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Arming the Mullahs

April 7th, 2014 - 6:03 pm


Somebody on Twitter posted an upbeat message saying the US delegation to the latest round of talks with Iranian officials was quite optimistic.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a born optimist and I love optimism, but I’d rather revel in victory than hope for good news, and the Iranians have every reason to revel.  The Obama crowd has just ok’d something the Tehran tyrants have desperately wanted since the eighties: spare parts for their long-grounded American passenger aircraft.  Boeing and General Electric were given export licenses by the Treasury Department and everyone involved has been chanting “we take aircraft security very seriously,” in order to cloak this latest gift to the Khamenei-Rouhani regime in humanitarian hues.

Frankly I’d rather they took national security very seriously.  Iran uses its commercial aircraft for military purposes (one of the reasons that eery flight between Tehran and Caracas is so worrisome), and the mullahs have been limited by the degradation of the national fleet.  The Boeing planes and GE engines date to the 1970s, and very few of them are in service.  Back in the mid-eighties, when I spent quite a bit of time with Iranian officials, they repeatedly asked for spare parts, both for the passenger planes and for the aging military craft, the F4s and F5s.  Secretary of Defense Weinberger of course vetoed any such discussions, and the embargo has held until just now.

Now we’re arming Iran.

Meanwhile, as my buddy/boss/colleague Mark Dubowitz explains, the Russians and Iranians are working on ways to bust the oil sanctions on Tehran.  They’re gonna swap stuff:  Russian goodies (probably including military equipment such as submarines, torpedoes and antiaircraft missiles) for Iranian oil.  This will not be the first time.  Iran has done swaps with India and, most recently and outrageously, with the Turks (Iranian natural gas for Turkish gold, along with a plethora of other deals).

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Quite a quartet.  Quite a variety of famous men, and a woman no one ever heard of, all members of a generation rapidly headed for judgment and reward, all dead in the past few days.  I knew two of them — Admiral Jeremiah Denton and Secretary James Schlesinger — fairly well, and I spent years in the nightmare supervised by Judge Walsh when he was special prosecutor in the Iran-Contra matter.  I never knew Wendy Davis, but her obituary is a disaster, and I’m going to correct it.

But first the famous men.

It’s hard to render more honor to Admiral/Senator Denton than he has received from the great New York Sun.  He was the Platonic ideal of the hero, an almost mythic embodiment of courage and honor who informed and inspired us by repeatedly blinking out the word “torture” in Morse Code during an interview with a Japanese television reporter designed by his Vietnamese captors to deceive us into thinking Denton and his fellow POWs were being decently treated.  As befits an officer, he was among the last prisoners released from that Asian hell, and he served one term in the Senate before retiring.  He was a fine senator who was shabbily treated by most of the leading journalists.  He’d attended the Naval Academy, after all, not the anti-war bastions of ignorance and narcissism that were hard at work to indoctrinate our intellectual elites in the ways of anti-Americanism and multiculturalism.

Jim Schlesinger was a brilliant man, one of few capable of running CIA, Energy, and Defense, under Democrat and Republican presidents.  An evening with him was always delightful, as well as a learning experience.  I’m sure he was tough to work for;  he wasn’t very patient with people less talented than he, which means most of mankind.  He had a fabulous wife, which says a lot.  He was very academicky, from his manner of speaking to the ever present pipe throughout his public career.  He did several surprising things, converting from Judaism to Lutheranism, and going public with some of CIA’s most cherished secrets, the so-called “crown jewels,” including stories about James Jesus Angleton that effectively ended the career of CIA’s long-time counterintelligence chief.  He served as SecDef at the same time Henry Kissinger was at State, and one can only hope there are some tape recordings of their debates, both for their literary and intellectual content.  Surely one of the major figures of recent American history.

Lawrence Walsh’s public career goes back to the Eisenhower years, when Walsh was secretary at the National Security Council.  He never doubted his own importance, and when he served as attorney to some of our biggest corporations, he was celebrated for taking three suites at the Watergate Hotel:  his own and the one above and below.  He didn’t want to be disturbed, you see.  He wanted the job of special prosecutor and avidly pursued every scalp he thought he might carve from Reagan’s people.  In the course of his investigations he once dropped off a briefcase of highly classified documents at curbside at Los Angeles airport, a violation of security regulations.  It was never found, nor was Walsh ever charged with anything.  Despite the very high profile of the investigation — and the miles of nonsensical ink written about presumed malfeasance by the Reagan people — he managed to destroy only a few small fry who couldn’t bear the costs of legal defense, a retired Air Force general for evading taxes on arms sales to Iran, and Oliver North for accepting a security fence.  For the rest of us, he issued a report that essentially said “if he did anything wrong, I can’t find it.”  Of the three famous men, he did the least for the country and got the best press coverage.

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Who says the Iranian regime is run by dour old men with no sense of humor?  Wrong!  Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has just written a screamingly funny letter (dated March 26th) to Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general of the United Nations, and asked that it be widely distributed.  I’m happy to oblige.  Laugh along with me and Javad as we parse our way through the highlights.

The letter portrays Iran as the innocent victim of state-sponsored terrorism, beginning with “the shocking news about the possible murder of one of the five Iranian border guards abducted on February 7, 2014 by an extremist terrorist group, in the border area between Iran and Pakistan.”  Note that he neatly classifies a “possibility” into a “fact,” a leitmotif that runs throughout the letter.  He then lists several other attacks, including “repeated explosions and terrorist attacks in our Eastern border in recent months….Two car-bomb attacks on the Iranian diplomatic and cultural premises in Beirut on 19 November 2013 and 19 February 2014….Abduction and murder of Iranian diplomatic personnel in Sana’a, including kidnapping of an Iranian diplomat, Mr. Nour Ahmad Nikbakht, on July 21, 2013, and brutal assassination of another, Mr. Abolghassem Assadi, on January 18, 2014; and-Suicide attack on the Iranian Consulate-General in Peshawar, on February 25, 2014.”

As if the “diplomats” and military forces of Zarif’s regime were just minding their own peaceful business!  Iran is up to its neck in the civil war in Yemen, actively waging war against the Syrian opposition, actively supporting anti-American terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan, repressing any and all signs of independence from the Balouchi tribes in Iran and across its eastern borders, and calling the shots for the Hezbollah killers in Lebanon.  Maybe Ban Ki-moon will remind Zarif that he who kills first is not entitled to whine and beg for help when his intended victims fight back.

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The “news” is resolutely out of context.  A subject about which virtually nothing is known–the mystery of the missing airplane–gets saturation “coverage,” while events of potentially earth-shaking importance are largely unreported. Twitter is full of tweets, photos and videos from the streets of Venezuela, but the Maduro tyranny expelled CNN, and Wolf Blitzer crams his airtime with heads talking about the Malaysian passenger jet.  Any self-respecting “news network” would relentlessly run stories about the ongoing demonstrations from Caracas to Maracaibo–demonstrations surely the equal of those from Maidan Square in Kiev–but no.

The Venezuelan uprising may turn out to be the biggest story of all, because it is part of a world-wide battle that pits anti-Western tyrannies against their own people, and against their neighbors.  It is of a piece with Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran and Russia itself, where, just a few days ago, fifty thousand Muscovites demonstrated against Putin’s imperialist moves in Ukraine.

I’ve been saying for years that we’re the target of a global war, that the Pyongyang-Beijing-Moscow-Tehran-Damascus-Havana-Caracas etc Axis of Evil is hell-bent to dominate and destroy us.  Now the evidence is so clear that only a willfully blind man could fail to see it.  When the pundits were saying that Assad’s doom was imminent, I warned that he had the full support of Russia and Iran, and they would not go quietly.  He didn’t, but the pundits are still trying to unscrew the inscrutable jihadi networks and alliances, invoking the tired chant of Sunni vs Shi’ite, and refusing to see the battle of Syria in the context of the real war.

Today, the repression of the Venezuelan people is under the command of Cubans and aided by Hezbollahis, which is part of the same picture that has Russian troops-in-mufti operating in Ukraine, Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah killers operating in Syria, Iranian-guided terrorists fighting in Yemen, Iranian-trained Taliban killing Afghans and Americans, and on and on.  That picture has been clarified by the announcement that Russia is opening naval bases in Latin America.

It’s the War, You Dolt

March 2nd, 2014 - 6:45 pm

No surprise that the intel guys, like their political bosses, reassured themselves that Russia wouldn’t invade.  Even though they made the same mistake just a few years ago when the morsel was Georgia.  Indeed, that kind of error, revolving around the phrase “rational actor,” is the trademark of Western confusion about the world.  They refuse to see that our enemies are waging war against us, thus refuse to think about winning that war, thus lose many battles, and happily retreat. After all, if our enemies are rational actors, what could go wrong? We could even slash and burn our own military.  Not to worry.

It’s not as if we’re at war, after all.

And we’re not.  Only our enemies are.  It’s like target practice for them.  Fortunately, they’re not very good at it, and so they miss a lot. When they win, they find ways to screw it up.  They took over Egypt, remember?  Then lost it in the “biggest demonstration in human history” (thus sayeth the BBC).  They were on the verge of taking over Tunisia, but no more.  They made a hash out of Ukraine and Venezuela, then lost the first and are facing the people’s wrath in the second.  They keep trying to organize lethal rocket and missile attacks on Israel, only to get destroyed.

They are hard at work over here, too, trying to blow us up, but they’re dismissed, their plain meaning written off, just as the global war against us is written off.  Did you notice that remarkable story out of Georgia Tech?  An Iranian grad student was carted off to the hospital with severe burns over most of his body, apparently because he blew himself up with a Molotov cocktail.  The usual keen-eyed anti-jihadi bloggers were all over it, and both local Fox and CBS reported the event (misidentifying the victim’s home country, but no matter), but as usual one would like to know more, and as usual one doesn’t.  Perhaps this will be added to the list of mythological “home-grown terrorist events,” even though the guy got his undergraduate degree at Tehran University.

For those who actually want to see the world plain, the global network is luminously clear, from North Korea and China to Russia, Iran and Syria, to Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua.  Those are the nations aligned against us.  They support a variety of terror groups, from al-Qaeda to Islamic Jihad to the various Latin American guerrillas, and they work in cahoots with the narcotics mafiosi.

There are two keystones in this global network:  Iran and Venezuela, with Russia manipulating them both as best Putin can.  If we see the world plain, the current revolutionary turmoil in Venezuela is enormously important, arguably the most important hot spot on earth today.  For if the Castroite tyranny in Caracas were to fall, it would be a devastating blow to the Axis of Evil.  The bad guys know it;  that’s why, in addition to Cuban intel officers and special forces, Hezbollahis are moving from Damascus to Caracas.  Khamenei knows there’s an intimate connection between what happens in Venezuela and what happens in Syria.

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So We Should Only Criticize the Dems?

February 26th, 2014 - 11:53 am

All this whining about Ted Cruz is getting on my nerves.  They’re upset that he’s criticizing Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell, instead of rallying to the Republican establishment banner in all the primaries, the better, they seem to think, to take over the Senate after the November elections.  “Fight Obama, not the Republican leadership.”

So their argument is that hard-fought primaries might produce more conservative candidates in November, and this would be a bad thing.  It’s going to be hard to convince Cruz, since he’s only in the Senate because he challenged the establishment candidate in the Republican primary in Texas a couple of years ago.  And won the primary.  And then won the general election bigtime.

Mind you, I’m not in favor of supporting deranged candidates.  I shudder at the thought of repeats of some of the latest conservative nominees.  But I’m not at all convinced that tough primaries are bad for the Republican Party, or indeed for the country.  Quite the contrary.  I’m all for it.  The country’s in a terrible jam and we need outstanding leaders, men of strong will and conviction, who won’t catch Potomac fever, who won’t go along to win the next election.  I don’t think the Republican Party is well led.  Who does?  I think McConnell and Boehner have run away from too many important fights.  If they had been up to their challenges, we’d know a lot more about the use of the IRS as a Democrat political weapon, we’d have a clear timeline for Obama’s actions on Benghazi day and night, we’d know exactly what this administration agreed to with the Iranians, and we’d stop raising the debt limit, cutting state profligacy instead.  I’d love to see them replaced, and I don’t see any chance of that happening unless they have to pay a price for their lousy leadership.  Like losing.

Don’t we believe in accountability?  If you want to tell me that Cruz’s targets are better than their challengers, I’m all ears.  But to say he’s wrong to go after them for their actions and lack of action, I’m not impressed.  He’s right.

We need a very vigorous debate, and no one should be given a free pass.  If a sitting senator or representative has failed to fight the expansion of state power and the policy of global appeasement, I want to hear why.  Tough Republican primaries will help define the issues in the November election.  That sort of debate will produce criticism of Obama, and perhaps lead to the election of those who may provide the will and the vision to start undoing at least some of the damage his presidency has done to us.

So it’s misleading to accuse Cruz of ignoring Obama and only going after Republicans.  He’s going after Republicans who have failed to fight Obama.

When I read some of the attacks on Cruz, I wonder if at least some of the anger is the result of his tenacity.  I remember being told, when he was in the midst of his filibuster against Obamacare, that it was going to be damaging to the country and deadly to himself.  He would lose, and that would pretty much end his role as a potential party or national leader.

He’s still standing, and he was proven right to go all out to try to stop Obamacare.

I quite agree with Jeffrey Lord when he says:

Simply put, Ted Cruz — like Ronald Reagan before him — understands what it takes to make a majority. And he’s doing it. Over the vociferous objections of the same kind of people who kept warning Republicans that if they listened to Ronald Reagan they would get clobbered. Which is exactly why Ted Cruz is being greeted as a hero.

I think he’s right to call attention to the shortcomings of his party’s leaders.  Would you rather shut him up and then hear the criticism from Bill and Hillary?


What If We Were Winning But Nobody Noticed?

February 21st, 2014 - 7:17 am

It’s all about winning and losing, but the best man doesn’t always win, and outcomes frequently have more to do with luck than with merit.  Brilliant strategies fail, and fools stumble into glorious victories.  Napoleon preferred a lucky general to a brilliant one.

Which brings us to today.  The headlines are grim, the pictures from Syria, Venezuela and Ukraine are blood-chilling, executions and demonstrations are mounting in Iran, and Obama doesn’t know what to do about anything.  So he doesn’t do anything; he and his strategists just dither.  And yet…

And yet, our enemies may be on the verge of losing.  Big time.

Maybe the elimination of the Russian Olympic hockey team was an augury, foreshadowing a shift in Putin’s destiny.  Up until quite recently, he waved his mailed fist and barked out commands that were obeyed from Georgia to Syria.  He, along with the Syrian, Iranian, Nicaraguan, Honduran, Venezuelan, Cuban, and Bolivian dictators and would-be dictators, was forging a global alliance aimed against the West, and nobody in the West seemed to notice, let alone take steps to combat it.  The global alliance consists primarily of jihadis and radical leftists, the two principal forces committed to the destruction of what is sometimes known as the Western world.

That alliance is cracking, because many millions of people are fighting the anti-Western tyrants.  They aren’t pundits, and they haven’t calculated the odds on success.  They just fight.  Almost none of the major events of the past few years was foreseen by the deep thinkers, most all of whom thought that Egypt was lost to the jihadists, Assad was firmly in control of Syria, and Chavismo was destined to rule in Venezuela for years to come.

But in Egypt, where the Muslim Brothers took over the most important country in the Muslim Middle East, they lost it within a year.  They were brought down by what the BBC called “the largest demonstration in human history.”  In Tunisia, the birthplace of the “Arab Spring,” the radical jihadists were briefly in control, and then lost to more moderate forces, including secular leaders.  The fighting in Syria began when members of the nation’s armed forces–neither religiously nor ideologically radical–rebelled against the Assad tyranny.  I don’t know more than a couple of people who thought the opposition would endure…until they did an about-face and told us the opposition was unbeatable and Assad was about to fall.  In Ukraine, the people have risen against a government that was clearly a marionette of Moscow.  And in Venezuela, the streets of the major cities are filled with people fighting against a failed Cuban-style dictatorship.

The Ukrainian government is now technically a minority in Parliament (some of its members having defected), and there are reports that the rats are scampering away, loading expensive automobiles and containers full of cash onto airplanes at the Kiev airport (like you, I want to know where those planes are going to land.  We’ll know shortly, I have no doubt).

The Venezuelan demonstrations don’t seem to be getting any smaller, and when the Maduro regime arrested the opposition leader, it backfired, as even more people took to the streets.

For those keeping score: the enemy alliance has lost in Egypt and Tunisia, is losing Ukraine, is in great peril in Venezuela, is losing men and money in significant quantities in Syria, and faces determined opposition inside Iran.

To be sure, there’s bad news too, as you’ll see on the next page.

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The Lights Are Going Out. Or Is It On?

February 18th, 2014 - 1:40 pm

Are the anti-neocons ready to reconsider?  For years now, they’ve been lambasting us (presumed marionettes of Bushitlercheney) for unleashing war and misery on the world’s unfortunates, and death and mayhem on our own young fighters.  They yelled, “Hands off!  Let peace prevail!  Or if it doesn’t, so be it;  it’s not our problem.”

They yelled other things, too, mostly along the lines of “you can’t get a democracy in a place that’s never had it.”  They vigorously deny that there is anything remotely resembling a universal impulse toward freedom.

Some of them, now in the Peace and Love room, or in the White House residence, where policy is committed, remain convinced that most of the world’s problems are our fault, and they are unwilling to take action against foreign nations whose regimes rest on the same conviction.  Better to talk.  That way, our (soon-to-be-former) enemies will see that we have learned our lesson, and so we can All Get Along.

They called it “leading from behind.”  In normal English, it’s “retreat.”

Are they pleased with the results?  As America withdrew from the world, we got new wars.  Terrible wars, complete with weapons of mass destruction (Syria), ethnic and tribal slaughter (Nigeria, Libya, Iraq, Lebanon, Iran), a revived al-Qaeda (whether “core” or “peripheral”), and growing involvement of the likes of Moscow and Tehran in areas where we used to have something to say.

The main thing is the slaughter.  Have you looked at Venezuela or Ukraine today?  The Iranians–officially–hung more than a dozen citizens today. Don’t those big crowds of demonstrators remind you of the anti-Muslim Brotherhood demonstrations in Egypt?  Or of the anti-Khamenei demonstrations in Iran?

All these monster demonstrations have taken place during the Obama years, the years of retreat.  We didn’t organize them, any more than we organized the Syrian resistance to Assad, or the Iranian resistance to Khamenei.  In my view, we should have, but we didn’t.  So who are the anti-neocons going to blame them on?

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Appeasers believe that if you keep on throwing steaks to a tiger, the tiger will become a vegetarian.
Heywood Campbell Broun.

I don’t think it’s hard to understand Obama’s foreign policy.  Although there’s a lot we don’t know about him, his basic impulses are clear enough.  He’s told us what they are (although, to be sure, he often misleads and obfuscates), and his actions are in keeping with his announced impulses.  Furthermore, there’s nothing unique or surprising about them — you can hear them in our classrooms and our college dorms, and read them in the establishment press every day.  He’s an establishment member in high standing.


He believes that most of the serious problems in the world are the result of past American actions.  Call it imperialism.  Call it meddling.  Call it arrogance (as the Iranians do).  Whatever you call it, it means that pre-Obama policies were bad.  Ergo, it’s mostly Bush’s fault. (Shorthand for “before me, they didn’t understand.  Anything.”)

It follows that the single most important action to ensure good policies is to rein in the United States.  Get it out of the messes it has created.  Weaken its abilities to meddle elsewhere.  Ergo the retreats from Iraq and Afghanistan.  Ergo the often spectacular dissing of past allies and the embarrassing embrace of previous and actual enemies.  Diss Mubarak, embrace the Muslim Brotherhood.  Ergo the incredible shrinking military budget, ergo the back-of-the-hand slap to many of our greatest warriors.

It also follows that our foreign policy requires a new language, beginning with making amends for the bad policies of the past, and continuing with a dramatic realignment, aiming at creating a new alliance structure with countries we maltreated in the past.  Ergo the global apology tour.  Ergo the refusal to respond to insults from the likes of Hugo Chavez.  Ergo the Russian “reset” stratagem.  And ergo the Iran deal, pursued eagerly and relentlessly even before the 2008 election results were in, wrapped in terms of respect (the careful pronunciation of “The Islamic Republic of Iran,” for example).  And ergo the rejection of “American exceptionalism,” putting the United States on the same moral and political platform as contemporary Greece.

Those are his core principles.  It’s a highly ideological policy matrix, beginning with his conviction that WE are the root cause of most bad things.  It’s not subtle, doesn’t require mastery of nuance or even history, as his error-ridden Cairo speech demonstrated to anyone who cared to actually read it (my favorite is the claim that Muslims invented printing, when the Chinese did that, and Portuguese Jews brought it to the Middle East).  Indeed, he and his minions are so uninterested in the facts of the world that they regularly invent the world, as Secretary of State Kerry did when he falsely announced that “last year, not one Israeli was killed by a Palestinian from the West Bank.”  Actually there were several.

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It’s the Middle Eastern version of the old Abbott and Costello routine “Who’s On First?”  Just when we thought we had at least most of the killers in Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq sorted out, things suddenly became baffling.  Incomprehensible, even.  Some days you can’t tell the players even WITH a scorecard.

In Syria, some three years ago, a bunch of non-fanatics defected from Assad’s regular army, and started fighting against his regime.  There were more defections, and the opposition grew stronger, despite the regime’s violent counter-attacks.  It began to look like Assad might fall.  Then his two big allies, Russia and Iran, shipped in weapons and fighters and the tide turned.  It began to look like the opposition might be wiped out.  Then various Islamist fanatics–including two or three that could reliably be called “al-Qaeda”–rallied to the opposition cause, and did well enough for the conventional wisdom to embrace the thought that nobody was strong enough to win.  Then the various opposition groups started killing one another, tilting the battlefield back in Assad’s (and Iran’s, and Russia’s) favor.

I’m not going to make you memorize the names of all the groups.  I just want you to focus for a moment on the Abbott and Costello theme:  whose side is al-Qaeda on?  At first it seemed pretty clear:  al-Qaeda was fighting alongside the opposition, against Assad, which is to say, against Iran and Russia.  The AQ leaders often said so, in just those words.  But now comes word that the al-Qaeda forces are getting at least some support from Iran.  That word comes from the U.S. Treasury and State Departments and other good sources, by way of Tom Joscelyn, my friend and colleague at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and he’s as good as it gets.

The key AQ leader in this baffling story is Yasin al-Suri, who was branded as a senior AQ operative in Iran (where he’d been active since 2005, which suggests he gets on well with the mullahs) by the Treasury in 2011.  Treasury offered a $10 million reward for help capturing al-Suri, and the Iranians arrested him.  But that was then.  Now he’s out of jail, and hard at work:

“As head al Qaeda facilitator in Iran, al Suri is responsible for overseeing al Qaeda efforts to transfer experienced operatives and leaders from Pakistan to Syria, organizing and maintaining routes by which new recruits can travel to Syria via Turkey and assisting in the movement of al Qaeda external operatives to the West,” an unnamed State Department official told Al Jazeera.

An official at Treasury confirmed the claim.  The U.S. government officials are not the only ones talking about collusion between Iran/Assad and the opposition.  Michel Kilo, an opposition leader whose anti-Assad credentials are very credible, goes so far as to claim that the Islamist groups were actually organized and directed from Damascus.

“There are photos that have been found of several emirs of ISIS with [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad,” said Kilo, who spoke with Al-Monitor on the sidelines of the Geneva II talks.

“The pictures were taken before they became emirs in ISIS (a leading Islamist anti-Assad group), when they were all officers in the Syrian special service. There are documents sent by the special service to ISIS telling them to capture or kidnap people in Raqqa and Jarabalus, and these documents will be published. And you will see how the regime fabricated these extremist groups that did not exist in our country at the beginning of the revolution.”

So one group of Islamist killers has its leader in Tehran, and another has long-standing connections between its leaders and Damascus.  Yet there is no doubt that both groups are fighting.  They’ve been effective.  They’ve certainly killed Syrians, and almost certainly they’ve killed Iranians too.  Nowadays they are also killing other opposition fighters in other groups.  Just today, for example, the leader of one of the Islamist groups was killed by a car bomb set by another Islamist group.

Is there any way to make sense of this, or should we just say that it’s a classic Hobbesian conflict, “the war of every man against every man”?  It could very well be just that.  But maybe not.

I don’t know the answer (although I think that the keys to unlocking the mystery are probably in the Iranian and/or Russian archives), but it reminds me of one of the greatest of all grand deceptions, the Soviet-created “Trust” just after the Revolution.  That was organized by the Soviet intelligence service, which created a phony opposition movement whose “leaders” contacted Western governments with offers to topple the Bolshevik regime.  The “Trust” leaders provided the Western strategists with secret documents, and even assassinated Soviet officials in order to establish the bona fides of the Trust.  The West bought the deception, and funded the Trust, giving the Soviets money, knowledge of Western plans, and the ability to manipulate Western anti-Soviet operations.  The Trust’s most celebrated victim was the British official “Reilly Ace of Spies,” who was lured to a meeting, arrested, tortured, and executed.

Stratagems of this sort are not all that unusual, and it would not surprise me to learn that Iran sponsored al-Qaeda groups in Syria and Iraq, posing (and indeed often acting) as anti-Assad or anti-Maliki forces, in order to penetrate the opposition, manipulate its actions, and foment fighting among the various groups, all to the ultimate advantage of Khamenei/Maliki/Assad.

As Tom Joscelyn, scratching his talented mind, remarks,

The Iranian regime…has mastered duplicity and may have unknown reasons for keeping tabs on al Qaeda’s operations. Al Qaeda has also been willing to work with Iran on multiple occasions since the early 1990s, despite the two sides’ fundamentally different theologies and sometime vehement disagreements.

Iranian policy rarely moves in straight lines;  it’s more like gyres and spirals.  They’re very flexible, to put it mildly.  Remember that before 9/11 the Iranians were prime targets of Taliban killers.  Today Iran trains Taliban killers in both Pakistan and Iran itself.  So flexibility concerning al-Qaeda shouldn’t surprise anyone.

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