Is Cheney trying to blame Iran for all the mess in Iraq? And is that a precursor to an attack on Iran? This New York Times article has some damned good analyis:
The Iraqi government has kept silent on the arrests, but Tuesday night officials spoke of intense behind-the-scenes negotiations by Iraq’s government and its fractured political elite over how to handle the situation.So let's piece this together... Iraq's President Talabani seemingly tries to broker a deal with Iran, in defiance of his US masters. The US gets wind of it and takes out his Iranian contacts. But the Iranians in question are being hosted by al-Hakim, Bush's new boy in Baghdad. And a mole within al-Hakim's group seems to be the key to the bust.
Iraq’s president, Jalal Talabani, had invited the two Iranians during his visit to Tehran, his spokesman said on Sunday, but by Tuesday, some Iraqi officials began to question if Mr. Talabani had in fact made the invitation. His office was unavailable for comment Tuesday night.
“We know when they caught them they were doing something,” said one Iraqi official, who added that the Iranians did not appear to have formally registered with the government.
Some political leaders speculated that the arrests were intended to derail efforts by Iraqis to deal with Iran on their own by making Iraqis look weak...
At about 7 p.m. on Wednesday, the military stopped a car in Baghdad and detained four people — three Iranians and an Iraqi. The military released two of them on Friday and the other two on Sunday night, General Caldwell said. The Iranian Embassy confirmed the releases.
But the more significant raid came in predawn hours of the next morning, when American forces raided a second location, the general said. The military described it as “a site in Baghdad,” but declined to release further details about the location.
Iraqi leaders said last week that the site was the compound of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, one of Iraq’s most powerful Shiite political leaders, who met with President Bush in Washington three weeks ago. A spokesman for Mr. Hakim said he had not heard of a raid on the compound.
A careful reading of General Caldwell’s statement makes it clear, however, that the location itself was of central importance. The military gathered “specific intelligence from highly credible sources that linked individuals and locations with criminal activities,” it said. The crimes were against Iraqi civilians, security forces and Americans.
In that raid, American forces detained 10 men, 2 of them Iranians. They seized documents, maps, photographs and videos, at the location, the military said. The military declined to say precisely what the items showed, nor did it specify if the Iranians themselves were suspected of attacking Americans, or if the Iraqis arrested with them were suspected, or both.
Some Iraqis questioned the American motives, saying that the operation seemed aimed at embarrassing Mr. Hakim, the driving force behind a new political grouping backed by the United States to distance militants from the political process.
One Iraqi politician suggested that the tip for the raid had come from a source within Mr. Hakim’s own party, known by the acronym Sciri, in an effort to weaken or unseat him.
However it was led there, the military said it had found evidence of wrongdoing. By questioning the detainees and investigating the materials, the military found evidence that connected some of those detained “to weapons shipments to armed groups in Iraq,” General Caldwell said.
The military did not specify the types of weapons.
The allegation, if true, would mark the first time since the American invasion that Iranian military officials were discovered in the act of planning military action inside Iraq.
So was this a setup? Surely a whole heap of people are talking to Iran (isn't that an ISG recommendation?), but obviously it's potential headlines if Iran is supplying weapons to the terrrrrsts... And wouldn't it be great if the USA's much-maligned intelligence services could actually PROVE such a thing (as opposed to fabricating it)?
And wouldn't that be a darned good excuse the NUKE THE FUCK OUT OF IRAN, and then blame them for the past three years of Iraq insurgency along the way?
Is that the plan? A setup?
Well, nuking the fuck out of Iran would be a quick way to end the newly-developing arms race, wouldn't it?
"Hey, King Abdullah! Ya really wanna go there, do you?"
UPDATE: Iraq Expels 2 Iranians Detained by U.S.:
The decision to free the men was made by the Iraqi government and has angered U.S. military officials who say the operatives were seeking to foment instability here.
"These are really serious people," said one U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "They were the target of a very focused raid based on intelligence, and it would be hard for one to believe that their activities weren't endorsed by the Iranian government. It's a situation that is obviously troubling."
One of the commanders, identified by officials simply as Chizari, was the third-highest-ranking official of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' al-Quds Brigade, the unit most active in aiding, arming and training groups outside Iran, including Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, U.S. officials said. The other commander was described as equally significant to Iran's support of foreign militaries but not as high-ranking.
American military forces nabbed the two men in raids last week... The Iraqi government decided to honor Tehran's claims that the two detainees had diplomatic immunity. U.S. officials had argued that although the men had diplomatic passports, they were operating under aliases and therefore not immune.
Despite their frustration at the release of the Iranians, U.S. officials said a strong message has been sent to Iran that its operatives will be tracked down and that it will be held accountable for its activities in Iraq...
U.S. officials said they now had a treasure trove of data from computers and documents and the lists of weaponry recently shipped to Iraq...
The raids deeply angered officials in the Iraqi government, which is hoping that building ties with Iran could help stem the violence in Iraq. They set in motion a flurry of diplomatic moves to secure the release of the two men.
"The story the Americans said is not true," said Sami al-Askari, a member of parliament and a close adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. "They said these were military men with diplomatic status. But they failed to prove anything."
"Iraq is trying to have a solid relationship with its neighbors."