Thursday, July 05, 2007

Worth noting: Iran in the spotlight

Since I started blogging this past January, I’ve been dithering about whether or not we are likely to attack Iran, posting about it several times a month.

I go back and forth, depending on what I read. Here are some recent posts, which obviously can’t answer that question but are helping me understand what’s going on.

1. Regarding The New York Times July 2 front page article by Michael Gordon titled U.S. Ties Iran to Deadly Iraq Attack, see Jim Lobe’s Judith Miller Redux? posted on July 4. In it, Lobe links to Greg Mitchell’s July 3 Consider the Source: "NYT' Reporter Targets Iran. Mitchell opens with, “As if he hadn't already done enough damage, helping to promote the American invasion of Iraq with deeply flawed articles in The New York Times, Michael R. Gordon is now writing scare stories that offer ammunition for the growing chorus of neo-cons calling for a U.S. strike against Iran.”

2. On July 4, Steve Clemons at The Washington Note posted The Story Behind the Abduction of Britain's 15 Sailors. This is important because it apparently clears up whether or not the real leader of Iran, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (photo) planned or supported the abduction. According to Clemons, “The abduction of the sailors was an operation that was animated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The political fortunes of both have been falling this past year. Ahmadinejad lost key elections in December that not only marked his decline but marked the rise, to some degree, of political forces allied with former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani.

"The abduction was designed to secure domestic political leverage for Ahmadinejad and the al Quds forces, whose budgets have been stagnant despite the rise of national income from increasing oil prices.

"According to my source, Ayatollah Khamenei was furious when informed of the abduction. Iran nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani reportedly threatened to resign his post if the sailors were not released. And Rafsanjani -- behind the scenes -- "heaped scorn" on Ahmadinejad for the action he and the al Quds force triggered."

This report relates to The New York Times report ( see 1., above) that links Iran, meaning its government, to attacks in Iraq. If the al Quds force is operating in Iraq, it could be operating operating independently and not under Khamenei’s direction. Shouldn't The New York Times be checking this out?

3. Helena Cobban, who blogs at Just World News and is described as an expert in the Middle East along with Juan Cole, who blogs at Informed Comment, posted this on July 2, How likely is a dramatic Bush shift on Iran? She links to an earlier post, A High-Level Iranian Overture, then considers “[T]he likelihood that President George W. Bush might, within the 18 months remaining in his presidency, enact a 'dramatic' shift towards de-escalating the US's currently still high level of tension with Iran.” Cobban puts it above 50% and gives her reasons why. Check them out and see if you agree.

(photo: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei from The Washington Note)

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