Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Iran's Petraeus

As Frederick Kagan spins Neo-Con daydreams of "turning a corner," McClatchy reporters on the ground are telling a different story:

"One of the most powerful men in Iraq isn't an Iraqi government official, a militia leader, a senior cleric or a top U.S. military commander or diplomat. He's an Iranian general, and at times he's more influential than all of them."

Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force, as "Tehran's point man on Iraq," is manipulating election of pro-Iranian politicians, meeting often with Iraqi leaders and backing Shiite elements in Iraqi security forces in the torturing and killing of Sunni Muslims.

According to American and Iraqi officials, Suleimani is Iran's Petraeus who has succeeded, among other things, in slipping into Baghdad's Green Zone in 2006 to orchestrate the choice of a new Iraqi prime minister and building intelligence networks in Iran's embassy while providing Shiite Muslim militias with generalship, cash and arms, including mortars and rockets fired at the US Embassy and advanced roadside bombs that have killed hundreds of Americans and Iraqis.

While Kagan maunders in the Weekly Standard about the "new effort to establish security in Iraq" and that "victory is up for grabs," US officials report that roadside bomb attacks in March matched July's record level, and Joint Chief of Staffs Chairman, Adm. Michael Mullen last week accused Suleimani of precipitating the recent battles in Basra by backing Shiite militias and criminal gangs that are trying to control the city's oil-loading facilities.

Dick Cheney and no doubt John McCain will want to answer all this by getting into another war we can't afford, but American voters will have to be given a clear picture of what is really going on in Iraq beyond campaign claims of victory and decide how much more American blood and treasure to spend fighting Middle East enemies on their own ground.

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