Three Iranian factories 'mass-produce bombs to kill British in Iraq'
Well hey, that headline grabs me folks. Some journo is saying that there is a suggestion that Iran, that unfairly picked on energy-developing nation, is not just playing around in Iraq trying to make a quick buck, but is actively running a production line of advanced bombs at facilities in Tehran and handing them over to terrorists attacking British soldiers? Whoah. Pretty heavyweight suggestion there I think. Certainly one that gives us a reason to get off the fence.
So what's so significant? Well I'll tell you what I reckon we're missing here: This is the first claim that terrorist attacks in Iraq can be linked to the Iranian Government.
Aha. But haven't the UK press been banging on about Iranian involvement in Iraq for nearly a year? Well yes. Here's a reminder from November 2005:
"[the] technology certainly, and probably the equipment, is coming through Iran"
So it's been pointed out the deaths of some British squaddies isn't 100% organic to Iraq, it's not some underdog resistance fighters figuring out bomb technology and tactics as they go along, plucky scamps. But isn't this a case of Shia Terrorist A in support of Shia Terrorist B, a bit like the way the Scots and the French might have a snog whenever the hilarious English football team loses? Well yes, it is like that. At a low level. But you see, now there's this suggestion that actually, the support isn't from the other side of the hill from where a line was drawn on a map, somewhere a thousand miles from Tehran, so hey they might not even know, and that border is intangible, ooh it's just like Pakistan and Afghanistan, give the benefit of the doubt because its all so feudal and we're applying rigid Western values to tribal lawlessness!
Yeah, maybe... but maybe not. If we're going to bang on with British liberalism, a worthy tradition that gives the benefit of the doubt, let's also entertain the far-out fantasy that Iran is run by servants of God under a religion which does not tolerate unbelievers and isn't adapting to modern values too well. Hold that thought, and let's spin something that The Sun could splash:
- The bombs used to kill British soldiers are made in Iran (yeah yeah, so we heard)
- These bombs aren't made in a quiet town in the mountains, they're made in Tehran (oh?)
- At least one of the three factories allegedly produces weapons for Iranian Army (interesting claim!)
Now it's important to wheel out the caveat, so Guardian readers, start your engines please: The. Source. Is. A. Pro. Democracy. Anti. Iranian. Group.
...so pass the salt, and whilst you're at it, pass the link to remind us about faulty intelligence that the West were suckers for because of that ghastly man Chalabi. The source of this bomb-making article is apparently a bit politically untidy and maybe that's one reason why with the present British Government running on empty, the Yanks aren't rushing to push the claim either.
The article got me thinking about how the Iran issue has gone a bit quiet despite UN deadlines and with Lebanon as a bit of a distraction. So step back. Take the long term view.
Countries announced as Evil in the way back when:
- North Korea
- Venezuela (only kidding Hugo! Hating America doesn't qualify as evil, otherwise most of Europe would be on this list)
Now update this list with four and a half years of international politics and "War on Terror":
- Iraq (invaded in March 2003, under occuption three weeks later)
- Libya (kicked the terrorism habit the same year)
- Syria (gone quiet and under subtle but serious pressure since 2005)
- Cuba (Castro is unwell and detente seems as imminent as The Reaper)
- North Korea
With hindsight, is it a surprise that there's just two of the six untouched? Maybe. Did we think the list would be rattled through this quickly? (Sadly we didn't blog what we thought at the time). It's not hard to guesstimate which one of these countries might be seeing some pressure over the next few months, and maybe the claim linking terrorism in Iraq directly to Tehran is a pointer at what's brewing for the next year or two.