News

    Analysts: US May Not Be Primary Target of Iranian Arms in Iraq

    Multimedia

    Audio

    U.S. military officials in Baghdad are accusing the Iranian government of providing sophisticated explosives to Shiite militias in Iran. Iran has denied the charge. But, as VOA correspondent Gary Thomas reports, even if the accusation is true, the arms may not necessarily be destined for attacks on U.S. forces.

    The allegation that Iran is providing arms to Iraqi insurgents is not new.

    In his address on Iraq last month, President Bush bluntly blamed Iran for arming insurgents to attack American troops.

    "Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops," he said. "We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We' will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq."

    But Ken Katzman, a Middle East analyst at the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, believes U.S. troops are not the primary target of the smuggled munitions. He says the Iranians are arming Shiite militias. Yet, he points out, most of the attacks on U.S. forces come from Sunni insurgents.

    He said, "Most of the I.E.D.s [improvised explosive devices], most of the roadside bombs, that are having the most effect on American troops are from Sunni insurgents."

    "And I have not seen any evidence presented from the military or elsewhere that these Iranian arms are going to Sunni insurgents, which leads me to question what really is the significance," he continued.

    Wayne White, former deputy director of Near East affairs for State Department intelligence, disagrees. He notes that some of the arms displayed by officials in Baghdad are armor-piercing rockets - and only the U.S. and Britain have armored vehicles in Iraq.

    "Why would anybody be arming anybody there with this kind of munition? Only to get somebody who has got the kind of vehicle that this munition is needed to open up like a can opener. And we are the only ones who have it. This is an anti-American weapon in Iraq," he said.

    The U.S. officials contend that the approval to arm the militias comes from what they call the highest levels of the Iranian government, which would mean President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

    Ken Katzman says Iran is arming its co-religionist Shiite militias, Katzman believes, in anticipation of an all-out Sunni-Shia civil war.

    He said, "My working assumption is that it is broadly approved at the highest levels, which would mean Ahmadinejad, obviously, but also [former president] Rafsanjani and Khamenei, because my analysis is that these weapons are primarily to position Shiite militias for a coming all-out civil war with Sunnis."

    "That would be something that all the factions would agree. All the factions in Iranian government want the Shiites to win any possible civil war in Iraq," he added.

    The U.S. presentation made to reporters in Iraq marks the first time officials have produced what they say is clear evidence of direct Iranian involvement in the violence in Iraq.

    Paul Pillar, a former senior Middle East analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency, says it shows the United States is ratcheting up its anti-Iran rhetoric.

    He said, "It is a rhetorical escalation. Clearly there have been other elements and other bits of rhetoric that would support that thesis as well. I think the bigger question then is, escalation for what purpose? Is it just trying to scare the Iranians into, one hopes, making greater concessions on the nuclear issue or something else? Is it more of a reminder to be more careful or constrained on what they do in Iraq? I do not know. It could be elements of those. But some people have speculated it is paving the way for perhaps a more forceful policy against Iran."

    Ken Katzman, as well as other analysts, say the Sunni groups get their arms from private sources in the region, as well as from stockpiles from Saddam Hussein's army.

     

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora