John McCain is Right: Iran *has* been aiding al Qaeda in Iraq

But why ruin a good, black-and-white talking point?

By Jeff Emanuel Posted in | | Comments (30) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

Update: The Weekly Standard has a good write-up on this, as well.

Pundits have been coming out of the woodwork today to claim that John McCain "misspoke" when he said that al Qaeda has been receiving funding, training, and equipment from Iran during the last year-plus of the Iraq War. The "gotcha" quote -- taken here (sans link) from ThinkProgress -- is that he "conflated" Sunni and Shi'a organizations, which clearly "represent opposing sides in the Iraqi civil war[sic]."

Here is the truth: al Qaeda has been receiving funding, training, and equipment from Iran during the last year-plus of the Iraq War, and denial of that fact belies a willful ignorance -- and a desire to remain ignorant -- of the truth, at very least. People who look at the sectarian differences -- Iran being Shi'a and AQ being Sunni -- and who write off any relationship between the two on those grounds are fooling themselves into inane ignorance.

Read on.

Life is complex -- as is the relationship between Sunni and Shi'a, and between different entities who all oppose the West, and the U.S. in particular. A common enemy can be the strongest adhesive -- as has been seen throughout the country, where Sunni and Shia have banded together in Anbar and elsewhere as tribal and citizens groups against AQ and other terrorist outfits. I have seen Sunni and Shi'a drive each other from their homes, and slaughter each other, simply because of the killers' strange combination of sectarian hate and innate bloodlust. However, I have also seen Sunni and Shi'a working hand in hand to fight against the insurgency -- and I have seen them working hand in hand to fight America and to kill Iraqi civilians.

The "gotcha" game of foreign policy is a loser for all involved. How ecstatic, for example, will the leadership of Iran be to hear that one of the two nominees to be President of the United States is being shouted down and pilloried for acknowledging the true fact that the Persian state is and has been aiding a group that is one of Western Civilization's -- and Iraq's -- bitterest, most bloodthirsty and inhuman enemies? 

The real transgression here is not slander, and the real victim is not Iran. Rather, the transgression is an abjectly pathetic detachment from the reality of our international and domestic security and strategic situation, and the victim is America herself: her security, her standing, and any belief on the part of the rest of the world -- especially our allies and our enemies -- that those running (or vying to run) the American government will put anything, be it alliances, security, or the lives of our own soldiers and civilians, ahead of the quest for ephemeral political gain.

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John McCain is Right: Iran *has* been aiding al Qaeda in Iraq 30 Comments (0 topical, 30 editorial, 0 hidden) Post a comment »

But do you have any links to support the notion that Iran is funding Al Qaeda?

The problem for me, is not that AQ and the clerics of Iran are religiously intolerant of each other and thus would never work together. The problem I have with the notion that Iran is funding AQ is that they have severe political differences. Iran isn't simply looking to get the United States out of Iraq. They are also looking to make Iraq a pliable nation that will bend to their wishes. Supporting Sunni radicals seems to be in direct conflict with that objective.

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why ... I dream of things that never were and ask why not. - Robert Kennedy

To the second, if you wanted to accomplish that end, how would you do it? Would you march right in to a country that is being policed and secured, in part, by the United States military -- or would you do everything you could to promote their withdrawal from that country first, thereby leaving you a clearer field?

If Iraq descends into chaos at this point -- or simply fails to show improvement -- what will happen? We will likely withdraw much sooner, as a result of the American people using the ballot box to show their displeasure with the situation overseas. If Iran's goal is, as you say, to "make Iraq a pliable nation that will bend to their wishes," then the least suicidal way to go about that is to help promote whomever the most ruthless fighters in that nation are, to maintain the highest possible level of unrest and to drive the American people to elect Democrats, who will then withdraw the US from the area and leave it as an open field for Iran to do what it wants with.

______________________________
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
-Thomas Paine: The American Crisis, No. 4, 1777

The Sunni's may be able to disrupt and destroy Iraq, but would they be able to rule it now ?

So once the country is truly a mess and a problem for everyone they turn off the money taps and march in to applause.
______________________________
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
-Thomas Paine: The American Crisis, No. 4, 1777

______________________________
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
-Thomas Paine: The American Crisis, No. 4, 1777

You said it first, so I find myself in good company. But thanks for the sentiment!

absentee

And we are all lifting from Bakunin.
______________________________
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
-Thomas Paine: The American Crisis, No. 4, 1777

is not uncommon in the State Department and in certain congressional circles, as evidence by this February 2007 CRS Report: RS22323 Iran’s Influence in Iraq.

Assertions of Iranian Support to Armed Groups

Iranian influence in Iraq has added to U.S.-Iran tensions over Iran’s nuclear program and regional ambitions, such as its aid to Lebanese Hezbollah. U.S. and allied officials assert that Iran is providing financial and materiel support to the Shiite militias discussed above, although a few reports say some of the weapons might also be flowing to Sunni insurgents. In providing support to armed groups, Iran might be seeking to develop a broad range of options in Iraq that includes sponsoring violence to pressure U.S. and British forces to leave Iraq, or to bog down the United States militarily and thereby deter it from action against Iran’s nuclear program. On the other hand, Iran might not necessarily want attacks on U.S. forces because a U.S. departure from Iraq, if that were the result, might leave the pro-Iranian government in Baghdad vulnerable to collapse. Those who believe Iran is proceeding cautiously in Iraq tend to view Iran’s aid to Shiite militias as a means of increasing its influence over them.

***

“Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn't so.” – Ronald Reagan

"The problem for me, is not that AQ and the clerics of Iran are religiously intolerant of each other and thus would never work together."

Even the State Department understands that rivals and even enemies can become temporary allies.

so I'll let flyer qualify his own statement.

Jeff just posted the link to an article in the Weekly Standard's Blog that's written by Thomas Joscelyn. He's done an enormous amount of research on the Iran / al-Qaeda connection, and the links contained within the article are well worth the time. The evidence is clear, material and mounting.

The snippet I posted earlier is from the foreword of that "rather lengthy essay" Joscelyn references in his article.

It's, thorough...

***

“Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn't so.” – Ronald Reagan

the "not" in that statement.

I don't think religion plays that big of a role in the division.

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why ... I dream of things that never were and ask why not. - Robert Kennedy

Flyer:

"Supporting Sunni radicals seems to be in direct conflict with that objective."

That is only so inasmuch as it is not not so. What I mean to say is, certainly in a vacuum supporting Sunni radicals would be counterintuitive. However, from chess, or war games, or game theory for that matter, we know that sometimes you must do something that appears counterproductive in the short term to profit in the long term.

Sometimes a player must support an opponent against a more direct threat.

absentee

with Stalin's USSR in WWII?

Just like Hitler's racist Germany would never team up with Emperial racist Japan in WWII?

Just like the communist Chinese would never side with a capitalist US to contain a communist USSR?

Just like a Sunni Saudi Arabia would never be threatened by a Sunni-dominated Iraq in Gulf War I and invite the American infidels to defend the Kingdon?

How much history should I list that is contrary to your very naive conclusion?

how every conflict must be compared to WWII.

Hitler and Stalin had a short lived pact not to fight with each other because they both wanted to build up their militaries before the war started.

I don't see the inherent conflict between Hitler's Germany and Tojo's Japan. Can you expand on that?

When did the communist Chinese side with the United States?

Your Saudi Arabia argument is just plain silly. The United States was a staunch ally of Saudi Arabia well before the Gulf War. Iraq was a clearly expansionist autocracy that had virtually no ties to Saudi Arabia. This argument is akin to saying that Germany and France should have never gone to war because they were both Christian nations.

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why ... I dream of things that never were and ask why not. - Robert Kennedy

Both are equally dangerous...

One of the most damaging and unwarranted assumptions made is that sectarian differences within Islam should prevent cooperation in operations against the West. A brief look at the evidence shows that Iran and others have had no trouble in putting aside differences in theology to harm their enemies, especially America. Specific links include the Iranian connection to al-Qaeda in the Sudan, a partnership brokered by Hassan al-Turabi, one-time leader of Sudan’s ruling party, the National Islamic Front. Next, there is Imad Mugniyah, Hezbollah’s master terrorist, who helped Osama bin Laden upgrade al-Qaeda’s capabilities in the early 1990s. The 1996 Khobar Towers bombing, long suspected to be the handiwork of Hezbollah under direction from Iran, may also have had a junior partner in al-Qaeda. The 9/11 Commission established that the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania were the work of Hezbollah-trained al-Qaeda operatives. There are disturbing signs that may implicate Iran in, at the very least, facilitating travel for some of the 9/11 hijackers. Finally, there is extensive evidence that Iran aided al-Qaeda’s retreat from Afghanistan in late 2001 and has allowed al-Qaeda agents to operate from Iranian soil ever since.

***

“Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn't so.” – Ronald Reagan

But I thought the links between Iran & the islamists were well established, with munitions found & even Iranian "assistants" captured.

The notion that they would not work with Sunni islamists is preposterous - it enobles them, & they are not noble. Iran has a vested interest in the islamists succeeding in Iraq & Afghanistan.

Great post Jeff!

Sunni vs. Shi'a is an idea, the purity of which is not to be sullied with facts.

"No compromise with the main purpose, no peace till victory, no pact with unrepentant wrong." - Winston Churchill

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"If we want to take this party back, and I think we can someday, let’s get to work." – Barry Goldwater

after he made the comment.

I don't claim to have any idea if there is a relationship between Iran and AQ, but the only possible conclusion that can be draw from McCain's remarks is he doesnt have any idea either.

Is he wanted to go on the record as having felt he misspoke.
______________________________
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
-Thomas Paine: The American Crisis, No. 4, 1777

why would he do that if he knew himself to be right?

For all we know he just didn't feel like making an argument that could be misconstrued
______________________________
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
-Thomas Paine: The American Crisis, No. 4, 1777

Just in the opposite way the MSM/liberal bloggers want to spin it.

It was a mistake for McCain not to trust his own judgment there.

Either he was misinformed before he took back his statement, or taking back his statement was misinformed. Either way, a gaffe.

The only way I see that he can come out of this is by clarifying his mistake was not concerning Iran's connections with AQinIraq, but with the specific nature of those connections, i.e. Iran actually taking AQ in and training them and sending them back.

Of course, if that narrow fact is actually true, he can't get out of his misstep at all. Anyone know if that's true?

can to deflect from the race baiting their party has been caught doing.

So far it's been the Taliban aiding Al Qaeda, Pakistani Intelligence, Saudi Arabia, Sadam Hussien, Iran, Iragi Sunni Insurgents...seems like Sadr's miitia is the only group not supporting Al Qaeda in Irag.

Weekly Standards infor is more comprehensive that what I am about to add but Mansoor Ijaz who comments on FoxNews said that Osama's son may be living in Iran. He has also speculated that Osama himself might be there from time to time.

 
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