Sunday, March 25, 2007

New UN sanctions on Iran

UNITED NATIONS, March 24 — The United Nations Security Council unanimously agreed Saturday to impose new, more stringent sanctions to press Iran to suspend uranium enrichment and rejoin negotiations over its nuclear program.

All 15 members of the Security Council adopted the sanctions, Resolution 1747, which focus on constraining Iranian arms exports, the state-owned Bank Sepah — already under Treasury Department sanctions — and the Revolutionary Guard Corps, an elite military organization separate from the nation’s conventional armed forces.

Iran is defiant, of course. It really strikes me that they're not doing everything they could to prevent a war with the U.S. Hugely irresponsible, on its face.

The Iranian representative to the session denounced the action as unlawful and unjustifiable — and vowed it would have no impact on what Tehran describes as a peaceful nuclear energy program.

The Council acted after months of increasing tensions between the United States and Iran, not only over its nuclear program, concerns that many Western and Middle Eastern countries share. The United States in recent weeks has publicly accused Iran of supplying new and powerful explosives to insurgents in Iraq.

And the Council voted one day after naval forces under the command of Revolutionary Guards seized eight British sailors and seven British marines in waters off the coast of Iraq.

Well, let's talk about outside nations providing support to insurgents in Iraq:

CAIRO (AP) — Private Saudi citizens are giving millions of dollars to Sunni insurgents in Iraq and much of the money is used to buy weapons, including shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles, according to key Iraqi officials and others familiar with the flow of cash.

Saudi government officials deny that any money from their country is being sent to Iraqis fighting the government and the U.S.-led coalition.

But the U.S. Iraq Study Group report said Saudis are a source of funding for Sunni Arab insurgents. Several truck drivers interviewed by The Associated Press described carrying boxes of cash from Saudi Arabia into Iraq, money they said was headed for insurgents.

And the U.S. has been providing support to organizations linked to Al Qaeda:

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

One contradictory aspect of the new strategy is that, in Iraq, most of the insurgent violence directed at the American military has come from Sunni forces, and not from Shiites. But, from the Administration’s perspective, the most profound—and unintended—strategic consequence of the Iraq war is the empowerment of Iran.
There's a lot more in that article, so I recommend reading the whole thing. Here's something that ties back to the briefing I received back in December:

The new American policy, in its broad outlines, has been discussed publicly. In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that there is “a new strategic alignment in the Middle East,” separating “reformers” and “extremists”; she pointed to the Sunni states as centers of moderation, and said that Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah were “on the other side of that divide.” (Syria’s Sunni majority is dominated by the Alawi sect.) Iran and Syria, she said, “have made their choice and their choice is to destabilize.”

In that briefing, we were told basically just that: Sunnis are moderate, Shi'ite are extremist. The Sergeant Major made no mention of the fact that Saddam Hussein was Sunni. We have always been at war with Eastasia, after all. But wait! There's more!

Martin Indyk, a senior State Department official in the Clinton Administration who also served as Ambassador to Israel, said that “the Middle East is heading into a serious Sunni-Shiite Cold War.” Indyk, who is the director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, added that, in his opinion, it was not clear whether the White House was fully aware of the strategic implications of its new policy. “The White House is not just doubling the bet in Iraq,” he said. “It’s doubling the bet across the region. This could get very complicated. Everything is upside down.”

Again, this goes back to what I was saying in August: the only path to Bush-style victory in the Iraqi civil war is to pick sides, heedless of the blood that will be spilled in the process. Bush has chosen the side of the Sunnis, despite the fact that Sunni insurgents account for the vast majority of U.S. casualties. But it's not about protecting troops in Iraq. It's about protecting the national security interests of Saudi Arabia and Israel, two of our biggest allies in the region. In other words, nothing we do in Iraq is done with the goal of a peaceful Iraq in mind. It's all done with the goal of undermining Iran and protecting Israel's and Saudi Arabia's interests. If a Sunni-Shi'ite Cold War is dawning, we need to be ahead of the curve and start planning. Our oil interests are at stake, and to hell with the troops.

I'll follow up on this some more later. And no, it won't be another month and a half before I post again.

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