentagon are concerned because they believe their approach -- using surrogates and false-flag operations -- has worked well in Africa and Afghanistan, but is completely inappropriate in Iran, yet Cheney is pressing for its use there.
  5. Bomb Iran? What's to Stop Us?, 19 June 2008
    Ray McGovern, Consortium News
    "Unlike the attack on Iraq five years ago, to deal with Iran there need be no massing of troops. And, with the propaganda buildup already well under way, there need be little, if any, forewarning before shock and awe and pox -- in the form of air and missile attacks -- begin. This time it will be largely the Air Force's show, punctuated by missile and air strikes by the Navy. Israeli-American agreement has now been reached at the highest level; the armed forces planners, plotters and pilots are working out the details."
    McGovern quotes Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Ohlmert's comments after his latest meeting with George Bush, clearly indicating a resolve on both their parts to attack Iran by late summer or early fall. McGovern points out that even though, unlike the Iraq invasion, the official evidence this time around -- in the form of the original Senate Intelligence Committee report on Iran, and the second phase of that report just published -- obliterates the cause for war claimed by the administration, events may unfold just as they did in Iraq due to the virtual blackout on those reports in the media as the attack nears. He reminds us that Admiral Fallon, one of the few linchpins holding back an earlier attack attempt, is gone, to be replaced by General Petraeus, all too willing to implement adminstration orders. The only way he sees to avoid the inevitable attack is to impeach the two chief elements in the administration.
  6. Chief Cleric Says Iran Doesn't Seek Nuclear Arms, 4 June 2008
    Nazila Fathi, New York Times
  7. How Cheney Outfoxed His Foes on Iran and EFPs, 2 June 2008
    Gareth Porter, InterPress News
  8. The Road to Peace in Iraq Runs Directly Through Tehran, 30 May 2008
    Jonathan Steele, The Guardian (UK)
    "Hysteria over this week's arms report is misplaced, and US attempts to cast Iran as the villain of the region can only backfire."
  9. Bush 'plans Iran air strike by August', 28 May 2008
    Muhammad Cohen, Asia Times
    ". . . a retired US career diplomat and former assistant secretary of state still active in the foreign affairs community, speaking anonymously, said last week that the US plans an air strike against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). The air strike would target the headquarters of the IRGC's elite Quds force."
  10. Hillary Strangelove, 27 April 2008
    Editorial, Boston Globe
    This editorial takes Senator Clinton to task for saying "she would 'totally obliterate' Iran if Iran attacked Israel. This foolish and dangerous threat was muted in domestic media coverage. But it reverberated in headlines around the world." The editorial goes on to enumerate that international reaction, pointing out the way such threats weaken Iranian moderates, and concludes by saying "A presidential candidate who lightly commits to obliterating Iran -- and, presumably, all the children, parents, and grandparents in Iran -- should not be answering the White House phone at any time of day or night."
  11. Petraeus Promotion Frees Cheney to Threaten Iran, 24 April 2008
    Gareth Porter, InterPress Service North America
    Admiral William Fallon's role as former CENTCOM commander enabled him to resist pressures from the administration, particularly Vice President Cheney, to attack Iran. With Fallon gone, and and administration-compliant Patraeus set to take over the entire U.S. Middle East military theater by late summer, the way is paved for an attack on Iran before the administration leaves office.
  12. Top U.S. Officer in Mideast Resigns, 12 March 2008
    Thomas Ricks, Washington Post
    Admiral William "Fox" Fallon will leave his post as head of CENTCOM military command in the Middle East at the end of the month and retire. Fallon has been publicly critical of administration policy (as represented by General David Petraeus) in Iraq, and strongly opposed any military action against Iran, essentially saying he would have no part of it. He also was largely responsible for keeping the record straight on what actually happened in the 6 January 2008 "attack" by Iranian National Guard boats on U.S. warships, thus reducing the risk of a Gulf-of-Tonkin type reaction. Fallon's announcement said he's resigning to end the "embarrassing" "distraction" caused by his disagreements with the administration. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated that "Admiral Fallon reached this difficult decision entirely on his own... I believe it was the right thing to do, even though I do not believe there are, in fact, significant differences between his views and administration policy," a statement divergent from what was reported in the article bleow.
  13. 6 Signs the U.S. May Be Headed for War in Iran, 13 March 2008
    Terry Atlas, U.S. News and World Report
    The author acknowledges that each of these may have other interpretations, but they clearly are steps in place to facilitate an attack on Iran . . .
    1. Admiral Fallon's resignation clears away practical military opposition
    2. Cheney's "peace" visit to Mideast has the earmarks of similar visit prior to Iraq War
    3. Israeli air-strike in Syria (in an area necessary for overflights to Iran) may have been to expose anti-aircraft electronic signatures
    4. Two new warships in position off Lebanon could provide protection for Israel in Iran war
    5. Israel has stopped saying it would act alone against Iran -- because it will have company?
    6. Israeli war with Iran-supported Hezbollah left a U.N.-policed buffer zone between the two

  14. Fallon's "No Iran War" Line Angered White House, 7 March 2008
    Gareth Porter, Interpress Service
    (See also the Thomas Barnett article on Fallon in Esquire that is referred to here.)
    "A new article on CENTCOM commander Adm. William Fallon confirms that his public statements last fall ruling out war against Iran last fall were not coordinated with the White House and landed him in trouble more than once with President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. In an admiring article on Fallon in Esquire, former Pentagon official Thomas P.M. Barnett writes that Fallon angered the White House by 'brazenly challenging' Bush on his aggressive threat of war against Tehran. Barnett also cites 'well-placed observers' as saying Bush may soon replace Fallon with a 'more pliable' commander... Barnett recalls that when Fallon was in Cairo in November, the lead story in that day's edition of the English-language daily Egyptian Gazette carried the headline 'U.S. Rules Out Strike against Iran' over a picture of Fallon meeting with President Hosni Mubarak. That story, published Nov. 19 and not picked up by any U.S. news media, reported that Fallon had 'ruled out a possible strike against Iran and said Washington was mulling non-military options instead.' Later that day, according to Barnett, Fallon told him during a coffee break in a military meeting, 'I'm in hot water again,' and then confirmed that his problems were directly with the White House..."
  15. Commander's Veto Sank Threatening Gulf Buildup , 15 May 2007
    Gareth Porter, Interpress Service
    In February, Admiral William "Fox" Fallon, while a nominee for CENTCOM commander, strongly opposed the administration's request for a third aircraft carrier in the Iranian theater. This apparently caused the administration to at least temporarily turn from military to more diplomatic approach. More significantly, Fallon is quoted by an interviewer of having said, around the time of his confirmation hearing, that an attack on Iran "will not happen on my watch"

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