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WHAT WE THINK
The Bush administration dismisses diplomatic opening by Iran
Setting the stage for war?

May 19, 2006 | Page 3

THE U.S. spurned a diplomatic opening from Iran over its nuclear program as evidence emerged that Washington is orchestrating armed actions inside Iran.

The U.S. dismissed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's lengthy letter to George W. Bush on achieving peace in the Middle East--even though international diplomats recognized it as an effort to engage the U.S. and avoid confrontation over Iran's efforts to produce enriched uranium.

While such a process is consistent with civilian nuclear facilities and permitted under international treaties--a fact consistently obscured by the U.S. media--U.S. officials maintain that the move is aimed at producing nuclear weapons, even though Iran lacks the technical capacity to do this.

Instead, Washington keeps playing the world's policeman, while the European Union Three--France, Germany and Britain--take the role of soft cop, offering economic and financial support for Iranian nuclear facilities if Iran abandons fuel enrichment. Ahmadinejad, however, has rejected the offer, saying that Iran won't negotiate under the threat of bombs.

The U.S. corporate media roll their eyes at Ahmadinejad as if he is paranoid. But as Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith point out in a recent article, "There is considerable evidence that military action against Iran has already begun.

"Retired Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner told the Cable News Network that 'the decision has been made and military operations are under way.' He said the Iranian ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency recently told him that the Iranians have captured dissident units, 'and they've confessed to working with the Americans.'"

According to investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, U.S. covert military operations have been taking place for months, including target spotting for air strikes and the recruitment of operatives among ethnic minorities--notably, the Balochis along Iran's eastern border with Pakistan, and Kurds on the northwest frontier with Iraq and Turkey.

The U.S. also permits the Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK) to mount military attacks on Iran from Iraqi Kurdistan, even though the State Department officially considers the MEK to be a "terrorist organization."

In fact, a series of armed actions in Iran by the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) has led Turkey, where the PKK is also conducting a guerrilla war, to raise questions as to whether the PKK is getting a green light--or more--from the U.S. Angry officials in Turkey--where the PKK has been fighting for Kurdish independence since 1984--raised the issue with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice when she visited Turkey late last month.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty further reported, "Turkey has called on the United States for several months to crush PKK/Conga-Gel bases in Iraq, but Washington appears hesitant to do so."

If it is true that the U.S. is using the PKK--originally a left-wing Maoist group--to put military pressure on Iran, it wouldn't be the first time Washington has used this approach. The Pentagon armed and backed the ex-Maoist Kosovo Liberation Army to attack Serbian forces during the 1999 NATO war.

Backing the PKK to any serious degree, however, would severely complicate U.S. relations with Turkey, a NATO ally and host to crucial U.S. military bases. Turkey has massed 250,000 troops on its border to confront PKK guerrillas based in Iraqi Kurdistan, which Turkey sees as a dangerous example for its own long-oppressed Kurdish population.

Nevertheless, Washington could even decide that breaking up Iraq and sponsoring the creation of an independent Kurdistan is the only way to maintain its dominance in the region. Such a maneuver would be a last-ditch, high-risk option, yet it's been taken up by prominent Washington players as Plan B to control Iraq--and Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) is the latest advocate.

It's in this context that U.S. pressure on Iran must be understood. Demanding that Iran abandon its nuclear program is not about ridding the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction, but ensuring that the U.S. and its ally, Israel, have a monopoly on such weapons.

As Iraq unravels, Iran--with enormous reserves of gas and oil--stands poised to emerge as the dominant player in the region, something that the U.S. can't countenance. Even the proposed sanctions on Iran are hardly the peaceful option they are purported to be, given that any attempt to limit or block Iranian oil exports would lead to confrontation.

Because of the U.S. debacle in Iraq, the neoconservatives around the Bush administration have had to abandon their idea of an open invasion of Iran. However, air strikes can be launched, covert operations can be mounted, and armed struggles can be sponsored--and the U.S. is prepared to use any or all such measures to keep the pressure on Iran.

In short, the U.S. is prepared to go to war with Iran if necessary--and that threat will remain until Washington is forced to withdraw its troops from throughout the Middle East.

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