A Minor Detail
It's a tiny little thing, and consequently terribly revealing. In the midst of a NY Times article describing the present chaos in Iraq, including fatal attacks on the Green Zone, we read this:
Over the past week, Mr. Maliki has also been trying to recoup the political damage he sustained when his American-supported military assault in Basra met with intense resistance from militias. After a six-day stalemate, high-level negotiations resulted in Mr. Sadr’s issuing a statement on March 30 ordering his followers to stop fighting.Did you notice anything about that statement? Hint: It's something missing.
Unless you had been following this story farily closely, you would never know that those "high-level negotiations" which temporarily ended the fighting in Iraq were held by Iran :
Iran helped end last week's fighting between Iraqi government troops and a Shi'ite militia in Iraq's oil-rich south, an adviser to a leading Iraqi Shi'ite politician was quoted as saying on Friday.And Ryan Crocker, the US ambassador to Iraq, denies knowing anything at all about Iran's involvement. Crocker is either lying, incompetent, or both. Why? Because another article from a mainstream source has details of the Iraqi/Iranian talks:
The comments by Mohsen Hakim, whose father Abdul Aziz al-Hakim heads the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, underlined Shi'ite Iran's growing influence in Iraq after the U.S.-led overthrow of Sunni Arab strongman Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Washington accuses Iran of stoking violence in its neighbour by funding, training and equipping Iraqi militants. Iran denies this and blames the presence of U.S. troops for the bloodshed.
Mohsen Hakim told Iran's Mehr News Agency an Iraqi delegation led by a prominent Shi'ite lawmaker held talks with Iranian officials during a visit to Iran last Friday.
Two days later, fiery anti-U.S. Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr announced a truce to end six days of clashes with Iraqi and U.S. troops in the southern city of Basra that spread through southern Iraq and Baghdad.
U.S. officials say Sadr is currently in Iran.
"Tehran, by using its positive influence on the Iraqi nation, paved the way for the return of peace to Iraq and the new situation is the result of Iran's efforts," Hakim was quoted as saying, without giving further details.[Iralics added]
Members of the Iraqi delegation have confirmed to Reuters they went to Iran just before Sadr announced the ceasefire but have declined to give details on any role Iran played.
Iraqi lawmakers traveled to the Iranian holy city of Qom over the weekend to win the support of the commander of Iran's Qods brigades in persuading Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr to order his followers to stop military operations, members of the Iraqi parliament said.ht, Juan Cole.
Just a detail in a story, and a small one. Yet oh so telling. Crocker knew nothing about the Iraqi/Iranian negotiations but he knew enough , beyond a doubt, about details that just happened to support the Bush narrative:
He drew attention instead to the hail of rockets and mortars fired at the Green Zone government and diplomatic compound in Baghdad during the crisis that he said were made in Iran.Ah, that "maybe." And note: those tailfins? He didn't show them, or pictures of them, to the reporter. We just have Crocker's word. The word of a man who expects us to believe he has no clue as to the real reason why the fighting briefly eased.
"Let's start with the Iranian involvement not in ending it, but maybe in beginning it," he said.
U.S. officials say rogue members of Sadr's militia get support and weapons from Iran.
"We got the tail fins of what was dropping on us ... This was quite literally made in Iran. All of this stuff was out of Iran and a lot of it manufactured in 2007," Crocker added. [Iralics added]
Please note: I'm not saying Iran's motivations in engineering the cease-fire are an indication that Iran is some kind of Force for Good in Iraq. Nor do I think it is entirely out of the question that the bombs falling on the Green Zone are Iranian. The situation is fiendishly complicated.
What I am pointing out is that several sources , including Maliki allies. confirmed the Iranian peace talks, our ambassador claimed to know not a thing about it while pushing the pro-Iranian war line, and the NY Times buried the Iranian involvement. The effect is two-fold: to dangerously oversimplify the reality of Iraq and to demonize Iran. Man, I'm sick of reading Pravda in NY Times drag
Oh, and speaking of demonizing Iran, looks like The Man Called Petraeus will do a cheap imitation of Colin Powell before the UN:
IRANIAN forces were involved in the recent battle for Basra, General David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq, is expected to tell Congress this week.Folks, without unequivocal documentary evidence, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever, to believe a word of it. Does that mean I think it's not true? Put it this way; Given how often the Bush administration has lied, Petraeus needs to offer incontrovertible proof. Congress should demand it or hold him in contempt..