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.
    Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020i
    X
    Ramon Taylor
    May 05, 2016 10:05 PM
    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020

    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Child Labor in Afghanistan Remains a Problem

    With war still raging in Afghanistan, the country also faces the problem of child labor as families put their school-age children to work to help make ends meet. But, thanks to VOA's Afghan Service, two families whose children had been working in a brick-making factory - to earn their livings and pay off family debts - now have a new lease on life. Zabihullah Ghazi reports.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora