Wednesday, January 31
Bush 'spoiling for a fight' with Iran
Simon Tisdall, The Guardian, January 31, 2007
US officials in Baghdad and Washington are expected to unveil a secret intelligence "dossier" this week detailing evidence of Iran's alleged complicity in attacks on American troops in Iraq.
The move, uncomfortably echoing Downing Street's dossier debacle in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, is one more sign that the Bush administration is building a case for war.
But as was also the case in the days before Saddam Hussein fell, powerful external forces, ranging from exiled Iranian opposition groups to leading Israeli politicians, appear intent on stoking the fire - and winding up the White House. [...more]
Israel is also pushing the intelligence case while upping the ante, claiming to have knowledge that Tehran is within a year or two of acquiring basic nuclear weapons-making capability. In a BBC interview last week former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu compared President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime to Hitler's Nazis. Speaking in Davos the deputy prime minister, Shimon Peres, demanded immediate regime change or failing that, military intervention.
The US "push back" against Iran comprises many other elements beyond Iraq.
Unconfirmed reports suggest Vice-President Dick Cheney has cut a deal with Saudi Arabia to keep oil production up even as prices fall, to undercut Iran's main source of foreign currency. Washington is pursuing expanding, non-UN global financial sanctions against Tehran; encouraging and arming a "new alignment" of Sunni Arab Gulf states; and highlighting Iran's role in "supporting terrorism" in Palestine, where it helps bankroll the Hamas government, and Lebanon, where it backs Hizbullah.
The US is also deploying powerful naval forces in the Gulf that are of little help in Iraq but could more easily be used to mount air strikes on Iran.
Almost any one of these developments might produce a casus belli. And when taken together, despite official protestations, they seem to point in only one direction. The Bush administration, an American commentator suggested, is "once again spoiling for a fight".