by Scott Horton Antiwar.com February 20, 2007
Everyone but the few remaining Republicans in this country understands that the purpose of the 9/11 attacks was to bait the U.S. into personally invading the Muslim World. Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri wanted to bog Americans down in the Afghan mountains and rally more Sunni radicals to their cause. They hoped against hope that the U.S. would overreach and invade their fourth and fifth worst enemies, Saddam Hussein and the Ayatollah Khamenei (the Saudi Kingdom, the United States, and Israel are numbers 1, 2, and 3). Bin Laden and Zawahiri wanted to extend their influence into the power vacuums created in our wake.
It first looked as though the U.S. was going to deny Osama the kind of protracted occupation of Afghanistan that the Russians had supplied. The CIA used Northern Alliance proxies and the U.S. Air Force to do most of the fighting while the Army was busy preparing to invade Iraq.
Our Army isnâ€™t as bogged down in Afghanistan as the Russians were back when the U.S. was backing the jihadists against them, but the chance that the phony, U.S.-created “government” of Hamid “Lando Calrissian” Karzai will be able to establish, much less maintain, a monopoly on authority in that country must be less than nothing. The Taliban are as strong as they have been since 2001, and the United States will eventually leave Afghanistan in defeat just like every other imperial power has before. Though many have occupied Kabul, only Pashtuns have ever ruled Pashtuns for long. (Hasnâ€™t anyone in the Pentagonâ€™s policy department ever seen Rambo III? I would have thought they helped produce it.)
Perhaps feeling guilty for letting Osama down in the â€˜Ganistan, George Bush went ahead with the invasion of Iraq and the removal of the secular Baâ€™athists from power. He further insisted on a prolonged occupation in the name of creating “democracy” and succeeded only in smashing that society into a mess of murderous slivers.
It is widely agreed by the experts â€“ for example, the CIA, the Brits, the Saudis, and the Israelis â€“ that the invasion of Iraq has transformed al-Qaeda, an organization of a couple thousand at most in 2001, into a much larger, decentralized movement, with crazies all over the world trying â€“ with frequent success â€“ to blow things up in its name. Bush has thus earned the United States the title “Osama bin Ladenâ€™s indispensable ally” from the former head analyst at the CIAâ€™s bin Laden unit (which Bush has abolished).
They are not a dominant force in Iraq, and the presidentâ€™s threat that al-Qaeda will take over if we leave is a lie. Over the last four years, however, thousands of al-Qaeda recruits have gone to Iraq to be trained and indoctrinated (they are still apparently seen as useful allies against the occupation by the native Sunni rebellion). Who knows where those who leave Iraq end up?
Though far short of the jihadist advances that grew out of American-Saudi-Pakistani efforts on behalf of the mujahedeen against the Russians in the 1980s, this has all made Osama bin Laden â€“ still freer than you and me â€“ very happy, to be sure. His brand of Salafist Wahhabism remains a million years from ruling the Middle East, but his strategy of letting the United States take down all of his hardest targets has worked brilliantly.
Now comes the news that bombs are going off in Iran, killing members the Revolutionary Guard.
No. Initial reports are that a group of radical Sunnis with “alleged links to al-Qaeda” are claiming responsibility.
From the Independent:
“The group, known by its Persian name Jundollah, shot dead 12 people last May on the Kerman to Bam highway in southeast Iran. Earlier, the group issued a video showing the execution of an Iranian officer. Other kidnapped soldiers have been beheaded.
“The U.S. has in the past accused Iran of sheltering senior al-Qaeda officials, including Osama bin Ladenâ€™s son Saad. Iran denies those charges and says Jundollah is itself part of the al-Qaeda network and is intent on fomenting sectarian strife.”
Now, John Lewis, the deputy assistant director of of the FBIâ€™s counterterrorism section, and Sylvestre Reyes, the Democratsâ€™ new chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, may not be able to tell the difference between their ass and a hole in the ground, but most casually informed Americans can tell you that Iran, while an ethnically diverse society, is ruled by iron-fisted Shiâ€™ite ayatollahs. If youâ€™re Osama bin Laden and you want your movement to rule that area one day, having a gigantic Shiâ€™ite-controlled Persia smack dab in the middle of Islamic South Asia is an obstacle, to say the least.
So it makes perfect sense for the little bin Ladens of Baluchistan to try to exploit sectarian division in an attempt to weaken the regime.
The problem is that the United States is trying to do the exact same thing. The Financial Times reported a year ago that the Marines had commissioned a study by SAIC subsidiary Hicks and Associates to identify
“the depth and nature of grievances against the Islamic government, and appeared to be studying whether Iran would be prone to a violent fragmentation along the same kind of fault lines that are splitting Iraq.”
One might wish to forget at this point that Iran has tried to make peace with the United States repeatedly over the last few years. Despite Iranâ€™s 2003 attempt to give up everything, its repeated offers to internationalize their entire nuclear program, and its bid to turn over captured al-Qaeda members, neocons in the administration have blocked constructive engagement every step of the way.
Rather than tolerating Iran in order to obtain its help collaring the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, the administration has apparently decided to tolerate al-Qaeda while focusing on their shared enemy, Iran.
There are many indications that the Bush administration is preparing for a war against Iran and its alleged but completely unproven nuclear weapons program. The Iranians even stand accused of supplying weapons to the same factions the United States is “training up” to take over â€“ the Ayatollah Khomeini-created Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.
They are the “Iraqi government,” and the idea that Iran backing them is a threat to our soldiers in Iraq only makes sense in the context of our preparations to bomb SCIRIâ€™s bosses, the Iranians. SCIRIâ€™s leader, Abdul Aziz Hakim, has promised that in the event of a U.S. attack on Iran, “We would do our duty.”
Regardless, the U.S. Navyâ€™s carrier strike groups Eisenhower and Stennis are nearby, and the Nimitz is on its way. (Newsweek is now reporting it as their mistake that the Nimitz is an addition to the force, but it is “scheduled to replace” the Eisenhower.) The commander of Centcom was replaced with an admiral well versed in naval and air operations, and the administration is sending defensive missiles to friendly Gulf states.
North Carolina Republican Rep. Walter Jones is so worried that heâ€™s introduced a measure in the House of Representatives to make it clear to Bush that he may not attack Iran unless war is declared by the U.S. Congress.
Informed people such as Wayne White, the former director of the Iraq desk at the State Departmentâ€™s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, say that the neoconservativesâ€˜ and paid-off defectorsâ€˜ idea that the Iranian people will rise up in the wake of an American attack and overthrow the mullahs is preposterous, and letâ€™s hope heâ€™s right.
What could be worse for America and the world than our creation of another catastrophic battle for power in the Middle East?
What could be better for Osama bin Laden?