Tuesday January 30, 2007
"US officials in Baghdad and Washington are expected to unveil a secret intelligence "dossier" this week detailing evidence of Iran's alleged complicity in attacks on American troops in Iraq. The move, uncomfortably echoing Downing Street's dossier debacle in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, is one more sign that the Bush administration is building a case for war.
Nicholas Burns, the senior US diplomat in charge of Iran policy, says Washington "is not looking for a fight" with Tehran. The official line is that Washington has made a conscious decision to "push back" against Iran on a range of fronts where the two countries' interests clash. Primarily that means Tehran's perceived meddling in Iraq, where its influence with the Shia-led government and Shia majority population appears to be increasing as Washington's weakens.....
Israel is also pushing the intelligence case while upping the ante, claiming to have knowledge that Tehran is within a year or two of acquiring basic nuclear weapons-making capability. In a BBC interview last week former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu compared President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime to Hitler's Nazis. Speaking in Davos the deputy prime minister, Shimon Peres, demanded immediate regime change or failing that, military intervention.
The US "push back" against Iran comprises many other elements beyond Iraq. Unconfirmed reports suggest Vice-President Dick Cheney has cut a deal with Saudi Arabia to keep oil production up even as prices fall, to undercut Iran's main source of foreign currency. Washington is pursuing expanding, non-UN global financial sanctions against Tehran; encouraging and arming a "new alignment" of Sunni Arab Gulf states; and highlighting Iran's role in "supporting terrorism" in Palestine, where it helps bankroll the Hamas government, and Lebanon, where it backs Hizbullah. The US is also deploying powerful naval forces in the Gulf that are of little help in Iraq but could more easily be used to mount air strikes on Iran.
Almost any one of these developments might produce a casus belli. And when taken together, despite official protestations, they seem to point in only one direction. The Bush administration, an American commentator suggested, is "once again spoiling for a fight"."