The Discerning Texan
-- Edmund Burke
Thursday, April 03, 2008
UPDATED The Second Iran-Iraq War
Iran now causes the majority of the violence and instability in Iraq, a trend that began in July 2007, according to U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, when U.S. and Iraqi military offensives swept al Qaeda from its safe havens around Baghdad.
Senior officials of the Iranian government, the U.S. military has noted in press briefings, support and in some cases control, illegal armed groups that are fighting American forces and undermining the Iraqi government. In particular, the recent fighting in Basra and Baghdad is not at root a civil war between Iraqi Shia political factions, but an ongoing struggle between the Iraqi government and illegal militias organized, trained, equipped and funded by Iran.Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the Iraqi Security Forces are now fighting these militias, a long-standing demand of the U.S. that was articulated in congressional benchmarks in 2006. The question for Americans is simple: Will we support Iraq in this fight, or abandon its government and people?
Iran has sponsored illegal militias since the formation of the Maliki government in 2006. The Qods Force, Iran's premier terrorist training team and exporter of its revolution, provided between $750,000 and $3 million-worth of equipment and funding to Iraq's militias monthly in the first half of 2007, according to U.S. Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner. In addition, the U.S. military and the press note that Lebanese Hezbollah under Qods Force auspices directly trained Iraqi fighters, sending military advisers to help Moqtada al-Sadr create the Mahdi Army in August 2003, to train Iraqi militias inside Iran in 2005, and to advise the militias inside Iraq since 2006.
The Iranian-trained militias operated in 2006-2008 as units known as Special Groups or Secret Cells, ostensibly claiming to serve within Mr. Sadr's militia. In reality, the U.S. military says their titular leader – the ex-Sadrist Qais Khazali – reported to a Lebanese Hezbollah commander, who in turn reported to the highest Qods Force leaders.
The foreign advisers organized these Iraqi opposition groups into a Hezbollah-style structure. The Special Groups kidnapped Iraqi government officials, ran death squads against Iraqi civilians, and regularly rocketed and mortared the Green Zone with Iranian-imported weapons. They smuggled in and placed highly-lethal, explosively-formed projectiles (EFPs) to kill U.S. soldiers. In short, Iranian-backed Special Groups prevented Iraq's government from effectively controlling the country in 2006, even removing some of the Mahdi Army from Mr. Sadr's control. In the recent clashes, the Special Groups coordinated the unrest and attacks of the regular Mahdi Army in the capital and provinces. In Baghdad, the Mahdi Army, in turn, facilitated Special Groups' movements.
You will want to read the rest; it underscores the importance of our staying in Iraq until the job is done. Do not pretend that the Democrats who argue for a precipitous withdrawal do not understand the undeniable facts either: if the Iraqi forces are not completely ready to stand on their own, Iran will move quickly and openly against Iraq if we are not there. We will have spent all that money and blood only to allow the biggest enemy of peace in the entire world to fill the vaccum we would create by leaving. And the Democrats know it.
This is why the US MUST maintain a presence in Iraq, long after the nation is pacified. We owe it to the brave Iraqis who are stepping up for us, we owe it to the dead and wounded Americans who fought so hard for her, and we owe it to the taxpayers who paid for this War. Failure is not an option, even on a Democrat's watch; especially when it would deliver Iraq into the hands of its (and our) enemies.
UPDATE: Dan Henninger analyzes what underlies the Democrats' madness. What a great day for the WSJ; they are on fire.