Saturday, March 20, 2010

White House Ignores Iran’s Help to Al-Qaida in its Passion over Jerusalem Apartments

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By Barry Rubin

The United States is at war with al-Qaida. Al-Qaida carried out the attack on the World Trade Center that killed 3,000 Americans. Al-Qaida is killing Americans in Iraq and elsewhere. So one would think the fact that al-Qaida has found a powerful ally would be a big story in the American media and by a big priority for setting off U.S. government anger.

And this would be especially so if that was explained by one of the most respected men in the country, a man who has access to the highest-level intelligence.

Not at all.

In the same testimony which  created lots of discussion regarding remarks on the Israel-Palestinian issue, General David Petraeus, head of the U.S. Central Command, revealed a bombshell story that has been ignored: Iran is helping al-Qaida attack Americans.

Iran, he said in military-speak, provides "a key facilitation hub, where facilitators connect al Qaida's senior leadership to regional affiliates." Translation: Tehran is letting al-Qaida leaders travel freely back and forth to Pakistan and Afghanistan, using its territory as a safe haven, while permitting them to hold meetings to plan terrorist attacks for attacking U.S. targets and killing Americans. While nominally Iran sometimes takes these people into custody, that seems, Petraeus says, a fiction to fool foreigners.

Oh, and Petraeus added that Iran also helps the Taliban fight America in Afghanistan. Regarding Iraq, the general explains, "The Qods Force [an elite Iranian military group within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] also maintains its lethal support to Shia Iraqi militia groups, providing them with weapons, funding and training,"

So, Petraeus pointed out that Iran is helping al-Qaida against the United States and also, at times, Shia groups as well though these have been more quiet lately. In effect, the Tehran regime is at war with the United States. Yet this point is not being highlighted, nor does it stir rage in the hearts of White House officials or strenuous attempts to counter this threat.

There have been stories, some persuasive but not fully confirmed, about Iran's cooperation with al-Qaida for years. Frankly, I have been reluctant to write about this matter lest it be dismissed as being based on rumors, though even Syrian cooperation with al-Qaida which is crystal clear--the terrorists they are training, funding, equipping, and letting cross back and forth over the Syria-Iraq border are openly al-Qaida--has virtually never been mentioned by U.S. government officials and the point rarely made in the mass media.

But now Petraeus has shown Tehran's cooperation with al-Qaida to be true, and the U.S. government does nothing while maintaining that diplomatic engagement is still possible and dragging its feet on higher sanctions.

Meanwhile, you can read in the Washington Post a column by Robert Kagan, “Allies everywhere feeling snubbed by President Obama,” reporting how U.S. policies have dismayed allies as they coddled enemies. Readers of this blog heard this point made repeatedly over the last year ago. It is astonishing that policymakers and top opinionmakers still don't seem to grasp the danger.

But why should they when so much of the debate is dominated by nonsense. Thus, with typical New York Times silliness, Mark Landler writes in “Opportunity in a Fight With Israel”:

“For President Obama, getting into a serious fight with Israel carries obvious domestic and foreign political risks. But it may offer the administration a payoff it sees as worthwhile: shoring up Mr. Obama’s credibility as a Middle East peacemaker by showing doubtful Israelis and Palestinians that he has the fortitude to push the two sides toward an agreement.”

As so often happens, such statements are obviously ridiculous. Everyone knows the administration is willing to push Israel but has never shown the slightest effort toward pushing the Palestinians. In fourteen months there has not been a single public criticism of the Palestinian Authority despite its sabotage of any peace process. Presumably, the U.S. government pressed the PA enough to agree to indirect talks—scarcely a great achievement—but then the U.S. outrage over the apartment announcement, instead of handling it by making a quick private deal with Israel to postpone the project, let the PA escape once again.

That the PA has been allowed to portray merely negotiating to get a state as doing the United States a big favor is one of many bizarre dislocations of the last year. As for the Palestinians, of course, they don’t care about stopping the construction. Their concept of American credibility is whether the United States would give them everything they want with no concession whatsoever on their part. Such an attitude has been fed by Obama Administration policies.

As for the idea that bashing Israel is going to make Israelis see Obama as a more credible peacemaker is a statement which could only be made by someone who has zero knowledge about Israel. Perhaps pushing an Iran-Syria alliance which now uses al-Qaida as a client might make those regimes see Obama as a more credible opponent.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). His new edited books include Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict and Crisis; Guide to Islamist Movements; Conflict and Insurgency in the Middle East; and The Muslim Brotherhood. To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books. To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports.

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