NEWS & EDITOR’S COMMENT: Iran’s plausible denials

Doubting the evidence against Iran

American circles in Baghdad and Washington are probably not pleased with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s plan for a special panel to investigate allegations of Iranian interference in Iraq. Many U.S. officials are already convinced of the worst and, for years, U.S. officials have now aired accusations against Iran, insisting that Tehran is stoking Iraq’s violence by keeping up a flow of money, weapons and trained fighters into the country. The Iraqi government, however, remains unconvinced — with good reason.

“We want to find really good evidence and not evidence made on speculations,” Ali al-Dabbagh, a spokesman for the Iraqi government, told reporters in Baghdad on Sunday. Last week an Iraqi government delegation went to Tehran to discuss the allegations of Iranian involvement in the Iraqi militias, the government said. Details of the evidence presented in Tehran remains hazy, but at the same time American officials in Baghdad and Washington have never offered a convincing case publicly to support their allegations. [complete article]

Iraqi government caught in the middle as US directs new accusations at Iran

In line with the American accusations, the Iraqi government has confirmed that it has “concrete evidence” that Iranian weapons are flowing into Iraq. Even so, Iraqi officials have been at pains to draw a distinction between saying that these weapons were produced in Iran without necessarily concluding that they were supplied by Iran.

In an interview with The Washington Post, the Iraqi government spokesman Ali al Dabbagh said: “The truth came out; there is evidence of Iranian weapons in Iraq. Now we need to document who sent them.”

The Christian Science Monitor noted that the Iraqi delegation’s visit to Tehran “coincided with the release of the annual US terrorism report, which declared Iran, as in years past, to be the ‘most significant’ state sponsor of terrorism.” The report added: “It also quietly raised the official number of US and Iraqi soldiers allegedly ‘killed’ by Iranian actions in Iraq from ‘hundreds’ to ‘thousands’ – a surprise to analysts sceptical even of the lower figure.” [complete article]

Editor’s Comment — If the Iranians are guilty as charged, there does seem to be something thoroughly American in their approach — the training and arming of a proxy force and studious application of the principle of “plausible deniability.” It has more than the aroma of Reagan-era support for the Contras. Shouldn’t Elliot Abrams, John Negroponte, Oliver North et al feel flattered?

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