US Accuses Iran of Secret Al-Qaida Ties

US Accuses Iran of Secret Al-Qaida Ties - Voice of America

The United States accused Iran of having a "secret deal" with al-Qaida as Washington announced sanctions Thursday on six suspected al-Qaida operatives.

The Treasury Department did not offer many details. But it says the operatives are part of a network headed by Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, described by U.S. officials as an al-Qaida facilitator based in Iran.

The Treasury statement says Khalil has been operating under an "agreement" between the Iranian government and the terror group.

The department says Iran is a "critical transit point" for funding to support al-Qaida's activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

There was no immediate reaction from the Iranian government.

But Treasury Under Secretary David Cohen says a "secret deal" in which Iran allows al-Qaida to funnel resources through its territory has been exposed. He says the case illuminates what he called another aspect of Tehran's "unmatched support for terrorism."

The sanctions on Khalil and the five other reputed operatives freeze any U.S. assets that they may have and prohibit U.S. citizens from engaging in financial transactions with them.

0
Your rating: None

Comments

In addition to the Bacevich quote above, I find the following:

As World War II approached, there was little oil production or shipping after the first significant oil discovery was made in 1938 at Dammam. But in 1943, Roosevelt and his administration began to realize that oil was going to be very important in the future. A relationship started to develop. In order to provide military and economic aid to Saudi Arabia, Roosevelt declared that "the defense of Saudi Arabia is vital to the defense of the United States," which must have surprised the many Americans who had never even heard of Saudi Arabia.

Roosevelts Secretary of the Navy, William Knox, told Congress in March 1944 that the war had made the U.S. government extremely anxious about oil. He pronounced what was to become Americas postwar oil policy, namely "to provide for acquisition of oil resources outside the limits of the United States for the safety and security of the country." That was the rationale for our becoming more and more involved with Saudi Arabia.

So, I'm wrong? We are stuck with this relationship? But oil independence and protection are two separate functions. How to think about all of this? And now I've gone far from the main topic. Maybe.

http://www.fpri.org/footnotes/1421.200908.ottaway.ussaudiarabia.html

Robert C. Jones:

Are you serious about this statement you made?

"The people of Iran are fully aware that they have no better situation now from their government than they had before, and in many ways much worse. But in one key way much better: It is self-determined, and that is an aspect of inestimable value."

I don't understand why you think the subjects of a theocratic police state can think they determine their future.

Sorry about all the misspellings in the Bacevich quote. Dunno what happened.

My imagination does run away with me....

Apparently, Saudi Arabia shall be the Saudi Arabia of India:

Top exporter Saudi Arabia approved sales of 3 million barrels of extra crude to India for August to make up for a loss of shipments from Iran due to a payment dispute, sources with direct knowledge of the sale said on Tuesday.

http://www.tradearabia.com/news/ogn_202550.html

I wonder if an unintended long term consequence of our containment policy on Iran might be increasing instability within India and Bangladesh, etc? The Indian economic reforms are stalling. The public is unhappy with what it perceives to be unending corruption by public officials. You throw in more Saudi monkey-business and here we go again....

You know what? Canada and Russia and the US have plenty of oil. Different or larger piplelines can be built. Our own hemisphere is potentially rich in resources. But old habits die hard:

President Carter had delcared in 1980 that the United States would henceforth view an attempt by any outside power to gain control of this region "as an assuault on the vital interests of the United States of America," to "be relelled by any means necessary, including military force."

Andrew Bacevich, Washington Rules

The region being the Persian Gulf, of course.

Since 1980, people. And no serious post Cold War planning on any of this. Just same old, same old....

Dayuhan,

Welcome brother D. You ask a fair question in regards to the Saudis. I guess if it were easy we'd have sorted it out by now. But it does deserve a fair treatment, but not one that hijacks a discussion on Iran. I'll find a better forum and meet you there.

I will offer this though, step one is always to admit one has a problem. Until we get to step one, all subsequent steps are moot.

B.

RCJ:

Possibly a minor point, but re this:

while Iran is certainly a threat to both the Saudis and the Israelies; that they are no threat to the U.S. (even a nuclear Iran would be quickly vaporized if it ever dared to employ such a weapon in a wounding attack on the US)...

The people of Iran are arguably the most pro-American in the Middle East.

The people of Iran may be pro-American, but the people aren't the problem. The government of Iran is implacably anti-American, and has largely built its identity around being anti-American.

Obviously the Iranians are not going to directly attack the US. Much as it pains us to admit that a threat to the Saudis is a threat to us, though, that's where we're stuck. Whatever we think of their style of governance, the Saudis and the Gulf States are not using oil as a weapon. If the oil reserves of Shi'a Iraq, the Gulf, and Iran were to come under the control of a single anti-American regime with the will to use that oil as a weapon, that would be a far greater threat to the US than AQ. The US can't afford to let that happen, even if it means taking sides in a dispute amomng equally unsavory regimes

I understand your concern with Saudi Arabia, but I think, as always, that you vastly overestimate AQ's reliance on Saudi resentment toward their own government, and even more vastly overestimate the ability of the US to do anything about the way Saudi Arabia is governed. We can rethink that relationship all we want; how we think isn't likely to change anything. They are not a vassal or a client state, and they are not going to change their way of governing because we want them to. I really don't know what, in any specific sense, you want the US to do about the Saudi situation.

All histories are "versions," and most are written by the victor, or at least by the side one is affiliated with.

That does not make them necessarily "ideological" but it does create a certain inescapable bias.

The mid-50s were a heady time. I am amazed by how well we navigated that era. But it is also an era that demanded we bench several long-held principles in the name of national security/survival. The histories don't spend much time on that topic.

Now that the Cold War is long over it is time to take a hard look at that journey and those decisions and ensure that we have adequately cleaned up after ourselves. Judging by the amount of turmoil in the Middle East and % of that directed in our general direction, I'd suggest that perhaps we still have some more work to do in that regard. We don't owe any apologies, we did what we did and others would have done it in much rougher manner if similarly situated. But we do need to be honest with ourselves and seek purposely to get back on track.

One example is the idea of enduring allies and enemies. Once formed into idologically divided teams we tended to begin to cast such enduring roles. George Washington's wise counsel in his farewell address bears being brought back to the forefront of our thinking as we face the world we live in today.

"Excessive partiality for one foreign nation, and excessive dislike of another, cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots, who may resist the intrigues of the favorite, are liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests."

Actually the entire speech should be read into the Congressional record before the current membership. His words warning of party politics and the importance of good national credit are equally timely.

Bob

Robert C. Jones:

As I said, I broadly agree with what you wrote in the 4:18 PM post. However, I don't agree with this:

"As we know, "history" comes in many versions. The truth perhaps being the rarest version of all."

History is what it is -- "versions" are not history but are usually the products of ideology, bias, wishful thinking or minor perversions to make or reinforce a point.

Your main point here stated is accurate. It does not need couching or ideologically biased commentary to justify it.

Ken,

As we know, "history" comes in many versions. The truth perhaps being the rarest version of all.

The main point being that we have employed friendly dictators as a key component of our post WWII containment strategies; and have often let those "friends" get us into situations that are hard to square with our professed principles as a nation.

Secondary point being that over the past several years there has been a powerful advocacy to pit the US against Iran. While I have no special insights into if pro-Saudi or Israel lobbies stir that pot, I suspect they do. We stir it plenty all by ourselves though, and of that I do have first hand knowledge.

The people of Iran are fully aware that they have no better situation now from their government than they had before, and in many ways much worse. But in one key way much better: It is self-determined, and that is an aspect of inestimable value. There will be more internal sorting out in that troubled land, better if we have as little hand in that as possible, and stand ready to lend a friendly hand to whatever emerges.

Bob

Robert C. Jones:

While I broadly agree with your post and position on Iran, I'll surface three points for your future consideration.

"I am sure you are quite aware of how the US acted to overthrow the Democratically elected government of Iran to put the Shah into power in 1953."

While that is broadly correct, the real issues and that nominal -- only nominal -- democratic election were roundly manipulated by the Ayatollahs, specifically including Khomeini. That is not a semantic quibble or an esoteric concern, it had real and harsh practical impacts on what was done, how it was done and by whom. Your statement is of the sort often used to denounce 'US imperaialism' but it is not very accurate.

"...we nutured and supported the Shah's regime until his overthrow in 1979; turning a blind eye to his growing impunity and abuses toward his own people. After all, he was our ally and drew his legitimacy from the US far more than from any source recognized by the people he ruled over."

Again not true in many respects. While there is little question he derived from the US much of whatever legitimacy he possessed, he was also supported by almost all educated Iraniha and strongly so by the growing middle class. His impunity did not grow but his power did, principally due to oil revenues. His "abuses' did not grow and in fact were lessening until early 1978. While there is no question that he did commit abuses, his crimes pale into insignificance compared to those of the Ayatollahs -- Khomeini arguably killed more Iranians in the first two years after the departure of the Shah than did the Shah in the previous 25 years. There is also the issue, not germane to this thread, of the nations that aided the religious takeover after the departure of the Shah in Jan 79...

"...a black eye for the US in the region, with the capture of our Embassy in Tehran, the failed Desert One rescue, and the US generally being PNG'd from the region."

True. However the failure of the Carter Administration to properly address the issue contributed to that black eye in the region far more than did the failure of Eagle Claw. The guts to try resonate far better with some in this world than does the lack thereof. Most of the subsequent US policy failures in the Region were as direct result of the primacy of US domestic political considerations eclipsing foreign policy needs.

That last is a recurring phenomenon that should be the first consideration of any US strategist...

"...Iran is certainly a threat to both the Saudis and the Israelies; that they are no threat to the U.S. (even a nuclear Iran would be quickly vaporized if it ever dared to employ such a weapon in a wounding attack on the US)."

That's true. They know that. They also know the US is hesitant to act without iron clad evidence and that plausible deniability will be used by US politicians to 'defuze' any 'overeaction.'

That is also a factor attributable to US domestic politics and should not be forgotten.

"So, we let the Brits push us into a regime change operation in the 50s; and have allowed the Israelies and Saudis manipulate us similarly ever since. Perhaps it is time to stand on our own two feet for a change."

I can agree with that -- no caveats... ;)

Dear Mr/MS Anonymous;

I am sure you are quite aware of how the US(strongly encouraged by a Great Britain ally recently frozen out of the oppressive oil exploitation operation they had been running in Iran; and equally concerned about a growing relationship between the Iranian government to the Soviet Union at a time when the Cold War was not going well on several fronts) acted to overthrow the Democratically elected government of Iran to put the Shah into power in 1953.

I am sure that you are also aware of how we nutured and supported the Shah's regime until his overthrow in 1979; turning a blind eye to his growing impunity and abuses toward his own people. After all, he was our ally and drew his legitimacy from the US far more than from any source recognized by the people he ruled over.

I am sure that you are also aware of how that same Iranian revolution that swept the Shah from power also led to a black eye for the US in the region, with the capture of our Embassy in Tehran, the failed Desert One rescue, and the US generally being PNG'd from the region.

I am sure that you are also aware that while Iran is certainly a threat to both the Saudis and the Israelies; that they are no threat to the U.S. (even a nuclear Iran would be quickly vaporized if it ever dared to employ such a weapon in a wounding attack on the US).

So, we let the Brits push us into a regime change operation in the 50s; and have allowed the Israelies and Saudis manipulate us similarly ever since. Perhaps it is time to stand on our own two feet for a change.

The people of Iran are arguably the most pro-American in the Middle East. Iran is a true nation, with a tremendous history behind it and an equally tremendous future before it. Saudi Arabia? As Anwar Sadat once noted of the newly formed Gulf States, "those are not nations, they are tribes with flags."

Arguably the nature of our relationship with the Saudis (ironically, not unlike our relationship of old with the Shah) is the boiling center of gravity of this past ten years of transnational terrorism that we have been chasing to odd corners of the globe, such as Iraq (no AQ there until we baited them in with our invasion) and AFPAK (a strategic raid converted into a decade long fiasco of regime creation and state building in the face of popular resistance).

We tend to pout as a nation when we don't get our way. Vietnam and Iran being two great recent examples. Just as Germany and Japan became two of our strongest allies due to our ability to be gracious in victory; Vietnam and Iran were lost opportunities due to our inability to be equally gracious in defeat.

We are saddled with an obsolete Containment strategy that demands threats to contain for it to function properly. So we grasp at illogical opponents to place in that role. We need to evovle. Getting our relationship with Iran normalized is a critical step in that evolution. So to is growing to the point where we are no longer led by the nose into fights that make no sense for us by our much smaller allies.

Bob

Iran won? Won what I ask? I would much rather be part of American society than Iranian under an oppressive Islamic tyranny. How much better economically would Iran be now if they had not alienated the West and the Gulf States? Iran not an enemy you say Robert? Damn, that's taking turning the other cheek to the extreme.

Iran isn't our enemy? Iran leadership professes to being our enemy, and then demonstrates intent by training and arming insurgents that are killing our troops in Iraq and increasingly in Afghanistan. Furthermore Iran is promoting instability throughut the Mideast, which threatens our interests.

Many of the Iranian people would choose another path if they had the ability to do so, and Iran will likely be one of our great allies in the future, but right now their government and religious leaders are clearly hostile to the U.S. and many other States, and to deny that IMO is to assume unnecessary risk.

Iran is not "the enemy," and certainly their role in assisting AQ to mess with the US is far less than the role the US played in assisting the Muj to mess with the Soviets. I'd hate to see some rediculous over-reaction.

I suspect this is mostly a matter of convenience and shared interests.

If the US wants to get serious about deflating the AQ movement we need to focus on the places where the tap root grows, not on where the side roots spread to over time. Those side roots are leading us to places like the AFPAK/FATA area; Yemen; HOA, and the Maghreb. The tap root however is deep, deep in Saudi Arabia. We know it, but we don't know how to deal with it without risking disruption of that critical flow of oil. If by ignoring it we allow Arab Spring to flame in Saudi Arabia the consequences will be even worse. The Saudis must evolve in how they govern. The US must evolve in its relationship with that government and those people.

Evolution is better than revolution any day, but Kings typically don't evolve, so revolution is usually the tool of change in Kingdoms. The Saudi Oliver Cromwell is already born. Currently the Saudis are ramping up bribes to the people and internal security efforts to suppress this problem. That won't be enough.

Iran? We really need to get over the fact that they stood up to us and won. We need to rebuild that relationship on new terms.

The problem is that some of the mentioned GCC countries are not tracking the source and direction of the Zakat funds. And hawalas in the area are rampant, not only for Al-Q but also other groups like LeT etc. Point is, we really need to follow the money. Or follow it harder!

I'm just not that surprised that rival groups are aligning themselves for some strategic purpose. I dont have a specific example, but I've heard the Sunni-Shia working together against us story before in Iraq.

I always have to comment in threes, fours, and fives because I forget things.

Their are potentially competing oil pipelines as well. Look, I'm not being conspiratorial. The world is a complicated place and the decision making thought processes of some regimes is completely opaque.

A clarification to may second comment:

On the use of "brown"....

Six or seven years ago, I started noticing that young South Asians (Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, etc.) living in the West started using "brown" as a catch-all for these various second and third-gen immigrant youth. Probably started earlier than that. Some of the Indian think tank websites I read make fun of the term South Asian but they are just being a bit, well, snotty and intellectually incurious.

It's a perfectly valid western usage (they use the phrase "the West" all the time which is exactly the same) that along with the word "brown" is an attempt to meld the old melting-pot ideas of the United States with current Western concepts of multiculturalism.

Even if it's not an explicit thing, that is what I think is going on.

@ Tyrtaois:

I always wonder about the timing of things, too. Sometimes it's just plain old coincidence, although as humans we look for patterns even where there are none. At other times....an attempt to pressure some into signing regional agreements? Who knows.

The Shia-Sunni thing is overplayed. The "brown" people are capable of complexity and maneuvring and factionalisms, too.

Long War Journal has posted the following, too:

http://tinyurl.com/3euva2b

From the VOA excerpt above:

The department says Iran is a "critical transit point" for funding to support al-Qaida's activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Critical funding, indeed. Iran, Saudi, Pakistan....and the US and its allies in the West, too.

Unfair? Well, you all know what I mean. We pay for oil. We pay for international aid and monetary schemes. Not a novel observation, I know, but an important one to remember as some in DC ask for continued funding for international aid programs in hopes of changing entire societies.

Who knows. Maybe it will work this time. Maybe it does prevent outright conventional wars even as we all game each other in various low grade proxy conflicts in West Asia and the Mid East. Hope springs eternal, especially for an alphabet soup of Beltway bureaucracies meant to manage the chaos.

I'm also reminded of the following paper:

Saudi Arabias uncertain position on sectarianism is the result of several regional and domestic challenges. The most important regional challenges have been the ascendance of Shi`a Iran and the rise to power of the Shiis in Iraq, both of which are alarming trends for Riyadh. Irans influence stretches well beyond the Gulf, from Iraq to Lebanon, where Hizb Allah not only remains a powerful obstacle to Saudi Arabias interests, but also attracts widespread support for its confrontational stance against Israel. While the Saudis have not openly played the sectarian card, they understand that the passions invoked by sectarian prejudices are a potentially powerful political tool. There are also key domestic factors involved in Saudi Arabias sectarian posture. In fact, it is the convergence of the kingdoms regional interests and domestic vulnerabilities that will likely ensure that sectarianism remains a powerful force on the regional stage for the foreseeable future.

It's like it's all related somehow. It's almost as if regional actors aren't "hedging their bets". More like maneuvering around each other. What a tangled web we weave....

Iran doesn't like Israel or the US or the Saudis. Al Q doesn't like the US or the Saudis. The Saudi monarchy funds Pakistan which fuels Sunni radicalism with "blow back". We fund the Saudis and the Pakistanis and kinda the Iranians in a weird way given our economic interests in India and her desperate need for oil. (Iran has the potential to be to India what Saudi Arabia is to the US, although people hate it when I say that. "Your imagination runs away with you, Madhu. Knock it off.") And the Russians and NATO and China and so on and so on and so on.

I know the serious foreign policy types don't like the cliche of the Great Game and I agree with them. It's not so great. It stinks.

http://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/saudi-arabia%e2%80%99s-sectarian-ambivalence

We shouldn't introduce ourselves into this dynamic in a big way. Why is a purely transactional country-to-country relationship such a bad word in DC? Because there is less money in transactional relationships compared to grand alliances that need tending?

Well, anyway. Kudos to the serious people doing serious work in starving funding for dangerous networks.

I also read some open source information in the AP that claimed Iran is using al-Qa'idah as a a proxy against the U.S. and West in general, which on the surface I found odd since Iranians follow the doctrine of the Shi'a sect of Islam, while al-Qa'idah is a Sunni fundamentalist group.

Again, on the surface, it would seem a connection of this sort would be thorny by the fact that al-Qa'idah is an Arab organization, while the Iranians are predominantly Persians and historically there is animosity between the two. . .unless its the old saw: the enemy of my enemy is my friend?

My only issue with this statement is U.S. officials can never offer any details, or when pressed, fall back by saying the details would require releasing classified information, which has never been a problem for them in the past when it fit an agenda?

If Iran really did this then i am sure that it is another start of a war with Iran Vs all over the world.